Following my first WOTH column, the only response I got came from my friend Nick the Dick. He started his review by saying: ‘So now you’re a car reporter?’ And then: ‘That’s not a good idea, you know. It’ll dispel the magic around your persona. Besides, it’s a badly-printed magazine.’ People like to label things. ‘The magic around my persona’ – for a minute there I felt gratified. What’s good for you and what isn’t? Is Glenn Gould a poorer pianist because he also made children’s programmes for Canadian regional television?
Which brings me to another Nick. Nick the Knife shattered his reputation before he even had one. It figures: his was the most reviled final exam ever performed at the Design Academy. He took his nickname from the extensive collective of bowie knives he had nicely tucked away in a walnut cabinet. The only child of well-to-do parents, his position as a student was comfortable. You might say that Nick instinctively knew how to make money roll his way. And he rolled it out as well, usually at zinc-barred La Folie, in exchange for liquid sandwiches.
Nick was up to not much else than going out. However, for his final exam, on 19 December 1999, he rented two professional wood chippers at the Bo-Rent. Big enough to grind sturdy trees down to a pulp. He placed them symmetrically in front of the large, forged, nineteenth-century gate of the former military hospital that was Eindhoven’s largest recycling centre at that time. It was rush hour, apparently, as there were dozens of poor people, immigrants, students and fortune hunters rummaging around the household goods.
After readying his bizarre installation, and under the sceptical eye of the graduation committee, The Knife entered the recycling centre and insolently acquired its entire stock by depositing 3,000 guilders in cash on the counter. Three robust assistants (tattooed bar hoppers) helped him drag the lot out front. They quickly built a mountain of cupboards, beds, clocks, chairs and bicycles and Nick subsequently fired up the heavy diesel engines of the chippers. Amid the thunderous roar of engines and disappointed looks of the bystanders, The Knife and his accomplices began to feed the goods into the two greedy mouths of the chipping machines,one by one.
At the same time, amid deafening noise, both machines covered the street and the committee in an oily layer of mud-like confetti. To complete his act, Nick pulled two huge hands with raised middle fingers sculpted from orange PU-foam over his own hands and stood exactly in front of and in between the chippers, presenting his ‘fingers’ to the sky and the audience.
The impressive andviolent performance didn’t last long. Within fewer thanfiveminutes, The Knife was removed in handcuffs by the police.
'He made the cover of Groot Eindhoven and was sentenced to undergo a psychiatric examination.'
People love to put labels on things. Everything carries a label. Labels stickto you by invisible tape. Hell yeah, I’malso a car journalist (if The Dick says so) but magic ceased to exist on 19 December 1999.
by Job Smeets
Budel aan Zee, 2016
Job is one-half of Studio Job.
For WOTH he writes about cars and
all the rest that's on his mind.