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Where Are They Now?

 
 
In early 2008 I held three meaningless signs at a busy intersection to see what would happen. The answer: confusion and mild amusement. I later auctioned the Signs of Boredom, again, to see what would happen. Four bidders duked it out until one lucky winner, Andy T., won all three signs for $2.50.

So where are the signs now? Andy explains:

"I gave the signs to my girlfriend. I had been a fan of The Plug for a long time and turned her on to it. She put them on her wall. A little later she went in for a tonsillectomy and came out not my girlfriend anymore. Hydrocodone can do that, apparently. She also has my Winnie the Pooh mug in her car. I asked her for the mug back, and she refused to send it. I drank almost exclusively out of that thing."

 

 
 

 

 
 
Who doesn't love to receive handwritten correspondence? Politicians, that's who. I mailed letters to four Georgia politicians and documented the responses in an article called Voting Fever. One of the two recipients who wrote me back was Congressman John Lewis. Not only did he take the time to answer my super urgent and topical questionnaire, but he also sent a signed headshot.

So where is John Lewis' headshot now?

It's hanging next to another influential man in my life, Bob Barker. The framed headshots hang in my kitchen where I stare at them daily while making burritos, Massaman curry, and other exotic cuisines from around the world.

But the story doesn't end there. In July 2009 I attended an event that I like to call John Lewis Multicultural Day. It's an annual event where different countries are represented at booths to teach people that baklava is yummy. The keynote speaker was, you guessed it, John Lewis. I was able to get my photo taken with Mr. Lewis because he and I have a rich and storied history together. Also, I stood in line.

   
 

 

 
 

In January 2009 I mailed a dozen letters to random people in the United States whose addresses I found using the White Pages. The article was called My Desperate Pen Pal Experiment. [Spoiler alert! Only one person wrote me back.] A few of the letters that I mailed to random recipients were returned to sender, but my loss was another person's gain because I auctioned three sealed envelopes with unknown correspondence inside.

So where are the letters now?

Two of the letters sold to one man, Jose, for $5.75. The third letter sold to a woman named Amy for $2.25.

Inside each letter was a self-addressed stamped postcard so that the potential pen pals would have no excuse not to write me back. Amy took the postcard that was intended for a stranger in Nevada and wrote me correspondence with it (see photo at right).

It's your usual correspondence experiment turned into an auction experiment turned back into a correspondence experiment. Tale as old as time.

 

 
 

 

 
 
The most popular article on The Plug by an enormously large margin is Stranger Photos Have Happened where I tied a disposable camera to a bench at a popular intersection in Atlanta. The experiment became a worldwide phenomenon and exploded to the point that Photojojo announced “bench photography” as one of the biggest photography trends in 2009. The article ranked #1 at viral news websites like Digg, Stumble Upon, and Reddit, and the experiment has been featured in Glamour Magazine, international newspapers, and on the BBC.

Naturally, I milked the idea. In October of 2008 I re-created the experiment in Tokyo, Japan. Social behavior in Japan is quite different than in the United States, so I was curious how their photographs would differ from the ones taken in Atlanta. Other readers were curious too, because the two photographic series have attracted two million readers.

I decided that tying disposable cameras to benches should be a lifelong pursuit when I traveled internationally. That's when I learned that the third time is not the charm. I visited Ambergris Caye, Belize in April 2009 and was crushed to learn that the bench camera I had set up was stolen. I actually didn't care about the camera, but it hurt to lose the construction paper sign that had been installed at the two previous sites. You live and learn. I guess the lesson here is to be wary of tethering sentimental items in impoverished areas.

 

 
 

 

 
 
In 2004 I created a Halloween costume of the game Plinko as seen on The Price Is Right. It was fully functional, with dollar sign discs and light-up receptacles. If you want drunk partygoers to manhandle you, then I highly recommend that you dress as Plinko. And if you want to retain your dignity, then I suggest storing the costume in your attic for five years.

So where is the Plinko costume now?

I had a yard sale in the fall of 2009 where I sold everything for one dollar. A set of wine glasses: one dollar. Nipple tassels: one dollar. Plinko costume: one dollar. Surprisingly, the costume sold. Not surprisingly, the nipples tassles didn't. I contacted the purchaser, Leeanna L., about her experience with Plinko and this is what she had to say:

"I wore the costume to a Halloween party at work. I almost wore the costume through a Giant Jenga tournament we had during that Halloween party but had to take it off for maneuverability. No contests won unfortunately."

 

 
 

 

 
 
One of my favorite articles is a silly little social experiment called The Monocle Trio. Mason Gentry, his friend Aaron, and I crafted monocles out of spare parts and then documented wearing our dapper eyepiece around town.

So where are the monocles now?

Mason (creator of these tongue-in-cheek water bottles) explains:

It's in my junk drawer, not that it's junk. I just don't use it every day. Every other day is more like it.

My story, however, is a bit of a tear-jerker. I saved my monocle in a jewelry box so that I could pass it down to my children as a family heirloom. My plan was thwarted by a puppy named Petey. I don't quite understand how Petey gained access to the jewelry box, but one day I walked into the room and saw black string, acetate, and a jug ring separately on the floor. That's when I knew that my children would have to work for a living.

 

 
 

 

 
 
Every now and then I draw things that appear on the site. I hate to call them works of art, so let's just call them images suitable for public viewing. I sold a dozen pages worth of drawings via online auction as part of The Plug's Goodwill Toward Men Auction. Six bidders duked it out until one lucky winner, Leslie C., won all of the drawings for $4.75.

So where are the drawings now? Leslie explains:

We bought a Christmas tree this weekend and while going though boxes to find the decorations, I found an old broken box up in my coat closet with some random junk in it. In there was the envelope with the drawings inside. They're still in good condition and maybe one day I'll put them in a better box with more important random junk.

 

 
 

The Plug Issue #50: Finally.
Issue #50