Water from Cape Agulhas



Because.  I mean it’s water from both the Atlantic and the Indian oceans.  Obviously (or perhaps not — I could’ve found this on the street or stole it from a shut-in who only watches Fox news)


Black Linen

Getting rid of clothes … it’s not easy.  There’s the issue of whether they fit, of course; but there too, it’s then a reflection of “I may yet fit into this” or in my case, having lost weight “I may get fat again and need this.”

Which, when it comes to my black linen  (pants and shirt) I just can’t see —  they’re just too large for me.  Linen is of course comfortable, but it is a real pain to maintain — I am horrible at ironing, so I send anything that needs to look pressed out; and those prices have been increasing.  I understand; labor costs money.  But will I get $6.00 worth of enjoyment out of a clean pressed linen shirt?  I don’t think so.

For them to once again approach anything stylish they would need to be altered — and then they never do look right, especially if you take off too many inches .  And that would be money … which I don’t know if I would value as in the past I have spent money to get things altered only to realize I’ve never worn them again since the lie of the fabric isn’t right or the pants-pockets have shifted or some other issue.  Or simply that they’re just no longer fashionable.

I worry far less about what truly is “fashionable” than I did when I was younger; I think it is also that I no longer imagine myself in certain spots while wearing said clothing.

But it is tough getting rid of clothes that you’ve worn to certain events or during certain times of your life; it then brings up the idea that will you still be that person?  Are you ready to cast out that person, that event, the thing you did in these clothes?  I wore the black linen pants to a Sade concert; it was an excellent show.  I’d liked her music really the first time I heard it — in Canada of all places.

And so at some level the pants represent a Sade concert-going person; a grown up with erudite tastes.  Who knows to wear Brooks Brothers black linen trousers when attending such events.  On the other I don’t really go to any more large concerts — I used to all the time but I just don’t see the value for the money in them any more with hassles of security and hundreds of dollars for tickets, only to find out they want five dollars for a bottle of water.

The shirt I remember wearing in Paris and getting misplaced (I am rarely lost; after all I am always where I am) on the Left Bank, after having one of those long multi-course lunches one used to have in Paris and I suppose some people still do.  Why I recall that it was this shirt I’m not sure, but maybe even when I bought it I thought it would be the perfect thing to wear should I find myself in Paris on afternoon.  Anyway we figured out where we were and decided to go to the Islamic Center which had a fascinating exhibit on Moroccan pottery;  because of course I’m someone who wears a black linen shirt to a long lunch in Paris and then sees an exhibit of Moroccan pottery.  And I’d like to think I still am but that I don’t need the black linen shirt to do those things.

So I took these down to my Salvation Army on 23rd Street and when I walked in to drop them off, the woman who was handling donations was listening to Cheryl Lynn’s “Shake It Up Tonight” so I complemented her on her musical choice, took a receipt, left  and did some grocery shopping.

Octopus Magnet

I got this octopus magnet at a street fair in New York City.  It had to be in the early ’90s when I was very actively collecting a lot of stuff.  I think it had something to do with again having the story behind the item, I am still not sure; part of what I am working on is to understand what really drives our various desires — in this case why I bought an octopus magnet at all.

When you fist come upon something new, you’re like “WOW!”  and then often, not always, but often — find it everywhere.  IN this case they were magnets made fro some white stuff, sort of plastic-y but maybe something else, and if I recall they were made in Guatemala or someplace else in Central America.  So they were reasonable — I think a dollar a piece and maybe six for five or some deal like that, I recall I also got one with some rice and a sculpted chicken leg on a plate as well an some others, too.  The fact that they were handmade and sculpted gave them a certain uniqueness; so many magnets by then were the flat ones that were molded or just photos so they didn’t have much origiality to them; these did.


But then these Guatemalan magnets started to flood the markets, they were not only at seemingly every street fair, but sometimes three or four times in same street fair; as has become the norm now.  But it was a bit of a surprise for some reason to me at first that you would go to a street fair and about every four blocks the vendors would start to repeat — and not just another guy selling magnets or T-shirts; but the exact same magnets and T-shirts. And zeppole and so on and so on.  I guess the average length most people walk at a street fair is four or five blocks.  Which is a quarter-mile; so I guess that is about right.


The magnets themselves were not very magnetic; they barely stayed on the refrigerator and couldn’t hold a single piece of paper without falling down so from a purely practical point of view they were useless.  But they did at least have some artistic merit, being touched at least by a human to form and  paint them (even if it was only so much as to spray-paint it and dab on the eyes.)


But it was an octopus, and not a chicken leg so I had a little more affinity for it; I do find them fascinating creatures.  But do I really need a crappy Guatemalan octopus magnet to keep me fascinated or maintain my fascination?  No.



The Bugle

I have no idea what the provenance of this bugle is before my great-aunt Grace B. (not to be confused with great-aunt Grace D.) got this.  But it was quite prevalent at her atelier where she taught painting, and she used it in a number of still lifes.  I remember one time being at her house and I am not sure of what the circumstances were but I and some girl from White Plains (I remember she was from White Plains; I have no idea what her name was, but I do recall she reminded e of Hayley Mills, maybe because that was the age one watches a lot of those Disney films with her like The Parent Trap, That Darn Cat, and the like).  But somehow we had the bugle and we would hold it up to some of her portraits and say “look they’re playing the bugle!”   Which was somehow hilarious.


I’m thinking it was some girl from her church?  I don’t know.  So anyway as kids — well, let’s say it was a stiff home — my great-aunt was a devout Christian Scientist, so what can I say, “fun” was not one of the first things on her mind when it came to entertaining children. But we did laugh and laugh holding the bugle up to paintings.


It wasn’t really fun for adults, either.  Thanksgivings at her house were somewhat dour events with no smoking or drinking and all the usually family tensions, but with only cranberry juice to drink.  I don’t recall them as particularly pleasant events but there’s a whole bunch of reasons for that.  The horribly dry turkey I always remember, even though she had an Aga cooker, which were pretty rare in the States at that time; I was always fascinated by all those compartments and how they could all be at different temperatures.  And somehow she ruined it anyway.  At the time whatever drinking or smoking I did do was already in secret so as a teenager so the ban did not affect me as much as the rest of the adults.


When my cousin, her son, really my mother’s cousin, died in 2010, the house was being cleared out and I did see this and thought it was small enough to be a memento to keep.  But I rarely paint still lifes with bugles so I’m ready to let it go.2016-08-16-10-07-16

Basket of Shells

This is a basket of shells from somewhere; I don’t recall where exactly but I am thinking it was one of the towns on the Jersey shore.  Seashells are always fascinating for me, they represent so many things:  the ocean, other life forms, distant places….


I remember getting a basket of shells at an amusement park in Lake George when I was a kid.  It was called   “Gaslight Village” which, well as a kid I don’t think I even got the idea that it was supposed to be some village lit by gaslight, i.e., before the advent of mass electricity so in the late 1800s.  And really, it is rather absurd to base the idea of a village with no electricity and then have tons of blaring neon lights and electric rides all over the place, but some people just love their false nostalgia. In fact most people do.

They were all these different colors and shapes and they also came in a basket but it wasn’t until years later after the basket of shells had been abandoned for what I thought were more adult  pursuits that  I noticed on the bottom of the basket it clearly said it was from the Philippines.

Well, by that point in my life I was already so used to being disillusioned I just laughed.

I don’t think I ever did think all of these marvelous shells were somehow found in Lake George, New York which maybe has a few snails and the like in it but nothing to fill a basket of shells, but I don’t think I processed that there was an industry devoted to sending baskets of shells around the globe so people could buy them as mementos, either.


Well like so many things if you wait long enough your memories will be hazy at best.  Obviously at some point I had these cigarettes and even thought enought to hold on to them.  But I have no idea — outside of some Spanish-speaking country — where I got them.  Maybe Costa Rica?  I took the picture in 2009, or so the dating tells me, but where or for how long I kept these I do not know.


I was originally thinking maybe they were from Perú — or really Bolivia, since when I was in Perú there were a lot of  smuggled cigarettes from Bolivia there which were inexpensive, and at the time I was still smoking.


Benson and Hedges are not the easiest cigarette to find abroad, especially the “American Blend”– though you can get them in Brazil.  But these are obviously not Brazilian cigarettes.  I would smoke Lucky Strike when I couldn’t find anything else — I don’t like Marlboros, which are omnipresent in most markets, so I went with Lucky Strike instead also in Chile, but I don’t think they are from there.  Or maybe they are.


I’m sure I had some great art project in mind with an empty pack of cigarettes from somewhere in South America — I don’t think they are from Spain because the warning isn’t as big or says “Fumar Mata” like I recall in Spain.


Who knows.  And I’ve gotten rid of these so I can’t look at the tax stamp to check.  Well anyway that’s my take on this.2009-04-04-00-53-36

Abalone Shell


I got this abalone shell at a garage sale in Michigan.  The sellers were getting rid of stuff they said they didn’t need, and at the time I thought, “How can you not need an abalone shell?”

It was at this house at a top of a slope, and they had a pool that they drained and just filled with wood chips.  It was far easier to maintain that way, they said.  I think it was around two pm or so and they’d already started drinking.  They seemed nice enough.

But of course now I know that yes, you can not need an abalone shell.

For me at the time — I might have still been a teenager, maybe twenty, it represented so many things:  far away places, oceans, mysterious creatures.  Shininess, not the dreariness of studying econometrics under the gray skies of Michigan.