What's in My Bag

What’s in my cigar box? — Josh Glenn


What’s in my ... ? issue #112

Josh Glenn is cofounder of the commercial semiotics agency SEMIOVOX and editor of the website HILOBROW. He is coauthor of the UNBORED family activity guides, SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and other books including THE ADVENTURER’S GLOSSARY and LOST OBJECTS (both forthcoming). Recently, he signed on as founding editor of MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE series of reissued proto-sf novels from the overlooked 1900–1935 era.


I work above a liquor store, and the nice folks who work there give me empty cigar boxes whenever I pass through.

Most of my projects — UNBORED, PROJECT:OBJECT, etc. — have involved promotional stickers. Which tend to float around, getting dinged up and dusty, if you don’t protect them. I lost the cards for the 1970s-era “AC/DC: The Exciting Electric Circuit Game” long ago, but I love the bold red-and-black box, which I now use to store a selection of my promo stickers.

Nobody gives or receives business cards, any longer — who even takes f2f meetings these days? But my own business cards are mementoes — they represent various jobs and phases of my life, from working at a dotcom in the ‘90s and the Boston Globe in the ’00s, to starting my semiotics agency. Plus cards for various short-lived projects, like when I was a handyman in grad school — I specialized in repairing rain gutters and broken window sash cords.I keep ’em safe in this vintage Lucky Strikes cigarettes container. Condition: “Used.””

My friend Peggy Nelson helped me create embroidered “merit badge” patches, for my website HILOBROW, some years back. I keep a few remnants of this fun craft project in an embossed Pac Man Ghost tin — which I believe used to contain candy. I probably swiped it from my children.

I used to collect coins when I was a kid — I don’t any longer. But I still keep an eye out for wheat pennies (1909–1956), and marvel whenever they show up in my change. How have they stayed in circulation all these years? I return some of them to the wild; others I stash in a DupliMAT typewriter ribbon tin. I love typewriter ribbon tins, and never miss a chance to snatch one up at a yard sale or thrift store. The second typewriter ribbon tin shown here contains ink cartridges for a fountain pen that I haven’t used in a few years.


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