Does it really make sense to buy your infant a Michael Jackson tribute t-shirt?
September 30, 2009
September 29, 2009
“Mr. Grappone, a cheerful 58-year-old who has hundreds of thousands of records in storage, said he did most of his business through eBay and other online outlets, but liked to see his old customers. And then thereâ€™s the thrill of handling cash. ‘Thereâ€™s nothing like it,’ Mr. Grappone said, vigorously chewing his gum as he counted out the bills for a $158 sale.”
That was a New York Times article. I read that a lot. Online. I don’t explore the web too much really. Harper’s is cool, but I forget to go there. I like how brief they are. And there is breadth to their coverage.
I like to yard sale because I like to treat people how they treat me. I like to talk trash to people right in front of me, I like to make people smile, I like to send them home with a good deal, and I like to have a knot of cash in my pocket. I don’t do fifty cents. Fifty cents doesn’t buy me time at a parking meter. I want a buck or it’s in the free pile. Every yard sale should have a free pile. And I like cash.
I like a pile of cash in my pocket. God it feels good. At the end of the day it might only be $200. My mouth is tired from dickering. My skin is burned from the sun. My head hurts from the mimosas. But I keep pulling that wad out and fingering it. Finger. Face the bills. Fold them in half. Slap the stack and shake it at my pal. Tell him I’m rich. It doesn’t take much. $200 bucks.
I really want to talk about Roman Polanski. Sophia and I just watched the documentary about him, Wanted and Desired. See, he’s a wanted man in America, but in Europe, he is desired. They didn’t care he had sex with a 13 year old.
We love this stuff. Couples can talk about it in bed, asking, “How young is too young?” and “When is someone old enough?” Some of us don’t mind 13 year old’s doing it with 13 year olds. Some of us do. Others don’t know what to think when a 20 year old goes to prison for statutory rape of a 17 year old. I have a few good scenarios to consider myself. But what are we trying to figure out?
The age of consent? No. We are trying to define abuse. And no one really cares if a 45 year old is abused. It’s about the innocent. Abuse of the innocent.
Every yard sale transaction is a back and forth. It’s testing someone’s limit. “Can I get fifty bucks for this couch?” vs “Can I get this couch for five?”
Over the course of a six hour garage sale, how many items will you sell that results in both you and the buyer being happy? I’m not talking about the complimentary tote bag from Borders that came with your $50 purchase, or the tea set your roommate left behind that you’ve always hated.
Let’s talk about something you are emotionally involved in. A chair your Mom gave you when you moved out. It was in the living room of the house you grew up in. It’s really old. All week you tell yourself it’ll bring $60 no problem. The day of the sale no one looks at it. By noon someone sits in. They ask how much. You feel terrible as you offer to sell your birthright for “How about $30? It was my Mom’s. It’s really old.”
They aren’t at all interested in that price. They even get back in their car immediately because they are offended at the audacity of the price.
By one o’clock the foot traffic has dwindled and people are only looking. A cute young couple stops by. They go through the few record albums you have out. Lionel Richie’s “Dancin’ On The Ceiling” catches their eye, but they don’t know if you are serious or not about it. It’s awkward. They look at the coffee mug on the blanket you’ve stretched out as a sales floor. Then they ask innocently, “What’s the story with that chair?”
Your undone. You have a bite, but no heart to yank the line. Here are people who like the chair. They don’t want to take it to Antiques Roadshow or sell it on eBay. They just need a good chair. Your mother is a good person.
“Five bucks?” you ask, as though it may be a little high but actually worth it.
“Well, it’s nice.” Yes. Yes it is. It sat in that weirdly wallpapered living room untouched for twenty years while my sister and I stretched out on the floor and argued over what was coming on tv next.
That chair has Queen Anne feet. You saw that. Maybe. Maybe that means nothing to you. It’s been refinished and reupholstered and all original value decimated and it never cost much to begin with.
They are holding the coffee mug. “If you throw in the coffee mug, is it a deal?”
I am a terrible salesman. I’m not innocent though. There have been moments when I realized the person had no clue. I struck at their weakness, their innocence, and I took something very valuable from them without any repercussion.
September 28, 2009
Got this Silvertone acoustic for twenty bucks at the same yard sale. They sell for about forty on eBay. No one’s spending money anymore! I thought I’d struck it rich…but the guy who sold it to me had kept it in mint condition. The fret markers are spray-painted on and they don’t have any scratches. Internet research reveals this was made in the fall of 1969. The guy also told me it had been used in a “prison ministry program”. That was all I needed to hear.
I’ve been incredibly gassy tonight. Sophia just mentioned a friend who worked in a morgue transporting bodies.
“It’s bacteria in your stomach that produce the gas you fart. When you die, the bacteria are still alive producing gas and it builds up since you aren’t alive to push it out. Apparently dead people can fart so violently they move.”
Her friend in the morgue had witnessed this. Why is that never on a CSI show?
September 27, 2009
Found this coin, or rather, token, at a yard sale yesterday. Paid 25 cents for it. Rushed home and saw the same thing on eBay hadn’t sold for 99 cents. So I didn’t find Viking treasure. But I love the back side of the coin and would have paid $1.50 for it.
September 25, 2009
September 24, 2009
The first time I saw one of these things was in a locker room at Novel Iron Works in Greenland New Hampshire. I thought it was a weird urinal, and I went over to it and unzipped my fly and stood there for a moment waiting for the pee to flow. Then I noticed a guy stopped in his tracks staring at me. It made me uncomfortable so I zipped up my fly and left the bathroom. Jason Landry explained to me later it is for washing your hands. The steel pedal at the base activates water. I had no idea.
September 21, 2009
Tomorrow night at El Rincon (2700 16th St, San Francisco) I begin my folk singer career* around 8 30 or so. It’s either free or five bucks to get in. I’ll be spending ten or fifteen minutes talking about tambourine’s contribution to the music world. I won’t actually be playing any instruments. Just using an overhead projector. There will be a handout. Bring a pen.
*On August 28th after watching Mike Tyson’s documentary I decided to become a folk singer. Not quite a month later, thanks to Doug, I have my first show.
September 18, 2009
They said in Health class blacking out is a sign of alcoholism. But if someone video tapes your blackout then you haven’t really lost the memory. It’s just not in your head. So again technology proves it’s value.
We can also learn about a persons character while they are blacked out drunk. Are they laughing or crying? Are they smashing things or trying to fix something?
I was recently blacked out and the video reveals I am altruistic and in touch with the streets. Mark tells me I paid a bum $5 to piss on his shopping cart full of recycling.
I saw the video, and I was troubled by this. It sounds like I have an inferiority complex. As do most blackout drunks, if only because most people can control themselves in a bar and slow down or switch to juice or go home but they don’t ask for helping finding their wallet and then give the whole thing to the bartender and ask,”Can I keep drinking?”
it’s embarrassing. But many lucky people will throw up at some point before it comes to this. There’s no shut off valve for me. I travel in time, finding myself in a 24 hour drug store but not sure how I got there. Time travel. I drink so much I turn to vapor and reanimate elsewhere.
If I get drunk and look for bad things to do to make people laugh, I have a problem. I was taught growing up I have a soul and that soul is who I am. Which may explain why it feels as though this long lanky frame isn’t mine. My soul keeps trying to pour more Tequila down the throat, and my body can only hope for Cazadores instead of Cuervo so the hang over isn’t so bad.
Does my soul want me dead or is it just having a laugh? Taking the piss, as they say when they come back from Ireland.
If Marco still has that video and is reading this, maybe you could send it to me. I’m trying to recognize the man I’ve become.
Dropped my folks off at the Oakland airport this afternoon, but first we stopped at the seven-day-a-week flea market known as Coliseum swap meet. It was hot and late in the afternoon and no magic in the air. Just lots of piles of clothes and remote controls.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for coming out to visit. I appreciate it.
Some genius apparently misspelled Faggot a few weeks when they were defacing my truck. So I choose to believe whichever George Washington high schooler who wrote “Liar” and an arrow pointing to my truck this morning was talking about that, not the Hard Worker slogan.
September 15, 2009
“These frames are pretty thrashed and are missing parts but you can take them both for one price – $30. I mean beaten, rode hard and put away more than damp. But there’s gotta be something positive there. Ready to made into a fixy, fixed gear, whatever you call it. Or let it coast. Come take them to your shop. I’m in the outer richmond of san francisco. The first picture I uploaded by accident. It’s a folding boat. I’m leaving it up so people know there’s a boat out there that folds up. ”
from my CL ad
a real $15 bike on CL
There’s the ad. I got a whole cross section of a medical study on pack-rat mentality. I’m selling a bicycle for 15 dollars in 2009 and people ask how much a part is. Say, just the front wheel? How much for that?
“14.50″ I answer.
“I might as well buy the whole thing,” they answer.
“I’d appreciate that,” I say.
Writing an ad on craigslist is like inviting a gypsy caravan to camp in your back yard, and when they ask if they can promote a circus act they’ve been performing, you say, “Sure!”.
I haven’t forgotten I’m weird, either. Don’t get me wrong. I moved out to the Richmond District because I wanted to really stand out. If you throw up on your shoes on Polk Street ten guys will drop down and try to lick it up. I can’t compete. So I moved out here where the streets are clean and empty so I might get a little respect as an eccentric.
The strangest thing is the people that come and look and look and look. They hold the bike up with one hand and lean back, trying to see it from the distance. Then they hoist it up by the seat and spin the back wheel to see how true it needs to become. They squeeze the brake lever time and time again, like a doctor who keeps hitting your knee as you sit cross legged on the edge of a medical table. They are fascinated by mechanical motion. A monkey who has discovered that a banging gong rings.
“I squeeze handle and rubber thing pinches wheel!” says a grunting customer.
“I knee balls and you bend over!” I say as I knock the man’s nutsack up into his taint.
The best thing is I know they are interested, but if I don’t go below $15 bucks they won’t bite. I have my bikes laid out directly in front of the bee hive’s flight path and it is getting on towards evening and they are coming back from the neighborhood flowerbeds. The Replies, as I shall call them, in that they replied to my ad, have their heads down and are trying to figure out how much money they can make off me. They walk away from an amazing deal because I won’t come down from $15 to $10.
“You allergic to bees?” I ask.
“No, I don’t think so,” replies the Reply.
“Good. Because you’re standing in front of a hive.”
The Reply straightens up and realizes bees are coming in from the east at eye level to the tune of twenty-five a minute. Others are milling around in lazy circles around his legs. A writhing mass of 200 are tangled up in each others warmth at the hive entrance seven feet away.
“Oh. I didn’t realize. How much for the seat post?”
That’s where it all happens. The Rusty Sunshine empire. He has radiation appointments for the gold pin in his prostate tacked up on the wall alongside the rebate for the Dish Network satellite the Mexicans don’t use anymore and he’s having me send back in the provided box with shipping label. By Mexican I mean the young guy Jamie who came from Michuican or however you spell it, auto correct in wordpress doesn’t know so why would I?
He’s Mexican and the minorities in American love to call Racist out loud so they can see a white guy squirm but then I don’t, so they get confused and realize I’m talking about someone personally that I know who is Mexican living in shitty old trailer, the same trailer me and Oggy and Ken Hawkins and Walt and a whole bunch of white people lived in before Mexicans came along and started living there.
Rusty had prostate cancer and is alive today in spite of it. He’s the second guy I know who beat the odds and both of them (the other is Poll) are fighters. Not jerks, just no bullshit characters. So I go into the little room with the old dirty blue towel and today there is a mirror there because he’s probably been looking for skin cancer in his ears and I snap on the table lamp an I pull out the carbon copy invoice pad and I grab the stack of Locke’s hour sheets and I start trying to match up the hours Locke says he worked versus the hours Rus can remember he worked and the pile of receipts get lined up to the client by the date/time stamp that correlates to the complimentary calendar from either A1 rental or Young’s Auto Parts or whoever Rus happened to grab a free one from.
Billing is the hardest part of the job.
September 13, 2009
This was a joint effort between Alina and me about two years ago, and Fisher did the final edit. I haven’t written a drop of tough guy poetry since this. But it is nice to finally get it out in the world.