Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brimfield Time Again, Let the Dice Roll

I have a thing about finding the next new thing. That means something more" graphically explosive" than the last thing (read stupidly large, heavy and unsaleable) or the unexplored regions of a cavernous warehouse (darker, wetter, creepier). Less dramatically, something truly compells me to look beyond what I know, what I've already bought and sold, and now, to venture beyond the confines of my store, retail, and Metro Detroit to find a new way of working or being. Is it a gene inherited from the Gaggino shipping captains of Genoa perpetually sailing into the unknown? Or more like I got bored with all the things I've seen or said, the same four walls year after year and the same news stories day after day. I see it's the same thing with selling at Brimfield. I have never set up at the same show twice. Who knows if this show is better than that, but I have to say, this time I have somehow miraculously landed what looks to be a sweet spot. My pal Carter put in the good word at the barn and instead of being 1000 feet from the road, I'm 20. Instead of being stuck in back on the fence that became a pond when it rained, or loading and unloading at that "hot, moneymaking" show that only lasts 4 hours (hot indeed...106 degrees, and heavy? Pockets, no..the load? You know me... quick weightloss program). I'm somehow in with Big Daddy's from LA and the people who look like their regular clients are moviestars that have people who follow behind and write their checks. Is it a good omen? I'm too practical to think like that. My overwhelming concern is are they gonna be fun? Will the weather be good for a change? Can I back my trailer up (no)? After another harrowing year in Detroit, don't look to me to set sales goals or chart what it is that's selling, how would I know? "Wow, the giant foam hammer sold, should I order more? That lucite toilet seat with the rattlesnakes embedded in this a trend?" Come on, I'm saddled with the destiny of being into increasingly weirder stuff in an ever shrinking niche, year after year. I'm gonna be that old crone with thin silver hair and dressed in black, back in some corner of a flea market, invisible amongst the vaguely spooky collection of odd and giant things, startling the curious when I move or speak Gee maybe I'm just in it for the theater afterall, there's a shock for you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week in Review

When big just isn't big enough. Or, when dumb isn't dumb enough

Me and my cool mother in our matching t-shirts, cool, so my idea

Inside the front page of the Sunday New York Times' section Week in Review, they give you the highlights from the week with punchy one-word headings. Wyatt says I would be "a lot cooler" if I could just stop talking so much. Maybe this format will have desired effect and up my cool factor with this oh so important demographic.

Bump: Out of the prime booth in Brimfield and the shared 24' truck and assorted expenses. Driving the ghetto rig meant overhaul, that was cheap. Time to work the phones to find a booth, preferably not in East Jesus. Good week to find a saviour. Did I mention the "BIG" scores like that 10' windmill, boat frame, neon beer sign and steel shelving units I'd already bought...guess I'm pulling a trailer, and that serious trucker Amy if I'm lucky.

Thump: That's the sound a solid oak dresser makes when you drop it. That's why I plan on having Amy on the other end. There's two straight women in this town who know how to move heavy items. What an accomplishment. Only 10 more things to pull together before the client's birthday party, which is the week before Brimfield. Ritalin darts please, note to medical. Meanwhile the one film job I have in the hopper is renting more stuff which is great, I just need to get those 10 big pieces ready for pick up Wednesday while that photo shoot gets underway upstairs today.

Grump: Best to give the keys to the photo shoot clients and let them handle the 6 models, their 10 handlers , the photographer and his assistant. Did I mention the models were toddlers? Medical not available until tomorrow, put the grump in the pool first, then let her pop in when they are finishing up with all those adorable (and they were) toddlers. They left the place clean as a whistle, best location clients ever. The photo shoot gig is the new marketing angle, tell marketing.

Hrrumph: Didn't meet goal for the webathon fundraiser (trying to finance ads to fight the governor's attempts to snuff out the state's film industry investment). Still have two days, check my facebook page for info. Just 5 bucks by Tuesday could do it, wouldya couldya? On a more positive note, Gleaners and Detroit Waldorf raised some serious dough. Our Beautiful Detroit Begins with You art piece sold for $25 over estimate. I'm gonna start producing more, and give $25 to various area charities of your choosing.

Stay tuned, already day two of this week, it's fully-loaded. Keeping my cool. Done talking.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Death, Taxes, Life!

It's always darkest before tax day. I have to remind myself of that every year. The continuous loop plays on of funding gaps, gray days and crummy weather. The pickings are slim. While the call from American Pickers sparked some provocative discourse, it isn't paying my bills and filing an extension means no refund. A bright spot is that all my calling around for the show unearthed some interesting leads (and entertainment), it's always hunting season, especially when you're lean. Opening the store on Saturdays is getting to be a pretty good gig. And the people showing up on the weekdays are finding the door open now that David King's back from LA and working in the studio. It's a pleasant surprise and we're all grateful.

I forgot what a difference it makes to have someone else in the studio, talking about art and making it with salvage. Our conversation circulates to familiar places, Detroit, the people we know and what we're going to do next (get coffee, surf the internet, have a show…). Then we hear voices downstairs, people are drawn to a faint thump, gee there is a pulse. There's also the high pitch squeal of the chop saw again, the smell of saw dust and wet paint, the energy of creation.

We are talking about having a show upstairs, really. David painted the walls, and framed panels of scrapped lumber. I've looked at lumber lying all over Detroit, I was stunned how beautiful he made it look when he framed sections of it. Put the mask over your face and breathe normally. That display I've been wanting to do of washed up sports balls and crushed metal now has context. He talks about the culture of LA and sunshine, I respond with New York and snowstorms. He paints over old paintings and cuts them apart, I am spray painting sidewalks, my car, a wood panel, a mirror, with the Beautiful Detroit stencil. We restart our dialogue from last fall and salvage whatever is lying around in the ugly days leading up to spring.

The gray walls of the upstair's front room has completely faded beneath a wash of fresh paint, the vacant spaces starts to fill in. It actually looks like something is coming to life around here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Detroit Gladiators, Stay Tuned!

Detroit gladiator first round draft pick Jon, does animal rescue in Detroit, HOT!

Cass Tech High, well that's what it looked like a few months ago.

What are we like the Charlie Sheen of cities now? It's an episode of Survivor, "Look they're down to 700,000 people! Let's watch them demolish their city (see Cass Tech High, now you don't) and fight over the scrap!" From the ringside seats, all eyes are on the media show that looks like it's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome here. Bring on the gladiators!

We've got the attention of American Pickers anyhow. They're calling probably looking for an escort to that place in the city packed with motorcycles and Civil War rifles, do I sound cynical? Heck no, where there's fame, there must be fortune, let's cash in! On the one hand it feels like feeding on carrion with the vultures, on the other isn't it the job of the salvage slave to boldly go where treasure is buried, help a brother out who needs to sell something, and along the way spin the story that Detroit still has great people and energy? I feel the stump speech coming on.

Yeah, about Cass Tech, 3 million to tear it all down so we could get that much needed vacant land...How about some intelligent thought on saving iconic architecture unique to Detroit? Or restoring the leadership that nurtured successes like Peter Karmanos, John DeLorean, Lily Tomlin and Jack White (all Cass alum)?Believe it or not, there's still creative thinkers on the streets making life better in the D. It's just not as sexy as say gladiator sport to the masses. Seems to me the only sane solution for those of us invested here is to strengthen the network we already have and build momentum in a positive direction. Here pickers, is the great American story.

The salvage slave is consulting with the A-team, doing the background work, oh there's hidden treasures and good television here. Who knows? maybe this will uncover great merchandise for a few of us, put money in some pockets, maybe there's a t.v./film industry in our future, maybe we'll learn how to capitalizes on our assets without vaporizing them, and keep the things that make Detrot, well, Detroit. When the spotlight is on is the best time to tell your story. How about the one where the underdogs dig deep for that personal strength and come together to save the game, and themselves. I got my first round draft pick, you know he's got game.