Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Art in my little town
In my little town, of Bellingham, there is a lot of Art. Not great art, just pigments applied to surfaces, and photographs of pretty things, and chunks of metal welded to other chunks of metal, and so on. This is not to suggest that Bellingham is the end of line. No. If you fail in Bellingham, there are still places you can move to, to try again in a more forgiving market. But still, if you fail in New York, you don't move to Bellingham right away. First, maybe you fail in Birmingham or somewhere like that, and then Boise, and only then do you pull up stakes and come to Bellingham to see if there is a place for your art here.
There are, in my little town, Bellingham, any number of modest storefronts which represent someone's particular passion. Of course, there are bookstores, but what is unusual, really, about a passion for books? There is a museum of contraptions beautifully machined out of wood. There is a museum of electrical, things, mostly built around what might be the world's largest collection of dead shortwave radios. There is a train museum, where the wives of recently deceased old men donate their hundreds of pounds of model trains.
Also, there is a fish store. For live fish, fish for bowls, for tanks, for impossibly difficult to maintain aquatic environments. Tropical fish, goldfish, all manner of fish. Also, dog treats, dog toys, dog food, dog collars, bird seed, bird toys, and so on. But mostly, fish. It is the kind of store where, if you are not worthy, you may find yourself unable to purchase a fish for reasons you cannot quite grasp perhaps a nice goldfish says the young woman but I wanted the betta you say, bewildered. By way of explaining the breadth of the thing: they have a pufferfish, Miss Puff, not for sale please don't try to make me puff up it's bad for me. They maintain heroically large salt water environments in what seem to be intolerable circumstances.
Next door, in the former feed store adjoining the fish shop, is or more precisely was, a rather more ordinary pet store. Bunnies, parakeets, a few lizards, a snake, and aisle upon aisle of pet foods, pet toys, pet accessories, and, seasonally, setting out plants and seeds.
One night, the former feed store burned. Most of the animals were rescued, save only 10 birds and a snake. It is not clear if they are known to have perished, or if they are simply unaccounted for.
Allegations are being pursued to the effect that the fire was started by a homeless man who was trying to stay warm as temperatures dipped below freezing.
The fish store, with its lights and pumps and filters and heaters and coolers all maintaining the myriad delicate and complex environments was quarantined inaccessible to staff and without power for 18 hours.
All of the fish survived.