Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hemingray Number 45

For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of trading in antiques, collectibles etc is photographing them. This is a Hemingray Number 45 glass insulator.  Millions were produced for long distance telephone lines from 1938-1960.  They're not highly sought after, or worth a great deal; collectibility is often about rarity, and too many were made. 

Form not only served function beautifully in this design, but held its own in a way we'd consider indulgent, wasteful now.  I wonder how many of today's similarly utilitarian components, packaging products etc will survive this long, be considered lovely art objects one day.     

Postcards, greeting cards, and matted prints of this photograph are available at Redbubble. Prices start under $3.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Charm Of A Ratdog

On the way out of town I pulled into the rundown Phillips at the top of the hill and filled the tank and bought a shrinkwrapped hoagie. The chocolate chip cookies in the case looked good but when the clerk dropped one in a bag it rang like a stone. I said you got coffee? He shrugged. He was a skinny kid with the charm of a ratdog and weak whiteboy dreads. Wide strips of pale scalp stretched tight and painful looking. I said can you nod? His eyes got smaller. What? I said nevermind. The pot was a third full. It smelled like last week’s but it’d do to dunk the cookie. I said you got napkins? He was reading the Times. He didn’t look up. Under the hotdogs. I took more than I needed. You never have too many. He’d been reading the help wanteds. He said you got thirty? I said yeah. He made change. It wasn’t much. I shouldered the door open holding my coffee so it wouldn’t spill and went out. A semi blew by, jake brake bellowing. Gearing down late for the hill.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

What Are The Odds

A couple years ago someone at Fictionaut interviewed me about my lit & arts quarterly Ramshackle Review. One of her questions was what’s the best concert you’ve ever seen? That's easy: Ted Nugent and Van Halen, Binghamton, New York, 1978. We went to see Ted, and Van Halen opened.  Their first record hadn’t broken on the east coast yet, none of us knew who they were, and they blew the roof off the Broome County Arena. Within a few months, every kid with a guitar was trying to learn Eddie Van Halen's groundbreaking Eruption licks, and the rest is rock and roll history.  
A few weeks ago I got an email from Greg Renoff, a writer who’s working on a book about Van Halen’s early years. He asked for any info I could provide on that Binghamton show, and said that it seems a lost date of sorts. He’d found only two online mentions: My Fictionaut interview; and a cached copy of a defunct myspace page, with this photo.

Long story short: The guy in the lower left corner, striped longsleeve tee, black headband, fist pump? 
‒ Yeah.  That’s me. 

They make you wonder, these kinds of improbable, seemingly random connections.  Not so much how they happen as why.  Probably no reason; probably their only worth is the wondering, the simple joy of their weirdness.  But even in this age of internet connectedness we couldn’t have imagined in 1978, you have to shake your head, and laugh, and say what are the odds of that.

Van Halen live in Fresno, January 1978.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Build Again

"The world is many.  None easy, none sure.  A thousand secret histories, might-have-beens, never-weres.  Sift you through rubble of your own night's fallen walls, find what you may, build again."
        –  from An Architect of Dreams: The Life of Thomas Dain, Thomas Dain Estate, publisher. Used by permission.