Blue Helmets: The Abridged Version

I realize that my recent post about the Miniscule Blue Helmets on a Massive Quest is a tad long for this attention-span deprived age of microblogging. I don't want the blue helmet quest to be stymied because my brain ran amok, so here's an abridged version:

Over a month ago, Lisa Radon tweeted about a project through which toy soldiers are being dispersed globally, their spread documented in photos and by flagging their positions on a world map at the project's website. She drew the comparison with Scott Wayne Indiana, a Portland artist who began tethering toy horses to the iron rings found on many Portland curbs. I was amused and intrigued by the project, and commented on Ms. Radon’s tweet, expressing my surprise that none of the blue helmeted soldiers had arrived in Portland.

Last week, I received a call from a former landlady telling me that a package addressed to me had arrived from the Netherlands. I had no idea what it might contain. On Saturday, I picked up the package to discover that it was a collection of nine toy soldiers in a variety of poses, and each sporting a blue helmet.

A postcard accompanying the package said:

Dear Mister Cannon,

twitter: ‘I’m surprised the mini blue helmets haven’t arr in PDX yet. Soon, perhaps.’

Well … here they are! Looking forward to your uploads.

Cheers, Pierre

Pierre Derks is the artist responsible for creating the “Miniscule Blue Helmets on a Massive Quest” project. He spotted my tweet response to Ms. Radon, tracked down my address (albeit one that is out-of-date) and enlisted me to the cause. His note quoted my original tweet.

My wife and I became co-conspirators in the project, sharing ideas of where to place and photograph the soldiers. We decided that Portland’s bridges not only need to be guarded, but are photogenic and iconic symbols of our city. We also decided to start with just one soldier in order to get Portland on the map without delay. We completed our first mission on Sunday afternoon. It was a lovely outing.

We plan to continue placing blue helmeted soldiers around town, perhaps guided with input from readers, perhaps by enlisting volunteers, and perhaps by sending toy soldiers to other cities. In fact, I understand that one blue helmeted soldier has taken up a post on the Oregon coast just this afternoon. [UPDATE: Mission accomplished--see above].

Here's a picture of our soldier at his final guard post:

Last night, I didn’t take care to include all the appropriate links I should have:

The home base of the Miniscule Blue Helmets on a Massive Quest is here.

My new Dutch pen-pal, Pierre Derks, has a website here.

A gallery with which Mr. Derks is associated, “Le Grand Crew” can be found here.

The image shown below is by Mr. Derks and promotes an exhibit titled, “La Grande Boucherie.” The image was on the postcard Pierre enclosed in the package.

Lisa Radon twitters as @lisaradon and is worth following if you’re at all interested in cultural policy and events. Recently, she launched a culture and arts blog for Portland Monthly titled, "Culturephile: Portland Arts." Bookmark it.

If you want to learn more about the sidewalk horses of Portland, visit this spot on Scott Wayne Indiana's website "39 Forks." You can also read more on this site created by fans, which includes photos, maps and a guest book.

I can’t blame you if you skipped my original, much longer account of the Blue Helmets or thought, "I'll come back to this later." (You won't). My first draft was even three times longer with such elements as:

(1) A car chase through Ladd’s Addition thwarted by a bicycle parade.
(2) A surprise early-morning visit from agents of Homeland Security.
(3) A mysterious ChrisCraft cabin cruiser with a telephoto lens poking out a porthole.

I may continue working on that version, if only for my own amusement and as a writing exercise.

A final note: I should point out that all dialogue attributed to my dear wife in that longer post was entirely made up by me.


When posting about the Miniscule Blue Helmets via other social media, I’ve been linking to the post you’re now reading. If you’re intrigued by the Blue Helmets and don’t mind self-indulgent imaginative storytelling, I recommend these posts:

My original, long-form story of how I got involved in this mission.

A letter to home from Ingvar, a Blue Helmet from Sweden.

A plea for financial assistance from Charles Remmy, a Blue Helmet from the Benin Republic.

Should I add more reports of Blue Helmets, you can find them by clicking on the “Blue Helmets” label over in the right hand column.


David said...

I liked the long version!

MightyToyCannon said...

Thanks for the encouragement David. I had fun with the long version (and the even longer, unpublished version).

Recently, I've been enjoying playing within the constraints imposed by Twitter's 140 character limit (follow @mightytoycannon if you're using Twitter), but the blog will remain a place to cut loose with silliness of whatever length I feel like--take it or leave it. I figure there's a least one or two people reading.

Unknown said...

After reading this, I went back to the long version and enjoyed it thoroughly. I also went to Lisa Radon's post and enjoyed it. Sop that's the long and the short of it.

As to the toy horses: Just the other day I ran in to a couple of tourists looking at one and snapping pictures of it on their phone. I was plumb tickled to be able to tell them how it got there. May the blue nhelmets one day soon prompt a similar exchange!

P.S.: But don't look for me on Twitter. I just can't go there!

David said...

MTC, I think you've simply adapted to the 140-character limit on Twitter by tweeting every 3 or 4 minutes. When do you SLEEP, man!?


Stephen said...

I like the long version also.
I bought a bag of Toy Soldiers at a garage sale. I am useing blue nail polish... it seems to work well. Thanks for the new links.

MightyToyCannon said...

Bravo Stephen. Keep me posted on where the blue helmets get posted. I know of one one his way to Alaska, and have lined up the means to deliver some to this year's Burning Man.

David, the secret is to never sleep! Actually, the trick is to just dive in and do it without censoring oneself or worrying too much about editing!