Wednesday, August 26, 2015

1530 Johnny Pipes

1530 Johnny Pipes

So you think plumbers make a lot of money? Listen to this! Gianni P. of The Bronx, New York. Lives in Westchester now. Has a big house with a big lawn and no shrubbery. Says he likes his view without anything in the way. His view is the street. Not much of a view. Paid a million, two for the place, spent another half a mil fixing it up.

Good money in plumbing.

They call him Johnny Pipes. He says that is a slur against ordinary citizens of Italian lineage, which he calls “Italian abstraction.” They call him Johnny Pipes because he is the Michelangelo of plumbers. You need a bathroom, a kitchen, maybe a basement sink? You need something that leads from the house to the sewer? Johnny’s the guy to call. He’ll make it work beautifully and better yet, what you look at when you look at it is a work of art.
His shop’s still in the old neighborhood. Doesn’t get a lot of calls from the new one. But those who DO call are always happy. Johnny wouldn’t have it any other way. Art. Not just plumbing, but ART.

Last year, Johnny took in maybe as much as his house cost. And most of the time he works alone.
The apartments in the Bronx need a lot of work. They don’t need art. But they get it anyway.

And he keeps unusual hours.

He’s in at maybe five or 5:30 in the morning. And sometimes he works well into the night. Work is play when you love your job.

So how does this guy pull down a million bucks in a year, buy a house in Westchester and take the wife and kids on a cruise to the islands at least once in awhile.

Art. Industrial art.
Johnny Pipes has a sideline and it’s a pretty good one. He’s in there early, working at the lathe, firing up the blowtorch, that kind of thing. Makes small pipes out of big ones. Threads the ends. Fills the insides with little pieces of aluminum and fiberglass and sometimes when he can get it, asbestos.

These are not for the kitchen, bathroom, basement or sewer.
These screw onto the fronts of handguns. Makes them more efficient, in a way.

All that stuff in the pipe does slow the bullet down a tad if the gun is fired. That’s not the efficient part. The efficient part is when you fire the thing, it doesn’t usually make enough noise to disturb the neighbors.

Not only is he an artist, he’s a considerate artist.
These efficiency gizmos, he calls “sculpture.” His customers call them “silencers” which Johnny doesn’t much care for. Why? Because you still hear something of a “pop” when the thing’s used. It isn’t right to call it “silent” when it’s just “quiet.”

An artist, and an honest one at that. No false advertising here.

Art like this is expensive. It’s hard to find. And the market is excellent. Booming, in fact.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to
Note: this post originally ran in August, 2006.
© WJR 2006, 2015

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