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!
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
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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
hor·ror [hawr-er, hor-]
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.
anything that causes such a feeling: killing, looting, and other horrors of war.
such a feeling as a quality or condition: to have known the horror of slow starvation.
a strong aversion; abhorrence: to have a horror of emotional outbursts.
Informal . something considered bad or tasteless: That wallpaper is a horror. The party was a horror.
offensive or disgusting dirt or refuse; foul matter: the filth dumped into our rivers.
foul condition: to live in filth.
moral impurity, corruption, or obscenity.
vulgar or obscene language or thought.
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.
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.
concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God. Synonyms: awe, respect, reverence, veneration.
something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
the act of degrading.
the state of being degraded.
Physical Geography . the wearing down of the land by the erosive action of water, wind, or ice.
Chemistry . the breakdown of an organic compound.
physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.
a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain.
mental or emotional suffering or torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.
laborious or careful efforts; assiduous care: Great pains have been taken to repair the engine perfectly.
the suffering of childbirth.
Informal . an annoying or troublesome person or thing.
extremely bad; unpleasant; ugly: awful paintings; an awful job.
inspiring fear; dreadful; terrible: an awful noise.
solemnly impressive; inspiring awe: the awful majesty of alpine peaks.
full of awe; reverential.
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