Born in La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora de
Los Angeles [The City of Our Lady of
the Angels] in May of 1939, Blackie
remains (as always) an enigmatic and
reclusive personality, quirky and
eccentric,  a creature of the night...
"Black Lite Blackie's Pole of Power"  
by Eucalyptus Ike
Blackie's only claim to fame is his power pole "The Cyclopean Doodad."  When a close symbiot [E. Ike] proposed
that the two collaborate on a work of art, Blackie was at first reticent because he felt generally uncomfortable
working in the presence of other people.  Ike convinced Blackie, however, that the two need not ever really meet
during the collaboration since any exchange of information could be handled via intercranial notation, so to speak.  
The plot was that Ike would create a carving (since that was his medium) and Blackie would decorate the carving
with black light paint, the object being that the two separate mediums would be combined together synergistically
to produce an entirely new genre of art.  Under ordinary lighting conditions, say during the daytime, the carving
would be dominant, but at night under black light the carving would take second precedence to the painting. Thus
it was agreed.  What you see here to the left and right are the front and back faces of the result. Standing seven
feet two inches in height and about 30 inches thick at the base, the Doodad was carved in George Washington
Palm.
Black Light Blackie: A Self Portrait
Necessarily, this brief portrait will not provide much beyond what little is already known about the 'stalker of the
night light' . No motive has ever been advanced to explain why Blackie chose to live his life 'after dark' but his
nocturnal habits are well documented and generally accepted among his small coterie of fans.  Some believe
Blackie suffered from a vitamin deficiency known as "opti-coitis" a condition associated with severe headaches due
to over exposure to pornographic websites.  Others say Blackie had such delicate skin that he simply avoided
sunlight in order to escape the negative consequences of sunburn and the melting away of his vital natural body
juices.  Still others have speculated that Blackie slept away the daylight hours which he abhorred, in order to
practice his one true passion: fiddling around with florescent paint. What then can be said with any degree of
confidence about this queer figure, this oddball who obviously has more than just one screw loose?  Well,  Blackie
is a confirmed coffee drinker, he once smoked a Kent filtered cigarette, he uses Kleenex both for blowing his nose
and cleaning his brushes and he hates summer squash and burnt toast.  He prefers Cheerios over Post Toasties, is
a veritable fanatic about Mentadent toothpaste, and never, I repeat never, watches TV.  He is not a reader in any
sense of the word, nor does he care a fig about current events or the price of peanut oil in China.  Finally, he
claims he avoids really dull people who he refers to as "plain blanks" by never venturing forth during the daylight
hours; apparently, 'blanks' mill about in greater numbers before dark.    
Palm Gallery
school1.jpg
bogthefirst.jpg
Bog of Dawn Bong
Initial Carving in Palm
History of the Cyclopean Doodad: After years of carving in hard,
cranky Eucalyptus,  Ike discovered a large George Washington palm tree
that had been cut down and abandoned in a field two miles from his
home.  The trunk had been chain sawed into four sections, three of
which could be rolled up a ramp into the bed of a pickup. But the root
covered stump was close to five feet thick and tapered out to a length of
nearly eight feet.  Unfortunately, all the fronds were still on, and this
piece was  heavy due to retained water. By jacking up its small end,
however, Ike was able to back a hitch under it and chain it to the hitch.
poledetail8.jpg
Then, after it got good and dark, Ike drove home, dragging this
2000-3000 pound lump of palm tree behind his truck. After about four
days of grueling labor later, Ike had succeeded in removing all of the
fronds and an additional two inch layer of  thick dark spongy crud
between the fronds and an inner layer of lighter stuff.
(I'm sure there are technical terms for these features, but anybody who knew them
would know enough never to try to remove them in the first place.) After the blisters
on his hands had healed (a week or so) Ike began carving with one of the smaller of
the pieces, (African Fruit...) and gradually worked up to the largest. All the carvings
you see here (except The Greeter) were from that first Palm tree Ike found in the
field. To the left above you can see the preliminary carving to the front face of the
palm stump. To the right above is the bottom figure after the carving was completed
and the luminous paint was applied.  Under black lite conditions, the unpainted palm
wood goes to black while the luminous paint seems to hang suspended in the air.
Because the entire stump is surrounded with carvings,  the following photos were
taken from various points of view, since it isn't possible to photograph the entire
carving in one snapshot. A careful examination of the photos will reveal that dots of
luminous paint have been applied over a basic solid background color, like the pixels
in a television screen.  Because luminous paint is sold in only four basic colors--red,
blue, yellow, orange--other shades of color can be achieved by mixing or by simply
superimposing dots of paint upon one another. Unusual three dimensional visual
effects can be achieved by this pixellation technique. For example, The Happy Sad
Clown figure is easy to overlook unless the carving is viewed under black light
conditions. But there are other details incorporated into the design that are far harder
to find, let alone to distinguish from the context in which they appear.  The odd bird
images  (to the right) are a typical motif  Ike has employed in his carvings. They
apparently represent something for Ike about which he has been, so far, reluctant to
speak. Those close to him have reported that Ike was always fascinated by puzzles,
particularly puzzles with hidden meanings. Cryptic messages, secrets, hidden
compartments, boxes with false bottoms, illusions, visual distractions: all are aspects
of Ike's so called "artistic style."  
tmotiptmotie.jpg
The Doodad was designed to turn slowly on a Lazy Susan under can
see the The Nozian Phenomenon (top figure at left) and the central
figure, The Necromancer, emerging from the Necromantic Ear, two
of the front faces of the carving. Unfortunately, there is at present no
set of photos that records the various facets of the carving under
true black light conditions.  And it is useless to convey in words
what the images look like when the eye is attracted only to  the paint
seemingly hanging in the air against the blackened background of the
palm wood.  Notice that in the forehead of the Nozian Phenomenon
appears a large gazing eye with three more bird figures near the left
temple. There is something of a cross eyed bunny rabbit suggested
by this figure, presumably because rabbits have very efficient
twitching noses. And the nose on this figure is decorated with a
wreath of small red and yellow flowers (not quite clear in the photo
however). Perhaps rather than 'cross eyed' the word 'crazed' would
better fit the figure under black light however. The Necromancer
(loosely translated as the 'Dark Romantic One') is, obviously, a very
complex figure. You can see the 'staring eye' motif is repeated in the
forehead, but the nose of this figure has both a forward and
backward looking 'S' depicted on it. According to Ike, these two
letters stand for 'Symbosophist' (i.e. one who follows the way of the
philosophy of symbols (kind of mumbo jumbo if you ask me!).
Curiously, you can see this figure is clearly wearing a mask and is
said to be emerging (being born) out of the Necromantic Ear. Thus
we see that the eye, the nose and the ear all play an unusual role in
the cryptoglyphic themes that Ike has managed to portray in the
Doodad. Naturally, what it all means is neither here nor there, and
perhaps even Ike himself is incapable of providing any credible
explanation for the melange of images he has in-corporated in palm
[not likely].  
Nozian Phenomenon and Necromancer
Backside of the Doodad:  Although "The Cyclopean Doodad" is the
formal title Ike gave to the entire carving,  as I am sure you are
aware by now, parts of the power pole are also referred to with a
rubric all their own.  And the bizarre figure you see to the left is
referred to as the "Cosmic Dancer." The figure has four arms each
ending in a separate face or head, although not all the faces are
clearly visible. On a very dark night, with the Doodad fully
illuminated under black light, it is easily visible for about fifty yards
although not in fine detail.  Actually, to fully appreciate the work, it
should be observed close up (from about 2-3 feet), from a distance
of 6-10 feet and from about twenty yards away. This is so because
the black light effects achieved by the pixellation technique don't all
appear at the same distance. Fine details must be seen close up, but
the larger effect of, for example, the colors on the front faces of the
carving require you to step back a few feet in order for the
individual dots to disappear and the larger image to appear. A great
deal more could be said about the Doodad than has been expressed
here.  For instance, if you look between the legs of the Cosmic
Dancer, you will see a cartoon like image of a king or a buffoon
wearing a crown. The component parts of this image are themselves
very curious doodle like figures: the eyes seem like mouths laughing,
the mouth perhaps like a green snail, and the crown simply lopsided
and silly, yet all together these simple components form the larger
comic image. But why would Ike place the Buffoon King between
the legs of the Cosmic Dancer? One is left with many such
questions after a prolonged examination of the Doodad, and all the
while Ike is shuffling around behind you chuckling to himself
occasionally, sometimes blowing his prominent nose with a hanky,
and generally refusing to answer questions with a direct answer. In
fact, he can be a very very exasperating ass when he wants to be....  
cosmicdancer1.jpg
greeter1.jpg
To the left is The Greeter (5' 7" tall), where it has always
stood by the front entrance to Ike's home in Irvine,
California. The original piece of palm weighed close to 1000
pounds when Ike discovered it one day in an undeveloped
parcel of Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley, California.
After several years and several warm California summers,
the retained water had evaporated, and the carving was
thereafter easily movable by simply tilting it slightly and
rolling it around on its base. Carving in palm is best
accomplished when the wood is wet.  Actually, technically
palm probably isn't really wood at all.  It's more like a tightly
woven matrix of spongy fibers surrounding an inner core
which runs up the trunk (at least in some palms) like a spinal
column to provide structural support.  The spongy, exterior
matrix retains an astonishing amount of water, and it's a
good idea to wear protective eye glasses when you are using
chisels to work it to avoid getting squirted in the eyes. What
makes palm so desirable as a carving medium is not all the
work it takes to remove the fronds and prepare the trunk,
but the ease with which you can shape the spongy layer
below the fronds.  A few light taps with a mallet on a sharp
chisel will drive it easily along like a knife through a bar of
soap.  And palm will take a fair edge to it no matter what
direction you turn the chisel in. That's  the case because
palm has no balky grain whatsoever.  You can cut (carve)
shallow or deep, up or down, and sideways and still retain a
fairly nice edge. With an ax you can remove a considerable
amount of material quickly with only a minimal amount of
effort. Thus large carvings can be tackled in palm much
more easily than they can in most other woods available to
the average urban carver.  Just make sure you don't try to
carve in Mexican Fan Palm, because that stuff will rot apart
on you in less than a year....
The Greeter
africanlady.jpg
captain2.jpg
African Fruit (from an American root)
The Captain and Mohammed
Two additional palm carvings--African Fruit (5' 4") and The Captain (5' 6"), seen above and to the right
respectively--were carved from the same palm trunk as the Doodad.  Obviously, a considerable amount of basic carving
material is contained within a single palm tree if you can acquire the entire trunk.  African Fruit and The Captain are
examples of Ike's carvings taken over by the family.  In other words, these carvings were absorbed into the home and
have become part of the furniture so to speak.  The Captain stands beside the dining room table, typically disapproving
of all of the family chatter, while the Fruit stands just inside the front door, and serves as the mail drop for all out going
mail and whatever else (like car keys or unidentified foreign objects) is left conveniently for its owner to find. (The
Fruitcake has an indented bowl balanced on the top of her head.)  In terms of the plan for the original palm trunk, The
Doodad was obviously carved from the base of the tree, next came the 'wood' for The Captain, then the wood for
African Fruit, and finally two additional carvings each about three feet high, neither of which is shown here.  
Carving Crafts by Eucalyptus Ike
Happy Sad Clown
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