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  • 05.18.11

The Tragically Hip Beauty Of The Unabomber’s Personal Items [Slideshow]

And they’re all for sale, in an online auction.

The U.S. government is selling off the personal effects of Ted Kaczynski, America’s most notorious technophobe, in an online auction. Goods include the hoodie and the aviator glasses that may or may not be the sweatshirt and the aviator glasses, some bows and arrows, a couple of wood-handled axes, his degree from Harvard, even his diary. Pardon our insensitivity for momentarily mistaking the closet of a vicious killer for that of a 27-year-old “lumberjack” living in Williamsburg.

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Kaczynski was Paul Bunyan with a violent streak.

Our proto hipster? The Unabomber. And it is not just Kaczynski’s belongings — wrecked canvas Zig Zag shoes, which are currently being ripped off by Alife, Etnies, and others, the torn box of Sears-brand arrows, and a crumbled nylon backpack and duffel that look like they came from the discount bin at Urban Outfitters. It’s the yellowy stain of the photographs and the flat, linear arrangement of the objects. It’s the ubiquitous wood ruler — a measure, in all senses, of the self-styled Neo-Luddism on display. If you poke around men’s fashion blogs, this should all appear oddly familiar.

It’s bizarre and a bit disconcerting to see the aesthetic convergence between the accoutrements of a killer and the precious woodsiness fetishized on sites like The Scout and Fuck Yeah Menswear. In fact, this whole slideshow looks like a window display for any number of men’s boutiques in Brooklyn.

The difference, of course, is that Kaczynski was an actual woodsman, a dogged adversary of the techno-industrial complex who lived in a cabin in the remote reaches of central-west Montana. He used axes to chop fuel for his wood-burning oven and bows and arrows to hunt animals for sustenance. He made bombs by hand. He was Paul Bunyan with a violent streak.

Our 27-year-old hipster lumberjack, on the other hand, might know how to order a flannel shirt on his iPhone, but he can barely kill a spider in his apartment, let alone field dress an eight-point. This is where we are, though. A rustic technophobe would fit right in, style-wise, with a generation of faux-rustic technophiles.

The kicker: His belongings are being auctioned, eBay style.

The kicker: His belongings are being auctioned online, eBay style — with a marketing campaign that also lives largely on the web. As U.S. Marshals Service spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue tells Co.Design, this the the first time that the department has posted photographs of an auction lot on Flickr for all to see, whenever they want, on whatever device they please. It’s a sly middle finger to everything Kaczynski believed in. In a prepared statement, U.S. Marshal Albert Nájera said, “We will use the technology that Kaczynski railed against in his various manifestos to sell artifacts of his life. The proceeds will go to his victims and, in a very small way, offset some of the hardships they have suffered.”

… And probably inspire a line of gear at Freeman’s Sporting Club.

View the auction here.

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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