Tim-burrr! I Can't Tell a Lie (But I'd Be Happy to Sell You One)

(LATFH: Look At This Federalist Hipster)

Well over two centuries ago, a highly spurious tale has it that a boy named George Washington (who would go on to become the first President of the United States, or Canada's electrolarynx) wielded his hatchet and butchered a lovely cherry tree. When confronted by his father, Pedro Moishe Aloysius Washington, about what happened to the tree, young George was unable to lie. Forthright to a fault, he instead admitted:

"I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet."

Profoundly moved, Pedro Moishe Aloysius Washington replied:

"Run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."

Unfortunately, young Washington was only able to bask in filial affection and loquacious praise for a short time, because he was subsequently arrested and executed in accordance with the strict cherry tree protection laws in effect in the colonies at the time, and the George Washington who would go on to lead the American army to victory and ultimately become our first President was in fact a robot.

Fast forward to our present time, in which hatches and axes and wood-splitting and tree-felling are no longer associated with honesty. Instead they have been cleaved from it in the same way a feeble "hipster" who tries to use his artisanal axe to open a packet of firm tofu accidentally divorces his hand from his tattooed forearm, and are now yet another symbol of conspicuous consumption. Furthermore, axe sales are increasingly becoming the domain of the huckster, as exemplified by companies like "Base Camp X," whom I mentioned in yesterday's post:

Naturally, these companies don't actually make anything; instead, they simply "bedazzle" existing items made by others and create an aesthetic environment in which to buy them. This requires a delicate balance of hyperbole and obfuscation, and it involves three steps:

1. Establish the Product's Authenticity

In primitive cultures, people believed that they could gain their enemy's courage by eating their hearts (or, in Great Britain, their pudding). Today, urbanites with disposable income believe they can gain authenticity by buying an "authentic" product. Consequently, it is essential to establish this authenticity. For example, fixed-gears are "authentic" because they are older than freewheels and because messengers supposedly prefer them. Similarly, axes are "authentic" because they're the fixed-gears of tools. As "Base Camp X" says:

An axe is one of the oldest tools in existence and some even argue that it is the oldest form of art known to mankind.

2. Reassure the Customer

Killing your enemy is the easy part; carving out his heart and consuming it is the real test of one's mettle. Similarly, it's easy to fork over some money in exchange for an "authentic" product, but it's hard to actually use that product to its full potential. This is why it's essential for companies like these to reassure you by saying, essentially, "Don't worry--you don't actually have to eat the heart." In terms of "urban" cycling, this involves selling stuff that is supposedly messenger-worthy while assuring customers that they don't have to be messengers to buy it. In terms of artisanal axes, it involves reassuring customers that they don't actually have to use the axe:

Our axes are built to be used but there is absolutely no reason why it cannot find a home on your wall, hanging above the hearth or simply leaning up beside your desk. An axe is so versatile that it can be used to manage a forest, adorn a wall, provide heat for a home or simply start a conversation…

Sure, it's silly--the only product you actually want to buy and never have to use is insurance--but nevertheless it works. By the way, I'm not sure a single person with an axe can "manage" a forest. To paraphrase Yakov Smirnoff, "In nature, forest manage you."

3. Tell the Truth Quickly and Hope Nobody Notices

As shifty as companies like "Base Camp X" are, even they won't go so far as to lie and say they're making something that they're not. So like those drug commercials where they squeeze in a bunch of possible side effects at the end and hope you're not paying attention, they bury somewhere on the site that all they're doing is taking an axe and burning their logo into it:

Searing the BCX logo into the handle by hand is all part of the process in creating one of our axes.

Incidentally, a reader and "axe-pert" surmises that the "Titanis" [prounounced \ˈtīt\-\ˈā-nəs\] line of "Base Camp X" axes is probably based on this:

At NZ$285 (or approximately US$226, or just over 1 million Zambian Kwacha) that's a lot of Kwacha, but it's still pocket Kwacha compared to the $500+ you'll pay for the "Base Camp X." This means you're paying about $300 for some shellac, a hand-branded logo, and a whole lotta douchery.

Really, it's "cultural snake-handling" at its most refined. I suppose when the "Americana backwoods revival" movement ends they'll all move on to something equally useless, like cat-confusing.

Ironically then, it would seem that the humble axe--once a symbol of the prized American attributes of honesty, integrity, and self-sufficiency--has now come to embody the practice of rebranding, which seems to be the only form of labor we continue to perform domestically. Fortunately, though, good old-fashioned innovation isn't completely dead, for a reader recently forwarded me a link to the ThermaJock, which is a penis warmer for men (as well as, presumably, women with penises) who engage in outdoor activities such as cycling:

So how does it work? Well, here's a simple diagram:
If you're still not convinced, be assured that it has been subject to rigorous testing:

Tom came up with a prototype and quickly began to test it while running, walking the dog, or hanging out in his house. After creating the initial design, Christina and Tom began working with local garment designers and manufacturers to refine and perfect the prototype and began asking local athletes to test it. After sorting through piles of valuable feedback, the final design was established.

The website fails to indicate whether or not Tom ever ran afoul of the law, since I'd think walking the dog while wearing nothing but a coin purse on your penis would be a good way to get arrested. It's also unclear as to whether the ThermaJock has room for the "pants yabbies" too, or if it's strictly a "one-car garage." In any case, I can't wait until "Base Camp X" starts rebranding these as "woodsman's sheaths" and prices them accordingly. (For best results, wear it with the new Rapha bib shorts that feature a "dicky zip.")

In the race to own ever more exotic and expensive time trial bikes, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to take one and built a yacht around it.

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