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Monday, January 2, 2012

I like old stuff...

I am enamored of old things. I like old movies, old buildings, old towns, old cars and old people. Unless they're cranky old people who are angry and bitter about the way things turned out. I avoid those folks at all costs, because I am fairly certain that's how I'm going to turn out and I want my attitude to be uninfluenced by curmudgeons I may have run across in my past.

I think my infatuation of old stuff began when I was in high-school, which ironically, was at this point a long time ago, making those memories themselves "old stuff". Anyhow, I checked out a biography on silent film star Buster Keaton and subsequently became obsessed, at one point even taking a bus to Hollywood to interview his widow in 1979. This was before the internet and finding Mrs. Keaton was no simple matter, but I was 19 years-old and determined and through diligence and a masterful use of the phone books at the library, I found her and talked my cocky way into her home.

On later trips to Los Angeles, I made it a point to find and visit all the classic palaces built by silent film royalty in the 20's - Harold Lloyd's "Greenacres", Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks' "Pickfair" and Keaton's "Italian Villa" (pictured above). More recently, a couple of years ago, I ran across a 1975 documentary on cable called "Grey Gardens" by Albert and David Maysles, who had managed to somehow insinuate themselves into the lives of Edith Bouvier Beales and her daughter, "Little Edie", who lived in squalor in a filthy, decaying mansion in North Hampton, New York.

Needless to say, I was hooked and regardless of how much laundry I had on deck, there I sat, enthralled with the story of these two old ladies, their packs of feral cats, racoons and the odd, disturbing relationship of the two, which bordered on manic-competitiveness and smacked of decades of jealousy and petty resentment. An article states that even thirty years after a radical refurb, the place still reeks of cat-urine when the humidity is high. Yikes. After viewing, I decided that these two women and their delusional ilk were also well-worthy of avoidance.

But avoiding crazy old cat ladies and cranky curmudgeons is not what I'm writing about today.

I'm writing to say that I believe I have missed my true calling. Having not made much headway of becoming a rich, successful songwriter or author, and never following through on my dream of driving a bulldozer, I think at some point I should have started buying antique cars and restoring them to their original glory. Imagine tinkering on a 1939 Plymouth or Ford Roadster or a 1929 Deusenberg convertible every day. It would be a pleasure to go to work, but I fear I do not have the hands nor the patience to pursue such a dream - I was never even any good at building plastic models; I am nearly certain I would have ruined any Deusenberg I may have assaulted with the best of intentions.

1929 Deusenberg

I suppose I'll simply have to stick to watching old movies and looking at old buildings and visiting the Barrett-Jackson auction to ogle the Deusenbergs. Perhaps on occasion, I'll have the pleasure of sidling up to an old timer and listening to some old stories over a hot-toddy. If I'm lucky, I will learn from them how to embrace my old age with some dignity, while avoiding the whole cat-thing. I suppose I can always claim I am allergic to the smell of cat-urine. We old folks can get away with stuff like that.

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