Thrift Stores = Love

One of my favorite things to do is peruse my local thrifting haunts, looking for the treasures overlooked, under-appreciated, and (hopefully) woefully under-priced.  The crazier looking, often the better.  The ones where you just know the person checking customers out hasn’t a clue that the only slightly ragged copy of Tusk or Judy Live at Carnegie Hall is worth way more than a buck.

Yesterday I snagged an autographed copy of former East Texan Robert Leleux’s The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, as well as a hardback copy of Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge and Myron.

I also stumbled upon a VHS (yes, I still buy them, at thrift stores) copy of Mr. Mom, the 1980s Terri Garr/Michael Keaton classic.  For a quarter.  A quarter…  The quality wasn’t too hot, but it was .25 cents.  I had bought a practically unused VHS copy of Outrageous Fortune a few weeks ago, so it’s a toss up, but either way, a win.

Today I stopped in to Second Hand Thrift in Oak Cliff – my first visit.  A pretty snazzy selection of records, which I was very pleased to learn were all priced at fifty cents to a dollar.  I got a technically unopened copy (the wrapper was partially torn, but not over the opening to get the record) copy of Christine McVie’s eponymous debut solo album.  For fifty-four cents.  Seriously.

They had a pretty good selection of cassettes as well, but I didn’t find anything that interested me.  I still feel like I should have picked up that hardback copy of Finding My Voice by Diane Rehm.  Maybe next time, if it’s still there…

Once, I also got a double LP copy of Fleetwood Mac Live at a flea market for a buck or so.  Ridiculous.  Oh, and (in Dallas at least) spring has pretty much arrived – we were in the 70s all this week – so I cannot wait for yard sales to begin!

Any favorite treasures you’ve found this way?

Chucks & Grime – South Dallas February 2011

Picture post…

This photo was taken during shoots for a photography book I’m working on, celebrating my neighborhood south of downtown Dallas, the Cedars.

It’s a brilliant, gorgeous spring day in Dallas – even though it’s only February 15th.

Partly Cloudy
74°F
Current: Partly Cloudy
Wind: S at 17 mph
Humidity: 46%

I hope this isn’t one of the weather teasers we usually get.  A little over a week ago we had the “ice storm of the century” followed by 6 inches of snow – now it’s 75 degrees.   ¡Bienvenidos a Tejas!

A Disturbance In Mirrors: Remembering Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath took her own life 48 years ago today.  She would have turned 79 last October.  One of my very favorite poems, of hers or otherwise, follows.

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it—–

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——-

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The Peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand in foot ——
The big strip tease.
Gentleman , ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart—
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there—-

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

30 Days – Day 11 – Something People Compliment Me On

If you’re following this blog, you know I’m participating in the ‘30 Days of Truth‘ project I’ve seen on other blogs.  It’s helping me commit to posting every single day, since I’m also taking part in The Daily Post project.

Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on

People have often complimented me on my humor and/or wit.  I guess I am pretty quick with a snappy quip.  Is that a talent?  Perhaps it is; although I’m not sure I’ve put it to the best use over the years.  Like many things, I can’t force it – guess that’s why I probably wouldn’t want to be a comedy writer or comedian (the pressure). 

I’ve also gotten compliments on my art and photography (fyi, I did not take the photo above – click on it to see more tilt shift images).  I have had no formal art or photography training.  I’ve drawn since I was about 2 years old, and I guess I had a natural affinity for photography from a fairly young age.  I used to carry those Fun Saver cameras with me everywhere.

I actually would like to take a digital photography class – something non-credit where I could learn tips & tricks to better my craft.  But I’ve been told I have a good eye for things.  That makes me feel pretty good.  🙂  And I’ve learned some interesting digital processing techniques through friends and just messing around with various programs and websites such as Photoshop, GIMP, Pixlr, etc.  I’ve also learned some cool tricks from the wife.  She took digital photography and editing classes in college. 

I got into painting last year.  I really took to it after my first piece.  I decided I’d like to try something on canvas.  For many years, though I was pretty adept at drawing, painting intimidated me.  I was afraid to try it.  Mind you, I am no Picaso, but I think I have been able to successfully translate my inspiration and vision onto the canvas.  My work leans toward pop art, with major inspriations/themes running the gambit from Mexican cultural and/or religious iconography, fantasy art, rockabilly, vintage, retro, and so forth.  Although I’m atheist, I must confess I have a sweet spot for Mexican Catholic iconography – the Virgin of Guadalupe is a personal favorite. 

I’ve been photographing a lot outdoors lately.  I moved to a loft in South Dallas the weekend of Halloween, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously somewhere.  I love my neighborhood.  I feel very at home, and I’m discovering more about this part of the city every day.  I’d never ventured down here much at all – it was verboten, as it’s “that part of town” that nobody from the North Side ever goes to.  I’m glad they don’t – that saves it as the treasure it is.  Although some development and services on the whole are badly needed for the residents of South Dallas, many of whom are among the poorest in the entire city.  Anyway, I’m working on a photography book about my neighborhood.  I’ve gotten what I think are some pretty great shots, and while there’s a lot of information online and in books about South Dallas as a whole, including Oak Cliff, I am fairly certain there’s yet to be a book (and certainly a photography book) about The Cedars (my neighborhood). 

Here’s a shot I thought I’d share:

South Dallas Story – Pt. 2

Pretty good Saturday, I’d say.  So far anyway.  It was 73 degrees and sunny in Dallas, but unfortunately I didn’t get out to enjoy it as much as I’d have liked.  I was going to set off on foot around the neighborhood to get some shots for a photography book I’m working on, but decided the light was too direct at 2:00pm.  I settled on 4:30-ish.  As I went out, though, I caught my photographer neighbor (see a prior post), and we got to talking, as we’re prone to do.  Interesting dude.  We ended up talking for like an hour, until we were interrupted by the wifey peeking out of the blinds (she’d just gotten up from a day of slumber, and we were standing in front of our door) and a woman from our building’s property management company.

But, I did manage to work on some new paintings (almost done), and edit some of the shots I got last weekend.  What the hell – I’ll share one of them below.

I’m really excited about this project.  It’s a coffee table style photography book about Cedars (aka The Cedars), my neighborhood in South Dallas.  I have no ETA on it at all, but hopefully sometime sooner than later.  This year for sure.  Of course, this is in addition to two poetry book projects currently underway.  Ugh, I really need to stop procrastinating on those and get with it.

In total contrast to today’s weather, here’s a time-lapse video of snow (a relative rarity in the Sun Belt-Buckle that is DFW) falling on Cedars Station, our local DART train station.

I do want to get in some rainy shots, maybe some snowy/icy shots if we get anything good this winter, and some sunny shots.  Watch this blog for more as the project moves forward.

My neighbor is a world-class photographer, and does it for a living, so I must admit it’s sort of intimidating.  He’s also in his early 20s (8 years younger than me) so that makes it somewhat even more intimidating.  It’s also inspiring though.  I’ve never claimed to be the best artist, writer, or photographer, but I’m just doing what I love.  I don’t have all the training and latest tips, but I do have the passion, and I think I do a pretty good job.

Okay,  enough blogging (for now) – time to work on more art, and then watch ‘True Grit’ with the wifey.

Piece For Wind I

(inspired by my current read, ‘Grapefruit‘ by Yoko Ono)

Take a bag of woven cloth, or plastic
Whisper your secrets into the bag
Go outside, wherever there is wind
Open the bag and let the secrets fly to the wind
Forget them all

2011 winter

Yoko Ono – Blood Piece

Blood Orange by Amy Breen

Blood Piece

Use your blood to paint.
Keep painting until you faint. (a)
Keep painting until you die. (b)

1960 spring

(from Yoko Ono’s landmark work, Grapefruit.)