Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A diamond in the rough

Dinner at the Shaved Duck with Robert Morrissey. Robert is Saint Louis' leading fine antique dealer. His shop is a (very tasteful and restrained) riot of ancient and beautiful things. At dinner he told me about the Stan Masters retrospective that he is putting on in a Manhattan gallery next month. Stan Masters is an American Realist painter in the tradition of Andrew Wyeth or Edward Hopper, He was from the City and produced hundreds of strikingly powerful pictures of old St. Louis - capturing its essence from a time long gone by. He died a few years back and Robert has been carefully collecting and curating his life's work. It is beautiful and I have no doubt that the showing will be (as they say in the NY art world) a 'triumph'. Wish I could go.

At dinner we struck up a conversation with the pretty, young and extravagantly tattooed bartender. She was remarkably "normal" for one so heavily inked. She showed us her various tattoos: "what's this gun and rose one for?" "Oh, that's for my favorite band: Guns and Roses." She gives us a mischievous grin: "want to see my favorite one?". We look at each other and vigorously nodding said "yes please". She then proceeded to lift her arm to expose her exquisitely tattooed armpit. "It's my 'diamond in the rough'".

Out the door into South Grand, poking in and out of stores. The used bookstore recently changed hands and is now owned by people who believe more in the power of computing than the printed word: "Do you have any Flannery O'Connor?" "let me look him up in our computer system - we have over 150,000 volumes....did he write fiction?". Sigh.

Back outside gazing in the pawn shop window - strange things for sale - a captains wheel, what looked like old fashioned leg braces and dozens upon dozens of nail guns and other expensive tools hocked by carpenters and journeymen made redundant by the economy's collapse. Into the Gelateria for some ice cream - I mean gelato - wonderful flavors - we taste them all. I never knew that chai ice cream was edible.

We went into an odd shop filled with this and that - the proprietor was a lean, voluble man in his fifties: "yeah I been retailin' ever since I got laid off at the drug factory". How does he choose his merchandise? "ya gotta know the neighborhood....when I had that store in Eureka there were lots of bikers - they like the leathers. But here in the city, they're into different stuff. " as he watched me finger a black studded dog collar that no dog would ever wear.

Back into the chill repeating old Monty Python jokes back and forth: "Shrubbery", "I fart in your general direction". Edifying, really. Back across the park, up the stairs. Home.

Just another night in paradise.

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