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 a local 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. If you ever get a chance to see her perform, go for it. 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…
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!
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