Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"The Lilliputian Canvas
of the American Experience"

Matchbooks from the collection of Bill Retskin, founder of the American Matchcover Collecting Club, in Asheville, NC. Retskin has over one million matchbooks in his collection, and one gigantic blunt slicing thumbnail. Photo Rebecca D'Angelo/NYT.

There's an article in the New York Times this morning about a purported resurgence of bars and restaurants offering matches to their patrons. (I only say purported because the Times has a way of highlighting trends that sound good, but sometimes do not pan out as real trends...but hey, when they sound good, I'm in.)

For whatever reason Emily and I have always been fanatical about getting matchbooks from bars and restaurants when they're available – rarely the case since smoking bans have dominoed across the country. For the record, I was opposed to the smoking ban in New York – I don't smoke, I just always thought bars should be smokey – but I realized soon after it went into effect that it was a good thing because it meant less trips to the laundromat. Some other time I will explain how I came to the decision to not smoke cigarettes. I still like to get matchbooks, though, because sometimes other things need to be set on fire, and I like how they look. It's a small graphic space that presents interesting design possibilities, for one, and for two, I am a sentimental dude, as readers undoubtedly know by now. Matchbooks seem old. Incidentally, it's a great feature of many bars in Seattle that they still offer matchbooks.

All of that to say that the article is worth reading – click here to check it out. And why don't we all please make a concerted effort to start asking for matchbooks so they stick around and/or come back.

It's funny they included a Virgil's matchbook in the article. No one likes to admit that Virgil's has some of the best barbecue in New York, because it's right next to Times Square, and it's a multi-story restaurant full of tourists – but they do, especially when immediately preceded by a visit to Jimmy's Corner:

That's Jimmy with Muhammad Ali in the big photo above the bar.

1 comment:

Tandberg said...

Hello, I´m from Denmark and I am also a collector of matchbox-related items. I have about 100,000different from all over the world. Please take a look at my website: www.tandberg.webbyen