From The Desk Of Kristian Hoffman: Vintage Cat Glass Eye

Kristian Hoffman and Lance Loud met in high school back in the early ’70s in Santa Barbara, Calif. After starring in PBS cinéma-vérité documentary An American Family, they formed the Mumps, moved to New York and shared Max’s and CBGB stages with all the legends of the punk/new-wave explosion of 1976: Television, the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie. Hoffman and Loud also had front-row seats for the Mercer Arts Center incubation of the New York Dolls, before that. In our book, that grants you unlimited license to open the floodgates. Fop (Kayo), Hoffman’s latest solo album, is an ornate masterpiece of baroque pop, well worth your attention. Hoffman will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new Q&A with him.

Hoffman: I am a computer-come-lately. It may seem disingenuous, but I really am a luddite latecomer to the Facebook generation. I remember when I was on tour with Dave Davies (OK, in 1998—it’s not that recent—but in computer years, it’s about five minutes ago), one of his most ardent and delightful fans, Joanne Corsano, said to me, “You should really have a website.”

I idiotically (as usual) responded, “Website? I don’t even have a computer!” Joanne swallowed her guffaws, charitably shepherded me through these new Star Trekkian ether thoroughfares that Al Gore apparently somehow takes credit for called the “Internets” and graciously built me the website that still stands today as a tottering, cobwebbed monument to whatever marginal accomplishments I may have made in the ensuing years. But it still took me about a year or two to enter the cyber world with my very own iMac. I’m barely a millennial convert, a chastened tardy arrival.

When I did get my very own “baby’s first computer,” a very close friend (although now I view this particular gift he gave me with about as much equanimity as I view Walter Huston’s contract in The Devil And Daniel Webster) said, “I see you collect vintage Halloween ornaments. Let me show you eBay, auction sniping and PayPal.”

Thus was a monster born. Hours that I may have, in an earlier incarnation, spent reading the many art books I regularly purchase, designing fliers, writing new songs or being kind to my neglected boyfriend were now spent obsessively traipsing the shadowy back alleys of this cyber auction house, searching out an overpriced, vintage LP by the Twilights here, a set of bakelite flatware there. It was sick! I used to go to swap meets and make it a social occasion, just letting whatever happened to be there wash over me like a vaudeville entertainment and spending time afterward confabulating with dear friends while poking at milky Jell-O at any number of historically remarkable, mid-century cafeterias.

But this was new: solitary, obsessive, masturbatory, item-specific shopping. Shopping with a dark, deviant hunger that you cannot share. Predatory, territorial, shame-based, jailhouse-reach shopping. I was hooked. Could it get any worse? Yes! Because after exhausting the “poor me” cabinets in the recesses of my memory to replace specific things I’d lost in a fire in sixth grade or by having my storage unit burgled, things I had lived perfectly well without for years but were now suddenly tantalizingly available with the click of a search app and the increasingly disconnected attitude toward the fact that when you use PayPal, there’s real cash involved. I discovered “Frankenstein searching.” That is, you put three or four perfectly unrelated words into the eBay search engine, click “return,” and you can actually invent your own obsession! Suddenly, a bunch of tawdry gimcrackery you would never have thought essential to any décor motif became absolutely necessary for aesthetic survival and must be owned, owned, owned at any price. This wasn’t fulfilling a long-cherished dream or replacing a treasured lost heirloom. This was wholesale stem-cell creation of false need! This was giving my lust for pointless gewgaws whole vacant continents of rabid acquisitive desire! This was pure evil.

There’s another illustration after the jump of the disgraceful results of one such search construct, and with them I’m outing myself as a “vintage cat glass eye” obsessive. Somebody stop me! You can also see one of these cute Victorian glass-eyed cat measuring tapes on my virtual “Fop’s Beaureau” in the lyric booklet of Fop, next to my Paul Outerbridge-inspired detachable collar, rose-colored glasses and a racy postcard of Cassandra. Meanwhile, please stay out of my “vintage lamp naked boy” search. I think if I went cold turkey on that too soon, why, I’d just die.

Another photo after the jump.