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Archive for 'The Antiques, Design and Art World'

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February 19, 2013 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.




I was recently called a “motorhead”, and it’s true. I am. I’m not the “shade tree mechanic/how to” type like I once was, but I am the design type. The “how to” type is a dying breed as microchips replace more and more mechanical parts of the car. By “design” I don’t mean only the appearance of the body and interior. Much of that is mere passing fashion – tail fins – “style” – not true design.

TRUE Design is a very complex set of issues for any object/idea, whether a painting, city, or car. For me, AUTOMOBILES are THE focal point – THE Zen object – of practical, everyday design (in “first world” nations). Many designers/teams fail miserably, and when they do, the cost to us is in money, comfort, and LIVES. It is serious business. When you read the stats on recalls and class action law suits, or listen to water cooler griping, it begins to add up that some bring you misery while others greatly reduce those odds. Yugo… or Toyota?

Okay, point made. It’s obvious at that level. Going deeper into it, I’m extremely interested in the efforts made by an honorable company to produce the “right” cars. What IS “the right car”? (All these thoughts can be applied to most objects, and some art.) At the company’s most basic level it’s their car they want you to buy and later not sue them. You’ll hopefully be a repeat customer when the time comes, all the while telling others about your car owning experience. So far, this doesn’t include many considerations that would raise the company up to the “honorable” level. A huge company can still produce very unreliable cars and treat their customers like crap. Chrysler comes to mind, but is far from alone. (Do you know what American car has the worst reliability record, the most problems yet the highest resale value, and the most dedicated customer base? Think about it. I’ll tell you later. Try to figure it out.)

What’s pathetic is the human urge to DENY our poor decisions, and, be concerned with IMAGE beyond what even your energy and budget can handle. “Image” is the only thing that can explain why millions of people would continue to accept low standards and big trouble from a machine and its representatives. Such companies rely on this phenomenon of “image defensiveness”. Most people would rather lie about their car than admit they’d been an idiot.

Alright, so why do CARS – machines that merely roll really fast along a path and hopefully stop when and where we choose – become a point of meditation? (Hey, it’s NOT just me thinking about this! Look at the shelves of magazine and book stores!) So, what makes a car “right”? …

- They must fit the human body. (Duh, right????? No! I’ve been in cars where the FIT was WRONG – I don’t mean just “uncomfortable” – I mean because important aspects were given secondary status to another design consideration! A good example is in most Lamborghinis where foot pedals are terribly off driver-center in order to accommodate the turning angles of the front wheels which intrude deep into the leg tunnels! Those wacky, emotional, impractical Italians!! A third of a million bucks for a car with the pedals in the wrong place? Is this some sort of “exclusivity” thing? “Yeh, the ONLY thing I’m not thrilled with about my NEW ‘LAMBO’ (!!) is that pesky PEDAL problem. You DO know what I’m talking about, DON’T YOU?? I mean, you pay nearly a half million for a car, you should get more, right?! Am I RIGHT!!?? But hey, it’s a LAMBORGHINI!” … Those brilliant, sneaky Italians!)


- Cars simplify life. They give us more leisure time. (Yes, it IS a self-fulfilling prophecy in a country that redesigned itself to be “auto-centric,” but it IS the current reality for 99% of us.)

- They are rolling advertisements as to how we want to be “seen”. Image. We can’t take our HOUSES with us so the transportable things – car, clothes, hair – become our mobile Symbols. (Someone out there right now is saying: “Well, I AM NOT one of those people that use a CAR

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as a way to describe myself! In fact, I chose a car that DIDN’T describe me! IT says “THIS person doesn’t want to be understood by the car they drive! ……………………….. oops.”)

- Humans love challenges. Scientists and technicians love to wrestle with major earthly forces such as friction and gravity. We built large wooden boats for sailing off into the Nothingness at the edge of the water looking for the edge of the world. We built ships that scorched us to a Moon with no air or water. Humans NEED challenges. Cars challenge designers to create vehicles which demand many – and often opposing – concepts such as the power to reach, hold, and have speed in reserve vs fuel efficiency, or creating forward speed (lack of friction) vs the ability to corner and stop moving (abundance of friction). (Cars have gone over 700 miles per hour ON LAND, so clearly other issues are in our daily-car equation.)

- Cars challenge stylists (the “Appearance” people) to create an overall look (and feel, sound, and smell) that will not just attract buyers but satisfy the emotions and psychology of homo autosapiens. And, as if that weren’t complex enough, they try to meet the demands of constantly changing fashion within cultures and sub-cultures. (For example, there is no single color that has always been the favorite. In fact, the MEANING of most colors changes all the time! MEANING? I’ll give you an example: To keep the price affordable on the original Model T Ford, it was offered only in black. BLACK paint was the cheapest, so black cars meant AFFORDABLE. The more expensive, exclusive cars were NEVER black during those years. They were two and three tone celebrations of the palette. During WWII, BLACK changed to mean SOMBER, SERIOUS, and PATRIOTIC (black was also good for air raid “black outs”). After the war, BLACK went back to meaning LOW PRICED and CONSERVATIVE when it was again more expensive to buy a 2 or 3-toned car. In the 60’s, BLACK meant RESERVED, COOL, and POWERFUL as we rejected the excesses of the 50’s. Then there was the 70’s. (General shudder) In the 80’s, BLACK returned to now mean TECHNO, POWERFUL, and SUAVE. But IT’S JUST PAINT, RIGHT???? It’s just “black”! Wrong.) (You might enjoy this: over 250 exhaust notes were recorded, studied, and considered before one was chosen for the Mazda Miata. Did you think cars SOUND like they do… well, just “because”? Why does a Cadillac horn sound so distinct from a Volkswagen? Is one right and one wrong?)

- Cars challenge designers to protect the occupants from incredible forces such as high wind, water pressure, firey explosions inside the engine, and impact with immovable objects. (How do you make a car strong enough to withstand a front end crash yet light enough to get 40 miles per gallon? How do you design a tire to stay attached to a wet road when speed limits are higher than the point of “hydroplaning” (when a car lifts off the ground and is sliding atop water only) – even if the driver knows better? How do you design an all-terrain vehicle to cross a river and climb over boulders but not tip over at a corner in the mall because you were traveling one mile per hour over its limit? Why, how do you design control switches to be in the RIGHT, user friendly, keep working, and “feel” solid, sophisticated, and silky? There’s been all sorts of research into that!)

And let’s not forget that OTHER factor: YOU. If you don’t check the oil, if you drive like an idiot, you’ll end up by the side of the road stranded or legless asking stupid questions like how THIS could have happened and why didn’t the car company protect you from yourself? Duh.

Ask yourself this: “How did Chrysler get away with designing the “PT Cruiser”? Why have so many of them sold?” (Chrysler IS an interesting visual design company despite its terrible mechanical record. (If they would only DECIDE to build their products with even a hint of reliability!) WHAT is in our “cultural air” that would encourage such design in the first place, AND, secondly make it such a success? (Yeh, and how about their “Prowler”, taken out of production????)


Obviously this is a subject with which I am capable of driving on and on – and on – (pun intended) – AND right over (pun intended), so I’ll brake for now (pun intended) and pick up (pun intended) again on some later roadside

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diner with greasy food and real coffee.

PS: The car with all the yearly problems decade after decade but the dedicated fan base? The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette. Gawd Bless Amerika!

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Thank You, my Heavy People

February 15, 2013 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.


February 21, 2003: (Dedicated to younger artists everywhere in all mediums)


I am listening to an album by Leonard Cohen. It contains some of the best lyrics of all time and he uses back up vocalists better than anyone else. I once thought (at age 20) I SHOULD simply overlook his BAD, ROUGH voice for the better qualities of his music. (Wow… Why do we EVER think we totally understand ANYTHING?)

If I must pick ONE Cohen album (for the proverbial “desert island”), it would be his first, titled “Leonard Cohen” (c. 1970). On it is “Suzanne,” “So Long Mary Anne,” and “The Sisters of Mercy” and many other pieces of brilliance. Truly, he is an artist who has not received the broad level of respect and renown deserved. Everyone else performs his music… but seldom does it justice.

A pattern of preferences formed as I worked through my twenties. I preferred Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Melanie Safka, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin,

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Marianne Faithful, Tom Waits, and Nico with the Velvet Underground over artists such as Joan Baez, Glen Campbell, Scott McKenzie, and others with “pretty” voices. For awhile I thought it was that I preferred rougher, straightforward, unadorned music… but I’d stumble across an artist – such as Vivaldi – who would break my nice, tight, little concept! If anyone was ornate and sweet, it was Vivaldi! Therefore, somehow, I was looking for answers in a “less right” place.

For me, as a young artist, these were important questions. They functioned as gauges to my personality. How could my own Art be honest if I didn’t understand this process of selection? My Thesis Chairman once said to me: “Your best work is your darkest work.” For the time, he was right. For the most part, he’s still right. I prefer salt over sugar. I prefer painters Franz Kline, Willem DeKooning, Vincent Van Gogh, and the etchings of Rembrandt van Rijn over artists Frank Frazetta, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Auguste Renoir, and Georgia O’Keeffe. I prefer whiskey over wine. I smoked non-filter, non-menthol cigarettes. I loved Mexican food, not French. I didn’t want a car with an automatic transmission, power windows, or a cushy ride. I wanted the top to come down and blast me with the wind and sun. I kept snakes and dogs not cats and parakeets. I cussed a lot and intentionally misspelled words. I loved the desert, its cacti, heat, scorpions, and wild pigs, not the seashore with its soft, lapping edge. Yet, it was too easy to think I simply preferred being rough around the edges – thinking, creating, and behaving in unsubtle (“honest”) ways. It simply wasn’t right on the mark, and if I was going to be truly accurate (honest) in my self expression, I had to identify what was hiding out in the open. I much preferred Brian Eno over Philip Glass. Why????

The missing link was “internal logic”!
I’ll say it again:

The missing link was “INTERNAL LOGIC”!

I once listened to a university trained black vocalist – a woman well trained in European OPERA – perform slave songs using her highly stylized, Italianesque, operatic voice. There was NO internal logic. It was dishonest – or call it contradictory – to the intent. She wasn’t trying to be witty, sarcastic, or ironic. She just didn’t “get it”. She was Pat Boone crooning the Sex Pistols. She was Vivaldi’s orchestra performing African fertility ritual tribal music. Henry Mancini performing Nirvana.


You have intent, you have tools, and you have a language. If you want to depict the world as a lovely, colorful, soft place you don’t use black & white Intaglio etching as your medium. You use a palette of pastels on genteel paper. THAT’S when “I got it” (for as obvious as it must sound now)… Leonard Cohen’s voice – rough, sour, angry, depressed, conflicted – was perfect – PERFECT – for HIS lyrics. Vivaldi wasn’t talking about the misery and eventual death of tortured humans – HE celebrated the beauty of four seasons, and used the appropriate tools in masterful ways to reach HIS goals.. like all other powerful artists with intelligence.

Talk about the light bulb going on! Chopin knew he needed the piano, not the banjo! My “darkest” work was better not simply because it was how I “saw” the world, but because what I had to say was said best with etching on metal, using black ink formed into lines and rough areas of tone smashed into damp, heavy paper. I’d always felt “at home” with that medium. Now I knew better why and could move on with the insight I needed for faster growth and stronger images.

In the bigger picture, it’s not about visual art, music, or dance. It’s about SELECTING from the AVAILABLE ELEMENTS of your DAY, using those appropriate for the betterment of the LIFE you are intentionally creating for yourself and those around you.

Thank you my Educators, my Overseers, my Challengers, my Friends & Protectors – you Heavy People.



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The Million Dollar Rock

January 17, 2013 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.



I’m walking back from a 7-11 on the opposite corner. The Lottery is up to 105 million dollars. Time for me to jump in. I want that Ferrari.

Following behind

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me are two men.

They call out to me: “You gotta light?”

I look back. “Nope. Don’t smoke.”

“Alright…………… HEY! YOU the

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Antique Man, ain’cha?”

“I’m not that old!” (They don’t get it.)

“See, I KNOW where there’s somethin’ that be EIGHTY YEARS OLD!”

“Oh yeh?”

“Yeh! How much it worth?”

(Now, at this point, I could go all sorts of directions, but in the spirit of neighborliness, I answer fairly straight:)

“See that gravel by the curb?”


“It’s MILLIONS of years old, and it ain’t worth a thing.”

“Yeh… but how much is that eighty year old thing I knows about?

(Okay, I need to answer entirely straight:) “Could be nothin, could be MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.”

“Man! Thanks!”


…and everyone shakes hands and walks on.
I made his day, I guess. Nothing wrong with that.
Just another day of people demanding you lie to them.





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Lion paws on a Mies chair

January 14, 2013 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.


(Read more at Design*Sponge

This sort of “decorating” (mixing Queen Anne with Bauhaus, etc.) reminds me very much of the late 60’s/early 70’s, which is upon what this latest “retro” movement is built. I lived that time – not only as an artist but a young adult male facing all that era created (and shoved into my face).

The decor was a shotgun blast of old and new styles. It was an historical mish-mash which gave birth to the label “post-modern”. Pick up any decor magazine or book from that period and it’s all you’ll see. We no longer knew what we wanted or where to get it.

Decor is NOT accidental. It grows from the Zeitgeist of a culture, and only from there does the market and public turn it into a fashion statement and commodity.

So what WAS going on, and what DOES it tell us about NOW as well? (Let’s not pretend every era is truly unique. If you read your history, you’ll see we move in cycles… again and again.)

The late 60’s/early 70’s saw the growth, morph, and collapse of many idealistic social movements. It was the time of Viet Nam – death in our streets and death in foreign jungles. It was the time of governmental lies, hopeful leaders being killed faster than we could mourn, faction fighting faction, artists dying of overdoses so often you tried to make every concert on the ASSUMPTION this would be their LAST, everyone thinking they had the ONLY answer, and an economy falling apart on all of us. It was also a time when “we” rested feet on the Moon, found cures against diseases, helped more of us gain additional respect, and finally forced Viet Nam to cease and Nixon to resign. It was a heady but generally ugly time. Just look at the decor and clothing fashions, if you can’t look any deeper.

Why did this happen? Society was in upheaval. Everyone – EVERYONE – was insecure. Let me say that again: EVERY ONE. Everyone wanted to reach back into the “glorious” Past and into the “glorious” Future – and please God, let us AVOID the lousy present. It’s the only thing that can explain Disco.

Now to our present…

We no longer care about the Moon, our economy is in the tank, we gained incurable diseases, we’re in Viet N… oops, I mean Iraqistan, we’re being fed the usual lies and excuses, and… well, why repeat myself? It’s forty years later and the cycle repeats. We are as insecure about life now as we were then. If the MILITARY DRAFT was reinstituted, we’d have a nearly identical environment.



This is the energy underlying what you see these daze. Look with cool eyes. Think about it. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Understanding it won’t hurt.






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October 22, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work, The Antiques, Design and Art World.

I have a friend who works with contractors repairing and rebuilding homes. Once in a while something interesting happens. Not often, but when it does, I hear about it.


A couple days ago he called to tell me they were ripping out the interior of a hundred year old house. Once the old fire place mantel was removed, they found the following BEHIND it, hidden IN the wall:

- A loaded “bb” pistol.
– A never opened (still sealed) pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Part of my time is spent hunting not only THINGS but INFORMATION about things, and, if there’s no INFORMATION, I try to make reasonable guesses… i.e., I play Sherlock Holmes. It’s a good day when I learn something.

Okay, so first of all, THIS was “BOY’S stuff”. Very little doubt about that. Next, it was HIDDEN. NO doubt about that.


1. The boy of the house took his most treasured possessions and “buried” them in the house as a “time capsule”. He fantasized returning years later to uncover his favorite things, or, more likely,

2. the boy needed to hide these things, knowing he’d be in deep trouble over the mere ownership of cigarettes and a bb gun. (The issue of HOW he acquired these things could be a “shady” boy-story in itself, adding further need to his hiding them…)


I did some homework. I already knew Raymond Loewy, one of the most famous 20th century designers, redesigned the “LUCKY STRIKE”

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cigarette pack in the late 1930’s or early 40’s. I remembered seeing a picture of that design in one of my hundreds of books. So, I began the search. The information had to be in an older book of mine, because I’ve known this fact for years. After about 10 books, I found the information. He redesigned the package in 1940 but it was highly altered again in 1942 due to its use of bronze in the “gold” package ink – a material now being held back for the War effort. So, the boy’s pack was “pre-Loewy” – 1939/early 1940 at the latest. (The tax stamp sealing the pack, was not dated. THAT would’ve saved me an hour.)

Why would this matter to Sherlock? Why didn’t the boy ever return for his stash?

The Great Depression was still lingering in 1939/40. Money was tight, jobs were still scarce. By late 1941, the U.S. would be pulled into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

One of two things probably happened:

1) The father of this home was either offered an immediate job at a great distance, or called into the military. Either way, a sudden move to a new location or a much smaller home could have been the result, or,

2) The boy reached the age acceptable to the military, and HE went into the service himself… but never returned. Whether he moved on or was killed in action, there is no way for me to know – at least not without turning this into a second career.


From here, we pick our favorite explanation and let it become a story that soaks into the 72+ year old pack of smokes.

Works for me.


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Never be late again!

October 19, 2012 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.



I can always tell who wants to sell me things but doesn’t want me to know it – yet. They enter FUTURES, look at every thing I currently offer – but never at the thing, only at the price tag of the thing. I can see they think they’re really flying in under my radar… that I have no clue what they’re really doing and what they’re about to “spring” on me. The stuff they have for sale is often waiting in the wings – but it’s the looks of shock on their faces or the change of “tone” in their email when I decline their “treasures” – that is perhaps the most interesting part of our exchanges.

Okay, I’m easily entertained.  The pervasiveness of what I call “antique roadshow fever” continues to amaze me – the delusion this show has installed in people who become willing dreamers blowing their meager income, time, and ego. “The Market” does this. It’s a Science. Companies like “Franklin Mint”, Mattel’s “Barbie”, and “Beanie Babies” come to mind – ones which have built major, contemporary empires on deep-seated insecurities.

Insecurity? Of course! THEY TELL the uneducated consumer what, how, and WHY to Buy! In a glory equal to a falling star, all agree to CREATE a brilliant, sparkling, short lived flash of an event – manufactured, bought, sold, and discarded. A feeding frenzy gains its own momentum quickly. The corporations need only stand by with their money rakes.

A few people do very well. They are the ones who get in early, buy low, sell high, and then run like hell. Delicate timing is involved, and is NOT for part time, desperate, self-deluded enthusiasts. The Deluded are the ones that fuel and fund a frenzy… the same ones that are later hobbling around looking for their asses.

Just when they’ve built up a huge collection of, for example, Beanie Babies – with the intention of selling them off and finally buying that double-wide they’ve always wanted – CRASH! It’s OVER. That trunk full of fuzzy little polyester critters has become one big albatross.


“Sorry. You missed the party! Everyone else left about an hour ago!!”


How do you AVOID this?


Don’t go to other’s parties. Have your own.
You’ll never be late.


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Bunch of Pansies

October 5, 2012 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.



(Written nine years ago – and it still holds true)


With recordings from 1912 of Enrico Caruso singing at volume 25 (loud) in the store:

It snowed last night… not enough to send a normal populace into hiding… but this region is “different”… so I tried thinking as they do… and failed.  Again.  Therefore, I’m here, alone, and desperate.

Let me describe this snow: Light, dry, small flakes, with tall grass blades poking up through the thin layer of the overnight dusting. There’s an inch of it on car roofs, the streets are melted or dry, but all the schools are closed. That’s it. Really. Seriously.

Now back to Caruso. I don’t think I’d been struck by ANY operatic voice until one day while hunting in a thrift store I found a thick, heavy, black shellac, 78 rpm record from 1912 of Caruso, which for some reason I WANTED to own even if I never played it. But, when I got home, I DID put it on my modern turntable, and even now, years later, I can remember the feeling of revelation! Not only was his a great voice, but a voice that did EVERYTHING with NO electronic assistance. He had to sing in REAL time with REAL instruments and REAL accompanists – and EVERYONE had to SLAM their sounds out into the air if they were to get them across the room and inside that recording cone with no electric amplification. If ANYONE screwed up – AT ALL – they had to start over… and we’re talking about LONG, COMPLEX pieces, folks.

No dubbing, no laying track over track, no amping, no tweaking a voice, no artificial additives or subtractions. None. Either do it and do it right with the perfect balance of sounds ALL AT ONCE, or don’t do it at all. Go home, loser. Just like on stage. It was all on you.

“Put up or shut up.”

I like that.

So how does this have anything to do with the snow last night?  It’s about pansies.

Unlike here in coastal Virginia, when snow hit northern Indiana it hit pretty darned “good”. I have photos of us kids following paths through snow higher than our capped heads. When a snow hit, our bikes were useless.  We walked to school. My friends and I lived nearly three miles from our Junior High. If the snow got bad, a parent would drive us – if they had snow tires. If those tires weren’t enough, snow chains went on over them. If the chains weren’t enough, we’d be given the extra change for a city bus. If the busses were frozen sideways in the streets (which did happen), guess what? It was back to walking again.  Nearly three miles.  Twenty degrees below zero.   You went to school, by god.



“…nothing but a pansy… but where are my mittens and microphone!??”



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The “Drugged-n-Dead” Section

August 30, 2012 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.



The following is a nostalgic trip back to the daze of having a retail store:


A guy walks in the store, looks around a few minutes, and says:

“Do you have any jewelry boxes?”
“Yes, I sure do.”
“Can I see them?”
“Sure.” (And I get up to show him a few he’d passed by, and not noticed.)
“I’ll find them myself,” he says.
So… what exactly am I supposed to do? (“I gotcher box o jewels ri’chere, Pally!”)

A family walks in. Mom and Dad are in their 70’s, and the son is in his 40’s. The folks quickly get “that look” on their faces (“We’ve landed on Jupiter! Escape! Escape while we still have oxygen!!”), while the Son has been drawn to a lounge chair designed by George Mulhauser. Mom and Dad walk over to him and say “It’s time to leave.” There’s nothing here they want. He follows. I shake my head.

A guy came

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in, and caught me behind my desk.
Some people need to talk. It doesn’t matter to whom. He knows I’m not going anywhere.
He’s got me.
He spent the next hour making sure he told me everything we knew.

I’m listening to the “Yardbirds”. Not only did they stand out then – nearly 40 years ago – but do still. I like innovation… that’s for sure… I also prefer music that reflects darker, less “perky” views on life:
– Beatles (after the “Fab Four” phase)
– Rolling Stones
– Jimi Hendrix
– Melanie
– Nick Drake
– Velvet Underground
– Tiny Tim
– Tom Rush
– Nirvana
– Janis Joplin
– Bush
– Patti Smith
– David Bowie
– Brian Eno
– Billie Holiday
– Sigur Ros
– Devo
– Bob Dylan
– Tom Waits
– Leonard Cohen
– Kate Bush
– Talking Heads
– Cowboy Junkies
– Chopin
– Enya
– Dido
– The Animals
– Laurie Anderson
– Patty Griffin
– Nico
– Richard Wagner
– Tim Buckley

I think music stores should be arranged by mood. It would save me a lot of time…



“Nico? Yes, she’s over in the ‘DRUGGED AND DEAD’ section… just down from Buckley, Drake, Hendrix, Holiday, and Joplin.”


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“Lab Rat Man Discovered!”

August 23, 2012 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.





I’ve just realized this, and it proves I drink A LOT of – some say too much – diet cola. I have a callous from drinking diet cola. On the left edge of my right hand pointer finger, middle joint, I have a callous. Couldn’t figure out why I got it. Trimmed it off a couple times. It returned. Well, when I pick up a two liter jug of diet cola, THAT is the pressure point.


 “We have just discovered a perfectly mummified body. We estimate it to be at least 30,000 years old, which would place this example of early homo sapiens from the 20th century. Male, average height, late middle age for that period, no noticeable abnormalities but for one – an unusual callous on the side of only one finger. We theorize this was caused by either the constant carrying and use of a a self-defense weapon (when humans were still living in a very devolved society), or, the persistent use of another object, perhaps during a daily religious prayer/ceremony, requesting protection from roving bands of feral youth…”


Future archaeologists will never have this luxury. I’m being cremated – doing my part to deny them the opportunity to make up junk like we do. Instead, they’ll have fun attributing significance to the many dumbass tattoos being stuck into the 20-somethings. Look at those skin pix and think of it in that distant-culture way. Make up your own archaeological explanations. It’s hilarious.

God I’m a calloused person.




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You Want HOT SAUCE with that Antique?

August 21, 2012 by , under The Antiques, Design and Art World.




I have people try to “weasel” free appraisals from me all the time. (It happens to everyone in this business.) Each person who tries “weasling” knowledge and time thinks their personal style is so very slick-n-tricky. Maybe they had a success which gave them the exhilarating feeling they’d stolen something without the risk of jail. I don’t know.  I hardly care.

A friend (NOT in the business) and I were talking about this recently. She concluded she would end up broke by not being able to keep Business in its perspective, which is


An Issue of Survival.


Plain and simple, I own two major commodities:

1. Things

2. Knowledge

For MY approach, one doesn’t work without the other. They are of equal importance and value. As an “antiquer”, I know everyone hopes to find “That Thing” WITHOUT its accompanying Knowledge (and correct price). This translates to “good deal” and “great story”. I have my own, of course.

“Weaseling” free appraisals from a professional – an expert – saves that “shopper” from that doggone pesky business of buying their own books (although I DO see people using retail bookstores as their sit-in library), having to read and understand those thick things, and “wasting” THEIR precious time on such lowly acts. “Let SOMEONE ELSE spend the money & time on crap like that.”

I probably average 25 weasels a week. I would say 40% are by email, and 60% are by phone. Less than 1% expect to pay ANY AMOUNT for expertise. I had one dope (this week) who tried hounding me (by email) for three days – looking for a freebie appraisal of his bicycle. Not only was he very unprepared to give proper information IF he’d been willing to pay, but once it was clear I wouldn’t work for him for free, he e-whined and called me “rude and inconsiderate.” What I’d done was:  suggest he learn what he needed by purchasing the proper book, reading it, and thus, save money over my appraisal fee. How rude of me. In the time he spent trying to weasel me, he could’ve answered all his needs, and owned his very own book for future use.

Advice: NEVER piss off a potential appraiser. Do that, and s/he may decide to GIVE you your not-in-writing-freebie – intentionally SO FAR OFF the mark, it’ll do nothing but cause you embarrassment and loss of money down the road. You get what you pay for, and, if you’re nasty, you may get more than you asked for.  You’re asking for it.

Much of this is due to what I call the “Taco Bell Phenomenon” combined with what I call “Antiques Road Show Fever”. You may have forgotten, but there WAS a time when neither fast food joints or restaurants gave free soda drink refills. EVER. Do you remember? Even restaurants held coffee refills to ONE. Then, someone at Taco Bell changed the world. They had a very serious tactics meeting, and decided to begin giving free drink refills… an incredibly risky and competitive move. This was before refill machines were put out on the floor. You went up to the counter and requested a refill. McDonald’s refused. They held out until they were literally all alone in the fast food / free drink world… and you KNOW by THAT time they were catching static everyday in every franchise location from nearly every customer for not doing what everyone else was doing… GIVING AWAY FREE REFILLS.  McDonald’s eventually got in line and bent over.

“Antiques Roadshow” is the Taco Bell of P.B.S. tee-vee. It’s their best selling show… now, nearly an institution. (I am acquainted with a few of “their” appraisers… what goes on behind the scenes is material for another time perhaps. I have to consider legalities here.) Well, “Roadshow” succeeds by giving out free, entertaining, greed-fantasy appraisals… from which the entire nation can suck. (I picture Frankie & Annette sipping the same cola from two separate straws, tete a tete.) It didn’t take long before The Public began FEELING like “appraisals” were an issue of viewing rights not professional standing, and if they suspected or even fantasized they had something “old”, “unique”, or “collectible”, they deserved – DESERVED - the time and attention of a professional who WOULD perform a free appraisal for them (in an engaging-n-dramatic fashion… not to mention make them real daggone rich – overnight)!

Yet, since most people try to “weasel” the appraisal, this tells me they remain, somehow, deep down aware they are trying to pull off something that isn’t fair to the person trying to earn a living...


“I’m looking for a so-n-so. Do you have one? NO? If you get one, how much will it be?”

“I’m thinking of selling my so-n-so. How much will you give me for it?”

“Hi!!! How are YOU? Doing good? You look GREAT! Things going well for you? I LOVE your store. I tell EVERYONE I KNOW about this place! You’ve probably made A LOT of money from all the people I personally send your way ………… oh, uh, out in my car I have this thing that I’d like you to look at, and if you could, uh……. give me an idea on its value….”

Ain’t these the slickest weasels? Talk about opaque!!! They should join the C.I.A.!


Then there are the “just-stumbling-dumb-through-the-day” inquiries which are harder to hate:

“Hello? You an antique stoe? Yeh, well, I got me dis table where I be stayin’. How much it worth?”

“My gramma has something like that. How much is HERS worth?”

“When I was a kid, these cost 10 cents! Are you tellin’ me they’re worth 10 bucks now? Hell, I oughta find mine!!”

“You know anything about coins?”

“Lemme show ya sumthin’ ah gots in dis bag…”


I gotcher SUMTHIN’ ri’chere!

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