Don't believe me? Let me present Exhibit A:
From left to right: The cover photo from my new favourite book, Sock Monkeys; Sid Luscious, the punk sock monkey I made for the fabulous Rizzo years ago; an illustration from a recent Christmas card I made for my husband, Rusty Iron; and Mr. Burke, a sock monkey I made for my housemate, The Don.
So, as you might imagine, I was pantswettingly excited when my good friend The Fair Danielle recently gave me -- for no good reason, mind you, other than the fact that she's a complete sweetheart -- a copy of a book I should've known about, but didn't: Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863).
It's a gorgeous coffee-table book filled with full-page black-and-white portraits of 200 sock monkeys owned by collector Ron Warren. The book is light on text, which is just fine with me. Warren's introduction explains the fascinating origins of sock monkeys and how he came to amass almost 2,000 of the creatures. Interspersed throughout the book are one-page essays (on the subject of sock monkeys, natch) written by contributors as wide-ranging as Neil Gaiman, Isaac Mizrahi, and Penn and Teller.
My favourite piece, however, is writer Peter Getty's ode to a sock monkey known only as "Earl":
Sock monkeys are, without a doubt, a very hardworking and patriotic segment of our society. But as with many of the world's displaced cultures, alcohol and dissolute living have taken a disproportionate toll on them, and since they tend naturally toward joviality and mischief, it is not always easy to tell which ones are simply having fun, and which ones might become a danger to themselves and others. An experienced observer, however, can usually see the warning signs, and so can you, if you know what to look for.Getty proceeds to tell you what to watch for, but you'll have to read the book yourself to find out. Needless to say, Getty is on to something. Even if you've only ever given a passing glance to a sock monkey, you've twigged to the fact that there's something demented going on behind those button eyes and wide red smiles.
As charming as the writing is, it's the sheer range of dementia evidenced in this book's photos that's most impressive: who knew these wee Missing Links could take so many forms? And it comes as no surprise to learn that the photographer who captured these portraits, Arne Svenson, is currently working on a series of photographs of forensic facial reconstructions.
It's a dark world, this sock monkey jungle. But in a way, aren't we all sock monkeys deep inside?
Edited later to add: Most of you probably don't read the "Comments" section of this site (though you should, because that's where the smart people hang out), but some folks have posted a couple of cool links (wow, I used the phrase "cool links"... how 1994 of me) you should check out if you care about the sock monkeys:
- Pam posted about the Rockford Sock Monkey Festival, coming up on April 16th and 17th. If you live anywhere near Illinois (which sadly, I do not), you need to go to this event. There's a seven-foot-tall sock monkey, people!
- This sock monkey poncho and hat was brought to our attention by the ever-mysterious A.
- For some reason, the Baco-Vegetarian is too shy (or too big for his britches) to post a comment, but he IMed me this link to the ultimate sock monkey discussion board. (And you thought you loved the monkey.)