Friday, July 31, 2009

Surplus living room sales

Buy a sofa and we'll throw in a rusted-out pickup. This was taken along 64 west in North Carolina.

Dellwyn, Va., along U.S. 15

Some farmer

Ran across a 3-year-old American Heritage magazine article about a fruit farmer who collects only the best folk sculpture. I thought "farmer" and "struggling" went hand in hand. Not always, apparently. The farmer enlisted the help of the most prominent dealers in making his choices. The whirligig fragment above is from a far more modest collection -- mine. Here's the article:

Drat, it was closed

Ice cream near Deposit, N.Y.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cherry Valley and nearby

Cherry Valley, N.Y., a burg that predates the Revolutionary War, is Cooperstown's quiet neighbor to the northeast. Its handful of lovely old homes, two cafes and one fancy restaurant provide a diversion from the baseball hubbub 15 miles away.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A nickel isn't worth a dime today

But an autograph is worth quite a bit. A day after the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, retired stars sold their autographs in downtown Cooperstown. Yogi Berra's signature fetched $75. That's not worth $100 today, Berra would say. And it's certainly not worth $599 -- the price of a Rickey Henderson autograph on a shoe or cleats. Henderson and Jim Rice were inducted into the Hall of Fame Sunday, so their signatures were fetching big bucks. Henderson sat outside a CVS drug store as a long line of fans eagerly opened their wallets for a brush with fame. A true superstar, Henderson showed up 40 minutes late. ESPN was to blame, the fans were told.

More junk

From the same shop as below. The $20 portrait is of Gladys Miller of Horseheads, N.Y., painted by Ted van Brunt of Rochester, N.Y. The unused charcoal bag was a throw in.

Junk store find

As a former newspaper reporter, I was drawn to these plates with women's faces. The store is in New York State near the Pennsylvania border. The owner is an IBM retiree who said he makes little money running a junk store but likes being around old stuff and the people who like old stuff.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Adams, N.Y.

Returning from a fishing trip on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, I drove south on Route 11 between Watertown and Syracuse and stopped in Adams. Located in dairy farming country in upstate New York, Adams' striking buildings appear to be at risk. A resident told me the first outboard motors were made in the red building, now filled with junk and artifacts, like wooden boats, that await a real home. A boy pulled along by his mother glances back at the stranger in town pointing a camera.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I graduate to three stars

The Residence Inn, State College, Pa. Thank you, Priceline.

Too much driving, man

Persistent headache joins me on the fourth day of this car trip. The price for taking the forks in the road.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stay in line

Comply. Don't rock the boat. And everything will be all right.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Box of legs

Head to DHS Sell-Out Center for those hard-to-find items.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Pregnant Woman," Pablo Picasso

Not really, of course. But sometimes the most mundane things -- like a door handle -- can attain a special quality because of age and design. This very old handle came off a building in Maine and was sold to me at a show in Massachusetts.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

If you fix them right, they will smile at you

We recently had a house guest who was creeped out by these children's cards, patented July 23, 1912. A little dearie would put the appropriate nose, eyes and mouth cards behind the faces to finish them. "When these features you begin to choose. Try to have them exactly right. Or Grandma and Grandpa will be a sight. If you fix them right, they will smile at you. As 'really' and 'truly' grandfolks do." It struck me as funny that out of context, these cards turn frightening.

The sign on the window

I really like weathered trade symbols painted on windows. This one obviously was for a barber shop that has closed.

Be afraid, be very afraid

One of my favorite movies as a child, "Creature from the Black Lagoon," is slated to be remade. Let's hope it's more than a special-effects extravaganza. I'm guessing the maker of this creature also was a fan of the 1954 film. The skin is the red tape an electrician might use, the eyes are sheet-metal screws and the whole thing is slathered in liquid rubber, giving it an appropriately icky feel.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Left behind

Attention: Someone left a plaid something or other inside the metal MLK bust on Auburn Avenue.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New direction

Ria, the Atlanta breakfast and lunch pioneer, pursues "low and slow" dining. Here's the down low.


In the current economy, buildings remain forlorn.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Heaven help us

A shopping center in Fayetteville, Ga., used to offer the convenience of drive-through prayer requests. The small, standalone building -- an island in a vast parking lot -- was built for photo processing. When that business failed, a Baptist church took control. The prayer booth operated for a few years, then closed. The entire property is now on the market. Undoubtedly, a few prayers have been said that it will sell.

The horror

So the Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin acquired the whole kit and kaboodle from artist Gregory Van Maanen. Kudos to the center for wanting to preserve an entire collection, figuring that's the best way to appreciate an artist's work. But Van Maanen? I have never seen hundreds of Van Maanens together; maybe that's powerful. But I have seen individual pieces and they reminded me of festival-booth art in which colorful shock is supposed to entice. Van Maanen's life story makes his work a bit more palatable -- a bit -- but is it necessary to know that before deciding whether art is good or not? Van Maanen strives to show war's psychological horror but to me his work is just horrible. Sorry.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Whacky assemblage

This assemblage from north Florida includes a preserved vegetable and a print of Christ covered with scribblings, such as "crafty harlot." It got my attention. The writing is reminiscent of Prophet Royal Robertson's outsider art.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It just rained

And after a shower, a fungus on our street shows its appreciation.

I'm into words

When words are taken out of their comfort zone, blown up, thrown against a bus, forced on the public -- that can be pretty exciting. A furniture store owner, now deceased, painted this bus between Selma and Montgomery. Apparently, furniture wasn't his only interest.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Troubled waters

After returning from vacation we made a scary discovery: A pond nearly devoid of fish. About 15 koi and goldfish were swimming in our front-yard pond when we departed, but only two fish appeared when I threw in food the morning after our return. Clearly, something terrible happened there. We suspect a blue heron. The Chattahoochee River, which runs through Atlanta, is a heron magnet. And the big birds have discovered homeowner ponds, of which there are many. My next door neighbor, the owner of a PR firm, lost all her fish. A couple weeks ago my wife and I stopped on our walk to watch a blue heron swallowing fish and maybe tadpoles in a runoff pond at an intown apartment and condo complex. Before that, I stared in amazement out our back window one afternoon as a heron sat in our neighbor's tree. We hope our missing fish are just really good at hiding and not some urban wader's lucky find.

America's Game -- making a buck

Just returned from Cooperstown, N.Y., where my parents have spent their summers for the past 23 years, and once again much of the conversation is about how baseball commercialism is destroying the village. A woman who grew up in Cooperstown but now lives in Boston wrote an op-ed piece in the local paper expressing shock over the demise of shops that catered to locals. To which my parents said, right on. I used to look forward to visiting a gallery on Main Street that sold Lavern Kelley carvings ( I could never afford one because even then -- 20 years ago -- they were $1,000 or more. (But I did get to visit Kelley at his decrepit home in Oneonta, where silent men sat in broken chairs, cats roamed and the ground was visible through the wood floor.) Today the former gallery space sells bats. A retailer who operated a variety store where my father bought his newspapers tried desperately to sell to someone who would continue to operate it as a variety store. No luck. Now it's a shop with some connection to Pete Rose, who sells his autographs.