I often ask myself what the point is of putting out this blog. Why expose myself to the incredible range of humanity? Why risk attracting a nutter who, for whatever reason, gets a hate on for me and decides to take me down a peg or two? Back when I did a brief stint as a public service advisor for MCI, we were explicitly forbidden from disclosing any personal information or our location. “If you think there isn’t somebody out there crazy enough to travel thousands of miles to bomb this location and kill you over some imaginary affront done to them by you or by this company, let me tell you that you are wrong. When the masses learn who you are and where you work, there will be somebody among them who is crazy enough to decide to travel thousands of miles just to kill you.,” was his speech during our training session. I disagreed with him, though I had to admit he swung a compelling argument. Just consider the case of John Lennon’s murder to see his point.
Still, I disagreed with him then, and do now. It’s my belief that humanity is full of incredible individuals, people who would like nothing more than to be your friend and make a connection to you. Exposing yourself, your religious beliefs, and your location on this planet is worth the risk. Though maybe not if you make a hobby out of denigrating religious fanatics or work for a huge corporation that has “Screw the customers,” as part of its mission statement.
This long preamble is just to introduce the topic of this post. Back when this blog was being written in China under the name www.themaninchina.com, I wrote a post about my bull whip making. That sparked a brief exchange with a fellow named Matt Galizia who shares my interest in that craft. After those friendly messages, I more or less forgot about him. Apparently that isn’t what happened on his end of the exchange. After I completed my last whip, and was very disappointed with the end result, I left that hobby behind, though I did make sure I left China with a kangaroo hide, in case I ever felt like taking it up again. But my last whip took weeks of effort to make. I just haven’t been inspired to try again. Apparently that’s not what happened with Matt.
I got something in the mail last week. Something so gob stoppingly impressive and beautiful that I’m still in recovery. Matt had created a personalized collector’s item whip, just for me. And while I let my whip making hobby slip into my past, Matt has followed his to become a professional level whip maker.
The whip arrived packaged with some spare falls, crackers, and information about the technical construction of the whip (The order of the bellies is 4,6,8,12 and finally the 16 strands that make up the outside of the whip), photographs, and information about making a Scobie hitch. That package alone must have taken a full day to put together.
I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to crack this whip. It is like a collector’s edition pistol, which loses much of its value if it is ever fired. I’ll have to mount it for display. I don’t have any doubt that it would swing accurately and demonstrate perfect balance. The curve as the handle flows into the thong and the perfectly smooth transitions of the bellies tells me that much. I don’t want to risk scuffing it or causing damage.
It is simply beautiful, and the more I inspect it, the more I appreciate it. I try to be critical, and perhaps you can see flaws that I don’t recognize. But from the handle to the keeper I can see nothing that is short of perfection.
So maybe this is why I take the trouble to reveal myself on the Internet. Without my effort to reach out, I never would have learned about Matt Galizia’s existence. Nor would I have this gorgeous whip as one of my prized possessions. This kind of response from a reader makes it all worth while.
Speaking of which, please take a minute to drop a comment on this, or any other, of my posts. You can find the link to add a comment at the top right hand corner of this page, or as the last item in the list of categories. I’d love to hear from you.
My first impulse was to leave this wonderful whip hanging on gulu gege (“brother skeleton”, a permanent fixture in my office decor) and treat it like a collector’s item pistol, i.e. never firing it. That lasted until curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see how it behaves when I crack it. And that lead to more ambitious cracking.
When Tai Haller first showed me how to crack a whip, there was no source of instruction other than one on one personal tutoring. And that was limited by the fact that not many people in my life can crack a whip. But time passes and things change. Now there is a plethora of instruction on line and I’ve been seduced into expanding my whip cracking repertoire.
The only cracks I’ve learned were very basic – the cattleman’s crack, the overhead crack, and….well, that was pretty much it other than passing the whip to the other hand behind my back and cracking it on my right side. Now I’m learning more exotic cracks, like the fast figure eight and the volley. Check out this excellent tutorial:
He makes it look easy, and with instruction like this it actually is. Timing is everything. As always, your comments are welcome. You will find the link to comment at the bottom of this post.