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Blog TC497: My House Is Out of the Ordinary

TC497 was the 99th Time Capsule that I catalogued, a little milestone for me, and it didn’t disappoint. It contained some great items, including three screen printed scarves created by Warhol, the image titled “The Only Way Out…Is In!” (They were intended as holiday gifts.) TC497 also contained four sealed limited editions of Speaking in Tongues by Talking Heads (Sire, 1983) inpackaging designed by Robert Rauschenberg. The LPs reminded me of how thrilled I was to open “my” first Time Capsule, TC166. I found a rare Japanese 45 of the Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker,” and I was so excited that I yelled to our Chief Archivist, Matt, to come take a look. That excitement and sense of discovery hasn’t gone away: I’ve catalogued over one hundred of the Time Capsules, and there are still moments that remind me that my job is unique and amazing.

When I talk about the TCs, people always ask about my favorite items. There is the obvious cool stuff, the big finds, like the three Warhol portraits of Bella Abzug from the series done for the October 6, 1977, cover of Rolling Stone (RS 249) that I found in TC238. Then there are the items that are memorable for their unexpectedness and fun, like an “Amigos de Julio” Julio Iglesias fan club muscle t-shirt, or Warhol’s State of Colorado livestock brand registration card. (His brand was A / Lazy W.)

I love finding zines and records, and the TCs are full of them, like an early issue (1985) of Jeff Smith’s Seattle-based Feminist Baseball and lots of issues of Velvet Underground fanzine What Goes On; a white label of The Smiths self-titled (Rough 61, 1984) and Moe Tucker’s 7” “Around And Around / Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” (Trash T82644-1, 1981).  The TCs are also full of ephemera related to the 1980s New York music and club scenes: Invitations to a performance by Johnny Dynell (Limelight, 1986), and to a party hosted by Joey Arias & Edwidge (Danceteria, 1985). There are also fliers for first American appearances by bands like Les Rita Mitsouko (Palladium, 1986), Xmal Deutschland (Danceteria, 1984), and Sisters of Mercy (Danceteria, 1983).

I appreciate all of these items in the Time Capsules because they help recreate the saturated, creative atmosphere inhabited by one of the most famous artists in the world. But I think my favorite things are the ones that tell us what meant the most to Warhol, personally: The postcards from him in New York to his mom back in Pittsburgh during the 1950s—they’re signed “love, me.” The cards from his nephews and his goddaughter. The letters from the American Cancer Society thanking Warhol for donating artwork or money. The photographs of him at his friend Joan Quinn’s house, relaxed and laughing. And the Thanksgiving menu for the church where he was a soup kitchen volunteer on holidays. These items were the most unexpected, to me, and some of the coolest.