In the middle of late-night novel revision when daughter comes down to tell me she’s had a breakthrough on her novel, and wants to spill the details. She is almost dancing with excitement. I’ve been watching her wrestle with this story for a year and a half, and she’s been taking my advice - when in doubt, just write. I see her working on it all the time, or at least staring at it, which is part of writing. For some, that is. For some not writing is part of writing, but it’s a cheap excuse. What do you do? I’m a surgeon. Oh, what kind of operations do you do? I just think about them. Last week I had a really good idea for going through the shin to fix kidneys.
Earlier today I was arranging and sorting and restocking and noticed that the awful flavored coffee K-cups wife and daughter use - stuff like Bananas Foster Cheesecake Wedding Frosting Mocha - were running low, and I didn’t want to buy more because they’re awful. Texted daughter, who was on a bus, to see if she wanted to go buy flavored coffee syrups
So after dinner we drove to World Market, where I knew I could get small bottles of Torani syrup. We had gone there before, but it was a long time ago. We’d been there when she was very small, which of course she does not remember. The store closed during the Panic of 2008, was empty for four years, then just reopened again. Damndest thing. They’d sold all the fixtures, too. Never saw that happen anywhere else.
Back in the food section they have products from other countries and small off-brands and obscure candies, and she was - get this - exulting in the packaging and logos and product design. That’s my girl. We got some syrups, then went to a coffeeshop for a shot of the black stuff. The chalkboard by our chair asked us to write the name of someone who inspired us, and she asked for a name of a writer.
“That would be admitting someone was better than me,” I said. “I would rather put down the names of people I have inspired.”
Dead eye-roll. “Okay how about George Washington.”
“Father of our country, sure.”
“Anthony Burgess.” Quizzical look.”He wrote Clockwork Orange.”
“Oh!” She wrote his name and drew a clock and an orange. She asked about the book and off we went on that subject, ending in something about Cockney slang. Back in the car and on the highway at twilight, and as I’m chattering about something she stops and asks for silence because this is the kind of music she was talking about the other day.
Back up: en route to Hunt and Gather she’d said there were two kinds of music that gave her certain old-time feelings, really connected. One was scratchy trumpet music from like old jazz, and the other was scratchy songs from - from - well, it’s hard to describe, here, I know it’s Kanye but I like this.
It was some old Motown girl-group, but then there was this sample: uh huh honey.
RECORD SCRATCH SOUND. I plugged my iPhone into the AUX jack.
And there it was. Now, I don’t know if Kanye took it from that, but I know my reference precedes his. So. I gave her the Gladiator arms-spread posture: are you not impressed? Your dad, your old dad, can pluck out a sample from a Kanye West song and give you the origin? Huh? HUH?
Anyway, highway: I shut up and listened to what she had seized on as an example of the Scratchy Trumpet school of interesting haunting music from another place, and it was Benny Goodman. Which played in the background for the entirely of her childhood in the lost misty years. I haven’t pushed any of this stuff. All you can do is fill the atmosphere with it, like dust in a grain elevator, and wait for the day when they find the matches.
I mentioned yesterday that the dog got out. I couldn’t find how he escaped, and so told wife and child not to let him out again for the rest of the night. As I was finishing up that very blog entry I felt that things were quiet - all together now, TOO QUIET - and so I went back outside. There was no dog. Ten minutes after getting him back he had gone out again. It’s the rabbits. They’re everywhere. He cannot resist.
At this point I am mightily peeved, even though wife and daughter insisted that neither let him out. So he teleported? Shifted to incorporeal canine-matter and walked through the wall? Spread out. It’s 10:15 now, and I drive around the neighborhood slooooow with my most powerful flashlight, shining the beam in between the houses like some cop prowling for a runner. Nothing. Back home, back on foot; I hear barking, and head up the hill to the watertower, where I follow the barking and shine the beam . . . it’s the wandering pug, standing alone on a broad sheet of green grass, worried eyes staring back across the street. Well, if Scout was here he’d be all over that pug, so no. Back down, call daughter, see where she is, keep going.
And then! There he is. Far away, but it’s him. I whistle and call and he starts towards me but sees something else or smells something else, and runs in between houses. Like the aforementioned cop I follow, and now I’m not only in someone’s backyard I discover that they’re all connected, three of them, terraced, leading down to the street around the corner - running through the back, calling his name. Phoned daughter and told her to come this way, we can corner him - but there he is, standing, happy, tongue hanging out. What? Oh hi.
He got fast-walked back to the house, that’s for sure, and then everyone was stern with him. Means nothing. What? It’s what I do. I chase rabbits. Rabbits run, I run after them.
I found how he escaped: knocked a board loose on the fence. You just take these things personally, don’t you? Are we so bad you must struggle to escape?
On the other hand: the fun he must have had.
A new pointless feature! Rather than load this thing up with a million pictures after I've gone to the antique store, I'll dole them out a few at a time. Aren't you grateful. The store is . . .
. . . and it's a museum. Old products, like Eon Dusting Powder for Madame. If one can still make those assumptions. What a typeface!
I'm not saying some of the displays are unnerving, or that it's possible one strange fellow goes around and rearranges things, but:
The lights don't match the fabric. They might ail from the same decade, but one's ugly wow-generation with-it swingin' Age du Merde, and the other's from the time of push-button consoles that heat your food while your rocket accelerates towards the Venus colony.
More tomorrow; one of these days I'll do a quick video tour.
For some of us, this is the parent's bedroom. For others, it might be Grandparent's bedroom - and that's a bit disconcerting. No one who lived with this furniture was supposed to get old, were they?
I don't know what furniture was difficult to own, unless the old stuff was always running off and joining roaming herds of sofas and bureaus.
Cancel your ticket, you madcap translatantic jaunt-taking-type person.
Scandanavian design! From a man born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This stuff was all the rage . . . right? I didn't see a lot of it growing up. We had some - at least it had tiny little stubby legs - but I think this was an upper-middle-class thing. More beloved in retrospect than it was at the time. But that's just a guess.
Wash your walls! Go on, wash them!
Goes up in hours? Who has time for that? Love that logo; too bad they don't use it today. Yes, wonderful AND washable Wall-Tex is still around. They don't make that pattern, though. Wonder why.
It's spring cleaning! Time to take the advice of a stylized bird and use these caustic, blinding chemicals to sterilize your filth-pit
Then again, why clean when you can mask the odors with artificial scents developed by scientists in labs who sprayed them into bunny eyes? Mountain Mist! When someone really leaves the stew behind:
Evergreen, for that utterly institutional aroma that makes people think of public bathrooms! Bring a little bus station into your house!
Don't even THINK of rubbing your vinyl, Mrs. America:
I have the suspicion I've played this before, but it must be done again:
Now. Get this. I used to work with that guy. John MacDougall was the news director for KSTP AM-1500, where they sent him for his twilight years. He did the TV news before that. If you asked, he'd tell tales of his days in live TV - the cue cards were wrong, the copy wasn't long enough for the spot, and so on. You needed nerves of steel.
The sixties loved to use old 19th and 18th century woodcuts to give their ads a certain pop-art flair. I never liked them. They always seemed wierd or even unnerving. Like this:
In case you're wondering what the stuff looked like - something that would seem to be the point of an ad, if you were inclined to help people out - here are some of their patterns. It's from 1900, but it probably didn't change that much.
I found it at archive.org - can't locate the link right now - but you can almost find it in . . . the Iraq Museum.
Will wonders never, ever cease? Science marches on! And other cliches. They won't blow away? What's the secret?
Steel and magnets.
That'll do; have some Frank Reade Jr. adventures to top it off, and we'll see you around.