Snake Q&A 014: Matthew Schnipper
Records, Danish furniture and standup comedians, Arthur Russell, Michael Tutek
Snake is a weekly newsletter covering severe deals and knowledge, mostly in furniture. For a representative sample, click here for the most recent auction rundown, and here for the most recent designer rundown.
Now at Snake: Every other Friday or so a free interview with a person in good standing of the newsletter whose taste in vintage, furniture, collectibles and adjacent fields is worth celebrating and learning from. Sellers, buyers, set decorators, artists, adjacents, etc…
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Here’s the 14th…
Matt is a writer with a distilled sense of description and emotion. He can explain obscure concepts in a way in a way few others—no one?—can. He’s also a skilled thrifter—he writes occasionally about his descent into this world in his newsletter, and sells vintage, above—and has a wide-ranging and tasteful ear… a very equitable ear. Basically—I’ve never met anyone else in the journalism business who likes Noothgrush… he even had one of their sweatshirts…
Fav flea market?
The Brooklyn Flea when it was in Fort Greene. I heard they had to move out of their location when the Catholic school that hosted them turned their track from concrete into that rubberized material, and didn’t want it to get ruined by people shopping. I also really love the Rose Bowl flea market.
Best flea market day ever—what did you get?
Ornette Coleman Dancing In Your Head T-shirt. It’s double sided!
Best eBay purchase?
A bunch of copies of Nell Zink’s old zine Animal Review from Steve Albini. I’m a huge fan of her novels, and after I found out she did a zine, I set an eBay search alert for it. It took a couple of years until they showed up and when they did, I did not expect them to be from him. He’d been an Animal Review contributor. This was in the mid-’90s and she wrote him a note on one issue, asking him to write again. She made reference to his recent production work on In Utero, said she understood he might be busy.
Best Craigslist find?
In college, DC, I bought a bunch of people’s record collections from Craigslist, usually with a friend. One guy in Dupont Circle had a great disco collection and I’ll never forget my friend Josh got a copy of What Am I Gonna Do? by Gloria Scott. I’m still jealous. The guy had one rule, which was that we could not take any of his Ronnie Spector records, which we didn’t. But the day after we bought everything he somehow couldn’t find them and he called us super pissed. I wonder what happened.
Best LiveAuctioneers find?
I’m pretty much only a lurker. I did buy a huge box of 50s/60s/70s motorcycle magazines on auctionninja.com, though. I have a lot left, if anyone is interested. A couple of months ago I noticed a painting of a yellow lab on a wood cut-out by Woody Jackson. He usually paints cows; he’s the guy who did the original Ben & Jerry’s cows. We have a bunch of his kids books and his wall “cowlender” hanging up next to the refrigerator. I love dogs, and I sent the lab to my wife, more just to show off how cool it was than to suggest we buy it. I forgot about it until a few weeks later; she gave it to me for my birthday.
IG seller account you hang out on/look at their stuff the most?
@capturedephemera It’s run by Mike Sniper, formerly the musician known as Blank Dogs, who also runs the label Captured Tracks and owns a record store by the same name. He posts random stuff for sale, pins, posters, zines, photos. He has great taste.
Thing you most regret passing on?
Arthur Russell flyer with the dog playing cello. It was several hundred dollars. I want to say maybe even closer to $1,000. I couldn’t justify it then. I can now! I believe it was being sold by Arthur Fournier.
Best thing you got for insanely cheap?
Mono test pressing of 13th Floor Elevator’s Easter Everywhere at a yard sale for a dollar. I sold it for a lot of money!
Best thing you overpaid for?
Two signed Joel Meyerowitz books. Proud to own them. I’m a big fan.
Favorite piece of furniture you own?
Custom record shelves from Margot DeMarco. Get your own!
What’s one thing you own that you won’t ever sell?
Original Andrew Kuo painting of Jeremy Lin as Bart Simpson drinking a beer looking at a Damien Hirst basketball in an aquarium with a frowny face.
Piece you have now that you despise and want to replace?
Dumb linen couch that ripped and keeps molting. I also did the unthinkable and had a Henry Rollins Talking From the Box shirt hemmed because it was basically tubular. But they did it so short that now I can’t wear it without the threat of a little belly sticking out. I’d like a new one with a normal length.
Who do you think sold more records: Nelly Furtado or Three 6 Mafia?
Three 6 Mafia.
Secret spot that you love but won’t tell anyone about? (please describe as judiciously as possible while omitting any identifiable characteristics)
Swap Shop in Chatham, MA. Not a secret, but you need a membership sticker to the dump to get in. I don’t find anything great there, but it’s so exciting that everything is free. This summer I got a washed out Ralph Lauren navy blue polo shirt that changed my whole look. I think I’m a Polo guy now.
Rarest/most canon vintage thing you have but never wear?
Milo Goes to College Descendents T-shirt I got signed when I was a teenager. I interviewed Milo a few years ago and had him sign it again.
And a McCann Erickson raincoat? Not sure why this exists but I love it. This interview made me try it on again and it actually fits me pretty well and it's reversible. So maybe I should be wearing it. Thanks, Snake!
Most jealousy-inducing thing you’ve seen? (e.g. I saw a guy in Foremost jeans once in 2012 and I’ve never gotten over it)
Any time I see a tall person wearing nice pants.
Favorite Russian novelist?
Not qualified to speak here.
Is there a field of collecting are you looking to get into in the near future? (Furniture era/paper/autographs/stamps/model trains/computer shirts/90s Harley shirts/digital watches/lighters/slot cars/faberge eggs/Amish quilts etc)
I’d really like to own furniture or sculptures by Tommy Simpson and Stephen Huneck, two incredible folk artists. I have a huge book of Tommy Simpson’s work and I want to touch everything. Stephen Huneck built the Dog Chapel in Vermont which I also hope to visit some day.
What’s the item that’s been on your watchlist the longest without you having pulled the trigger?
Highly recommend the Arthur Pollock photobook put together by his son Jesse Pollock, who runs Unpiano Books.
Is the best vintage/furniture online or in the wild?
I really love the comedian Michelle Buteau. Sometimes in her sets she talks about her Danish husband and the furniture store he owns—Vandermoost Modern. So I’m partial to them, though I’ve never bought anything.
Has all the cool shit been discovered? (Yes or no answer only)
Any more unknown vintage accounts you want to rep or boost? Furniture? (feel free to include local spots)
If you’re in New York, go see Michael Tutek selling clothes on Saturdays in Clinton Hill on Dekalb Avenue between Carlton and Adelphi. No one is kinder and has better taste, or prices. [Can vouch for this — Snake]
SNAKE is a reader- supported publication. To receive regular information about furniture and design, consider becoming a paid subscriber.