Tag Archives: fish

marie antoinette and captain cool.

i recently wrote a post about the fish who live in a tank at the art store where i work.

i just learned the names of the fish that existed before i was first hired there (around nine months ago).

the fish have been named as follows ::

Liberace

Bob Ross

Iggy Pop

Sargent Pepper

Sheena (from a song by The Ramones)

Lady Gaga

Michael Jackson

Larry (for reasons i cannot disclose)

celebrity names, yes – with the exception of Larry. only Liberace and Michael Jackson remain. since my last post about this fish tank, we lost another member of our aquatic family. we lost Larry the snail. my co-worker went to clean the tank one day only to discover that Larry the snail was no longer there. his shell was, but his body was missing. given Liberace’s past behavior, we have hereby assumed that she ate Larry. she must have sucked him up whole, in one bite, like a piece of sushi. had she thrown him from the tank (like we assume she had done with Lady Gaga), Larry would have very likely met the same fate as Lady Gaga. that fate being the sole of my shoe, stepping and slipping and crushing the soul on the floor.

today i am writing about two more celebrity named people i have just recently met. actual people, not fish.

marie antoinette is a lady who cruises around north beach. she may or may not be homeless. she’s told me that she is, but due to the cleanliness of her clothing and the new looking shopping bags that i’ve seen her cart around, i’m unsure. i ran into her tonight on my way home. she recognized me and had even remembered my name – which i had not expected. she’s harmless. she’s kind. she talks a lot, maybe too much. but she’s very sweet and well intentioned. tonight, she was walking towards me. i still have a crutch under one arm and she was wearing a neck brace. she stopped to give me a high five. a “we’re both crippled!” high five. she remembered my name, once again claimed she was homeless, and shoved this poster into my arms. this poster is old. a silk screened poster of a show that Elvis Presley once played here in san francisco. i stared at it long and hard, lifting my jaw from the pavement. “where.. where.. where did you.. uh.. find this ?”

apparently she got it from a friend, who got it from another friend, and so on. i know silk screens. i may not be an expert in antiques, but this poster looks like the real deal, like an original. i asked her over and over again if she was sure she wanted to give it to me. she said that she had no use for it and insisted that i take it. i couldn’t turn it down. she asked for “a couple bucks,” which i gave her, and she moved along. when i got home, i investigated this poster and its origins. and i actually think this thing is from 1969, the date on the poster. awesome ? YES.

and now for Captain Cool. no, it’s not the name of a celebrity, but i think he’s kind of a celebrity here in north beach. i think he may have suffered from throat cancer. or something close. he’s got one of those voice boxes that requires him to press some flesh covered button on his throat to speak. he wears tiny round wire framed black lens sunglasses, a tall top hat, a velvet coat, and tall leather boots that reach the top of his knees. yes, he is just as amazing as he sounds.

several weeks ago i was in Vesuvio on my lunch break. Vesuvio is an incredibly old bar, but the reason i go there on nearly every lunch break is because you are welcome to bring your own lunch (a cheap bagel, in my case) and you don’t need to purchase alcohol. if you’re me, you buy a cheap mug of peppermint tea and spend your hour lunch break drawing or writing. i now know the staff there well enough that i rarely even pay for my tea. i throw a couple bucks down as a tip for my tea and sit in a cozy and comfortably lit booth to write or draw for around fifty minutes. it’s a wonderful way to spend a lunch break.

on one such lunch break, i was seated near Captain Cool. i’d never met him before, but had seen him there on the regular, always sipping on a pint of guiness. (i asked him his name. he said it was Patrick, but that everyone called him Captain Cool. he said there was a story to explain that, but he’d save it for another time.) i was embroidering the image of a budweiser can when he approached me. he leaned towards my table and asked me (with his voice box throat) if i was a seamstress, to which i replied, “no. no. i use embroidery like i use paint. as you can see.. this is not well cross stitched or straight.” to which he replied that he was looking for someone to sew some patches onto some jackets he has. again, i informed him that i am a sloppy seamstress. straight lines are beyond me, with or without a sewing machine.

he stared at my cross-stitching and declared, “but what you have here is perfect. i like those imperfections. that’s exactly what i would want.” so i agreed. i gave him my email address. he said he wouldn’t be needing my services for quite some time, but would be in touch when the time came. that same day, i met a friend at Vesuvio after work. Captain Cool happened to be there, i nodded at him and he nodded back at me. the next thing i know ? the waitress came to me with two shot glasses filled with whiskey. she said, “Captain Cool wanted to buy you this round.”

thanks, Captain Cool. thanks, Marie Antoinette.

you certainly know how to make a girl feel loved.

jessi

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i killed lady gaga.

at work, there is a fish tank.

when i first began working there it contained two fish. one named Libby (short for Liberace) and Iggy (for Iggy Pop). Libby is a big orange fish who was purchased in Chinatown and was first believed to be a goldfish. in less than six months she grew exponentially and it was concluded that she was, in fact, a koi fish. Libby is huge. Libby also swims around very fast, dramatically, and aggressively. she has little fish eyebrows (that always appear furrowed) and opens and closes her lips at you when you look at her in the tank. if a fish could bark or yell, this is what it would look like.

her companion at the time, Iggy, was what is known as a fancy goldfish. it’s one of those bulbous goldfish with big bellies and bulging eyes. he wasn’t very big (a third of Libby’s size at most), but he was downright the most charming and endearing fish you could have ever met. you see, Iggy had this condition called dropsy. there’s even a Pinback song about this condition. this condition causes too much air to be gathered in a fish’s swim bladder, therefore inverting the fish. Iggy spent over a year of his life living upside down (we considered poking him to pop the air bubble in his stomach, but could never bring ourselves to follow through with the idea of it). most fish don’t live past three weeks with this condition. he was known as the “upside down art store fish.” our customers would bring friends and family who were in town specifically to meet Iggy. he even has a facebook page.

Libby and Iggy’s relationship was a complex one. as Iggy would either float at the very top of the tank at all times or he’d drop to the bottom of the tank and lie on his back. Libby never really knew what to do with him. he was never found in between the top or bottom of the tank unless it was during feeding times when he would very enthusiastically swim around in small circles trying to catch the pieces of food that Libby had missed. Libby had a habit of pushing him around the tank like a soccer ball or resting very close to him and they would both sit very still at the bottom of the tank.

i was there the day that Iggy died. both fish had been acting weird that day. Libby had ended up floating very still on her side half at the top of the tank. i was sure she was dying. Iggy was a little more mellow than usual that day, but it was Libby i was really worried about. and then finally, Iggy stopped moving and his belly stopped puffing and his gills quit flapping. i removed him from the tank, placed him in a plastic bag and put him in the fridge. if any fish didn’t deserve the toilet bowl, it was Iggy. with Iggy’s removal, Libby came back to life, swimming ferociously and desperately around the tank. her mood was so manic that we knew we had to find her a new companion immediately. enter a white fish that we call M.J. (yes, that would be for Michael Jackson).

Iggy had an open casket funeral. ten plus people came to a bar where we had laid him in a wooden box filled with black glitter and some small pink plastic flowers (a customer had given them to us the day he died when she’d learned the news). we sprinkled him with some whiskey (as a toast to his life) and set about for the wharfs where we lit the box on fire and set him out to sea. it was a proper viking funeral and it was perfect.

when we moved the art store to it’s bigger and better location, we decided that the fish could also use an upgrade. a larger tank was acquired along with a proper filter, another fish, and a snail. the third fish was a sucker fish we named Lady Gaga, because she sucks so much (of course). and the snail was named Larry for reasons i can’t disclose. 

Libby and M.J. seem to have a good relationship, perhaps because M.J. is also a koi ? i’m not really sure why she has accepted him so well and why, since day one, she’s given Lady Gaga the cold shoulder. perhaps she’s discriminating, i wouldn’t put it past her.

it was just over a week ago that i was coming out of the bathroom and walking towards the water cooler to grab a glass of water that i stepped, and slipped, on something slimy on the floor. with surprise, i looked down at the floor. i stared at what appeared to be a crushed shrimp on the floor. i stared a little closer and to my complete disbelief and horror, i realized that it was not a shrimp. it was Lady Gaga.

how Lady Gaga ended up on the floor is still a mystery to all of us, but we have all concluded that Libby most likely tossed her out of the tank and onto the floor. or else Lady Gaga was so depressed in her living environment that she tossed herself out, but Lady Gaga didn’t ever do anything but ride the bottom of the tank sucking up various debris. she didn’t strike me as the suicidal type who would have taken Libby’s behavior personally or too seriously.

so, we have Libby and Michael Jackson and Larry living in harmony in the upgraded tank. Larry just stays suctioned to the side of the tank. you can’t see him move, but he’s always in a new place whenever you look in the tank. if Libby doesn’t like Larry, you wouldn’t know it. for all we know, Larry may be holding onto the side of the tank for dear life to avoid the same fate as poor Lady Gaga ?

may she rest in peace.

[still floating. drawing and computer application.]

jessi

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Filed under illustration (both acrylic and oilt)