Tasty Waves and a cool buzz

There is a scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High where the students smell the handouts distributed in class.  Many people have fond memories of the smell of mimeo but the smell is really that of a spirit duplicator (rexograph, hectograph, or ditto machine) not a stencil duplicator (a mimeo machine).  Mimeo ink has a slight smell but the ditto machine, which did not use ink, used an alcohol-based duplicating fluid, a mixture of methanol and isopropanol.  See http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_89955.asp.  This solution has a distinctive smell.

If you remember the smell of homework and it was printed in purple, it was created on a ditto machine, not a mimeo machine.  Ditto machines were far more common in schools than mimeo machines.  So the contact high from mimeo ink is one of the myths of the 1960s like smoking banana peels.  Yet I like to think that Jeff Spicoli was the da levy of Ridgemont High, slaving away at his ditto machine in his basement printing a surf mag with his friends.  Surrounded by methanol fumes and pot smoke, Spicoli would enjoy the cool buzz of print and printing. 

It puts a new spin on Douglas Blazek's Open Skull Press.        


Post a Comment