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Humming Beck | Stories of Things

4 Jul

New bedframe

After I bought this bed, the lady at Harrington Gallery told me I could decide later if I wanted to have it delivered. “Just call this number,” she said. “I’m Gio. No matter what, I’ll be the one who answers.” She had slightly wild Gypsy-like black hair and wore red, as women with that kind of hair do (and should).

I thought about it for a day. I didn’t call any of my friends with trucks. I ordered the delivery.

On Tuesday, Adam from Harrington called. “We’re out in the Avenues so we should be by soon,” he said. “What’s your address again?”

”#### ##th St.,” I said.

“Riiiight. Street not avenue,” he said. “OK, we have a stop in Cayuga first, so it’ll be 20 minutes.” I had no idea where Cayuga was.

He came in carrying the footboard, humming a song that sounded familiar. When he came in with the rails, humming the same tune, I asked, “What’s that you’re humming? Is it Sinatra?”

“No, Beck,” he said. “He had some album out of goofy guitar songs, years ago. This is one of them. I probably haven’t listened to that album in like 15 years, but this song gets stuck in my head every single day.”

His hair stuck up on top, just above an indentation around his head. Hipster hat head. His maroon printed boxers poufed slightly above his dark blue jeans (sorry, there’s no manly verb that describes it as well as poufed), and his voice was gentle and friendly.

“Do you want help putting this together?” he asked. I didn’t think that was an option. I told him I was afraid I’d have to figure it out after I got home tonight. He chatted as he attached the metal rails to the wooden headboard and footboard, turning down my offers to help until we had to move the box spring onto the frame. It slipped right through to the floor.

“These old beds,” he said, “They’re not made to modern sizes. Sometimes someone was making a bed, and they just made it whatever size they wanted.” He told me that they could give me slats for the frame. He didn’t have them in the truck, but I could stop by the store. He’d have them ready. He measured the size: 55 inches.

“We can set up the bed for you, anyway, though,” he offered. “You don’t want to have to set this up tonight. When you get home from work, sometimes you just want to sleep.” We laid the mattress on top of the boxspring, inside the frame. After they left, I vaguely assembled the bedclothes on my new bed, then dashed out to work.

When I came home from a work dinner, after work, I just wanted to sleep. Thanks for your help, Adam.


My old bed frame goes to a new home | Stories of Things

4 Jul

Old bedframe

The nice couple who bought this bed from me had just moved into a new home up in a forested little enclave in the San Bruno hills. “We don’t need curtains,” the wife said. “This is the first place I’ve ever lived where you don’t need them,” the husband said, as he worked to disassemble the frame.

They were buying the bed for their daughter — well, his daughter, “But I think of her as my daughter,” the wife said, and you could tell it was genuine. “We just got her 50 percent of the time,” she said proudly.

They were an attractive couple. She had long, thick, dark brown hair and an authentic permanent smile. His salt-and-pepper hair was cut short, and his grey t-shirt fit him like someone who worked out regularly. They met at a gym, and joked “Not that you can tell, now” for a little too long. It must have been a sore spot, and it only stuck out because otherwise they were so comfortably sweet with each other. He put his arm around her. She gazed at him admiringly.

She was a born conversationalist: great at small talk while we watched him take the frame apart for a solid 30 minutes (I only had one screwdriver and it had to be broken down enough to fit in their Suburu). She was genuinely interested in people.

As I helped them load the pieces into their car, I was thrilled that my little bed frame was going to be part of this new beginning for them and their family. has a made in USA filter

4 Jul

But if you are open to buying from other non-US countries, as I am, you can chat online with one of their representatives. It takes a minute, but they can tell you where something was made.

Lucky Sweet and Straight Jeans, $99. Made in Guatemala.

4 Jul

Lucky Sweet and Straight jeans

My one New Year’s Resolution was to buy fewer things made in China. Two months into it, I desperately needed jeans (I wore my last pair of Luckys out). The two nice guys at the Lucky store in San Francisco Centre patiently helped me as I tried on a million pairs to get the right fit and wash. I was so happy to find this pair that I didn’t even look at the tag until I got to Muni: Made in Guatemala. Phew.

Note: I’m closing a couple of Tumblrs I don’t use and posting the posts here.

Clignancourt and Montmartre: Saturday, 31 March 2007

3 Apr


Originally uploaded by commamommas.

One of the things I was most excited about doing on this trip was seeing the flea markets (les marches aux puces–literally “flea market”) at Clignancourt and Vanves. People tend to have a strong preference for one over the other, and it’s difficult to sort through all the information as to which is better. The short version is that Clignancourt has a lot of stuff. A lot of crap, a lot of pristine (and expensive) antiques, and a lot of stuff in between, all organized into multiple marches (markets). Vanves has much less of everything–much less junk, much fewer nice antiques–and has more of the feel of an American flea market. And it only takes about an hour or so to meander through.

Clignancourt feels like a little city, once you push your way past the booths of jeans, incense, knock-off pocketbooks, etc. (and you do have to push), you get to these organized markets of antiques dealers. Everyone has at least one dining room table in their stall, and around one p.m., I discovered why: they lay out a tablecloth, put out a pretty impressive spread of food, open a few bottles of red wine, gather up their shopkeeper friends, and eat lunch together. It’s really cool.

I searched for pots for pots de creme, but didn’t turn up anything. A monsieur, who was very helpful and had a stall of fancy kitchenware, told me they’re very hard to find. I did see a stuffed baby kangaroo and was going to ask the shopkeeper to take my photo with it, but he was eating lunch with his friends and talking to some other Americans. Come to think of it, there was a lot of taxidermy at Clignancourt.

By the way, my advice is to head straight for rue de Rosiers a Saint-Ouen when you’re going. That’s where La Chope des Puces is, and it’s also the far end of the nice stuff (Marche Paul Bert has the nicest things).

After Clignancourt, I headed for La Chope des Puces, the bar with Gypsy jazz. It’s a tiny place. You enter and the art deco-y counter points right at you. You can take one of the eight seats (at four tables) in the front, stand by the bar, or go and sit at one of the six or so tables in the restaurant part in the back. The musicians–two guitarists–were mostly talking and telling jokes with some friends standing at the bar, but the music I did hear was great. Plus, it was fun to stare at the photos of Django and compare everyone’s version of the de rigeur Django moustache (I liked the bartender’s best).

I wandered around Montmartre in the rain Sat. afternoon. Sharlene was right, it’s “very Amelie.”

Vocabulaire d’aujourd’hui: dimanche, 1 avril 2007

1 Apr


Originally uploaded by commamommas.

j’ai oublie: I forgot
une tasse: a teacup
marionette de doight: finger puppet
le loue: the wolf
le petit rouge chapeau: little red riding hood
la grand-mere: the grandmother
la mere: the mother
le chausseur: the hunter
marionette: puppet

The weather was gorgeous today. Sunny and warm. I bravely left my umbrella and rain coat in my room and headed to Porte de Vanves for the other big flea market. I bought a gorgeous tea cup and saucer for 10 euro (roughly $15) and a book for 4 euro ($6) to give someone as a gift.

Unfortunately, I left them at Cafe d’Enfer, where I had an amazing lunch of marinated duck (with an orange and balsamic sauce, that was really yummy until the sweetness became too overwhelming towards the end) with mashed potatoes and a salad, oddly constructed on the top. I realized after I sat down that this was the kind of place that I’d make fun of in San Francisco.

Sharlene recommended the chocolate souffle, but the p’tit l’enfer was the closest I found on the dessert menu. It’s a molten chocolate cake, with vanilla ice cream and thinly sliced almonds. Oh, and it’s good. (As if anything chocolate and French wouldn’t be.)

I remembered that I left my bag there halfway through the Musee Picasso, a museum created when Picasso died, and in lieu of paying the inheritance taxes on all the work he left behind, his heirs gave the French government his art. Ah, socialism!

There was a display in the Centre Pompidou of two Picasso paintings–one, seemingly a draft, painted on the top of a small box, and the other, the real thing, on canvas. The Picasso museum was similar–lots of pen-and-ink drawings of things he later sculpted or painted, a whole room full of guitar art (collages, sculptures, and paintings). A fascinating look into his creative process. One of the plaques said something like “anger came to him more easily than affection.”

On the way back to my hotel, I passed a shop that sold hand-knitted finger puppets and baby sweaters. The madame had the finger puppets grouped by story: Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Little Pigs, and a few others. I pointed to the Big Bad Wolf, dressed in grandmother’s glasses, bonnet, and dress, and asked her what he was called in French. “Le loue,” she said (I’m probably not spelling it correctly). Then she pointed to Le Petit Rouge Chapeau (“little red hat”), la grand-mere, la mere, and le chausseur (the hunter). I found it fascinating. I bought le loue dressed up as grand-mere in une robe jaune (a yellow dress–she also had blue and pink) for my nephew, Rex. And yes, I do realize that my family will tease me endlessly for getting him a cross-dressing finger puppet.

As I crossed the Seine on my way back, I saw a man with a marionette that was playing guitar (the theme of the day) and singing along to Radiohead’s “Creep.” And about 50 yards down was an accordion player. Really, a marionette and an accordion player on a bridge over the Seine on a gorgeous Sunday in Paris? Isn’t that a little cliche?

Marche aux Puces II: Sunday, 1 April 2007

1 Apr


Originally uploaded by commamommas.

Here’s a busker playing a sweet piano on a rolling cart at the flea market at Vanves. Note the jaunty angle at which he holds his cigarette in his mouth.