Back then when I was in San Francisco and Venice, I was a little more arty. I didn't own a camera and was always walking around, very peripatetic.
And I always had a little box of matches in my pocket. So if I found the perfect discard fortune cookie saying littering the sidewalk in front of a Chinese restaurant, I would save it in the matchbox until such time as I'd used up the matches. Then later, I would use a bit of glue and cut the fortune to fit and put it on the matchbox.
If I were near a typewriter, I would type a small short phrase I happened to think of (obviously "matchbox holds my clothes") and stick it on another matchbox.
Or if I had a penny for one of the fortune teller machines in a restaurant, I would use that strip of paper on a matchbox, too.
Sometimes I would find an old discarded matchbox and would use that as a little drawer to hold a miniature metal Coors can I had actually found rolling around on the street one day. And you could open the drawer and find a little can of beer, you see.
Or I'd carefully cut one of the pages from those religious comic books people would hand out then and glue it on the matchbox, but I'd have to wait until I found the perfect one, so I was always picking up those little tracts and going through them.
At the ranch I'd found a very old box of matches for the wood stove. One time there I envisioned a great possibility, and I just felt I was better heeled and a bit more stable in my existence there, and I'd had the money to buy the giant version of a box of matches if I needed or wanted one to replace the one I was about to use up. By the time I'd used every match in that old box, the emory strikers were more scarred and the paper even more torn and frayed. Sometimes a match had ignited and flared up too close to the strikeplate and there was a brownish burn mark. And for awhile, an ancient hint of sulfur. I eventually typed up the word "SUCCESS" and stuck it on that box.
In San Francisco once, I found a matchbook from what someone later told me was a "male homosexual bar", and I folded the cover and wrote "Arty" inside (because that really was the name of the guy in the high school boy's gym class, the one the football players would beat up because he was such a little fag). It still had matches in it, too, and I didn't use any.
It's not like these small things popped out in an instant. Or like something on assembly line. I would have to wait until the perfect moment, when I found the perfect object one that had some significance to me.
One time long about 1967 or 1968, I found a miniature 38 special keyring on the rack for maybe as much as a buck. I tested its heft and weight in my hand. I had to buy it because I knew it would fit into a matchbox. And that way I could tell my friends I had a gun in the drawer at home and nobody better mess with me.
(I never used any like the one in the photo here, but you get what I mean)