At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Back in the eighties Dennis owned an antique store on Grant Avenue in the Italian part of Chinatown. He had a good eye. Not only for collectibles, but also for arrangement and display. Too many antique ("junk") stores arrange everything higgeldy piggeldy, hurriedly priced and shoved among the like, without realizing that sometimes fewer is better, less is more.
It was a pleasure to browse in his shop.

On Polk Street, just north of Jackson, another antique store also understood the concept. Their approach was to stash everything they could in cabinets, and until business slowed down and the merchandise started piling up uncontrollably, it was fun to spend a few hours wandering around the back, pulling drawers open and investigating the wonderful things contained therein.

I've always enjoyed pulling open drawers.
And investigating wonderful things.

Yeah, I know. Sounds depraved, doesn't it? Permit me a little verbal naughtiness, okay? You should expect it by now.

Besides, you know what I mean.
It's just a happy bonus that it sounds wicked.

Dennis went back to the East Coast with his lover over thirty years ago. The place on Polk closed down a few years back. There are far fewer such places around today than there were, and bookstores have also bit the dust in remarkable numbers too.
There is far less scope for browsing than there ever used to be.
Between E-Bay and Amazon, our world has grown smaller.
And not, please understand, in a good way.

There is a huge difference between a happy discovery and a deliberate search, between "look at this aren't I lucky" and "see here what a clever dick I am!"

If I cannot touch it, admire it in the light, and even sniff it, perhaps I do not want it. In any case, it lacks that feeling of remarkable good fortune that a real live encounter would have, as well as the individuality that something suddenly recognized as good and pure and worthwhile will bring.

You know what you like. Go find it. Rely on your own sound judgement, and ignore the opinions of the herd.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


  • At 1:23 AM, Blogger troylloyd said…

    So very true this is. I'm a natural digger & love those cramm'dup junkshops. I had a thing for typewriters for a long while, but those are hard to find in drawers. There was one joint that did this tho & I dug at regular intervals, they were always putting nuggets in them, oddball stuff I never needed like old eggbeaters or Selectric fontballs, or paper brownie cups with beautiful litho boxes or antique staplers & many unknown objects with unknown purposes which nonetheless lodged themselves into my heart & into my ramshackle home.

    I cannot believe bookstores are going dodobird in the Bay Area, I've heard that Berkeley is the hotspot for picking up obscure poetry. I live in N.Georgia & sometimes I drive to Chattanooga for a great used bookshop. I found a copy of An Anthology of Concrete Poetry for $3.00, which is unheard of, as well as weirdo foreign titles amongst many other unintended discoveries.

    Once I was trying to decide what to eat & looking at the menu, I chose spicy pan-fried squid and my life has never been the same.

    I yearn for finding an oldtimey pipeshop with dusty old tins & shimmering Stanwells or at least an oldsalt codger to tell me what's what face to face and most importantly just to observe or smell or listen to esoteric tales of yonder times.

    You ain't what I had in mind, all digital interface 'n all, but dammit you is got some hellacious penmanship & spread the widest gamut of oceania that I regularly sail thru.

    Thank you for writing this blog, it really is an island of many treasures.

  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Thank you for your comment!

    And by the way, I still have a typewriter.

    It's a 'Hermes Baby', made in Switzerland.
    Portable, with a cedilla and the upside down question mark.

  • At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here's an odd quote:

    "Sell your Hermes Rocket typewriter," the Asian girl said."

    It's from an even odder short story written in 1971 by a former Berkeley High School student named Philip K. Dick.

    The title of the story is "Cadbury, The Beaver That Lacked" and it also involves a secret message tucked into a snuff tin.

    It's up on google-books for free reading.

  • At 7:42 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    "It's up on google-books for free reading."

    That's a marvelous suggestion! It's been years since I read any of Philip K. Dick's stuff. Far too long.

  • At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Big Dick Fan said…

    Bladerunner. That, in short, is your world.


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