SCRAPS: Painting from the Scrapbook Series
Reception on Saturday 18 October 2PM – 4PM
Melanie MacDonald lives in downtown St. Catharines and is an active member of the Niagara Artists Centre. She has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Niagara, Hamilton, London, Kingston, Toronto, Western New York and Quebec. Her work was selected to appear in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, Magenta Publishing’s national survey of Canadian painters. In 2009 she received a Trillium Excellence in the Arts Emerging Artist Award from the City of St. Catharines. She has been the recipient of numerous Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance grants.
– AND –
Pounce On the Now!
I’m slapping an incongruous get-together on the tail end of Mellie’s exhibit at 4:30PM, also on Saturday 18 October at NAC. I’m going to play for your listening and viewing entertainment best bits by two cats I dig very much. Stick around and celebrate the work of Lord Buckley and Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson.
The following anecdote, as told by Harry, will introduce the uninitiated to these seldom-heralded great artists of the Twentieth Century.
Now we ain’t got no bread, little by little we’re runnin’ out o’ bread. Finally, we get the paper. We gotta get jobs, we gotta get some bread here. We’re walkin’ along the street and there’s a guy sellin’ ice cream out of a freezer on one o’ those big three-wheeler bicycles.
This guy’s a wino. I said, “Hey, man, where’d you get that gig? You can’t have any references!” He says, “Oh man, you just go down to the ice cream place, walk in, they give you a bike and some ice cream and you go out and sell it.”
So we go downtown the next mornin’! They said, “You guys got any experience?” I said, “Uh yeah, I used to sell ice cream up in the Bronx! This guy here’s from Chicago, he used to sell ice cream at the ballgame!” So, first thing we do is we take the bikes and we ride ‘em back to our pad and the kids are out there: “Hey, look at that!” “Yeah, we’re ice cream men now.” They thought it was really great—we’re handin’ it out.
We’re ridin’ down the street and we come to a big construction site with guys all over the place. But when they come over they say, “There ain’t no popsicle guys ever come around here! Smart guys carry wine, we buy wine from some of these guys for twenty-five cents.” “Ohhh yeah?!” “Yeah, you bring some wine around.” Man, what are we doin’ sellin’ ice cream?
Boom—we go to the store, we buy ourselves a couple o’ big jugs of wine, stick it in the ice thing—Boom—we come back, nice cold wine and some cups. Now we’re sellin’ wine for twenty-five cents a cup. The first thing you know, man, we’re just rakin’ in dollars, not a lot, a dollar here a dollar there. But what’re we gonna do with the ice cream?
We’re in a poor neighbourhood—a black neighbourhood—you know when the black neighbourhoods are poor down there, they’re dirt poor. They got beat-up old shacks and kids runnin’ around in the street, they ain’t got nothin’. “Anybody want some ice cream here? Here it is free! We’re gonna give it away!”
We start givin’ the ice cream away, we gotta get rid of it—Boom Boom Boom—and we gave all the ice cream away. We go back to the construction site—Bam—the guys are ready for some more wine. Boom—we sell ‘em some more wine. We get ourselves a pocketful of bread.
All of a sudden it’s ﬁve o’clock, we suppose these guys gotta split. We go back to the ice cream place. The boss comes out: “Hey, look at these guys. They sold all the ice cream! Hey, you guys must be some ice cream salesmen!” “Well, I was the best ice cream salesman in New York and this is the best ice cream man from Chicago. Sure we’re the best! How much we do owe?” Boom—we paid off the ice cream, we got bucks, we go back, we score. It ain’t like show business!
We’d be ridin’ along, some guy’d come up, big Continental car, pull up and say, “Hey, ain’t you The Hipster? Is that Lord Buckley over there? What are you guys doin’?” I say, “We’re retired—we don’t work no more. We quit show business. Yeah, we quit! We’re in business of our own now.”
Everybody in town knew us. I was writin’ a tune we used to sing: “Pop, Pop, Pop, Here Comes the Popsicle Man.” It just went on, but in the meantime, we’re still lookin’ for gigs. We’re livin’ in the Cigar Box and the beat-up storefront.
They finally got wise to us sellin’ the wine. The guy who checks up on the ice cream people happened to come drivin’ by: “Oh man, you can’t do that! That’s against the law!” He was afraid that he was gonna get put in jail for what we were doin’, we ain’t supposed to be sellin’ wine out of his ice cream carts, so we said, “Oh, in that case we quit!”
— Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson on the Miami scene in the late 1950s, interviewed by Kirk Silsbee, 1983