Build a Better Saw Blade

Photo by Jeanne RiceWhy, oh, why, would a bunch of grown men waste their lunch hour standing around the parking lot at Express Pipe and Supply Co. in Anaheim? Three words for you: "dominatrix" and "power tools." Or, alternately: "marinated roast beef."

Guys are pretty simple, and Express main man Dean Ballard—owner of a genuine shrunken head and collector of vintage blowtorches—excels at strip-mining our baser instincts.

The occasion, ostensibly, was the launch of a new hardened-steel, reciprocating saw blade by the folks at Lenox Power Tools, whose wares Ballard sells—bookended by beef and babes. But the blade, it turned out, was a year old, which made this just a way to kill a wretchedly hot Friday afternoon.

Roast beast aside, the main attraction was Lenox Team Hack Product Specialist Johnny Hosko cutting a rusty, tan Ford Granada GL station wagon in half. In a minute and 29 seconds. I learned later that he'd done it in a minute and 20 in Vegas—apparently Hosko works faster the hotter it gets.

With this kind of entertainment, I half-expected to see one of the World's Largest Balls of Twine trailered in from the Midwest to join the fun, or the Human Blockhead—freshly risen from the grave, hammering nails up his nose. It was that kinda party.

But the Blockhead is dead, so we all made do with beef and Veronique, the teacher/dominatrix/pinup model who was barely covered in the kind of pinstriped miniskirt getup that no teacher would ever wear 'cause you have to iron it. Plus, a bunch of fourth graders would look up your skirt. She didn't seem to mind a bunch of grown men looking down her top, but then that was her job.

Get within 20 feet of Veronique, and she'd wrap her riding crop around your neck while a photographer snapped pictures of embarrassed you, threatening to send 'em to your family.

Were we having fun yet? Some of us were.

"I've never seen so many guys standing in one place before," one of the few women present said in her best men-are-stupid-pigs voice, looking down from the loading dock at the knot of hopefuls around Veronique.

We milled about like bulls in season, grateful when Hosko finally started hacking away at the car with his trusty reciprocating saw—a tool just like an alligator or a rocket-propelled grenade launcher: no reason you'd ever need one, no telling when you might.

It'll make mincemeat of anything from a DeLorean to a Yugo, which is just what happened here. We gathered, counted down to zero, and Hosko got biz-ay.

He started it up, reverberations inside the seatless station wagon making it sound like a chain saw, and sliced across the floor with ease (the drive shaft was out). Halfway across the roof, tragedy struck: with the clock ticking, Hosko broke a blade. Several of us groaned, all simultaneously looking up at Ballard, who smoked a cigar atop a huge stack of drainpipe, stopwatch clutched in a meaty paw. Hosko didn't speak; he simply slotted in a replacement blade and went back to work.

The big moment loomed, anticlimactic in its haste, as he whittled down the remaining centimeters of metal holding the station wagon together. Quickly, it was done. Hosko straightened, with no fanfare, and the station wagon fell quietly in half: the front half listing at the middle, the back half pointing at the sky.

Our suburban bloodlust sated, we pounded our hands together—then marched meekly back to work.


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