A true story 12/24/10
The day before Christmas eve, I was checking out Craigslist searching for a nice (hopefully Victorian) style make-up vanity for my new wife Andrea. They have a "Free" section and only a few times before was I able to score something worthwhile like a nice desk or maybe a plant or two. I've been doing this for the past year in the hopes of picking up some needed items for the 110 year old Victorian fixer-upper we bought last year. Brand new "anything" is expensive so we often visit salvage yards and garage sales hoping to find useful items in good condition. Rarely, does one EVER find anything in good-great condition.
One of the major renovations needed in our house was a new kitchen. The current one had not been updated since 1940! (See Last Post Below). Everything was old wood that made the drawers sticky and the doors were falling off. 'Ghastly' is pretty much how I would describe it yet it can costs thousands of dollars to renovate a kitchen and we just don't have that kind of dough. We're artists, of course. And being good ones is even worse).
So while I was looking for something else at the time, I came across a posting, in the free section, that advertised giving away kitchen base and upper cabinets. It included a pic of the kitchen and I noticed that the ad was up at least a few hours. Now I knew from past experiences that these things come up very rarely and are usually gone within an hour or so. Typically a contractor, or similar sort of person with a truck, swoops on these and picks them up to add to some house they are going to flip. The posting was in West Oakland, a few blocks from where we live, so I sent a quick email hoping that they might still be available. To my horror, my email was bounced back with the "this post is no longer available" almost immediately. "Some one already scooped it up", I thought. I took a long look at the pics of the nice, white cabinets in the ad and sighed a little. But then it dawned on me, "I've seen this kitchen before!" I was sure it was from a Victorian I saw with my realtor last year. It was one of the nicer Victorians I had seen with newly updated everything, including kitchen. We had made an offer on it over asking price as did about 12 other people and was disappointed we didn't get it. Now I'm really not that impulsive a person but I decided to jump in the car, drive to where I remember the house to be and see if I was correct in my assumption and if there was a slight chance of getting this 1year old kitchen cabinet set.
I drove on a bright sunny day to the house on Willow St., where I thought the post pic was located, pulled up to the curb, got out and saw a young man casually working on something on his top steps. I went up to the top gate and said, "I'm here about the Craigslist cabinets?" He blinked his bespectacled eyes, "Really? I just got off the phone with you." I told him that I wasn't that person, introduced myself, and told him how I had actually made a bid on this house a year ago and recognized the photo from Craigslist and if he wouldn't mind bartering for them since I am a digital artist and would be glad to design something for him, if it wasn't too late.
His face crinkled a bit, "Well, I just got off the phone with someone who is going to pick them up.....but....you're here now so...go ahead and take them." "OMG", I thought and he took me into the garage to show me these great cabinets. He said that it wasn't there style and that I was doing him a favor by taking them off his hands. Now some of you reading this might think, "It's too good to be true. There must be something wrong with the cabinets." But I KNEW they were only a year old and I checked them out and they looked great!!
This young man's name (I’m guessing 28) was Colin Babcock, a young artist living in the old Vic, that resembles our own, with his girlfriend and co-business partner Stephanie (Shipcock Fabrications: Custom Wood and Metal Designs). Colin was a tall, thin guy in pretty good shape with shoulder length, scraggly light brown hair tied back in a pony tail and a matching beard that stopped at his sternum. He wore the clothes of a person who worked with his hands a lot with confidence and a deep but non-menacing deep voice. I knew almost immediately that this was a nice but fairly no-nonsense person so I was quick to load my little beater car with as much cabinetry as I could. When I returned later to pick up more and expecting to make at least 3 more trips total to haul it all, Colin offered to take it all in his truck and drop it off at my house. I was extremely grateful and started to talk to him about what he does. I learned that he works, among other things, crafting sets for the Berkeley Repertory theater and helped create a “rocket ship”(http://www.raygungothicrocket.com) that recently launched from ‘Burning Man’, the annual, gargantuan arts extravaganza that takes place in the desert. I told him how ‘Burning Man’ began at SomArts where I used to work as the media artist-in-residence. It was then that it began to slowly dawn on me that I was looking at a young Jack Davis. Same height, same hair and beard I recognized from the early, youthful pics of Jack I used in the documentary about the legendary ED of SomArts. I stood in awe as Colin lifted these big cabinets on his truck, strapped them down and tied knots easily. The cabinets stuck out all over the trucks’ back, top and sides and held down by a few red straps and I knew this was a person who knew how to truck heavy things around with ease. Remind you of somebody?
After following me to the house and gently unloading the rest of the cabinets, he handed me his cards and I took him to the backyard and gave him some fresh lemons. He responded with telling me about how to make a great lemon liquor with them. I promised him that we will have him and Stephanie over for dinner once the cabinets are installed. I am looking forward to that.
I smiled and waved as he drove off and basked in this spiritual moment of receiving a much needed gift to our house from a person who seemed identical to one of the truly great people I ever met in the arts world. When I look at our gradually changing kitchen, I marvel at the circumstances of the day and the person I just met and how it reminded me of the giving nature, kindness and intelligence of Jack Davis. Jack helped me make the decision to become an artist, and I’ve been appreciative of that ever since. So now I will befriend this young artist and share what I know and give where I can as he and Stephanie grow as artists themselves. It’s my way of honoring Jack and I can’t think of anything else that could honor him best.
Merry Xmas Colin, Stephanie, Jack, Judy, Adam, David, Martina, Sylvia, Deborah and Alain and to you reading this.