before i get started this week, i'd just like to take a second and mention some of the other very interesting and informative blogs that cover what's up in memphis better than i am at all qualified to, and allow me the luxury of traipsing around the secondhand stores like the dandy fop that i am instead of actually, you know, relaying relevant information. definitely check them out if you want to some news about memphis that doesn't involve willie herenton's shenanigans (and shenanigans they are, make no mistake about it - i'm officially going to start referring to our mayor as "T.J. Shenanigans" from now on, if anyone cares) or the memphis basketball tigers (they're doing rather well in some sort of tournament or other, in case you haven't heard)
okay, time for this week's update, blogvestigating (i just made that word up, can you tell) the two thrift emporiums on elvis presley boulevard, or, as i've taken to calling it (in my head, i've never actually said it out loud:
THE KING AND (amy and) I
that's right! due to some scheduling hoohah at work, i ended up with the day off on saturday, so i was afforded the pleasure of my (life) partner in crime's company, which is always nice.
thass my dogg
anyway first stop today was the hilariously named "Shadows of Treasuries" store, on elvis presley boulevard. i should pause here for a moment and mention that i have no great love for elvis, and, having no real roots or history in memphis (yet), don't feel the same pull or affection towards the whole "king" mythology that some people seem to. i don't hate the guy or anything, i just am a lot more excited about a lot of other things. with that in mind, i'd just like to say if the king really does "live on" in graceland, as it says on the signs, billboards, sides of buses, etc, then he could really stand to clean up his neighborhood a little bit because elvis presley boulevard is a freaking dump. it made me laugh to consider that there are probably more than a few people out there who have only ever come to memphis for the express purpose of going to graceland and perhaps never left the immediate area, so the general shabbiness of presley blvd is all the impression of memphis that they got. made me a little sad, too.
ANYWAY sorry about all this off-topic rambling. i'd say it's going to stop but i wouldn't want to make any promises i can't keep. the shadows of treasuries store (i just love saying that name) definitely fits right in with the surrounding neighborhood. in a word, i would call it "hella dirty." since "hella" is not an actual word (yet - if "bootylicious" made it into the oxford english dictionary it's only a matter of time before "hella" does too) i don't think it should count towards my total.
this was an extremely common sight. probably about seven or eight different places where the ceiling tiles had given way entirely and water was falling through at a fairly alarming rate into any number of huge plastic storage bins. this lends the whole place a certain dank, cavernous atmosphere that while soothing in a primordial, genetic-memory type of way, is not necessarily what i'd call "hygenic" or "anything other than gross." i am, i'd like to think, more intrepid than your average thriftgoer and even i was a little turned off by the funkiness quotient of this place. my notebook says "almost too dirty," which raises the amusing question of whether there's a thrift store out there that i'd fault for being "not dirty enough." cross that particular bridge when we come to it i guess
it's not an entirely lost cause though - the prices on books were pretty reasonable, and i managed to snag this literary masterpiece:
along with this other stuff
a clubbable woman, by the way, not a biography of ann coulter as i had originally surmised
also saw the straight up butt ugliest edition of "return of the king" that i have ever seen in my life, hands down. there are a fair amount of different publications and editions of tolkien's work floating around secondhandland, you might not be surprised to know, and they vary in quality and general sturdiness, not to mention how well they do justice to the work contained therein, but this one just flat out floored me with its general hideousness (hideosity?). i almost spontaneously burst into applause when i saw it, it was so ugly. that it would stand out for its ugliness in a store that was so full of ugly shit (and people - i'll get to that later) is remarkable in the first place, but...i don't know, i'm just flabbergasted, kind of at a loss for words. moving on
in the interest of fairness i should say that the pricing scheme definitely compensates for the general shabbiness of the store - a quick review of some prices i noted:
ladies "wear" (basically everything but like evening gowns and maybe coats i think) $2 a piece
sport coats $4 each
mens suits $10
evening gowns (hey - some people actually buy these things, just ask my wife) $4
and they have some of the weirdest crap i've ever seen, like this engine diagnostic machine thingy (wow surprise of all surprises, i'm not a gearhead - who knew?)
and mountains and mountains, i mean just literally shitting fuckloads of carpet rolls. this was one corner. there were at least three other piles like this in other parts of the store. really weird, overall just an oddly industrial bent to the variety of crap that was lying around, which fit nicely with the grubby, post-apocalyptic, mad max beyond thunderdome vibe that was going on in the place
tons of furniture (did i mention how huge this place is? it's huge) which, i was amused to note, was available on layaway, which is i think a first for me - a thrift store that offers layaway. furniture being the one place where even the most reasonable thrift stores kind of go off the deep end in terms of pricing, i wasn't surprised to see these bed units rolling out at around $150/250 a pop. not that they're not nice, but i would imagine the price is a large part of why they've been there at least since the first time i came to the store, which was eight months ago.
oh, and the fruit table. the fruit table is $100. someone should go and get the fruit table. it is a cornucopia of fruity tabley goodness. it tastes good to look at.
didn't really know how to work these into the narrative but i couldn't resist throwing them in there somewhere - just a good example of the eclectic nature of the selection of stuff here - weight belts, another thing i've never seen for sale in a thrift store before, and these "hippity hop" placemats are so cute it makes me want to punch someone.
usual litany of stereo equipment, more speakers than anywhere i've been so far though, so if you, like me, find yourself in need of a nice pair of sturdy speakers, this would be the place to look. didn't think to check prices (d'oh) but i would imagine they're pretty reasonable, considering.
records 1.99 each - best selection i've seen so far. not GREAT by any standards, just the best i've encountered.
okay, so. in reference to my "ugly people" comment earlier, as i was making the rounds taking pictures and notes and forming the basis for all these scintillatingly insightful comments you're reading, there was a family - what looked to be a little kid (4/5ish? i'm bad at guessing ages), his older brother (maybe 13), the kid's mom (late 30s maybe) and grandmother (who knows). now i've kind of developed an ability to tune people out, over years of working in the service industry and bumming around secondhand stores for fun (god just writing that out makes me realize how insane it is), but this woman (the grandmother) was just being so insanely over the top mean to the little kid that i had to restrain myself from going over and asking her to chill the fuck out a little.
now, i try to have sympathy for parents. i'm sure dealing with kids every day really has a way of turning even the most good natured among us into homicidal psychopaths. hell, ten minutes with your average toddler in enough to send me stampeding for the nearest cocktail, but honestly, i was standing right there and this kid was not doing anything more inappropriate than trying to talk to his older brother and maybe walk around and look at some shit on the racks, and this woman was just SCREAMING at him nonstop, most of which the kid of course didn't understand because he's like four or three or something. it was just nuts.
in the interest of full disclosure, this family was black (mrs. wife and i were two of the three white people in the building, as an observational aside) and the whole "being super mean to little kids" thing, while not exclusively limited AT ALL to black folks, is definitely a more frequent phenomenon among them, in my experience, which leads me to wonder if it's not just a cultural thing that i don't really get because it's not where i came from. i tread a little lightly around all of this for probably no good reason, it's just, growing up in the northeast there weren't many opportunities to talk about race so i'm not what you'd call "good" at it, if there is even such a thing. living in texas for 3 years and now in memphis is turning out to be a wonderfully educational crash course though.
my point, if there is one, is that it shouldn't be that hard to understand why you end up with generation after generation of grown men (of all races) that dress and act like overgrown adolescents with permanent sneers stapled to their faces when you start off with kids that are just taking all manner of verbal (and who the hell even knows what other kinds of) abuse all day long, in public, for the great and egregious sin of just hanging around and being a little kid. i'd like to think i owe my usually somewhat sunny disposition (don't laugh) in large part to the fact that, uncool though it may make me, my parents were actually pretty nice to me most of the time. does that make any sense? i hope it does. not trying to oversimplify the whole issue or pretend to have answers i don't...just wanted to rant about it all for a minute.
one other thing happened that was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back for the "shadows" and me, and i didn't get any pictures of it so i fear that no one is going to believe me. while i was walking over to look at the records, a guy i've seen downtown at work before hitting people up for money comes walking up to me with no shoes on (just his little stocking feet - so adorable) and starts ASKING ME FOR MONEY so he can buy shoes! now i've been to a fair amount of salvation army stores where the odds were pretty good that you would get hit up for change on your way in, or out, or both, and you take the presence of homeless/deranged/generally just NEEDY people as a sort of occupational hazard of this particular area of interest, but actually getting bummed on INSIDE THE STORE was just kind of a stunner for me. anyway needless to say i passed on that particular investment opportunity, stunned as i was, and here's where it gets even better...so mister stocking feet goes up to the lady at the counter and starts hitting HER up for money for a pair of shoes! and she doesn't even kick him out, she just tell him she can't help him!
i was cracking up at the whole thing on one hand, and on the other i was like "okay that's it, time to hit the road." i don't have too many deal breakers when it comes to the whole thrift store experience, but shoeless vagrants panhandling you with the staff's tacit approval is kind of where i draw the line. sorry if that makes me the uptight white jerk who can't look past a little "local flavor" to appreciate something cool. i still plan on going back to the place, for chrissakes, that was just a pretty clear signal that THAT day's visit was over. i rounded up wifey mcwiferton, and books (and a few nice clothes finds on her end) in hand, we paid up and hit the road, only spotting this pinnacle of artistic greatness as we were already headed out, or else i would have given serious thought to bringing it home
jesus was black. everyone knows this, right? we're all clear on the fact that jesus was black? well guess what SO WERE ALL THE APOSTLES BAM did i just blow your mind?
sorry, again, for all the off-topic rambling this time out. more funny pictures and less HUGE blocks of text next time i promise
5 books + 5 articles of clothing for wife who is called wife - $15 or thereabouts
Shadow of Treasuries
4000 Elvis Presley Blvd
Memphis, TN 38116
i don't trust those hours 100% though so probably call first. the guy on the phone told me they were leaving at 4 that day, so...who the hell knows, really
no sales or specials that i could see - that would require a level of organization that just isn't happening here at all
music: pop soul blasting out a radio, kind of fit in nicely with the vibe of the place
okay, pressing on to the amvets up the street. see you there.