hi gang - back in the saddle again, ready to lead you all on another foray into the oft frightening, always beguiling world of the secondhand. happy to be back, hope you all missed me terribly in the pits of your cockles or wherever feelings like that come from. fair warning - any stragglers may be eaten.
before we get down to brass tacks (what the hell does that phrase even mean? anyone know? i could look it up but it falls under the category of "things that i kind of enjoy not knowing the full meaning of" so i can't make myself google it), a couple stray bits of business.
1. "count chocula" took the "if you had to bring one monster themed cereal with you to a desert island" poll, which wrapped up earlier in the month, to no one's great surprise. always the most popular, widely consumed and most beloved of the monster-themed cereals (well i guess that depends on if you consider captain crunch a monster, but that's neither here nor there), it was pretty much the count's show, although i was definitely impressed with boo berry's strong showing, being my secret dark horse favorite, only because he looks like a complete lush. i felt bad for old frankenberry however, receiving a whopping goose egg of zero votes for his trouble...i know he looks like a moron but he might be entertaining at parties. oh well, better luck next time. the new poll, available for your perusal on the right hand side of your screen, is favorite wine for under $5 a bottle. along with the old favorites of ripple, night train, and thunderbird, i've thrown in "two buck chuck" from trader joe's, and aldi's "owl brand", at a friend's suggestion. i know there are a kaleidoscope of other brands (boone's farm, etc) and flavors out there, but i didn't want it to take up TOO much space so if you don't see your favorite on the list, just pick the next best thing and if you don't have much experience in the world of depressingly cheap "wine" then just picture yourself with a fiver in your hand, wanting to tie one on and looking at a list of names...which do you choose? poll wraps up mid-june. i'd be lying if i said i wasn't excited to see what everyone thinks.
2. i was interviewed this past monday for a special section of the commercial appeal, memphis' last bastion of journalistic integrity (blatant lie), for a section that should be published sometime soon about local bloggers. i had a nice chat with a nice young lady and then someone took my picture a couple times. it'll probably be a disaster. i'll keep you posted.
okay, here we go. time to make the donuts. despite my loud proclamations of intent to tackle summer ave first thing upon my return to m-town (that's my new term of endearment for memphis from now on...feel free to ignore it and never use it. everyone else will too), some scheduling conflicts and a friend in from out of town led to a rare sunday outing, limiting our choices to the few scattered stores that keep sunday hours, mainly goodwills, park ave and a couple others BUT FEAR NOT! one of our favorite stores is open on sunday, so we took this opportunity to hit up the amvets on elvis presley boulevard and drive past graceland, scoffing, with my old friend (and bandmate) from college, mr. david riposo!
here we are rolling three deep (i'm obviously not pictured, that would take some sort of wacky 180 degree camera lens...that, or just holding the damn thing at arm's length, which i never think to do) in the parking lot. wifetimus prime (god i missed that woman) on the left, riposo on the right. just so no one's confused.
they had, to put it mildly, a sh*tting f*ckton of exercise equipment. there was, for starters, this obviously broken weight machine, which i cannot for the life of me fathom why anyone would bother dragging all the way down to donate when it's clearly never going to work again. i mean it's not like they repair the f*cking things in the back! you'd think the huge "ALL ITEMS SOLD AS-IS" sign would be a pretty clear indicator that if you bring something broken in it's going to stay that way. i'm not unfamiliar with the concept of people buying things on the cheap and then fixing them up themselves or anything, but do you really see that happening with a gigantic pec fly machine that's missing numerous pieces of equipment, because i seriously don't.
also had this stairmaster. didn't try it out though, so i can't say conclusively exactly how broken it is. for argument's sake let's just say it's a "little" broken. i've always had this odd phobia about seriously injuring myself on one of these damn things (don't ask why, i have no idea) even in prime working order, so i was not about to climb on top of this presumably malfunctioning deathtrap and go for a ride. i'll leave the "climbing on top of presumably malfunctioning deathtraps and going for a ride" to my wife BAZING wait what?
this fairly busted looking exercise bike, seen in the background of the preceding photo, really got my attention though, for some odd reason. it had that je ne sais quoi, as the dirty stinking french like to say, that busted up stuff in thrift stores has to me, at times, that almost irresistible pull, like it seems to be saying "i know i'm pretty beat up looking, but don't i look like i'd be fun to take home and play with for a while? come on, i'm cheap, just pick me up and we can go" which is a line of thought that used to get me in a fair amount of trouble at bars back in my single days, so i've gotten pretty good at resisting it, but still. maybe it's the broken speedometer, or the crud stuck in between the little rubber ridges of the handgrips but i kind of wanted this thing. i thought i could get in shape with it. i could see a whole little scenario playing out in my head for how it would work and everything...i think i've come up with a name for this particular delusion: when you see something in a thrift store and even though it's broken or obviously doesn't fit or is just stupid and not worth what they're charging or whatever but you still irrationally want it and think about it and try to justify buying it? that sensation? thrift goggles. that's what i'm calling it from now on. copyright me 2008
none of this stuff had prices on it, by the way, which i think is more of a function of the inability of the back room guys to even begin to guess how much to charge for a chewed up old exercise bike than anything else. here's the requisite bag of old golf clubs. two bags, actually. make that three. to be honest there were about two more on the floor off to the right but i gave up trying to frame the whole thing so i could get them all in there and just settled for this. yeah yeah yeah, diane arbus i'm not. my old photography professors would be so proud. also not pictured: pile of unusably warped wooden tennis rackets, the stray hockey stick here and there, various other busted junk that always occupies this part of the floor space, inexplicably. oh also sorry for the blurriness of some of these pictures. technical snafu on my part, your vision's not going, i promise. anyway gimme a break i've been off for the better part of this last month, i'm not going to get EVERYTHING right on the first trip back out...jesus what do you people want from me, blood? actually i might be able to do that.
and this, while technically NOT a piece of "athletic equipment" per se, is traditionally used to spectate athletic events from a stationary, seated position, and bears the imprint of world's second best selling beer of the 1960's, so how could you not love it? i know i did, and if i were the type to spend too much money on a ticket to watch overpaid jocks do some regimented physical procedure repeatedly in an outdoor arena, i would have snatched it up and brought it with me to my next major sporting event of choice, and sat my skinny white ass on it, in between trips to buy another seven dollar beer and/or wait 20 minutes in line for the f*cking bathroom. oh, and something about peanuts and cracker jack too. moving on
were AMAZING! i think they were like two bucks, and i would have snatched them up in a heartbeat but for a couple reasons, outlined here.
1. i think the fairly dangerous alcohol quotient of any drink i would put one of these little puppies in would probably strip off the gold plating almost immediately, leaving it to float in my drink and potentially be consumed by me, which i'm just not into the whole "chemistry experiment" aspect of. i mean i love goldschlager as much as the next guy, actually probably about as much as the next three guys put together, but there are some chances i just don't really want to take if i don't have to...knamean?
2. also speaking of things ending up in my drink, i'm not entirely sure that "that Old West flavor" is something i want to taste on a semi-regular basis. i lived in texas for three years of my life and did everything i could to keep it from ending up in my drinks...why would i deliberately start putting it in there now? on the list of "states that i think i would like the taste of," it's way towards the bottom, right near west virginia and new jersey. topping the list? vermont, hawaii, and oregon. i'll publish the whole list at some point in the future, just for everyone's perusal, i promise.
don't know what to say about these, just that they're awesome. the viking and the kaiser, side by side. erik the red and freaking otto von bismarck, right there together for your amusement. a little unwieldy for coffee cups, a little on the small side for beer steins, maybe you could put your spare pencils in them or something, i don't know. just, they're awesome and someone with more space in their cabinets and disposable income than me should buy them. full disclosure, my family background (what little of it i know for certain) is primarily norwegian and german so i'm a little biased, but come on! who wouldn't love to be able to show these off to any unsuspecting person who stumbles by your kitchen/cubicle/panel van with all the windows blacked out at 3:30 in the morning in a darkened alleyway? lords knows i have, i mean i would.
can someone tell me when these caught on? as a recent transplant to memphis i don't want to assume i know anything about what was going on here before i arrived but have these been around for a while? when did perry ellis start making sneakers anyway? what's with the color scheme? i've met and/or seen quite a few people wearing these exact shoes or ones much like them all over town even since i showed up and it kind of baffles and confuses me, although as i've mentioned in this space before i'm hardly a fashion plate so maybe it's just another one of those "color/style/basic fashion sense" things that i just seem to genetically lack, somehow. maybe my wife can explain. if these were my size i probably would have bought them though, just to blend in around here. and by "blend in" i of course mean "get my ass kicked up and down the street all over town any time i wore them."
back to housewares for just a second, just to point out that although this is neither a wolf nor a bald eagle, i'm going to just go ahead and lump it in with the category of "things that indisputably prove the validity of a thrift store," for reasons i can't entirely explain...it just feels right. this is a snow leopard, by the way.
okay tangent time, speaking of leopards, here's wifeapalooza holding a skirt that combines two things that, in my relatively underdeveloped eye, need never meet: leopard print and big flowers. anyone else getting cataracts just looking at this abomination, or am i completely off base here? she was thinking about buying it so it must hold a certain type of appeal, and like i keep saying i'm no authority on fashion, so i'm asking here instead of stating i suppose: is this as much of a mess as it looks like to me? ?
okay focus man, let's get back on track here. lots of cool and potentially useful electronics here, like these two bread makers for 1.50 a piece, one of which we ended up taking home. i broke one of my cardinal rules and came here specifically looking for something, which usually means that there is no chance you'll find it, but they had so much stuff out on the floor (gearing up for their 1/2 off sale on memorial day, which must have been a complete bloodbath) that it actually worked out. we ended up taking home a bread maker, and a nice little vcr. more on that later.
anyone else remember this guy? i had to explain to my buddy david (who, unlike me, apparently didn't grow up with a nintendo controller glued to his hand - i guess his parents wanted him to be a useful, productive member of society instead of a socially warped miscreant whose whole system of references revolves around video games and obscure british sitcoms. love ya mom and dad!) that there was a pretty substantial backlash in the mid/late eighties against nintendo for not being "educational" enough (i know, as if you can't learn everything important that there is to know about life from "river city ransom" - pah! i know, thanks to that game, that if i run up to a total stranger and jump kick him in the face, he'll loudly exclaim "BARF!" and a pile of loose change will fall to the ground. so do these guys, apparently) and a number of smaller companies cranked out ill-conceived "educational" gaming systems that of course totally crashed and burned, leaving behind a delightful pile of cultural wreckage for all of us to play around in, including this particular beauty - the "socrates" console. boy, nothing's gonna hold a kid's attention more than a gaming console named after the father of western philosophy! god, i miss the eighties sometimes. if only someone would make a monotonous, endlessly repetitive series of television shows examining the minor cultural detritus of past decades and show it on a television network that ostensibly claims to be about music, all my problems would be solved. if only.
fun, kitschy, retro "vertical broiler" (back from before conventional ovens came equipped with a horizontal one i assume?) for $5. one good question that riposo and mrs. nielsen both had, however, that i couldn't answer to anyone's satisfaction...where do all the bread crumbs and meat juices and other assorted debris go, exactly? there's no tray to pull out like a toaster, nothing we could see or discern to prevent, oh i don't know, let's say big puddles of fish-based oil and grease from just collecting inside the machine or, god forbid, flowing out all over the damn counter and floor and who even knows where? still, fun to look at.
also, you want to talk outdated technology? how about this first-gen microwave (which i think they actually talked about on an episode of "i love the 80s" once if i remember correctly) for an, in my opinion, overpriced $12. as my friend david said "i think i'm getting a tumor just looking at this thing."
okay so here we are at the vcr dilemma. that's what i wrote in my notebook at the time, so that's what i'm calling this section, "VCR DILEMMA." one of the things that i was the most tickled to discover in memphis was the mighty black lodge video store, which, if you've not been, is definitely one of the best things going in this town. said discovery led me to cancel my netflix membership in favor of renting from this fine local institution, whose collection incorporates a fairly high percentage of vhs tapes, a technology i left in the dust many years ago myself, as did nearly everyone else, in favor of dvd. so i resolved to go and get a cheap vcr from...you know where i'm going with this. anyway i found one that looked pretty recently manufactured and functional for, something like 6.98. sleek, small, black, made by a company whose name i at least recognized, it seemed to cover all the important bases, at least as far as i was concerned, vcr-wise. then i saw this baby. for a paltry TWO DOLLARS MORE, i could have taken home this sherman tank of a videocassette recorder, with its impressive array of dials
and switches and buttons, doing lord only knows what
aside from tickling my imagination and fancy, of course. but in the end i relented and went with the cheaper model that was literally half the size of this thing, and in my heart of hearts knew i was completely selling out, but couldn't make myself pay two dollars more for something twice the size of what i was holding that looked about as old as i am and probably had half the chance of working correctly, at least in the traditional "videotape playing" capacity. riposo made the point (valid, i think) that before they'd really streamlined and perfected the technology, they used to sort of over-engineer these kinds of things so they ran like tanks, literally, in the lumbering and unstoppable sense, the way that some older cars will run literally forever with the right kinds of maintenance, which gave me pause, to be sure, but i think i made the right decision. we'll have to see. anyway, there you go. my vcr dilemma.
which leads me to the (next to) last thing i wanted to cover - TONS of 45s here, i never really noticed how many, unfortunately all well-used and out of their sleeves, so finding anything in this mishmash of scratches and cracks is probably unlikely, but for 79 cents a piece might be worth a little digging. i didn't really have time this particular day, but maybe this image will inspire someone else - donny osmond nothwithstanding, of course:
with all this talk of the 80s and old video games and whatnot, i'd be remiss if i didn't mention the AWESOME playchoice 10 machine they have here, over in the "snack area" (which as i think i said in my first post about this place, is basically just two vending machines and a couple of tables) - this bad boy has some classics on it, anything from punch-out to super mario 2/3, to the original tecmo bowl, still one of my favorite sports games of all time. i can't honestly counsel anyone to drive all the way down here just to play this damn thing, but if you ever find yourself in the vicinity of graceland and like me, get all nostalgic at the thought of sending ol' Glass Joe to the canvas with a few well-placed uppercuts, you have a place to go.
and i guess that'll just about do it for this week. mi esposa (that's espanol) snagged her usual good-sized sack of clothes, mi riposo (that's not espanol) picked up like a t-shirt to commemorate his visit to our fair city, and i think i just left it at the bread maker and the vcr - seemed random enough to me. i wasn't kidding earlier - it is really great to be back here and back to the project at hand after three weeks of the twilight zone that is syracuse...i had fun but by the end all i could think of was getting back here to the missus, and of course the thrift stores. the newspaper thing was an unexpected surprise but sort of confirmed my suspicion that the blog scene (god i hate even calling it that) around here is bigger than many of us probably realize. i feel sort of proud (again, lame, i know) to be a part of that, on whatever level, not that a few inches of column space and a little headshot in the local paper is exactly the apex of fame and fortune that i (or anyone else) aspire(s) to...it's just neat, that's all.
i do this, like nearly everyone else, for free, and in my spare time, so getting any sort of return on that investment is a very pleasant surprise. i was asked a great question, that i'll endeavor to reproduce here just in case it doesn't end up in the final wash: the woman who was interviewing me asked "what's the most satisfying thing you get from doing all this?" and i was really tempted to say anything from "the feeling of a job well done" to "knowing that in some small way, i'm making a difference" to "pussy" (just to see the look on her face...glad i held my tongue there) but i told her "honestly, it's the attention and the positive feedback" which is, embarassingly, the truth. in my more delusionally grandiose moments i convince myself that the work i'm doing here (every great once in a while it feels like work...hate to say it) might actually make a little bit of difference in the world, and yeah it's nice to look over an entry and feel like i did a good job, but more than anything i do this to entertain people and get their attention and praise for doing so, and i don't necessarily feel like i need to apologize for that, even though it sounds really oddly immature to say it so plainly. i hope i crack you up, i hope you (whoever the hell you even are) find this entertaining and diverting and that if it does make you think at all at any moments, that's only AFTER (and secondary to, and largely because of how much) it makes you laugh. i wouldn't have it any other way.
okay enough blathering. be back next week with (hopefully) the first leg of my sojourn into the shangri-la of memphis' thrift scene (hell if we can have a "blog scene" i guess we can have a "thrift scene" too)...summer ave. thanks for reading and i hope you all sleep the pleasant dreamless sleep of the truly content.