How Peeps turned a regular automobile mechanic into part of the backbone of the Washington, DC art scene

May 7, 2010

Reservoir Peeps (for 2007 Washington Post contest), originally uploaded by karlmek.

Today, we celebrate the birth of Reservoir Carl.

Reservoir Carl was born a small child. He grew up to become the deeply weird and intense character we know today. Along the way, it was Marshmallow Peeps that showed Reservoir Carl his destiny.

On a cold, grey, rainy February day in 2007, some Peeps became imbued with a cosmic life force and a blinding light shown down upon them. The Peeps drew themselves up to their full height, which, admittedly, isn’t very tall. Then, one of the pink peeps cleared it’s throat and spoke to Carl in a soft but resolute voice. “Carl,” The Peep said. “It is your destiny to be a leader in the DC arts community and make art accessible to tens of thousands of people.”

It’s also possible that Reservoir Carl inhaled too many glue fumes while creating macabre and witty dioramas out of said Peeps and only thinks that they began speaking to him on that fateful day in 2007.

It’s also possible I made up some or possibly even all of the part with the lights and the talking peeps and the metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.

To make a long story short, in 2007 Carl was a finalist in the Washington Post’s inaugural Peeps diorama contest. Michele L got the Post to display the Peeps at Artomatic that year. Carl thought Artomatic was so cool he actually participated beyond the Peeps and did umpteen volunteer shifts. Then he joined a committee. Then he became part of the team that attends to every single detail pertaining to the buildout, maintenance and tear-down of the event. Then he became Chair of a Committee. Then he stopped speaking to me.*

Now, I don’t think Artomatic is the end of the road for Carl. The Peeps aren’t done guiding Carl. I can’t say for sure what his destiny is, but I suspect that there’s a lot of art to be made and enjoyed along the way and it’ll be interesting to see where Carl’s path leads him.

This much I can say for sure: today is Carl’s birthday and it’s been a hell of a year for him. Let’s get this year off to a better start for the guy. Stop into the comments on this post and wish him happy birthday, because if you don’t you may find him some night in your kitchen with a few cases of Peeps and a glue-gun, and I’m not sure you want that to happen.

*He didn’t really, but would you blame him?

Since this post has been getting a lot of traffic, I’m adding a post-script. Carl Cordell died in 2011. Here’s my post about the shrine to Carl and the 2012 Artomatic being dedicated to Carl’s memory.

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May 7, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

This magnificent blog post is a fitting tribute to Carl. Chocolate-covered peeps for everyone!

May 7, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

I didn’t really say it in the post, did I? Happy birthday, Carl and many happy returns! I hope I haven’t offended Porsche mechanics the world over by calling you “regular,” I just needed a fitting title :-)

Reservoir Karl
May 7, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

“I’ll get you for this, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” Seriously (moi?), thank you
(I think) and we’re still doing dinner (some
time this year). Peeps optional.8]

May 7, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

Hey, at least I edited the line “To make a long story short – something Carl never does – ” bwahahaha!

Yes, please, dinner soon. We also need to have some sort of dinner party because I’ve been trying to make plans with you and EvilAgent and Jeanan and Michele and…well, it’s a long and wacky list and you should all just come to me one day and we’ll make a party of it.

May 7, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

I just melted a couple pistons a day or so ago…and today gave a couple VW heads ( single port! WooHooo! ) to a guy rebuilding a car

did I mention the Aluminum wheel I mount my furnace on?

where would we be without Carl & old car parts? — cleaner but bored

Evil Agent
May 9, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

INDEED! Many happy returns…when do we celebrate? R has clearly offered the venue!

May 19, 2010 @ 6:50 am

I didn’t really say it in the post, did I? Happy birthday, Carl and many happy returns! I hope I haven’t offended Porsche mechanics the world over by calling you “regular,” I just needed a fitting title :-)