2010 (prod. 2010 – 2011), ed. of 10, 13 pages and a preserved original May 24, 1973 ed. of Rolling Stone, 18 x 13″, inkjet-printed, color, presented in two archival-grade four-flap enclosures with string-and-button fastenings sewn into folded book cloth, cotton twill canvas, tent canvas and leather binding. Copies of Big Drug Factory — Unfound are offered in the series only.
Big Drug Factory — Unfound is a documentary assemblage on the murder of Dirk Dickenson—a man in his twenties who had recently moved to Southern Humboldt—by federal police on Pratt Mountain during a drug raid in April 1972. A range of texts and public records is contained in the book’s two archival-grade four-flap enclosures. Central among them is a preserved original May 24, 1973 ed. of Rolling Stone, whose cover story by Joe Eszterhas, “Death in the Wilderness: The Justice Department’s Killer Nark Strike Force,” investigates Dickenson’s death. Among the other historical documents presented are reproductions of contemporaneous local newspaper reports and facsimile copies of the coroner’s report and autopsy. The transcribed 2009 interview with Jon Akselsen, a Southern Humboldt homesteader who was stopped on the road during the police raid, helps situate events within contemporary community life. In demonstration of how the circumstances of Dickenson’s death remain directly relevant to the communities of Humboldt County today, the book reproduces a Humboldt-based internet blog’s 2006 reassessment and subsequent online discussion of the Rolling Stone coverage of the killing. These radically different documents emphasize the way distinctively contrasting registers and treatments of the same event, when brought together, can generate the possibility of new readings.
The two archival-grade four-flap enclosures provide a protective storage environment for the documents. The outer folded flaps of tent canvas—scavenged from Southern Humboldt hippie homesteads—disrupt the institutional functionality of the inner enclosures and return the book’s contents to the homesteading communities for which Dickenson’s killing became such a pivotal marker.
While Dickenson’s death is the central event around which the book’s materials are gathered, the title attests to a non-event: Big Drug Factory — Unfound. The first three pages reveal this to be a quotation of the sub-heading of the Times Standard newspaper’s front-page story (Wednesday, April 5, 1972) on the drug raid. The newspaper’s main heading to the same story—also reproduced in large format within the book’s first pages—reduces Dickenson’s death to a passive event: “Man Dies in Raid.” By choosing as its own title the “unreal” non-event of the police’s failure to find a drug factory, and by relegating the all-too-real fact of Dickenson’s death to a sub-heading, Big Drug Factory — Unfound subverts the media’s treatment of the story. This subversion continues throughout the book’s careful arrangement and ordering of presented documents.