I was born in 1969 and I grew up in Adrian, Michigan. My father used to own a reputable furniture store near there, and I used to work in the store on weekends and before I dropped out of college. I dropped out of Michigan State because I didn’t like the people. I also started to DJ at parties and didn’t care too much about getting up early for classes.
I always found the used furniture section of the store to be far more interesting than the new products section. My mother is a nurse. I had an older brother who died of leukemia when he was young. I have a vague notion of he and I watching TV together. I don’t remember much more. I must have been three or four. I got arrested for stealing at the local thrift store when I was seventeen, and knew it was time to leave Michigan. My parents could have given up on my ass but they didn’t. They are good Midwestern people.
I got my first name (Xanthus) from my Father’s mother who was Greek. It was apparently her father’s name. I have never been to Greece, but would really like to.
I arrived in New York City in the late 80s after living in Seattle (4 months), Austin (not sure how long) and Boston (1 year). I was going to go back to college in Boston (BU) but suffered a broken leg in a dumb car accident which really messed things up because I was in a cast for three months with no insurance. I moved to NYC then because a friend of mine from Michigan lived there. I had all kinds of jobs when I first moved to NYC. I was an apartment painter, a waiter, and a bookstore clerk. I attempted a brief sojourn as a limo driver but couldn’t stand the hours and people’s attitudes. All these things were better than being a janitor in Boston however.
I started taking night classes and learning Desktop Publishing at the School of Visual Arts in New York. I first met John.F. Culhane who went to SVA at a 4th of July party on Jackson St. in Brooklyn. It was at this guy Jason’s place who I worked with at Typo-gram which was my first real job with computers.
I have always been interested in collections of all kinds, and utterly respected anyone who was good at it. I believe that there are people who have a certain aptitude for finding things. It’s not even so much a level of awareness, but a zen state of mind. It’s a state of no mind actually, where all your faculties are open. I’ve tried to hold onto collections of my own, but lost a lot after moving in the early 90s. New York has some really amazing collections of things, but it’s so hard to start your own here and survive with no money. You’re really reduced to picking garbage.
In 1998 or so, someone sent me a link to The People’s Photos online which was started by Culhane and another guy from SVA who was a cartoonist (Sam Henderson). The archive was a collection of pictures which had been found “on the street and behind couches”. I was amazed by the chance operations which made the collection. Sam Henderson apparently had photo albums full of the stuff that people from the underground cartoonist community would send him. The albums would come out at parties and according to JFC, “everyone would make up their own interpretations of the pictures.” So they put this all online in different categories, and urged people to send in comments and photos that they found.
In 2004 JFC started this demanding corporate job and literally sold out. After bugging him continuously that he didn’t update the site enough he offered to sell it to me for one large bottle of Belvedere Vodka. I agreed and he gave me the keys.
The most recent update is a flash interface on the front of the site which randomly sorts through the entire database of images and sounds. I will be adding much more to this database shortly from my own collection.
That’s about it,
X. F. Pine