Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Worn Collars - Part Twelve - "Grifters"

Worn Collars

Part Twelve


            Grift, grifting and grifters are the biggest occupational hazard to the ‘old (rare) book man at his old (rare) book desk in his old (rare) book room... and any other “I am here”... as a ‘rare bookman’.  Often time a grifting alert occurs when “I am here” is ‘as a normal person’ but... upon being spotted... one becomes an old (rare) book... man... grifted.  I mean ‘grifted’ right out in front of everyone of the ‘normal people’ while they, often, watch, listen... do nothing to help... AND this including an ‘egg ‘em on’ participation “OH MY BROTHER WANTS ALL THE RARE BOOKS FROM DAD’S (home) OFFICE I KNOW THEY ARE VERY VALUABLE.  THAT’S WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT RIGHT?”.
            Get it?  It goes from there.  You know ‘your sunk’ when a ‘they’ approaches you, openly, with an ...open... ‘an old book’ open to the... “title page”... and hovers it in front of you and your current physical world view... after reversing it so you can (commonly called) “SEE IT”... doing this without saying ...anything... about doing this (approach, reverse, old book, title page)... at all.

            OK you want a better in-your-face specimen of grifting?
            Right now... as I am writing this (composing this word processing (“writing”) on a ‘lap top’ computer in the front seat of my truck at 6:47 AM on a ‘this Saturday morning’ in the parked truck in the parking lot of the flea market where the flea market manager has gone ‘inside’ to ‘open’ the flea market (opens at seven A...m) so I am WRITING THIS essay (blog post) while I “WAIT” and
            There is a finger knuckle rap over my left shoulder on the truck’s side window and there is a ‘Mr. Picker’ ‘of himself’ attracting my attention so I
            Stop typing this and put the key in the... and ‘roll down the window’ and, as the window lowers I... face to face the rush of banter from this “HEY DUDE” who... parked at an odd angle with the ‘still running’ behind him, spits “I JUST GOT A PAIR OF QUEEN ANNE CHAIRS AT A YARD SALE THEIR SEATS ARE NEW TAKE A LOOK AT THEM TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK”.
            I work for free.
            Right now?
            “NO they’re not for sale yet I got a map too its of Androscoggin County (Maine) is that any good?”
            “Those get better if you put your baseball cap on backwards.”
            “Yeah... Where’s Androscoggin County?”
            “Lewiston (Maine)”
            “I thought so”.
            “Think so?”
            “It’s big.”
            “Wall map?”
            “It’s torn along the top bar (the thin usually painted black ‘stick’ that the map is tacked to and hangs... on the wall... from; a ...wall... map) but it’s still attached”.
            “How much is that?”
            “How much?”
            “I don’t want it.”
            “Want it?”
            “No:  I don’t want it”.
            “But its nice looking.”
            “Right.  But it’s Lewiston.”
            “Yeah... pretty good.”
            “No money.”
            “Lewiston:  They won’t spend any money.”

            I get out of the truck and look at the chairs saying “Dutch” as I “SEE” the first one.  I don’t need to see the second one.  Or look at the first one further.  Oh they are OLD and all that but:
            “Dutch?” he says.
            “Dutch, Belgian... German, Austrian.  Swiss.  Whatever.”
            “It’s a country.  Ever been there”.
            “How can you tell?”
            “The Baroque influence.
            “Style; they’re Queen Anne right?”
            “You think this wood is maple?”
            “No.  They’d be New England if they were (made of maple).  It’s some light (colored) European wood.  Like Yew wood.  You know; ‘DUTCH’.
            He’s looking at me.  I know what that means.  Here it comes:
            “Anything your interested in?”
            And I never look at the wall map either.  I hear about these ‘antiques’ and ‘rare books’ (wall maps are a rare book) all morning.  “I said I’d give him a hundred.” for the chairs.  By mid morning the price was just about to plunge toward that from their fixed fortification of “TWO HUNDRED”.  Someone ‘bought’ the wall map “For sixty-five he said.  He paid fifteen.  He did OK.”
            “The guy knows nothing about any of it.” I said to one who then queried “You didn’t like that map?”
            “I like it OK but what am I gonna do with a beat up wall map of Lewiston.”
            “Yeah but you could sell it.”
            “No I can’t.”
            By ten I had one on one grifter chats with at least six grifters “about the map” and about eight grifters trying to ‘figure out’ ‘the chairs’.  “Some day your gonna figure out you need to study German Baroque to do this (be an antiques dealer).  When was the first time you realized this (antiques and rare books) is about art?  How many years before it hit you?  Twenty-five?  You don’t know what I’m talking about do you.”
            I said to one of them.  He just stood there, took it, looked out over the flea market and then said “How much you think that map is worth anyway?”.  All of this; the ‘I just wrote out’, is a perpetual procedure... of the grifting... of me.

            I learn something... sometimes.  I even write thank you notes to those who enlighten me.  Jack Kerouac called the sudden enlightenment titled ‘satori’ a “kick in the mouth”.  I don’t get it that good much.  Most of my ‘learn something’ is just a stone skip on the water surface.  That’s good enough these days.  I write a thank you note to Arlington St. John right now.  He was a rotten book collector and a rotten man.  He didn’t kick me in the mouth.  But:
            He mastered grifters and their grifting... fluid... smooth as silk... rock skip water surface ‘piss perfect’.  Expostulation of this... attribute... returns us to the earliest chapters (Parts One through Four) where Arlington attaches to the titled ‘rare’ ‘book’ ‘man’ ‘ship’ and his titled ‘boiled dinner set’ and the ‘his silver spoon’ and the ‘pretend’ and the...:
            He successfully set up shop as a rare book man seated at a rare book desk in a (his) rare book room for forty... fifty years and ‘took all comers’ ...masterfully.  WAY PAST my patience level... he ‘sitted’ and DAMN that bastard was good at it.  In fourteen minutes he’d have one of the drool beads petted like a purring kitten and “buying lunch” (as a figurative expression) and fussing with some NOTHING of a “rare book” he (Arlington) was “SHOWED ME” and “LET ME HANDLE IT”.  “Would you... when we have a chance... please go outside and pick up the neighbor’s dog’s poop in my yard.” he could suggest and THEY’D DO IT.  “Jesus”.

            They’d sit there; ‘sitted’ in the ‘his rare book room’ HOLDING A PLASTIC BAG of DOG POOP they’d “JUST BOUGHT” and... never could they be a happier merry man to be that; sitted in Arlington’s “RARE” “BOOK” “ROOM”.  “The BOOKS he has:  They are BEAUTIFUL.  SO RARE.  Too”.
            He was the Pope.  His rare book room was the Vatican.  ‘Grovel’ is what the ‘all comers’; the “boiled dinner set” of antiques pickers and ‘rare book scouts’ did ‘upon knees’.  A week after a visit one of the turkey calls would be showing me ‘an Irving’ (an ‘old book’ of some ilk by or of or about Washington Irving).  SMUG with ‘no price on that yet what do you (I) think? (grifting)... they’d “SAVING IT” to “SHOW” (offer for sale) “TO” .... “SOME”... “ONE”... in the divine sense.  Forever; for forty to fifty years in total and perpetually from 1969 ‘here’ (in Maine) when, that year, he ‘showed up’.  I ‘gosh’ the first few years... ‘this guy is... like... real?’.  Once I got to the Mr. Wallet side of Arlington; the, ah... ‘no show’ of he and him (Mr. Wallet) and his mastery of THAT ‘slight of hand’ (rock skip on water):
            And the innuendo.  Yeah... that side of that... side of... that mastery...:  He did more to ‘literate’ these them ‘boiled dinner set’ as to “POE:  I ALWAYS LIKE POE.”  He had these... faux flannel shirttail out... dribble fast food franchise special sauce down their front... “NO NOT WITH YOUR DIRTY HANDS” ‘touch’.  Arlington had the ‘that touch’. “Fuck” did they swallow it whole.  And... giddy... leave still carrying their rejected plastic bag full of dog poop.  It was genius.  I never see this peddled parley purloined FRAUD ‘done better’.
“I SEEN HIM... with one old book and two short sentences... take that fella’s shirt off, wipe his ass with it and wrap it around his head.  They’d be giddy.  To have it; done to ‘em.  Stand right there all smiles.  NEVER KNOW.  Come back the next day with another book to get a second go-through the line – all you can eat.  Again.”

            Every one should write Arlington... graveside... a thank you note. He just explained the whole grifting issue to us.  WHO WAS grifting who?  Arlington was the best damn grifter of rare books, rare book men, rare book desks and rare book rooms in the State of Maine for FIFTY YEARS.  Mrs. Snotweed and her “RARE” old books from “DAD’S OFFICE THAT’S WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT RIGHT?” got snuffed out like her cigarette butt under her ‘pumps’ (shoes) by Arlington’s “Shows... what the man really knew... when you line them (her dad’s books) up on a bookcase.  You should do that with those to REMEMBER HIM.”  He said that to her.  And she did.  They are ‘there’ (on the ‘proudly display’ shelves of her bookcase) to this day.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Worn Collars - Part Eleven - "Ref: None Located"

Worn Collars

Part Eleven

"Ref:  None Located"

            I do not pick up and ‘look at’ (“inspect”) a ‘rare’ (old) book in your
            Smelly box of old books
            Should there be a ...smelly... rare... book in your box of
            Old smelly books that is
            An old book that is rare.  No.
            MY EYES are so sharp... TOO sharp... on this
            To chance a ‘bother with’ a ‘notice you
            Noticing me
            Seeing ‘that’ let alone ‘touch that’...
            Let alone
            “Looking at that”
            “That one?” you say.
            No... I wait until you
            Go away.
            And I do not do anything then... either.

            No, no, no.  Religion... education... social development...
            Answers.  Questions.  Thoughts.
            Plight, sight... physical mite
            Monetary delight...
            And copious amounts of
            Dubious self infatuated oversight...
            From the poolside brandy flower garden
            Trowel of your own very Self & Self  LLC...
            Assure me
            That you will not
            Ever see
            You own rare book
            In your old box of old books that smell and
            Are from your mother’s house...
            Should she have happened to have one
            (A rare book)

            Self and Self, the limited liability corporation of “I” “Think”
            That you say surely self protects you with...
            All of your damn education was wasted wasn’t it...
            When your outside the door of the
            Rare book room.
            Well you’d better own up to that dark brown choke-in-throat
            Medicine and throw
            Out whole decades of self education of ‘I’ ‘think’.
            Just go to your back door (anyone of many) and look out over
            The neighborhood...
            And throw it out.
            Then you may begin to decide
            How you feel
            About choosing a room
            In the complex aberration you call
            Your life
            To become your very own
            Rare book room
            (“I want one”).
            You may want to dress up and
            Celebrate the occasion
            Of your first day of
            After telling your hanger around set to
            “Shut up and go away”.

            You will know when this happens to you.  Conscious selection and watching thy self close that door for the first time.  Second time.  “I put a book shelf in.  I didn’t know.  It was in the back of the garage for years.  I only put a few of my old books on it.  I promise.  But they seem like they could be good ones to me.  Good old books I mean.  I know now they are not rare old books for they cannot be I think I said but now the first page turn is to turn my self to my own ‘I feel’... of my old books.  I like them; old books
            I always have.”

            If it is ‘a lot of Irving’ in Arlington St. John’s locked cabinets (Part Three ) and Irving is a ‘nobody reads’ in the hanger around set and even Arlington didn’t buy them; it:  These old books.  Ok just minute... no going too fast as in skipping what I just said.  I said “buy them; it”.  That means that.  And that means... have you... ever ‘bought’ an ‘old’ and / or ‘rare’ book.  “I remember” you say?  WHEN.  WHY.  Did you read it?  Do you ‘still have that’ (the old book you BOUGHT).  OK:  I SAY a little self review is in order; a ‘get your old books in order’... in order.  WHY?  Because I tell you over and over Arlington St. John is rotten book collector but he has a rare book room with cabinets full of “a lot of Irving” and he... has (had) actually read pretty much all of them even over and over and could sit there sipping over iced smidgens and eating Saltines and cheese with me and we were perfectly delighted to do this and would even have welcomed you “IN” especially if YOU could tell us a tale of “your first old book” “I remember” and smidgen sip TOO by simply answering the questions above.  YEAH YOU; a bibliomania maniac?

            If the Jesse James train robbery rare Kansas broadside (a ‘rare book’ pictured and listed #167 in Dary; KANZANA [Part Ten]) has “ref : none located” (no references located), one copy known, one copy inspected and... that’s not gonna be in the smelly box of old books from your mother’s house.  To find one of those I’m gonna have to be a lot ‘better’ than that.  A lot better.  And you don’t even know you can ‘find that’; a ‘this’ ‘rare book’.  Let alone “HOW”.  And I’m in Arlington’s rare book room talking with him about “Irving” and... we just let you in and... your telling us your stupid story of your first ‘rare book’ “I bought” and we LIKE IT and
            Like you too.
            “My wife thinks I’m crazy.” You say?
            “So buy some pretty books and leave then around (on top of your “I” ‘that old desk’ “I CLEANED IT OUT” and ‘up’ and “BUT IT WASN’T BEING USED ANYMORE we all have lap tops” “DEAR”.
            “It doesn’t smell.”
            “What the HELL are ‘pretty books’”
            You know what they are.  EVERYBODY likes ‘pretty’ ‘old’ ‘books’.

            “It’s a shotgun shell... with a pamphlet rolled up inside of it.  They’re very rare.  The shell has to be there.  It’s like its slipcase.  (“What’s a ‘slipcase’?)  That’s the way they came.  They handed them out to everyone.  It was a give-away at the show; a promotional give-away. (A ‘give-way is different from a ‘handed them out to everyone’ promotional ‘throw-away’).  Cool huh?”

            “I saw one once.  Roger (Garnett)’s collection still has one I bet.  Seems to me he did.  Pretty sure.  I remember the shell.  Just the same; with the pamphlet inside.  Can’t remember what it (the pamphlet and the printed ...content... of the pamphlet) was about.  Just the same; real fragile.  Hey maybe that’s the same one (same copy).  Where’d you get that?  His wife is selling his books I heard”.

            “There’s a guy up Rangeley (Maine) way who had one.  He only liked the camp stuff.  But he got ah hold of one.  Wanted too much for it.  I said ‘come on’.  I haven’t seen him in a while.  I don’t even know if he’s still up there.  He used to buy everything (old ‘rare’ books) from (about) up there.  But I don’t know what happened to him.  I think he got divorced.  Or something”.

            “You know who knows about that.  Crimson.  He had that back shed of his FILLED with that kind of stuff.  Just RARE all of it.  Wouldn’t sell you a damn thing unless he had six copies of it.  KEPT IT ALL.  Well... I’d sit in there with him.  Drunk as a skunk.  NO; not really.  All afternoon we’d SWAP he called it.  Then we’d go down to MEXICO (Maine).  That chicken place.  Then I’d have to drive him back.  Then go home.  Jesus.  But he FOUND that stuff.  He was into every old camp that was up that way.  You ever go up there to his place?”

            “Ref: none located”.