Project Sprewel(l)

While yours truly was in the employ of the Riverfront Times in the late ’90s, a miniature figurine of Golden State Warrior small forward Latrell Sprewell made the rounds of the paper’s staff. Over time, three different employees had the mini on their desks and, in each case, said employee received a short haircut. As you might guess, I was the third of the trio and decided to break the curse in mid-2000, taking the mis-labeled “Sprewel” home with me.

Since that time, the li’l guy’s always been around, sorta begging to be put to some sort of work. Recently, I figured that camera use might be stimulated if I put Spree in the car and shot him in/at: various public events, open houses, classrooms, restaurants, pubs, coffeehouses and anywhere else I might find myself. Sure it’s got a bit of the “traveling gnome” vibe to it, this idea, but I’ve never been too proud to appropriate.

Spree made his public debut a week back, at The Dewes Chili Cookoff 2009, a delicious way to introduce the figurine to a new, public role. Yesterday, Spree hopped in the car and went for a five-stop UE bender, on both the North Side and the East Side. The fourth locale was a recently-cleared, historic cemetary on the edge of Brooklyn/Lovejoy. Though the graveyard’s still not in a pristine state, the brush that had overwhelmed the area has been scaled way back, allowing visitors a chance to peek at the grave markers of folks a century removed from this mortal coil.

Sure, hanging around a graveyard (and a burned-out church and collapsing funeral home and demolished stockyard) on Halloween day’s a bit on the cliche tip, but that’s where we found ourselves. And where I dropped Spree.

Now, there’s probably some type of karmic offense that I’m not considering here, what with losing a figurine of this NBA macontent in a long-abandoned cemetary on the edge of the oldest black settlement in the region, but life’s what it is and I couldn’t let Spree litter the grounds of this quiet, sacred place. So I headed over today, unsure that I’d spot the three-inch Spree, but mostly sure that this was the last place the totem was photographed. Tipped on his side, in the partially-collapsed grave of one Nettie Green (“1895 – 1927, At Rest”), there was Spree, 24-hours removed from my care and looking none the worse for wear after a Halloween night in the boneyard.

The baller’s gonna travel with me from here-on-out, even if he’s lost another time, or two. But me and Spree share history.  Ain’t gonna leave him. Ain’t gonna lose him, without a fight.

At Flickr: Project Sprewel(l).