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Like Abbott & Costello

January 18, 2013 by , under Close Encounters.



The phone rings. I answer:

“FUTURES Antiques.”
“I’m calling from Arizona.”
“I have a bicycle.”
“Underneath it, it says ‘E1374989′”
“What’s it worth?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know.”
“I saw you had 2 bikes on the computer.”
“Oh yes, my web site. Consignments. I am not a bike specialist.”
“So you don’t know what it’s worth?”
“I don’t.”
“It’s a girl’s bike.”
“I still don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know.”
“So you can’t help me?”
“No, I can’t.”
“Who can?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m calling from Arizona…”
“I know, but I still can’t help you.”
“Oh. Well. Thank you.”
“Sure. Good luck.”

I felt like I was in an Abbott & Costello routine.

The voice sounded like that of a good friend of mine who has the “right” attitude to think up this dumb-ass line of questioning (and then call me), and, she seemed to be trying to disguise her voice with an exaggerated accent. Until the very last moment, I wondered if it was her… so I played along giving my own “routine” right back at her (?). Upon hanging up, I thought “Nope, that wasn’t her. It was just a REGULAR dumb call.” SOME calls are so PERFECT in their dumb-assness it’s hard to believe they aren’t scripted.




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Words I Heard

January 15, 2013 by , under Close Encounters.





These are all REAL quotes
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I heard in an hours’ time:

“Our troops are training for war. HE’S the one who kicked in the door. Where you gonna stay…baby’s gone to sleep. Are you EVER gonna learn to knock? How about right now? She SHOULDA put you out! He didn’t speak with her for six months. I DON’T CARE! You won’t believe who she turns to. You need to get connected.”

“Give us one day, and we’ll give you two years. It felt like I was doing it the right way. YOU have better things to do…ask your doctor. I need something FAST. I’ve always talked fast. Both of you are DEAD wrong. I really do believe that THAT is what happened. I hope you’ll search your soul…you outa be ashamed of yourself.”

“He’s a friend, but he’s also CRAZY. We have a warning of our own. Some people ARE crazy. To GET it all, you’ve got to risk it all. Their terror is real. Tiffany thinks clowns are out to kill her. The level of fear in this country has never been higher.”

“I can’t pee in public. It’s a GREAT time to go! You hold onto your “P”. Take a teeny weeny one. Instead of an EXPANDING future, I was looking at a NARROWING one. It sounds incredibly simple. We didn’t say WE were crazy! I was the target of a professional knife-thrower. I had a fear of being alone. I thought this was the greatest thing in the world. My mind began turning in on itself. I heard these weird sounds. I think “Hell” is just NOTHING.”

“I am paralyzed by feet. FEET! A good place to sit, and eat…in buildings filled with snipers. I just worked up the courage to take one step closer to my fears. Grandma’s feet used to be asleep. She used a push-mower. That was a big deal! Touch it with one finger…nothing happened. I can’t believe I’m doing this! Take another baby step. Your imagination runs out of control.”

“Come on! Let’s go see ‘em! Check HIM out! That’s what it’s all about. It’s time to go! You’re a cheer leader, right? Right. I ran out of my position, and fell in somebody’s driveway…meeting the famous “Grandma Clown”. We’re gonna take you to the next level. There ya go…ya got it! Go ahead. Ya got it! Yes!!”


No, really. I heard all these things in one hour.


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Time to close up shop

October 25, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.



Quick “customer” stories from last year:


#1:   A man walks in with his hands behind his back. I greet him. He glances (for maybe 10 seconds) over the thousands of antiques in FUTURES, and then asks:   “Is this all there is?”

I looked up in surprise and said, “Yeh… that’s ALL there is!…” ………… and I began laughing and shaking my head.


#2:   A man walked in and in a loud voice said “Hey man, how you been?!”
I said, “Oh, alright.”
He said, “You don’ remember me, do ya?”
I said, “No.”
He walked up to my desk and asked “How much is this worth?” … and pulled out a bottle of Coca Cola. NOT an old bottle of Coca Cola. Just a bottle of Coca Cola.
I said, “I have no idea. I don’t deal in Coca Cola.”
He said, “Oh!  Well, KEEP ME IN MIND!”

Yeh.  Sure will.  For what?  I didn’t know the guy and he knew I didn’t know him.


#3:   A man and woman walk in. They look around awhile. The wife calls her husband over to a showcase, they talk quietly, and then ask the price of two pieces of “Roseville” pottery. I get up, go over, look at the price cards sitting there with the vases, and recite what they themselves read. The husband tells me he HAS some Roseville, and tries describing it.

I know where they’re headed now… (do you?)… they want a free appraisal, sight unseen, of WHATEVER it is they have or think they have.

And he says, “So… whadya think it’s worth?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” I say.
“Well, how do YOU know what to charge?”
“BOOKS.   I READ.  Study.  Do my homework…” I say.
“Do you have books HERE?” they ask.
“Yes,” I say. (And I have the next answer ready for their next question…)
“Can we look at your books?”
“No, but I can tell you where I bought mine…”


Surprise!  They didn’t want to know where they could buy books !!


It’s time for me to go home and read…







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Staring at a Car Wreck with Saucer Sized Eyes

October 14, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.

I recently acquired a gloriously awful collection of wonderfully depressing, scary, weird “Big Eyed” pictures.  They are now in my “Good and Bad Memories” gallery on the “Shop” page here on the web site.

From your own experiences, you may remember a few of them, and you may even know the name of the couple who made them a [shudder] “household word”:


The KeANeS


(Their marital life-story is a tacky horror in itself – and I may get to that later – IF I have the stamina – but don’t count on it.)

The “Fabulous Fifties” had come to a close.  Thank god.  Ask the soldiers returning from World War II and Korea how fabulous the 50’s were for them as they tried to adjust.  Ask the minorities who were still told where they could [and could not] go.  Ask all those who were black-balled during the Commie Hunts.  Ask all the children required to practice Atomic Bomb “Duck-n-Cover” Attack drills in their schools.  Okay, you get my radioactive drift… and it took too long for those daze came to a close… sort of.

The “Swinging Sixties” arrived as the OPENLY VIOLENT version of the 50’s.  Viet Nam began in earnest, leaders were being assassinated as fast as they could gain a following, the Anti-war and Equal Rights movements poured into the streets, Atomic war was literally mere hours from starting 90 miles off our shore, drug use was being romanticized and promoted… Yeh.  Swinging.  Baby.

And there, in the midst of the end of the 50’s and the start of the 60’s, Big Eyed Children (and Adults, Animals, etc.) ran silently onto the stage and stared out at us sitting there in the dark of those times.  Had they not “hit a chord”, they would have died a quick, deserved death but… they took over like Pod People.  WHY?  WHY????  Pictures of creepy, ill-proportioned, abandoned, starving, fearful, alienated, humanoidish creatures were everywhere – and the buying Middle Class couldn’t get enough of them.  (And THIS was WAAAAY before “E.T.”)  So… I asked WHY???!!!

First of all, we were Paranoid.  Paranoia thrived in the fear of Commie infiltration.  And, IF we WERE being infiltrated, it was because the Enemy LOOKED LIKE US and we couldn’t identify them.  All they had to do was DRESS LIKE US and we were vulnerable!!!  (If they had an ACCENT, we could at least LISTEN for those and report them to the CIA.)

The 50’s ended on the terrible day of November 22, 1963 with the murder of President John F. Kennedy.  Yet, by that time, Big Eyed Creeps were well on their way to overtaking our world.  It was the Commie Scare that gave birth to these Things… other events just added more fuel to the dark fire.  One of my favorite creepy movies of that era is the subversively threatening movie “Village of the Damned” – about what ? but weird British children who TOOK OVER.  It’s a great, moody movie expressing the fears of that era’s world.  Another of the genre is “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.  (Don’t be an Unfortunate.  See it!)  It does not present itself with the stark reality of “Failsafe” or “The Manchurian Candidate”, or the snide dark humor of “Dr. Strangelove”, but they all belong to the world of Big Eyed Creatures of the late 50’s and early 60’s.

Please DON’T be confused by the later kute-kiddies of the mid-60’s to mid-70’s.  THOSE large-craniumed kids were born in the capitalist market riding the coattails of the counter culture / flower power / peace and love era, expressing (in a pathetically mediocre, sappy way) the hope for an end to the Viet Nam War and Peace in the World for All Humankind.  But yet, they too SOLD.  Big. 

No one said Americans have refined taste or commercial savvy.

None the less, these images show who we were… painful as that may be.  And, they’re just plain stupid fun.  They ARE a “Guilty Pleasure”.

PS:  Okay okay !!  I’ll take a deep breath… and talk about Walter and Margaret Keane.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Walter was once quoted as saying “My paintings ask the eternal question ‘Why?‘”  WOW.  THAT man was deep – I mean DEEP!  In 1947, he quit California real estate and journeyed for – where else ? but Paris.  Gay Paree.  A strolling Shomp Shaylie Shay cliche, he wore a beret and just-messy-enough hair.  He drove a white convertible.  He dragged around four white toy poodles named after actual famous artists.  Walter considered himself a “bon vivant”.  (It HURTS to read this, doesn’t it?!)

He claimed the waifs wandering war-torn Europe were his inspiration for his Arte.  Once back in California (loaded with La Inspiracione), he met Margaret at one of them klassie outdoor art shows… and GUESS WHAT??  She TOO was painting Big Eyed Waifs!!  Their immediate attraction to one another was soon followed by a closed-eyes marriage. 

Over the years, their styles Merged to One.  How Romantic.  With no real success in the Art World, they opened their own gallery.  That’ll solve THAT!  They advertised in the free, local “Penny Saver” news-stand paper.  (You’re familiar with it:  the neighborhood paper you pick up at the grocery store.  That’s how Rembrandt was discovered, by the way… in the Amsterdam “Guilder Saver”.)

Believe it or not, this tactic worked ! and when they opened another gallery in New York City, the show sold out.  (Way to go, you worldly New Yawkuhs!).  In fact, Jerry Lewis – well known for his subtle taste and acting style – paid Margaret $10,000 (the price of a modest house in those days) to paint his, his wife, kids, dogs, and cats portrait – yes, ALL with Big Eyes AND ALL wearing clown costumes.              A patronage made in Hell.          Joan Crawford commissioned Walt to paint a life size portrait of her, which she hung where ? but over her sofa.  (She was sofa-sized.)  On his tee-vee show, Jack Paar showed a Keane painting to America and said it was “the greatest painting I have ever seen in my life!”  Jack, Jack, Jack… you need to get out of your basement more often and read a book!  Writer Earl Wilson called the Keanes “the find of the twentieth century”.  For a nice slice of the sleazy pie maybe I woulda warbled too.

Then, like a house of spam, it all came splatting down.

In 1965, the Keanes divorced.  Five years later, Margie was on talk radio claiming SHE was the only one who did the paintings, and Walt threatened to kill her if she let the ugly, big-eyed Kitty outa the bag.  She challenged Walt to a painting shoot-out at high noon in a court of law.  Walt walked away.  You decide why.

What?  You think this story is over?  You really DON’T understand the power of tastelessness, do you???


Fourteen years LATER, Walt told USA Today (the Two-Penny Saver) Margie took credit because she thought he was DEAD and therefore couldn’t fight back.  Margie sued Walt for slander.

A Honolulu trial in 1986 (are you keeping track of the YEARS here??) had Margie claiming SHE made ALL that Big Eyed kiddie-poo, and, the inspiration WASN’T horrifying waifs of Europe but her horrifying marriage to Walt.  Gasp!

That ain’t all.

Walt was in that courtroom.  He and everyone in the Hallowed Halls of Justice watched Marge stand up, whip out a brush, and begin painting big eyes right there in front of God and All.  In an hour she had created one of HIS famous Big Eyed kids.  (THERE’S somethin’ to brag about!)  Well, the Judge asked Walt to stand up and PERFORM the same painting.  (Can you say “Jerry Springer holds art class”?)  What do you think happened?

NO, Walt didn’t murder Margie.  No, Walt didn’t even sock her.  And no, Walt didn’t do a painting!  Walt said his shoulder hurt and he couldn’t paint right then… Ow.  That hurts.

Margaret was awarded four million dollars.

Walt said he couldn’t come up with the dough.  He said he was broke…









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Ammadis glass?

September 16, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.


(Back in the day:)


A guy walks into the store.  When he pulled up to the curb, I noticed he was driving an old Cadillac and couldn’t seem to find the curb with it.  In FUTURES, he looked around for a couple of minutes, and then asked:

“Do you have any black Ammadis glass?”

“Amethyst glass?”

“Yeh, Ammadis glass.”

“No, I don’t have one piece of purple-black glass,” I answered.


“Is that glass really made out of stone?”  he asked.

I looked at him. I didn’t have the mood on me right then to take the question and run with it… so I replied:  “Nah. It’s just regular glass…”


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Advice for the Briliant

September 12, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.


(A retro writing from back in the day:)


With a headache, I decided that my latest Gregorian Chant cd would be a better choice today in FUTURES… at least for me. I sat in here alone until deciding to take advantage of the quirky, balmy weather blowing through today – and instead I sat outside. That, of course, immediately created multiple customers. Funny how that works. I also just cleaned my windshield… so now it’s clouding over to rain.

One of the very solid generalizations I can make to you today - as I watch it in action at this very moment, is: If two or more people

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are in the store, and at least one is male, it is the male who will behave as though he knows everything and must lead the others – the dependent, ignorant female(s) or most passive male – to their education. And yet… I’ve NEVER heard a single one of the lucky recipients say “Thank you!”

That’s gratitude for ya…

Or it could be that the brilliant male is so often wrong it’s not requested or welcomed? In fact, the MORE verballer the person, the more often they are wronger? They not be

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as smart as they think they are?

LESSON: “To look smart, ecspecially if you ain’t, KEEP YOUR PIE HOLE SHUT!”

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Rhinestone Rambo

August 30, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.


A Sample Observation from my years of running FUTURES Antiques in a retail environment:


I have a Rhinestone Rambo in the shop at the moment.

You know him: camouflage pants with lots of empty pockets and neatly ironed creases, factory faded jean jacket, clean bandanna tied around his head, topped off with an Eddie Bauer Australian “bush” hat. Lives in the city. Probably drives a Ford Explorer but wishes it was a Rover with headlight and grill guards. Chromed. A Hummer is out of the question.

REAL Urban Camo would be much different. It wouldn’t look like the WOODS! Most of the outfit would be patterned with realistic red brick & mortar… maybe an area with spray paint simulating some stupid tagger’s mark. The lower pant legs would also have a couple random pictures of a discarded beer bottle in a brown paper bag, and a few wadded Lotto ticket stubs. Maybe a few applique cigarette butts hot-glued on the shoes… shoes made of a canvas resembling old cement. You wouldn’t wear a hat. You’d wear a helmet, of course, with a rear view mirror off the side. Duh. WHAT you had painted or applied TO the helmet is a matter of style, as long as it still helped camouflage your noggin. Maybe a couple of stuffed pigeons. Your pockets would NOT be empty. Cell phone, Swiss army knife, small frame pistol, hidden ammo/money belt, mace,

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compass, Northstar G.P.S. unit, local maps, goggles, waterproof matches, and a trained rat.


NOW you’re set.



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Anchovies on my Pizza

August 28, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.

(Inspired by the author of “Things That Piss Me Off”:)


“Anchovies on my Pizza”


- If I was a REAL court judge, I would HATE television court judges and the behavior that is being presented as “normal” and “acceptable”. Maybe there’s a Class Action Slander Suit possible…

- Don’t loan people things they haven’t asked for. And, don’t expect them to deal with your loan immediately or get back to you with a full review. Finally, don’t argue with them if their opinion isn’t the same as yours.

- Are you one of those people that ASSUME anyone much older than you is hard of hearing? Over 60? What’s your “magic” number? Well, you’re wrong to make that assumption, so quiet your loud mouth down! And while we’re at it, I don’t want to hear YOUR music from MY car or building, despite your sad need to be noticed.

- I can’t decide WHICH t.v. comedy character I hate more: that skinny black boy “Erkle” with the eyeglasses and the whiney voice who’s supposed to be a “nerd”, or, the moptopped & freckled white boy “Jodie” from the original “Family Affair”, or, the youngest daughter what’s-her-name in “The Brady Bunch”. I’m not good with names. There was Marsha, Jan, and… it wasn’t Buffy, because she was in Family Affair… Buffy was just insipid, not inane… I wished “The Fonz” a fast decline too, but he was somehow more ignorable… I guess I’ll just stick with my instincts here – my first choice – Erkle.

- Ads that try to make electric wheelchairs/transports not only FUN but PREFERABLE TO WALKING make me sick. I’ve seen one tee-vee ad that shows a “gang” of laughing invalids racing around “marker cones” in a slalom competition – as if ANYONE would CHOOSE this over healthy legs.

- And while we’re on that subject, don’t expect me to keep my mouth shut if you’re illegally parking in a handicapped spot… and that INCLUDES healthy people using their relative’s handicapped permit. I’ll be calling the police AND confronting you. If you haven’t had an incapacitated family member or friend, or, you are incapable of getting outside of your own little mind, you won’t understand this remark at all.

- Back to television: If you write for a t.v. station and are one of those people who describe every rain as a hurricane, every car accident as a deadly pile up, or every act of conflict as world terrorism, STOP IT! OR… I’ll come to your amazingly important career location and storm that immense building with my hundreds of huge, deadly weapons of destruction. I’ll capture you by violent force, kidnap you to a dark, terrifying location, torture you in ways too frightening to describe, and eventually kill you in the most horrendous way mankind has even devised. (Any job openings at your station?)

- I have more books and films than I do shelves.

- Would you ever tell a friend that their car – now all of 5 years old – is embarrassingly dated, out of style, or the wrong model to have purchased in the first place? If you wouldn’t do THIS, would you do this over your friend’s computer, clothing, or diet?

- “SANTANA” is on my stereo. They don’t Piss Me Off.

- I don’t trust anyone that is constantly adjusting their hair.

- Explain to me the DIFFERENCE between an increase of 100% and 200%. Please.

- “DEVO” is on my stereo. They don’t Piss Me Off either.

- You see something you know is illegal and hurting someone. You say nothing and you do nothing, or, you wait until it’s too late. Thanks a lot. You’re a real Anchovie on the Pizza of Life.


PS: A wad of Elvis Presley’s jet black locks, about the size of a

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baseball, sold at auction in November for $115,120 to an anonymous bidder. The hair was collected by the king of rock ‘n’ roll’s former hairstylist who gave the hair to a friend, who sold it through MastroNet Inc., a suburban Oak Brook, Illinois Internet auction house. The clippings, which had been kept in a simple plastic bag, are now kept in a jar with a vacuum seal.




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Mortgages explained

August 27, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.



I know a guy.   I call him “Odd Man”.  Well, “Odd Man” was telling me about the world of mortgage finance. According to him, here’s how it works:

You buy a house on a mortgage. Pick the number of years. It doesn’t matter. Say fifteen years. Okay. Eventually you pay off the mortgage. Of course the mortgage company has made a lot of money on their loan to you. Okay, we’re on the same page. Nothing revealing or shocking yet…

“And you don’t get ANY of that money back from the mortgage company,” he explained.

“Yes, I know,” I said, “that’s the agreement you have with them. You pay for the use of the money they loan you.”

“But listen, it’s more complicated,” he said. “Even after you pay off the house, it’s NOT YOURS!”

“Is that right? And why?” I asked.

Now we’re headed into the Twilight Zone (where he always wanders… I only have to stroll along… waiting…)  “Say you die…”

“Okay, I’m with ya… DEAD.”

“You don’t own it ANYMORE once you’re DEAD!” he reveals. “It’s not YOURS anymore!! It will become someone ELSE’S!!!”

“Yes…true…you don’t take it with you…………. and your point is….?”

“They get you coming AND going!” he exclaimed.

“They WHO?” I asked with real squinty eyes…

“The mortgage company!!!!! Then THEY own it!”

“No they don’t”.

“Sure they do! It ain’t YOURS anymore!”

“So, let me get this straight: all we’re doing is GIVING THE MORTGAGE COMPANY FREE MONEY for fifteen years… AND in the end, the house?”


“And this is exclusive to the mortgage business?”



“How come?”

“Because you GIVE YOUR HOME to whoever you’ve you want by the instructions in your will or by the established chain of inheritance. The mortgage company has no rights to your PAID OFF home!”

“But they’ve got that scam going…”

“No they don’t. But, if you want to get philosophical about it… NONE of us OWN ANYTHING – we merely rent it….”

That’s where I lost him…


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The Sociopathic Monkey & the Typewriter

August 20, 2012 by , under Close Encounters.


I was at an auction yesterday. There is nothing remarkable about that, but this one was unique for me in that it was a “Sheriff/seizure” auction, and, unfortunately, I had local connections to it.

There was a sociopath who dragged me into court a couple times on bogus charges. (Yes, he lost and was slammed by the judge.) Still, he was a pain in the ass for years – and not just for me, of course. A SOCIOPATH does anything they can to anyone available if they deem it of any possible use to themselves.

THIS auction was composed of possessions the sociopath left behind while skipping town with what he could of other’s antiques. (He’s now “hiding” up in Connecticut.)  (See * for the follow up)  He is  a real, true, unadulterated asshole. THESE items were “seized” after a 9 year court “chase” by one of his suckers (please don’t ask me to describe what I mean by that…), who was screwed (p.d.a.m.t.d.w.I.m.b.t.) out of $49,000.00 during a single year. Whatever THESE items brought by bidding would be what THIS sucker would “recover” of his 49K.

Sociopaths AREN’T concerned with accuracy – only scams and dodges. He has spent his life – and his brain – attaching incorrect attributions and bogus values to fake and crap art works, then aiming this junk at the gullible, lazy, AND greedy. He knows there are lots of stupid people wandering along in the crowd, some are also greedy, and some of them even have money. His “job” is to cull them from the herd, charm them, get their confidence, and then get their dough. It’s simple. Any of us could do it if we had no morality. We’ve all known and know people like this… but, for your sake, I hope not as remorseless.  Had HE instead used his intelligence to find and research GOOD Art, he’d be way ahead by now… and probably happy not needing to watch over his shoulder all the time… but that’s not the mode of a sociopath.

Even Hyenas, running in packs, work within a structure that keeps their African Plains society organized and fair. Every species has their guides. Sociopaths belong to nothing and no one.

Within all that crap at the auction were lots of amateurish drawings. I made a comment to an acquaintance of mine (who years ago I hired as one of my nude classroom models at the university):  “I used to wonder who removed all the deserted Freshman art every June…”.  I didn’t expect to find much of interest, and I was right.

My logic for getting up Waytoodamearly for this thing was that with the sociopath – who is intellectually stupid about Art (lacking REAL information) – there remained a chance that during his hunting and gathering scams, he might have picked up something of value by pure accident…

The “monkey at the typewriter” concept.

There were 3 small watercolors that I am nearly and totally absolutely and perfectly way convinced maybe beyond the tiniest shadow of a doubt (for now) are from the Wiener Werkstatte design school (of the early 20th century, preceding the Bauhaus). They’re great. I doubt I’ll sell them. They’re probably by a student of one of my fave designers of that school (Dagobert Peche), or a fellow faculty member. Cool. Either way, I’m thrilled to find them sitting there like diamonds in a pig sty.

Now, if I can only make sure that all the sociopath’s molecules are found, killed, and cleaned off of this Art…


*The Followup – written years later: Unknown to that sociopathic scum of a creep, he had cancer.  While hiding out in the northeast U.S., he was hospitalized for the cancer and hooked to a colostomy bag.  The bag clogged, backed-up, and poisoned him to death.  He poisoned himself with himself.


THAT, my friends, is Poetic Karma.





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