Friday, December 09, 2005

A Quirky Meme, Memories and Updates

A Quirky Meme

Over on Cyber Chocolate, Shelly has tagged me for "A Quirky Meme."
The premise is a simple one: I'm supposed to blog about my 5 quirky habits, then tag 5 others after putting the instructions here. Those are the instructions, so let's go quirk-hunting!

1. I always run through the crosswalk on Wilmot - four times a day. But I don't actually run fast. That's because I don't want to take a chance on twisting my bad ankle (either of them) and falling in front of traffic. The purpose of running is to get all the way across the street in one cycle. But technically, it can't be done, not unless I do run faster. Every single time, the light starts flashing as I reach the center island. According to the posted instructions, I'm supposed to stop at the center island if it's flashing. Forget that! So my quirk is that I race the stupid light, four times a day - and lose, every time!

(This is the crosswalk. Note how careful the
truck driver was to wait behind the white line.)

2. When nobody's around to see, I sometimes eat non-finger food with my fingers.

3. I like the numbers 16 and 64, and will sometimes take extra steps or count out extra seconds - or whatever - to get to one of those numbers. I don't do this much anymore, but I clearly remember doing it a lot as a kid.

4. I don't like to share a cup, a spoon, or any kind of food with someone else, even my husband. But I've trained myself to do it anyway with movie theatre soda. (The popcorn doesn't bother me.)

5. I like to get out of bed at the last possible minute. For example, I'm due at work at 8 AM, but my alarm is set for 7:20 - and I often hit the 9-minute snooze bar twice. This gives me 7 minutes to get up, hit the restroom, get dressed, check my email, grab two cans of soda and leave. Do I get to work on time? Well....occasionally!

Oh, the tagging. I hate tagging people. I'm always afraid people already did it, and I forgot or missed it, or that they won't want to do the meme. But just this once, I'll name

um... (I'm so bad at this!)

But you get your choice: this meme or the one in the entry below this, or both! And if you did them already, or you don't wanna, consider yourself off the hook!

Memories of December 9th

On December 9th, 1980, I went to work as usual; but it was decidedly not an ordinary day.

My job at the time, such as it was, was as co-owner, manager and sole employee of Shirt Off My Back / Rockarama. The first part of the name was the original business, started by Kal and Larry in 1979. Yes, it was a used T-shirt shop. Kal and Larry also did computer portraits (primitive dot matrix portraits printed on cloth banners) at Lazarus and elsewhere on a seasonal basis.

I made about half of the buttons shown here.

The day I got involved, Kal started bringing in rock posters to sell as well. We were next door to Mole's Used Records, so the rock & roll angle worked much better than the used shirts. We bought out Larry, and started carrying new rock T-shirts, posters, stickers, patches and buttons. I designed and made some of the buttons myself, while others came from suppliers in New York and London. Before we moved to a larger storefront, the place was crammed so full of all of these things, plus 45s and vintage rock collectibles, that our slogan was "A Lot of Stuff in a Tiny Room!"

John Lennon had spent half of the 1970s out of the public eye and away from recording studios, instead playing househusband to Yoko and father to little Sean. He was expected to reemerge around his birthday (and Sean's) in October, 1980. This was the meaning (or, at least, a
meaning) of some buttons we had for sale, that simply said "Where's Lennon?" But John had recently relaunched his careeer on schedule, with the Double Fantasy LP and the hit single (Just Like) Starting Over. We knew where Lennon was, so those particular buttons were no longer topical as of early December 1980.

But the morning of December 9th, those buttons seemed to have a new and sadder meaning. People started coming in, looking for something to wear in memorial to him, and leaving with that button. So I used press-on lettering to design a new button: just the name John Lennon in white on a black background. I made about 75 or 100 of them, and gave them away. It didn't seem right to profit by his death.

Just a few weeks before that, I'd had a conversation with someone about every major rock band having at least one dead member. I figured at the time that the Beatles were "pre-disastered" (a Garp reference), because they'd met their dead member quota with Stu Sutcliffe, back in 1962. The rest of the Beatles weren't drug addicts, and weren't likely to die of a brain hemorrhage (as Stu did), so they ought to be pretty safe. But it turned out I was wrong about that one.

Two other things happened at Rockarama on or about December 9th. One was a run-in with a couple of loud-mouthed college boys, who tried to get a rise out of me by saying they were glad John Lennon was dead. I kept my temper, and asked them to leave my store. They declined to leave on demand, but soon wandered off when I failed to entertain them.

The other was a phone call with Toni from Relix, wholesale purveyors of rock buttons, Grateful Dead collectibles, and Relix Magazine. Toni told me she didn't have anyone to write a Lennon tribute for the next issue of Relix, which was going to press almost immediately. I offered to write it for her, and have it ready the next day. That little article was my first professional sale as a writer. I got paid $35.00 for it, and was glad to get it.

I remember other things from that tiny room, such as Mark Eitzel writing in his songs and poetry notebook in my store, back when his stage name was Billy Lee Buckeye. I remember that early on, I was so ignorant about 1970s rock that I didn't know Led Zeppelin was popular. I remember buying someone's vintage Beatles collection for about $75, including 1964 drinking glasses and bobbing head dolls. I didn't mean to cheat the guy; I just didn't realize the items were old, because they were in such great condition (and because a lot of the old stuff had been pirated in the 1970s). And I remember selling lots and lots of Pat Benatar posters, and buttons of Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Groovy times, man.

Rockarama moved onto 13th Ave. in 1981, and shut down in 1982. It never paid me more than lunch money and the occasional record or collectible. It didn't really break even, most of the time. We supported it by taking selected stock to record shows on weekends. Eventually I had to go get a real job. But heck, it was fun while it lasted. I have no regrets. Well, almost no regrets.

Mâvarin Update

I'm a couple hundred pages into my final edit of Heirs of Mâvarin. When I finish that, I'll work on my query letter and synopsis (again), and maybe look into the writer's groups and workshops idea for networking purposes, as suggested by my friend Linda. This is just to let you all know that I'm not slacking on this, or putting it off. I will get it done, and I will find a way to sell this book. This Karen swears!

Oh, and I've got the Musings archives transferred to Outpost through April 2004. But the novel is taking priority.


Tomorrow: Don't Be Afraid: A Tutorial and Pep Talk for Blogspot Novices


Shelly said...

We have a street like that. It's been nicknamed The Boulevard of Death because of all the people hit and killed. They finally made the pedestrian crossing lights longer, and it's helped a bit. I can cross it now in one light, but a lot of older folks still can't.

Gabreael said...

LOL at number 2.


Sarah said...

Hooray for the novel!

Judith HeartSong said...

well, I did my part:):):)

Becky said...

OK I like this MeMe. I'll get to it later. As for the shop... VERY interesting. I used to love places like that in the early 80s. I had a jean jacket that was covered with pins. Mostly the enamel variety. I wish to hell I could remember what happened to that jacket. I think I loaned it (under duress) to a friend of mine and it was never returned.