10/7/08 - Park Avenue Thrift Store

hi gang, welcome back to bitter/books. before we get started this week i have to share a self-portrait i took in homage of two of my favorite local bloggers:

now we is all shadows together.

moving on, this week we hit up the park avenue thrift store, on park avenue, of all places, and found some SWEET stuff and almost had some static but ended up making a new friend in the long run! i'll explain later. for now...

i'm pretty sure i posted a picture of this in our previous entry at this location but i wanted to remind everyone of a couple things:

1. this place is open on sunday, which automatically gives it a leg up over about 80% of the rest of the thrift stores in this town

2. on that day, all blue tags are discounted. good deal.

this store doesn't get enough love, partially i think because you have to drive through ORANGE MOUND SO SPOOKY to get there, and also because it's, well, a little on the dingy side. i love it, i really do - the size, the eclecticity (slappin' words together on the fly here people, STAY WITH ME) and the pricing, not to mention the convenient sunday hours make it one of my favorite destinations in town. if you don't have the time or the drive to go all the way out to austin peay or winchester then this is probably your next best bet.

it gets a little exhausting, at times, battling the mentality that the secondhand experience in this town begins with the salvation army on danny thomas and ends at the mid-south outlet on summer ave. those are great stores, to be sure, but you do yourself a disservice by not doing a little driving around and checking out what else is out there. the park ave thrift store shouldn't BELONG to orange mound, any more than overton park should belong to midtown or wolfchase mall should belong to freaking cordova or whatever. this is not denver or houston we're dealing with here, people. this town is not so freaking big that we have to get regional about it, it's all ours, if we want it. i sure do.

okay i'll stop yelling now. look at the cute little platelet! i assume that's what that is, anyway. the "smiling drop of piss holding an oreo cookie" is neither a logical or pleasing choice for a mascot, so i'm going with platelet for the moment. i flashed back to the nineties when i saw this, not just for the unbelievably lame and dated limp bizkit reference (so much so that it became extremely cute) but more for a time in my life when i would have grabbed this and bought it without a second thought. as is i think i'll appreciate the picture more in the long run.

when i was 13 i was a freshman in high school and the concert band (proud tubist, here) took a trip on spring break to daytona beach, florida. it was the first time i'd been south of the mason/dixon line and the first time i'd ever seen the ocean. amazing, unbelievable, memorable, certainly changed my life, yada yada. i mention it here because it was my first exposure to the crucial, undeniable, everpresent need for sunscreen. i managed to go out and get myself such a sunburn on my nose (thick hair and long bangs protected the rest of my face, thank GOD) that the skin actually cracked and freaking intercellular lymph fluid started leaking out of the damn thing. my nose looked like a fucking chicken wing, skin and all, i still have scars if you look close enough. anyway i mention all of this because (aside from the fact that it's hilarious and disgusting) i thought it was my platelets leaking out instead of relatively inconsequential lymph fluid and i had periodic panic attacks all the way back to new york every time i'd mop the damn thing off with a kleenex. bear in mind i was 13 and my lack of any substantive knowledge about human biology combined with a flair for the dramatic definitely made it all worse, but still. there is my platelet story. athankyou.

this kind of thing is almost enough to make a man want to change his wardrobe, just for the convenience of just being able to do it all at once if nothing else. six pairs of matching seersucker shorts, all my size too. i saw one of the guys from the barbaras at the liquor store rocking this look the other day and it gave me pause - of course he was about four inches taller than me and maybe 20 pounds lighter, not to mention like five years younger or so. you know what if we still lived in galveston i would have grabbed these, no questions asked, probably not even tried them on. it just doesn't make sense here the way that it would have there. over the course of three years in that town i managed to acquire the embarrassing habit of wearing deck shoes (slip-ons, you know what i mean) year round, because they're comfy and no one bats an eyelash at it in a place like that, but it makes me feel like kind of a stooge, doing it here. regional fashion conventions, transplanted to inappropriate locations. what a world.

on to something that wouldn't require any real shift in my wardrobe - periodically i get self-conscious about the fact that i rarely look at clothes, although i've outlined what i think are decent reasons for that approach in the past, every once in a while i feel a little guilty so i run through the t-shirts and suits and stuff, and i'm always pleasantly surprised by what i find. the realm of acceptable stuff that i can wear on my body is at a particularly narrow, monochromatic point right now but if closet space and fashion considerations weren't such a factor i'd be taking stuff home with me every week, without a doubt. you could too, anyone could. there are so many clothes at these places, it boggles the mind. more than you could look at in a day, even if you tried. there could be a whole other sister blog to this one, about nothing but the clothes, i assure you. as i've explained before it's not really my bent if you will, so it'd be a little disingenuous to spend THAT much time on it, but the stuff is there, i promise.

back to the weird old junk. i briefly considered trying to do a self-portrait with this thing by pressing my face into it (as we've all done at one point or another i assume) but then i looked around and considered the sheer chemical logistics of rubbing my face on anything that i found at the park avenue thrift store, especially something like this that seems to almost be asking for it, and i relented and just took this picture instead.

then it happened. i was meandering back into the stuffed animals/old toys/assorted junk area in the back corner when i heard one of the employees proclaim, loudly, "we've got someone taking pictures in here! hope he's not taking any pictures of me!" don't worry, lady. nothing personal but i think teddy ruxpin is a little more photogenic than you are. but, so, an issue, now. the last time that i got spotted taking pictures it basically ground the entire day to a halt and made me a little worried to go back to the store i was at in the first place because what if they don't like what they see?

this is sort of the elephant in the room about this whole project, i guess. i want to document these places as they are, not as they'd like to present themselves, and show people (both my readers and anyone who might work there and be associated with the place) how beautiful they are in their natural state, and if i go in and start introducing myself to the people behind the counter...it's the observer effect, just played out in a secondhand shop instead of a physics laboratory. i've made passing mention of stealth before and it's not like i'm a freaking ninja or anything - i don't shoot this blog on a spycam, fer crissakes - but i do try to keep a low profile and lately i've been getting a little lazy, especially in the larger stores where you can sort of fade into the aisles, but yeah so i was a little too conspicuous this time out and i got noticed. but nothing else was said, no one approached me or anything, for the moment anyway, so i just tried to blend in (yeah right) and get my work done without worrying about it (i freaked out).

why have i not bought one of these things yet? crushed ice, ready, at your disposal, for all your old timey cocktail needs. you scoff, i can hear you, i can smell your thoughts, even through my tinfoil helmet. but have you ever tried a cocktail with crushed ice, as opposed to cubes, that is? think about it for a second. smoother, better, easier drinking, you don't have to deal with bumping your damn teeth on glacier sized blocks of ice that try to smash your incisors out and slide down your throat and make you choke and kill you and such? hm? i'm sayin. and they're everywhere (the ice crushers are), and they're always so freaking cheap...i guess it's just an issue of real estate in my kitchen, it's already overflowing with weird, single-function appliances and ancient beer mirrors on the walls, i am mildly reluctant to introduce yet another note into that particular symphony of clutter, but someday i will, i'm sure.

what is it? i am afraid. what does it do? don't know. neither do the people who work here, assuredly, but they slapped a $20 price tag on it and tossed it out there. the picture doesn't really do it justice but it's big, man, like old vcr big, and it has such a paucity of dials and sliders on the front that it makes me think it's designed to do like one thing but just do the living shit out of it. like, instantly, and very strongly, like the type of thing you need to put goggles on for or perhaps stand behind some type of curtain or shield. i don't know, it's probably nothing, but i kept imagining like some mad scientist or val kilmer from real genius just walking up with a shopping cart and throwing it in there and running out the door, cackling. i almost did.

also enormous, although again not really conveyed by the picture. in case it's not blisteringly clear by now i love old appliances and technology dearly and if i had my way i'd be posting this freaking blog off of an apple IIe with one of those ancient dot matrix printers that only used that perforated banner paper and sounded like a constipated robot when it printed. maybe someday.

on to saucier delights. i took an informal poll of my friends and coworkers, and only people who were a lot older than i am remembered champale, which makes me think it wasn't so much a memory from my own head as much as something that i just plucked from the ether through sheer dumb luck, but when i saw this, something clicked. if you have no idea what this stuff is read about it here. if you need to know why it's hilarious, just hang on a second, i'll scare up some pictures.

case in point.

any questions?

oh dear lord they even got nina. nina simone, ladies and gentlemen, high priestess of soul...for champale. lord.

okay home stretch time. just wanted to toss in a wide shot for those who aren't familiar with this store - it's huge, maybe not airplane hangar sized like some of the ones in bartlett but it's still big as hell

got some really neat books and stuff - that's north by northwest on vhs for a buck, and at the bottom of the stack, the complete 2 volume set of the entire shooting scripts for monty python's flying circus, like 2 bucks a piece. sure, why not

saw this on my way out...the seventies must have been amazing

same basic sentiment here, requisite muppet record (there's always at least one) but this one...looks strange. i don't know.

so. here's what happened, roughly. i took my little stack of books and my champale sign (you didn't think i left it there, did you?) and checked out. went outside, tossed my stuff in the car and started to head back in to get a picture of these sinfully hideous "ugg" boots (named so for the verbal reaction all decent people have upon seeing them) when a guy bearing an uncanny resemblance to a young george lucas calls over to me:

"i gotta ask, man...what's with the pictures?"

so we get to talking, about what a basically harmless and quixotic venture this all is, and i'm just thinking that he's curious about what a big white guy with a weird haircut in a beat up suit is doing buying all this shit in the first place, but then he tells me he's the general manager and i have a brief instant of "fuuuuuuuck" but it turns out the guy just wanted to know what i was up to, and he was totally friendly and we shot the shit about thrift stores and crap from the eighties (he looked roughly my age, maybe a little older, hard to tell) and all kinds of stuff for a while, i gave him my email so he'd let me know when they do their periodic book clearance sales (something i did not know about) and in the end it was all good, crisis averted. i think we both just had fun talking shop for a while, it's not exactly a topic of conversation that your average guy on the street can roll with for too long, soooo....yeah. good times.

and that'll do it for this week, i'm trying to adopt a routine where i shoot a week ahead so any time between now and the next weekday i have off look forward to an update detailing my trip to the goodwill on highland which will BLOW YOUR FREAKING MIND but i'm contractually obligated to leave it at that for the moment and thank you all for reading once again and invite all comments, salacious emails, saucy polaroids, and love poems to be directed to the usual outlets. talk to you all again very soon, dearies.




Michael Roy Hollihan said...

Altered Carbon?! Grrr ... I'm jealous.

The English Major Bookstore said...

I love your blog. I really do - since I can't got to these stores, as often as I would like, it is cool that someone gets to!! Makes me wish I had gas, time and money! Maybe someday!!