One man’s deep dive into his personal hoard in order to reconstruct the events of his life, the history of the world, and the reality of everything.
What began as a teenager’s innocent stash of ephemera and juvenilia has mutated into a compulsion and a mission to build a hyperscrapbook, a real-time time capsule. The Hoard Explorer embarks on an odyssey of strange discoveries and madeleine moments as he explores this idiosyncratic pile of scraps, stuff, and data. Full of artifacts from a forgotten era like clues for a paranormal detective, this memory palace is a hoarder house.
A strikingly ugly figurine with tufts of yellow hair.
I received a strange letter in the mail containing a solitary plastic figurine which I can confidently say defies description. The envelope came from a listener in Seattle who also happens to be a dear friend (and hoarding-adjacent fellow traveler). I return the favor by promptly scheduling a Zoom conversation and dutifully recording it for your enjoyment and edification. And thus we have our very first guest on the show! We discuss his various collections (e.g., figurines, playing cards, books, rocks, tools, etc), tracing over the origins and the odd logic of his collecting habits. He opens up a bit about his upbringing on the Puget Sound, his misadventures in Oklahoma, and his general antipathy towards Burning Man. We touch briefly on life under quarantine and sign off before we linger too long.
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An old Japanese creamer shaped like a blue pug.
Instead of investigating the origins of this faded old creamer from Japan, I turn my attention to the “why” of Creamer Dog. Why is he mine? Of all the things I’ve thrown away over the years, why did he make the cut? Why is he still here? This leads us to directly address the psychiatric condition of hoarding disorder as outlined by the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition). I thankfully am not afflicted with such a tragic diagnosis, but I discuss the ways in which I relate to the impulse to hang on to seeming worthless stuff. I talk about my history of possession by spirits (of my own invention), and set out a hypothesis on the nature of a hoarding dragon spirit. I also touch on hoarding as an economic phenomena through the story of how two mad Texans attempted to corner the silver market, culminating in the catastrophic event known as “Silver Thursday”.
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A pair of vintage wood dumbbells purchased from the Modern Antiquarium in Healdsburg CA sometime between 2015 and 2019.
I am not entirely convinced that these are, in fact, wooden dumbbells but I’m hard pressed to find evidence to the contrary. In this episode, I attempt to determine the type of wood through calculator soup cube roots and wood density charts. I reveal the complete recipe for my most excellent sourdough waffles. I describe my dalliance with Etsy and eBay and the sale of what was probably my sister's Judas Priest tank top from the Defenders of the Faith Tour of 1984. I also mull over my dalliance with a late career in studio art, including encounters with artist Teresa Camozzi and sculptor Bruce Johnson.
hoardexplorer.com #hoardexplorer #memoir #hoard #studioart #waffles #judaspriest #teresacamozzi #brucejohnson #materials #firestorm #wine
Part 3 of a vibrantly colored metal souvenir plate from Ecuador in 2011.
The souvenir plate returns for one more go at Ecuadorian backstory for my father and extended family. We follow the Swett family from colonial Massachusetts to 19th century Guayaquil all the way to my Nana Olga. Names and dates roll out in an almost biblical succession of begot-begot-begot (usually a Charles). There are tales of derring-do during the war of 1812, shipwrecks and cannibalism off the coast of South America, and a full recounting of all my grandmother’s husbands. I also touch on my theory of infinite rabbit holes and sheepish admiration of deep math. We say goodbye to the Ecuadorian Souvenir Plate and promise to return to Ecuador in a later episode by way of a special hotel amenity.
hoardexplorer.com #hoardexplorer #memoir #hoard #genealogy #swett #warof1812 #olga #mobydick #hopffibration #greatgreatgreatgrandfather #rabbitholes
Part 2 of a vibrantly colored metal souvenir plate from Ecuador in 2011.
The small souvenir plate made of stamped metal takes a back seat to René Girard’s concept of mimetic desire as I riff on my early aspirations to “being” smart and cultured (with questionable success). Eventually I return to the task at hand, trying to roughly sketch my parents’ short foray into the Venezuelan ice business in the early 60’s. I conclude with an ill-advised attempt to read a letter (written in illegible Spanish cursive) from my father to my uncle Edwin in Ecuador in 1970. Defeated and muttering to myself, I commit to a third episode in this Ecuadorian plate series.
hoardexplorer.com #hoardexplorer #memoir #hoard #mimeticdesire #venezuela #family #father #leuschner #iguanas #proust #mumble
A vibrantly colored metal souvenir plate from Ecuador in 2011.
This weeks episode considers a small souvenir plate made of stamped metal that reminds me of my father in a very circuitous way. I bought the plate in Ecuador, dad was born in Ecuador, his birthday was last week, my cousin in Ecuador recently sent me a copy of a letter from my father to my uncle in Ecuador sent in 1970, just a couple of years before I was born. It seems like now is the time to dig into my origin story, family drama and secrets, and the mythology of the patrilineal line. This is a two part topic because even a steeply abbreviated version would not fit, and I needed to save some room for a Spanish poem or two.
hoardexplorer.com #hoardexplorer #memoir #hoard #ecuador #2011 #family #father #leuschner #secrets #lies #poetry
A pair of Damien Hirst anamorphic demitasse sets from the Tate Modern gift shop in 2012.
On the afternoon of Thursday June 21, 2012, I purchased a pair of Damien Hirst Espresso Cups & Saucers from the gift shop at the Tate Modern. I’ve been a fan of the bad boy of British art since the 1990’s, so I just couldn’t pass up the chance to check out this mind-bending survey of his works against the backdrop of the 2012 Olympics. Earlier that morning, I met a video game recruiter outside the Great Portland Tube Station to discuss a job with a Harry Potter augmented reality game for the Playstation 3. I didn’t get the job, and I was running out of money. I still bought the cups.
hoardexplorer.com #hoardexplorer #memoir #hoard #demitasse #damienhirst #london #tatemodern #harrypotter #georgemichael #2012
A brief introduction to the glorious Hoard and the ground rules for the podcast.
This is Hoard Explorer. It’s not a gross and sad hoard like you see on reality TV, and it’s nowhere near as large and invasive a “hoarder” hoard. But it is a slightly irrational hoard of papers, junk, and data that I’ve been collecting over the course of my life. This is the first of a weekly podcast about the hoard, what it is, why it is, and most critically, what it means. This episode goes over the underlying concept: each object in the hoard will serve as a memory trigger that I will faithfully follow into the rabbit holes of future episodes. This is kind of a game by which I build a memoir. Think of it as investigative autobiography and personal archaeology. I have a famously bad memory, so I expect to be surprised as we go deeper into the hoard. In this episode I also give the high level background of the hoards evolution, from high school to the present day. I also reveal what prompted me to begin this podcast right now (rather than save the hoard as a time capsule).
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