Fresh Start Toy

fresh start toy

fresh start toyI am not known to rock a microphone. But I am known to make decisions that I own.

I seldom shy from massive decisions, radical turns or harrowing leaps. I relish them. Maybe it’s my version of being an adrenaline junky. My life has been relatively constant change. When I was a teenager my best pal Keith Teleki and I made a thing that makes absolutely no sense to those who don’t know he and I, but has the ring of great truth to those who do. We had a habit of fanatically attempting to outdo, often with frightful results, each others “gifts” to each other. One year for one of our birthdays, or Bastille day or Boxing day, one of us made a thing known simply as the Fresh Start Toy. It was quickly enhanced and enshrined by the Fresh Start Die.

In describing it, no matter my finest with words and colorful descriptors, you will find yourself scratching your head and wondering what the hell am i talking about and why the hell would someone make such a thing. And you would be partially right. The partial right of the uninitiated and staid. It was, nevertheless created . And it was thrillingly and consistently fawned over. To say we ‘used it’ would be to belittle its awesome power and proclivity. The Fresh Start Toy and it’s dicey companion do not get used, they initiate the action, They roll the nickels. They write the plans. They are the boss, man.

The Fresh Start Toy was, first of all, not a toy. It was a philosophy laid down like scented marker writ. (not the liberty stealing Writ of Republicans) It encapsulated a dream of freedom and leap-before-lookery that we barely understood at a cognitive level, yet divined nonetheless. It was a testament, not to creative genius or production exactitude, but to a radically freeing, subversive freedom that spoke powerfully to our souls. And it still does. No I don’t have any photos of this creation. This was 1987-88 we did;y carry freacking computers around in our pockets and there was quite literally nowhere to put photos except physical books in drawers. I’m not lying, Yahoo that shit.

So what is this mythical Fresh Start Toy and Fresh Start Die you ask? Well despite Melissa & Doug’s wussleager attempt to copy it, it is not a child’s toy. Although they did get the overall
shape right:fresh start toy

The Fresh Start Toy was a large cardboard circle, not unlike the toy pictured above, with a hand-made spinner impaled dead center. The circumference of this great circle is inscribed with choice photographic, pictographic and typographic selections from many leading magazines of the day. Or at least the ones we could get our hands on. There were a great number of ‘choices/selections’ around the circle. The photos ranged from seemingly innocuous to downright bizarre. A beautiful fashion model in a sparkling evening gown yet perched on a eagles back. A raging bull, bleeding, yet still fighting a Matador. A red Porsche 911 Whaletale taking a hard mountain curve. A dolphin balancing a pretty beach ball. A red rubber ball. A strapping, bare-chested he-man with a bow tie. Phrases like “maniac lives to skate” or “lucky man sees pal die” or “twice as much dope as  you think”  or “cable-tied monkey” And many, many other photos and words.

The idea was that when one was sufficiently bored, there being an actual limit to the height of boredom one is willing to endure without substantial change, one would reach out to a helpful pal, as one never used the Fresh Start Toy on yourself, and ask them to spin you a fresh start. Your ever helpful friend would then spin the center mounted spinner with vigor. The chooser would spin like a drunken sailor (we weren’t very technically proficient in the 80’s) until finally landing either fully on one solid choice, or equally straddling two opposing, yet conflicitingly neighboring choices.


And that was the beauty of the Fresh Start Toy. It made a carefully selected, randomly arrived at Fresh Choice so you cold make a Fresh Start. In life, in love, in leaping. I will let you make your own conclusions as to the implications of the ‘choices’ presented and chosen by the nefarious yet fair toy, yet it is clear that it offered you almost certainly a brand spanking new, decidedly fresh, immensely liberating start. You are not forced to do what it indicates. That is in fact it’s pure, unadulterated genius. In providing the fresh choices, the chance to start nd the toy it had clearly and cleanly upheld its end of the bargain. Now the ball was in your court.

Or the die. After a few months with the Fresh Start Toy we felt that perhaps it’s raucous misanthropy, although refreshingly chaotic, was a bit too tame and somehow unmeasured. Or more precisely, un-multiplied. So to remedy this harrowing deficit in an otherwise perfect thing we brought forth the Fresh Start Die. This was, rather simply, a large 12″ square cube of wood. A six-sided cube of ratty, beat up, distressed wood. I have no idea where we obtained this rare piece of wood lore, but I know who we did with it. We carved a series of patterned holes in some sides, like a standard dice. In other sides we carved more exponential multipliers like “naked” or “alone”. The objective was simple yet pronounced. After spinning the Fresh Start Toy to receive your choice of a fresh start, you then rolled the Fresh Start Die (this was always rolled by the Fresh Starter themselves to cement the multiplier) to determine what the ‘multiplier’ was. The two worked flawlessly in tandem. The Fresh Start Toy separately was a daunting, exhilarating, breathtaking act of defiance and life. The Fresh Start Die multiplied that by a randomly arrived at number or action. That, my friends, is exponential as shit. (and a brilliant use of commas) That is what the Fresh Start Toy/Die is. Spin it. Do it. Own it.

By Andy Newbom

My name is Andy Newbom. At this time there are less than 10 Newboms in the world. Not sure if thats good or bad.