The Carriage Return

Press hard. Write well.

A friend shared this video with me and I was so moved by this man’s determination and I just had to share with y’all. 

SAM Remix Recap and SO much more…


The good people at Tumblr alerted me via email this morning that TODAY is the Carriage Return’s one year birthday.  I can’t believe it’s been a year since we first hatched the idea to set up those machines in Gasworks Park and let the public have at ‘em.  My, how this baby has grown.  How about we celebrate with some pictures from the SAM Remix event, some updates on what we’ve been up to, and what’s in store for the Fall?

Let’s start in the middle, like all one-year-olds’ do with their slices of cake, shall we?  The generous stipend given to us by the SAM has allowed us to take some of the machines “to the shop” for tune-ups.  Over the summer, I acquired a few more machines at garage sales (mostly thanks to my eyes on the ground, my Carriage Return volunteers!) but not all of them were in great condition.  My general rule is to not spend more than $50 per machine, and the machine has to be in good working order so it can be used immediately.  It can be dusty and require some oiling and a new ribbon, but it can’t have any mechanical defects like bent hammers, missing keys, etc.  Because I didn’t have a chance to inspect all the machines before I told my scouts to buy, I wound up with just a few that needed some love.  I even broke my own rule (for the love of the color red!) and bought one that needed a LOT of love.  (Seriously, how much cat hair can actually wind up INSIDE a typewriter? Turns out: quite a bit).  I put an ad out on Craigslist recently asking for a friendly typewriter repairperson, and we are now working with an enthusiast who has actually worked on machines before and has repaired four out of five that I didn’t have much hope for.  I’m SO excited to put these into rotation for our next event.  Especially that red one!

On to the SAM Remix event!  WOW!  Did you all ever turn out for this event!  I literally watched people RUNNING to the machines when they were free. That’s how excited y’all were to type.  My contact at SAM, Philip, warned me that about 2,800 people would show up to the event, and we were *almost* overwhelmed by the attendance but we kept our cool for you.  Of course, not all 2,800 people came by the typewriters (there was SO much great stuff to see in the park that night!) but those of you who did come really gave it your best out there in the half dark, in heels, and with adult beverages in hand.  Bravo.

There was quite a bit of “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” and “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”… but there were also some real gems, some lovely, thoughtful responses to the prompts, which all revolved around the theme of sound. 

Here are some snippets:








We are so very grateful to Philip over at the SAM for inviting us to be a part of the night.  The SAM Remix event also exposed us to some fabulous new liaisons!  Kelly with Short Run (a comix and arts festival here in Seattle) contacted us after the Remix event and asked us to be a part of their November 15th convention.  I’m thrilled!  I personally can’t attend, but our Carriage Return volunteers, ever vigilant, ever enthusiastic, will be stepping up to take my place and haul the machines over to the gorgeous building where the event will take place and unsticking your keys and encouraging you to press harder.  Given that so many of our machines will be spiffed up, this will be a VERY exciting start to our second year as an organization.  The Short Run has even agreed to encourage participants to be part of the story exchange we started last year!  So starts another Fall season, another round of entertaining and intriguing letters being mailed off to expectant strangers.  We are still hashing out the details, so stay tuned for more information about this event.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting more of your SAM Remix brilliance here and featuring pictures of the newly polished machines. 

Happy beginnings to the tea-drinking, contemplative typing season, everyone. 

This is happening, people! Come check us out!

SAM Friday Remix Partners With the Carriage Return!


Well, typewriter enthusiasts, we’ve hit the big time.  The Seattle Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park have contacted us and we’re helping be a part of their Friday night Remix event THIS Friday, August 22nd.  I can hardly contain my excitement!

This will be the biggest event the Carriage Return has ever put on/been a part of.  The estimate is that about 2,500 people will be in attendance. 

That’s a LOT of typing, people.  A LOT.  

Still, we’re thrilled we have been asked to participate.  The machines are up in my living room right now, getting ready to have their ribbons wound to the starting position and their joints lubricated.  It still amazes me that after all this time, and all these years, these things still work with only the minimal amount of maintenance.  Some of them have been knocked around this past year, what with all the car travel they weren’t exactly built for, but they’re still holding up.  I acquired a few this summer and I’m hoping to put a few of them into rotation (all portables, and all thanks to my eyes on the ground, my friends who know about this collection and are always willing to scout for me.)

This time around, the prompts will be driven by a particular installation, one by a man who goes solely by the last name Trimpin.  You can read more about the exhibit here.

This exhibit, which features three sets of oversized orange headphones you can stick your whole head into, is of particular interest to me since I myself have permanent hearing loss in both my ears (chalk it up to recurring childhood ear infections, unlucky genetics, and maybe one too many punk shows in between the ages of 14-19).  The world DOES occur to me differently because of this hearing loss.  Not only am I constantly asking my poor husband to repeat himself (WHAT?  WHAT?), but I often wonder about how many notes I’m not hearing when I listen to music, for example, or anything symphonic, really (my particular hearing loss sort of lops off the middle range of things, so I can only really hear the highs and the lows).  I’m always jealous of my pitch-perfect friends who can sing a tune after hearing it just a few times.  I often can’t do that because I don’t hear the same things they do, those tiny nuances in the human voice that make a song so personal.  Sometimes, at the end of a particularly noisy day, I experience auditory hallucinations, like the sound of a lawnmower, or church bells, or the cry of seagulls, when there is none.   Anyway, I tell you all this because I’ve often wondered about what part, what range of the world, is unavailable to me, sonically, and how that shapes how I experience the world.  I suspect this exhibit will do the same for you.

And when you are ready to share your reactions, we’ll be right there, like literally RIGHT THERE, for you to write about it!  On typewriters!  Our station will be very close by the Trimpin exhibit, and we’ll have paper and tables all ready for you.  You’ll have the majestic Puget Sound to one side of you, and the bustling city on the other, so you won’t be short on inspiration.  Plus, you’ll be in the midst of the musical goings-on, and the chatter from passersby, and the sound being generated by the headphones.  You’ll have much to share about, I’m sure.  We can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it. 

Info on how to buy tickets to the SAM Remix event are here.

And check out their Facebook page here

Installment #4 of Ribbon & Rhyme