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Famed Santa Monica prop house and curiosity shop prepares to shutter

May 23, 2010 |  9:14 am

The window- cleaning bill at Main Street shop Jadis in Santa Monica must be huge. So many people have leaned against the glass to peer at Parke Meek's seldom-open, oddity-packed domain. The word jadis in French refers to a period that is romantically distant. In Meek's crowded aisles, the romance includes the future as well as the past. Is that a Tesla coil hulking in the shadows? Do the aged black telephones work?

Part old curiosity shop, mainly a prop house, Jadis is a monument to Meek's lifelong fascination with the improbable possible.

The Tesla coil is a scale model, but a real cabinet generator designed by the visionary Nikola Tesla — father of alternating current, inventor of remote radio-controlled devices in the 1890s, before anyone had a radio — sits just inside the door.

Collectors nurse the hope that something of their spirit flows into their hodgepodge. Certainly Meek, who died in early January at 86, remains a presence in the darkened store.

Read the full story here.

--Ariel Swartley

Susan Lieberman inside the store. Accumulation was as important to Meek as invention. As he put it to one interviewer, "The one who dies with the most useless junk wins." Photo: (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)