Probably from 2002 or so. Too bad I don’t have an operating cassette player to find out what’s on it.
Probably from 2002 or so. Too bad I don’t have an operating cassette player to find out what’s on it.
My early ’80s tongue-in-cheek junk sociology paperback book club is the loneliest book club.
It was my Aunt Sara in Pittsburgh who first convinced me at age 17 or so that I should always write my name and the year of acquisition in the front of any book that I own. Since that time, I have been very careful to do this every time I’ve come into possession of a book. Each one that I own has “Andy Sturdevant / [year]” written somewhere on the front cover or pastedown. If the pastedown is black or dark blue and the ink won’t show up on it, it’s written on the endsheet.
Any book purchased before 1999 reads “Andrew Sturdevant / [year].” I went by “Andrew” until 1999 or so. That year, my sophomore year of college, I decided that “Andy Sturdevant” was the sort of guy people would rather meet at an art party, so I began referring to myself as “Andy” and suggested others do the same. There aren’t many “Andrew Sturdevant” books around, because before 1999, I rarely had the disposable income for purchasing books. Coincidentally, the first major additions to my book collection were made right around the time I mysteriously became “Andy” because I worked in the same strip mall as a Hawley-Cooke Booksellers that sold remaindered books for absurdly low prices. I could walk over there on lunch and pick up a handful of new art history books for four dollars each.
For a short while, I wrote the month as well — “Feb. 2004,” etc. I stopped doing that after a few months, as it seemed unnecessarily detailed.
If the book was purchased anywhere other than the city in which I was living at the time of purchase, I have traditionally made a note of that.
Occasionally, I will add other details if the circumstances seem extraordinary. If the book is a gift, I will typically make a note of the gift-giver.
I have never been sure what to do with books I have acquired through less formal channels. My copy of The Savage Detectives was borrowed (or, uh, “borrowed”) from the break room of a former employer, where it was in a pile of Dean Koontz thrillers and romance novels of uncertain provenance. I’ve never written my name in it, since it’s not technically mine, though I have no immediate plans to return it to that break room. Is there a statute of limitations? Will I retroactively write “Andy Sturdevant / 2008” in it someday?
I have thought more and more recently about how I decide to acquire books. I have been wondering if I should add more information, other than name and date. For example, consider the two book I am reading now. Roberto Calasso’s Tiepolo Pink was recommended by a painter in New York that I interviewed; he mentioned that Calasso’s treatment of the Rococo artist Giovanni Tiepolo reminded him of two painters here in Minneapolis whose studios we’d both visited. I bought Terry Castle’s The Professor because Dave Hickey wrote such a glowing review of it in a recent Harper’s. Should I note these facts (“Andy Sturdevant / 2010 / Recommended by David Reed”)? Will I remember these anecdotes? Will it matter in five years? Ten years? Has anyone developed a system for annotating personal library accessions in this way?
Perhaps I ought to write book rhymes in the front cover, as Wikipedia tells me was the custom before the 19th Century:
If this book you steal away
What will you say
On Judgment Day?
Personally? “I didn’t think anyone in the office was ever going to read The Savage Detectives, St. Peter, sir.”
I turned up my sketchbook from 2005-06 while rooting around in the basement the other day. There’s some real gems in it, including sketches I’d made at Mystic Lake Casino that were to accompany a Brad Zellar piece that ran in The Rake (I was in fact kicked out by Mystic Lake security — apparently there is an actual “no drawing on the casino floor” policy). There’s also a recipe for Spanish potato tortillas, notes from my very first meeting with Herbach and Sam (sigh!), a drawing of the spontaneous mourning scene outside the Metrodome the day Kirby Puckett died, and, best of all, a list of “finished projects” from the year before on the final pages (several early curatorial efforts at The Soap Factory, learning to play dominoes, and the name of a woman I’d dated, after which I helpfully notated “This project almost finished me”).
Also included is this quite lovely sketch of a pre-W Hotel Foshay Tower, made squatting on Marquette Avenue in the dead of winter. Frustratingly, this is actually the last regular sketchbook I’ve kept since then. Keeping a sketchbook is one of those habits I’ve never been any good at starting, but manage to be fairly faithful about keeping to once I get going. Clearly it’s time to restart one now.
The ‘05-‘06 sketchbook here was 8.5” x 11” hardbound with 60# paper, which I recall made it really cumbersome to carry around, but made for a large, substantial drawing surface. I use a bicycle now much more than I did then, so I don’t know that I’d want to keep a similar model today; any extra weight is a handicap. Do you keep a sketchbook? What kind do you find works best?
A while back, my friend Erin brought to my attention that an educational and scientific supply wholesaler was liquidating their stock of tiny historical American flags for the incredible price of five for .75 cents. They came in assorted varieties, meaning anything from the Guilford Courthouse Flag to the Taunton Sons of Liberty flag. Naturally, I did the same thing you would have done with this information: I bought 75 tiny historical American flags, had them rushed to my apartment overnight, and took the next day off work so I could wait around for them to arrive.
“Do you have any plans for those flags?” Erin asked.
“The question really is, ‘Do those flags have any plans for me?’” I said. I was very excited to do something, anything, with my 75 tiny historical American flags. Almost certainly an art or curatorial project of some kind.
Now, of course, on this 4th of July, several years later, I have still not found a good use for these tiny historical American flags. They’re sitting in the box they came in, waiting to be put to work for some half-baked art project. They are a handsome lot, as you can see from the samples pictured above. So, reader, as I have so often in the past, I am appealing to you. For the holiday, I am throwing the door open for a collaboration between the two of us.
Describe a project that makes use of anywhere between one and five of these tiny historical American flags. Ideally, it will make good use of both my talents and yours. It should be best conducted by mail, but for local readers I will make exceptions.
Send your plan to my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, with S. 12TH 4TH OF JULY TINY HISTORICAL FLAG COLLABORATIVE PROJECT. Or, just click here.
Happy 4th of July to you. May it be filled with liberty and union.
New arrival: Top 500 Medical Abbreviations (first edition).
This classic 1994 publication isn’t as good as I was hoping. The abbreviations aren’t ranked at all, as the title would seem to suggest; they’re just alphabetized. A disappointing addition to the S. 12th library.
Since the patsies at Upjohn didn’t have the UGI fortitude to do it themselves, I’ll take the liberty of selecting my own personal #1 top medical abbreviation: M/R/G. This stands for “murmurs/rubs/gallops.” It relates to sounds that hearts make, so it is an extra-poetic medical abbreviation. The two heart-slashes around the “r” make it all the more poignant. My heart is always murmuring and rubbing and galloping for you, reader.
Top medical abbreviation number two? BRBPR.
(A loving heart murmur, as always, to Little Brown Mushroom.)
Two from the permanent collection. On the left: an untitled painting on wood by Tynan Kerr. On the right: the official photograph of the state of Minnesota, Grace, by Eric Enstrom.
Photo by Steph, for Powderhorn 365.
I woke up this morning to read that our man in Chicago, Falling and Laughing, was suffering from some distinctly north-of-the-42nd-Parallel troubles:
I woke up this morning with such a dry, sore throat. So dry! …I wanted to talk to someone about it, but when I opened my mouth, all that emerged was a sepulchral croak.
I was very sympathetic, beause I too was having some similar problems with sepulchral croaks. Showers solved F&L’s problem for the time being; I am still feeling very dried-out. Are there better solutions?
S. 12th is, like many apartment buildings in the older mixed-use neighborhoods of northern cities, heated by metal radiators. I’ve long heard that placing a pie tin filled with water on top of the radiator works beautifully as a makeshift humidifer, but there are two problems with this approach: first, every radiator in the apartment has a wooden shelf of one kind or another constructed on top of it, and second, no one wants to walk into an apartment and see empty pie tins everywhere. “Where did the pies go? Did you eat all of them?” they might ask. “My apartment is dry,” I’d croak. That is a terrible way to begin a conversation when you’ve walked into my apartment. Didn’t we come up here to look at my etchings?
So I’m thinking of other solutions. Does a pie tin (or a metal container) under the radiator work? My understanding is that for the water to vaporize, the metal needs to be in contact with the radiator.
I have seen some nice ceramic and metal radiator humidifers, like the kind mentioned here. Look how attractive this is:
Also, this old article from the New York Times lists some possibilities, and is full of dead and dying links to online sellers of such items. Have you had luck with these?
I wonder how difficult it would be to personally fashion one out of metal, or commission one of our great local ceramic artists to fire a few up for me.
What are your experiences with radiator humidifiers? Or empty pie tins?
In honor of the 42nd parallel, incidentally, I would perhaps create humidifers illustrated with hand-drawn vignettes from John Dos Passos’ novel of the same name. Dos Passos is my favorite leftist-turned-reactionary crank. It happens sometimes.
“You can always count on a Democrat to get the job done.”
Democrat: 1 part cherry brandy, 1 part peach schnapps, 2 parts bourbon. Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass. Top off with club soda and add two brandy-infused cherries.