Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A random musical coincidence involving The Bevis Frond that probably no one will care about

The back story:
The Bevis Frond are one of my favorite bands. Although they (or, more accurately, HE, as The Bevis Frond is about 98% Nick Saloman) are fairly obscure, they have also been putting out records for a gazillion years and have almost 20 albums out. So, needless to say, they have a fairly devoted, if rather small, fan base, of which I am most definitely one. The Frond have stayed relentlessly independent, never putting out a record on a major label, and never having anything even close to a hit single. However, Nick Saloman did achieve a certain amount of recognition for his collaborations with Mary Lou Lord, a singer/songwriter who received some attention in the mid-late 1990s, and eventually scored a major label deal, and put out "Got No Shadow" in 1998, on WORK records (a subsidiary of Sony). On that record was a tune called "Lights are Changing", which was written by Nick Saloman, and originally appeared on The Bevis Frond's "Tryptich" record (and also on Mary Lou's first, self-titled EP).
The story:
New Year's Eve. I'm driving to the grocery store. The Bevis Frond's "London Stone" (the album and, coincidentally, the song) is in the CD player. I am enjoying. I park, walk into New Seasons, grab my Asiago cheese and start to consider what kind of beer I want. As I'm standing in the beer aisle, pondering my choices, what should start playing over the grocery store music system but Mary Lou Lord's version of "Lights are Changing" (which, as you remember, is a Bevis Frond cover).


Now, the thing is that there's absolutely no way that an actual Bevis Frond song would get played at New Seasons (while they have a pretty hip selection of music, especially for a grocery store - when was the last time YOU heard "Look Sharp" by Joe Jackson or "Crystal Days" by Echo & the Bunnymen at YOUR local grocery store??). So, as far as this goes, that Mary Lou Lord song is probably as close as anyone's ever gonna get to hearing The Bevis Frond in a grocery store. And I was there, probably the only person in the store who could appreciate the oddness of it all. And I JUST HAPPENED to be listening to The Bevis Frond in my car, 2 minutes before "Lights are Changing" came on over the loudspeakers.

I told you no one would care.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brilliant Analogy Time, 11:11 PM

So the wife and I were talking about life and such. Talking about how it's easy to get caught up in the idea that work and your financial well-being is the only thing that matters, when there's so many other pieces to a happy life - friends, family, physical health, mental health, etc etc. All of these pieces take time, energy and attention, and it's a hell of a juggling act to try to keep on top of all of them. So - the "brilliant analogy" that came to me is that if all these pieces make up a pie, the financial piece is like the crust of the pie, and everything else is the filling. The pie won't hold together without the crust, but it sure don't taste too good without the filling, either. Food for thought.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Tallest Man on Earth

So you go to a show to see a guy who's billed as "The Tallest Man on Earth", and naturally, you expect him to be kind of tall, at least, right? Well, not in this case...try maybe 5'6" including a pompadour and black boots. Overall, picture a rockabilly version of Peter Pan with an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder. He's got a voice that's way bigger than it ought to be, and a fabulous fingerpicking guitar style. He gets loads of comparisons to Bob Dylan, but that's just lazy. Sure, there's some Dylan in there, but overall, he sounds like a young, white, Swedish version of Mississippi John Hurt with a rock n' roll sneer. I had the good fortune to be in the front row of a very intimate venue, watching this guy prowl around the stage, making fabulous music come out of his guitar and shouting and crooning his obtuse lyrics into a mic that was just a little too hot. No matter, it was damn good. Funny to complain that a show that was just voice and guitar was bordering on too loud. Maybe I'm just getting old?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nugget on a Nugget

This photo titled "nugget on a nugget". Explanation? In the vintage furniture trade, some of us refer to great (valuable) things as "nuggets". When my son was very small, he also struck us as pretty great and valuable, and hence we sometimes referred to him as "the nugget". In this photo, we find our li'l nugget reclining on an extremely rare "PK-41" stool designed by the famed Danish architect Poul Kjaerholm. The story: nearly two years ago, I had the privilege of brokering a fairly large deal (for me, anyway) consisting of Poul Kjaerholm pieces, between a Seattle man and a prominent LA gallery. Although I didn't really ever have contact with most of the pieces involved in the deal, there were 5 PK-41 stools that ended up at my house for a short period of time before they were shipped to the gallery. My son was 8 days old when this picture was taken, and given the perhaps once in a lifetime oppotunity to have a newborn pose on a rare and valuable piece of furniture...well, obviously, I couldn't resist. If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering really how much these things are worth (the stools, not the baby)! Well...first, let's just say that these stools are literally comprised of 2 pieces of steel and a piece of thick leather. Considering this, and their light, airy look and feel, they are also incredibly heavy. Despite all this, you'd probably never guess that on a good day, one of these stools can sell for upwards of $10,000. Needless to say, with the economy the way it is at the moment, today is probably not "a good day". However, in March 2007 (oddly, less than a month before the photo above was taken) the stool pictured to your right sold for $8400 plus comission at Christie's auction in New York. In person, it really is a stunning piece of design. But still, nearly $10,000 for 2 pieces of steel and some leather? Even as long as I've been in the "industry", there are some things I'll probably never understand. This is one of them. Oh, and if you're wondering, our li'l nugget has now turned into this creature, who is now more often referred to as "scamp", or "li'l devil". Just this morning, over breakfast, I noted that living with a 20-month old is not unlike having a very small tornado in your house...all the time. Or perhaps the Tasmanian Devil. It's a damn good thing he's cute.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Some might call Rosewood "the king of exotic woods". Personally I think that would be a little silly, but someone might do it. Not me, though. I just call it "really neat", and have been known to describe certain bits of rosewood that I have come across as "not unlike a goddamn Van Gogh painting". Perhaps the most mystique-enhancing thing about rosewood is that it's an endangered species, and because of this, it's been illegal to import the stuff into the US since 1983. That hasn't stopped some people, of course, and it also hasn't stopped many people in the intervening years from calling some woods that are not in fact rosewood, rosewood. "Real" rosewood - the stuff I'm referring to in this post - comes from South America, mostly Brazil, hence the notation "Brazilian Rosewood" or "Rio Rosewood". This stuff also goes by the local names "Jacaranda" and "Palisander". Most of the impostor strains that I referred to earlier are in fact from Southeast Asia, and are more commonly referred to as "Indian Rosewood". These strains also include woods such as Cocobolo, which, while beautiful in their own right, are NOT rosewood and should not be referred to as such (in my opinion).
Indian rosewood strains tend to have much less active grain than Brazilian rosewood, with fewer "cathedrals" and virtually none of the contrasting sap grain that makes this table so exquisite:

The grain on this table is, in fact, quite unusual, and usually only shows up in high end Brazilian designs such as this. Presumably, not much rosewood of this caliber ever even made it out of Brazil, because despite the plethora of Danish Modern rosewood furniture made in the 1950s and '60s, it's extremely rare to see this type of graining on a Danish (or American, for that matter) rosewood piece. More common, and still quite beautiful, are pieces like this case sofa, designed by Milo Baughman. It's interesting to note that while thousands of these case sofas were produced in the 1970s, the quality of the veneers on them varies WILDLY, from highly figural and orderly, like this one, to crazy and surrealistic (not unlike a Van Gogh painting) to comparatively boring and static. I wonder if Thayer Coggin, the company that made most of these sofas, had a method for dealing with customers who saw a rosewood case sofa with beautiful, figural grain patterns in a showroom, ordered one, and ended up with a sofa that had grain that looked completely unlike the sofa that they saw in the showroom. With the variety that I've seen in these sofas, it really could have been problematic! Pretty much the opposite of the standardization that is desired by most manufacturing businesses!

Currently, I have several rosewood pieces for sale that I'm quite pleased with, as well as several more that are presently on their way out of the refinishing shop.

This dining table boasts a total of three extension leaves (one is pictured), and is almost unbelievably well made, especially by the standards of today's "cardboard" furniture. The construction is rosewood veneer over lumbercore, with solid rosewood legs that feel like baseball bats when you hold them. I've had a lot of Danish rosewood dining tables over the years, but none nicer than this one!

Also available is this rosewood framed mirror, inset with ceramic tiles produced at the Royal Copenhagen factory, and designed by noted Danish ceramicist Nils Thorsson. While the rosewood on this mirror frame isn't necessarily all that spectacular in and of itself, the juxtaposition of it with the abstract tiles (much more often seen on coffee table tops) and the mirror elevate the piece to greatness.

As always, full info on these and many other pieces can be found on our website, Thanks for reading.


Welcome to the Janus Home Blog

Although, for the most part, I consider myself to be a pretty well "with it" denizen of the 21st century, and all that that implies, I have still, nonetheless, up until this very moment, managed to completely avoid the wide world of blogs. I've never followed someone else's blog, and certainly never had one of my own. In fact, when I first logged on to blogger, my complete lack of competence in navigating its "system" could either be viewed as charming or totally pathetic, depending on how charitable you're feeling. I'm not sure how I managed to avoid blogs for so long - but, the point is, this post marks my official, extremely belated entry into bloggingworld - for lack of a better term.
So, without further ado, this blog will be, as most blogs seem to be, devoted to the froth of my brain, what I think and know to be cool, what I think is worth your time to check out, and in general, my opinions of the world around me and how I fit into it (or, as the case may be, don't). By virtue of the fact that I own a vintage furniture store, many posts will likely be guessed it...vintage furniture - from design to designers to materials to things that I just think are cool. Interspersed with that matter will probably be some shameless plugs of the pieces that I personally am trying to sell in my store ( It's also quite likely that there will be some musings on music (as I am, and have been for many years, a rabid music fan, and in a former life, wrote record reviews for a non-living), the city I live in (Portland, OR), and food, just for good measure. I hope you will find my posts alternately amusing, educational, insightful, and enterntaining - maybe sometimes all four at the same time. My intention is to make the time to actually post something every few days. We'll see how that works! Until next time...