Big Timber (CHOP!, CHOP!) is a animation in which characters Conuton Valve and Coon Dog meet at The Monopole in Plattsburgh, New York to find themselves traveling to California in the quest for gold and the Plasma Cloud. The piece attempts to blend historical and contemporary people, places, and events beginning with the Monopole's founding in 1897. I selected the imagery from found footage of local legends and then assembled it into a non-linear narrative. The characters’ dialogue also tries to capture the North Country/Quebec dialect that can still be heard while drinking a Genny and eating a Red Hot Michigan Plus in upstate New York.
The premise of the piece came from a tale of my great uncle getting run over and killed by a horse and buggy on Protection Avenue coming out the Monopole. Generations later, I would imagine his ghost while hanging out with my friends Conuton Valve and Double Wide at the "Pole." Looking at old photographs of the establishment (one can be seen downstairs near the pool table), it seems not much has changed over the years. Both my personal connection to the Pole and the uniqueness of its patrons inspired me to visualize stories I heard. Animation was the perfect medium for these types of stories because it allowed me to process artifacts (photographs, records, word of mouth) in combination with my own creations and assemble them together artistically.
Some noteworthy references to past events at the Pole include the alternative rock band The Resonator performing, a conversation about Scott Pelkey and Bushy, demands for "turkey" meaning the whiskey Wild Turkey, and the profanity "Jesus H" referring to Jesus Harold Christ. Double Wide was known to have a big appetite for cheesy dough (pizza) and Michigans, a local favorite. Also true, is the fabled Mercury Sable providing a trustworthy means of transportation to California.
While there are many audiovisual references to the history of the Monopole, I also added symbolic images (Plasma Cloud, Trees, Evil Nurse, Candy Machine) to represent forces I believe to be threatening the traditional "buckie" way of life. For example, the enigmatic presence of a leg sucking Plasma Cloud compels Conuton Valve and Coon Dog to leave the Monople and head west. During their adventures, they are resilient to change but are confronted by the bizarreness of an Evil Nurse, Candy Machine, and Black Trees. These could be symbols of technology, desire, and death of tradition. Even the title Big Timber (CHOP!, CHOP!) refers to the passing of simple times by complex forces; the future, chopping the past away.
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