Forget Red Bull. Blackwing gives you wings.
Getting ready for a big moment today, I hauled out my trusty Blackwing 602 lead pencil and scratched out notes for the presentation.
More than a year ago, Donya bought me a box of these special pencils used by some of America’s great writers and sketchers. I wrote about it here.
And here’s a quote from what I wrote:
Lately, I was in one of those Internet wormholes, where one little topical search can lead to a network of connected tunnels one would not think had any intersection at all. This is how I happened into the Fedora Lounge and found myself reading an article by some cat with the Internet handle “Scotrace.”
The article is titled “The Legendary…Pencil. The Blackwing 602“. Here’s a taste…
“There are, among everyday possessions, those objects which are cherished by their devotees and described with the kind of prose generally reserved for particularly enthusiastic lovers or memorable bottles of scotch. Some may speak of the perfect glide of their favorite, now-obsolete razor. Or the perfect smartness of eyeglass frames sported by the jet setters of the 50s. There’s the fellow with the wristwatch he could not bear to be without, the woman who searches eternally for a certain pair of heels that have never let her down.
For writers, artists, and composers of the 20th century, that object was a pencil: The Blackwing 602. Made for some 80 years, their discontinuation in 1998 sent men and women scurrying to grab up the last boxes. Today, they’re reproduced in pretty much identical form by a firm other than their originator. But for the purist, a pre-1994 Blackwing 602 is a slender, cedar muse which they will literally insist be tucked into their coffins.”
— SCOTRACE, THE FEDORA LOUNGE
Truman Capote kept a box of these babies by his bed. Everything Stephen Sondheim ever wrote began with the lead tip of a Blackwing 602. The Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny illustrators all used Blackwings. One Disney illustrator, Shamus Colhane, literally died gripping the legendary pencil and was buried with it in his hand.
More than a year removed from my first box, I picked up my pencil for the first time in a few moons, as mentioned earlier, to jot down notes for a meeting. I realized that more than a year later, and after filling nearly every page in my current leatherbound journal, I am still on my first pencil out of that box. So, one of the following must be true:
I am not writing enough stuff in pencil, which seems unlikely since, as I mentioned, I have nearly filled a journal in this span;
Or, this thing is real quality and I may well be 70 years old before I need another box;
Or, this is a deal like the widow’s barrel of oil when she fed the hungry prophet, Elijah – and it is a sure-enough, bonafide miracle of grace…and wood…and lead.
Don’t believe everything you read on a barrel.
These words are engraved right on the barrel of the pencil: “Half the pressure, twice the speed.”
I don’t know what to think about that claim when I think about my journal writing. I mean, twice the speed? I can buy that. Life is a blur, even when it seems to drag. But half the pressure? not in my world, brother. Queen and David Bowie were singing my life song when they sang, “Under Pressure.” If it weren’t for pressure, my tires would just go flat.
Come to think of it, maybe my life song is Tennessee Earl Ford’s Sixteen Tons:
Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong
You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
“Half the pressure” does not apply, except, of course, when you are actually writing with a Blackwing 602. Then, it does.
Pencils are cool because you can undo with one end what you did with the other.
Now, you may wonder why a person would write a journal in pencil. I wondered it myself, so after a conference between myself and I, we concluded that…
We reserve the right to erase things we wrote in the heat of a moment. (We have not done that yet, but we reserve the right, nonetheless.)
Sometimes we write lyrics or rhymes, and they need changing – or discarding.
We, like our Democrat brothers, retain the journalistic license to alter history to suit our viewpoint – or make us look better than we are, because we don’t know if anyone might ever read the thing once we are no more.
We like the Blackwing 602. It gives us wings and we can soar on the winds of strife or even off to another life or another place…or time. And then, erase it, if we please.
When writing in unleaded, indelible ink, be cautious.
What is done is done in indelible ink. It cannot be undone, revised, or erased. So, be sure you do it the way you want to remember it, the way you want it to be remembered, and the way in which you and others can best live with what you have done.
But keep a pencil handy. And a bible.
…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
~Paul, the Apostle
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)