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the horror geek

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stuff: the things we keep


the horror geek

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stuff: the things we keep


stuff The Things We Keep


I would like to thank everyone who opened their homes to me for this book. Without your generosity of time and insight this project would not have been possible. I hope that I have treated your possessions and words with the great care they deserve.

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People keep things. What do those things say about who we are? I have interviewed four individuals about what they keep. This book is a compilation of those interviews.

Introduction

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contents iii 1 9 27 41

introduction the pack rat

the horror geek the historian the author


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What do you like about ceramic birds? They remind me of an earlier time in our country, that probably never existed. An imaginary time of kind of more grace and culture. And I also just love the colors and the lines and also just the way they are shaped. Generally speaking, what is it about an object that makes you want to keep it? That’s a question with a lot of answers. Probably the first one is if it’s associated with some sort of memory, that’s especially pertinent to me. For example travelling. I’ve done a lot of that, so I love


Opposite: Ceramic Birds Ceramics 12 inches tall

things that remind me of the places where I’ve been. I value things that my mother and certain friends have given me. So again there is that tie, when I see that person. It is nice to think of them every time I see that object. And then I guess just other things that make me feel like I’ve created a warm and safe place to be. Can you tell me more about creating a warm and safe place to be? Yeah. Well I think the world of Berkeley, not necessarily the world in general, that a lot of places have become pretty harsh places to live. And with poverty and violence its really hard to deal with it some times its hard to deal with it without really wanting to shut down. And I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to block out the reality of what other people are experiencing. I don’t necessarily want to not be a part of it. And so the one place,though, where I can control how things feel is in my apartment. And so I kind of create this fantasy land. With colors that make me very happy, because I respond very intensely to color, where I just feel like it’s a little world that I’ve created where everything I look at makes me feel good. Can you tell me about your Fortnum Mason jar? Yeah. Back when I was a travel agent, which was the eighties and nineties, I guess, I got to do a lot of travelling, and I got to go to London on a regular basis. And at least the image of England is a lot of what I was referring to previously as gracious and cultured and good quality and that sort of thing. And there are places in London, Fortnum and Mason being one of them, Harrod’s another, but Fortnum and Mason being sort of the place to get quality food. And very English food. Jams and tea and that sort of thing. Honey, short bread, all of those things I sort of think of with the British Isles. And so it was always a fun thing to bring home. Tea is easy to bring home. Honey is easy to bring home from another country. Just having that beautiful china tea caddy with the picture of Fortnum Mason on it reminds me of all the times I have been there and the feeling of wandering through the streets of London, and London is just a fabulous place to shop. So it kind of has all those nice things wrapped up in it. When I look at it, it’s like the streets of London unfold before me. Can you tell me what you like about Flamingos? Yes, I love Flamingos. The more cultured response would be that they have sort of an Art Deco look about them. They’re shape can be very stylized.

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Because they are such an unusual shape. There are also factors, I think I mentioned at one point, I just get a hoot out of the fact that this beautiful bird balances perfectly on those two pink, knobby legs. I just think nature is amazing. I love the color pink. I find it very soothing. And then just things like pink flamingo lawn ornaments. I love looking back at retro items. When I look at flamingos I always smile. There is something about the color, the shape, the way they move. They just make me smile. Do you have a very favorite possession? Yeah. I don’t know how much I want to talk about it. Okay, do you have a second favorite? No, it’s associated with travel. When I first started travelling, I think my first two trips by myself were to London. And at that time, The Serious Bride’s Head Revisited was just causing wildfire in America. It was about—are you familiar with it at all? No, not at all. It was about two English homosexuals; one of them from a very rich family, one of them from a very down to earth family. And they both studied at Oxford or Cambridge, and just sort of their experiences. They fell in love,

the pack rat

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The one place, though, where I can control how things feel is in my apartment. And so I kind of create this fantasy land.

their clashes because of their different expectations of how they were raised and what they expected to do with their lives. It was just a beautiful story. I mean, filmed at this fabulous castle in England, and the cars and flapper dresses and all that sort of thing. It was just beautiful. And the one character, the rich boy, had a teddy bear. And the teddy bear appeared quite often. So on one trip to London—I love to go to toy stores and just look around—I found a little teddy bear who is probably, maybe four inches tall. He looks like a Steiff bear, but I can’t afford Steiff. He travels everywhere with me. We have travelled all over Europe. He has his house. He has clothes. He has toys, he has luggage. He has a very good life for a teddy bear! At first he kept me from getting lonely. And now it’s just sort of that he always gets to go. He’s just always there with me. So that is probably my favorite possession. It's Sebastian.

the pack rat

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Opposite: Ceramic Flamingo Ceramics Sixteen inches tall


Tropical Girl Hand Soap Dispenser Ceramic, plastic 9 inches tall Opposite: Various Flamingos Mixed Media 4 to 24 inches tall


the pack rat

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What is it that you like about dolls? The dolls? Well, its funny, probably when I was younger I hated dolls. But I reached a point where for my art work I wanted to start acquiring more of them. When I go out looking for dolls its like, what strikes me as special about them. And usually it will be because they have an older look or if they are cracked and need someone to take them because no one else will. I think its like a doll collectors creepy thing. It’s like “Do they speak to me?” If I feel like they need me to take them then I take them, which is probably why Its hard to get rid of them.


Could you tell me about that? I think that’s why I can’t get rid of them, because I feel like they still need me. Its like I gave them a life. Through my artwork or photography. So if I let them back out there, I don’t think anyone would appreciate them as much as I did. So I don’t know what to think about my own statement. That’s what draws me to them, just how unique they are. They make a good decoration, too, even though some people come over and they are like “Oh, how do you sleep with those in your bedroom?” And I’m like, “What? Like, they’re pretty.” But its weird because I used to be totally creeped out by dolls. So I’m not really even sure why I even collect them, except for they’re of use to me. I noticed you don’t keep much of the horror stuff in your room. Is that because you would have trouble sleeping with it? That’s a funny thing. I haven’t thought about that. Not because it would be hard for me to sleep. I think part of me wishes I had some sort of nice decorating scheme. You know, I guess if I owned a home my bedroom probably would not have a lot in it at all. So I think part of me tries to keep my bedroom tame with decorations just because mostly I just sleep there. And when company comes over its mostly just hanging out in the middle room or the living room and I find my horror stuff to be more interesting visually for other people. So I think that’s why its not in the bedroom. And actually I think my dolls are in my bedroom mostly because they would creep my guests out. But they don’t creep me out so I don’t mind them being closer to me. That is weird, though, because I haven’t really thought about that. But I think that’s why. It just makes a better decoration for a place with more people. Tell me what you like about horror stuff. Why do you hang on to horror stuff ? What attracts you to it? Oh man, I’m just like a horror geek. Out of all of my movies people think I don’t like anything but horror. But I just love movies in general. But as, like, a collector, I definitely like to collect all kinds of things, but its not like I’ll ever have enough money (well, that would be cool) to actually own every great film ever made by blah-blah-blah, but I can afford to collect all my favorite ‘B’ horror films. Like all Bruce Campbell’s movies or things like that. So I think its something that I can collect, that’s like within my reach and its something that at my age…I can actually expand on that because they are easy to acquire and I love them. So I think I’ve just always been a big horror fan. Like, I love special effects make-up. I grew up on American Werewolf in London and movies like that. So I think its just because its the one genre that

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speaks to me the most. Maybe I am just a bit more morbid and prefer gory movies to sweet, y’know? Or gory sweet movies are probably the best. I think its just part of my personality. You kind of have to, I guess, pick at some point what you want to collect. That’s probably the main thing, cause I’m not a big fashion person. I mean, I have a lot of clothes, but its mostly because I can’t get rid of my T-shirts…Its probably like an obsession. Like part of it is I love Bruce Campbell, so I’m going to, like, get all the Bruce Campbell figurines that I can or like Ash, the character from Evil Dead. And, like, all the movie maniacs figurines. I think I started collecting those in High school. I don’t have all of them. I need to get the Leather Face figurine and there’s some Puppet Master figurines that are part of a totally different thing. I think eventually I will own them all. Which ones are Movie Maniacs? Like the 18 inch Bruce Campbell doll that has the chain saw. That’s one of the larger ones. I had to get that one on Ebay. I don’t even know if they still make them…What was the question again? I just asked why do you like horror? Yeah, just because I’m a huge fan. I’m obsessed, would be the simple answer. Cool. Do you know what you’ve owned the longest? What in this apartment have you had the longest? Off the top of my head, looking over at my bookcase, it’s like the top of this really ugly ceramic face that my grandma gave me when I was probably nine years old or so. It’s just a really ugly clown mask. And I only have the top of the thing. Can I see it? I think I’ve owned that the longest. Oh I broke it! No, just kidding. Why have you hung on to that? Even though I lost the bottom part. Probably because its from my grandma and anything that my relatives have given me is like, I’ve had to keep it. Like, I feel bad getting rid of it, unless its really crappy. But I feel like she probably put a lot of thought into it. Because she liked weird sparkly stuff, so she probably thought of me. Some things it’s like a guilt factor. And now she’s dead, so I don’t think I’d ever be able to get rid of it.

the horror geek

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Naked Mustached Man Dolls Plastics 12 inches tall

I’m sorry. Well, yeah, what would she be now, like a hundred?…So I think some things you hang onto just because you have to, because your mom is like, “Don’t put that in the garage sale, Grandma Mary gave that to you.” And you’re like “Oh! Okay. Guess I wont.” And especially after they die things carry on, like, a (I don’t even know what you would call it.) Like a new significance. That it’s like, this represents my relationship with that person. Or anything like that. Or I guess that would go for like Boyfriends/Girlfriends, Aunts/Uncles. Even if you hate someone and you still have something that they gave you, you’re like, “This represents this relationship and I hate them!” I’m sure I have things…I think for a long time I had a rose that had wilted that my ex-boyfriend from high-school had given me and I knew it was from him and I still kept it. I think I finally got rid of it because it cracked so much that all the petals fell of, but, I think I hold onto things as long as I need to. Because I definitely have held onto something for a really long time until it was like I had to get rid of it. I cant even glue it back together. But yeah, I think I have held onto that just because it kind of represents my Grandma Mary. And my Grandma Mary was huge on collecting. Like little ceramic cats and stuff like that.

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Does everyone in your family collect? Yes. Its a huge problem. Craig knows because when my grandpa died he had to help clear out the basement. Or the whole house. They found like, toilets from the twenties. All kinds of stuff was just stored because they didn’t get rid of it. Like they thought they would be able to use it or pass it on. We were talking about this in preparation for you coming over. Like, my whole family is like this. More on my mom’s side then my dad’s side. However when my grandma Mary died they found weird stuff that she had kept. And I think a lot of people just, like, keep stuff. We were wondering if it was like genetic, or just like a weird personality trait that you pick up when you are younger because you are around it. And I’m from a family that is like obsessed with going to garage sales every Saturday and Sunday to see what they can get. And then my mom will get stuff that she is like, “oh I can sell this for more.” And they hang on to stuff that they think they can either sell to make more money; donate it, because they got it really cheap but can take it off their taxes; or because they think it could make a good gift. But then throughout my life so much of it has filled up the garage and hasn’t gone anywhere. And even me, I have boxes full of dolls and My Little Pony ponies. Barbies. And my mom was like “what do you want to do with them? And I’m like, well, they’re OK in the boxes, right? Just keep holding onto them for me. So I don’t know what is in the boxes, right? Just keep holding onto them for me. So I don’t know what it is about having a hard time getting rid of stuff, and has an issue letting go. So what’s the split? Aside from the stuff you two own together, what percentage is yours and what percentage is Craig’s? That’s his stuff, the music stuff, and two drawers of clothes. So what is that, like 90-10? Craig: I’d say it’s more like 80-20, because I own more than you think. Its like a solid 80-20. Maybe 85-15. I own more than he does. He moved out here from Wisconsin, though. I know you got rid of a lot. From a family of not-pack rats, though. That’s what’s funny, though. He’s from a family that has no problem getting rid of things. Like his mom threw out his mattress the day he said he was moving to California.

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I give them life! I cannot get rid of them. They will find me!

Opposite: Human Head Rubber, Plastic 16 inches tall

No emotional attachment to stuff whatsoever. Its actually pretty good that we are a couple. If we were both pack rats we would be in a lot of trouble. I personally don’t have a lot of emotional attachment to stuff. And I keep them really private. I just have a lot of stuff that either friends have given me. Like I said its like a guilt thing. Like my friend gave me that weird cube over there, of the redwoods. And I don’t really like it. But I mean, its cute, but I guess its like, if she came over and asked where it is and I’d have to be like, “Oh, I don’t know.” It would just be thoroughly embarrassing. Its one of those things where its like, why did they give me this? But maybe one day when we are not friends, then I’ll be glad to have it. So maybe its like a security thing, too. Like, oh sure, its weird, but one day, its a fear thing, too. Like one day am I going to wish that I hadn’t gotten rid of it? And I think I do this with a lot of clothes. Because its happened a million times. I’ll be like, “oh, I should sell this,” and then two years later, Where’s that dress!? Oh my God I sold it for 15 dollars! What’s wrong with me?” That little Doll head over there, that little ballerina doll head on that spider candle holder, I’ve had that for about six years. In the beginning it was like a full doll.

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Has it been part of the spider for six years? Probably for the last year. Because originally she was a full doll and then I broke her apart for a project. I still have all of her parts somewhere. I don’t know where here little tutu is. And I definitely can’t get rid of her. She’s been in a super eight film of mine, two photo projects, and a decoration, so four different ways shes been in my life. And then the photos I’ve taken and films I’ve made gives them a life, too. Like that creepy way I was saying before; I give them life! I cannot get rid of them. They will find me! Any ways, that’s why I can’t get rid of those specific things, like the dolls because it’s like I’ve made them special. That sounds so vain. I have made these items special, no one else can carry that weight. What is the most important or special to you? What would be the worst if it disappeared tomorrow? Most recently Craig got mugged. He got mugged like a month ago and he met me at work, and he was like, “I don’t have my wallet, I don’t have my keys, we need to go back and get the locks changed, like right away.”And I felt really crazy, like, we need to get home. We need to get home. Because first of all I was worried about the computer like anyone would be because you have all your shit on it. But despite that, I was like, Oh my god, what if they take,

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Stuff like that is irreplaceable, not because its vintage, but because it belonged to someone for so long, and they wanted you to have it.

here, I’ll show you. I put them in weird spots, too, so that if anyone were to come over. I think I’d be heartbroken if someone took this. Its a lighter. When my mom’s mom died, my family didn’t get anything. Like all of her stuff was put up for auction. And being a family full of pack rats, all of the stuff that my mom had put meaning onto didn’t actually mean anything. It’s like, that’s how it goes when someone dies. Shit just gets taken or put up for sale. This is like the one thing that I got to have. Its important because it belonged to my grandma, and its also important because not much was given to my family. I wish I had been able to bid on these dolls that my Grandma got from China. But no one got those, they were put up for auction. Which sucks, its not like my family is rich and could put up $3000 for them. That’s what’s really fucking annoying. This is the one thing that I can think of off the top of my head because recently I did go, oh fuck. If they take that, I’ll cry. I wouldn’t in the end really care about the computer, because its like, oh, I’ll take new pictures…Stuff like that is irreplaceable, not because its vintage, but because it belonged to someone for so long, and they wanted you to have it. I think I place things highly depending on who they belonged to before me, or what they mean to me. And that value is like, I create that value. So like, with the dolls, it’s like, oh, you have life! Like Frankenstein. So its like different levels of why I have things. And then other things I’ll just have, like pieces of paper, I just have because they’re cool. Like, I have movie tickets that I can’t get rid of, like when Star Wars was re-released, when they put in the new CGI

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Opposite: Pear Lighter Metal, ceramic 4 inches tall Next Spread: Bruce Campbell Evil Dead Action Figure Plastic 10 inches tall


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Originally she was a full doll, and then I broke her apart for a project. I still have all of her parts somewhere. I don’t know where her little tutu is.

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Previous Spread Doll Head on Spider Body Plastic, metal 8 inches tall Following Spread: Simian Mask, Taxadermied Crow, Girl Doll, Silver Baby, Bunny Mask, and other items Mixed Media Various sizes

stuff. So those tickets mean something to me. So there is weird stuff that doesn’t take up space that isn’t a problem holding onto ‘cause you could put it in a scrap book. But all my other stuff it’s like it does take up physical space. And that’s my problem. When we want to move, if we go somewhere smaller, what the hell are we going to do? Is there a plan? Will it all go in boxes and come back out onto the shelf ? You almost have shrines with your placement. Will you try to group them in the same way? No. If we have an option where we moved into a place where we had room to put stuff up, some things would be grouped together specifically, but other things it doesn’t really matter. It’s more like how they look aesthetically. But I’m at a point now where nothing really has like a specific decorative look. I wish that I lived in a huge house where I could have themed rooms, and things could be placed just a few things on a little table. But I don’t have a place where you could have like, all my carousel items go in here, with some candles and a nice couch. And if I could, things would be grouped together in a specific way. But right now its just kind of like, where is it going to fit? And a lot of the time it will be like, okay, I can fit this here without breaking it. And I hope I don’t become one of those crazy people who has like, piles of books, and a maze of things in their house. The woman I spoke to last week drew a really strong distinction between pack rats, which is what she self-identified as, and hoarders, which is what those people were. And it was really interesting, because pack rats have certain things that they keep, and hoarders keep everything. They don’t throw anything away. So as long as you are drawing categories, you are not at that level. I guess I have known a few hoarders. My dad’s friend is just kind of disgusting. Apparently he had like piles of stuff and some of it was trash and some was important things, but at some point it was just like piles of crap throughout the apartment and he had a pathway. So I don’t know what the hell that is. I think that is like, a freak. You should look at pictures of Francis Bacon’s home. Hopefully you will find someone like that. And hopefully the are not nutty. Some of my things I have like an emotional attachment to, and some of my things I just have them, like I can’t get rid of them.

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So do you think that being a pack rat is some genetic quality, or do you think its just a weird genetic characteristic that people have? I don’t think it’s weird. I think that everyone attaches meaning to things that aren’t, like you said, aren’t a feature of that thing. But that we put our own meaning on. And I don’t think its like a category, I think its like a spectrum of how much people do that. That’s what I think so far. We’ll see what I think at the end of this project. What do you think? Do you think its genetic? I don’t know. For a while I thought it was. Just because Craig has no issue getting rid of things even if they are really cool. That’s not entirely true. I think it could be environmental, because I grew up very poor, not having a lot. And we moved around. So you never really got attached to much, and you never really had stuff any ways. But there are things that I do keep, things that I can’t get rid of. Like what? A lot of the things Cassandra has given me, different things that have significance to our relationship. So its a disease. I gave it to you. That could very well be! Sometimes I have regrets [about giving something away]. When I moved here from Wisconsin I got rid of some things that I really wish I hadn’t. Like what? There was this Alice Cooper poster that I got signed by him at this haunted house in Green Bay. And I got him to write “Its Miliwakay” from the Wayne’s World movie. And I guess it was cool because he started cracking up when I asked him to write that. So there was like a memory attached to it. I got really hard on myself when I was moving because it was such a big deal when I was nineteen that I just go rid of it. And now its one of those things where its like, how cool would that be? I think it is sort of a spectrum, though. I don’t think its genetic. Its something that we all have, its just a question of what level. Yeah, but it is really strange though, that some people think its weird when they come over. They are like, “Wow, you have so much stuff,” and I’m like, not really. Like to me I don’t have that much stuff. I just like keeping things.

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What kinds of things do you keep? I like to keep old cook books. And my mom does a lot of flea markets and garage sales. Shes always finding weird old cookbooks. And those are really interesting. There’s always recipes that I think I’ll get around to and I just never will. It hurts to think about it but its just never gonna’ happen. And I don’t need to have as many as I do. And also I have a small place, so if I had a bigger place I’d even have more. Because I just like to read them. Cooking them I’ll never do, but I have read pretty much all of them.


Various Cook Books Paper, glue, board Eight to Twelve Inches

What do you like about reading the cookbooks? Well, cookbooks are history, actually. Some of them are just really unintentionally campy. I have one from the fifties called the exquisite social uses of ice, from when women were just into being house wives. Its just kind of funny to think that’s just what her job was. Being a hostess was really, really important, and that’s just not so much how it is anymore. Also its historical. People hunted a lot back them, and things were canned. People didn’t use vegetables the way they do now. So you kind of get this historical perspective. You can see trends. Then I have some really old ones, from the 1900’s. I think those are, y’know, like, salt pork was in a lot of stuff. Weird staples. And like, removing the pin feathers from the chicken. So its just kind of entertaining to me. How many cookbooks do you have? Probably only about…I have tons of magazines out in the garage. Cookbooks I’ve pretty much whittled it down to the ones that I like. So I’d say maybe thirty. Which isn’t that bad. And then I also like, as you can see, I have black cats and there are a few more around. I like black cats because, I just always have, and also they are the cats that are the least chosen, because people are scared of them because of their bad luck connotations. I have three official black cats and I’m fostering one. And my friends give me things, so I have black cat stuff around the house…I used to have a lot of Mexican stuff, ‘cause

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my mom lived in Mexico and I used to go down there a lot. And I don’t have as much as I used to. I’m better, I think, at the amount of stuff I have. I guess lots of knick knacks. But yeah, as far as collecting, black cat things and cookbooks. And you said that other people might not want the black cats. Yeah. Well, I just love cats. Over the years I’ve come across cats and they’re from cat rescue places and they have been feral. They always have a lot more black cats than any other kind. And I always say that if I win the lottery, I’ll have a foundation for just black cats. To have some kind of huge reserve… So I have a soft spot for them…I have an affinity for black cats. I have to be kind of careful, because I could get really carried away. I have some things in my room. So when someone gives you a black cat thing and you think it is one too many, do you get rid of it or throw it away? No, I’ll put it in my garage. I have a hard time getting rid of black cat things. That’s the one place where I feel like I can a tiny bit relate to hoarders. Because I’ll go, well, maybe when I have more space, then I’ll want this. And so I put it in my garage. My garage has a lot of space in it. Its kind of where I put the overflow. Like everything I pretty much like. Like Ken just went to Paris and got me this black cat thermometer. Ken: Is that is the garage now? No! Have you always been a collector? As a kid were there things? Not really. Its kind of weird because we moved a lot when I was a kid. Like every two years. There were times when it was like every year. My mom was like a gypsy. We would live in a place and she would think there was a better place. We were renters. I’m from Santa Cruz. Its like, this is a better place. I’m tired of this place. And so you’d think that because we moved so much that we wouldn’t have a lot of stuff. But my mom collects things. She’s the type of person who goes to garage sales. She goes to flea markets. Her garage is crazy. Its like, filled to the rafters. And its like, she’s constantly having sales. It’s like, “Nature abhors a vacuum” with us, and so once we get rid of something, stuff has a way of finding us. I can’t describe it. Its like, you get rid of one thing and two things come back in. She is much more of a collector than I am, actually. She collects mermaid stuff, and so she has tons of mermaid things.

the historian

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You kind of get this historical perspective. You can see trends. Then I have some really old ones, from the 1900’s. I think those are, y’know, like, salt pork was in a lot of stuff. Actually, I come from a long line of cat lovers. Maybe my cat collection comes from my grandmother who had like a huge porcelain cat collection. And my mom has cat stuff also. She wanted me to start collecting things from the movie Yellow Submarine. Because she didn’t have room at her house, so she wanted my sister and I to start collecting it. So she gave us all this Yellow Submarine stuff. It’s like, I don’t want all this stuff. That’s the thing, its like my mom decides. She kind of does this thing where she wants my sister and I to collect certain things. She decided that I should collect Roosters. So she was giving me rooster things all the time. I finally ended up selling those. So not only does she collect things, she assigns things that people should collect. And then she collects Nightmare Before Christmas stuff. She has tons and tons. So her house is like…there is a lot of stuff there. Were you assigned black cats or cook books from your mother in any way? No, but she encourages it, big time. She loves it. Oh yeah. She’s like my cookbook dealer. I have to tell her. I’ve gotten a lot better at collecting stuff. In my last place I ended up having to do three dump runs, I just had so much stuff ! And a lot of it was because my mom was just giving me things.

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Next Spread Ceramic Cat Sculpture Ceramics Five Inches Tall Following Spread: Various Black Cat Items Mixed Media Various Sizes

You said that if you lived in a bigger place, you would have more stuff. Is there a certain density of stuff you like? I do like clutter. I know most people hate it. I like it and I don’t. It’s kind of something that I always have to reassess. My upstairs neighbor has a really sparse place and it just kind of looks boring to me. I say, like, you should have some knick-knacks in that corner. I know the Zen aesthetic is supposed to free your mind. And a cluttered place leads to a cluttered mind. So many of my things are given to me by my friends, like if I’m depressed or something. I look at something and think so‑and-so gave me that, and I feel reassured, like, that was a birthday gift. So its comforting to me. Most of the things I have were given to me. But I have told my friends no more knick-knacks. But they don’t listen! I think people collect stuff more now that they know what things can be worth. Like with the show Antique Road Show and stuff out there. Do you have one thing that’s your most valued possession? I have this cat figurine. Well, if my old cats ashes disappeared, I would be pretty bummed out. I would be depressed. I have an emotional attachment to them. But then I have also these three little black cats that I found and I have a huge sentimental value to them. Just thinking about them disappearing is weird because just thinking about them disappearing I feel like I’m going to cry, like thinking about it being gone. So yeah, it’s cause I have three cats and I’m really attached to them. When did you get that? I just got that a few years ago at this store, and I was shopping with a friend of mine and the owner of the store had it on her desk and I thought that’s so great. “Do you have any more of those?” And she said, “I don’t but I’ll sell you this one.” And I asked how much and she said like eighteen bucks. And I was like, “Oh my god, yeah.” Cause if she had said a hundred dollars I probably would have bought it. And so, I do love looking at that. More so than I thought. You have your old pets ashes. Tell me about that cat. I had him for 13 years. He was a feral cat that I got when I lived in the Mission. I was very attached to him. He got hit by a car when he was 3. And I found him and fixed him up. He was just a character. He was the kind of cat that your friends get attached to as well. My friends would go in and visit

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him at the vet. He got sick and I spent a lot of money trying to fix him up. It didn’t work so then the Vet came and euthanized him. I was married at the time and it was very, very emotional. Pets become children. It was really hard. If something happened to those I would be sad. I guess my black cats are not so much a collection. Its more like talismans that I have an affinity for. Like charms, or something. So its not like I see black cat things and I have to have them. I think collectors can be detached. Like collectors can see something and be drawn to them aesthetically. But maybe not so much of an emotional attachment. But if they are given to me by my friends I feel like there is a power in it. So that is another thing, too. Most of my things are given to me by people that I love, which makes a huge difference. Can you tell me about the Mammy doll in your garage? My friend gave me that and where I live in Oakland its just inappropriate. I have black neighbors, and I’m friends with them. And its a toaster cozy. If I had that over my toaster…A lot of people collect stuff like that. And if you’re black its kind of cool to re-appropriate something that was used to mock you. Like If you are gay a take back “fag” or whatever. But as a white person, a very white person, I don’t want to be mistaken for a member of the KKK. I should probably just get rid of it. But I’m afraid to! You are helping a woman get rid of her things. Yeah. I’ve done that before. I was a personal assistant for a while…I had to pretend that I was really organized, and very minimalist. Its really personal. Its really hard. You really have to have someone there who is objective. She is older and has been alive for a long time. The older you get the more time you have to accumulate stuff. I noticed you have a couple of those things. The books. So you have helped someone eschew something, but decided that it was something worth keeping. Yeah, that’s what I mean by “nature abhors a vacuum.” She had a bunch of books and said, “Oh, you can just donate them.” And I thought, well, I’m going to put them in my garage, and then go through them at some other time. It used to be really bad in the garage, but I’ve had a bunch of garage sales and donated a bunch of stuff to the salvation army. I ended up with a garage that was full to the rafters. I have a hard time with books, when people give me. But yeah, its really always intense helping people move. Like you don’t know this person and then they start telling you about things.

the historian

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I like black cats because, I just always have, and also they are the cats that are the least chosen, because people are scared of them because of their bad luck connotations.

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the historian

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the historian

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Why do you keep the things you keep? I don’t know. Some things just interest me visually. A lot of my stuff is just purely functional, like my toothbrush and camping supplies. I tend to keep things that people have given me, especially things that people have made for me. My sister makes a lot of things. I keep those. Most of your things are just in the one room, right? Yeah, I used to have a whole apartment, just me and my girlfriend at the time. It was a lot bigger than what have, now, so I had, like, a lot of stuff. I don’t know, I guess I kind of gather things. The Author

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Furniture from Craigslist, a lot of stuff from Craigslist. It seems like stuff just kind of moves around, now, like if you have space for something, something will show up to fill that space. So you have less stuff now. What happened to all of it? I got rid of everything I could. I gave a couch to some friends of mine. A few things went back onto Craigslist. My bed basically fell apart once I took it apart. But, yeah, the hardest things to toss were my books. And believe me, I tried. I went through every single book I own and tried to put every one in the give-away bag. It was like there was some force of nature making me pull some out. I probably got rid of half of my books at that point. I sold them to a used book store. I got, like 15 bucks for thirty books, or whatever, but that’s fine. I just knew that I couldn’t bring them all to my next place. But the books I have now are survivors of that process. Everything I have now survived that process. Kitchenware. Lots of stuff. Box Wearing Suite Wood, fabric Four Inches Tall Opposite: Plant in Shot Glass Glass, water, natural fiber Six Inches

You have several plants. Why do you keep those? Oh, yeah , I have a few or several I guess. I just like having them around. I always have a certain amount of clutter in my room and house. Something about plants makes that clutter seem less cluttered, if that makes any sense. Like, if you have this totally sparse place and there is a magazine that is on the coffee table, everyone is going to notice it. But if you have some interesting things to look at, some plants, than you can kind of have stuff in the corners and out without it drawing attention. It’s like layers of stuff. Visual white noise, or something. And I like watering plants. Its a nice little distraction. What is your favorite possession? Hmm, I don’t know. I have this old camera that was my grandfather’s. It’s a Rolleiflex, the old kind where the top opens up and you’re looking down onto your image. Like a little box. My grandpa was a photographer, just as a hobby. He died almost twenty years ago, but I have a few things that were his. I also got his old sweet Nikon lenses, which I just started using. I really like having those, not just because they take such nice pictures, but because I’m using something that was his, like the history of it. Do you have anything else of your grandfather’s? Yeah, actually. He built things, too. He had a whole setup of tools, big things like table saws and stuff, in his garage. He made a chest for my sister that

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I use, now. He also made a little shadow box for me when I was a kid. I collected miniatures at one point, like miniature furniture and stuff. I’m not sure how that got started, but that was the thing for a little while. I still have it. Now it just has various rocks that I’ve picked up in different places. What can you tell me about the little box that looks like it’s wearing a suit? Oh, ha, that. Well, my sister gave me the box, she made it in some class. The suit I just put on there recently. My sister made that, too. For a birthday my parents wanted to give me a suit for a present, and Polly made that and put it in the card. It would be a pretty cool suit, too, right? All green and white plaid. I should get her to make me a whole suit like that! Is that an abacus on your shelf ? Yeah, I never really got used to the whole calculator thing. No, that was my grandma’s. She had it hanging on her wall when she was alive. I used to have it hanging up in my last place. By the computer, I don’t know, a little juxtaposition, maybe. I guess I just like it. And I saw you have a shirt, a red shirt. It looks a little old. Oh yeah, that shirt. It’s pretty full of holes, huh? I sleep in it sometimes. Its not like its something that I could ever wear outside. Yeah, its like, really full of holes. I should probably get rid of it. I got it back in high school. It’s got a screen print on it. I used to teach art at a summer camp, and I got to teach

the author

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My Grandpa was a photographer, just as a hobby. He died almost twenty years ago, but I have a few things that were his.

the older kids how to screen print. They all made one. It was a pretty sweet activity and the summer was awesome. Just a really good time in my life and all that. So I’ll probably never throw that shirt away. It’ll just disintegrate in my drawer at some point, into a red dust. You are a graphic design student, right? What sorts of things do you have for your studies? A lot. Probably half of what I own. More than that in terms of value. Like those bookshelves, everything in them is for school. Loads of books, and then just various art and craft supplies that I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve got two desks. One has my giant printer on it, and that one is kind of an antique, it was my uncle’s when he was a kid. And then my other desk, my drawing desk I just found on the street in the sunset. That was a great find. Great, thanks for talking with me. No problem!

the author

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Opposite: Rolleiflex Camera Metal, glass Five Inches


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0 Necessities

Items Given by friends

Items Given by Family

Pack Rat Horror Geek Historian Author

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Items Purchased on Craigslist


Stuff: The Things We Keep