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Rapt attention

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Grass Valley Shindig

not exactly a blast...

Well, I'm back, mostly in one piece. It was a tough trip up north, one I am not going to fully break down at for you at the moment, but will give you a few outstanding high and lowlights. 

I got back yesterday afternoon. I was going to try to empty my van this morning but remembered that I had something on the calendar. Yes, that was it, a visit to the podiatrist. Nine o clock this morning, van would have to wait.

My big toe has been aching for two months, ever since my pedicure. I saw an emergency room doctor, he ruled out the gout.

Doctor was a few minutes late. Patish is a nice young guy, from Belarus originally. 

His nurse thought the nail color was really off. Hmm. 

He took a quick look and then pulled out two long needles. 

Froze my toe and then gave me the injections. 

Told me not to look.😓

I had an ingrown toenail that was the result of an improper pedicure that I had received at the place near Grocery Outlet. 

He said that they cut at the wrong angle and left a sliver of nail in. 

It had apparently abscessed and left a lot of scar tissue. 

He said that he pulled out the second most cystic material he had ever retrieved from a toe.

I asked him if I could feel the old tissue and it was firm and rather pliable. Never had anyone dig into my toe before.

Strange stuff.

Antibiotics now for ten days. I am bandaged and he wants me to chill out for a day or two.

Guess he dug rather deep.

I think I need to find a new manicurist. 

The vibes weren't so good with the last one anyway and now this.

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Grass Valley was strange, a  western show that was once the class of the genre, people still talk about the day the Koch Brothers dropped over three million in one visit.

Those days have evidently passed.

I stopped by my stepmother's in Fresno on the way up. Taught Shela and my stepsister Sara how to make my scones recipe.

Not sure why but these cranberry blueberry ginger scones came out extra good. I was pretty careful because I was teaching. 

They wanted me to bring scones and I said no, but I will teach you how.

Drove by the very intriguing and venerable Madame Sophia Palm Reader joint in Fowler and made a mental note to come back one day with a camera when I had more time.

The next morning I had coffee with my good friend Bert Levy, a tradition of mine while in Fresno.

I made my way up through Sacramento, then onto the Highway 49 and finally Grass Valley.




Known for great historical, advertising, western and gold rush material, there was a robust swap meet occurring outside in the parking lot when I arrived. 

I saw faces I had literally not seen in decades, caught up with some old friends. 

I bought a beautiful Navajo floor rug outside.

I started bringing my show material in around eight in the morning. There was no move in help and no double doors. 

My painting boxes were too wide and had to be brought in one at a time. 

I looked around.

The show seems to have gone to seed in some way, but let's face it, who hasn't?


Both the clientele and dealers are aging. 

My booth was not nearly what I expected, not the full peg board I had been promised and a strange short wall separating me from the next dealer. 

Oh well, I would make do. What else could I do?

This was like a way back booth for me from thirty years ago.

I decided to forego lights and paper and just blend in like the other dealers. Rather Spartan.

I don't think they have really had a fine art dealer before. 

I had low expectations.

Which was good because the show didn't really pan out all that well for me. 

Sold a couple paintings and other things, did all right but not what I needed or expected. 

I bought a good illustrator painting on the floor which I have already sent to auction.

I had not been to the area since I went up with my ex wife about forty years ago to see the Jerry Garcia Band and the Band play together outside on the lawn.

It has changed.

While some are championing Grass Valley as the new vanguard of psychedelics, I didn't see any of that. 

I saw long haired men with pistols strapped to their sides, many of them missing large numbers of teeth. 

I went into the Humpty Dumpty for breakfast one morning wearing a Hawaiian shirt and gave the place the once over. People stared back. 

I noticed that everybody there dressed quite drably, all in blue and gray, might as well have been wearing potato sacks. Color is out. I know that I am prone to hyperbole but I am not exaggerating, no one, male or female, had anything sporting color.

I felt like a drag queen at a Wisconsin picnic in my Hawaiian shirt, which, a long with my blue jeans, is my normal costume du jour at the shows. 

Politically the conversation, both dealer and clientele was heavily MAGA. Lot of white flight escapees to Idaho, heard some racist stuff, made it a point not to engage. I was there to try to make money, not win political arguments.

Had a man bemoan the fact that all these Bay Area people have moved into Nevada City and were ruining the place, one guy said his own sister in law was one of the principal offenders and she was running for office!

Place is evidently pretty polarized, like much of America right now. I had two decent meals all week, at Maria's and at Pine St. Burgers, the Heisenburger the best I have had in a long time. 


Went out with a couple dealers to the former place, an old rodeo bull rider and his son from Bakersfield and another guy who had a booth near me. 

We told jokes all weekend to keep ourselves occupied, spent a few days laughing. I had a couple cocktails at Maria's and ended up leaving the place feeling pretty good.

Show started Friday and sometime in the late morning I dodged the bullet. 

That flimsy wall between the booths decided to come down. 

I jumped up and grabbed a falling painting with one hand and held the entire wall up with the other.

The guy next to me, Shannon, said I looked like Hercules standing there for about two or three minutes until help arrived to stabilize the mess.

I had $30,000 dollars of paintings on that wall and I managed to escape with about $650 dollars damage. 

The wall crashed into a table and broke the glass on top and gouged the table pretty good. I ended up giving it away.

I barely received an apology from the promoter and never any offer of compensation for my loss. 

The man that built the wall said that he had neglected to put a brace on the back. I guess a major tragedy was averted and things could have been a hell of a lot worse but I expected something more from management, frankly.

Not sure I will be returning, that is for sure.

I manufactured a sale to a client who was walking through the place. I knew where this painting was in Berkeley... I got up at four on Sunday, drove to Marin to drop off a painting, picked up a painting in Berkeley, stopped by Oakland for a cup of coffee with my friend Melissa, then drove to Ojai to sell the painting. 

My GPS sent me out to this god forsaken region near Taft and I realized that I didn't have enough gas to attempt the geographical traverse. The phone routed me another 45 minutes to Maricopa and then through the amazing Maricopa Highway for a three hour ride through some of the most marvelous scenery I have ever seen in Southern California. I had done Highway 33 from Wheeler and Casitas Pass the other way but never all the way through or from the east.

Miles of ceanothus lilac, two months later and a shade lighter than my local stuff. Wildflowers I have never seen before, a giant river bottom and then a climb into the most beautiful pine hills of the Los Padres National Forest. 

There were nine washouts to get through where the road was now one way. My only regret was not seeing any of the condors that now live in the area. I finally made it to my client's beautiful hacienda, did the deal and then on to my hotel in Ventura. I drove somewhere between fourteen and sixteen hours this day and was completely wiped out.

Got home yesterday, pretty whipped and clutching for breath. Bank is holding the big check for five days. Nothing is easy. I guess this is what I have signed on for. Little hawks have now fled the nest but I saw all though of them on distant boughs and snapped a couple shots today.

I'm glad to be home, bandaged foot propped up on the couch.  Anesthesia just wearing off. Just found out that new client up in Atherton wants to see paintings early next week, might not even unload the van. Another thousand miles or so to go.

Such a life...

2 comments:

Kent said...

Oy vey

RoxAnn said...

Being a “Valley Girl”, hometown Reedley I remember seeing Madame Sophia’s as a teenager in the 60s on our way to Fresno. I read that Ringo stopped there once for a reading! Another landmark in Fowler was Bruce’s Lodge a restaurant with a plane that was placed nose down on the roof. We used to go there for dinner and as a little kid I thought it had actually crashed into the building. It closed in the 70s.