Thursday, August 03, 2006

Shiv, and Let Die

Recently eaten: double quarter piunder meal, 10 piece chicken McNugget
Recent annoyance: warm beer

The Shiv. Simple, elegant design. Made of recycled or found objects. Deadly.

"A shiv (from the Romani word chiv) is a slang term for a sharp or pointed implement used as an improvised knife-like weapon. The shiv is the favored weapon of inmates in prisons across the globe. It is famous for its versatility - a shiv can be anything from a glass shard with cloth wrapped around one end to form a handle, to a razorblade stuck in the end of a toothbrush, to a sharpened spoon. Some inmates have even sharpened the ends of pork chop bones to make them into weapons.

A related term is shank. While the words are used interchangeably, the difference is that a shank is a type of shiv that is fashioned from the metal shank of a prison-issued boot or shoe. Since inmates were able to fashion effective shivs out of metal shanks, most (if not all) prisons no longer issue footwear with metal shanks. Many people have been killed by attackers using shanks while serving time in prison. Shank is sometimes also used as a verb, meaning "To stab someone, usually with a shiv, multiple times in a quick succession." Shank as a verb is also widely used in the online gaming community to describe someone killing another player with a knife, IE "Player1 was shanked by Player2."

I think these are all important considerations when in prison. Now hold the phone, don't misunderstand. This blog would NEVER endorse activities that would land one in prison in the first place. But as a conscientious author, I realize that I write for many audiences, including, but not limited to, the incarcerated.

What attracts me about the shiv, or even the shank, is it's craftiness. Deadly weapon aside, I feel the shiv should earn a place as a true American folk art. Sharpened pork chop bones and metal spoons? If that isn't art, I don't what is.

Take a gander at these beautiful shivs.

No comments: