We heard a rather unpleasant rumor that the Park Avenue Thrift Store was going out of business, so on a recent sunny Sunday we decided to trek down and gather some evidence ourselves. Herein is what we found.
At first glance Park Avenue Thrift seems more or less unchanged, just rows upon rows of cheap clothes, kids’ toys scattered about all over the everywhere, the same general ramshackle vibe that has permeated the establishment since the first time I set foot in the place. But upon further examination:
Shit. The cupboards are looking rather bare. I should just say conclusively at the moment that I have no idea whether or not they’re shutting down (or “shitting down,” as I typed at first), I just want to report what I saw and offer my opinions. If you want the real scoop, just call them and ask (why didn’t I think to do that? oh right because I’m not a real journalist, just an asshole with a camera in his pocket and way too much wine), but for the time being I still found a bunch of amazing shit when I was there and I’d wholeheartedly encourage you to go down and do the same, regardless of whether or not the store is going to be there in a month or six months or whatever. Here’s what I snagged:
RAW CHOCOLATE CITY THREADS. I’ll be honest with you, I had no idea what the fuck “Go-Go” music was before I chanced across this album, and I only picked it up because it had an amazing cover, and a back cover that seemed somehow morbidly obsessed with friends and family of the band who’d succumbed to accident or disease:
(“the use of his vital organs” indeed) but it ended up being chock full of jams, and I have to say Trouble Funk is now one of my favorite bands, not only because they seem to be the overwhelming champions of a musical sub-sub-genre that I would otherwise know nothing about, but also because one of their greatest songs
is derived from one of my favorite comedy albums of all time, Steve Martin’s “Let’s Get Small”
and I promise that is the final youtube clip I will embed in this entry. Moving on
I’m not a classical music nerd or anything but there’s a place for guys like Bartok and Stravinsky and Varese and Stockhausen and Schoenberg and Berg and Messiaen in your consciousness if you give a shit about modern music at all, because even if their works aren’t necessarily your cup of tea, you’d be an idiot if you didn’t admit that they influenced everyone from the jazz composers of the early-to-mid 20th century (Ellington, Basie, Kenton) to the latter day carriers of the torch (Zappa, Phillip Glass, Moondog, Steve Reich, John Fahey, Terry Riley) to the bands that they influenced (Tortoise, Don Caballero, The Mercury Program, Boards of Canada, Mr. Bungle, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Tool, Meshuggah, Dirty Projectors, St. Vincent, more or less every band that’s ever used an odd time signature or harmony) and the way that influence has trickled down into the music you hear on the radio (everything currently happening). Either appreciate your place in history or try to keep your mouth shut so you don’t reveal your ignorance too fucking thoroughly. Ok I have to break my promise about embedding clips immediately after I made it to share this piece with you so you can get a sense of what I’m yelling about. It’ll take 20 minutes of your life to listen to but I promise it’s 20 minutes you can spare. Just consider it the average length of a television sitcom, but instead of making you existentially depressed and frustrated with humanity, it’ll bend your brain inside out and change the way you think about music as a whole:
Is anyone still reading? I think I’ve finally lost the last fraction of an interested audience I ever possessed. Oh well, so be it. There are worse ways to lose people’s attention than by bothering them away with a timeless piece of music. Let’s see if I can crank out some dick jokes or something about whatever my next picture is. What does any of this have to do with thrift stores?
Oh right I’m writing about pictures I took at thrift stores. So here’s a George Clinton album from 1986, well after the glory days of Parliament and/or Funkadelic and/or the Star Children and/or the Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, but here the man who once wielded the almighty Bop Gun is, asking us what question exactly?
(ok forget that promise I made a minute ago about not embedding any more youtube clips, you people really need to hear and see this shit to be able to appreciate it like I do)
just to be clear: the man responsible for “America Eats Its Young” and mother fucking “Maggot Brain” felt that it was okay to create and record a song and a video based around the concept of fried potatoes accompanying a mother fucking blended milk beverage. How far we have fallen, children of the funky church. Perhaps we can reclaim the truth of our heritage with this next record:
Ok maybe not. I did honestly want to buy this but only because Betty White is so HOT right now! She’s a cultural trending topic and I bet I could sell this record for an astronomical profit on eBay but as I’ve told several people who’ve suggested the idea (of reselling) to me over the years, I’m not in this thrift game for the profit, the glory, the fame, or the gain. I’m in it for the love. I’ll probably never make more than a (relative) dime off of my endeavors in this regard, but (second)hand to (second)god, I’ll be writing and searching and blogging and publishing til the day I expire, which will probably be with a soiled pair of obese women’s undergarments in my cold dead hands, because this is what I’m about. This is what I do. This is who I am. If you find that amusing then god love you, and if you don’t then I understand but at least respect someone who gives enough of a shit about something to waste this much time on it. I dare you to be even half this passionate about something. Fucking anything.
I already own this record but I wanted to take a picture of it because Bill Withers is an unjustly neglected figure in 20th century popular music, both for his preternatural songwriting skill and also for his uniquely intelligent relation to his own fame, matched only by a Zappa type, or perhaps a Mothersbaugh or a Clooney or some such. Watch this and tell me what you think:
“Well I thought, I got this good job makin’ these toilets, I don’t need you cats…”
I found this mixed in with the rest of the mostly garbage vinyl (it was scratched to hell as well) that clogs the Park Avenue Thrift store just like it clogs all the rest, but I actually literally yelped when I saw it because “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force is (another) one of the seminal records in modern music, bridging the gap between the P-Funk era of the 70’s, with the theatrical bent and the group input, and the burgeoning hip-hop/electro culture of the 80’s, heavy on the synth and rhymthic verses. Fucking just skip the youtube clips if you don’t want to see it but I promise you if you watch this video you will literally see funk transforming into hip hop and electro right in front of your eyes:
Almost done with the records, I promise. Just have to document this. It’s a shitty digital remaster of a great old recording of one of Miles’s classic groups (’61) but it’s still Miles Davis on vinyl and as such worth having.
And of course Bean Bag Fun
Can anyone explain to me the particular strain of masochism that it takes to inspire someone to run a marathon in the first place, let alone something as uniquely insane and self-annihilating as an “ultra-marathon?” Apparently these are races up to and including 100 miles in length, which, unless you’re being chased by a pack of especially determined wolves, or you happen to be Eddie Izzard, makes no sense to participate in whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong. I love to run. Outside of basketball (which I suck at but still love), it’s the only athletic activity I get a kick out of engaging in on any kind of semi-regular basis. I think I could do a 5k. Maybe even a half-marathon, if I was raising money for a charity that was treating a terminal disease from which I was currently suffering. But good lord, just getting out there and running (not jogging mind you, but full out running your ass off) for upwards of 25 or 26 or 75 or 100 miles at a go is just fucked. I have all respect for people who could even come close to imagining doing something that boldly insane in public in front of a bunch of people, most of whom are showing up probably just on the off chance that they’ll get to see you puke or fail or break your leg. That’d probably be the only reason I’d go.
I’ve lost any grasp on brevity whatsoever btw people, just roll with it if you want to live. Here’s a callback to a recent entry. I still find these books fascinating.
What the fuck is “Longbeard Madness?” And how have there been seven of them? And what exactly is “HARDCORE INFO”? The front of this box raises far more questions than it answers. Time to Flip ‘n’ Find (I just made that term up)
If you can zoom in on this picture I strongly advise you to do so, but for the benefit of those who can’t, here are some choice selections from the text on the back of this box which contains a video of people doing things, none of which I understand on any level:
“FULL OF EXCITING, IN YOUR FACE, TURKEY HUNTING ACTION”
“The trees are blooming, the temperature is rising, and the turkeys are gobbling.”
“Mother Nature did not want us out in the field but she was no match for our desire and will.”
“Drury Outdoors is once again on the cutting edge of the industry with exclusive reality based turkey hunting.”
Reality based turkey hunting. I’m going to eat that phrase with my mind like it was a seven course dinner. I encourage you to do the same.
Hey, guess what’s creepy? Going to two separate thrift stores on opposite ends of town two entries in a row and finding two separate workout videos featuring the same cultural relic who somehow haunts you from your own childhood.
Oh wait nevermind that happens all the time. Does that mean Eric Nies is my generation’s Richard Simmons? Probably not, but MAN do I hope that’s so.
Always gotta find some fake hair. It’s a must. Sorry for the poor quality pictures, I started to get a little dizzy after a while, if you’ve ever spent upwards of two hours in a run down thrift store in an economically disadvantaged part of town without much in the way of food or rest, unceasingly focusing your attention on any stray object that you think might yield an interesting thought later on in some sort of half-drunken fugue writing state, then assuredly you’ll understand. That’s a thing that people do, right? Here’s a song I like:
What was I talking about? God, let’s wrap it up
I hate olives but I love coasters and I’m ambivalent towards foam OH FUCK EXISTENTIAL CRISIS
This picture doesn’t do it justice but this original version of “Crossfire” was about 3.5/4ft long, and had nothing to do with the game I grew up playing
and by “grew up playing” I mean “probably played maybe once and proceeded to lose ALL the ball bearings in various places in my house because that’s what a kid will do if you give him a bunch of ball bearings which is why this game is a stupid idea and always has been.”
They do have a lot of leather coats. The next time anyone’s looking to launch a local stage production of “Hellraiser: The Musical”, just tell your costume designer about these junts
AAAAnd requisite picture of beautiful suit that would have fit me perfectly were I like two or three inches taller. Where is the prophet who will sing my song of suffering? Oh wait here he is
“So when I axed her out she said I wasn’t her type.” Skee-Lo, you are our modern day Virgil.
Time to wrap it up. Gold star to anyone who actually managed to slog all the way through this disjointed mess, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback lately and I really do appreciate it, it’s a simultaneously enlivening and troubling thought that this army might be GROWING somewhat as I continue to pump this nonsense out into the world, and I suppose all I can ask is if you’re one of the dedicated few who might read this far into my irrational blatherings, try to spread the word, and above and beyond that, please try to venture out on your own and take some pictures and write some things, wherever you are, whether it’s Memphis or the greater environs of this doomed rock we all inhabit, please please feel free to start your own Secondhand Underground wherever you are, and send a transmission back to me and let’s get a fucking DIALOG going, shall we? How’s THAT for an idea?
Or I’ll just keep taking pictures of people’s discarded shoes and making irrationally free-associative poop jokes about them into perpetuity. Don’t fear, that’ll never stop happening. Until next time