Hauser Finds Post-Political Comfort In Cardboard – April 1, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Eye Staff Report

ARCATA, APRIL 1 – Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. For one well known area politico, that maxim applies even to tax season.

Former Assemblymember and Arcata resident Dan Hauser says that every year he marks the dreaded April 15th as “a happy time” on the calendar he keeps hung on his refrigerator door.

“It’s never money I’ve budgeted for,” the bearded Arcatan, 68, says. “So when I get a few thousand bucks back it’s always like, ‘Hey, free money!’ I try and have a little fun with it, you know?”

For some people, “fun” means fly fishing, building model airplanes, gardening or an evening of gambling at a local casino.

Dan Hauser's magnificent obsession has vaulted him to new peaks of fame with a cover story in Cardboard Enthusiast magazine

Hauser says his brand of fun involves compressed, brown wood pulp – and he’s got 11 metric tons of the stuff to prove it.

“I hit the recycling center, I hit the dumpsters behind the mall” Hauser explains. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff people throw out. Just last week I got a truckload of 9-mil, blended-stock corrugated made out of virgin Belize rainforest.”

Hauser’s magificent obsession sometimes brings awkward moments. Last week, while en route to a Kiwanis Club event in the Plaza View Room, he noticed Jacoby’s Storehouse employee Winslow Condon crumpling up old fudge boxes and forcibly stuffing them into the recycling bin.

Slamming on his car’s brakes and screeching to a halt, Hauser jumped out and literally leaped over Ted Halstead, who was busy loading the contents of the adjacent dumpster into his pickup truck. An uncharacteristically enraged Hauser charged up to Condon, getting in his face with a thundering admonition.

“That’s six-ply ‘brown gold,’ you punk!” he exclaimed to the startled lad. “Have you no respect?!” 

With that, the enraged Hauser confiscated the crumpled cardboard and took it into what he called “protective custody.”

But for every scavenged load of collectible cardboard he finds carelessly placed in a dumpster, Hauser says that he pays top dollar for vintage and high-end cardboard on auction websites., and are some of Hauser’s favorite haunts.

Hauser said he expects to “blow the entire wad” of his tax return – expected to be around $3,000 – on rare, collectible boxes, panels and slats of cardboard.

Some local observers have suggested that Hauser’s cardboard mania had gone “too far.” One former acquaintance, who asked to remain nameless, said that Dan’s love of cardboard was bordering on “weird.”

Right about now you’re probably wondering where Hauser stores all of his pulpy treasures.

“I keep my nicer specimens right here in the house,” Hauser says, gesturing around his modest – and completely cardboard-stuffed – Arcata craftsman.

Due to a shortage of living space, Hauser’s wife Donna was recently forced to take up residence in the couple’s attic, where she has lots of – you guessed it – cardboard to keep her company.

“It’s better this way,” Hauser said of the unconventional living arrangement. “I love my cardboard… the smell, the feel. It speaks to me, and we care for each other,” he said, nodding at his pride and joy – a shelf of withered, brick-sized tan boxes dating from the Ming Dynasty.

What did Hauser think of the moniker recently bestowed on him by Cardboard Enthusiast?

“Hey, if the shoe fits!” Hauser said with a proud, beaming smile.