Thursday, December 19, 2019

The American Ax Fetish

New York Times – "Our Lives in the Time of Extremely Fancy Axes"

"The 2000s felt like a decade of looking forward. Wi-Fi went mainstream, phones got smarter, social media connected us, digital tools let us rely less on physical ones.

But the 2010s brought a shift. There was still tons of new technology, but also glamping, #vanlife, tiny houses, “Cabin Porn,” the mainstreaming of the farm-to-table movement, a market for artisanal cast-iron pans and boutique butter churns, a fascination with going back to the land (lived out, for many, via Instagram) — all signs of longing for a simpler life.

Also: pervasive political anxiety, a wave of post-apocalyptic literature, the reign of “The Walking Dead.”

It has been a decade of pushing back against the increasingly isolating life we’ve created, and of feeling the need to make preparations for the aftermath sure to come. The ax as a household item, even for people in cities with no cause to fell trees, fits right into the zeitgeist of the 2010s.


As of two years ago, he was working mind-numbing 70-hour weeks at Smoothie King for $7.25 an hour. When he discovered ax throwing, everything changed.

“We call it ax therapy,” Mr. Applegate, 29, said. “Get away from the 9-to-5, hit the pause button, throw some steel into some wood and feel a little bit better.” Some participate because it makes them feel powerful, confident, joyful. Others because it brings them calm.


He thinks the growing interest in axes foreshadows a larger renaissance for craft tools: that at this point, consumers seek objects that are beautiful, authentic and useful.

He may have prophesied the next decade. Refurbished vintage ball peen hammers with ombré painted handles are already cropping up on Instagram."

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