Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Double Whammy On My Soul

Two election mistakes I made so you don’t have to

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2020 at 3:08 PM

This is a cautionary, and true, tale. Life is an experiment, and sometimes we learn something from the results. Case in point: the 2016 elections.

I, in my idealistic wisdom, assumed Hillary would win the vote. Because, well, God. And, the Universe. And so, because my vote for her wasn’t necessary, I decided to throw it toward a third party in order to boost the whole third-party thing. Because I believe that we—Americans—well and truly need many strong political parties to choose from, not just the two default parties handed to us by our uptight, antique forebears.

We know what happened. My pro-Hillary vote would have tipped the election in her favor. But my third-party vote actually ensured Trump’s triumph. And I live with that hard fact each and every day that I accidentally get a visual of the orange buffoon face that frequently graces the news media and the interwebs while even more frequently contributing to the ever-increasing deterioration of this cycle of time.

The other thing that happened during the last election was, I was visiting my beloved, sweet sister in Seattle and had the brilliant idea to turn her and her husband on to my favorite movie in the world, Mad Max: Fury Road. On election night.

Seeing as my darling sister and her gentle husband had never experienced the Mad Max phenomenon, this was set to be a groundbreaking evening for them, because we were going to a very rare big-screen showing of the “Black and Chrome Edition,” which was sure to intensify the post-apocalyptic carnage well beyond the color version.

As we walked into the theater while votes were still being counted, my sister’s election fears were palpable. Then we sat down and watched that wonderful, wonderful movie. Lord, was it good! The nuances brought out by the black and the chrome! The subtle complexities of faces and vehicles and explosions and flamethrower-puffs and shadow and light brought into such sharp focus by that lack of color!

And—surprise!—my sister and her husband were completely traumatized by the experience. The 80-odd vehicle-destruction sequences and 140-odd, high-speed death scenes within the span of two-odd hours scared them, rather than galvanized them into an unswerving, holy adoration of all things post-apocalyptic.

I should have known. But, I’m a guy. And I’m a big brother.

And then we walked out of the theater and my sister checked her phone, became very pale, and said quietly, “Trump won the election.” And burst into tears of genuine fright, right there in the lobby. Knowing, of course, that I, her favorite brother, and possibly her favorite person in the entire world, had not voted for Hillary, and had thus single handedly swung the vote in Trump’s favor because … I already told you why.

And I stood there for 20 minutes trying to ease her fears by explaining that I had just purchased 6 acres on a remote island and if the world collapsed she and her husband could surely come live with me and we could survive by homesteading and hunting the local overpopulated, wild pygmy deer.

Which—surprise!—brought her no relief whatsoever. In fact, the very next day she began to speak about moving to an idyllic, faraway country to which she possesses dual citizenship. (Which is also a bucolic, agrarian island populated by many huntable wild animals, I might add. But that’s beside the point.)

The years go by and I live with this dual stain on my soul. Because my sister is my favorite person in the world. And I did these things to her. They far exceed any run-of-the-mill, big-brother, chasing-her-around-the-house-with-pinky-outstretched-under-the-assumed- persona-of-Mister-Nose-Picker antics I ever pulled in all the prior years, and I didn’t even do them for kicks.

Chew on that while you decide what to do with the next election.

Seeking words of wit and wisdom? Write the Advice Viking at mfernquest@metronews.com.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

The Art of the Good Deal

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 4:25 PM

Petaluma has galleries galore, a museum whose building was endowed by Andrew Carnegie and a flourishing arts center. But the best art in town just might be discretely sandwiched between occasional dog shows and a Waldorf charter school.

Located in a voluminous warehouse at the premises of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and Event Center is what the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark might look like if everything was uncrated. Thousands of dollars worth of valuable art, collectibles, and antiquities line the walls or are attractively arranged in the showroom. It’s a veritable museum in itself and it’s all for sale. Welcome to Skip Domingos Auctions, where items from the sensational to the sentimental are going, going, gone to the highest bidder.

“We’re reaching the collectors more,” says Caleb Newberry, who worked with the auction house’s namesake for 15 years before acquiring the business in Spring of 2015. Since then, Newberry has concentrated on integrating contemporary sales practices into a premise that’s existed since 500 B.C. Can’t make it to the auction in person? There’s an app for that, courtesy of Live Auctioneers, an online live auction network that currently boasts over 36 million items listed, including those from Skip Domingos, which can be bid on in real-time as the gavel swings in Petaluma.

Technology aside, Newberry emphasizes the human touch over the algorithmic when it comes to his auctions. They’re conducted live with a big screen, sound system, a veteran auctioneer and an eager crowd seated in folding chairs on the showroom floor.

“With us there’s a living person behind what’s going on,” says Newberry, who is something of a walking Wikipedia when it comes to assessing both the value and validity of an object. He’s honed his knowledge and — as importantly — his instincts, over the years and has cultivated a network of experts who sometimes help confirm the provenance of items.

“It’s an ongoing process,” says Newberry, who, back in the days with Domingos, “...was the guy that went out to the houses and was digging in the crawl spaces and going up into the attics and was barely able to breath in some places – and digging out this one Van Erp lamp out that sold for $27,000.” Newberry credits programs like PBS’ Antiques Roadshow with amplifying awareness of the antiquities market and bringing in a new generation of collectors. Fortunately for him and his colleagues, Petaluma has long been an industry hotspot.

“Petaluma has always been known as an antique haven — downtown, all the shops, it’s always had what I call ‘sophisticated country,’” he says with a smile. “We have something for everybody. If you’re a construction guy and you’re looking for a new power tool, I’ll have one here eventually. If you’re looking for a vehicle this is a great place to get one. If you’re a jewelry collector interested in vintage, antique jewelry that you just can’t find nowadays, we have it.” And art? Last fall, he had a Picasso on hand as well as a numbered Rembrandt block print. Original Erté, anyone? Newberry had one of those recently, too.

“People buy these items as an investment,” says Newberry, whose clients include the very wealthy as well as those of more modest means. People are also looking to connect meaningfully with their purchases. Newberry often hears stories from collectors who are pursuing items for personal, nostalgic reasons.

“You can really sense in their eyes the connection they have,” he says, adding that the consignors themselves appreciate knowing that their items have a value beyond their sale price.

“That’s another sense of gratification for me—I get to see people that really have that desire and want to connect with those items,” says Newberry.

For more information, visit www.skipdauctions.com. Daedalus Howell blogs and podcasts his “Night School of the Mind” at www.daedalushowell.com

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