Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ones that got away.

from decades of browsing . . .

1. In a used bookstore in Chicago, many years ago, I found a Selected Poems by Louis Ginsberg, Allen's father, inscribed to Nelson Algren, something to the effect of, "Dear Nelson, My father wanted you to have this. Give me a call next time you're in New York. Yours sincerely, Allen." It wasn't in the "rare" books, just regular, just a regular used book. I thought about it, was close to broke (as usual at the time), and didn't buy it. Went back a couple days later, set on buying it, it was gone.

2. The first time my beloved spouse and I saw the Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, she was selling a cheap EP CD for five bucks Canadian, no cover, no picture, just a CD in a case with her name on it. She had not yet revealed herself as the astounding musician she is, and I picked it up and thought about it, but didn't buy it. Now it's long gone.

3. Once at a "new music" record store I came across an illegal 2-disc bootleg of La Monte Young recordings, including some of his Well-Tuned Piano and some of his astonishingly fierce free-jazz saxophone improvisations with equally terrific drumming by Angus Maclise, and a mind-settling drone being played by his band, perhaps John Cale (the CD lacked credits). I listened at the listening station, and didn't much like the theater pieces from the early '60s, consisting of dragging chairs across amplified floors and visually interesting but sonically grating activities like that, but I loved the saxophone and piano playing. I hesitated at the 35 dollar price tag. When I went back to look at it again, and test my resolve not to spend the money, it was gone and hasn't been back.

4. A beautiful copy of an 1890s edition of Greek Studies by Walter Pater, being sold for two bucks at a sale at the Newberry Library in Chicago. I had no money in my pocket. Went back the next day, it was gone.

Collecting -- it's a strange activity, like birding. At least, I console myself, I saw these things and held them in my hands; I consumed bits of them. Deciding not to buy them becomes a story I can tell.

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