The Rogue Voice


June 01, 2007

Long Live Dogpatch

I’ve been using the same sofa on which I sleep, watch TV, read, work crossword puzzles, and fondle women since 1981, when I purchased it from a desperate drug addict for $25..

Now, if one is getting the wrong idea about my interior design, he or she will be heartened to know that, over the years, I have collected fine oil paintings, water colors, boxing posters, baseball pennants, drinking caps and hats, nasty and laminated Bukowski poems.

Editor’s note: We’re proud of living according to our own quirky standards, which so often run contrary to conventional wisdom, and don’t appear to be the things of which we should be proud. Most of us possess an entire history and lifestyle of “personal worsts”: the unkempt bed and unwashed dishes; the hundred or so failed relationships and endless jobs with their consequent firings; the bogeyman that haunts us throughout our days…. Publisher Dell Franklin introduces our new column, PERSONAL WORSTS, which will appear regularly in The Rogue Voice. We invite you to send your own stories of personal worsts, stories that reflect the virtues of your shadow side. Email:, or mail: The Rogue Voice, P.O Box 491, Cayucos, Calif., 93430.

Personal Worsts

The guide to furnishing a beach shack

By Dell Franklin

By Dell Franklin

If you’ve rented dilapidated, termite-gnawed, leaky beach shacks for nearly four decades, as I have, you must be inspired as well as dedicated when shopping for furniture. A shack should never be out of character as to ambience, especially at the risk of losing comfort. A search at yard and garage sales, second-hand stores and thrift shops usually fill the need of desk, recliner, chair, side-table, eating table, book cases, TV tray, and, if there’s room, davenport or extended sofa.
I’ve been using the same sofa on which I sleep, watch TV, read, work crossword puzzles, and fondle women since 1981, when I purchased it from a desperate drug addict for $25. The pads have since been worn and flattened, but I make up for this by layering it with com-forters that last anywhere from a year to two, depending on how badly the cats maul them, though replacing them is always easy if you hit up thrift stores in San Luis Obispo, where three comforters can usually be purchased for under $20. I once found a nearly brand new down quilt for $7, but soon had to dispatch it for disturbing the pecking order of my felines.
This sofa, broken in so that it fits my body like a mold, is a source of near hysterical displeasure to my on-and-off girl friend, and to ladies of the past, yet my fear of having it towed away to the dump is akin to having my basketball and tennis racket taken away and replaced by a hammer or garden tool. A good friend and carpenter, who understands my ways, supplanted this sofa eleven years ago with a long, rigid wooden board, so that there is no sag, and it has almost come to the point where I can no longer sleep in a bed. This habit was formed over the years from my coming home in the wee hours from bartending and needing a late snack and TV viewing on the sofa to wind down, and eventually passing out and seeing no reason to change positions at seven in the morning after a piss call, unless, of course, a lady of the night beckons.
I once had a very comfortable, well-padded, dull-green recliner that fit my body as snugly as the sofa and also had three positions: straight up for meals, halfway back for reading or TV viewing, and supine in case I nodded off. This recliner was, more or less, a guest chair, a throne for my unfussy friends, and lasted roughly ten years, until the cats, from nonstop clawing, reduced it to a skeleton with dangling fringe, though comforters and blankets upon it presented a colorful blend to the overall decor.
This recliner was donated to me by Cayucos’s foremost hauler-scavenger, Brad Heizenrader [Rogue of the Month, June 2006], who will not take anything to the dump without consulting me. He did in fact replace this recliner with another of near-identical likeness found squatting on the main drag with a cardboard FREE sign on its lap. It needs replacement at this point and the scavenger is on the lookout.
There is nothing cats will not claw to shreds, and so, if one has felines and a dog, one has no business buying any piece of furn-iture costing more than five dollars, unless it is a desk, certainly a necessity for a writer who pounds away on used solid state steel 1950s-era typewriters.
My most endearing and enduring purchases have come at closing time of yard sales, when a seemingly scuffed, ripped, gashed, or rickety specimen is passed over by even the most desperate Saturday morning marauders, whom, as a vast legion, seem to suffer from the same madness as those paying thousands for a fancy chair or lamp, or some ridiculous antique too precious to sit on or lay your feet upon or use—like a vase or crystal. I mean, a nail or two, perhaps a swatch of duct-tape, and you have a sturdy fixture, a treasure to add to your interior and a source of pride to showcase to those who under-stand you, or underrate you, or, worse, take you at face value.
My kid sister, whom I tortured throughout her childhood, and now lives in a sprawling home in Palos Verdes, refuses to set foot in my current palace (her sons won’t use the shower), and not out of snobbism or fear of disease. She has simply, throughout her life, avoided truths that might disturb her sensitive and caring nature, not to mention sleep, which could already be disturbed at trying to uphold, insure and fret about her home and trappings, along with a full-time professorship—enough to drive any normal person to cerebral calamity.
What my dear sister has never understood is that furniture is at best functional and easily disposable, and can serve as a target for kicking, punching and bludgeoning when the owner suffers from dis-obedient pets, deranged girl friends, professional basketball teams that lose close games bet upon, frustration at the typewriter, and a need to salvage some shred of sanity in the face of the kind of minimal stress vexing a lifetime slacker, shirker and escape artist.
Now, if one is getting the wrong idea about my interior design, he or she will be heartened to know that, over the years, I have collected fine oil paintings, water colors, boxing posters, baseball pennants, drinking caps and hats, nasty laminated Bukowski poems, and photos of pets to hang on walls, blending well with solid dark blackout towels replacing curtains, which are always a problem and too frilly for my taste.
So, by now the reader must surely have a vivid visual picture of my interior makeup, but no mosaic is complete without lawn furniture to impress neighbors, especially in an increasingly precious and affluent beach community of effete exiles from L.A. and the Bay Area. Though much of my lawn furniture was supplied by Mr. Heizenrader, I have also culled some fixtures of my own, making sure every chair or lounger is of a different color, style and size, and making sure I have enough of them for the occasional barbecue and beer bust, so that a very wide circle of these mismatching functionaries can assure a certain intimacy for my rogue’s gallery of guests as the beer cans and booze battles mass on all sides, and burgers, sausages and hot dogs crackle and smoke, and the music blares, and the hilarity grows, and the dogs beg and succeed, and the cats glower from the fence beside us, and so on and so forth, into the evening and into the night….
How then, the reader must wonder, does a female fit into this mosaic, and what special breed of female is even qualified? Well, over the years, the females have dwindled, even the most durable and stout-hearted. They seem to take issue with the clothesline in the back-ground, draped of athletic togs, blankets, comforters, ragged towels; and the cluster of tennis shoes, hoop sneakers, beach clogs and sandals on the front porch, the welcome mat that is worn nearly bare but has sentimental value; the toilet plunger; withered broom and rusted weed-whacker resting nearby against the railing of the porch, and, of course, the infestation of high weeds that seem immune from the unworthy push mower moldering out of sight in the back yard.
Finally, no beach shack shall be properly adorned unless there is a questionable vehicle or two resting in the driveway or along the front, fenceless yard. Since there is a plethora of Jags, BMWs and Volvo station wagons with personalized license plates disappearing into garages in recently built faux McMansions with no yards, it is imperative that the vehicle be, first and foremost, old enough to have accumulated a lot of rust and long since faded paint job, dust and permanently caked in dirt, some duct-tape to plug leaks and corrosion, a few dents for character, a window that will not go up and is replaced by plastic sheeting of a garish color, a bent aerial, and, most important, a bumper sticker boasting of an offspring being in jail rather than an honor student. In furnishing a beach shack, self-expression is everything. §

Dell Franklin is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at
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    At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You live like the starving artist we all know and love, but c'mon Dell, even Bukowski got himself into a cushy bed once he got his due recognition. Find the recognition you deserve, and get up off that old couch and get yourself into a real bed.

    At 6:42 PM, Blogger Patrick O'Hannigan said...

    As an essay with which to inaugurate a series of "Personal Worsts," I don't think you could have done better. The idea of taking a page from Dell's playbook and living in a beach shack has undeniable appeal, but for the sad fact that relentless scavengerhood is hard on family life. Fortunately, there are more alternatives to life in a McMansion than those represented by bit players in John Steinbeck's "Cannery Row." There's nothing wrong with aspiring to life in one of rocker John Mellancamp's "little pink houses," is there? Like the man said, "ain't that America?"

    At 3:20 PM, Blogger stacey said...

    This note comes from Dell who, as many of us know, in keeping with his dogpatch lifestyle, doesn't have a computer…


    Scavengerhood does not have to be relentless, especially when you can use the same couch for 25 years and still counting…

    At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Patrick O'Hannigan, yes "little pink houses" sure sums up the deluded dream of so many mindless Americans.

    I agree with your statement that there are more alternative lifestyles to "McMansion" living in America, and hope that the Rogue will represent more of these savvy subcultures in the future.

    I wouldn't want to sleep on a ratty old couch, but I loved reading about it. Dell, maybe you could find someone living off the grid, or a college student who lives in a 3 bedroom house with 6 roommates. The more alternative voices to the secure suburban lifestyle the better.

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