8/28/08 - Amvets Presley Blvd

hi gang - thanks for joining us again on a gray sunday afternoon's voyage to the amvets store on elvis presley boulevard. now that i've thankfully rejoined the working world, my thrifting schedule will be cast into chaos for a short while, so forgive me in advance if posts become sporadic, mangled, or insane. rest assured some kind of equilibrium will be achieved, at some point down the line. i suppose sometimes that's the best you can manage, right? anyway on with the show

and it's a doo-hoo-hoozy of a show today, as we (my lovely assistant WANDA a.k.a. my wife) and i were called upon to convene for a 90's party, centered around the television show "My So Called Life," which some of you may remember with any degree of fondness, revulsion, or (most appropriately) apathy and disillusionment, my personal fave. we took it upon ourselves to pick up the swankiest nineties duds we could get our hands on, and where better to do so than the thrift store, right? i had a blast rifling through all the flannel, trying vainly to call to mind how anyone could have ever regarded this the height of fashion but then again what the hell did we know, right?

we were just kids! we didn't know this shit made us look like idiots! what did we know about chopping down trees? nothing!

you get the point. lots of flannel. flannel everywhere. on the list of "ubiquitous things that are at every thrift store on the face of the planet," flannel is right up there with ugly paintings, broken toasters, and cosby sweaters in terms of prominence. it really did bring back memories though, of the time in my life when my love affair with secondhand culture began in earnest, and i could still see this stuff with a fresh set of eyes, like it must be for a lot of people on their first few trips. sometimes i wish i could have that newness back a little, still have no idea what to expect, but in a way being however familiar i am (and i'm no expert, at all) with what you're likely to find at most thrift stores just makes the surprises all the more pleasant and unexpected.

so, flannel shirt in hand, we move on to the next crucial component of the 90's ensemble: ironic t-shirt, preferably from a sports team you don't belong to. there are different schools of thought about the most effective method of communicating ironic detachment, existential malaise, and general apathy in t-shirt form. some people lean towards the "band i hate but pretend to like because it's funny" end of the spectrum, or the "random phrase that makes no sense relative to my situation" (world's greatest grandma, etc) area, but i've always felt a good old fashioned christian softball jersey really hits the sweet spot - simultaneously taking religion, organized sports, and the concept of dressing yourself in a way that makes any fucking sense at all down a peg. take that! you showed 'em

there were several contenders. i'll post a pic of the finished ensemble below and let you judge for yourself. in the meantime, i'll just say that i couldn't get this one because i actually did think third grade was kind of cool. rule number one of good old fashioned nineties style irony: never mean what you say, and never under ANY circumstances say what you mean. write that down. or not. whatever

i don't get this one but i thought i would include it because i think it is hilarious

same here, although this one is clearly TRYING to be funny, so it loses a couple points off the top for sincerity. still. little anthropomorphic fire extinguisher man. brilliant

and of course it wouldn't be a trip to the amvets without one pricelessly perfect vintage old computing system, this one still in the box, looking basically untouched since its heyday

ladies and gentlemen i give you the texas instruments ti-99/4a model, original retail price $525 in the grand old year of 1981, now selling for a whopping seven dollars i think, plugs directly into your tv, i swear to you if there had been any cartridges lying around and i wasn't so frighteningly broke i would have snapped this puppy up in less than a heartbeat

so if these pictures are making you drool like the sight of this thing did to me, then get down there, fool, because it's probably still on the shelf. here is some background info. can i come over and play with it sometime?

moving on, the usual outlay of hilarious kitchen crap from decades past...i guess there was a time when grinding your own beef at home was kind of an appealing idea or something? i was actually kind of tempted to snag this thing, just as much for the fact that it's one of those vacuum seal jobbers that supposedly, if you can get it to work, sticks to your kitchen counter with a near-immovable force while you blissfully grind away whatever meats or meatlike substances you might have lying around

and it is a very attractive shade of orange

insert your own sophomoric "grinding your own beef as crude sexual euphemism" joke here

BAWWWWWW i got this for my wife. truer words were never spoken by a small plastic ornament

slick little set of thermos-style modular little mugs...i would say "i need a bigger kitchen" but really if i picked up every neat little cup and appliance and glass set that i saw from week to week my god damn kitchen would have to be the size of a football stadium just to hold it all.

the small amount of vomit that you'll find rising into the back of your mouth right now is brought to you by the anne geddes corporation

i actually kind of liked these, somewhat

so yeah this is ostensibly supposed to be about books, to one degree or another, right? here is what i found. a proverbial sh*tting f*ckton of teenage supernatural fiction, and by "teenage" i mean both aimed at, and in some cases actually written by teenagers. this particular author, one "Amelia Atwater-Rhodes" was first published at the tender age of THIRTEEN OMG and is apparently like the Anne Rice of the pubescent set or something. they had about nine of her books, all of which appeared to plumb pretty much the same territory

and so on

along with a bunch of really regrettable "Y/A MONSTER FIC" like this one..."monster blood tattoo?" really? monster blood tattoo? anyway i'd be lying if i said i gave this stuff the closer examination that it probably merits, but seriously

look at this crap. even at my most morbidly curious i don't think i could slog through more than a few pages of this nonsense before i succumbed to advanced this-is-so-awful-my-pelvis-just-spontaneously-exploded-itis. it's a real disease, look it up. go on

it just goes on and on, too! there were probably like maybe twenty of these things, which leads one to wonder, as i often do, "how does all this stuff get here?" did someone's bible thumping mom just have a jesus fit and decide to pitch all her angsty teenager's completely harmless and benign monster books because they feared a secret satanic influence? and if so, how much would you pay to see a video of the hissy fit that the kid threw when they found out? ooh i bet you've never seen so many doors slammed in your life

for my part, if i found this stuff all over my kid's book shelves, i think i would probably take them out back and have a nice long talk about the birds and the bees and the kids with way way too much eyeshadow...then i'd show them a picture of robert smith without any makeup on...then i'd put the collected works of h.p. lovecraft into a blender, liquefy it and pour it down their throat while i beat them about the head and shoulders with a claw hammer. i am in no rush at all to be a parent.

just for the record, and not to sound like too much of a cranky old man here, but back in my day if you were 11 years old and you wanted to read about monsters, this is what you got. and we liked it!

so books were kind of a bust this time out. no big deal, i got a ton of great stuff the last time we were here. let's try the records...any luck there?


no luck at all.

unless you count thirty (seriously) copies of "born not sworn" by AMBUSH as luck, in which case i hit the god damned jackpot. i know what everyone's getting as a stocking stuffer this year!...

you think i'm kidding

as a random aside that has nothing to do with anything, we picked up three or four good-sized canvas totes for not more than a buck for each of them, to assuage our sorely worn ecological consciences at the embarrassing amount of plastic we generate just from going to the grocery store each week, and it occurred to me to recommend that you all do the same - i seriously see these things at every store i go to, and they're always cheap as hell, and i've been putting them to use left and right since we brought them home. good for you, good for the environment, and good for the good people at the amvets store. i'm not going to go so far as to start talking about "making a difference" or anything, but jesus, i mean if we all just started doing little stuff like this after a while it would HAVE to mean something, somewhere, somehow, right?

okay probably not

anyway that'll do it for this week - another good outing at the amvets, which as always gets mucho bonus points (and a lot more of my business, to be sure) for being open on sunday and just generally kicking six different kinds of ass, even if you do have to drive down to the belly of the beast to get to it, but whatever. i had a great time picking out some silly nineties clothes, here is what we ended up with:

my wife's ensemble and my boots and jeans were from the private collection, but the thermal undershirt, ironic tee and super sweet flannel shirt (which i am wearing as i type this) were all courtesy of the amvets, costing maybe seven dollars total, you won't be surprised to find. the my so called life party was a smashing (and smashED) success, more pics here, griping about the aftermath here here and here.

thanks for reading, join us again soon, same thrift time, same thrift channel.

2526 Elvis Presley Blvd
Memphis, TN 38106
(901) 775-5010




8/19/08 - Goodwill Stage Rd, Goodwill Austin Peay

hello again! welcome back to bitter/books, your one-stop source for everything disused, neglected, and otherwise AWESOME in memphis, tennessee. this week we bagged summer ave once again (i guess that is kind of over, i don't know...maybe not. maybe i'll finish up with some massive, like seven-store run in one day or something. i'll keep you posted) and hucklebucked it up to bartlett to two of our favorite goodwills, on stage rd and austin peay highway. it wasn't the most legendary trip, but far from a bust. laughs were had, lives were changed, board games were bought. i share it with you now in the spirit of brotherhood and friendship.

oh incidentally i just found out that austin peay is pronounced "austin pee" and the word meme is actually pronounced "meem," much to my chagrin. oh well. life goes on. AVANTI!

the usual suspects at the goodwill on stage road - they always have at least one or two pieces of hilarious furniture, along with your usual assortment of dismissible crap. OH MAN there was this huge greasy tweaker who wandered by a few times while the wife and i were checking out furniture and appliances and whatnot...man this dude was gross. smelled like a god damned barnyard. i was about to make some comment about the south but let's be real people, there's just as much of a chance of running into a world class freak like that in massachusetts as there is down here. no lie. what can i say about this guy? he was like a big overly tattooed baby, all way too fatty and with an overly roundish head and face and just stubbly and gross. something about just the visual image of this guy in my eyes made me feel like a gigantic dog was just slowly licking up the whole side of my body, while i shuddered in deep, profound, revulsion. does that make any sense? i hope not.

beautiful pattern on this couch, anyway

there was a strong, notable latino influence at this particular goodwill on this day. and by "strong influence" i mean there was a bunch of mexican crap and all kind of loud mexican kids running around and yelling in their strange talk and some truly, remarkably unattractive women cruising around. not to imply (or directly state in this instance i suppose) that mexican women are unattractive (although i guess that's basically what i'm saying here), it's just...look, i lived in texas for three years and spent a HELL of a lot of time in thrift stores, if anyone's qualified to speak on this subject i think i am. mexican women do not age well, by and large. some of them are gorgeous, some of them make me want to just fall down and die on the floor they're so beautiful, but by the time they hit 30 and have maybe had a kid or two, very very bad things are starting to happen. this is just an observation, based on the experience of a man who has spent a lot of time in a place. that's all. anyway the same principle applies to most of the white and black and asian and et cetera et cetera other kinds of people you see in thrift stores. these are people who are not exactly riding high on the proverbial hog of life, and it shows. hey, i'm there too, so what does that say about me?

share my frustration with me for a moment. i don't know if it's because i forgot to eat before we struck out for the hinterlands to go to these goodwills, or because we made a wrong turn and had to drive an extra like 40 FUCKING MINUTES just to get there, but i was having some trouble finding purchase on the rocky slopes of mt. goodwill, at first anyway. this is a picture of my anguish. i don't want to sound ungrateful or unhappy, because i genuinely enjoy this little project, which is good, since it's not like i'm receiving any financial compensation for my efforts or anything. but there are only so many pairs of khaki pants that you can look at in one lifetime before you have to start staving off the urge to eat a pile of death and take the proverbial dirtnap. WILL PEOPLE STOP WEARING THESE STUPID GOD DAMN PANTS FOR THE LOVE OF ALLAH/YAHWEH/BUDDHA/KRISHNA/CTHULHU. i went through a khaki phase myself, i know they're kind of cool and can even look good and be useful in certain circumstances but jesus okay if nothing else can we at least suspend production of any new pairs of khakis until the retardedly enormous backlog of them that has accumulated in every thrift store ever anywhere has at least started to show signs of diminishing? kthnx

speaking of enormous masses of clothes, i happened to glimpse over the back dividing wall thing of the store (avid readers will remember this is one of the godawful huge, airplane hangar sized stores that just drops a pegboard wall down to separate the front of the house from the back of the house - classy) and saw just literally a mountain of clothes, donations one would assume, all packed together into tight little bundles, presumably for sorting and dispersal at appropriate times. it struck a chord, deep down somewhere, in a way i still can't put my finger on...brought to mind auschwitz (if that's not ridiculous), or the tombs of pharaohs, or ozymandias, by shelley. something about that much life, that many worn items, that much residual psychic energy, all just bundled up into these huge blocks and stacked neatly in a gigantic hangar...i'm not kidding, i almost wept.


there were about three more of these rows, btw

this was the epitome of the stuff i love finding in thrift stores - kind of delightfully ugly, cheap and weird, and of no conceivable purpose that i could discern. topped, one might also observe, with the finest velcro, because, of course it is! why not? what the hell is this thing? ten bucks worth of awesome i guess

we called these things "mexican wedding shirts" for the longest time, until our stupid guero asses did a little research and found out they're "guayabera" shirts, named for their most prominent manufacturer, one would assume. everyone's seen these things, somewhere or other, everyone recognizes how pimp they are, well news flash people. they're in like every other thrift store i go to. the future is now dammit! get out there and get them! i think this should become the new "horn rimmed glasses on chicks" for the postcollegiate indie crowd. my vote, anyway.

this is kind of a terrible picture, but just to show the continuing influence of our friends and neighbors south of the border






also, all life is suffering, the source of suffering is attachment and desire, and the cessation of attachment is attainable through the noble eightfold path.


the belgians put in a strong showing as well


i also basically have nothing to say about this. this picture is really just for my mom.

so, again, not the most life-changing trip to the goodwill on stage rd that i've ever had, but it was marginally entertaining at least. we decided to shove off and try our luck at the goodwill on austin peay, which is but a scant few minutes away. say what you like about goodwill, and i'm not saying they're my favorite stores or anything, but the fact that they're open until 8 pm (!) during the week sort of puts them one step ahead of the competition, almost by default.

so just when you think you've seen it all...this was a first. full size massage table. didn't see a price on it but who cares? IT WAS A GOD DAMNED MASSAGE TABLE. one of those times when you have genuine cause to lament your own "mid to late twenties, shifting gears, still trying to establish yourself in the world"ed ness mainly because you don't have a large spacious home in which to put this damn thing. of course, it would need a solid week's worth of bombardment with bleach, febreze, and barkeeper's friend before i would even CONSIDER stripping down and laying myself out on it, but still. massage table. i'm sayin

cup stacking

big moment here for us, as this completes our collection. we now officially have every genus of trivial pursuit, one through five. we are monumental nerds, of course, but come on. deep down i know you respect that shit. we have the 20th anniversary edition too, although we threw away the board and the idiotic "card shoe" thing and just kept the pieces and the cards. we'd branch out and get the nineties edition too, but seeing as my dear beloved wife was homeschooled without cable television for a good chunk of said decade, it's near-impossible for her to play. anyway you're all more than welcome to drop by, step up to the plate and take a crack at the guy who is (arrogantly, unbelievably, officially, foolishly) declaring himself the best trivial pursuit player in the memphis metro region. yeah that's right i said that

don't we all

sometimes i really do love living in the south. this is bean art. these are two bean roosters that someone made and put in a frame. out of beans, you say?

yes, out of beans. beany bean beans. framed pictures of roosters, out of beans. oh, how do i love thee. let me count the ways

1. you are framed pictures of roosters, made out of beans

the end

tacking this on at the end, just because i happened to notice it on the way out and couldn't decide if it was amazing, or kind of dumb, if it was worth the two bucks or not, if i would put it on my desk or mantel (if i had one) or if it was kind of too stupid and embarrassing to show strangers...the jury's still out, to me, but anyway. i will just show it to you all and let you draw your own conclusions

and speaking of conclusions, that's gonna do it for this week. i feel as if i should say something else here but i cannot think of what.

there is a fortune from a chinese restaurant fortune cookie taped to my monitor right now. it says "the respect and help of influential people will soon be yours." oprah?