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costa's hummer

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bugsplat


He who shits on the road will find flies upon his return.
South African Proverb


I think that my self imposed exile is going reasonably well. Like literary methadone, I have only tallied 7 posts for the month, down from over 100 at peak. Rather than a total break from writing, I will only post when I feel a major imperative, or to salvage my somewhat fragile and tenuous mental health.

The recent trip was not a disaster but certainly not good and produced a fraction of the returns of prior years. The whole near three weeks in which I did three shows was like pushing a pebble up a mountain with my nose. Never got a tailwind. I gritted and grinded and made the best of it but realized early on that it just wasn't my turn. What's the old song say? Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...

I can't talk much about the peaks but can enumerate a few of the valleys - A southern crone called me a smart mouthed yankee, a first. I complimented an australian lass's eyes and compared them to her turquoise earrings and she brusquely told me to fuck off in her lovely english lilt. (By the way, I have never got on with Aussies. New Zealanders are a much classier people. When I was young and traveling abroad, the Aussies were the guys you avoided in the bars, they were built for two things, drinking and fighting. These progeny of convicts seemed to have permanently stopped on some lower evolutionary limb. I am reading a great book on aboriginal magic - Living Magic - written by a pair of psychologists who field studied the abos in 1956. The aborigines are a different story, but are pretty much unrecognized by the criminal latecomers. Leslie would like to visit the continent but I would sooner go swimming in a pool of urukanji.)

I haven't had a great show, truth be told, in over a year. Missed several important one's due to medical bullshit and never got back up to speed. I started the trip out very enthusiastically in Albuquerque, being so darn affable that I practically stood on my head for people who ended up walking out quickly with my competitor's wares, making sure not to look at me. I ended up selling a couple things below cost, one on time, to try to salvage the weekend. Ate a tough as a shoe, ridiculously expensive porterhouse at place called Gruet that one should avoid at all costs. Horrible pretentious food but good company with my friend Lewis B. from Colorado. To be fair, he liked his. Mine was accompanied by a horribly sweet thick sauce and it felt like a big time anal violation. The great Albuquerque find of last year, Chef du jour, had apparently shuttered its doors.

Did eat at the always good Rudy's Bar B Q on Carlisle. The brisket is just exceptional there. I stayed at the Raddison which used to be the Holiday Inn and still felt like it. The guy who brought my luggage up said that we could get some "fine bitches" in the bar that night and that they would even come back to my room. I saw him chatting up a few very hard prostitutes sitting on a rock outside the hotel later that evening and didn't make eye contact. Lots of construction and dust but it wasn't too bad. Passed on the bitches.

The Albuquerque show, which I did superbly in last year, was two rooms, the first were card table dealers selling pots, baskets, trinkets and spurs. I was in the back room with a few of my peers that a lot of people didn't make it into trying to sell high priced art and might have been a little out of place. But I had too much stuff that I had no room to show in Santa Fe and wanted to expose it to the marketplace. Didn't do a heck of a lot of good.

I was disappointed that Terry S's sidekick Bob from Omaha was nowhere to be found but he had apparently gone missing some months ago. If you see him, please give him my best. I do get an occasional blog hit from Omaha so if it's you Bob, please take care of yourself..

Eliot from Rumbleseat Music gave me one of his new t-shirts which I love and will cherish. A really good guy. I got to see my friend Bob Zinner play several nights, both at Evangelos and El Farol. Bob is a first rate bluesman, who played with the Bees and the Standells amongst other groups in the sixties and whose arm was severed and reattached after an accident. With little mobility and function in his strumming/plucking hand he took a year to relearn guitar playing and is truly an amazing man. A good rock and roll voice, too. Wish I could have heard him when but glad to hear him now.

There's a really bizarre motel a few blocks from Cowboys and Indians, Terry's shop, where somebody has glued paintings to the outside of the buildings and hung weird shit from trees. I meant to stop and get pictures but the camera has mostly stayed in the bag. Except for pics of Victor Ochoa's five border collie puppies, which were really cute.

Made my way up to Santa Fe, which is in the nonsoon season, very dry, missed all the rainfall of prior years. I had a four day spell between the shows and did a little writing and visited some shops and dealers that I knew. Most people, like me, were just getting by and grinding it out. Understand that some galleries have closed or are suffering under the weight of their considerable overhead.

Millard took Steve S. and his wife and I to a fantastic restaurant in El Dorado called Copa de Oro where we had great duck served in a raspberry port reduction. I went back 5 times, also trying their Moroccan lamb with fennel and apricots. Delicious food and the entrees were around $15.00. Saw a few faces on the staff that I recognized from the old Julians, which always slayed me with its duck with pomegranate.

I went to the Phillips Collection of Impressionist Paintings show at the Palace of Fine Arts Museum and a guy from Milwaukee gave me a ticket to the Chamber Music Festival that his wife couldn't use. Saw the Orion Quartet do Hayden and a duo perform a piece for oboe and piano by a modern Polish composer. This took place in the lovely St. Francis Auditorium and was really fantastic, not to mention free.

Read in the newspaper that the guy who sells newspapers on Cerillos Rd. pleaded guilty to selling heroin to some undercover officer from his stand. And I thought people were reading again...

Thursday arrived and during the load in I got an inkling of what the show was to become. I had evidently been given my badge prior to the show and had forgotten about it and was told that I would have to pay five dollars for a replacement for the one that lay somewhere in my car. I crudely responded with a vulgarity and said that I was going home. The promoter angrily confronted me and I said that I felt that I was being treated pettily and punitively but things got eventually worked out. I apologized. Now I don't know if it was prescience or self fulfilling prophecy but at times I felt like there was an invisible bubble around the booth and I just couldn't connect with people. Destined for a fall.

But I ended up doing halfway respectably at the Ethnographic show with some last minute sales to people like my old friend June Smith and her husband Steve. I actually had a good week or two in the shop prior to going to New Mexico so it just means that I will have to keep grinding the rest of the year and won't get to sit back and coast at all like I had hoped. And put thoughts of the hawaii vacation on hold. Which we have not taken since we bought the albatross, I mean building. Leslie's help has moved to Big Bear so she can't leave anyway so it's a moot point. Saw a lot of old friends and had a nice dinner with my new friends Jane and David.

The guy across from me at Ethno ended up getting hospitalized after being bitten by bed bugs at the El Rey Hotel, where many traders have set up in their rooms over the years. Guess he had an allergic reaction and his head and lips got all swollen. Ouch!

The Ethno show quickly became the Indian Show and the returns were very few. We were a last minute entrant and got a discount on the booth so the damage was mostly to my ego. Had strong interest on my Germantown weaving and my Gene Kloss watercolor but couldn't get the trigger pulled. Found myself getting more and more misanthropic and dark and the dealer across from me, Mark S., started pulling out an electronic device and recording my most sanguine pearls. Mark is an ex doctor who is now a preeminent dealer in Maynard Dixon artwork among other things. He has bought a lot from me over the years and I have always liked him. He caught me muttering things like " I would rather sit in a warm pool of my own blood than sell to you, lady" and other pleasantries. I made a sexist faux pas with his wife when she was talking about their old days in the ER and I asked if she had been a nurse and she gracefully let on that she was a doctor as well. Oops.

Certain people only buy from certain dealers, I have found over the years. I could be peddling the Mona Lisa for 10 quid and not sell it because there may be more cachet in buying it from certain people who shall go nameless. You want to show a level of enthusiasm but not piss all over yourself trying to make a deal so after a few futile exercises, I retreated into a sort of laconic cave.

The indian world was atwitter over the federal government's recent crackdown on pot gatherers in Utah. There have been two suicides already after the indictments and they are now taking the position that even pieces that were sold as tourist ware my be repatriated as having religious significance. I don't deal in much of that stuff but it sounds shaky, unfair and arbitrary to me.

After packing out, I showed up at Tiny's, my favorite longtime local hangout, for one of their delicious posole and green chile Santa Fe burgers. My dinner guests chumped out. Had a good meal and was in for a musical treat. One of the great beebop alto sax players in the world, Richie Cole, was sitting in with Chief Sanchez and a smoking band. Cole played with both Buddie Rich and Doc Severinson's band. I talked to him outside and let him know that he was forever memorialized in Roger Zelazny's book Knight of Shadows. Was news to him but I remembered. Roger must have dug good jazz.

Was invited to a nice dealer's pad on Canyon Rd. for a quaff of near undrinkable wine and a lecture on the greatness that was Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. I scanned the perimeter for an available exit, after being quizzed on my owning any foreign cars. I let the guy know I drove a chrysler and skeedaddled. Jewish republicans are about as strange as log cabin republicans but I guess it takes all kinds.

Stopped at Chee's on the 40 for a walk and a fry bread. The navajo woman was listening to the same christian radio station as last time I was there two years ago and I told her about my photo of her shop which I displayed in my gallery show. She said that she would find someone with email so that I could send her the picture. It took several minutes to wipe the grease off my hands after tearing the bread apart.

I arrived back home yesterday afternoon. Out of underwear and socks. Somehow I developed a horrible case of bronchitis about three days ago. I can't stop coughing. It took two days to get home and my immune system has snapped. The news of Tony's death has hit me hard. I have caught myself crying at odd times, once I had to pull off the road in the middle of the mojave. It was incredibly hot in the desert, 119 in Needles on the way out, about 112 yesterday. I stopped at the Ramada Inn in Flagstaff at the halfway point and I recognized the gay Navajo who worked there from prior years. He told me how good I was looking with a wink. Leslie told me on the phone to be sure bolt the door to the room. The room was a disaster. The toilet ran all night and the rubber mat in the bathtub was disintegrating and left little balls of glue on my back and the bedsheets that would tear my hair out when removed.

I stopped at the Verizon store after I checked in to get the new Blackberry Tour which I think I will have to return. The trackball sucks and you can't play Brickbreaker. It won't move horizontally no matter how you adjust it. I think it was a product that was was rushed forward before it was ready. I went back to the store to discuss it with them and they made me wait another hour in line. The store was 80% navajo and the little kids ran around like a pack of well, "wild indians". No matter what the extraction, kids do pretty much what they want these days including tearing cell phones off of stands and throwing the plastic accessories around. Another Californian for birth control and euthanasia. I think I started coughing up blood yesterday afternoon but it might have been the skittles.

I was really tired driving back with whatever I've got. I tried to stop at every rest stop and rest my eyes but the heat was too friggin unbearable to stay more than a minute. Once Danny and Theresa V. from High Noon drove in on either side of the van outside of Needles. Lost them in Barstow when I pulled into Tommy's for a chili burger. My lips are cracked and bleeding and my right ear feels infected and won't equalize. I get a root canal early in the week.

Leslie turns 50 tomorrow and I am too sick to go to her party tonight. Hope that I can make it a special day somehow. Lots of laundry to do. Ciao. And how.