Cold Shower in January, Without Possums

Whew, I’m back home after working five weeks or so in Dallas. It’s two am and I’m settling in with a Shiner Bock and the Mountain Goats on the Hi-Fi. I’m constantly thankful of my semi-nosy neighbors who seem to have schedules as unpredictable as myself–we all do our best to look after one another on this block. So, even though I often feel a bit of paranoid dread as I pull into my drive after being away for a week or more, I really shouldn’t fret. Anyone skulking about would be noticed fairly quickly. It’s nice to know that six of my neighbors have my phone number, email, or are on FaceBook with me. Probably my only legitimate fear is that I might return to find my electricity or internet disconnected for lack of payment, or, perhaps, a family of possums nesting in my tub. But, so far, so good.

Actually, for this last stint in Dallas working for the auction house, I found myself returning to San Antonio for three of the five weekends. A bit of a bite in the pocketbook as I can usually work some hours Saturdays and Sundays. But I’d committed myself to several events: the San Antonio 48 Hour Film Experience, a Luminaria Film Committee meeting, a play at the AtticRep, and the Holiday Laser Show at URBAN-15. Um, oh, yeah, I also shot footage for three experimental dance videos on those weekends. Sure, I lost some serious coin (as my former neighbor Alejandro would say), but, damn, I had a blast. Also, the work at the auction house is quite rewarding in it’s own right. One of the collections consigned was an exhaustive accumulation of books on Africa, ranging from the mid 1500s up to the early twentieth century. About half were in French. It’s a cool job. I get to learn quite a bit. My French comprehension climbed from being able to catch the gist of a wine list to being able to read a French newspaper with the savvy of a seven year-old Parisian. Also, I’ve gleaned significant knowledge of European colonial expansion into the Dark Continent. And then there was that big collection of British histories from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Nothing much of tremendous value, but I was able to use the STC and the ESTC (Short Title Catalogue and English Short Title Catalogue)–these are bibliographies of books in the English language published before 1640 and 1800, respectively. Here’s the deal–the ESTC is now free and online! Wow! When did this happen? (This pretty much means that the STC is also free and online, as all the STC citations have been absorbed within the ESTC). Check it out, biblio-nerds:

http://estc.bl.uk/F/?func=file&file_name=login-bl-list

One of the high-dollar items coming up in this auction is a beautiful copy of Chaucer put out by the Kelmscott Press. William Morris and those cats were doing some killer work in the Arts and Craft period. I was watching some documentary the other week on PBS about Elbert Hubberd. He was our, American, equivalent of William Morris. The books put out by Hubbard’s Roycroft Press are pretty, I’ll give you that, but put them alongside Kelmscott books…? Fucking amateur! No wonder William Morris’ daughter considered Elbert Hubbard little more than a tedious and unoriginal parasite. Another cool item is a diary by Anne Rice. Now, I’m no fan, but she has achieved a legitimate icon status. She wrote it while in Paris, researching her second novel. She’d just published her first book, and was grousing about her publisher. I didn’t read it, but my sister plowed her way through the entire handwritten journal so she could write a description. Oh, and there will also be another ultra-groovy lot, but it will be in the manuscript auction, not the rare books auction. A huge collection of letters from William Gaddis. Fucking William Gaddis! I wish I could have written that one….

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Just for the hell of it, you know, to post some pictures, here are a couple of photos I took with my sister’s Christmas camera in her kitchen.

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I’ll end it here. It’s late and I probably should get some sleep. I’ve things to do in in the morning. It’s well into the first week of January, and I need to pay rent and bills and, um, get someone out to fix my water heater…’cause according to the post-modern Oracle-of-Delphi (my iPhone), Friday night it’s gonna get down to twenty degrees. Not a good recipe for a cold shower.

I fucking hate winter! It’s cold. And then there’s those god damn holidays. I just hunker down, pretend to smile, and keep my eyes scanning for new leaves, new buds, on the trees and shrubs. Spring can’t come fast enough. My plan for mid-autumn 2010 is to be heading to Oaxaca de Juarez or perhaps Johannesburg–wait out the winter in a fair clime. Call me a simpering wimp, but I’ll be damned if I’ll ever suffer through another Texas winter! I may be a traitor to my Norse genetic heritage, but I haven’t found gray skies and short days romantic for at least two decades. If I had my druthers, it’d be back to Olduvai Gorge, in spitting distance from the equator. Oh, yeah–see you there!

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