THE BLOG
09/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Guided Tour Through the Home of the Author

Right this way, ladies and gentleman. Squeeze on in, if you would, so everyone can get a look. I know it's snug in here, but it was a different time back then, smaller people, smaller doorways. Ha ha. Right, ma'am, as I said already, no cameras please. Flash photography could do damage to the many artifacts and art pieces in the house. Good, thank you. Yes, come on in. Yes, right there by the vacuum cleaner is fine.

Hello everyone, and welcome to the home of Josh Rosenblatt. As you can see, despite the many great things that were accomplished here, the house is a bit on the small side. Surprising, I know, but it does make for a brisk tour. So if you'll kindly give me your complete attention, we should be done in about three minutes, and then we can go get those hot dogs I promised you.

If you had visited this house in Rosenblatt's time, you probably would have been offered a seat on one of the living room's two couches, though most likely you would have chosen to sit on the southern couch, as the couch lining the eastern wall -- you can see it behind the antique microphone stand and the collection of priceless Danish-modern ash-trays -- was usually covered in an assortment of unusual objects, as it is now. Rosenblatt acquired these objects during his occasional trips outside of his home and sometimes even off his street. You'll notice the several empty cardboard boxes and what appears to be a random assortment of unmatched socks and the occasional folded magazine. Rosenblatt, as you know, was a great reader of magazines and often liked to come to this couch and think about how much he'd enjoy sitting on it and reading his magazines if it weren't always covered in socks and old cardboard boxes.

In 2006, Rosenblatt purchased this coffee table from the noted Swedish furniture craftsman Ikea. He would often move the table on a whim; over the years it was used as an ironing board, a stand for an antique Tahitian box fan, a chair for prominent guests, and once, at a gathering in Autumn 2007, a make-shift stage for one of Rosenblatt's erotic scarf-dances.

The kitchen, with its elegant laminate floor, is the room that most closely resembles what it was when Rosenblatt lived there. You'll notice that there is still ketchup in the refrigerator and a banana peel in the garbage can. The microwave still bares the burn marks from a now-famous incident in 2008 when Rosenblatt misread the instructions on a packet of frozen french fries and nearly burned the house to the ground. After the incident, Rosenblatt never used the microwave again. In fact, he never took the plate of charred french fries out of the microwave, possibly in the hope that one day future generations of visitors, like yourselves, might learn from his mistakes. Either that or he just forgot they were in there. Scholars still debate the topic.

From the small window on the northern kitchen wall (which Rosenblatt cracked himself by hand in the spring of 2008) we get a gorgeous view of the home's quarter-acre lot, complete with Rosenblatt's cherished brown grass and one of the finest concrete slabs in all of East Austin. Over the protests of friends and family members, Rosenblatt -- an avid gardener and horticulturist -- decided to keep the natural integrity of his property intact throughout his stay here, rarely mowing the yard and never planting any flora that wasn't there when he first moved in. Shaking off criticism that he was wasting a beautiful yard that was so full of potential and could have served as a charming meeting place for guests on cool fall evenings, Rosenblatt was resolute in his belief that what grew naturally in his yard was the will of the almighty and so to alter the landscape would have been an implicit declaration that somehow God wasn't perfect in every way. A man of faith and simple modesty, Rosenblatt never would have presumed such a thing and so left his yard the way it was, even going so far -- you will see back there by the east fence -- as to leave untouched stray pieces of newspaper that had flown into the yard and the crack pipe left behind by a local prostitute before the Great Gate Reconstruction of 2006.

This way, please.

Rosenblatt's bedroom is a testament to the owner's love of minimalism in interior design. Bare walls were a fashionable decorative motif at the beginning of the 21st century, as was a bunched-up terrycloth bathrobe splattered in blue paint and thrown in the corner.

The library, at the time famous for its 23rd-edition copies of both What Makes Makes Sammy Run and The Moon and Sixpence (in whose margins can still be read some of Rosenblatt's greatest literary observations, including "How true," "Remember to re-read this page," and "I wonder if they serve donuts here"), can be seen near the head of the bed, under Rosenblatt's collection of rare clock radios and paper scraps. In honor of his hero, Thomas Jefferson, Rosenblatt often declared his intention to donate his collection of 34 volumes to the Library of Congress, but with the recession of late 2008 nearly decimating the household income, he was forced to sell most of his most prized volumes to a local collector, who was kind enough to give him 65 dollars and a ticket to a jazz concert taking place in the store later that evening, a concert Rosenblatt forgot about upon arriving at the liquor store 13 minutes later.

Finally we come to Rosenblatt's office, where most of his greatest pieces were written. The desk stands exactly as it did when Rosenblatt last worked there. Those are his actual cigarette butts; that is his actual stack of half-finished Daily Jumbles; those are his actual salt and pepper shakers (historians have yet to figure out how or why they ended up in his office); and that is the very window he was gazing out of when he came up with the idea for Mumbly the Lawn Chair, the cartoon creation for which he is still, to this the day, most famous.

Writing was the great joy of Rosenblatt's life, and the meaning and delight he found there, I believe, can serve as an inspiration for us all. It was here in this very room that he famously told a friend and literary colleague, "If I have to write another sentence I'm going to shoot myself in the head."

Would that we could all be so fulfilled.

This way for the hot dogs, ladies and gentlemen.