Across The Bridge, Pt. 2: EastArk Thrift Barn

[Note to readers. This is the continuation of an entry that was started over a year ago, based on a thrift store visit that was conducted over a year and a half ago. Our publishing schedule has been violently interrupted by life being kind of a jerk, and for that we apologize. But know that we persevere, and that it takes more than intervening circumstance to stop our work here at this thrifting blogging writing internetting blah blah you know the routine by now. Hopefully this publication will be the first step in returning to regular activity. No guarantees, but we can hope. We are allowed that.]

[Also, our thrift coordinator no longer has that stupid haircut. He specifically asked us to notify you.]

People…

No one cares where we go. No one cares what we do. We are secondhand miscreants, cast adrift in the land of thrift, and no one has our back. If you’re still following along, hello and welcome again to another chronicle of the aimless wanderings of an organization devoted to exploring the fringes of the things that most people regard as disposable, and the thoughts they inspire, and the people who are brave enough to journey with us. We’re joined again by the lovely Katrina L. Coleman, sweating, violently cursing mother of #memphiscomedy and all around game sport for stupid haircuts and discarded misadventures. Shall we see what we found? Shall we?

Okay well before I saw this sign I was full on prepared to steal from this charity. Not only was I prepared to steal in general (which this sign so bravely cautions against), but I was specifically inclined to steal (underline) “From This Charity!”. Thankfully someone took the time and expense to provide a beacon beckoning me towards the proper behavior, and with such creative and liberal use of capitalization that one’s attention couldn’t help but be kept throughout the duration of said sign. Pause for a moment and appreciate the subtle nuances of this onion we’re attempting to unwrap here, won’t you?

I know you don’t unwrap an onion, by the way. Thanks.

-Literally the only words that aren’t capitalized on the entire thing are “our donations will be.” If you had to bet every penny in your possession (and by that I mean all the money you had, not literally every physical penny you owned, seeing as that probably wouldn’t amount to all that much money in the grand scheme of things, assuming of course you’re not some sort of twisted penny hoarding freak – hell, even if you are, you’re encouraged to keep reading, we accept you as part of our community and we love you not DESPITE your blatantly offensive psychological foibles, but rather BECAUSE of them. Welcome, brother (or sister or person of indeterminate gender)) on whether or not that was a deliberate choice on the part of the fine folks in the advertising department of the EastArk Thrift Barn corporation or whether it was just a random fuckup at the sign shop, which would you choose, dear readers?

WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOOOOOOOSE

-Why does the combination of capitalizing AND underlining the word “Prosecuted” make it seem like a synonym for “Fucked In The Ass”? And what Extent would be the Fullest Extent to which that was allowable under The Law?

Remember, we’re through the looking glass. We’re in a foreign land, among foreign people, we don’t speak the language, we hold no currency. To them, West Memphis is East Arkansas. Up is down, left is right, and macaroni and cheese is a two course meal (first course macaroni, second, cheese) so the things that normally make sense don’t make sense any more. Liberating, isn’t it?

First off: distinct lack of Thrift Livestock in the Thrift Barn. (No thrift goats? Really?) But, we can forgive. As this was legitimately one of the more awesome stores we’ve visited in recent memory. Enough foreplay, let’s get our hands dirty.

So. While very barn-like in ceiling height and general smell, the EastArk Thrift Barn actually wasn’t all that massive. Of course thinking back on my somewhat limited but not entirely insubstantial past experiences in barns (growing up, I spent my summers in rural Wisconsin – good barn scene up there, lemme tell ya), they don’t actually tend to be all that massive, from a sheer floor space standpoint. I guess I thought it seemed small compared to some of the airplane hangar sized Goodwills they have out east in Bartlett, but now that I think about it, you could probably fit several barns (let’s say about nine) in the square footage that an average airplane hangar occupies. So by that standard I suppose it’s a reasonable comparison, the barn one. Did I digress? I apologize.

Confusing nomenclature aside, what was lacking in the perceived expanse of terrain was more than compensated for by concentration of quality product per square inch. Take, for example, the “COOL BLAST™ by Misty Mate®”. We here at Secondhand Underground Underhand Secondground live and breathe for the discovery of just such an item as this. While we wouldn’t necessarily advocate it for personal use since all it does is blow wet air on your face which on a sweltering humid southern day is more of an insult than a reprieve (and doesn’t the dude in the picture on package front look more blindsided and annoyed than potentially refreshed or relieved? In our mind that photo was snapped about a half second before he punched that poor woman in the face) we still have to stand up out of our research pods and audibly cheer at the audacity that it must have taken to pitch the idea of reconfiguring a spray bottle into something that looks like a cross between a weaponized Thermos and the most frightening dildo ever conceived, and JUST when we were about to launch into a reverie about the lost age of late night infomercials that sold products exactly like this (AS SEEN ON TV!) that you couldn’t avoid because there were literally only thirty six cable channels (younger readers please bear with us, this project started in the dark ages), almost all of which went off the air around 1 or 2 AM, so insomniacs like the backbone of our research staff were forced to endure endless asinine advertisements for quote endquote AMAZING DISCOVERIES

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvAWD9GJcnU

we performed a cursory search and discovered that the Misty Mate® corporation is still in business, alive and well, and although the particular product in question is apparently discontinued, well…

Here’s where we attempt to pull back the curtain. We here at Secondhand etc etc feel that we have a sacred mission to expose and explore the underexposed and underexplored in the world in general, and the best way we’ve discovered to pursue that goal is through rooting through other people’s garbage, NOT just because it’s funny and interesting and weird and it makes us look sexy and great, BUT… because there’s perhaps a larger truth hinted at there, somewhere. Occasionally we come across bits of information, facts, coincidences that can’t quite be explained away… anomalies. Allow us to share one such thing with you now. Do us (and by “us” we mean you and all of our staff) a favor and check out the Amazon listing for said discontinued product.

Amazon.com: Misty Mate Cool Blast Mister: Sports & Outdoors

Give it a once over. Look it up and down. Examine the details. Notice anything amiss? No? Look closer:

“No.” We’ll refrain from asking any direct questions here, but instead encourage each individual reader to perhaps consider what potential implications that two letter aberration could have. Trust us, we’re in no rush to encourage anyone to charge down any kind of Alex Jones based rabbit holes which is exactly what led my ex-neighbor to get busted for making meth because his brother was barbecuing a raccoon in the back parking lot

we just enjoy examining the cryptic, wherever it’s found. So draw your own conclusions.

Or just accept that you’re going to sweat when it gets warm. Try drinking water

I don’t think there could be a more West Memphis moment than this. Someone’s shop class project, in the shape of a t shirt (or as they call it in Eastern Arkansas, “fancy clothes”). The near-inscrutable handwriting (seriously, what’s up with the diagonal lines in the “t”s?). The completely inscrutable, sub-fortune cookie inscription with massive spelling and punctuation errors (more on that later). Held up in a thrift store (which means someone didn’t give enough of a shit about it to hang on to it even though it was obviously made by a developmentally challenged 12 year old) by a single Mama with two kids by two different dads. If I could blow this picture up to banner size, I would post it next to the “Welcome to West Memphis” sign just like the Memphis Police Association posted giant billboards saying “This city does NOT support PUBLIC SAFETY” all over town. Yes, that’s a real thing.

But. More on this motto. Or rather, moron, this motto… before I begin, a real quick primer on a term I’m about to use a lot. From the Wikipedia on “sic“:

“The usual purpose is to inform the reader that any errors or apparent errors in the transcribed material do not arise from transcription errors, and the errors have been repeated intentionally, i.e., that they are reproduced exactly as set down by the original writer or printer.”

“WhEn [sic] you fEEL [sic] ALL [sic] StEamEd [sic] up REmbEr [sic] thE [sic] tEa [sic] KEttlE [sic]. It is Always [sic] up to It’s [sic] NEck [sic] in hot watEr [sic] and It [sic] stiLL [sic] sings”

Please notice there were almost more “sic”s in there than actual words. Jesus, transcribing that broke my brain. I forgot what the written English language was supposed to look like. That was exhausting. But. We cannot rest at the simple transcription of a linguistic train wreck and all the italicizing it requires, no. Dear readers, we have to understand the mindset of a person who could create such a philosophically offensive aphorism as this. A rudimentary search couldn’t attribute an author to this “nugget” of “wisdom,” so instead we turn to google to try to put it in context and here’s one of the things we get.

American Folk Sayings, Proverbs, & Maxims

Please follow that link, just for a moment. The quote in question is at the very very bottom. But while you’re there, please peruse the rest of the homespun country nonsense that it offers. This shit is legitimately brilliant. A few of my favorites:

“One had better have no dealings with girls with fat legs.”

“Naked men never lose anything.”

“He who has no enemy has no friend.”

“Better weak beer than lemonade.”

Okay we’ve officially gone down the rabbit hole here. I now LOVE this page, and I think it’s going to contain all the life advice anyone could possibly need from here on out. The higher ups in the Secondhand Underground organization have commissioned this Thrift Coordinator and his research staff to come up with a few new additions to the canon of nonsensical utterances that apparently constitutes the bulk of what we refer to as “American Folk Sayings”. Here is the input that was received:

“You can launch a missile, but you can’t actually LAUNCH a missile, silly man.”

“Life never gave me anything I couldn’t murder.”

“A fat friend doesn’t have any legs who are friends with a potato.”

“Your drunk uncle never made you eat ginger.”

“Do you remember walking into this bathroom? Because it feels like we’ve always lived here.”

“Saying you can’t is like saying you falafel.”

“Have a sandwich, Ham. Jesus fuck no, stop eating yourself, your NAME is Ham, it’s short for Hamish, why do you resort to autocannibalism every time we invite you over for lunch?”

“Snot don’t spend.”

We’d be remiss if we didn’t document and comment upon the preponderance of signs deployed throughout this particular thrift facility. Apparently whoever is responsible for the daily operations of the EastArk Thrift Barn has at some point in the past realized that the unwarshed masses that cruise through the doors on a daily basis may benefit from some CLEAR CUT, rainbow colored (in this instance anyway) instructions, and/or signage. Posted on basically every available surface. Here are a few choice selections (GOD did I want to knock on that door, by the way):

So wait. We can’t knock on that door AND we can’t mess up these book shelves? Why didn’t you just call it the EastArk Nazi Barn to begin with and save us all a lot of trouble parsing it out on our own? And yeah, thank god there isn’t a haphazard arrangement of books contained anywhere within the EastArk Thrift Barn. THAT would just be an unspeakable terror from the outer fringes of what we’re even able to perceive as reality…

ahem.

I was gonna make a joke about how whoever’s in charge of the Handwritten Sign Department at the EATB (I’m tired of typing it out) obviously doesn’t have any grasp on how people traditionally interact with pianos, but then I realized that the average customer walking through the door on any given day probably stands about as much of a chance of playing ON the piano (as in physically climbing onto it, doing handstands, fuck, I don’t know… planking) as they do of just PLAYING it. They may not grasp what it’s for and try to treat it at some sort of obsolete mutated wooden jungle gym, which, hey, normally I’m all in favor of the whole “make your own fun” philosophy, but come on, people. This is a Thrift Barn. There are rules.

Enough sign chat. So, I’m all for having an exciting, vibrant marriage, and doing whatever you need to to stay engaged with your partner and experience a fulfilling life together, and if you’ve come to a point in your marriage where you or your partner feel like something’s lacking, whether it be physical or emotional intimacy, communication, passion, shared goals, responsibilities, whatever it is, then you should by all means renew and reestablish your connection and your commitment.

But imagine this dude boning someone in a kitchen. I mean really, just pushed over, sweating on the counter, apron all askew, pants around ankles, weird hair hanging in his face, she’s still holding a goddamn spatula… Someone knocks over the toaster, breakfast is ruined, and Dr. Kevin just doesn’t give a shit. He’s like BONE. BONE BONE BONE. No, Dr. Kevin. No. And, so sex BEGINS in the kitchen? Where does it end with you, Dr. Kevin, you insatiable lust monster? The laundry room? The basement? The little alcove where you leave your boots when they’re muddy? What kind of an architectural pervert ARE you, anyway? Why you gotta bone in every room of the house every single time? And how are we ever going to get any food made if you pull out your wang every time I open the oven? Starvation is a real risk at this point, Dr. Kevin. A very real one.

Watch yourself around this guy. If he can’t get it from you, he might just fuck that quiche you just spent a goddamn hour preparing. Then what are you going to bring to the potluck. Then what. Damn you Dr. Kevin. Damn you.

I have nothing to say about Richard Simmons.

On the other hand, I have a veritable Macy’s parade of things to say about this business right here. I LOVED Tremors when I was a kid. LOVED it. I was ten when it came out and Kevin Bacon in a movie about giant underground desert worms that try to eat a town? Come on. That’s basically like catnip for a ten year old boy. Who is also a cat. Or crack. It’s like catnip with crack in it for some sort of weird ten year old boy/cat/crackhead hybrid creature that now lives in my imagination. Thanks for that one, brain. Anyway, the original Tremors is amazing. If you’ve never seen it, seriously, it’s worth a watch. Just fun and goofy and gory and crazy. But also basically just fluff entertainment, which is why I was so shocked and surprised, years and years later, to discover that they had not only made one sequel to it, but several. The damn thing turned into a franchise, and if you’ve ever wanted to see an example of the law of diminishing returns, I humbly suggest you dig into this garbage. Kevin Bacon bailed after the first movie, then Fred Ward called it a day after number two (that’s right, even Remo Williams himself had enough), so by the third movie they were seriously counting on the dad from Family Ties to hold his own as a credible action lead. I don’t suggest you waste any of the precious seconds we’re given in this ever fleeting existence on actually viewing any of the subsequent films, but if you’re curious, let me give you a piece of information that should sum it up. The third film contains creatures known (in the film, this is an actual term used by the characters) as “Ass Blasters.”

Ass Blasters.

Speaking of cats, and crack, and movie silliness… didn’t they already know cats were from outer space? I feel as if this title contains a great redundancy. Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes around a cat and DOESN’T think they’ve just encountered an alien presence is either terminally oblivious or has fallen for their highly developed mind control. You laugh, but one day when we’re all working side by side in the Fancy Feast mines, you won’t be laughing any more. You’ll just be meowing. We will all be meowing.

Nope!

Every once in a while I still just take a picture of something because I think it’s cool. I don’t have anything funny or interesting or snarky to say about it. Just… here’s a cool thing I found at a thrift store. You should go and find some cool stuff too.

NO KITTY! DON’T GO NEAR THE CLOWN! HE’S GOING TO TRY AND STUFF YOU IN HIS COMICALLY OVERSIZED PANTS! WE’LL NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN, IT’S A PORTAL TO HELL! I BET HE KNOWS PENNYWISE! DON’T FLOAT, KITTY! DON’T FLOAT! NOOOOOOO

kitty.

Not to pull back the curtain too much here, but part of the fun for me in going back through pictures I’ve taken quite a while ago (weeks, months, over a year in this instance) is trying to figure out why I took some of them. Like, what was going through my head in that moment, what did I think was there that merited a photograph? This is a perfect example. It’s really just a small assemblage of tacky animal themed tchotchkes. What did I think I was going to write about them? Was there some brilliant insight, some pointed remark that I felt like I could make? Was I going to use this picture to illustrate some larger point about thrift stores, and culture, and the world, or did I just think the shit looked funny? In this instance I’m leaning towards the latter. Because this shit looks ridiculous. “FLORIDA” indeed.

GOTTA be careful where you put the price tags on some things, people. I had a more than brief moment where I honestly thought “What the fuck? A jar of cats? Who needs…” before I was like “OHHH OATS. RIGHT.” Also, because I know you’re wondering:

That’s what it would look like. Now you know. You’re welcome.

To wrap things up, let’s talk records. When the first larval vestiges of this explorational adventure into the trash heap were started, back in the positively medieval days of the mid nineties, thrift stores were a record lover’s paradise. Vinyl wasn’t in vogue and the only people paying attention to LPs at secondhand shops were dedicated crate diggers, hip hop DJs, and savvy resellers who knew there was still a market. So basically no one. Now, in this much more culturally aware and connected era, plastic discs that only make noise when you rub them in a specific way with a needle are all the rage, and it’s an open secret – scratch that – an open fact, that thrift stores are a good place to buy records. So I’m used to striking out over and over again when I go to thrift stores looking for records, either because any decent looking record that I find is going to be scratched to absolute garbage or just not be inside the sleeve at all. I’ve long since settled for taking pictures of ridiculous nonsense like “The Magic Flute of James Galway.” Which, not to knock classical music, or James Galway, but come on. I think even the Lady Galway is probably tired of James’s “Magic Flute” by this point if you catch my meaning and if you don’t you’re probably not that smart because I threw it slowly and underhand and I’m talking about his dick.

Then I found this. If you don’t know Dexter Gordon, he’s one of the giants of jazz saxophone in the 20th century. My dad loved Dexter Gordon and I grew up listening to Dexter Gordon and although this is one of his later, lesser works, it was still in pristine shape, inside and out. Dexter Gordon’s great talent was phrasing. Listen to this:

I know no one’s going to listen to all 17 minutes, but trust me, you should. It’s like listening to Sinatra sing. It’s all about the breath and the pace. Anyway, point being I found this amazing record. Then I found these

Then I found these

And my brain basically melted out of my head. This was my total haul

That’s adding in Sergio Mendes, Oscar Peterson, Stanley Turrentine (Salt Song is a stupid good record), and an unopened (still in plastic wrap) copy of my favorite Monty Python record, which contains the audio version of one of my favorite sketches they ever did

“Your majesty is like a stream of bat’s piss.”

All for about a dollar each. I plotzed. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we live this thrift game. This is why we’re in the life. You muddle through a marginally unremarkable store in a bizarre stretch of land that most people don’t know even exists, only to be rewarded at the end of your journey with a pile of pristine vinyl that costs less than your lunch. You may strike out, time after time, but if you can amuse yourself with the oddities that lie along the way, at the end… there be gold. Let this be a treasure map for you. Let us guide you, or at least point the way.

And with that, we take our leave. Special thanks to Katrina for being our guide, and for providing the inspiration to finish this entry to begin with. (Wait, “finish to begin with” doesn’t make any sense from a linguistic standpoint. Fuck it.) You, woman, are a light in the dark. As for the rest of you, we will attempt to bridge the gap between our secondhand thoughts and your firsthand ears again sooner than later, but in this world of abandonment and uncertainty, nothing is guaranteed. But rest assured, dear, wonderful, kind sweet and beloved readers, that even if it is aeons between this transmission and the next:

we exist. We may be at your heels. Don’t turn around.

watch the skies

love

d

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Across The Bridge, Pt. 1: 8th Street Mission For Jesus Christ

Hello again.

We’d begin with an apology for the lapse in posts, but by now it’s become de rigueur in our little fictional universe, so anyone still reading is assuredly accustomed to it. Remember when I said I was going to post weekly? HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Ha. Anyway. Here we have this thing. Here’s how we ended up in West Memphis.

One tires, over time, of exploring the same fields and pastures (fields and pastures being notoriously boring places to explore to begin with). We felt a yearning to strike out for new fields and pastures (we really need to develop a deeper vocabulary of places to explore. Fields and pastures are hella boring no matter where you go), but didn’t have the means to get there. We were left with only one choice: go native. And so we have. We heard tell from a very reputable source that there were untold treasures laying in wait just over the bridge in the untamed wilds of beautiful West Memphis (and Marion) Arkansas, but were filled with bowel-quivering terror at the prospect of exploring them on our own, so what were we to do, but…

Enlist the aid of a local. So we found some divorced lady on twitter who liked bitching about her kids and had at it. JUST KIDDING FOLKS this is the hilarious, lovely, sharp funny and wonderful Katrina L. Coleman, accomplished writer and humoredian(ne?) who you can see performing at various disgusting smoky bars in and around the greater Memphis vicinity on random weeknights and also other times. Look her up, she’ll make you laugh and regret the heinousness of your own existence all at the same time. Fun for the whole family.

I look so gross in that picture. Apparently I’m entering my “Fat Elvis” period. That’s okay. ANYWAY here we are at the 8th Street Mission For Jesus Christ Amazin (dropped the g on purpose there, note) Grace Thrift Store, and while we weren’t sure why Jesus needed a Mission dedicated to him (is he imperiled somehow? Last I heard he was in heaven with dad. Not my dad, his. I mean maybe my dad’s in heaven, but I don’t think he believed in that shit so probably he’s just, on Pluto? Wherever he wants to be? Nowhere? Sitting right next to me as I type this? AAAAAAAAAAAGH GHOST DAD) we were still interested and excited to explore the offerings of this tiny weird building, and also to see if I could get through a paragraph without using parentheses (spoiler alert: probably not).

So. The lord giveth and the lord taketh away(eth). (DAMMIT I already screwed up the parentheses thing. You know what? Fuck it. I’m just gonna write the entire rest of this entry encased in the parentheses that I just started. If I love the damn things so much I might as well just stick with them. What the hell is the point. All this jumping back and forth is just exhausting. Okay, so here we go. Entire entry in parentheses. So. Apparently one of the things that the lord seeeth fitteth to taketh awayeth is NOT ONLY the final “g” in “Amazing” but ALSO the actual closing hours of the store itself – a literal interpretation of the information contained in this sign would dictate that not only does the store stay open on Monday through Friday 24 hours a day, but that it also continually RE-opens itself several times during the week. That is to say, on a given week, if you follow the logic of the sign, the store opens its doors for business Monday morning at the respectable hour of 9:30 AM, does its business through the day, night, and into the early hours of the next morning, and then not only REMAINS open through the next morning, but somehow finds a way to establish a SECOND LEVEL of being open at 9:30 AM on Tuesday morning? Like, “we were open for business yesterday but now we’re DOUBLE OPEN”? Is that even fucking possible? And then REPEATS the trick AGAIN on WEDNESDAY? And subsequent days afterward, one is only left to assume, somehow culminating in some sort of interdimensional orgy of secondhand insanity that explodes into a heretofore unheard of level of thrift madness shortly before shutting its doors to catch its breath and chug some vitamin water at 4 o clock on Saturday afternoon?

Of course a literal interpretation of the sign makes about as much sense as a literal interpretation of the bible, which is to say, none.

I guess I was there on a Monday then because this place was boring as shit. Just kidding, it wasn’t too bad, just VERY small so the pickings were necessarily sort of slim, although VERY cheap (all clothes $1 if memory serves) but with that comes questionable sorting decisions like…

People. This was in with the men’s pants. Let’s look at a couple obvious things. Guys don’t have single numbered sized clothes. Maybe we have an “L” or “M” but that’s mainly t-shirts, normally with pants there’s an “X” thrown in there somewhere, as in “34X30″ (my size!) or more commonly spotted at thrift stores, “54X20″ (seriously, a lot. Some people are HUGE but also oddly tiny) but regardless of that, so let’s leave that particular point aside, the name on the tag is “Norma Kamali.” Do you think “Norma Kamali” (or excuse me, normakamali) is going to be making black dress slacks for men? Say what you like about the fluid sexuality of major fashion designers (and I know, dear audience, you have a veritable MOUTHFUL to say on the subject), it’d be pretty ballsy to put out a line of clothes that you really expected a straight dude who just wants some pants to walk up to a counter with and be like “I would like to purchase this with my man-money” that said freaking “normakamali” on the tag. NOT TO MENTION, not to mention, this cryptic, sphinx-like inscription around the waist band… “timeless style is everything but fashion”. What, in the crap. I’ve rolled it around in my head for longer than you’d believe and I cannot make heads or tails of that. I even tried rearranging the words starting from different points and it’s no help. Here’s what you get, if you’re curious, just to save you the time of doing it yourself:

“timeless style is everything but fashion”
-Okay we’ve already established that’s gibberish. The only way to have a style that outsteps the bounds of time itself is to avoid fashion at all costs? That’s either ridiculously extremist or deliberately nonsensical. Which, if that’s the case with all these, we applaud normakamali for creating such a purposefully confrontational piece of performance art, but let’s proceed forward under the assumption that that wasn’t the intention, shall we?

“fashion timeless style is everything but”
-That doesn’t even make sense from a grammar standpoint. The closest I can come to making sense of that is like as life advice, like if you wanted to fashion something in a style was somehow inherently timeless, the only way to do so would be to forget that that was your intent? Do “everything but” that? Kind of like a “go with the flow, just believe in yourself” kind of thing? “Zen In The Art Of Archery“? Forget the task at hand as true transcendence? That’s some fortune cookie shit.

“but fashion timeless style is everything”
-Which indirectly contradicts the previous interpretation. If the previous read advances the notion that the only process one could implement to achieve “timeless style” is something that could only be “fashion”ed by “everything but” that, then this is flying in the face of that very assertion! AND reinforcing the idea that apparently the only valid goal in the labyrinthine course of one’s existence is to “fashion timeless style,” which, if you ask me, is utter horseshit. The waistband of these pants has more layers than an onion! The plot thickens. As does the soup. Let’s travel deeper, children.

“everything but fashion timeless style is”
-WHICH DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS THE CONTRADICTION. It’s saying “fashion timeless style” doesn’t even EXIST. By virtue of the fact that everything that isn’t it, does. GODDAMN. We are officially down the rabbit hole here people. You’re listening to a man describe a pair of pants arguing with itself. I think if we solve this riddle the true nature of existence could be revealed. Or at least we’ll realize that aliens were trying to communicate with us, like in the Jodie Foster movie “Contact.” Actually if my actions bring about that film someone feel free to shoot me in the head or brain area and stop me now before I destroy us all.

What I’m trying to say is I didn’t like the movie very much

“is everything but fashion timeless style”
-Now we’re getting introspective. The pants are asking themselves, “what is our message? What are we even doing? Is everything but ‘fashion timeless style’? Can there really be no further depth or breadth to our existence but this endless futile quest to elude time through a style of fashion? What is time, even? What are we running from?” This is the existential crisis with which we all struggle, distilled to its purest essence, a cryptic inscription on the inner waistband of a discarded pair of pants in a tiny little thrift store in the wilds of eastern Arkansas. Who knew this is where we would find our answers.

“style is everything but fashion timeless”
-And here, we arrive at the conclusion of our journey. This one at least reads halfway well. I feel a comfort from this phrase, a sense of a wise old woman taking your hand and saying “calm yourself, child. Style is all that matters, but fashion is what is truly untouched by the ravages of time. All you have to do is timelessly fashion yourself a style and you will have everything. Or style time into a fashion and everything will have you. Wait, you’re not my granddaughter… Eileen? Where are you? I think the maids are stealing my money again” and then you realize she’s completely senile and utterly divorced from reality and you wonder why you wandered into a nursing home looking for wisdom in the first place.

The final word on style and fashion, from Howard and Vince…

Jacobean ruff.

So there was a great deal more to examine here than just ill-placed slacks with transcendentally confusing mottos emblazoned on a place within them that no one but the owner would presumably ever examine (unless someone was extremely interested in the contents of the inside of their pants – in which case, go on with your bad self, theoretical person. You #cangetit).

There was for example this uniquely confounding math equation that sort of sums up the value of human existence in a way I’m not entirely comfortable with. Math, here it is, simple: 50th Anniversary plate. Valued now at 25¢. Divide that in your head. That means whatever this plate was meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of currently has a monetary value of .5 CENTS PER YEAR. Half a penny, whatever this godawful piece of chintzy commemorative dinnerware was created to memorialize, if it was a wedding, birth, death, war, caber toss (sorry to get oddly Scottish there for no reason)… whatever it was, it’s literally devalued to the point where every year that’s passed since then is worth about literally half a penny. Assuming that plate’s even current. Considering how long it probably had to sit around before anyone could be bothered to dispose of it, I’m sure the mathematical value of it is closer to .3 of a penny by now, if not less. This is the value of our time, people.

Needless to say this plate is now one of my prized possessions

As long as we’re on the topic of All Things Scottish

Here’s this swanky little “Flying Scotsman” (the lesser known cousin of the Flying Dutchman) light jacket, ALMOST my size and a steal at $3 but as any longtime follower knows by rote by now, I don’t wear brown. Alas, a heartbreaker, but laddie, these are the ups and downs ye face when ye live a life on the moors, och! Pour me another Laphroaig and let’s play tennis very poorly against a blancmange from outer space!

wait what

Ok I’ll be honest: I only took this picture as an example of a moment we encounter frustratingly often in our traverses through the thrift netherworld, which I have a hard time putting my finger on the precise name for so we’ll just settle for “why in the hell did anyone ever think anybody was going to pay a single dime for this piece of garbage.” I mean this is a disgusting rusted out old cookie sheet that probably wasn’t worth 50 cents when it was brand sparkling new (however many decades ago that was) and is worth not even a fraction of a penny now, even as scrap metal. This is just so head-slappingly appalling in such an obvious common sense way that I almost wanted to buy it, walk outside with it, find a trashcan to drag in front of the door and drop it directly in there in full view of the people working, to illustrate the point that it was garbage in the most concrete fashion I possibly could. Please don’t mistake the obvious frustration in this author’s tone for hostility towards the staff or the organization of the Amazin Grace 8th Street Mission For Jesus Christ but Jesus Christ, people. It’s a disgusting rusted out old cookie sheet. Who in our lord and savior’s name is going to buy that, except for maybe some insane backyard wrestler looking for something cheap with which to crack one of his buddies over the head.

…Oh god, I forgot this is in Arkansas. That’s probably exactly what ended up happening to that thing. I retract my entire prior statement. Forgive me, I forgot where I was. I stand humbly corrected.

So, someone hearts rabbits (more on that later). You know we can’t resist a giant plastic bucket full of discarded VHS tapes. This is the catnip that a true thrift monger is drawn to. This is just a known thing. How dare they manipulate us so at the Amazing Jesus Grace of 8th Street Mission For The Grace of Jesus Place or whatever the hell this place was called. How dare they. Here’s what we found:

OK while this isn’t strictly a VHS tape it’s still notable for being A) one of the first things Willie Nelson probably did once he realized he owed approximately 6 bajillion dollars to the IRS, B) not only clearly and obviously designed FOR truck drivers, but apparently run over by a truck several times itself, and C) prominently advertising that ol’ Willie wrote “Original Music” for this very recording. What do you, dear reader, think are the odds that Mr. Nelson perhaps didn’t invest the same songwriting prowess into the crafting of the “Original Music” for this recording as he did when he was writing, oh, I don’t know, let’s say “Crazy,” just as an example?

Also I bet Willie fucking hates Louis L’Amour

If you did literally nothing but smoke dope every single day for the rest of your life, no matter how old you are, you could never catch up to these two guys even if you lived to be 239 years old. But I digress.

Back to VHS. OH LOOK KIDS! HERE’S AN EDUCATIONAL VIDEO ABOUT ALL THE POISONOUS REPTILES YOU COULD RUN INTO OUT THERE! LOOK, THERE’S ONE IN MARION! RIGHT IN YOUR BACKYARD! IT’S ON YOUR LEG! Fuck this, man. I’m no Indiana Jones but I have to confess to seriously hating snakes. Partially because I could never manage to learn to differentiate between the dangerous ones and the non-dangerous ones, I kind of take the St. Patrick approach and just drive them all away with a stick. It’s sort of like spiders: I know they serve a purpose and I’m not advocating for their full scale eradication, I understand nature’s internal pest control is very important, just… don’t do it where I can see you, please. I won’t HUNT snakes or spiders or any other living creature that’s just trying to get its eat and its fuck on (which, let’s be fair, is all most of us are really trying to do when you get right down to it), but if you happen to be an arachnid or a threatening looking reptile (not an iguana though, I love them because GOOGLY EYES) and you encroach on my personal space… there may be a problem. Your humble narrator is showing his own ignorance in these words, he realizes that, and all I need is proper education and training on the identification and humane handling of Reptilia and Arachnida and I’m sure it’ll be much less of a problem in the future and when you get right down to it I probably SHOULD have bought this tape as a way of educating myself but fuck it SNAKES ICK NO.

The preceding words were brought to you by a man who spent the first 16 summers of his life in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin with no electricity, getting his water from a well and reading by kerosene lamp, and still wants to murder every cicada and whippoorwill he encounters with a giant comically oversized blowtorch

Speaking of childhood, every time I see a video like this from an era adjacent to my own youth and early rearing, it just bums me out so hardcore. I’m not so old yet that I’ve forgotten how awful being a kid could be in many regards, and I remember plenty of videos like this making the rounds among the less fortunate (read: totally ostracized and humiliated) of my peer groups, and even being offered to me at some points (hard to imagine, I know, cool guy that I am now) but always refused because I was such a cynical stubborn bastard even in grade school that I refused to accept the idea that help could come from anywhere outside myself, least of all a stupid videotape (thanks mom and dad). That being said, I’m sure these were useful to someone at some point, at least I hope they were anyway. I was never a fat kid, for which I’m grateful, so I never had to deal with body shape based bullying or personal attacks, and I always felt for kids who did, and do, and adults too because that shit is just stupid and wrong. Coming after someone for their size or their shape is the weakest, most hack bullshit way to show that you don’t like someone I could ever imagine, short of outright racism or sexism. People. It’s easy. If you don’t like somebody, just do what I do:

Tell them they’re a horrible person. Just go ahead and say it. They probably won’t care and you’ll feel a lot better having gotten it off your chest. If someone is ugly and awful and looks like shit but is really nice to you and others, you have to be nice to them. That’s just the rules. But if they’re and gross and terrible AND they’re a dickhead, YOU CAN’T BE MEAN TO THEM BECAUSE OF THEIR BODY BECAUSE IT SENDS THE WRONG MESSAGE. You have to focus on how regrettable their personality is, because that’s what matters. Think of it this way, and yes, this is advice to all the bullies of the world, coming from someone who took it every which way growing up, even though he was never overweight: the fattest person in the world can lose weight and through diet and exercise someday maybe look even better than you do. But an obnoxious dickhead is always going to be an obnoxious dickhead. There’s no workout plan for that. 99 percent of the time, if you’re terrible, you’re always going to be terrible, and you probably know it. So focus on THAT. It’s the more salient point. Keep an eye out for my next educational video, “MY BODY, MY BUDDY, YOUR HEINOUS PERSONALITY.”

What in god’s name was I talking about. OH rabbits right. So here we go. Someone so loved rabbits that they gave their one and only Wooden Plaque, that whosoever gazeth upon it should not perish, but have everlasting love of rabbits. I mean rabbits are pretty dang adorable. Look. They even put a little rabbit next to the heart, as if they were worried you’d get distracted and go off message before you finished reading their little wooden exhortation. So it basically reads “I (rabbit!) Heart Rabbits”. Of course rabbits are colloquially known to have heart problems (nevermind the fact that there’s basically no science to back up that particular assertion WE IGNORE SCIENCE IN THIS BLOG) so it kind of puts the whole thesis in a precarious position but let’s just go forth under the assertion that whoever made or bought this damn thing loves the stinking honking bejesus out of rabbits. Shame there’s no other evidence to back up that assertion. Oh well. Moving on…

As we prepare to take our leave of the 8th Street Amazin Mission Grace for Jesus Amazin Christ Mission of Grace store, let us pause to give thanks for “A Family Church That Cares” because lord knows there are so many Family Churches out there that Couldn’t Possibly Give Less Of A Shit About You, and as always allow us here at Secondhand Underground Thrifting and Public Exploration and Debauchery Enterprises to extend our most honest and heartfelt thanks to you, all six people who still read this blog, for holding true to the calling and keeping your hands dirty in other people’s discards and your minds dirtier in other people’s… well, whatever it is you miscreants get up to. Please stay tuned to this space for further updates, hopefully returning to a regular schedule soon, please feel free to spread the love and contact us through various media outlets, we welcome all the attention and care you can muster and look forward to kissing you all on your big smiling faces just as soon as we can. Until next time…

OH JESUS RABBITS RABBITS I RABBIT RABBIT RABBIT HEART RABBITS RABBIT RABBIT

rabbit.

love

d

) Amen.

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Goodwill Winchester Rd, Salvation Army MS, Goodwill MS, Lady Boss

There was a time…

There was a time when titans walked the earth. When people were heroes. When ordinary men and women who came from hearty Midwestern stock and suffered through years of disillusionment and frustration rose like the Phoenix and conquered the world. There was a time when gods walked among us. Ladies and gentlemen…

That time has returned. We are proud beyond description and happy in a way that there isn’t a word for to present to you the first Secondhand Underground report from the fields of combat that features our friend, compatriot, partner in crime, and fellow degenerate… the one, the only… Lady Boss. Longtime readers may recognize or get the reference, but in case you’ve slept on this thrift game, here is a good place to start. Suffice it to say, there wouldn’t be a blog or an anything to this day without my partner, and to quote Biggie Smalls, if you don’t know, then now you know.

Lemme digress just for a second before we get into the stores, because I feel it’s important. If you’re reading this right now then you probably have some interest in thrift stores or secondhand junk or my writing or some combination of all the above. So. Just imagine you were me for a minute (resist the urge to pluck your own eyes out at the horror. Trust me, I live with it every day). You’re writing this dumb ass blog for no money, no compensation other than friendly comments, which, thank you for all of those by the way, and suddenly out of nowhere (which is where all sudden things come from) you get an email from someone who says “I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I’m in Memphis now and I’m running a thrift store and it’s gonna crash and burn unless I save it and I could use your help. Get down here.” So of course if you’re me you immediately report for duty, and you dive in headfirst with both hands and you help save a store and you build it up and you get the rug pulled out from under you and you get Chinatowned by the establishment and you throw yourself into another venture that eats a year of your life and doesn’t amount to anything but teaches you a bunch and then you have a new plan but you know who’s been rolling hard with you the whole time?

Amy Hoyt. That’s her name and I’m proud to say that we’re partners in thrift. Without further ado here are the stores we hit on a random… uhhhh… Sunday? No, couldn’t be. Monday. Sure. Who gives a fuck what day of the week it was

Anyway the Goodwill way out on Winchester moved into a disused Best Buy much like a hermit crab will make its home in an old coke can (there is literally no scientific evidence to support this theory) as you can tell from the previous picture because only Best Buy employs the signature heinously ugly jagged blue facade that set them apart but wait their corporation tanked and now it’s a humiliating landmark of the doomed folly of man HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAAHHAHA oh wait what the fuck was I talking about

This store is a pretty typical Goodwill.

The first words that popped into my head when I saw this particular object were “King Chair” because it seemed like a chair that a king would sit in and then I realized that’s called a “Throne” and then I thought of this and then I felt like a king sized moron, but that’s okay, because that’s what comedy is for, is to make you feel like an idiot. So hooray! When you laugh, the world laughs AT you, because you’re a fucking douche.

Don’t care how many of these I see in my lifetime, I’ll always be tempted to take home one of these “Home Organs” (which, don’t even get me started about the euphemistic possibilities of that phrase) even though 180 bucks is well past pushing it for something you’ll probably just end up putting drinks on but even so… the pull is strong. They sound like crap, for the record.

WHY ALWAYS ADULT DIAPERS. WHY WHY WHY. I swear to god, I’ve spent more time in thrift stores than a lot of people have spent eating and sleeping in their lifetimes, and if there’s one thing you can always count on… it’s the god damn adult diapers. There are so many. Always so many. I discussed this with my partner in crime and the true answer’s actually a little mundane and sad: people die. And their families don’t know what to do with all the old people diapers (septuagenarian eBay?) so they just donate them along with all their old clothes and crap after they don’t sell at the estate sale or whatever. I think I kind of liked it better when it was a mystery.

I almost bought a pack just to try em out though. Come on, like you’ve never been curious what it would be like to just let one go in a crowded room and not have to do anything about it?

I deeply regret not buying this large bag of assorted ribbons and medals and commendations. Imagine how much joy you could bring into someone’s life if you just walked up to them completely unprompted out of nowhere and handed them a big red ribbon that said “GOOD SPORT AWARD.” You’d spread sunshine and laughter wherever you go, which, as any longtime reader of this blog will know, is basically our mission, to share happy sprinkles with the world. Or, better yet, keep em all and give them to yourself. Every day, just wake up and present yourself with a new award. Because, you know what? You deserve it, sweetheart. You really ARE a good sport. Now go outside and play, Daddy has to drink bourbon in a darkened room and stare at the wreckage of his past. I’ll call you for dinner.

Ok so as a throwback to when this blogging thrifting internetting writing thing actually took itself halfway seriously, here’s this: one of the cool things about Goodwill is for whatever reason (tax write off?), periodically Wal-Mart will drop off just a massive amount of their returned products that they can’t do anything else with, which, more often than not, were still more or less functional or only have superficial problems (scratches, etc). And while I’d never endorse the quality of Wal-Mart’s merchandise (I feel dirty even saying the name twice in the same paragraph), occasionally you come across something like this Twin sized air mattress and sheet set, combined cost of probably less than ten bucks and although I didn’t need it I knew someone would come along who did and would positively be tickled pink to find the bed and sheets sitting right next to each other like that, so I left it set up that way after I took the picture, which I don’t usually do.

And now back to our regularly scheduled absurd vulgarities.

Sometimes you see a phrase that sums up what you do more simply and beautifully than you ever could.

SECONDHAND UNDERGROUND: LEFT EAR IS A SOAP DISH

Speaking as a former New Yorker and a former Bartender, let me just say that over 90 percent of tending bar is opening beers for people and changing the channel on the tv. That’s not to say there isn’t a mixology movement and that people aren’t doing interesting things and that drinking can’t be about more than just getting fucked up (although that’s a wonderful side effect). But this kind of nonsense is just half-assing it in a really irritating way. Either go all the way with it, be a mixologist and start getting into molecular gastronomy and home-made infusions or just shut up and tend bar and realize that there are about six cocktails you’re ever going to have to make and the rest of the time is just you pretending to be interested in listening to people complain. “Fifty drinks.” Jesus. Thank god there are only fifty drinks you’d ever need to know how to make! Man, who knew tending bar in New York would be so easy? I guarantee you with every dollar I have in the bank, there’s not a single watering hole in the entirety of the five boroughs, the outlying areas, Jersey, Connecticut, Upstate, or fucking eastern Pennsylvania that has this specious crap behind the bar. And you know someone bought this, went to the liquor store and bought a bottle of Tuaca (“to stock the bar!”) and went home and thought they were going to turn into Tom Cruise from “Cocktail.” Then they flipped through these stupid flash cards once and realized it wasn’t worth the trouble and the box went in the trash. The Tuaca’s just collecting dust.

I know sometimes it might seem like I just go to thrift stores to get my rage on, and I promise you nothing could be further from the truth, I genuinely find it fascinating and compelling and invigorating in a way that I’d never be able to even begin trying to adequately explain (although the twenty to thirty thousand words (possibly more, I’ve never counted) I’ve written on the subject are a good start), but there is just so much shit you find that makes you shake your head in deep dark hilarious sadness for humanity and yourself and all of us on this doomed voyage into the aether. What was I talking about? Oh, right. Yahtzee. So here’s something I never knew existed: Yahtzee FLASH. Hey, do you love dice but hate math? Wanna try Yahtzee without all that tedious ADDING? Try YAHTZEE FLASH! Where the dice add themselves FOR you! Is that STILL too much work? Well check out YAHTZEE FLASH PRO! It comes with a special machine that even ROLLS the dice for you! Still too much work? Then pick up YAHTZEE FLASH PRO ULTRA! It plays an entire game of Yahtzee for itself without any need for you to even participate! Still not feeling like you have the energy? Then there’s YAHTZEE FLASH PRO ULTRA DELUXE! It doesn’t even exist, it’s a hypothetical construct that occupies a parallel plane adjacent to your own whose existence, substance, and content will only ever occur to you in the vaguest of notions, as something intersecting your reality in moments and at angles that you could never possibly hope to pin down or describe! Get it now! Fun for the whole family!

Corn.

How Boss is Victoria’s Secret? Bitch they charge Five Ninety Nine just for the TAAAAAAAAG (not my hand)

So ok, a loose plan is coming together. Here’s what we do: go back and buy that bag of ribbons and awards (if there’s isn’t a “World’s Greatest Grandpa” in there somewhere I am going to be WELL pissed), then buy this entire pack of costume Indian headdresses, and just go balls out on a ribbon-distributing rampage through Midtown, “Woo woo”-ing it up the entire time. I’d love it so dearly if some tourist happened to be walking down Madison Avenue looking for something good to eat when 10 or 12 costumed lunatics just ran up and covered them with “GOOD SPORT AWARD” and “SISTER” ribbons and ran off whooping like animals in such a flash that they weren’t sure if all that just happened or was just a hallucination. If anyone’s interested just get in touch. Let’s start a tribe.

Another Unwritten Rule: it ain’t a thrift store without wicker. You gotta have wicker! Wicker ON wicker! Wicker for DAYS!

I have a confession to make. I actually don’t like wicker all that much. It’s creaky and it’s usually broken in some parts and we had a wicker laundry hamper when I was a kid that would occasionally jab me in the side of the leg when I walked by because again as I just said all wicker things are usually broken in at least one spot. What the hell is wicker anyway? What is its deal?

The little girl who owned this grew up to be a woman who honestly believes that when she farts, candy comes out

I’m not even necessarily sure I have a joke for this, I just thought “DA-4HEAD” was funny

Setup…

Punchline. Need I say more?

It takes a deep thrifter with years of experience to pull out something like this and only need to say “wow, it’s a Thompson Twins record without ‘Hold Me Now’ on it” to communicate the utter brilliance and amazingness of this particular find. We liked it because it sucked. It’s called irony, people. Does anyone remember the 90’s? What are you, beasts?

David and David and David

Perhaps this is the mark of a deeply nonspiritual person, but every time I see “Jesus” used in print I automatically move to the assumption that it’s in the exasperated sense (as in “Jesus, what is it now?”) as opposed to the actual worshipful sense (“Thankya Jesus,” etc). Which transforms an album title like this from what is probably Jimmy Swaggart trying to tell Jesus that just the mention of his name gets him all hot and bothered in his spiritual nether regions to more of a bitter rejoinder, as in… “Jesus, just the mention of your name makes me want to grab a hatchet and start hacking at the nearest solid object until it’s just a pile of shapes that used to be a thing.”

Does that make any sense?

Anyone who likes or reads John Grisham novels deserves to both like and read John Grisham novels. If you like John Grisham then this is the thing for you. I just cannot imagine deliberately picking up one of his books and opening the pages and reading the words that are on the pages (or in this case, popping in the cd and pressing play). Am I the only one who reads “The King of Torts” and nearly lapses into a boredom-based coma? Here, check this out. It’s the wikipedia entry on torts. Now I ask you, dear reader: can you picture yourself paging through an entire novel-length book, or auditorially experiencing a seven hour recording of someone discussing a king who ruled that particular domain? Jesus fuck, even lawyers probably find this shit boring, and yet this barely literate goon keeps getting his tacked-together excuses for books turned into big budget movies starring your Cruises and your Brimleys while maybe the greatest writer of our era has only one miserable abomination of a film adaptation to show for his work. I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, where is the justice in that.

I guess what bothers me most in the long run is that “torts” is a funny word and it deserves better

Strength for Living:

-Hair product
-Jowls
-Jesus

This is the Stalnecker Way. Teeth and tablecloths on the women, sideburns and maroon on the men. Adhere to these teachings and the one true path shall be revealed to you. As long as the women are at least a couple inches shorter than the men, and lookest they both vaguely to their right, peace will be in the valley of the kingdom of the house of the dwelling of the spirit of the father of the bride of frankensteinway pianofortest of enduranch dressing the praises of the holiest of holy shit what am I saying

whoa. What the hell just happened to me. I think I just got hypnotized by tacky haircuts and overenthusiastic evangelical christianity and lapsed into my own kind of secondhand speaking in tongues. Forgive me for channeling the spirit, I was overcome by the power of Stalnecker.

And then it happened. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of my all-time greatest thrift store finds. Forgive me for being a complete nerd here for a minute, but this is a 12-inch stack of books and graphic novels by some of my favorite writers, artists, and creators, none of which cost more than four bucks, all in pristine condition. Credit where credit is due, the inimitable Lady Boss initially waved me over when she saw one of the “Big Book Of“s of which I have been so fond of over the years (my favorite one, “Conspiracies”, in fact). I was all atwitter at the thought of snagging another copy, as I gave my entire collection to a person who no longer has any interest in speaking to me, but that’s a tale for another time (never), when I spotted the entire half a shelf full of them. This is:

-another great Big Book (Scandal!)
-almost the entirety of Grant Morrison’s JLA run
-a MAD Magazine compilation
-Jinx, by Bendis, which I’ve always wanted to read
-the first volume of the original Avengers, in color
-fucking SIN CITY
-Moonshadow by J.M. DeMatteis (a lifelong favorite of mine)
-Morrison and Quitely’s We3, which I’ve been dying to read for years
-Great Lakes Avengers

and a bunch of other odds and ends. It added up, but I didn’t even hesitate because the thrift-savvy among you, dear readers, will understand what a find this is but even if you never go to thrift stores take me at my word that this NEVER happens. You might find a graphic novel or two or a comic that you like or remember reading, but to stumble across THIS many of them all in the same spot, in impeccable condition… it just doesn’t happen. There isn’t a way. So of course I grabbed the entire pile and threw them in the cart. I’m currently working my way through them and collapsing in paroxysms of nerdy glee every time I open the closet they’re stashed in and see them on the shelf. Score score score score score score score score score big time score. Ok done being a nerd. Well, for the next ten to twelve seconds anyway.

Oh shit! It’s the Fruit Fucker 2000!

Following up on that point, here’s the… Cheese Raper? What the hell, people? When did we develop such diabolical intentions towards our sustenance? What happened to cutting this shit up with a knife and just eating it like a normal person? Leave it to the French and the Italians to invent a handheld device to rape your cheese. What, did you people get so bored with doing everything else to it centuries ago that you had to start just straight up being EVIL to it? What’s next, the Chicken Humiliator? The Beef Crippler? The Thing That Tells A Tomato That It’s Adopted? What is wrong with you people?

The true mark of an appliance that was donated from Wal-Mart’s return bin: they have to specify that the scale is for tracking your weight. Because otherwise your average Wal-Mart shopper would see it as this cryptic device with some inscrutable purpose that only a scholar or mage could discern. Buy it and take it home if you dare, but be forewarned that you may smash it against the wall in a fit of fury and confusion over the oblique nature of its function, or burn it as a witch. You know it measures your weight but you don’t know WHY. You exist in a dark realm of fear and confusion, of wind and ghosts, and only your blind stumblings from one solid object to another chart your jagged path. Well guess what. Your time in the wilderness is at an end. The good people at Wal-Mart (there’s a phrase I can’t type with a straight face) have come to your aid and soothed the ache of your limited mental function with the balm of two qualifying words: “Weight Tracking.” Now and only now does the final piece of the puzzle fall into place… you use the scale to TRACK your WEIGHT. Do you feel that feeling? That feeling of the veil lifting and true enlightenment settling onto your misshapen mantle like a Burger King crown? That’s why you return to the motherly teat of the Walton family’s workings again and again, to receive the manna, the grace, the beneficence that only they can offer you.

Or maybe it’s because they moved in years ago and put all the local alternatives out of business (because of ignorant shits like you who immediately began shopping there because it was cheap and convenient, with no regard to the fact that where you choose to spend your money has real-life consequences) and now you have no choice but to shop there. Welcome to the world you’ve built, idiot.

Wow, that got a little testy. Sorry about that, bringing up Wal-Mart around me can be like waving a red flag in front of a secondhand bull in a china shop or something. Anyway, here’s a funny costume hat. Who can be mad while there’s a funny costume hat around? Here’s a quick test. You mad? Check out this silly hat. Still mad? Put that shit on and walk around for a minute. Look at yourself in the mirror. Make a face. Still mad? Eat that shit

YEAH BUDDY. I see these fake snakeskin (fakeskin?) shoes at pretty much every store I visit, but this particular pair just tickled me for some reason. Maybe I was picturing combining them with the funny costume hat from the previous picture. Or maybe I’m just thinking of that now and finding it amusing. Picture yourself actually putting on this ludicrous shit and walking around like it was no big deal. At the bank. At church. Just think of the immense amounts of joy and delight you’d bring into the lives of most of the people who saw you traipsing around in that specious nonsense. Also, think of the utter misery and loathing you’d bring into the lives of the rest of the people who saw you who didn’t find it quite so joyful and delightful. Both things sound equally appealing to me. SECONDHAND UNDERGROUND: Finding New Ways To Look Deeply, Profoundly Stupid Since 2010

“I WANT TO KEEP ALL MY SHIT IN A LAUNDRY HAMPER THAT I CAN CARRY OVER MY SHOULDER DUHURRR.” If I saw someone walking down the street with this joke strapped to them I would tackle them. Whereas…

If I saw someone walking down the street carrying these happy little dinosaur friends, I would want to give them a high five. But then I would realize that their entire life was already a giant high five, both to themselves and the entire world they inhabited, and so it would be redundant. Instead I would high five myself.

And of course it wouldn’t be a thrift store without some Elderly People Supplies. I actually thought about buying one of these walkers for the mornings when the hangovers are especially profound… I mean where is it written that you have to be all old and debilitated before it’s appropriate to use this shit? Or that poop chair? I want a poop chair! What the hell! I’m already getting senile before my time (senility no longer being the sole province of the elderly, if you ask me anyway), why can’t I take advantage of the things they use to help them handle their physical infirmities as well? It’s just not fair.

Ok so I examined every side of this box. No markings, and the labels were completely scribbled over. Taped shut at every possible turn. Literally no information on the outside of the box as to its contents or function. “NO RETURNS. SOLD AS IS.” 19.99. Here’s my question. This object (whatever the hell it is, I was never actually able to glean that particular piece of knowledge) had to pass through at LEAST let’s say three pairs of hands before it found its way to the shelf. Did it not occur to ANYONE during that entire process of accepting the donation, sorting it, pricing it (how in god’s name did they price it without knowing what it is?) and putting it on the shelf that maybe it would sell slightly better if the customers had any indication as to what the hell it was, short of hacking the box open themselves and pulling it out (which they definitely weren’t making easy to do)? Was there no one along the line who stopped and thought to themselves, “hey, maybe people might want to know what they’re paying 19.99 for with no possibility of return or exchange”? Apparently not. That’s the kind of high-level critical thinking and analysis that is just beyond the scope of the good people at Goodwill.

When did black bandanas become party hats?

Onward we pressed. If we appear to be human cartoons, or creatures that have sprung whole from your imagination and will inevitably drift away into the aether, byproducts of random neural firings that occur when your brain has downshifted for the night and will fade with your gradual return to consciousness and reason and sense, then… that’s probably because we are.

Onward we pressed. There’s a Salvation Army on Goodman Road in Horn Lake MS which we hadn’t visited in an age and a half and a quarter, and seeing as the Goodwill on Shelby Drive is apparently no longer extant, this seemed like a reasonable place to stop off on the way to the always reliable (but rarely remarkable) and reliably rare (but remarkably always) Goodwill in Southaven. But we get ahead of ourselves.

This place has never exactly set my pants on fire (which now that I type that out might not actually be such a bad thing after all – that sounds extremely unpleasant, burning pants does), but it’s always good for a couple of laughs and still has the (I can’t believe I’m typing this) old-school charm that is rapidly disappearing from the Salvation Armies that I visit on any regular basis. Ever since they closed the one on Danny Thomas and built that megaplex out on Kirby Whitten, the Salvos in this town have been trying to rebrand themselves as somewhere between a thrift store and some kind of bizarre mutated TJ Maxx and I’m just going to come out right now and say that I don’t like it. They gutted my favorite Salvo in town (Austin Peay) and completely made it over and it lost the bulk of its charm, to me anyway. Is it cleaner? Sure. Better organized? Sure. Are those things really all that important in the long run if you have to sacrifice almost all the charm of the store to get there? OF FUCKING COURSE NOT. If you want to run a department store run a god damn department store. Things are SUPPOSED to be messy in a thrift store, to a degree. They’re SUPPOSED to be a little dingy. Not too much, but a little. You know why? IT KEEPS THE SQUARES OUT. There’s nothing wrong with trying to have a clean, well organized store, stocked with carefully curated merchandise in reasonably good condition. But the minute you let that intangible charm that fascinated me so much the first time I set foot in a Rescue Mission store when I was a teenager back in the wilds of the 90s (and East Syracuse, NY) start to wane, you’re losing the point. The point is you try and have a nice store, you do what you can, but you accept that things are going to get fucked up to one degree or another because of the endless stream of mongoloids that come through and can’t figure out that dropping a toaster on the floor is not an acceptable way to test its durability, or that EVEN IN A PINCH, the dressing rooms are NOT a viable substitute for the bathroom. You do what you can to maintain in the face of all that insanity, but you don’t wipe it out completely or guess what? I stop coming to your store. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Jesus, can you tell I had an energy drink before I sat down to start writing today?

I would have bought this TV if it only ever showed those elephants. I wanted to go up to the counter and ask the lady “excuse me ma’am, I’m not particularly interested in the TV, but how much would you charge me for just the image of those elephants emblazoned in my mind forever?” because in the weird fantasy world in which I exist, people don’t call the police when you ask them things like that. They laugh and rub your tummy or just give you a cookie or something if you’re not in the mood for a tummy rub. And then they take you home with them so you can delight them with your insane questions and bizarre asides all day and night. But eventually the luster starts to fade and they begin to wonder if perhaps they misjudged their potential appetite for your particular brand of weirdness when they made the decision to keep you around all the time, and gradually they become more and more distant until one day you look around and all their shit’s gone and you realize you’ve been talking to the kitchen sink like it was a person for about 2 1/2 months and you don’t remember where you used to live and the power’s off and it’s getting cold and you don’t know where to go. So you wander outside and eventually get so tired you just have to lay down in a ditch and go to sleep but it starts raining and the water comes rushing down the ditch and washes you into the river which carries you out to the sea, where you rejoin your underwater brethren and reclaim your rightful throne as King of Atlantis and Ruler of the Ocean’s Depths.

But I didn’t want to become Aquaman that day so I didn’t ask the lady about the elephants.

A somewhat common and recurring theme in this ongoing blogging writing internetting fingertyping keyboarding thing is my deep and abiding love of redundancy and unnecessary clarification. And it sort of reaches an apex with things like the totally superfluous labeling of this toy keyboard as “Musical Fun.” Perhaps I’m overthinking this (who, me? never) but what exactly is this meant to imply? What is the purpose of these words? In the mind of the manufacturer, was there a hypothetical consumer who was considering their purchasing options and had it narrowed down to this manufacturer’s product and a rival’s, and they were teetering on the fence and hemming and hawing and prevaricating when finally they glanced over and saw the two words that settled the issue once and for all: “Musical Fun.” “OH SHIT honey, look!” they’d say, to their loving devoted spouse or partner who had been standing idly by, fraught with concern at the existential crisis this hypothetical consumer had stumbled into, “This one’s FUN! Fucking A!” they’d say, perhaps frightening said spouse or partner with the volume of profanity they chose to infuse into their outburst but nonetheless so swept up in the tide of excitement at arriving, finally, at a choice that they were downright lucky they didn’t get thrown out of the store entirely, such was the pitch and intensity of their exultations.

Alternately, what if I bought it and didn’t WANT to have fun with it? What if I wanted to use it to compose an entire album of suites about how I watched my dog get put down when I was a kid and cried with my mother in the parking lot of the vet’s office for 20 minutes about it? Does that sound like “Fun” on any level? What if I wanted to buy it just to take it to a highway overpass and try to drop it through the window of an 18 wheeler? Do you think that’d be “Fun” for the people driving behind it on the interstate? That doesn’t even qualify as “Musical.” (Unless you’re truly insane and you can stretch your definition of music to include the sound of a 14 car pileup as some kind of weird symphony of grinding metal and exploding glass. Actually that kind of makes sense to me in a weird way. I think I need to stop talking about this now.)

OMG WICKER WICKER WICKER WICKER WICKER WICK-[head explodes]

What do you mean, “no”? BUT I WANNA KNOCK OVER THE FISH BOWL WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. He’s even climbing on books to do it. That’s so me!

Okay this one’s gonna seem nitpicky too but I don’t even care. “Truth Seeker.” My litmus test for a lot of these things is “what would the opposite be and does that even exist.” So the opposite of that would be… Lie Seeker? What the fuck is that? NO ONE SEEKS LIES that’s just stupid. Everyone is a truth seeker in some way or another. No one wakes up in the morning and says to themselves “I am going to go out and find the biggest pile of horseshit imaginable today and have a great old time just playing around in it” that’s just ridiculous. I have no time for that. You know why?

…TRUTH SEEKER, BABY!

File under It Wouldn’t Be A Thrift Store Without: (see also: WICKER!) half-empty cosmetics. I’m sure this has come up before but hey, I’ve never been averse to rehashing tired old points (hey, is that horse still intact in some fashion? Wait here, I have to go beat it for a while longer. I just want it to be a pile of colored mush) so here goes. I may be biased, scratch that, I definitely am, because I find lotions and creams of any type disgusting just on their own, brand new out of the bottle, I mean even chapstick makes me uncomfortable and I only use sunscreen because I’ve suffered so many horrible sunburns in my life that I should look like Freddy Kreuger by now, but bias aside, wouldn’t any reasonable person look at a half-empty bottle of skin cream and perhaps even audibly exclaim “how in the hell are they charging money for this crap?” I mean doesn’t the very idea of using someone else’s old cosmetics just seem repellent to you? Not to mention that “massager” thing on the shelf next to it, which, who knows where in god’s name (or anyone else’s for that matter) THAT thing’s been… it’s just, ick. Just a whole shelf of ick.

Except the eyelashes. I kinda wanted to buy the eyelashes and put them on a dog. Doesn’t that sound funny to you?

I think the shit is funny.

Ah, this brings back memories. The early/mid nineties, when people’s idea of the internet was just a jumble of terms like “interface,” “crash,” “asterisk dot com,” and of course the most commonly used term in the history of modern computering, “[RAM//.” I’ve been online in one capacity or another since about 1993 and I can’t tell you how many times friends of mine have come to me with questions exactly like this:

“Hey, I tried to interface with asterisk dot com and my [RAM// crashed. Do I need to reboot my floppy expander or can I just click print on my hard drive and modem my email to AOL home page JPEG virus dialup?”

I just imagine some poor engineer getting this as like a father’s day gift from his well meaning family and having to take it to work and put it on his desk and put all his pens in it and shit and everyone else in his department giggling uncontrollably every time they walk by his cubicle and twiddling their pocket protectors in sadistic glee as they say “have fun formatting your preferences cache on the windows google close tabs alt delete, Carl” except they probably say it in Klingon or some shit and he just looks at his little pen holder and sighs. In binary.

Also yes asterisk dot com is a real site, in case you hadn’t checked by now. NSFW

Also NSFW

Apologies to longtime readers of the blog as that is about the 1000th time I’ve posted that clip, but it’s a compulsion, folks. I can’t help it.

Don’t have a ton to say about this, just that it’s a beautiful old fashioned loveseat, and while it’s not antique it looks fairly elegant and was pretty reasonably priced, well under 100 bucks and it might have even been 50% off, can’t remember, should have checked. I’ll cop to slacking a bit on the amateur journalism aspect of this ongoing spacing blog internet clicking process, but it doesn’t amuse me as much as free association and I rarely get comments (at all… frown, but especially) from people who are like HOW MUCH DID THAT SKILLET COST BRO so I usually don’t think to make a note of it. I’d swoon more over this divan but the truth is I’m so in love with the furniture I have at the moment that I haven’t really been rushing out to procure more. Wow. How sad is it that the most serious committed relationship I’ve had within the past few years is with my couch. Oh, wait, not sad, what’s the word I’m looking for… that’s right. Awesome.

Wrapping up this particular little Trilogy of Terror that was our foray into the outer reaches of the secondhand cosmos on a sunny Monday afternoon in beautiful Memphis TN and slightly less beautiful (but still very nice) Southaven MS is the Goodwill on Stateline Road, a favorite haunt of mine, partially because of its decent selection in most departments, and also because it’s actually almost quicker to get to than most of the stores in Bartlett and Raleigh (I’m looking at you, Goodwill Stage Rd) and usually has at least a few funny things to look at. So let’s take it to the close and see what we found. The finish line is in sight, folks.

Also, sorry for my huge scary face in that picture. It was late in the day and I was feeling rather thrift-deranged. I’d say I’m normally not that frightening looking but that would just be an untruth. Hey, just be glad you don’t have to see it looking back at you in the mirror every day when you’re trying to shave. It’s downright disconcerting.

One of my favorite things about this Goodwill is their insistence on placing “PLEASE DO NOT SIT OR STAND ON MERCHANDISE” signs on things, even if sitting on them is an integral part of people’s decision making process about whether or not to buy the object in question. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: would you buy a chair you’d never fucking SAT on? Who do they really think is going to look at this chair and say to themselves, “Looks comfy to me. I’ll take it”? Granted, I can’t think of a justifiable reason to STAND on most things in a thrift store (exercise equipment like a stairmaster or something notwithstanding (NPI: no pun intended), and of course shoes although would you really characterize it as “standing on” your shoes? I mean I guess you technically are, considering they’re between the bottoms of your feet and the ground (unless you have some bizarre kind of footwear that covers parts of your feet that aren’t the bottoms… heyyy, bottomless shoes, I think I just came up with a hot new fashion idea! Let’s see what Google thinks:

okay what the HELL is this GOD DAMN CRAP. Is that a HEMP NECKLACE for your FUCKING FOOT. RRRRRRRRRRRR I almost bit my computer when that came up. God dammit all, what the hell is wrong with people. Okay fine fuck it, my dream is dead) but I still don’t think anyone in their right mind would ever describe themselves as “standing on” their shoes. Unless you had some serious like nine inch platforms going on or something. If walking down a hallway becomes some kind of bizarre performance art, THEN and only then can you say you’re “standing on” your shoes. Or maybe if they’re like upside down and you’re perching precariously on the soles for some reason I can’t even fathom or entertain. Try it sometime, your mind will be blown. TURN YOUR SHOES UPSIDE DOWN, PEOPLE) but I still think the sign is a little excessive. Seems like a verbal correction from a nearby employee or a safety minded fellow shopper “hey, get off that microwave” would be more than sufficient.

Hence my prior assertion that the 180 dollar home organ (hehehehehe) from the prior Goodwill was perhaps a bit excessively priced: this snazzy little number has the draw bars and everything just like a real Hammond, and probably sounds a great deal nicer, for less than half the price. Shop around, people.

Don’t know if the picture shows the scale, but this terrifying little hellbeast stood about three feet tall. I get the whole “oversized bunny rabbit you win at the county fair” thing, but was anyone clamoring for a gigantic rottweiler puppy? Doesn’t this thing look like it could very easily mistake you for a giant talking nylabone with arms and legs, and gnaw your head off just to pull your stuffing out, thinking it was just playing around? Yes I realize nylabones don’t have stuffing JUST GO WITH ME PEOPLE. Also, something about those eyes is just existentially unsettling. Doll eyes

are disturbing enough as is. Making them enormous really doesn’t help. All I could think of when I looked at this thing (aside from Jaws of course) was this:

Secondhand Underground: Sometimes We Are A Place Of Nightmares.

And here I was, all set to talk shit about Andy Rooney until my face turned blue and then I was stupid and looked this up and now I’m doing that thing where you pretend you’re not crying even though your eyes hurt and your face is wet but it’s not because you’re crying, no, that has nothing to do with it

And here’s why, if that doesn’t make any sense to you: I’m a fucking writer too. That could just as easily be me. All I’ve ever really wanted to do was write and talk (and a lot of the time complain) about whatever was on my mind and for some foolhardy reason (I blame amazing genes, thanks mom and dad) I have this compulsion to show it to people and expect them to be interested or give a shit. When I graduated high school I was a complete mess of half-formed ideas about life and psychedelic drug abuse, but all I knew is that I wanted to write. Prose, music, poems, fucking restaurant reviews, I didn’t give a shit. It was the only thing that was really satisfying to me. But through a combination of laziness and bad decisions I ended up half-assing my way through any opportunities to make that into a career (not that there are a ton) and only years later through fairly random happenstance did I come to a way to satisfy that urge in any substantial fashion, which is this. What you’re reading right now. This is my big passion in life, and I say that with full cognizance of how absurd and stupid it is. I love to write. Specifically at the moment about thrift stores, and the weird junk I find and what secondhand culture is and all the associations and implications and layers and levels and atrocities that come to mind. So if you’re still reading, and as I type this the word count on this post is well over the 7000 mark so if you’re still on board you’re truly amazing, just know that you’re seeing my passion and everything that’s inside of my head. I don’t care if this entry breaks the five digit mark, I don’t care if it takes me a month and a half to write, it’s what I do and it’s worth every second invested, every missed phone call, every declined social invitation (not that there are a ton), just to express myself in this way. One more quick point and then we’re on to the next thing, and we’re almost done here so stay with me: I’ve always believed (once I could articulate the thought that is) that what you have to do for money very often says a lot less about you than what you choose to do for free. Although this is a little cliche, I’m one of those people who tries to avoid asking people I meet what their job is because in my world, most people are working at jobs that for the most part serve to fund their real passions in life. I know a waitress who would rather earn her living as a standup comedian. I know a graphic designer who would rather do nothing than write comic books and novels and short stories for the rest of his life. I know (and you know, and we all know) so many people whose income probably only tangentially relates to their passions, and in the interest of fairness I’d also like to say I know a few people who have integrated those two worlds and I love that and appreciate that immensely, but I think we can all recognize that most people aren’t at that point and so out of respect I don’t ask about jobs, I ask about passions, I ask about what you care about and what’s real to you, and so when people ask me what I do my default answer is “I’m a writer.” I might work at a liquor store to pay the bills but that’s not an interesting person that you want to talk to. An interesting person that you want to talk to is someone who can tell you a dozen stories about bizarre shit they’ve seen and encountered while browsing through other people’s garbage and write a thousand words about a random book that a friend of theirs pulled off the shelf and keep your attention (hopefully) and maybe say something interesting and insightful or god willing, funny, and perhaps make you feel like you want to say something in return. At least if you’re insane in the same way that they’re insane. And if you’re still reading after all this, then that probably means that you are. You may want to consider professional attention and some extremely strong medical pills. Or at least have a drink with me god dammit

And then you find a trunk with a beautiful handpainted picture of a mother and baby unicorn on it and suddenly none of the shit I was just talking about matters in the slightest. This answers the ages old question by the way of “what’s gayer than a unicorn?” Your answer: a baby unicorn. Although bear with me while I digress into mythological taxonomy… here’s an issue I recently got into a hilariously heated discussion about. So, we’re familiar with the pegasus, yes? And I don’t think it’s out of bounds at all to describe the pegasus as a “winged horse,” no? So that necessarily puts the pegasus in a sub-category of horse, because you’re using the word “horse” to describe its overlying structure, and then attaching wings to it, correct? But. If pressed to describe a unicorn to someone who had never seen one (those poor, unfortunate bastards) you wouldn’t say it was a “horned horse,” would you? You might say it was a horse with a horn on its head but to me, that implies that it’s still essentially just a horse that somehow ended up with a cranial protuberance through some sort of unexplained machination which is just total nonsense because that’s not how you make a unicorn, the horn is clearly there from birth, it’s not just attached or grown later in life, and so makes it fundamentally taxonomically different from a pegasus, which when you look at, you can much more easily believe was a horse and still fundamentally belongs to the category “horse” whereas to me a unicorn deserves its own categorization. NOT TO MENTION they’re believed to have mythical powers that far outstrip any horse, wings or no.

All I’m saying is a pegasus is still a horse that just has wings whereas a unicorn is its own creature deserving of separate consideration. Take that argument and do with it as you will.

We were simultaneously bemused and flummoxed and delighted and horrified by this next selection from Wal-Mart’s charity cutout return bin. All this is is basically a battery powered amplifier on wheels with a handle like some travel luggage that enables your iPod (or other Apple-sanctioned mobile device) to eviscerate the eardrums of anyone who’s unfortunate enough to be caught within its field of effect. Here’s the basic paradox: while *I* personally think that a device like this would be a delight to own and bring hours of enjoyment into my life and lives of the people who were fortunate enough to be around me when I chose to use it, the reality is actually that I would probably bum a bunch of people out with my ritualistically obscure choices in music and that if someone pulled out this stupid behemoth at an outdoor event and yelled out “it’s time for y’all to hear my party mix!” I would run away so fast that all that would be left behind me would be a cartoon cloud outline of where my body used to be, like the roadrunner, and the nearest wall would have an exact outline of my body crashing through it as I fled in terror. It’s like nuclear weaponry. Every country on earth THINKS they’re qualified to control it, but no other country on earth thinks that’s a good idea because fundamentally, their ideologies don’t compute with each other. So, I almost wanted to buy this just to throw it away so that no one else could possess it, much like Superman hurling nuclear warheads into the sun. Except instead of Superman it’s a deranged person in ill fitting dress clothes and instead of a nuclear warhead it’s a stupid karaoke machine and instead of the sun it’s the dumpster behind my apartment after I get done having at this thing with an axe. And I’m sorry, people, allow me to issue an apology from the entire Secondhand Underground secondhanding undergrounding thing organization type style place, that I opted not to do that on this given day. Consider it a failing on the part of your thrift coordinator, your waste eliminator, your mind emancipator… THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SHOW BUSINESS GIVE IT UP FOR SOUL BROTHER NUMBER ONE MISTER JAMES BROWN

wait, what

Behold a pale horse. Consider the lilies. Consider the lobster. Have you heard our specials for the evening? There’s a crab-stuffed filet that is to die for, with a lemon butter sauce and a smoked muscadine reduction garnish that accentuates the steamed new potatoes in the best possible way. Also we have a lamb shank candy corn tiramisu as a dessert option or for an extra twenty bucks we’ll just blend all the shit up in a bucket and you can shoot it through a crazy straw like the god damned world traveling gourmand you are.

Oh fuck I lost my mind again. What is this a picture of. OH FUCK it’s a beef jerky gun. This is a gun that shoots beef jerky. Okay granted it’s just an extruder (the day they make a motorized version of this specific contraption that actually FLINGS the beef jerky at you at potentially dangerous speeds is the day I hang up both my secondhand and culinary hats, but I guess first I have to buy hats to commemorate either of those things, which sounds like way too much work so can I just give up now?) but still IT’S A HANDHELD BEEF JERKY PRESS. What the fuck are you even talking about. This is like a caulk gun that but instead of epoxy it puts out dried seasoned parts of a cow.

IT’S A BEEF JERKY GUN.

A BEEF.

JERKY.

GUN.

If your head isn’t exploding right now it might not be attached correctly. Please remove and reattach to check for proper connection. Nominal blood loss may occur.

One last observation. The box reads “Ideal for Making a Variety of Jerky.” Weird capitalization notwithstanding, what that inscrutable phrase is referring to is the three interchangeable nozzles that are designed to be presumably screwed on the front of this thing, but here’s my question: what other varieties of jerky are there? I can see from a cursory examination that it’s apparently technically prepared to produce jerky in physical forms varying between “flat,” “tube,” and “two flats,” but I guess here’s my sub-question, which is sort of my point: Who gives a shit? It’s fucking beef jerky, it tastes delicious in whatever form you choose to mold it, how is that even remotely deserving of the term “variety”? It’s JERKY. Guess what. Tube jerky (that’s a gross phrase to type) tastes just as good as flat jerky as does two flats jerky (also a gross phrase to type). NO ONE CARES WHAT SHAPE THEIR BEEF COMES IN (okay I’m just sickening myself now with the gross phrases).

Just a picture to give you a sense of the barrage of returned appliances and housewares and shit that gets dropped off at these Goodwills whenever Wal-Mart feels like it needs to take a huge tax deductible dump of its leavings. This is the place for you if you want to shop at Wal-Mart but can’t bring yourself to support Wal-Mart but want to get a decent appliance for not much money. There’s a chance that some of the things you’d buy in one of Wal-Mart’s massive Goodwill dumps could be legitimately broken (especially since Goodwill has a strict “NO RETURN ON OUR MYSTERY ITEM” policy) but you know what, there’s a chance the brand new appliance you bought from Wal-Mart was broken in the first place, which is why it got returned, which is why it ended up here, which is why you’re reading about it now.

OUROBOROS

I REALLY don’t enjoy something that feels the need to name itself after the reaction it wants to elicit from you. I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that called itself YUM FOOD and I wouldn’t go to the library if it was suddenly renamed HAPPY FUN BOOK PLACE, so when something is aggressively shoving itself in your face and yelling ENJOY over and over again, guess what I’m gonna want to resist the idea of doing?

This ruined coffee for me

Um.

hor·ror   [hawr-er, hor-]
noun
1.
an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear: to shrink back from a mutilated corpse in horror.
2.
anything that causes such a feeling: killing, looting, and other horrors of war.
3.
such a feeling as a quality or condition: to have known the horror of slow starvation.
4.
a strong aversion; abhorrence: to have a horror of emotional outbursts.
5.
Informal . something considered bad or tasteless: That wallpaper is a horror. The party was a horror.

filth   [filth]
noun
1.
offensive or disgusting dirt or refuse; foul matter: the filth dumped into our rivers.
2.
foul condition: to live in filth.
3.
moral impurity, corruption, or obscenity.
4.
vulgar or obscene language or thought.

fear   [feer]
noun
1.
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. Synonyms: foreboding, apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation, qualm. Antonyms: courage, security, calm, intrepidity.
2.
a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights. Synonyms: phobia, aversion; bête noire, bogy, bogey, bugbear. Antonyms: liking, fondness, penchant, predilection.
3.
concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
4.
reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God. Synonyms: awe, respect, reverence, veneration.
5.
something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.

deg·ra·da·tion   [deg-ruh-dey-shuhn]
noun
1.
the act of degrading.
2.
the state of being degraded.
3.
Physical Geography . the wearing down of the land by the erosive action of water, wind, or ice.
4.
Chemistry . the breakdown of an organic compound.

pain   [peyn]
noun
1.
physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.
2.
a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain.
3.
mental or emotional suffering or torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.
4.
pains,
a.
laborious or careful efforts; assiduous care: Great pains have been taken to repair the engine perfectly.
b.
the suffering of childbirth.
5.
Informal . an annoying or troublesome person or thing.

aw·ful   [aw-fuhl]
adjective
1.
extremely bad; unpleasant; ugly: awful paintings; an awful job.
2.
inspiring fear; dreadful; terrible: an awful noise.
3.
solemnly impressive; inspiring awe: the awful majesty of alpine peaks.
4.
full of awe; reverential.
5.
extremely dangerous, risky, injurious, etc.: That was an awful fall she had. He took an awful chance by driving here so fast.

A practical interjection: some of this shit is an amazingly good deal. Two good sized tents, probably never been set up, at a fraction of what was already a cheap price. If you find this stuff at a thrift store, people… snatch it up. It’ll only be out there for a few days at most. Buy it if you need it, even if you don’t, pick it up as a great gift for someone down the line if you have room to hang on to it. People need tents sometimes. Hell, buy it for yourself and set it up at home and Occupy your living room until your spouse or domestic partner calls in the riot squad to pepper spray you in the face until you abandon your own home, tentless, and wander the streets wondering how such an innocuous purchase went so horribly wrong. Camping can be fun.

I played a fair amount of Stratego growing up and while the dapper admiral seated at the other side of the board is a welcome addition to the game (you KNOW this guy was drunk as HELL while these pictures were being taken) I also don’t remember it ever even for a moment requiring the use of two hands. Am I wrong about that? Risk, Clue, Boggle, Guess Who… I can imagine all of them potentially requiring ambidexterity. But Stratego? It’s literally just one piece at a time, with one hand. I MEAN THE MOTHER FUCKER IN THE PICTURE IS ONLY USING ONE HAND. You can’t even SEE his other hand. What. Is his other hand. Doing. Ladies and gentlemen of the secondhand jury, I ask you. Maybe I’ve watched a little too much Law and Order: SVU Board Games Squad or something, but look at that face and tell me Admiral Mustache isn’t having filthy happenings under that table while he’s trying to distract you by moving his Spy in front of your Miner, so to speak.

So to speak.

Communism is just a red herring, people.

Yes, because please leave shit like this out where anyone can just pick it up and run around with it. This was at kid level and while I checked and it wasn’t the sharpest cooking implement I’ve ever encountered in my life guess what? It’s still a fucking pizza cutter that was three feet off the floor that if *I* saw when I was nine (and assuredly tall enough to grab it at that point) I would have snatched up and run around with pretending I was some kind of Jedi who got assigned the wrong model of lightsaber and probably hacked my little brother’s finger off trying to prove how safe it was because that’s the kind of shit that kids do. Except I don’t have a little brother, so crisis averted I guess.

Sometimes you just… it… you have to… just… no. Forget it. There aren’t words. Just look at this thing that I saw. There it is. Isn’t it a thing? So, yeah. Uh… there.

RRRRRRRRRRRREALLY scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of things we can design games based around here, people. Having picked up a fair amount of dog shit in my life I can tell you that not once, not ever during the process, did I stop and think to myself “I wish there was a way to recreate this feeling in a simulated activity that I could share with friends.” Also, why is the kid on the left fucking excited by what they’re seeing? What kind of disgusting miscreants are inhabiting the outside of our children’s playthings these days? Who cheers for dog poop? What in the living hell is going ON here, exactly?

I thought I’d close on this. Through a combination of laziness and poor structural design, I don’t have any framed artwork hanging in my home at the moment, but if I could hang things I’d have absolutely bought this. I think it’s really interesting and rather beautiful and I wish I’d taken note of the artist and the name of the piece, just for posterity’s sake, because it’s the rarest of finds, at a thrift store: framed art at which you can actually stand to look. That NEVER happens. No jokes here, just a nice image that hopefully serves as a reminder to always keep your eyes peeled when you hit the thrift stores, because I almost walked out without noticing this little gem.

And with that, loves, we bring this particular episode to a close. I don’t have the words to express how much fun it was to ride out with the only other person I know who has spilled as much blood, sweat, tears, and various other bodily fluids in thrift stores over the years as I have, and how much I enjoyed recapping it for you fine people (all three of you). Hitting the trail with Lady Boss is a milestone in and of itself (and on that note, before I forget, just put a pin in this… we just got one step closer to opening our own thrift store) but this entry is kind of an achievement for me as it’s easily the longest thing I’ve ever written and it took a LOT of time and effort and so I can’t help but be a little proud and I hope you’ve enjoyed whatever portion you could stand to read. We will return as soon as humanly possible (or perhaps inhumanly possible) with further tales of secondhand woe and we hope you consent to join us again at that time but until then…

watch the skies

love

d

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Biloxi

IT LIVES. It blogs and breathes and snarls at the darkness for you, and digs through other people’s refuse to find the gems partially so you don’t have to, but also to suggest that perhaps you should. Perhaps you should join our quest.

Occasionally it goes out of town.

I Love Memphis with a burning passion, but motherfucker has to take a vacation every once in a while, and recently we chose to beat feet to the immediate southern coastal environs, accompanied by a dear heart and fellow traveler, who was kind enough and brave enough and kinda brave enough to voyage into the secondhand depths of southern Mississippi with us, where we discovered all sorts of delightful nonsense. Forgive the hair, we just got out of a convertible because that is literally how we roll(ed).

So we’ve got your basic small town Goodwill. We constructed a rough itinerary for this trek the way we always do when we find ourselves in a new location (Memphis, we’re looking at you): type “thrift stores” into google maps, see what comes up, and go from there. There, our secret is out. Expectations were… measured, to say the least, but one of the cool things about small town thrift stores is they’re not always as picked over as some of the larger ones in larger localities.

It’s weird, not to get too nuts and bolts-y about it, but there’s a strange balance that can be struck between larger cities having larger donation bases to draw from but also having a larger clientele base to pick things over, versus smaller towns maybe not having as deep of a well to draw from, but also not having as many voracious (or tasteful) shoppers… We wouldn’t deign to come down on one side or another, they certainly both have value, but it was very refreshing to step into a smaller market and have the luxury of coming across things that we’re fairly certain would have been snapped up in a heartbeat if it were a larger city with savvier shoppers. Case in point:

WHA-POW! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL white pinstripe dress shirt that fit your humble narrator like a glove (emphasis on the “love”), for all of like three or four bucks, which came along precisely when we were running low on decent dress shirts. No stains, rips, tears, wears, ring around the anything, none of it. Pristine. Mint. And PRECISELY the kind of thing that you never see in busier markets because folks are constantly snapping them up. We found about three of these smart little numbers over the course of our travels, and although eyewitness reports may contradict this assertion, we only giggled like small schoolchildren once or twice. Audibly, that is. Sometimes you have interior giggles.

I don’t know what the hell this belt buckle means or stands for but I came so close to buying it just because it seemed like you could pull some serious power moves if you had that emblem hanging right by your junk. You could basically just walk into a police station and grab a shotgun and start tearing the ceiling apart and all you’d have to yell is “MULTINATIONAL FORCE AND OBSERVERS” (or maybe “ROWING IT!?”) and they’d all be like “this is happening for a reason and it’s totally fine.”

And then sometimes you have flip flop candles. Seems cute on the surface, but then you light them and guess what you end up with? A bunch of melted flip flops. Doesn’t that sound like the saddest shit you’ve ever heard of?

melted flip flops, why
such a wretched existence
i paid for this shit

Sometimes you have to haiku about it. Don’t be mad.

HEYYY! WACKY! Look at this craziness! It’s a handheld bug zapper! What could be cooler than that! You can just run around all willy nilly slapping the little so and sos out of the air! Hell, give it to the kids, let them run around and have at it! Wait a second, what’s that…

OH REALLY. So wait, what you’re telling me is that a fucking electrified tennis racket isn’t an appropriate thing to have around children? WOW. Mind = blown. Next thing you’ll tell me lawn darts are dangerous. I love that they found it within their purview to include a warning label, but didn’t stop to think that perhaps their package design, which if you refer to the previous picture, has like a cartoon superhero arm reaching out to grab the thing and has sound effects on it and shit, would perhaps attract the attention of young people? NOOOOO. Never. You know what, give it to the fucking kids. Let them electrocute each other. As a product of the last generation to grow up with legitimately deadly playground equipment (we’re talking iron jungle gyms on concrete, none of that wood chip nonsense), this author can attest that sometimes you have to weed out the dumb ones.

MACHO POWER! BEEF HULKTHRUST! SLAM IT! I would have bought this but I wasn’t prepared to look like quite as much of an asshole as the guy on the outside of the package. Also it’s basically just springs. But come on, who doesn’t want MACHO POWER! YEAH! YELL AT IT! THROW IT! DISCUS! BEEF!

yelling

In a perfect world this would just be an entire album of someone going “Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello!” over and over again. Side two is “Pretty bird! Pretty bird! Pretty bird! Pretty bird!” I was really tempted to buy it just to find out, but then I realized I’d be paying money for a fucking Cockatiel Training Album (although to be fair it IS the “complete” one) and I thought “what manner of beast have I become?” and recoiled in existential horror. Seriously, Lovecraft couldn’t wreak this kind of a nightmare if he tried. Imagine taping someone to a chair and just putting this record on on an endless loop as loud as it could go, and seeing how long it would take until their brain broke.

Why do I get the feeling sometimes that this blog is going to be used against me as exhibit A in some sort of criminal trial someday?

On we go, to the “Re-Threads Re-Sale” store on beautiful Pass Road, on a sunny afternoon in between Biloxi and Gulfport, MS. Resale stores you need to be careful of. Anyone can put the word “thrift” in the name of their business and people are going to assume it’s the functional arm of some sort of nonprofit organization or another, but the real truth of it (I hate to pull back the curtain like this but so be it) is that most “thrift” stores are actually run for profit and purchase their stock, either from estate sales or business closeouts or whatever else, and even the ones that advertise that they’re operating for altruistic means (I’m looking at you, Goodwill and Salvation Army) have a lot of shall we say questionable practices going on behind the scenes.

JUST TO SAY that while the word “thrift” is somewhat specious, when a store goes so far as to advertise themselves as “re-sale,” you KNOW you’re dealing with some mercenary bastards. And something about that (I hate to say this) sours the experience, it’s not like they’re not all in it for the money, but the ones who just openly say “re-sale” make it sound like you’re getting screwed just in the very title, whereas at least “thrift” implies you might find a bargain or two.

And sure as shit, this building was an awful little bunker full of 60 dollar suits and disorganized shoes and stained wedding dresses that cost more than my rent. An illustration:

Just tacky overpriced crap in a makeshift low ceiling lean-to yurt kind of thing, not organized in the slightest, no signage whatsoever, almost defying you to find something worth paying money for to have.

The most interesting thing about it was the York Peppermint Patty dispenser.

Oh and this stupid shit

Moving on. Here’s a tiny TINY tiny tiny spot (seriously smaller than my apartment, which is tiny, tiny, TINY, and also tiny) but it had a bunch of weird interesting crap, reasonably priced as well, as a delightful contrast to the big barn full of stupid we were just in.

As you can see, small, and somewhat cramped, and while stores that are set up this way can evoke claustrophobia in those inclined to be sensitive to that sort of thing [raises hand], sometimes it just means that there’s a lot of quality merch packed into a very small space, and you have to spend extra time and care to sift through the petals until you get the rose to bloom.

Ok that sounds a little gross, I’m not trying to have sex with a thrift store, I can’t even believe how awful and nasty that last sentence sounded. Forget it, I quit. Blog over.

x

NEVER MIND I CAN’T STOP HERE ARE LEAF SHOES

This place had a barrage of shoes. An assault of them. It actually had so much amazing shit, and reasonably priced too, that I wanted to pick the entire store up and drag it down the street to the last place and show it to them and be like “HEY! See this? Why don’t you try and do that instead please” but of course that’s impossible. It’s still a nice idea.

Nope, don’t know what that is. Next

Everything about this is perfect. Matched set of little mushroom jars and pitchers and spice containers, hilariously kitschy 70’s look, actually seemed pretty sturdy and decently made, only like 25 bucks which for a full set like this is really actually a pretty good price. This is the kind of thing that makes you want to toss everything in your kitchen and just start over so you can have cool stuff like this. I definitely fell under the spell of this beguiling little conglomeration of cuteness, until I looked at it closer and realized I was probably never going to need a tiny mushroom shaped shaker for my marjoram. Then I realized I didn’t actually know what marjoram was. Do they still make that? Is that even a thing? I had to look it up

We here at Secondhand Underground Explorational Ventures Facility & Ongoing Concern, Ltd love a good buddha statue as much as the next faceless organization that exists solely to peer into your dreams and assess the value of what it finds there, in fact a buddha statue was the source of maybe the coolest photo we’ve ever taken at a thrift store:

But have you ever noticed that Fat Smiley Raise the Roof Buddha tends to get a lot more play than Skinny Sitting Here Bubble Covered Head Buddha? Which is odd, considering they’re not actually the same guy. Not to split hairs or anything. But our pet theory on the subject is that just judging on visual appearances, the fat guy with the robe, infectious smile and eminently rub-able belly just LOOKS like a lot more fun to hang out with than the smirking sitting guy holding some random object with are those bubbles all over your head? What the hell is your deal, man? It’s sort of a reverse Elvis situation. No one wanted Fat Elvis on a postage stamp, whereas if Fat Buddha busts in the door of your party with a 12 pack of Heineken under each arm you’re all like “WHAZZZAAAAAAAAP” and he’s like “WHAZZZZAAAAAAAAAP.”

Okay. Um. Angry Cat-Mouse-Whatever-Animal Car Faced Thing With Terrified Woman In The Driver’s Seat Who Looks Oddly Like Mary Mother Of Jesus In A Canopy That Has No Reason To Exist. Is it supposed to scare burglars away? Is it a demon? What in the sweet weeping fuck am I looking at here? Never mind. Sometimes there aren’t any answers for things. This is one of those times.

Do… you want your shoes to have hair? I’m not so much sure I do. It seems like a lot of maintenance, just to keep up with it. It’s hard enough to maintain my own hair, let alone make sure my shoes don’t need a haircut.

Okay that is a sentence that an insane person types. I think years of sifting through other people’s garbage has finally driven me mad. Thanks for following along, everyone. You’ve seen a man driven to the limits of his very sanity by an unrelenting barrage of secondhand nonsense. It’s been fun traveling with y’all but now I have to go away to this nice room where they’ve been considerate enough to pad the walls for me so I don’t bash my own brains out in a fit of “WHY THE FUCK DOES THIS DISGUSTING SHIT EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE” or some such sentiment.

I kid. Thrifting is perhaps the only thing that keeps me sane. It’s certainly not the presence of a healthy, functional relationship in my life, lord knows. So that must be it. Shit like this keeps me alive. “Okay already shut the fuck up what do we have here,” you might be saying to yourself, and if you are then perhaps you should just calm down a little bit, but regardless THIS thing… well, my first assessment of it was, and this is the god’s honest truth, “highball glass, lowball glass, and ashtray, all in one convenient set” and my traveling companion looked at me and was like “really? Toothbrush holder, water glass, and soap dish.” And I was simultaneously delighted at how much of a delusional degenerate I am and also how sharp and decent and nice my partner in crime in this particular venture was, that she saw (correctly) a bathroom set where I saw YEAH AN EFFICIENT WAY TO GET FUUUKED UP BUDDDAY!!! I was going to buy it but after that little exchange I was too embarrassed.

Moving AWN, giving full credit to my associate in this journey, she spotted a store I’d looked up but lost track of (things were hectic, don’t ask) and it turned out to be the sweetest spot in the entire venture, hands down. Ladies and people who are not ladies, if you’re ever fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to find yourself in or around the coastal environs of southern Mississippi or thereabouts, please take a few minutes out of what I’m sure is your very busy day and find your way to the WREC Thrift Store on beautiful Pass Road outside of Gulfport MS. I fully and totally endorse this thrift store, which is not something I toss around lightly. The pictures we’re about to showcase don’t do it justice but have some measure of faith when I say that it was a whirlwind of wonderful delights, and although relatively few things ended up getting purchased, it was still the best hour or so I’ve spent in a secondhand store in as long as I can remember. Coming from me that should mean something. Anyway.

It was silly in there. “Nuts to butts” (shout out to Dave Lewis for that phrase – gross, dude) with amazing clothes and weird bizarre accoutrements, knick knacks and such, like

This awesome set of mini speakers for 2 bucks. I actually hooked them up to my phone and they made an insane amount of noise, especially for being so small (they were very small). I didn’t buy them because I kind of couldn’t think of when I’d need to use them but they were solid and potentially dangerous in the way that old electronics and appliances and things tended to be back in the day, because you had to be intelligent enough to use them without getting killed, which is how we weeded out the dumb ones. How do we do that now? Oh right, reality TV. We just make them famous.

UMM did we just discover a better version of the thermometer? Slap that shit on your forehead, wait 15 seconds, BAM! You’ve got a fever! Or not (I hope you are not actually sick). How did this not catch on? Is this like when we were all supposed to adopt the metric system back in the 70s but no one wanted it because we’re all so fundamentally lazy as Americans that we can’t rejigger a few numbers in our heads (that’s all it would have taken)?

I won’t rehash the skinny scarf revolution because I’m afraid dedicated readers of this internet blogging nonsense space are sick of hearing about it but it bears repeating that it’s in FULL effect, people have been popping up all over the place busting out skinny scarves with a fierceness that puts even this humble author (who was the co-originator of the trend in the first place) to shame, but one of the parts of staying on top of a fashion revolution is finding new ways to innovate and new places in which to do so, and thankfully the calming shores of the WREC Thrift Store were a haven and a maven (I don’t think that’s the proper usage of that word but I’m going to leave it in there) for us in our endless quest to expand the boundaries of what is appropriate for a dude to just wear while he is walking around. To wit:

Your humble narrator, thrift coordinator, obscure idea explicator, secondhand bomb detonator, messiah of the one true gospel that is other people’s discarded possessions, decorated in the best of his fineries, which in this case is what is basically a sash that he’s wearing like a scarf, but god dammit clothes are what you decide they’re going to be and if I say this silly piece of fabric makes me fab to the lous then guess what, it does. It’s not a great picture or anything but if you grasp the spirit behind it then perhaps today is the day you finally leave the house with a potato for a hat. And if you do then I wish you well and I will enthusiastically high five you when I see you on the street. That is a promise.

This Joker suit came SO close to fitting me that I honestly considered buying it even though the pants were so tight they made me feel like my intestines were an angry squid that had somehow found its way into the inside of my body and was trying to squeeze me to death from somewhere in there. Unfortunately it’s a lot easier to take clothes in than it is to let them out. This is the opinion of someone who’s never been to a professional tailor. Who also has never been to an amateur tailor. Who also has never worn clothes worth of tailing (that’s probably not the right way to say that). I basically live in a dumpster. Love me

Remember when I would find laundry baskets full of obsolete unusable electronics every time I went out to a thrift store? Longtime readers of this blog (I fool myself into thinking they exist, forgive me) will remember in the early entries the HUUUUGE amounts of power adapters, charging cables, sockets, outlets, transformers, and other related so and sos that we would stumble across, kind of chiding them with bemused delight, whereas now, any time I see a pile of this crap I’m like THANK GOD it feels like a drink of water in a vast endless desert or a breath of air in vacuum, BECAUSE:

This is a point I’ve been meaning to make for a long time. Thrift stores are becoming far too sanitized. The more stores that close up in the city and re-open in the suburbs, the worse it gets. Is the experience of shopping in the Salvation Army on Kirby Whitten Road cleaner than the experience of shopping in the one that used to be open on Danny Thomas Boulevard? Sure. Of course it is. But is it better? Fuck no. Not in a million years. Why, you ask? Because the whole point is that you’re SUPPOSED to get your hands dirty a little bit. It makes whatever gems you end up finding (because in stores like that you ALWAYS end up finding something) that much more valuable, because you got a little gross in the effort to find them. Those two concepts are inseparable, and I’m sorry but the huge Goodwills and Salvation Army stores out in the boonies are nice and everything but I’d trade them in a heartbeat to have Salvo Danny Thomas and Goodwill Chelsea back, no hesitation. Because that’s what it’s about. Gross stores keep the squares away. The sanitized places are fine for what they are, but I want the dirty places to continue to exist. Because they’re not mutually exclusive. People like you and I, dear reader, we need spots to go to where the less brave would quail. We need places to make our magic, to find the home decorations that make people say “oh wow where did you get that” and we say with practiced nonchalance, “thrift store. No bigs.” And if you believe what I’m preaching, if you’re interested in drinking this particular brand of Kool-Aid, then let me know and we can venture out together. Let’s power through the rest of this nonsense so I can finish this entry before the fucking apocalypse comes

This is, really, I can’t dispute what it’s advertising. A bunch of bubble blowers. That’s a bubble pipe, a bubble clover pipe, and a bubble kazoo. If something about this doesn’t delight you on a really basic level then your inner child has died somewhere along the line and you may want to see a doctor because you might have lupus.

Calligraphy is a dying art but what isn’t dying, really

No idea what the fuck that is. Whatever

Ancient cellphone. Is that an ear cushion? Is that something people thought was okay? This weighed more than my foot and probably got reception like you were calling from Jupiter. Remember when only assholes had cellphones? Ah, those were the days.

Let’s get this over with. Tiny Goodwill.

Clothes and shit.

Okay this was actually pretty funny.

Books.

Books about whales.

Sock Jocky. Fashion Gadget. Sock Jocky Fashion Gadget. sockjockyfashiongadget

Bag of what

Oh that’s weird you never find a motorized wheelchair

SOMETIMES YOU FIND A SECOND MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIR

That’s it, loves. Thank you if you read through this whole nightmare apocalypse of verbiage. Bored people at work, I love you, you’re my core audience. You and my mom. Regardless, thanks for sticking with this space, it will continue to exist for as long as there’s a pile of crap to sift through, and very special thanks to Courtney for… well, for all of it. Be back soon, my dearests.

ROWING IT!

d

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Secondhand Underground: The Interview

http://peopleiknow.us/?p=180

A local journalist and blogger and podcaster of note was kind enough to sit down with us recently and ask all sorts of perceptive questions and not object to us babbling like the micro machines guy after he’d ingested a significant quantity of methamphetamine, so if you’ve ever wanted a fast paced version of this blog in your ear holes, we strongly encourage you to go and listen. Seriously though, Ed was great to talk to and we’re really proud of the interview and touched that we had a chance to talk about what we’re about, and it sounds great and it’s a fun listen so go and check it out.

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Amvets again again?

Yes, and here’s why.

Whenever a fellow traveler deigns to accompany us along on one of our doomed voyages into the secondhand aether, we usually extend them the courtesy of letting them choose the destination, or at least pick from a few suggestions, and on this outing we were joined by our delightful friend Jen:

Who after some deliberation, selected good old Amvets on Elvis Presley Boulevard as the target for this particular tactical strike. And while one’s initial reaction to the thought of plumbing this particular well again so soon after another recent visit could be panic, fear, or trepidation, please, bear in mind -

IT’S A THRIFT STORE. The whole IDEA is that it’s never the same twice. You could go back every day straight for a week and find something new every time. The very notion that there’s ISN’T going to be something new and surprising there is so antithetical to the gestalt of the thing that it’s preposterous to even entertain it. Nonetheless, as the sign says… “Use at your own risk.” I briefly thought about pulling that off and attaching it to my lapel because trust me honey, it assuredly applies to your humble narrator’s deranged ass just as much as it applies to an only intermittently functioning vending machine. I was tempted to throw a couple quarters in there just out of solidarity with the f*cking thing, but I thought better of it. I digress. Let’s get our hands dirty.

I love you Amvets but you REALLY gotta try harder with the mannequins. I mean throw a button up on there or something? Even if you really only wanted to showcase the pants, you can do better than a dilapidated bitch-beater for the top half. It just brings down the whole ensemble. Plus I think it might be on backwards.

CLAM PIE! Oh wait no Glam Pie. Wait, that’s not any better. What the hell kind of message is this? What is a “Glam Pie?” Oh, ok, Google is telling me it’s some bullshit line of pastry themed footwear cooked up by Reverend Run’s stupid kids. You know, I really didn’t need to know that. I hate to get off on a tangent (blatant lie right there) but it often strikes me that one of the weird things about my generation’s particular point in history is that we’re some of the last people (in the privileged, first world environment we live in, I recognize it’s not like this for everyone but still, bear with me) who are going to remember what it was like before the rise of the internet, and smart phones, and google’s facilitation of the insane ubiquity of information that we all now nearly take for granted. 20 years ago, hell, even 10 years ago if I saw these stupid shoes I would laugh at what a nonsensical phrase “Glam Pie” is (and it REALLY is), and but then if I wanted to know anything more about it I would really have to DIG and go and do some research, it would either have to be this dumb thing that I just laughed at WHICH IS TOTALLY FINE if it only ever existed on that level, or if I really wanted to know more I’d have to TRY and find out instead of just opening up another browser tab and typing the letters in and hitting “return.” Finding out that another member of the Simmons clan decided to put some more ugly garbage out there in the world doesn’t make these shoes any more hilarious or remarkable, and in fact taking away the delight of just wondering about what would drive someone to create something so ill-concieved actually makes them LESS interesting instead of more. I don’t know if saying that makes me sound like Andy Rooney or if any of this even makes sense but I just wanted to share that moment because it occurs to me a lot. Anyway, Clam Pie it is.

I love the hyperbole. It can’t just be “The Search for Canada’s Secret Animals” or “The Secret Animals of Canada” or “Holy Shit Can You Believe All These Animals Were Hiding in Canada,” it’s gotta be the MOST Secret Animal in the ENTIRE nation. Who decides that? Who judges what the SECRETEST animal in the whole of Canada is? I mean first off clearly it’s not this dumb wolf on the cover, wolves are just running around willy nilly up there from what I’ve been led to understand, maybe it’s that little manatee or seal thing or whatever that is in the little inset picture in the corner of the cover and sorry it’s a blurry photo, I was a little dazed by the idea of secret animals in general, but really this is just stupid. If Canada really had anything interesting to offer in the way of wildlife they’d have coughed it up by now. I’m sorry but when you say “secret animal” to me I’m thinking in the cryptid ballpark, know what I mean? Give me a chupacabra, a yeti, hell, I’ll even take a freaking orang pendek, I don’t care. THOSE are secret animals. Your jersey devils, your mothmen. NOW we’re talking. Btw next time you want to kill some time at work just start running down this page, I guarantee you it’ll reignite at least some sense of childlike wonder about the world even in the most jaded of grownups. Moving on.

I have a confession to make: I have become a terrible reader. An unintended side effect of my disastrous efforts to open up a book store (some of which were detailed in this space and elsewhere over the years) was that I’ve fallen out of the habit of regularly reading. I still read online a great deal, and watch a lot of movies and take in what I would consider a staggering amount of mediated information, but I used to be one of those people who always had at LEAST two books going at once, if not more, and magazines and newspapers and whatever I could get my hands on. I was voracious, and my home was lousy with lazily thumbed-through tomes. But the stress and irritation of accumulating, transporting, caring for and then eventually DISPOSING OF around 4000 books just beat it out of me, I still love to read but try as I might I can’t get that rhythm going again, BUT. The only reason I bring it up is because this neat little piece of YA fic seemed like it might be a fun little bite sized way back in, so I bought it, which, me buying a book these days is a remarkably rare event, but it’s got all these cool Edward Gorey style illustrations, and every chapter is prefaced with some kind of obscure fear (Chapter 16: “Helminthophobia is the fear of being infested with worms.”) and it just seems fun and bite-sized enough that I could blow through it in an afternoon. So we’ll see how that goes.

In other news, Jen was on a TEAR and found a ton of awesome dresses, several of which were in decent shape and actually fit, which I have to say is probably the reason I end up coming back to Amvets over and over again, is their clothes are just so much better than pretty much anywhere left in town. Sure, some of the suburban Goodwills might have MORE clothes, or the Salvation Army on Kirby Whitten might have cleaner stuff or whatever, but none of it is half as cool as the things you find at Amvets, because, drumroll please…

The suburbs are fucking boring. I know most of this goes without saying but if you want the real swag you have to go into the hood and get your hands dirty to get it, and in that regard nowhere else in town holds a candle to Amvets. There WERE places that had that (Thrift Town, Salvo on Danny Thomas) but guess what, they all closed and moved to the suburbs, or Summer Ave! If you put a thrift store in the middle of some bland subdivision in the middle of nowhere guess what, the store’s inventory is going to reflect that. But if you have a place like Amvets that’s in the middle of this funky, crazy, totally gnarly and hairy neighborhood guess what you’re going to find when you go into the store!

SHIT LIKE THIS! This “handmade” (read: stitched a bunch of random shit on the front of) purse, with like 9 buttons and random pieces of fabric and crap attached to it in what’s supposed? to be some kind of… scene? Is it Christmas? Is it a cake? Are those legs? Who can tell. Point is… it’s INTERESTING. Granted, I would NOT want to take that home and display it for my guests, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting to look at and be around then some rich lady’s 2000 dollar bed set that she donated to the Salvation Army on Kirby Whitten because she scratched the headboard and didn’t feel like getting it refinished. Yawn city. I can’t do anything with that.

Is this a cat… house? I don’t really know what I’m looking at here. I’m not a cat person, don’t hate em by any means but I’ve never owned one and I have some serious reservations about the prospect so anyway a lot of cat-related things just sail completely over my head. Are they supposed to… scratch it? I guess? What do cats really do to anything aside from that? Oh wait…

I’m a moron. “Try looking at it from the other side dude.” Yeah, the things that don’t occur to me until several minutes later. I’m standing there like “this thing makes no sense” but you know I could always maybe walk about to the other side and look at it from that perspective, but… no? I just stood there for really like a couple minutes being like DUHURR I DO NOT GET IT and then yes of course it’s a house, it’s a little fake house for your cats to run around on and you can look at it and pretend they’re in a little house. Check. Solved another one. All in a day’s work for Sherlock Nielsen over here. Put that one in the books. Next!

I have another confession to make: these entries are getting out of control. I took almost fifty pictures at the Amvets on this random Sunday which was at the time of this writing a week ago, and it’s taken me that long to even get this far into this entry, which is not even a quarter of the way through. I’m going to have to make a serious effort to be more concise in my picture taking and my writing, or else these things are going to take me a month to crank out, and be so long and bloated and digressive that NO ONE is going to read all the way through them, and barely anyone does that already as it is. I just can’t help myself, I find all these things genuinely interesting (like this odd recliner with two… ports? in the back? I have no clue what that’s for. They’re like little crank things or something. Why do you need to crank a chair) and I want to save them and show them off later and it’s become this situation where the more I go, the longer I stay, and the more interesting things I find, and I can’t help it if they make me want to rant about them for three paragraphs at a time but either I’m going to have to find a publishing deal so I can have the ten hours a day I’m apparently going to need to keep doing this or else I’m going to have to quit my job and just blog full time and try to live on donations.

You know, I said that as a joke, but… hm.

This is hilarious. This is an early version of the treadmills they have at a lot of gyms now with little flatscreen monitors on them so you can watch CNN or whatever while you go through your intervals or whatever. But the screen tech hadn’t quite caught up to the impulse to “hey, let’s throw a TV on this bitch” so they just had to drop like an old clunky TV right in front of you, and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but the sight of this thing just tickled me. Maybe it’s funny because it’s so outdated, like if someone picked you up to go somewhere and still had like a “car phone” from back in the day, or maybe it’s funny because I keep picturing someone running full tilt on this thing, like really hauling ass, and then the power suddenly cuts out and they just fly forward and BURY their head right in the picture tube, and three weeks later when the neighbors start to complain about the smell the police finally kick the door down and there’s just this bloated corpse in a pair of track shorts and a lycra tank top just dangling, suspended by its head which is completely shoved inside of this tiny television. And then all the paramedics take pictures before they pull it out. Did you know they do that? They ALL do that. Ask one sometime.

Speaking of hilariously outdated technology, we used to get these HUMONGOUS old ass big screen TVs donated to the MIFA store all the time, and usually they still work okay but people just get rid of them because well, the picture quality is basically garbage compared to even like the cheapest plasma or LCD on the market, and of course even if it wasn’t, people just gotta have the new hotness and show off their new 72 inch colossal flatscreen that they’re going to be paying for for the next seven years but hey! It’s worth it, to be the envy of the neighborhood, right? What’s a little crippling debt between friends (and by friends of course I mean private citizens and massive multinational corporations, which apparently qualify as people now, according to our current campaign finance laws. Did I just get political? I think I did. I’m officially running for president in 2012 as the lone member of the Thrift Party. Our slogan? “Why Vote For Something New When You Could Vote For Something Used”) right?

People make me sick. We’re all a bunch of animals. Dumb beasts. Anyway the only reason I even took a picture of this admittedly pretty busted TV is because listen to this sound

Isn’t that amazing? I could listen to that all day. It’s like nails on a chalkboard, but soothing somehow. Like if nails on a chalkboard was giving you a blowjob.

Ooh I think I just summed up this whole blog in a sentence. Trademark that shit

This… I don’t even know where to start. One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was taking apart old radios, just cheap battery operated ones that ceased to function because maybe my parents left the same set of batteries in them for, I don’t know, a couple YEARS or so after they were already dead and the power connections completely corroded and it was useless because they were too baked all the time to remember to swap them out (love you mom and dad)? I’m not complaining, it gave me a lot of fun toys to play with when I was little, and but something like this would have been like CRACK for me. I don’t think this picture does it justice, hang on

That is a NINE BAND RADIO. NINE. I didn’t even know there were nine bands of transmissions flying through the air at any given moment (many of them passing through your body as we speak, in addition to microwaves, cosmic rays, magnetic currents, and pretty much every other type of energy that isn’t heat, visible light, or sound. Try not to think about it too much, you’ll freak out. And people wonder why we all have cancer now) let alone that there was a machine in existence that could access them all. Ok so we’ve got AM and FM those are the easy ones, but what the hell are the rest? If only there was a handy dandy guide on the back of the thing that explained what all the others were…

BAM. ZOW. Take that shit to the bank and smoke it only guess what? There’s no smoking in the bank and even if there was they’d probably take a pretty fucking dim view of you trying to actually smoke feces in their financial institution. I mean what kind of a twisted freak are you anyway. I think you need to leave.

Where was I. Oh, so you’ve got your Marine Band! You can listen to BOATS TALKING TO EACH OTHER ON THIS SHIT. You’ve got your Short Wave! Is that a thing people do any more? You’ve got your VHF television broadcast audio which okay, that’s definitely not a thing that people do any more but still! The fun never STOPS with this thing. You’re talking 19 transistors! 12 diodes! We’re even throw in a freaking THERMISTOR (thermistor? I barely know her) to sweeten the pot! So do we have a deal yet or what?

Call now, operators are ;laksjdf;lkasdjf;laskjfdalsdkfjalksjfa;lsd

Bear with me…

[nerd]

Ah, the Dreamcast. Sega’s last real attempt to stay competitive in the console market. The little cube that could. Don’t ask me what it was but something about the Dreamcast really managed to capture people’s hearts and imaginations (I never owned one, but to this day if I go to someone’s house and they have one I’m always always tempted to fire it up and play a few rounds of “Jet Grind Radio” or “Crazy Taxi”) but did you know! Did you know… there are actually people out there still developing and releasing games for this 12 year old platform? That’s UNHEARD of. It would be like if developers were still sitting around cranking out games for the Virtual Boy, or trying to reprogram the Power Glove so you could use it with your Xbox 360 (not that there probably isn’t someone working on that as I type these very words), and it really says something about the goodwill they managed to engender. God love you Sega. The SNES was always better than the Genesis and it always will be, but I love the fact that you never stopped trying. SEGA!

[/nerd]

Anyone who knows me at all well knows I have a globe fetish. I love them and I don’t feel like I have a home unless I have one around. I can’t put my finger on why and I won’t attempt to, but suffice it to say that during my last round of “am I moving in three months or not” I got rid of the last one I had and I’ve been regretting it ever since, so I picked up this snazzy little number which was originally designed to be a lamp but the wiring was all borked because it’s cheesy and it came from a drug store so I just pulled it all out and now it’s a smart little globe on a pedestal that lives in my kitchen. About nine feet off the ground on top of a cabinet because my kitchen is the size of a closet. Scratch that, my closet is actually BIGGER than my kitchen. Not even kidding about that. Midtown apartments are weird.

Oh when I was talking about taking apart radios before? This is the one I was talking about. I swear to god I disassembled this exact radio one summer when I was about 9 or so, and picked over all the little components and looked at all of them (didn’t quite put it together in my head that it’s a lot easier to pull a capacitor OFF of a circuit board than it is to put it back ON, at least not without a soldering iron which I didn’t have, but still) and was totally and completely rapt. That’s the kind of kid I was. Rapt by capacitors.

OK. Vintage appliance lightning round GO!

There HAS to be a piece missing from this thing, right? Some sort of guard that keeps juice from flying all over the room the minute you shove some poor unsuspecting piece of citrus half down on this whirling spike of death? I should have inspected it a bit closer. Because it LOOKS, to me, like this thing is basically designed to just SPLATTER anyone who tries to use it to make juice from a fruit. Maybe Gallagher built it. Is he even alive still? I can’t even be bothered to google it to find out.

Boring picture, only posted here to point out how much I LOVE that color scheme that 70’s appliances all seemed to have. That combination of oranges and browns and yellows that fairly well BELLOWS “shag carpeting in the basement rec room” at you. I see those colors together and I see flared jeans, insanely skinny women with super long super straight hair, and what the hell maybe even a coke booger thrown in for good measure. Ah, the 70s. Spoken of with the kind of affection only a person who didn’t have to actually experience a single second of it can have.

Boy, they’re really trying to sell THIS thing, huh? Confidential to Panasonic: it’s just a whirling blade in a little plastic pitcher. Listing 47 different things that you can do with it isn’t going to go very far towards distracting people from the fact that it doesn’t do anything you couldn’t accomplish fairly easily with a good kitchen knife and a fucking whisk. At least the Cuisinart we had when I was a kid was unpretentious enough to only have two buttons on the front and dispense with all the educational captions. Oh you can chop ICE with this thing?!?? Holy stinking hell! Will wonders never cease! A machine that… chops ICE?!??!?!

WOW!

I literally had NO use for this thing what so EVER, but it broke my heart to put it back because I have a deep love for old analog video processing equipment. Those VHS dubbing machines with all the little knobs and controls? Gasp. Slide projectors? Swoon. I even get a kick out of how they used to use overhead projectors with different colored liquids in them to do the little light shows at “happenings” back in the 60s. It always made it hard to take them seriously in school. I just kept expecting one of the “sock it to me!” girls from laugh in to run out and start doing the hippy hippy shake in the middle of math class. Why did that never happen? Anyway, this thing is SUPER simple – video input and output on the back, and controls for intensity, chroma, burst, and hue. That’s it. I could literally kill HOURS playing with this thing. Perhaps that makes me strange. It definitely makes me want to get a public access show and just mess around with random old tapes I find. Are there still public access networks? Did that fall by the wayside along with saturday morning cartoons and everything else good in the world? Who the hell are you people?

I had to retreat to the restroom facilities which are located in the back of the sorting room, and on the way back out to the floor I noticed this odd little juxtaposition, which I’m not sure I can exactly put my finger on WHY it tickles me so much but it really just does. Perhaps it’s a generational thing but for me, having grown up in the 80s during the rise of Nintendo (I had a subscription to Nintendo Power magazine and I read every page, even if it was about a game I was never going to buy – I was THAT kid) the Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt cartridge might as well BE the bible. So it seemed wholly amusing to find them conveniently stacked up like that. That’s not just any bible either mind you, anyone who stayed in a hotel for the last 30 or so years of the 20th century can tell you that’s an honest to goodness Gideon Bible like you used to be able to find in every single hotel on the planet, but apparently no more. I guess they gave up. Or maybe I stole them all, as I started to make an obsessive habit of that after staying in so many hotels on road trips AND, I discovered they’re the perfect size, shape, and weight to kill damn near any variety of spider or roach or other horrible insect you might encounter in your home, so I tend to keep one at hand at all times. It’s fun, actually, you get to say you “smote” them if you kill them with a bible. I’m tempted to try to say something else funny about Gideons, but I’m afraid I have to defer to the master on this one…

Ninjas?

Did anyone NOT have some version of this as a kid? I trace my lifelong love of both donuts AND rainbows back to my childhood experiences with my own (I believe mine was playskool) take on this… thing. Whatever it is. Is it a game? I don’t even know what I used to do with mine. I guess maybe you play ring-toss with it? I think I used to just take the rings off and look at them. Which is what I would have done with this thing except a couple of the smaller donuts were starting to come apart at the seams, which was disappointing. But then again this thing is probably about as old as I am, and some of MY smaller donuts are starting to come apart at the seams as well (I have no idea what that means) if you get my drift, soooo…

Or maybe it’s just that donuts and rainbows are awesome. Who knows

Continuing with the theme of stuff I had when I was little, my version of this was once again playskool if I recall correctly and was brown plastic with darker brown buttons (my parents preferred a more reserved color palette than most) and didn’t have a microphone but it was the same basic principle. It takes a truly brave parent to give a five year old a functioning cassette deck. I imagine that for parents, sizing up any toy that produces any type of sound whatsoever is basically a decision making process based around the question “will I be comfortable hearing whatever kind of sound this thing makes blaring incessantly around my home literally ad nauseam for at least the next six months if not longer?” and if it’s just a little xylophone or a talking power ranger or whatever that’s one thing, but when your kid can literally put in any tape they want (or can get their hands on anyway) and pretty much walk around with it playing at any volume they want (until you put a stop to it, of course) well… let’s just say that as time goes on I only have MORE respect for the people in my life who have kids on purpose, not less.

Gnip Gnop!

I already spazzed out about the 70s once in this post (I think, I honestly can’t remember, I started writing it almost a month ago and every time I try to read back through to see what I’ve written I slip into some sort of weird fugue state and come to standing outside a gas station with a half-eaten “Whatchamacallit” in my hand) but I flipped my shit when I saw this – leave it to the decade that gave us puka shells, quaaludes, and almost the entire recorded output of Sid and Marty Krofft to be stoned enough to come up with the idea of “reverse ping pong, maaaan” let alone market it to kids. No wonder everyone I know in their 40s is deeply disturbed. Oh but wait…

DAMMIT! SELL OUT! This is how long it’s been since I started this damn thing, I was looking at the previous picture honestly thinking to myself “wait, why didn’t I buy that, that’s actually pretty awesome and would make an amazing conversation piece and is a good excuse to get a table anyway (I live in a hovel)” and seeing this picture actually caught me just as off guard as originally discovering it did. That’s some sad shit right there. Who stores their damn fake legos in a Gnip Gnop box, anyway? That’s just wrong. What the hell is with some people

I don’t know what to say about this, I just thought it was badass. Little ebony fake “Skipper” doll with a HUMONGOUS skirt. Oooh gurl

I believe I’ve recounted the tale of my pet mouse that I had when I was a kid in a prior entry so I’ll spare you, suffice it to say I found this box hella depressing. I’m sure someone bought it and probably had a real use for it and everything but I look at this and all I see is a giant box of a little kid crying about the fact that his fucking hamster died.

SECONDHAND UNDERGROUND GETS GRIM

Oh god, where am I? I’m at a thrift store, right. Damn. Ok checking back in with Jen, she is still on a tear, snagging this awesome white cotton frilly doily dress which if memory serves (it rarely does) actually fit and she actually bought. I may be wrong about that. Nonetheless, it’s a find. This is why I bring the lady energy with me to these places as often as I can. I wouldn’t have spotted this if it was just me and I wouldn’t have known if it was any good even if I had. Yay women!

Scouted this out (and eventually ended up passing on it, but still) as a potential addition to my arsenal in the one-man fashion war I’m fighting to establish a new trend. I’ve brought this up before in this particular internet blogging yelling space, but just on the off chance there are new readers here, here goes… Hear me out: so you’ve heard of skinny ties, yes? And skinny jeans?

What about a skinny scarf. What about it? There are so many possibilities! We have the jaunty cold weather look:

The traditional:

And my personal favorite, the handmade:

People like to poke fun, people outright laugh, but you know what? They laughed at the guy who thought up the Hindenburg, and look at how THAT turned out.

Wait… bad example. Point is: Skinny Scarves. It’s a thing. Deal with it.

What you SHOULDN’T have to deal with is this… thing? Is it even a thing? I don’t know what the hell to call this… this. Is it art? Is it driftwood? Is it polished? A totem? Sex toy? Doorstop, paperweight, weapon, appendage, obstacle, freight train, marzipan, calculation, exigence, clemency, fabrication, pustule, misanthrope, completist, anorexic? WHAT THE HELL AM I LOOKING AT. It actually kind of looks like the pink sludge that swarmed up out of Sigourney Weaver’s bathtub in the second Ghostbusters movie which is pretty rad but I still didn’t want to touch it.

This was actually kind of awesome. A little chocolate whipping pitcher thing. I avoid buying appliances like the plague because my kitchen is the size of the word “small” written on the back of a postage stamp and put into a garbage compactor and this is one of the instances where that tendency serves me well, because I’d probably buy this and never use it, but come on, who doesn’t want the option to be able to make a pitcher of whipped chocolate (or whatever the hell it is this thing actually does, I never really figured it out) whenever they so choose? It’s America, people. Wake up and smell the freedom. Rock flag and eagle.

[nerd]

Hanar dog?

[/nerd]

This cracked me up SO hard. Skip this one if you don’t care about basketball, but for the NBA fans in the audience, anyone remember when Stephon Marbury thought he was enough of a star to have his own line of fifteen dollar shoes and now he plays in the fucking CBA and his whole career was a joke? I’m not knocking the idea that a pair of decent ball shoes shouldn’t cost as much as a car payment, I’m just saying that no one’s going to brag about wearing a line of shoes bearing the logo of a guy who in his best season put up 23 points and less than 9 assists a game. That’s all. Could be worse I guess. Could be like AI and have to play ball in Turkey.

“Turkey? Practice? Practice, man… practice? Turkey?”

And then you come across an article of clothing that is so amazing that it makes reading over 5000 words to get to this point totally worth it (yeah right). This is a “Malone and Hyde Drug Distribution” jacket with the black polyester exterior, elastic collar and cuffs, and cotton lining so you could actually wear it when it was cold as shit outside but you want to know the best part?

OH MY GOD I bought it. I SO bought it. It’s in my closet as I type these words and I just looked over at it (I usually write in bed) and said hello. Hey there, guy. Did you know you’re awesome today? Because you are. “Beautiful” indeed.

Something about this illustration struck me as particularly beautiful, so even though I can’t hang any framed art in my apartment because my walls are made of this weird plaster mesh shit that refuses to hold nails and I’m too lazy to go out and get anchors because I constantly rearrange my wall art anyway, SO what I did was buy this thing and just take it out of the frame (it was only stapled in there to begin with) and now it’s sitting on my piano, and I love it and I think it’s beautiful and I have a distant notion that I might write an album of solo piano instrumentals just about this imaginary woman in the picture and of course I’ll get around to that when I have a ton of extra time on my hands which when was that supposed to happen again? Oh, right. Fucking never. Great.

Crocodile Dentist.

Any board game I remember from when I was a kid automatically gets the youtube commercial treatment. That is just a rule of this blog. Sorry.

Speaking of board games, now… I don’t know, but it seems like in the echelon of “things that were begging to be transformed into a board gaming family experience fun time,” People Magazine was not exactly hovering right at the top. Maybe it’s just me, but has anyone actually ever read people magazine when they weren’t sitting in a lower-tier dentist’s office’s waiting room, or in line at the supermarket, or some such activity?

You know, for less than it would cost me for a hot meal at Denny’s (I’m sorry I guess “meal” should have been in quotes… as should “hot” and maybe even “Denny’s”… hell, why not put “quotes” in “”quotes””… wait, what the fuck am I talking about?) I could have walked out with this entire sweaty stack of board games and why didn’t I? Is it because I’m a miser? Is it because I hate the idea of hours upon hours of fun? Is it because I don’t actually own a table of any kind on which I could play, say High School Musical Mystery Date (fake Mystery Date from the 80s), or Payday (fake Monopoly), or Upwords (fake vertical Scrabble)?

No. It’s because all those games are really stupid.

Oh shit guess what Lou Gramm and the rest of Foreigner whose names I could never ever be possibly even bothered to learn even if it meant a full scholarship to the Sorbonne and a lifetime’s supply of Pistachio ice cream? I figured out what Love is. It’s a lopsided wooden star with some sort of hideous illustration in the middle that you find at a run down thrift store and almost immediately discard because it’s ugly and awful. Now, Lou Gramm and the rest of Foreigner, ask yourselves… was that so hard to figure out? And was it worth singing that stupid godawful song about, over and over and over again? I think not. Perhaps now you can stop. The next time I see you at a local state fair I’ll check in personally and make sure you’ve received this message and complied. I look forward to seeing you then.

OH CRAP MATCHING FLYING MONKEY JACKETS

BA NANT BA NAAH BA NAAH NAAH

If anyone’s read this far along to actually reach the closing benediction, I’d like to personally thank you for sticking around during this especially exhausting endeavor. I’ll shoot for more conciseness in the future but it was also sort of fun in an odd way to spend damn near a month crafting this thing, patchwork though it may be, and I’d like to extend special thanks to my wonderful friend Jen for accompanying me on this trip and just being a delight in general, and to everyone who put up with my refusal of social invitations over the course of the last month so I could crank this fucking thing out, and keep an eye peeled on this particular internet space through whatever method you prefer (RSS, email subscriptions, facebook, obsessively dialing up this URL every day as if your life depended on it) for a VERY exciting announcement in the very near future. Until then, my lovelies, my dears, my one and only(s)…

Stay golden, Pony Boy.

love

d

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Goodwill Half Price Centre

Recipe for a thrift store blog entry introduction photo:

-Face away from store logo, and preferably sun
-Point camera at both
-Wear sunglasses, unnecessarily
-Squint, even though no one can see you squinting.

And this is what you get. Hello and welcome to another chronicle of discarded absurdity, lost on an offramp on a journey towards secondhand nirvana, here we are. My friends, my peoples, welcome back to the Secondhand Underground. Join me, won’t you?

This time out we stayed relatively local and decided to check in on what we used to think was just another ordinary Goodwill on Highland by the university, but apparently sometime between the last time we ventured there and now, it turned itself into the “Goodwill Half Price Centre” (yes I’m choosing to use the British spelling, it makes it seem more fancy and justifiable somehow, forgive me for trying to put the proverbial prom dress on the proverbial pig as it were) which means what exactly?

IT MEANS ALL THE SIGNS ARE RED WAAAAAAAACKY and apparently everything’s half off although they could do a better job communicating that information to the customers, as you can see the signs still list everything at normal price, and inform you that the “Discount will be taken off at the register” and although that’s not exactly the most complicated notion anyone’s ever conceived, it did take me a moment to parse it out, savvy shopper that I am, so I imagine it only further confuses other folks. Anyway, moving on. A brief overview of the merchandise.

I’ve seen some particularly weak notions get turned into board games in my relatively short and blessed life (Mousetrap, anyone?) but this one has to come close to taking the cake, if not actually taking the entire cake itself. Let’s just say it takes a large fraction of the cake. It takes enough of the cake that everyone else is like “well there’s only a little bit of cake left, why don’t you just have it” and everyone else else is like “well no it’s okay, it’s no big deal, I’ve been trying to lay off the sweets anyway, and it’s only a little bit of cake, so why don’t you take it” and the first bunch of everyone is like “no really it’s okay, I actually don’t like cake all that much (blatant lie) so you should just have whatever’s left of this cake because I don’t actually want it all that much anyway” and the other everyone is like “well now I feel weird, it seems like you feel obligated to give me some of whatever’s left of this cake” and the first everyone has to basically insist like “just eat the fucking cake already” and by that point it’s gotten weird.

Assuredly I started out talking about something. Oh, twenty questions. Yeah, that’s weird. Cake.

I don’t know why (and I don’t want to know why) but my first impulse when I saw this thing was to yell “PUT THE LOTION IN THE BASKET” as loud as I could.

This… lord, I don’t even know what to say about this. For clarity’s sake, this is a photo montage of every school picture this girl had from first grade to 12th. Ok, so. There’s the weird time capsule angle. There’s the movie “Heathers” which I of course live to reference. There’s the CIRRRRRRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIIFE angle, there’s the existential ambiguity of lining up this many portraits of one marginally attractive girl all in a row and there’s something to be said for watching time have its way with a beautiful innocent face, and watching the gorgeous smile of an uncomprehending child gradually start to harden into the forced grimace of a functioning adult, I only wish this picture came with a time lapse future image of the desiccated old woman that this smiling young lady will eventually become. Life in a nut shell. DUHURRRRRRRR

Uhhhh the uhhh goodwill furniture section is looking particularly anemic today. I guess they turned this location into the dumping ground for whatever merch doesn’t make the cut at their other locations, which explains the 50 percent discount, but still, if your entire furniture area is one fucking couch, maybe you need to reexamine your evaluation of what is worthwhile and what isn’t with a perhaps slightly more critical eye. Just sayin.

Same comment applicable for the section formerly known as “Electronics and Housewares” but now more accurately described as “Dust and Junk.” I gotta say, I kind of understand the rationale behind streamlining the selection down to mainly clothes and little odds and ends that didn’t sell at any of the airplane hangar sized Goodwills out in Raleigh, but I can’t say that I find it anything other than disheartening, as well. While the Goodwill on Highland was never my FAVORITE store in town, it was still always fun to get in there and bump around in a tiny spot filled with university leavings, and now it’s just kind of… quiet. Too quiet. Quiet in a way you don’t want a thrift store to be, if that makes any sense. It doesn’t. Allow me to attempt to elaborate:

Thrift stores are, to me anyway, supposed to be very active places. Forgive me, I’m trying to pin down a weird thought here. Try to zoom out and think about the sheer amount of human activity that takes place within even a small thrift store like this one on any given day that it’s open for business. A t-shirt might be touched 200 times. A couch might be sat on by 50 or 60 different people, maybe more. A pan will be picked up and flipped over more times than anyone could count. The whole idea is that they’re bustling hubs of people digging through things to uncover whatever qualifies as a “gem” for them, and not particularly caring about the rest of the crap that they see. That’s the whole idea. And when you strip it way down like this, when your furniture section is a couch and your housewares consist of about a half dozen old easter baskets, you remove the environment that allows that human activity to take place, and in doing so, you take the vibrant beating heart out of this thing you’ve constructed and what do you have then? Just some junk in a room. It’s fucking sad.

Sorry for ranting, I don’t know if any of that made sense, I just spend too much time in these places and this stuff just builds up in my head. Moving on

Oh this’ll be funny! Good work Dave, way to follow up a long rant with some attempts at making light of postpartum depression! God, I do know how to dig myself a comedy hole here, don’t I? OK. To be clear, the reason I took a picture of this and found it amusing was NOT because there’s anything particularly jokeworthy about postpartum depression. A few of my good friends have had kids recently and I’m sure it’s a part of the whole experience and that really sucks, as a matter of fact my mom had kids once too and I’m sure it probably bummed her out big time so I’d never mock THAT, BUT…

Come on, Brooke Shields. So you think you have something to say on the subject, fine, that’s absolutely fine, and I’m sure a lot of people read your book and felt comforted and that’s great. All of that is totally great and people who have similar problems should always get together because it’s good to share (on that note, is anyone else constantly feeling an irrational urge to eat their furniture? If so, do you want to come over and talk about it? I also hear a high pitched screeching noise in the back of my head every time I read the number 7 OH CRAP THERE IT IS AGAIN) but do you really think “serious model face” was the best way to convey the weightiness of the issue at hand? We all get it. You’re still super pretty, even into your middle age/later years/whatever the fuck we’re all calling it now. You’ve been hot basically forever, but did you or anyone at your publishing company (more likely) really think to yourselves “when people are looking at two books side by side that address the existential horror of postpartum depression, and trying desperately to decide which one to spend their money on in an attempt to ease whatever awful psychological pain they’re currently experiencing, we want them to choose OURS so we’re going to put pretty Brooke’s face on the cover, eyes cast downward in a contemplative pose” AND IF YOU DID, here’s my point, IF YOU DID: then you suck. You suck for trivializing a serious issue with your pretty model face. That’s all I’m saying. That’s it.

Moving back into safer territory. NERRRRRRRRRRDS. I actually used to play Warcraft, back in the day before there was a “World of” attached to the front of it, before it turned into a giant beast that would devour the entire Internet and increase Mountain Dew’s stock value tenfold. It was a pretty fun game, although playing it back then, if you’d asked me “hey do you think someday this will be the most insanely popular game franchise in this history of electricity” I probably would have responded in the negative, and if you’d asked me if I thought there was a chance some Asian guy was going to drop dead someday after a 28 hour marathon session of one of the company’s other games, I would have said “…no?” but I probably would have been a little worried about you. Turns out I’d be wrong across the board. Imagine that.

Finding hilarious cassettes at thrift stores is the new finding hilarious vinyl at thrift stores. There. I said it.

Hard hats are hard

This shirt looked like it was made out of old paper and it was WAYYY too tight but I really wanted to buy it just for the label

Fucking Yves. But I didn’t.

Wrap ALL the knife blocks in plastic. ALWAYS ALL DO THIS TO ALL OF THEM. IT MUST

I’m sorry, this entry has taken me like two weeks to work through and put out and I don’t know why I thought the idea of a block of styrofoam in the middle of a pile of random worthless garbage was somehow inherently interesting. I’m an idiot and nothing I think or do is worthwhile.

Here’s the best summation of my life in a nutshell that I could ever provide. This is it. My life is an egg tray pulled out of a fridge, donated to charity, and put up for sale with two differently colored price stickers on it. EGGS. The effed up part? Someone will buy this. Someone will pay money for EGGS.

Ok wait I take it back the best summation of my life is this giant plastic apparatus that is apparently designed to pry open a bottle of Bayer (does that even still exist?) or Tylenol the size of your fucking head. It looks like Piet Mondrian and Frank Lloyd Wright collaborated on the idea of a crowbar and I want to use it for everything. The next time you see me and we go to shake hands, don’t be surprised if I whip out this device and expect you to interact with it in a tactile fashion. That is just how people say hello now.

I could beg to differ on this particular point to an exhausting length, but I’m just gonna throw out the observation that every single (profanity) time I see the word “Precious” now, all I can think to do is fill in “Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” and you can ask my friends from work, it’s making me sound like Rain Main with his Judge Wapner (profanity), and I don’t know what to do because I can’t stop. Please don’t ask me to watch the Lord of the Rings movies because you’ll have to duct tape my (profanity) mouth shut to (profanity) keep me from (profanity) saying “Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” every (profanity) time (profanity) Gollum talks about that (profanity profanity profanity) ring. It’s a (profanity) compulsion.

The previous paragraph was brought to you by my attempt to look professional and family friendly. I think we all saw how well that worked out.

FISTING

Label fetish. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the article of clothing that this label was attached to but I almost bought it, whatever it was, just because I wanted to tame the rain. Alas, I failed at that.

I did however buy this shirt, and am wearing it even as I type these words, and then an insane shitstorm happened to fall on me later in the day (which is another reason this particular transmission has been so long in coming) but it’s a testament to how much I like the shirt that I’m still not only wearing it several weeks later (I mean I washed it and stuff) but still endorsing it and writing about it passionately, it’s a wonderful wonderful shirt, and I love it in the way that you can really only love something that you wore to the slammer. More on that later, and by later I mean never. Mind your own damn business.

I want this car.

Bye.

love

d

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