Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ask Nothing. Chapter Eight

Ask Nothing.

The Best Antique I Ever Found
How I Found It.
A. Picker

Chapter Eight

            Where I am is White Plains, Westchester County, New York.  Specifically where I am AND adjusted to it’s delightful and proper historical context, is JUST cresting the top of Chatterton’s Hill, the once “right flank” of General Washington’s army.  Here, on October 28, 1776, the “Rebel” (American Continental) army fought the either “crucial” or “lame” (historic opinion differs) “Battle of White Plains” for a brief fifteen minutes around ten in the morning.  Understandably, there was considerable foreplay to the fifteen minutes that consisted, principally, of the British army marching to and then around before the base of the hill in splendid red uniforms and shining steel accouterments while firing uncounted numbers of “solid shot” cannon balls “over” the heads of the Rebel army so ...that... after peeing their pants from the first barrage, the Rebel army pretty much stood around and watched the cannon balls ascend and then ... descend harmlessly behind them, bounce once or twice and... roll down the hill.  This last is a very important point to me... TODAY:  These cannonballs may still be and “are” ‘dug up’ during ‘construction’ ‘on the Hill’ to this day. 
            There was also considerable afterbirth to the “battle” for after the British (and Hessian) troops ascended the hill (meeting “heated resistance” and “galling fire”) and drove the Rebels from it in an “organized retreat”, the whole battle shifted to General Washington’s central line of shim-shod (old corn stocks pulled up by the roots stacked so these root dirt balls “faced” the “enemy”) fortifications in what is now north central White Plains.  A single cannon shot, from the Rebel army, the FOLLOWING DAY is the only reported “action” to take place after the “taking” of Chatterton’s Hill for each army managed to bluff the other into an “I don’t know” kind of standoff that, after this ONE LONE CANNON SHOT, caused both armies to decide to leave the area.  Although the battle was over in physical fact the extended printed road as to “who won what” began it’s construction and, like so many substantive publishing highways in history, is still under construction.
            Therefore, when I hook right on top of the hill, as I do often, I cross a midpoint of the Rebel line and drove directly into the ascending British (& Hessian) army.  “DAMN!” is my mental moment particularly as this, ah, battlefield ...ain’t no National Historic Shrine and all I usually see as “visitors” is a group “skip school” teenagers drinking ...beverages... out of brown paper bags AT EIGHT IN THE MORNING.  Intersection after intersection of quite residential homes bless the crest with.... otherwise... NOTHING.... NOTHING .... NOTHING to show “a battle was fought here” (except for this stupid little kiddy play ground that does have a bronze plaque to “mark the site”)  This state of affairs LEAVES ME ALONE in the kind of historic vignette I have come to cherish... OF NO ONE THERE, NO ONE CARES and LEAVE ME ALONE which is EXACTLY what has happened ALL the time I’ve ever been “there”.
            WHY?  Because it is NOT an accident that I am “here” and it is NOT an accident that “this area” ...(that, in my opinion AND ABOUT 200 YEARS worth of other people’s opinions... is “LOADED” with “great American history” but is, in fact, in advanced neglect... “THANK YOU!”... as a visitor shrine)... is a “special place that is calling me”.  Oh shit on you and grant... GRANT YOU that I would NOT have thought it possible myself but have come to discover (“SURPRISE-SURPRISE”) that what started as a “gut” “feeling” similar to ...MANY I have employed in the past... HAS panned out to be... JUST what I thought it would be:  VIRGIN TERRITORY.
            What is virgin?  To me.  Well:  Here at White Plains I found an area of our Nation that (1) is loaded with authentic historic place & time that (2) had been over the centuries very precisely accounted for by professional and lay history buffs (WHO ARE FOREVER MUCH better & smarter then ME so don’t you’s ah start the whine-butt stuff on me that I’m being “arrogant” or such cause, believe me:  YOU know more about this then ME.) that has, as our millennium cross the second threshold (3) fallen into grave neglect, disinterest and, my favorite; lost to history.  Kiss me, set me free at the site and LEAVE ME ALONE to dance in the full moon of unnoticed American history and I WILL watch TV?
            You can “fuck me” after I “fuck you” on this.  You ain’t there; you ain’t been there ‘cept for a “drive by” MAYBE.  Your knowing eye has not trespassed and then PILLAGED the slope of American history that I began a DECADE AGO of very precisely choreographed immersion IN.  IN.  IN.  Suck on that word:  IN.  I went where I wanted to go:  INSIDE.
            Here we must split (divide in two) the word “inside” to ...attempt... to convey my absolution, my addiction and my passion.  For these be the words for my happy home of historic paradise where I ...prefer... to live.  I will use other places and things from my experiences to try and convey “why” I am “here” (in Westchester County).
            The first division is “sense of place”.  The second division is “sense of object in it’s place”.  These two form the unity of an “it” for me that is found... “in”.  Sense of place began long ago in rather small chunks of space and time but has now grown and developed into a full fledge “ability” of mine to “be” “there”.  The first large project I developed and executed was, now thirty years ago, along the Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire.  It serves well here to demonstrate my ...absolution.  The Connecticut River runs north to south between these two romance filled, pretty and historic... “states”.  I prefer “land masses”.  Along the rivers edge on both side one may find “old”.  Old to me began as a stray into the valley while in high school.  There, along this river’s edge, I found the romantic taste of Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap on my lips... “for real”.  It was not the first time I had tasted the taste for I “be one” with it since I “can remember”.  It is here I CAN recall, that... it was the first time that this taste of coonskin became a... dynamic... in a large area.
            I learned that the river... when frozen in winter... was THEN (“the past”) used as, quite literally, an interstate highway NORTH for the expansion of settlement.  This wide frozen direct route “up” allowed for an unprecedented amount of “stuff” to “make it” there.  OLD stuff, intact, as delivered from the OLD HOMESTEAD to the new.  “Huh”.  My lips smacked; dribbling the drool of that flavor.  My eyes looked.  My heart beat.  My hands reached for and TOUCHED history left, lost and LINGERING alone and along the edge of this great ice highway.  I learned to hug that river’s edge.  To WALK so slowly along it’s EVERY nuance.  TO KEEP MY EYES OPEN for the slight peculiarity and creased LEAF of the old moccasin encryption called “history”.  I breathed the air... and I touched the SOIL of the dead White Man’s scalp dripping blood while his WIFE bore his CHILD by brook in the woods “to my left”.  Blessed are those who learn to roll this pebble of time between their toes and DAMNED be them that say that I, a PIRATE of this VERY SOUL, be encapsulated by it “for the money”.  You know nothing about what you speak.
            In the woods, by the river, I watched for the shadowy ghost of the emancipated Robert Rogers to float by me at HIS moment of glory.  I log cabined and Indian trailed myself from home to home to tavern to intersection to barn to woodshed to well house to “THERE IS WHERE THE old road WENT” and down into the soul of “it” “in”.  Brush the granite boulder with your hand but be careful not to damage the lichen of “it” “in”.  I did this so very consciously that the eloquence of its non-verbal expression remains one with me to this day and THAT only perfects my skill while “the rest of you” stare in a bewilderment?  For such lame souls I refer you to Francis Parkman’s divining dissertations on “visiting” a “site”; a pathetic yet landmark eulogy to “it” “in”.  Go on:  GO.
            Before my hands and eyes I found, ever more precisely and abundantly, the residue of material history.  Certainly every engraved powder horn bearing a map to “Fort Ti” has been found?  No, it has not.  That’s right:  It STILL has not.  And this I learned too.  It has taken me decades to fully appreciate the scattering of objects, their sinewy hiding placing and curious ...locations but be I one to fight AGAINIST such odds?  No.
            I ask nothing.  Left alone, which in truth I have been for over three decades, historic introspection has combined with in-the-field excursions to, until “death do we part”, allow me access to ... “it”, LITERALLY, “in”.  Mumbling contemporary Yankee Doodle-ing I’s ah “find it” here, there, UNDER THERE, behind that and always, always... where no one else ...was at.  Each time “it happened” as I once, decades ago, decide this sensation “was”, I learned to stop myself and capture “it” “in”.  Today I suppose one may utilize the technical aberration of the expression “virtual reality” to describe what is in fact a reality that I do very consciously “virtually” WHILE I’m THERE:  “IN”.  As the experiences mounted in my repertoire of time travel I learned to adjust my original mystification with the process to understand that not only was I... I the one who instigate ‘em but that ... I... could “see ‘em” coming ... and going.  This marked conscious development greatly enhance the ride and, again, as vignette piles upon vignette, makes me “better” at “it”... ESPECIALLY when I’m... “in”.
            Hold on to your lost objects because here we go.  What I have just attempted to convey is that I consciously, knowingly, ACTIVELY seek out “places” (ranging from large land masses to tiny little crawl spaces BEHIND the chimney) to “work” in my own special way ... for a ...delight only me... and my wandering wonder to be “in” “it”.  Along the way, it is of course necessary to, well, let us say, PAY OUR WAY so here and there some of the “so much” of the... I ask nothing for... is gathered and, as I say, “processed”.  Do I care what you have to say... let alone “want” for ... your “collection”.  Please.
            Most people, thankfully, DON’T collect anything so manage to rid themselves from ME before we need engage in the nastiness of paying my way.  After those I find only a handful left and of those, most are marginally capable of comprehending materialism, its products and arts.  Bolstered by these factors; the commercial realms of “don’t know shit” combined with “(he-I-they) buys shit” has allowed me a defensive commerce that is “this is not about money” and ... it is not about “a” object.  It also goes along way to explain the often pointed out to me “disdain” I am credited with blessing collectors and “other” dealers with... .  Well.  I suppose it is disdain but ...I don’t not believe it is commercially fixed.  I believe its source is found in the need to get rid of these “people” before I may BEGIN to “do what I do”.  To have a dealer or collector around ...takes up TIME that I would, for life is short, spend on my VOYAGE AT SEA in ... HIS-TOR-REE.
            So:  First I get AS FAR AWAY from “them” as possible and MEANWHILE divine to enter a virgin territory of “it” that I ... I believe to be an “in” “untouched”.  There is, in fact, an endless supply of these for it really just depends on what one feels like at the time.  A roadside road house, “intact”, “totally original” and “untouched” brings forth it’s treasure just as the private home of the woman whose husband died and left her alone with “all” his parent’s “things” from “They were very rich before the Crash.  I’ve never known what to do with all this but I DO think the paintings may be worth SOMETHING now.”.
            “Oh Jesus” and if I say “fuck” too... then I guess I am LUCKY to be a pirate.
            One controls the vignettes and with remarkable power... may even direct the broad travel toward the bigger scale themes.  Returning to Chatterton’s Hill, we find the theme of my travel to be the American Revolution.  Here, in Westchester County and White Plains, I found an area that had been unbelievably central to the actual activity of “the war”.  Back and forth, over and under or, as THEY called it; “from above” or “from below” Westchester was the wandering territory where all “were” “in” “it”.  Called “the Neutral Ground” to designate this state of affairs, it has passed into history as such, passed THROUGH history as such and ... PASS OUT THE RECTUMN of American history to become one of the most splendid NEUTRAL GROUNDS of unorganized American treasure LEFT unorganized.  While witch houses in Salem charge admission, tourist camera’s clatter at Old Faithful, Mount Vernon cordons off staircases with velvet cables and the Battle of Gettysburg is “fought” again each year... when one visits White Plains one is ... HERE.
            Except me.  Actually there are a real lot of people here but... a lot of ‘em are kids on drugs and ladies shopping for shoes in Land Rovers or ... the average guy with the average girl with average house and the average kids hoping to pay for the average car and still have enough for the ...average “that” “too”.  Door after front door of street after side street of building after home after intersection after “EXIT 1/4 MILE TOLL BOOTH AHEAD”.
            Now there is one more touch I add to this background canvas before I cease to accommodate you with “why I am here”.  A great enhancement of my travels in the virgin historic lands I ...choose... is that most, if not ALMOST ALL... AT ALL TIMES... people “there”... “don’t care”... or even “know of” what I have been communicating.  THAT IS A FACT.  And I don’t stand around talk’en up about it, believe me.  “FUCK ‘EM” and “I’ll, ah, TAKE THAT, thanks” pretty much covers our relationship merged DIRECTLY with as invisible a “visit” I DO make... as POSSIBLE.  I know that no one knows or cares so consciously attract as little attention to my, ah, “work” as possible.  It is only here upon this page, I believe, that I am first recording the actual conscious intensity of my motion to be “in” “it” although this reflects decades of actual ACTION TAKEN of my life.  EVEN THOSE who be “in the trade” or such... MOST USUALLY fail to understand the deep mystical involvement of my travels.  Generally they resort to the superlatives of disbelief and disgust such as “your crazy”, “your an asshole”, “what do you do with that shit” and the always pleasing “If you ever get anything good....:”.
            What is good?  If I am bad.
            This “I am bad” I have been informed of for years.  Therefore:  All the more reason to be making that second “hook right” around the block.  Then a THIRD hook to by Son of a Bitch & his dad to prove for sure that it is “only a bed” that is “left” to be “put out”.  It was and, well... one of them boxes of coffee cans tipped in the back so I had a clattering going on “back there” (the now filling space in the back of the ‘burban) that sounded like I had the tins cans tied to the bumper and just got married.  I hadn’t just got THAT but I had just got PAID.  Here is found one of the principal compliments of “I am bad”; this “getting paid”.  I’m gonna do this once here so the for the REST OF THIS BOOK I don’t have to elaborate the details of every piece of SHIT I pick up and YOU will just have to use YOUR FINGERS to count up and concluded that “Shit:  The guy can actually do pretty GOOD doing this!” of “HOW DO I MAKE A LIVING” kind of figuring.
            The coffee cans:  Three boxes with approximately 12 to 15 cans ca. 1957-1962 (uncounted:  I NEVER COUNT THIS SHIT) with “the lids” and a few “more” “without” ‘em.  The “complete ones” are a quick “six bucks” ($6.00) each to “tourists” in Maine... in the summer... in the “store” OR... I could “sell all of ‘em” to one dealer but... fuck that cause I DON’T MAKE A LIVING FOR “them” (principal compliment of “I am bad” #2) so... prefer to “sell to the end user directly”.  Conservatively, twelve times three is thirty-six times six dollars each is $216.00 total and deduct HALF to “maintain my lifestyle” including the 100% taxable “capital gain” of all these FUCK’EN OLD CANS... leave $108. POCKET CHANGE and ...that is only ONE GOD DAMN PIECE OF SHIT... “from the trash” even excluding the friggen “old vanity” thing I got “there” “too” “first”.  How are your fingers doing?  AND I WON’T do this again:  YOU DO IT ....YOURSELF.... in YOUR neighborhood of choice.
            This, ah, practice... goes a LONG WAYS to getting rid of the need for me to have to... spend much time... “associating” with my fellow dealers who generally “hate my guts” and other brilliant self made expostulations of their commercial understanding of why I’s the way I am.  Fuck ‘em.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ask Nothing. Chapter Seven.

Ask Nothing.

The Best Antique I Ever Found
How I Found It.

A. Picker

Chapter Seven

            “Irene.  Do you think it’s Richard who offered Ursula more for the painting?”
            “No Toni.  But I do think I know who it might be and... well, we all know him including Richard.”
            “Really?  WHO?”
            “I’m not sure but.  On Saturday; last Saturday:  Mr. Cando (CAN-do) brought that breakfront I bought from Tyler over to the store.  I made him bring it right into the front of the shop.  Anyway.  He had to bring the valances too.  I bought those too.  Tyler wouldn’t sell those separately.  Tyler still thinks they go with the breakfront.  Anyway.  I bought those so Mr. Cando had to load those from over on Ferris.  When he went there he said that Richard was there and he was showing Tyler some photographs.”
            “THAT BASTARD!  OH!”
            “Now wait.  Mr. Cando said it was FURNITURE.  They were pictures from inside a house he said.  They let him look at them.  I think it’s that Gilman house; the one’s Richard knows who are moving.  Richard thinks their stuff is really good.  Anyway.  That’s what Mr. Cando told me and that Tyler was looking at them pretty hard.  But he’s not gonna want that stuff.  He knows better then that.  But he COULD have showed him a picture of the painting too.  If he really did take one.”
            “He TOOK ONE!.  Ursula wouldn’t say something like that.  She said he was going to show it to his auctioneer.  Can you believe that!  I’m gonna.  OH.  So you think Tyler could have made the big offer.  To Richard?  And he’s gonna tell Ursula?  He’d do that.  HE would.”
            “Mr. Cando didn’t say anything about a painting.  I mean:  I didn’t ASK him.  But you know how he is about paintings.  HE’D LOOK.  Mr. Cando LOVES paintings.  But:  You know what:  IF he’d seen a PAINTING don’t you think he’d of asked ME.  I mean.  HE shows me every painting he ever gets.  Right?  Just the other day he had the two landscapes.  OH they were awful!  But he LOVED them.  They were Italian.  With the crummy frames.  Especially if those two thought it was valuable.  HE’D LOOK.  Mr. Cando; ever since he sold that one portrait he thinks ANY painting is, you know THOUSANDS.”
            “But he didn’t say he saw a painting.”
            “That’s right.  But.  If Richard had a photo you know he’d show it to Tyler.  He knows Tyler won’t go to Ursula’s and he knows Tyler would know any painting well enough to give him a guess-to-mate.  Especially if it’s Ursula’s.  They’d try to screw her.  You know.  They don’t care.”
            “Well.  When I first saw it... I told her nothing at first.  I admit that.  Then I told her one sixty-five.  I didn’t do that right.  She knew it was better then that.  This time; when I was over there yesterday, the painting was gone.  She said she put it upstairs.  I didn’t see it.  Tyler wouldn’t go there do you think? 
            “Tyler go there?  But he hates Ursula.  You know what he calls her:  FILTHY LYING BLANK and I know what blank means!”
            “Poor Ursula.  I’m glad he doesn’t go there anymore.  WAIT A MINUTE!  You know what.  I BET he WOULD go there!  OH!” I said to Irene but it was really to myself.
            “But he hasn’t been there in years, Toni.  And he has Richard telling him everything.”
            “YES but he’d still GO THERE if that painting WAS GOOD.  I mean if it’s THAT GOOD.  Just because he doesn’t go there doesn’t mean he CAN’T go there.  THAT’S what he’d do!  He’d see Richard’s picture, Richard tell him it’s at Ursula’s and then he’d, you know, mutter something and... wait until Richard left and GO RIGHT OVER THERE.  WHY NOT!”.  As I said this I realized this is EXACTLY what was happening!
            “Toni.  He wouldn’t do THAT.  To Richard?”
            “WHAT!  Are you kidding me!  Of course he’d do that!  I’D DO THAT!
            “You’d do that?  Toni!  When would you ever do that?”
            “YOU’D DO IT!”
            “I’d do it?  No I wouldn’t.  I’d never do anything like that.”
            “You would to.  If you saw that painting you would.”
            “That is an idea Toni.  Maybe I SHOULD go there.  I know Ursula well enough.  She knows me.  I’d just say you told me about the painting and I can pay more then you!  That would fix you wouldn’t.”
            “YOU wouldn’t do THAT!  Irene.  Come on!”
            “But you just said I would.”
            “OH!  NOT like THAT!”
            “Well.  Like what then?”
            “WAIT A MINUTE.  That’s not a bad idea!  IRENE.  YOU COULD DO THAT!  Go to Ursula.  Say you heard about the painting.  Say I told you.  Say you’d told me you were going to go see it.  Say how you would know how much it’s worth!  She’d believe you!  She WOULD.  You know she thinks your, like, Mrs. QUALITY.  IRENE!  That’s IT.  We can do that.”
            “Toni.  We?”
            “NO.  REALLY.”
            “Toni.  Mr. Cando is probably doing THAT TOO.”
            “Mr. Cando isn’t going to Ursula to buy the painting.  Come ON.”
            “But he goes there all the time Toni.  He brings her his things.  You know that.”
            “But Ursula doesn’t show him anything.  Even Ursula knows he won’t pay anything.  He doesn’t have any money.”
            “But he could SEE it.  And tell Tyler”.
            “You know what!  If Mr. Cando saw that painting I bet he WOULDN’T tell Tyler because HE’D want it so bad.  Mr. Cando would DIE if he saw that painting.”
            “Oh... now... it’s that good Toni?  Mr. Cando would want it for his collection?  Mr. Cando knows nothing about painting.  HE wants EVERY painting for his collection just because he figured out it IS a painting.  It’s really a good painting Toni?”
            “Well.  Not THAT good but good enough for Richard.  For Tyler.  For me.  And that’s good enough for Mr. Cando.  I BET it’s Tyler whose seen it.  And he’d start his line on Ursula about the auctioneer.  He’s always putting stuff in auction.  EVERYTHING he has is gonna go to auction; you know his lines:  That where it brings the most.  I can just hear him.”
            “Yes Toni, but... this time... I don’t know.  He hates Ursula and even Richard knows it.  Ursula won’t sell anything of her mother’s and that’s all Tyler wants:  The GOOD STUFF he calls it.”
            “Speaking of Ursula’s good stuff, Irene; how’s my bench doing?  That’s still at the store right?”
            “It’s still there and I’m having Kevin move it into your space as soon as it’s ready.  And it’s not good stuff.  You paid too much for it and your never gonna sell it for a profit.  I told you that the day you bought it.  I don’t care what you think it is:  It’s an old bench and it’s ugly.  The sooner I get that away from my things the better.  That’s going to be the first thing in your new store Toni and I bet Kevin has already moved it there!”
            “Well.  If your gonna have half the store I don’t want to have your stuff on my side.  That’s only fair.  I’ve marked everything for Kevin to move.  Also.  You’ve got to start paying me now.  Even though your not open yet I’ve still have to pay Kevin.”
            “But how am I gonna sell anything if it’s not ready.  The two whole rooms MUST be painted.  I’m not going to put ANYTHING in until they are.  I can’t sell in there like with the walls like THAT.”
            “Toni.  I’ve never painted ANYTHING in that store and nobody cares.  If you want to paint those rooms that’s fine but you still have to pay your half of the rent AND pay Kevin.  The only reason I’m letting you in there is because OF Kevin.  He’s older now and he’s married and if we don’t pay him more money he’ll LEAVE.  And then what will I do?  I can’t find anyone who works like him AND watches the store.”
            “I like Kevin.”
            “Of course you like him.  Everyone likes him.  But he’s gonna buy a house in Mount Vernon and his wife is gonna have a baby.  He’s grown UP!  I’ve got to pay him more.  I’ve RAISED him to do this.  And he’s GOOD.  In fact.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.  Now that I’m letting you in... .  The only reason I am is to pay Kevin more and you know that.  And your not gonna sit shop.  You know that and I know that.  That’s what the problem is for you in Nyack is anyway.  But you don’t have to be there either.”
            “I’m still keeping that.  I’ve got so much stuff now.  And I can’t keep it at home.  Oh God.  Brian doesn’t stop on the basement.  OH!  Irene.  I mean:  All I have is my antiques.  But he HATES the stuff.  He thinks, like, I’m suppose to make his dinner.  I tell him look:  I HAVE A LIFE.  He doesn’t care.  He comes home; he wants booze, food and the remote.  On the weekends it’s golf.  I HATE GOLF!  I’m never playing golf EVER AGAIN.  THAT’S FINE he says.  Now he’s pissed about the furniture in the garage.  I told him LOOK it’s on MY SIDE and I’ll park the car OUTSIDE.  He thinks the car’s gonna get stolen.  IT’S NOT gonna get stolen I tell him so he says it looks weird and the neighbors don’t like it.  THE NEIGHBORS CAN’T EVEN SEE IT I say.  HE says they can.  HOW can they see it?  They’re across the STREET.  They can see the car he says.  BUT IT’S A CAR:  BIG DEAL I say.  I’m gonna get rid of him, Irene.”
            “Oh your not gonna get rid of him Toni.  You love him and he loves you.”
            “LOVE HIM?  It’s like loving a ...TELEVISION SET!  He’s like.  HE’S like having another KID.  OH!  He doesn’t do ANYTHING.”
            “He brings home a check doesn’t he.  I wish I still had one of those.”
            “I don’t need to have HIM actually BRING IT.  He could just drop it OFF.  I’ve thought about it:  I can live here and he lives in the city with his buddies.  Or at the golf course.  That’s what he wants you know:  He wants one of those condos on the edge of a golf course.  That’s where he wants to live when the kids leave.  You know that don’t you?”
            “Oh that will be nice, Toni.  You can make cocktails and wait on them while he and his friends do what they call OVERLOOK the 18th hole!  HA!  That’ll be the day I see you doing that.”
            “So what am I gonna do?  Something is gonna go if he thinks I’m doing that and it’s better HIM NOW them ME on a GOLF COURSE!”
            “Have you ever told him that?”
            “NO!  Talking about that...:  I bring it up to him sometimes .  He just sits there and looks at me like I’m his GOLF BAG!”
            “Oh, now.  Don’t be too hard on him.  Remember:  HE thinks HE understands things.  And YOU don’t.  I used to live like that.  God gives us booze and cigarettes:  THAT’S what saves you.  It SAVED ME!  Why.  I’d still be Mrs. Fetch & Carry if it weren’t for those gospel saints.  Keep him on those and you’ll soon be free AND they STILL have to give you a check!  That’s what I did.  I just sat there and never said a word.  Then one day.  Well.  I didn’t hear a THING.  So after a while I went out to the garage and there he was; the end of all my problems.  Of course it took me a few years to realize just HOW great a moment that was but is really was.  That was the first day of the rest of MY life!”
            “GOD that would be GREAT.  OH that would just make it SO MUCH easier.  NO MORE THIS.  No more THAT.  WITH all the MONEY TOO!  I could just BE!  No one would say ANYTHING and if they did it would just be HOW SORRY they ARE!  You are SO lucky!”
            “A lot of woman don’t see it that way you know.  They say they’re alone.  That’s because they don’t DO anything.  Never did DO anything either.  What a waste.  Me.  I knew EXACTLY what I was going to do.  AND I DID IT.  But I’d already started.  Just like you!  I was actually JUST like you.  Not as many kids though.  But I did have a shop.  And I had Kevin.  And his mother.  Poor old Minnie.  But she was happy.  And SHE was alone too.  Of course she’d always been alone.  Except for Kevin.  And I saw to that.  She always thanked me.  “STILL CAN’T MAKE HIM A WHITE FOLK” but “DAMN COULD BE!” she’d say.  But it’s still hard for him you know.  I feel responsible.  And he is GOOD.  He’s really better than most of the dealers.  Why.  I bet he has actually handled more good things then ALL of them put together.  Tyler tried to hire him you know.  OFFERED him more money Kevin said.  But Kevin told me that he didn’t think the work would be the same.  He said he doesn’t trust Tyler.  He told me he thought he be out of a job and then come back BEGGING to me.  I told him he’d never have to beg to ME.  But I know what he meant.  He has a good job with me and I know he knows it.”
            “He’s lucky.  But.  I suppose your lucky too.  And I’m lucky.  Now.  When I think about it; just having him there.  I mean; he’s THERE right NOW.  That’s worth a lot.  Especially because no one will bother HIM.”
            “What do you mean no one will bother him.”
            “Because he’s Black.  No one will bother him.  AND they know he works for you.”
            “Know he works for me?”
            “That YOU own the store; they’re buying from YOU.  They wouldn’t buy from him.  YOU know that.”
            “Why wouldn’t they buy from Kevin?”
            “Because he’s Black.”
            “Toni!  What are you saying?”
            “Black people don’t know anything about art.  Everyone knows that!”
            “Well it’s true!  Where do you ever see any Black dealers?  Black collectors?  You don’t see any because there AREN’T any”.
            “Toni!  There are TOO.  I know lots of Black dealers.  I BUY from them and THEY buy from me!”
            “They do not.  When does a Black person ever buy anything from you?  I’ve never even seen a Black person in your store”.
            “What about Mr. Quenelle?  He’s ALWAYS in the store.  Everyday he comes in”.
            “But he never buys anything.”
            “NEVER BUYS ANYTHING!  He bought every piece of furniture in his house from me!  For years!  He and his wife have BEAUTIFUL things.  WHY:  I just told him how I wished I could buy them all back for what I’d sold them for.  TONI!  I can’t believe you saying this!”
            “Well I think it’s true.  I never have heard of a Black dealer except for junk dealers.  Where are they if there are so many?  How come I never see them?”
            “Because, obviously, you don’t know where to look!  That’s why.  Your gonna be surprised how MANY Black collectors come to my store.  You’ll see.  They know very well what they’re doing.  Most times they have BETTER taste then my WHITE collectors because they’ve STUDIED harder.  That something YOU should do more of TOO.
            “Well; they won’t be buying anything from me then.  I’m sure I don’t have anything they’ll want.  What do I need to study for anyway.  What should I study?  I sell very well; very nice things.  I buy them.  They sell.”
            “Toni.  I didn’t know you felt like this!”
            “Feel like WHAT?  Racist?  I’m not racist.  I’m just telling the truth; Black people don’t buy antiques.  They don’t.”
            “Your wrong.  YOU’LL see too.  You just wait.  And.  Your also gonna find out that they know a lot more then YOU do too.  Some of the dealers have been doing this a long time and know just what they’re doing.  You talk to me after you’ve been in the store a year or so and tell me THEN who are the best buyers.”
            “I don’t think I’ve ever sold a thing to a Black person.  Matter of fact; I’ve never even BOUGHT something from one.  They don’t buy antiques Irene.  They may buy some of your lamps and stuff but they don’t buy antiques.”
            “They don’t buy what you sell because all you buy are the things that your FRIENDS buy for THEIR houses.  That’s a very SMALL market.  You have to remember that the art world is VERY big.  It’s not made up of just what your friends buy.  Why:  Didn’t you get upset when I bought that carved marble stone from Mr. Cando?  It was Latin; written in Latin.  And he said it said a name of someone.  Remember that?  And what happened to THAT!  It’s in a MUSEUM in FRANCE now.  Remember how your friend said it was BROKEN!  She didn’t like it she said because it was broken.  But it was a ROMAN road marker!  Remember that?  And Mr. Cando KNEW IT.  He dug it up in a garden in Greenwich!  Someone had put it there.  Then they tore the whole garden up!  REMEMBER THAT?  Mr. Cando brought ALL of the marble here.  Those people; the ones who bought the house; they were just like your friends.  And you for that matter.  THEY didn’t know what THEY were doing.  They AND YOU think all you do is buy what you like.  What you LIKE!  You don’t even know what you LIKE let alone anything about art; art history.  YOU thought that stone was broken JUST LIKE YOUR FRIEND.  You hated it!  AND THE REST OF THOSE STONES.  But who KNEW.  Mr. Cando KNEW.  HE know more then YOU do about art Toni.  Just because you sell to your friends doesn’t mean ANYTHING.  All you ever say about Mr. Cando is that he’s Spanish and weeds gardens.  Why:  That man has found more good art with a leaf blower on his back than any dealer in Westchester!”

Friday, May 4, 2018

Ask Nothing. Chapter Six.

Ask Nothing.

The Best Antique I Ever Found
How I Found it.
A. Picker

Chapter Six.

            I had to decide what I should “do” now?  Ha.  I already knew what I’s was a gonna do back while Mr. Green Wipe was ah off-loading his gas grenade AT the garage door.  Being as Mrs. Spanish Woman WAS HOME... I’s ah have no qualm about the “second visit” HER right off to “If you ever” on that old cannon.  SO::::  I was “cross town Johnny” to her doorstep but, ah, FIRST, as it is “TRASH DAY” up on Chatterton’s Hill, I, even though it....:  NO it AIN’T a LONG way back to Ferris Avenue after all IS IT... thought I’d swing by (up, around and then over & down) just to peek AND refresh myself with...OUR Nation’s heritage... cause I ain’t like you and ah gonna MISS a chance to immerse myself in the private dream land of American history I have BUILT FOR MYSELF while watched TV?
            UP Battle Avenue I went (after a cut-back on Columbia that offered “nothing good left” [in the roadside trash] for by nine in the morning the whole damn world of Trash Babies done “DID IT”; pick the piles BUT that can be qualified by a super superlative state that AFTER the Trash Babies “do it” they USUALLY don’t do it again cause... MOST of ‘em gotta “be” something or SOMEWHERE else until “dawn of the next day”.  REMEMBER THAT cause its REAL IMPORTANT)[1].  GOSH I love Battle Avenue.
            WHY?  Not because of the trash I promise but ...because of “it’s place” “in history”.  But I didn’t go very far before it was back to trash.  Half way up the Avenue I see a, ah, let’s call it “a commode” that was in fact an old (ca. 1910) four drawer little something or other that “held stuff” once in the lady’s boudoir but had been... “I don’t want it anymore.” on into an “OBVIOUSLY GOOD but”, as the ‘burban PULLED ALONG SIDE, “it’s” been “in the basement?” for, like... FIFTY years and “still retained” the once attractive but now disgusting pastel pea green paint (“baby shit green” in Maine vernacular) from it’s ole glory day’s of interior private home eminence.  Looks like thirty bucks to me and I “flipped it in”; got out, put the gloves on, lifted the ... “PIECE” out of the pile AFTER opening the rear doors of the ‘burban, “tucked her in” and returned to the pile to vigilantly scan for “anything more I can use”.
            WELL:  Right then Son of a Bitch and his DAD come across the yard from the, once again..., under the house basement - garage door of “the home” where, it is concise to point out NOW, that so much of what I ...find... does seem to come out of that... one may NOW understand why to people such as myself title this the ...RECTUM... of the home that is in fact a dignified sort of FRONT DOOR TO PARADISE (“FUCK the DOOR BELL, Honey!”).
            Since Dad had done something like parachute behind enemy lines in WW II while holding a Bowie knife in his teeth, he not only understood the concept of my visit real quick and ...didn’t care... BUT...:   Since Son of Bitch was new to the real world and STILL SUCKING ON THE OLD BITCH’S (“my Mom’s”) TIT (and living at home) he was, ah... taken ah back (“Get a job, Fart Boy.” WE exchanged as non-verbal pleasantries)... THAT I would violate HIS trash in broad daylight.  I had a wooden board that was once used to iron sleeves in my hand and it had two pair of angle irons on it (that’s $2.69 a pair at your local hardware store) so... I could, ah, “use that”.  He looked at me.  I looked at him.
            I was older than him.  He kept looking at me.  I... looked at what he and Dad were carrying.  EACH carried an old cardboard box filled with ...old... one pound Maxwell House coffee tins in the always decoratively attractive orange scrip (inclusive of the “last drop” cup in white & orange) with medium blue background.  “Huh.” said my mind and “red screen” and my mouth said “You throw’en THOSE?  I can USE THOSE”.  Dad knew the ropes and JUST HANDED his box to me.  Son of Bitch started to stare into the top of his box like he’d ah... might just come out of KING TUT’S tomb “with something” “good” “?” so... I actually, after the tuck’en in (to the ‘burban) of Dad’s box... where upon Dad surveyed the visible contents of the ‘burban... TOOK the damn box from... the kid... while, I do believe, he was ah try’en to get the GALL (or maybe just his BILE SACK) to, ah, enunciate to the WORLD that “CAN” I “DO THAT” inclusive of the “HEY THAT’S MY MOM’S OLD VANITY SHE KEPT HER TAMPONS IT!” inter-self verbalized Existential epiphany that I... am witness to all the time... .
            “Kiss my butt.” is the best way to circumvent this kid so I did the physical mannerism to indicate that ... “I am pro, you’re a kid, I am doing this, beat it” finalized with the always important body language “Don’t fuck with me on this you big fat overfed mamma’s boy and go back inside and play computer games in YOUR BEDROOM”.  This includes my inner self observation that this kid was as big as the house and it was real nice that his Dad was there to hold his lease.  Dad, meanwhile, had completed his research at the back of the ‘burban and volunteered that “they” “had another box of cans inside”.
            “I’d like those to if it’s OK.” I said right up front.
            “Course it is.  I don’t know why I saved ‘em.  What you gonna do with ‘em”.
            “Put screws and stuff in ‘em”.
            “I think that’s what I figured I’D do.  I never did you can see.  But, you know:  I can never throw anything like that out.  I’ll get ‘em”.
            He turned and walked back toward the rectum of his home.  I turned and tucked the kid’s box in.  Son of a Bitch just stood there for a few seconds and I figured I was gonna have to dance with him once he formed his verbal ...stool sample... but, suddenly, he turned and scooted back after Dad.  That chicken shit asshole kid ain’t ah gonna go ANYWHERE in life until DAD puts HIM OUT FOR THE TRASH.  Now I figured, as Dad reappeared with the box, that I was going to have to dance with DAD (the Maine dance, etc.) which wouldn’t be too bad unless, of course, he started on to what a fart in a mitten[2] his kid is... and THAT dance... does perpetually happen to me... even in these roadside vignettes.  But he didn’t.
            He just passed me the box so I had to ask “Are you putting out a lot more?”
            “No.  Just an old bed and mattress”.
            This was affirmed with Son of a Bitch emerging from the rectum with... A MATTRESS... so... I, not wanting to have to help carry “it” and... being satisfied with my ...lot in life... said “Thanks a lot” and stepped right around to the driver’s seat and ... drove on up the road.
            Not that far though.  Toward the top I hooked a right and rolled up over the crest to be just above where... I suppose... long, long ago... Alexander Hamilton ... “placed” his artillery.  Damn I wish I knew the “exactly” on that but I guess it don’t matter cause half of that fact of history is purported to be legend and the only old photograph I’ve seen is a primitive snapshot of some bushes with a bare spot that was taken ten decades before the Hill was “built up”.  Today the historic position is probably covered by someone’s garage for all I know.  Don’t matter to my romance for I was “pointed” in the right direction; the direction Hamilton would have fired, AT the right spot... so... fuck it; it’s good enough.  Also:  I was hook’en on around to be sure it was “just a bed & mattress” cause... you never know.  Don’t forget this last cause we gotta do a vignette here to clear the land I’s ah “work’en”.

[1]:  OK, I’ll explain.  Trash is put out when ever “anyone” feels like it.  NOW:  IF you’s ah read CLEARLY the Westchester Housewife “comes out to forage” utterance,  one will notice that THEY are not out at dawn ‘cept, of course for the ole, ah, “power walks” and all... (an interactive paradise of it’s own for me) SO’S most trash “out then” is either “Husband put out “‘before work” or “LAST NIGHT”.  Therefore, once the downtime of the daily hygiene & “appearance is everything”, the fix the house up, the tell the servants what to do (and this often includes “THROW ALL THAT OUT”), I quickly enter the long six to seven hour stretch of around any bend at anytime “someone” “could be” roadside disposal activity that I ALSO give notice is the time when things... THINGS are “put out” LIKE CHESTS OF DRAWERS..., OIL PAINTINGS in their “original frame”... and (or) a... whole garage & basement contents... cause them dawn & dusk hours is usually “don’t got time” and there’s no “help”.  So let’s not panic... and say  that, ah, “all this” (the throwing out of rarities) is “in the dawns early light.  IT AIN’T!  It is in fact an “all day” kind of thing and MOST Trash Babies “ain’t around”.  That just leaves the me?  I’ll get to that.
[2]:  “Fart in a mitten” is a Maine expression for the, ah, childhood action of holding a mitten covered hand over your asshole, farting into it and then vigorously holding the “fart in a mitten” over another kid’s nose for a “good sniff’.