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Home Furnishings

day to day runnin' aroundWhen I was first kicking around New York back in 2003, I lived in a lot of sublets. There were five of them in a period of one year, and more to come after. It was an odd existence, but no more than some that had come before, or since. It felt like the thing to do at the time. The thing about what feels like the thing to do at the time is, you can fight it if you like, but you always know you’re in a fight.

I had one particular personal belonging that I carried with me from sublet to sublet back then – a Willie Nelson poster from a show I’d attended at the Fillmore in San Francisco in 2002. It was a mosaic of his face comprised of stuff that the artist felt best represented Willie. There were rusty old nails and bits of straw and pieces of bone and buttons and sunflower seed shells and pot pipes and plug sockets and bullet casings. It bore a striking resemblence when you pulled back from the individual components and took in the whole. I don’t know why I threw this in my bag before I left San Francisco, but I did. With one exception, every sublet I lived in was already furnished. One had a kind of lizard theme with ceramic geckos and salamander art on the walls and everything painted some shade of green. There were also a lot of Richard Nixon artifacts; Nixon bowling, Nixon buttons and pins, “Nixon Now” signs. Another place in Manhattan had more of a bohemian theme and smelled of curry. But the one part of me that I lent to each was Willie Nelson. I’d tack him up before I even unpacked my bags, marking my official arrival.

I’m still living among someone else’s furniture these days, but I’ve been here for well over a year and it’s starting to take on my own shape through repeated use. Willie is back in San Francisco, framed and on the wall. I figured he’d put in his time and deserved a rest, even if I wasn’t done. In his place now is an image of Neil Young from the cover of his 1969 album “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” I’d always wanted a reproduction of this cover but could never find it. Then last year I tracked down a reasonable facsimile (as the kids like to say) from some hippie retro poster dealer in Nottingham, England. It cost a fair chunk of change to have it shipped, but I figured it would be up there for a while longer so it was worth it. The image of Neil and his dog stands alone, without the album title. But that’s OK because I’ve got the tune ingrained in my head at this point.  Everybody seems to wonder, what it’s like down here .. I used to see it from the perspective of a guy who was trying to get back home, but like any great song its meaning has changed for me over the years. I don’t seem to be fighting that as much of late either.

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