“Building a Better Apocalypse” – Hackett in the NY Times

Building a Better Apocalypse – appearing in print on March 18, 2012, on page WE1 of the New York edition of the NY Times:

ON Chris Hackett’s personal periodic table, the world’s most interesting, and abundant, substance is an element he calls obtainium. Things classified as obtainium might include the discarded teapot that he once turned into a propane burner, or the broken beer bottle he used to make a razor, or the 9-millimeter shell casings he acquired some time ago, melted in a backyard foundry (also made of obtainium) and cast into brass knuckles for a girlfriend.

If you ask Mr. Hackett — or Hackett, as he is uniformly known in the Brooklyn bohemia that skips south, from the G station at Greenpoint Avenue to the Gowanus Canal — where he got the components for his homemade still or the numerous jet engines he has built from scratch, he will likely shrug, smile and say, “Around.”

Last month, Mr. Hackett, 39, was working in his Gowanus workshop, a ground-floor space on Butler Street, near the head of the canal. The workshop is a veritable obtainium mine. In one corner sat an upright piano transformed into a cabinet for fasteners. In another was a rack of reclaimed two-inch metal tubing. There were doctored band saws, jury-rigged drill presses, repurposed metal barrels. A shop cat, Shop Cat, napped in front of a plastic chest of drawers marked with labels reading, “ball bearings,” “flange bearings,” “regulators,” “pulleys,” “rivets,” “channel locks,” “drills” and “more drills.” The backyard was heaped with obtainium: half of a car’s rear axle, bolted I-beams, a yellow boat built from scrap.

One thought on ““Building a Better Apocalypse” – Hackett in the NY Times

  1. Great article, and it attracted some fairly intelligent comments.

    You might be bemused by this one – On Thursday, I told a production company to get stuffed. Surprised the hell out of them.

    I didn’t mind the panicked phone calls to ask for information that I had emailed them days before. The real problems came after I had sunk some time into a bid for the spot. First came a NDA that basically said “we own your every thought from the moment you sign, and you will need written permission to express them, even if we don’t take you for the show”. But the real straw that broke… was when they said one solid month of filming, absolutely no contact with the outside world, completely off grid. (and no, we were going to be filming in LA, not some end-of-the-earth island, where off the grid could be par for the location)

    There was no reason for waiting until I had invested a chunk of time and even some $$ (on my lawyer to find the traps in their NDA) to tell me this. It should have been part of the first phone call. Since there was no reason to imprison me, I said no thanks, feel free to call back if you come to your senses.

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