Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Dead Baseballers, Art Gallery Feng Shui and the Grateful Dead

Is this Burgess Meredith's brother? (Joey Kulkin photograph 8/21/12)

BENNINGTON -- I planned to spend today behind the counter of Fiddlehead at Four Corners researching the burial sites of famous baseball players based on a Twitter chat last night with @OscarMartinez of the Dallas Morning News.

Nap Lajoie buried in Daytona Beach? Cool.

Instead of doing that, however, I found myself changing the feng shui of the art gallery.

And because of that a funny thing happened.

Within minutes of moving my favorite orange vase here, and a purple bowl there, and putting those popular green and blue Exotic Sands here, and placing that branch-handle broom in the Absent-Minded Butler's arms -- and framing Steph's $1,900 shell in the bureau -- the energy of several customers filled the gallery. Customers who bought some of the things I just rearranged so they'd pop out more.

Now I'm well aware of the fact those customers might have come into the gallery and bought this bowl had it been in the previous spot, or bought that vase had I not moved it 5 minutes earlier, without me thinking feng shui had something to do with it. It kind of reminded me of "The Booth at the End" premise: you get what you want guaranteed if you make a dastardly deal even though the scenario you want to play out still might come to fruition without having made the deal. Life happens that way, sometimes. In this case I'm sticking with the idea of feng shui nouveau.

But I digress. ... I moved Steph's shell off the display cylinder ...




... and moved it to the bureau ...




... and moved this purple bowl in its place, and within minutes it sold along with a John DeAmicis book and a rock soap and a few other tsotchkes ...




... so then I replaced that sold bowl with the orange vase ...




... and within minutes this man, after I told him it was my favorite vase in the gallery, took a picture of it and texted his wife to see if she liked it ...



... and within a minute she texted hubby back, and a minute later the vase was sold.



So I decided to find another vase that has been somewhat out of sight and put it on the cylindrical display case. I'm going for the sales version of the bowling turkey.



Meanwhile, into the gallery after those two sales in a span of 15 minutes walked a guy with the type of hat you might see in a Matt Dillon movie. ("The Flamingo Kid" perhaps?). Asked the guy if I could take a picture. Yes, he said, "but you can't use my name." Deal.



He walked around while his wife immersed herself in the Exotic Sands. They're among the most popular items in the gallery. One sat in the bureau, two others on a counter. We've sold a ton and have just three remaining so I moved them to the centerpiece used for deposit and withdrawal slips when banking life filled the space of this marble building.



Minutes later her husband walked up to the counter asking if the music playing was the Grateful Dead. Yes. It's the only music the gallery owner plays, and it's the only demand he makes on me -- other than don't sell 3 or 4 pieces that are not for sale.

The man in the hat said he saw the Dead play in 1970 at the Fillmore East. I told him we might have that show on CD. I found it and asked him to hold it for another picture.



The February 13-14, 1970, Fillmore East shows were 19 months before I was born. It's a 3-CD set. The songs on CD 1 are Intro by Zacherle, Casey Jones, Dancing in the Streets, China Cat Sunflower, I Know You Rider, High Time, Dire Wolf and Dark Star. Songs on CD 2 are That's it For The Other One and Lovelight. Songs on CD 3 are Alligator, Drums, Me & My Uncle, Not Fade Away, Mason's Children, Caution, Feedback and We Bid You Goodnight.

Told the guy I'd play it if he wants, but he said no. He was on his way out. I asked what his favorite Dead song is. His wife was rushing him out as he tried to say Uncle John's Cabin, and he tried to sing a line, but his wife cut him off pronto, and they were out the door. I'm glad I didn't change CDs because I've played the current CD from the May 10, 1978 show in New Haven, Connecticut, for 3 weeks on the trot.

Songs on the CD are Jack Straw, They Love Each Other, Cassidy, Ramble on Rose, Me and My Uncle, Big River, Let It Grow, Deal, Bertha and Good Lovin'. The reason I don't want to change the CD is because sales have jumped dramatically since I put it in about 3 weeks ago.

I don't want to mess with that feng shui. Or is that juju?

As for the guy at the top of this page, I have no idea who he is. He walked into the gallery minutes after the third in a flurry of sales and asked for "the fella" who owns the gallery because he always comes in to talk to him. He's gone for another week. I didn't much want to talk to this fella.

But he wasn't leaving without letting me get a picture of his mug.

Yes, this is what an unemployed journalist does while running an art gallery in Bennington. It's not the glamorous life I once knew, but the feng shui that was my tattered personal life about 7 weeks ago is becoming more arranged and lively.

Now, about those dead baseball players ... .