Stand down, Saskatoon. Joni Mitchell is getting her stuff back.
About 50 boxes of personal items from Mitchell's childhood home had, since the death of her parents, been stored in the city by family friends. When Mitchell ran out of patience waiting for someone here to build a suitable shrine for the sacred relics, she demanded them back, slagging Saskatoon in the process as an unworthy city of bigots.
Of course, Mitchell is entitled to her opinion, as we are entitled to our opinions of her music and her art. In spite of the cheap shots she has taken at Saskatoon, I, for one, still regard her as the greatest musician who ever missed a chance to perform at Woodstock so she could appear on The Dick Cavett Show.
What's almost as extraordinary is that Mitchell moved away from Saskatoon in 1965 and still had 50 boxes of personal stuff here. That's exactly 49 boxes more than I left at my parents' home when I moved away at around the same age. It is about 38 more boxes of personal stuff than I have now, in my own place. You could take out about a dozen boxes and never know I lived there.
The point is that 50 boxes is a lot. Letting family friends handle all that stuff when her parents died instead of looking after it herself, as is customary, she explains now as a "quick fix." You'd think she would be grateful. Instead she tried to cast as bad guys the people who for years took care of her 50 dusty boxes, enough to fill an extra bedroom. That helps to explain why she has no friends here to lead any kind of effort to honour her.
What will become of Mitchell's old stuff now remains to be seen. She says she has "offers from several universities" that want the collection. It reportedly includes early examples of her writing, scrapbooks kept by her mother and personal items such as her Grade 12 graduation dress. Maybe scholars will study this material for insights into Mitchell's music. Or maybe it will show up one day on Storage Wars in an abandoned Los Angeles storage unit.
"Let's start the bidding at $20!" auctioneer Dan Dotson would say.
"Could be anything in those boxes," Darrell Sheets would say.
"We're bidding on this one," Jarrod would say.
"No we're not," his partner Brandi would say. "Remember those 50 boxes you bought in a unit last year for $1,800. They were filled with papers and old clothes."
Barry Weiss, after arriving at the auction on a rocket-powered unicycle, would sniff around for some kind of clue: "I'm getting a definite musty odour. Whatever is in those boxes, it's old. Unless that's Dave Hester I'm smelling."
Hester would reply with a crack about the size of Weiss's nose. Then the bidding would begin.
If past episodes are any indication, a locker containing 50 sealed boxes would go for about $1,500. Barry probably would buy it. He is the buyer most willing to bet on a dark horse.
"...More papers. More old clothes. Here are some vintage vinyl records ... nothing by Elvis, though. The rest are worth maybe $5 apiece.
I better find something valuable in here if I'm going to break even."
And then, as always happens on Storage Wars: "Wait a minute! Here's something all wrapped up in tissue. What's this?" Then comes a commercial break, so you have to wait to see what Barry found: "I thought it might be fine crystal," he would say, "but it's just an old wicker Chianti bottle with wax crayons melted down the side. Worthless, I'm afraid, unless you're decorating a hippie retirement home."
Even if it was not identified as such, Joni Mitchell's stuff probably would command more attention on Storage Wars than it would anywhere else.
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