Greetings from Cabinetlandia, Booklyn. My name is David. I am working at Cabinet Magazine this summer. I will show you around.
First off, allow me to point out the (not so?) obvious: Cabinet’s cabinet reads “Cabinet.” Can you see it? It took me a while, to the delight of all my coworkers. Look at the positive spaces as opposed to the negative spaces (this was my folly).
On the far left, you’ll see a metal object with a wooden hammer. It is a stamp. It reads, of course, “Cabinet.” Official mail, etc. Proceeding to the right, just inside of the “C,” is Cabinet’s shwag: books on the doodles of US presidents and the American transcontinental road-trip of two Soviet journalists, a nifty tote bag (only $15!), handsome, pre-shrunk (for when Mom does your laundry), extra-soft cotton t-shirts, and the list goes on. This is a small supply for when folks come into the event space and I try to sell them things.
Continuing to the right, inside and atop the “a,” Cabinet keeps its napkins. All sorts. Lunch from Hanco’s can get messy. What else does “a” stand for? Crystallized dinosaur dung, of course! Inside everyone’s favorite vowel rests a piece of dino-excrement. Next to the “a” is a standard issue Cabinet medallion (depicted below), given to us by one of our many celebrity readers. We have to wear them around the office at all times.
“b” is my favorite letter. The Best, if you will. It’s stacked, kind of unfair really. In fact, after you read about this letter, you might as well skip the rest of the post. On top of the “b” is a mask found in a Hollywood warehouse. Interesting? Only a little. But when you find out that it was used in Argentine government protest marches to goad local and national political leaders into implementing more sustainable economic practices and social policies, the object comes to life! (Alert: this is a theme. Remember this.) Nestled inside of “b” is my favorite piece of Cabinetalia: a carton of government-issued cigarettes straight from the Physical Measurement Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Techonology. These ain’t your organic Am-Spirs, kiddos. These cigarettes are used across the country to calibrate the monster-black-lung-machines of marlboro, camel, kent, etc. so as to ensure they are providing you with the proper amount of batteries, rocket fuel, and vinegar. Phew!
Moving right – you cannot spell “inebriation” without “i-n-e.” Yes, folks, you guessed it: this is where the magazine stores its adult-beverage-making materials (note Philly product Root by Art in the Age between “n” and “e”). Cabinet hosts bimonthly events at the office space. Most recently, there was a poetry lab centered on the works of Frank O’Hara wherein, in order to get a cocktail, you had to write a poem for someone else at the party. After you typed it up on one of the seven 50s-era machines, you gave it to your pal who then presented it to the on-hand mixologist. The mixologist (his name was Evan) would then read the poem and make a personalized cocktail based on the tone, rhythm, and diction of the piece. Ask yourself: what is a bourbon poem? Or, more interestingly, what do my poems taste like?
Finally, (and this is lame) “t” is a cousin of “a.” This is where more napkins are at. Crescendo. Curtain. Houselights. There you go: C-A-B-I-N-E-T.
Ok, great. What does it all mean? What’s with your internship, bro? Where does all this fit in???
Boom: Cabinet embodies a broad and meticulous curiosity, understanding all cultural phenomena to be worthy of the critical mining typically reserved for the art world. This means that an article on the pneumatic postal system in 20th century Paris ends up next to a conceptual art project on certificates of authenticity in art. Batteries, rocket fuel, Flavor Flav, and the Federal Commission on Weights and Measures all figure prominently in the development of cultural consciousness so it is imperative that we turn a critical eye towards them all. Furthermore, the idea is that, upon turning your critical eye, you will notice aspects of your cultural reality that were perhaps not present for you before. When you ask, “Wait, where was that mask made? Was it really just for the robbery seen in The Town?” and you uncover its Argentine roots, a tiny explosion occurs on the outskirts of your world.
My work at Cabinet ranges from article research (both before and after the writing process has begun) to fact-checking to editing to Ikea-furniture-making. Because the organization is so small (there are only about four people in the office at any time), I am directly involved (at least minorly) in most everything that goes on in Cabinetlandia. One moment I am researching the logistics of fresh fruit transport for an upcoming issue and the next I am mailing an archived magazine copy to a subscriber in Scotland, and still the next I am entering the most recent invoices for Cabinet tote bags (again, only $15!) into the computer accounting system. The big project this summer has been the forthcoming 10th Anniversary Compilation. Very, very exciting. A lot of formatting and editing. I thought I knew footnotes. Hah.
The whole experience has been an education in the art of publication, from the writer’s desk to the printing press. Voracious research, countless hours spent with the Chicago Manual of Style during one of the many rounds of editing, the interminable battle to understand copyright law, all this is of the utmost importance when you are self-publishing (it should be noted that Cabinet, aside from the actual printing and binding, does everything in house).
It’s been an incredibly energizing summer in New York. Ok, more soon.