Sunday, February 22, 2015

What Would Groucho Do?

This 5'X6' frame used to be attached to the side of a tarted-up panel van;
Now it's on my office wall.
In preparation for this move to Mexico that's not many months away, I've been sorting my belongings—starting in the office—trying to figure out what to do with everything. 

A lot of the stuff is remembrances of my family—spouse and daughters, parents and grandparents.

I have the snappy old hat my dad used to wear, my mother’s favorite coffee mug, the original 1961 flyer advertising the going-out-of-business sale for granddad’s general store, medals from both World Wars, trinkets, the photo of my wife I call MBPITW (Most Beautiful Picture In The World), Father’s Day and ID cards, and such—many years’ worth. I'll keep most all of these odds and ends—maybe make a trunk's worth to remind me of my place and where I come from.

A picture of Mom, in a familiar pose, behind a kachina doll
I purchased on the Hopi reservation a long time ago.
Aside from these heritage displays, the office is also festooned with a variety of odd creations.

The biggest piece, occupying one whole wall, is the proscenium frame for a traveling theater. It weighs about 20 pounds, and is four by five feet in size. It’s sculpted to depict the mermaid, seaweed, and sea monster-guarded, golden portal to a succession of scenes from my imagination. 

What to do with the frame? I'll never get rid of it, but where should it go? I imagine it'd be pretty difficult to pack and get safely to Mexico.

And what to do with a wooden-faced Kwakiutl boy in the body of a silver salmon that hangs from the ceiling?
What would Groucho do?

Or the four foot-long flying fish with the face of Groucho Marx, leaping across the wall and puffing a cigar? A hand puppet of Homer Simpson in the black-caped garb of Alberich—evil dwarf—from an unproduced version of Wagner’s Ring?

On the filing cabinet sits a goldfish head swollen larger than the size of a human’s. Quo vadis?

There are a lot of other things, too—in drawers or on shelves, or in the closet in boxes and tubs. Most of them have to do with a dozen or so theater projects created during a two decade-long period that ended twelve years ago, when I began teaching.

For now, I think I'll just get rid of the few pieces to which I'm not attached, pack and store the rest. Maybe later I'll have an idea how some of the items can still be used; I hope so, because it's hard to say a final goodbye to that time in my life when creative visions seemed to come and be actualized like magic.

The best solution would probably be to pass them on to my daughters, or even the school at which I taught—somewhere they would be appreciated.

Any takers?