Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Infamous Tyvekian "Stronger Than Dirt" Terror

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Stronger Than Dirt...

Do you know the very last line in The Door's classic "Touch me"?

Come on, come on, come on,
touch me baby...
Can' t you see, that I am not afraid...
What was that promise that you made? etc...

The last thing said on that classic song, after about a minute of horns, is--

"Stronger Than Dirt!"

Yes, that was a Tide commercial.

Yes, that is what they say. The band and everyone else in the studio at the time gathered around a microphone and shouted "Stronger Than Dirt!"

(Incidentally, the song was originally written "Hit me, baby" but Jim Morrison was worried that people would come up to him after a show and actually hit him, so the words were changed.)

At the end, there are horns that last almost a minute, and then the song ends abruptly with "Stronger Than Dirt!"

Next time you hear it on the radio, listen closely to the very end. You'll hear it too.

I work with a good musician who can play everybody on the guitar. I told him to listen to the end of the Door's song playing on the radio. I told him to listen for the words "Stronger Than Dirt!"

He remembered the Tide commercial. He had never heard the words "Stronger Than Dirt!" in the thirty years he had been listening to that song. He heard it this time, and it nearly knocked his socks back into the dryer. This was a revelation worthy of obsessing over. This was cool news. This was our new work mantra, and we all sang it at various times for various reasons to great effect and laughter.

"Stronger Than Drt!"

No matter how old boys get, they are still (we are still) boys.

Boys will.

You know they will.

Be boys...

I just got back from a seminar put on by Tyvek, a subsidiary of Du Pont. Tyvek makes a paper that is the best thing to wrap your house with if you want to keep it dry and cozy. If you've ever driven by a house under construction, and noticed that it was wrapped in bright white paper with blue writing on it, then you have seen Tyvek wrapped around a house.

My bud Bruce who hires me because he likes me and because I'm "stronger than dirt" and can lift three times what most guys can, invited me to the seminar, which was more like a pizza and beer rap session with lots of non-building related stories being swapped.

One guy had made the paper the other day because he went to a fairground event and got caught up in a mix-up with rent-a-cops and got Tazered five times. His brother got tazered three times and his nephew once. The story is a good one and I might tell it someday. I will tell you though, that he was wearing a freshly inked T-shirt that said "The family that Tazes together, Stays together..."

People in the building trades crack me up.

I remember eating my pizza and drinking into my second beer, looking around at all of these "builders" and just getting all pre-occupied with their arms.

"Guns" we call them. A guy with big arms has "guns".

As in "Did you see the guns on that boy?"

I guess it's better than calling them "big arms". That sounds gay.

Anyway, I was looking at the collection of big guns we had in the room and thinking about the hours spent swinging hammers and lifting lumber that went into creating all of these meaty specimens. I realized that several of the guys had bigger looking arms than I have. I thought about getting up some arm wrestling-for-money momentarily (I used to arm wrestle for money) , but then I got swept away into the story telling thrills of the evening.

There was a girl who had been to Koh Samuii, Koh Pan Gan and had lived in Japan for a year.

There was an engineer who traveled by plane fifty days a year.

There was a bunch of hippy builders that could spin a tale and make you want to take up smoking pot.

There was the Tyvek rep, who paid for all of our beers on his company credit card.

Tyvek is now manufacturing other items to help create the ideal living space without killing anybody. If you seal up a house too tight, the air gets stale and is not good for you. If you create a positively pressured house, the air will escape by hook or crook.The thing Tyvek is selling are techniques to control the airflow for various conditions and optimal health and comfort.

Pretty interesting stuff worthy of an engineer to start a blog.

I'm not that engineer.

At the very end of the evening, I went to the Tyvek rep and thanked him for the beer and pizza. I told him that I had on previous occasions made kites out of Tyvek. One, nine feet by six and a half feet, which took two BIG guys to hold in a decent wind. I told him that me and a few of the boys are planning a huge kite weekend coming up this fall, when the beach winds are strong and steady and predictable. The Tyvek rep offered to donate to us a roll of his strongest house wrap. To demonstrate what he was talking about, he pulled a business card made out of the stuff (remember, this is DuPont we are talking about) and handed it to me.

"Try to tear that card in half," he said.

I put my fingers on the edge of the business card and tried to tear the card in half. It was made from a plasticky paper material and seemed impossible to tear.

"I do this all the time," he said. "Noone's ever been able to tear that card..."

I handed him back two halves of the card. I wasn't aware that I wasn't supposed to be able to tear the material so I tore it.

His eyes did the Buckwheat thing.

"You're kidding. Noone has ever torn one of those cards before. It wasn't suppose to be able to be done."

I heard my friend Wizard, who had watched this exchange, pipe in. "Da da dee daa... Stronger Than Dirt!"

"I must have hit a weak spot," I said. Here give me another one."

I tried to tear it in half. I couldn't do it. The rep nodded his head like I had somehow just caught a weak seam in one of his cards and been lucky. I flipped the card one eighty and tried a second time. I handed him back two halves.

"That's amazing," he said. "I've been doing this a long time. I've never seen that."

"OK one more", I said.

A crowd of big gunned builders had gathered and were getting handed a business card made out of super duper Tyvek material. There were no rippers.

I ripped a third one in half and then headed out the door.

I am now known in the area as the Tyvekian Terror ("tear"er, for those who need it spelled out.).

I'm moving on to phone books next...

Addendum-- Many years ago, I gathered a bunch of people and we made monstrous kites out of one by twos, forming string (very strong) contact cement, and Tyvek. We ripped old sheets for tails and took five of these to the beach. Four of them broke before they ever flew. The one by twos all proved to have a small flaw in the grain and they snapped in the first big wind. The one that flew had perfect grain (something to remember for our next kite making day). It took two full grown adults to hold the stick the string was tied to. There was about four hundred pounds of constant pull on the yellow string (good stuff, this string) and the kite was manuevered out over the ocean so if it dove into the ground, it wouldn't kill anybody.

As these things usually go, the kite got away from us. The stick dipped into the ocean and became a perfect drag weight which kept the kite flying south and west. I believe it landed down on the Marin Headlands but we lost visiual sight of it before then.

I've often wondered what people along the beach thought as this huge kite flew past.

"What's a Tyvek?"

1 comment:

amusing said...

I think being able to pull a sword from a stone or rip a tyvek card in half actually makes you king of the realm. You might want to check into it... the DuPont bylaws would probably explain it better than I....