I’d like to have more photos, but neither my phone nor my home computer allow me to upload any more. I have an iPhone 4 and a mac mini. Why do I have to use my girlfriends ancient laptop to get anything technological done?
January 27, 2011
January 23, 2011
I make friends fast and enemies that last. What’s that mean? I don’t know. It rhymed and sounded tough. The truth is, I’ve only been selling at the flea market about a year now. I recognized a fair number from having come to the numerous garage sales I’ve had over the years. It’s a small bunch, the swap meet circle of SF.
Here’s another reality show I’d like to see: one that debunks the prices they show on the storage wars, antiques roadshow, et all. Let’s take some random items from an antique store and mix them in with the general chaos of my table at Alemany. When people pick up a pair of bronze bookends and ask me the price, I’ll quote the same number they go for at the antique store. Those bookends will never leave the market until I pack them up at the end of the day, guaranteed.
A side show will be the flea market challenge, where two competitors are given 50 bucks and have to go into the market and buy one thing, then sell it to another dealer at a mark up. Whoever makes the most profit wins.
This happens all the time. I did it today myself, and if I weren’t typing so fast I’d pat my back. I made a dollar. Yes I did. Bought a license plate from Turkey for $4 and sold it for $5.
The whole intro about making friends fast was just a slick way of showing that all the people at the flea market know each other, it’s no mystery who has the drug problem, who deals in illegal guns, who buys as many chippy paint dressers as you bring him. We don’t all get along. We see each other at 5 in the morning Sunday morning. People are hung over, hungry and cranky. It’s dark and shit’s spread everywhere. Money is involved. People yell. People push.
There’s a guy who buys silver and scraps it. If I have the right eye, I can find a sterling cake knife and get it for two bucks, a weighted candle stick for 5, and sell them to the scrapper for 15. All within the microcosm of Alemany flea market.
Yes, I’m a nickel and dimer, but it opened my eyes to the big score. Some people out there are making hundreds off what they buy from me and they don’t even have to pay for a space. The know who people are and what they want. That’s the meat of the reality show. The relationships in the seemingly faceless crowd.
Are you one of those people with a phobia about drinking water from the bathroom faucet? You have to walk all the way to the kitchen with your glass? I don’t know why I thought of that. The point is, I’m onto a great reality show here. Those of us who make a living selling what the dead have left behind.
January 22, 2011
SF sells prepaid debit cards you stick in a parking meter and pay that way. It’s a great idea, but hard to find a place that sells them. I got out of the truck downtown and didn’t even have a dime. Big deal, a dime is worth two minutes time. I wanted to shake awake the homeless guy under the blankets and ask for some change, but it’s best to let sleeping vets lie.
Department of Parking and Traffic, or DPT, is located a few blocks from my truck so I head there to buy a card. Of course, I wait in line and tell a woman seated behind a bullet proof window what I need. She gives me a number. H164. They are calling B281. What a terrible system. I’ll be sure to have a ticket if I wait in this line. At $55 a pop, you can’t afford to be patient.
My apologies for not making a very interesting blog post for you folks tonite. I’m gong to bed early to sell at the flea market tomorrow.
January 19, 2011
The fog is bad breath on a jacket and this city gets cold. When the clear morning comes and the colors in the sky are revealed you’ll take a minute to look. Just a minute. You were in bed not too long ago and you had blankets on you no different than a cave man would do it.
Fog is a gang standing between you and blue skies. The news reports even rumors of an appearance of the coastal bullies, a quiet gang of badass shrouded spirits who crash parties, blow through red lights and send shivers through citizens. Stay home and lay in bed where it’s safe.
Fog is a big dude too fat to move. The excess skin drips into the gulches and hollows of the city, wet sweat covering the road, the manhole lids look polished and slick, the newspapers turn to wet clay laying on sidewalks, you are in bed and want another blanket to dry the dampness leeching down into your bones.
Could be I’m a robot with feelings.
Why was the warden throwing a party at the county jail? Is that how they got tough on crime back in Elvis’ day? What a strange song. Go here and read a very exciting wikipedia entry to get an understanding of why the rhythm section was the whole purple gang.
January 17, 2011
First of all, Pops slipped on the ice unloading groceries and broke his ankle so bad he’s getting surgery. So let’s pour some of that 40 on the sidewalk or create a tip jar for him or pray if that’s what you do. He’ll be fine, I’m sure, but it’s no fun being laid up.
The hard worker was pictured in a UK Guardian article about unemployment. A google image search revealed a few more photos strangers have uploaded to the great photo album in the sky. It’s nice the bearded lady lives on and is still loved.
Not sure how to make a proper link from the phone and the Internet isn’t working. Again.
Last week was so cold I thought I’d slipped out of my California dream into a hunt for artic wolves. Am I in the wrong blog or what? Why is there ice on my window?
There are other questions. Why call them flap jacks and not flip cakes? Or hot flops? How long before hipsters start wearing baggy denim jeans with dragons embroidered into the back pockets?
Why is slang so attractive? When some coke dealer told me he had to “keep pimping that white girl” I wanted to be a coke dealer too. I can’t be a coke dealer. Prison scares me and I can’t blog about it. What would I do with all my stories?
Anybody else got some questions? I mean questions you don’t want an answer to. You just want to ask and walk away from it. Is there a website for that? One that provides no answers? Nothing helpful, no images, no links?
“why the hell didn’t I sell my apple stock before Jobs got sick again?”
It doesn’t need an answer. You don’t want to talk about it.
Learning from some mistakes makes it worse because you can’t ignore that you’ve gotten smarter. Maybe you liked yourself better before you knew so much. Maybe that mistake is so embarrassing you couldn’t possibly do it again anyway. Like, who would have diarrhea twice at the free first Bikram yoga session? There’s nothing to learn, let’s just try and forget it. Who wants to pass that wisdom on, anyway?
The easy money growing California kind bud is gone. Who isn’t selling it these days? Between legit storefront cannabis clubs and the guys you’ve always gone to,(unshaven dudes with maybe a ratty Volvo wagon, maybe a dog), the chronic is everywhere. Easy to grow, nowhere to go.
Case in point: while fueling up early one morning a white guy in a big pick up walks over to me from his pump.
“Hey bro, wanna trade some nugs for 5 bucks gas money?” He held out his hand and it looked like two hairy green pinecones were resting there. Gigantic buds. Something Bigfoot would smoke.
“I can’t really use that,” I told him. Probably should have bought them, trade the kid at the gas station behind the register for a couple donuts and some coffee. It was early. I wasn’t thinking that way. Besides, those donuts are lousy. I can drink bad coffee but bad donuts make me sad.
January 13, 2011
January 8, 2011
Just got back from Rough Brew. Checked in with the bohemians. The air is so cold today it refreshes the lungs and invigorates the skin to sit outside. Cam was drinking a big Anchor Steam slyly, the rest of us were just waking up with coffee. His brother recently paroled out of federal and looks to be going back soon. Prison shapes men to stay inside. It builds codes of honor that don’t work in the outside world. This is the topic of Cam’s drunken 11 am rant.
“Steve typed in ‘Cam’s a prostitute’ in an English to Latin translator and my brother wanted to smash the computer into his face for disrespecting me and the family. It was seriously an hour long argument just to calm him down.”
Dirty Hippy, who lives directly about the coffee shop, says, “What a weak insult.”
“Imagine if he said ‘I fucked your Mom’ in Dutch,” Brandon says.
“You don’t get it, it’s that important to him, that’s what prison culture is all about. You don’t disrespect anyone without consequences,” Cam says.
Not a lot of laughs in prison. Cam is a Union carpentar and is number 145 on the hire list. When someone mentions the 4.1 earthquake yesterday he says, “I’m hoping for the big one soon so I can get some work.”
He drags on his cigarette, exhales, spits on the sidewalk between his legs then rubs it in the concrete with his foot. He hits the bottle then begins again.
“The only thing we’re building these days are water treatment plants and prisons. In the early 90′s it was schools and hospitals. Show’s you what’s important in this society.” Then he smacks Dirty Hippy.
“It’s 11 in the morning. None of us are drunk. Can you please chill out?” he asks Cam.
Cam keeps on talking, he’s the only one with any vigor this morning as we clutch our paper coffee cups for heat and see our breath in the air. There’s a story that starts about a tattoo that kept him out of prison for beating a “fucked up” Mormon girl, but I have to get down the road so I’ll have to wait till next Saturday to make and sense of it.
January 7, 2011
My mom asks if I hire day labor for this job. I tell her no, I hire white people. She asks me to explain
day labor is the guys who stand on the corner and when you pull up they charge your vehicle, five fit in the door and you only need one. You have to ask them to leave a few times. They come from Latin America. They want very badly to work, they send money home and sleep ten to a house, not going out after work, cooking at home.
The white people I hire are bohemians from the coffee shop. I don’t hire them because they are white but because they speak english and are bohemians.
my mother asks me to explain bohemians.
They sit in coffee shops and smoke cigarettes and talk about bands and movies and have part time jobs and make art on the side. They don’t usually work as hard or as fast as day laborers but bohemians tell great stories. That makes the day enjoyable.
January 5, 2011
I’ll tell you what’s happening in SF. The rain broke and for three days straight we look at each other like it’s a hard job, a week of rain. People are working again. The newspaper gets more and more expensive. We could go to karaoke in the Tenderloin tonight, or just head to Seth’s and drink wine on his roof. Doug’s thinking about LA. Red Baron pepperoni pizza is not bad for frozen. At least here in San Francisco.
There’s always a lot of driving with this job. Jeff sits in the cab next to me and we pass a billboard announcing the Beatles have come to iTunes.
“When are we gonna stop looking to the Beatles for pop music? Someone do something, please!”
It was a typical outburst of his. The next billboard was advertising the Hemp Convention in San Jose.
“What’s this made out…of…never mind. This place is stupid.”
All’s he had to do was look at the words HEMP CON and he transported himself to the bourse floor where a nice jacket catches his eye and he realizes he’s surrounded by hippies. He must quickly teleport back to reality so he says the magic phrase: “This is stupid.”
Jeff picks up his phone and checks for messages. He can’t handle looking out the window right now.
If the Beatles didn’t get on iTunes soon, a whole generation of children would not know who they are. This is the heart of Jeff’s comment. Why do we need everyone to know the Beatles still? Of course they were amazing, but does anyone you know need to run out and buy Revolver? We’ve heard those songs more times than we’ve heard, “Press Two for Spanish”. Must our children get high to the same music we did?
(I would be excited if the Beatles catalog was overdubbed into Spanish so I could quickly learn the language. Does Mr. Jobs or Micheal Jackson’s estate have control over that?)
I’m still driving, reading billboards, sucking in everything they tell me.
January 3, 2011
A total estate clean out this week. An 84 year old woman passed away. Found empty potato chip bags stacked on the freezer door. Numerous string in jar collections. Paper bags from long gone grocery stores. Socks with the toes mended. Everything that points to the frugal war generation. Well, we are a war generation but we are told to keep spending to boost the economy. A radically different approach. Time will tell which works better.
If we kept the fabric from old umbrellas, unstrung the waterproofing from the metal tines and used them to cover the BBQ from the elements, we might end up a segment on “Hoarders”, a television warning against pathological thrift. For Maria, it was a clever way to reuse.
There are more pictures but I can’t get them to upload. Nor will the video load. My apologies.