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My Robot Is Pregnant theme song!

tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

January 31, 2012


What is collectable? Is it something that triggers a memory of a certain time and place?

Or is it more than that? Do you see this Time magazine branded telephone? It feels like somewhere in the 1980’s, huh? Should I keep it? Should I put a price sticker on it and set it out in the shop?

If you answer yes to selling it, what price then? 3 dollars? How many months would you let it sit on a shelf before you gave up and threw it away? Or would you expect it to sell the first week?

Who on earth is dumb enough to open a junk store and try to answer these questions with every bit of junk that comes along? The task feels overwhelming right now and I’d like to get drunk and sleep under the counter.

January 29, 2012

none turned away save for lack of funds


What a depressing load of crap. Heating vent elbows. Orange lens gel. A cracked hi hat. Who volunteered me to shepard these derelict misfits to a new home?

Imagine loading a truck at 9 o’clock Saturday night just to wake at 5 am Sunday and head to the flea market? Who would pay 45$ to suffer the humiliation? Only a junk man. One who can’t let it go in the garbage. Only a man with hope in his heart. One who believes in second chances, do overs, resurrection, a treasure fallen far from the chest.

There’s a woman a few booths down and her voice carries.

“They sell him at Sotheby’s, very collectable. I paid 500$. I’m not making any money on this.”

Some people out here know something. A thing or two about this and that. More than that even. There are Ming dynasty pottery experts and oil can aficionados in the coffee and donut line clutching scores from the generalist who hauled some boxes from a storage unit.

But this pile of galvanized articulated tin furnace pipe joints won’t be rushed out to the trunk of the car and locked away securely should someone actually pay a few bits for it. They hand over the few crumpled bills and immediately regret it.

“What’ll I do with all this stuff? Make a robot? Will the robot work?”

The shaved head middle aged Black guy next to me has a rap-patter he’s laying on passersby.

“It’s going cheap, who’s next? Razzle dazzle dazzle dazzle!”

He has the same worries the rest of the vendors- “Who’s gonna make a lot of money off me? Did I sell too cheap? Was that a famous name on that painting? How much did I lose?”

Every sale is a loss for the guy if he puts his mind to it. In the end those of out here stay out here because we can shrug our shoulders and say, “oh well. At least I’m not taking it home again.”

If that’s enough for you, if that’s how high you raise the bar at 530 Sunday morning, you too can be a junk man. Or woman. There’s not enough old woman out here, unshaven, mad eyes with flashlights in the predawn.

January 28, 2012

An old guy showed up today in his gold Honda Accord from the ’80’s hoping to sell me a box of records, a coffee maker, a toaster or a slide projector.

“i dont have no rock n roll,” he tells me. Christmas albums, Montovani, 101 Strings, the same lp’s you find leftover in every record bin.

Still, having people arrive with a car of goodies is fun. It’s been a stressful time for me at the shop.

Oggy wrote me some encouraging words:

I wish you success in your business. Are you renting booth space at Mixed Nuts? I went to an antique mall/flea market and realized there are more people who will pay to let you not sell their trinkets than there are people who will actually buy your trinkets. And then you are making money doing nothing.

Oggy makes a good point. I’d mentioned to him if I couldn’t make rent I was going to turn the place into a metal detecting shop for the beach combers since we’re only 15 blocks from the beach. He replied:

Treasure hunting is definitely an under-served market. I’d like to tape a documentary of a treasure hunter looking for specific treasure. If you hear of a fanatic who has some insane inclination then I’ll get my crew together. I’m wandering the midwest and looking for work. I’d like to save enough money to retire in Mexico. S.F. might be on the route but unless there is a job offer on the table then I can’t afford the gas to cross the mountains. Missouri was the site of many Indian/pioneer battles and now it is home to frozen custard and the widest asses in America wheeling themselves through Target buying slave products from Vietnam and Golden Corral buffet for more asian stye spare ribs. I do not know if this is progress. I am disillusioned with the disparity between false advertised white tooth America and the slobbering transvaginal mesh class action lawsuit country that we really live in. But that will not stop me from writing my homeless manifesto –
live boldly as the bold live forever

With that this wandering legend signed off. It’s friends like this that remind me it doesn’t matter if this shop fails. If the effort I put into it is insane, it will be fun. It’s not that the shop looks good, but that I’m putting all I have into it.

January 26, 2012

We named the days of the weeks but could think only of seven that we use again and again so the years pile up like an insult to our intelligence. Only seven words to tick away the tragedies? Frankly it’s boring.

I’m bored all over. I can’t bring myself to type away one more time that I’ve been to the dump and the fog rolled through the neighborhood and the lady and I had a quarrel.

Let’s turn the other check and with our eyes looking in a new direction, who do we see?


Doug. Dr. Doogles. Pursuing an acting career simultaneous to a medical career where he puts the wheels back on miscarriages for unwed mothers.

How’s that for living? We met his mailman last week. The rocker. Doug sent along a band flyer the guy stuffed in among the utility bills.


That’s his mailman, both hands on a guitar. The young child to his left left looks much like Jason Boucher, a childhood friend, or a demon imp abducted from hell.

It feels foolish to write about my life anymore. I’m just a business man now. But Doug, he may keep my spirit alive. All of our spirits alive.

January 21, 2012

Slow down when you text your girlfriend asking to see her in fishnets. iPhone auto corrects fishnets to diarrhea.

January 19, 2012

chicken philly cheese chicken

We’re not close to Philly so this might take some explaining… the Vietnamese and the Chinese immigrants run the old 50’s diners in San Francisco and they offer pho – a broth soup with meat – and they sell Philly cheese steaks on the same menu.

Tonite we have a waitress who has not yet completely learned English, and if she has she has not yet come to understand the custom of cheese or sandwiches.

Trying to order a Philly cheese steak with chicken, not steak, becomes an exercise in circular logic.

I’d like a chicken cheese steak, I say.

You wan’ cheesesteaks or chicken sandwich? She asks.

Philadelphia style cheesesteak but with chicken, I reply.

Sorry. Sorry. One cheesesteak, one chicken?

Can anyone out there tell me the proper way to order this sandwich? Is it a Philly cheesechicken?

January 17, 2012

It will help that Jimbo goes to stores and buys things when we start pricing the items at the store. I’m wearing a dead man’s underwear. These sneakers I’m wearing, a close friend confided to me, look like an older woman’s work out shoes. I’m brushing my teeth with the half filled tube the section 8 folks left behind when they packed and moved in the night. There is no sense of value here. Doesn’t every one just wait till it comes down the waste stream?

Not Jimbo. He went to the Castro and got a homosexual to cut his hair and he paid $50 dollars. Looks like he’s rich. While he’s buying salon products to sculpt his hair I’m just not washing it for a day or so and wearing a hat so it’s more controllable. I should emphasize he went out and looked for a homosexual hairstylist. Dick’s International, where I head before going home for the holidays, charges 10 dollars and they finish with a handheld vibrator massage on your shoulders. Dick may be gay, but it isn’t part of the fee. Where does the extra $40 come in across town?

There are people out there who want to pay money for things. I know that. How much they will pay amazes and embarasses me. Jimbo gets it though. Some people have disposable income and don’t need to wait for a pair of shoes that fit to be thrown away before the corns will reside.

I’ll go as far as to say, “running a vintage retail shop is an ego trip.” I quoted myself on that. So why am I bringing someone along on an ego trip? I have a partner now. I’ve had a girlfriend for almost four years, but you’d never know it from this blog. You will, however, learn a lot about Jimbo.

Let’s assume he’s better at making money than me. He’s better at charging a fair price is more like it. He has more energy than I do. For the last two months I’ve needed a nap about 6 pm. And would you believe he doesn’t drink? That’s gonna save us thousands right there.

The shop is filling up with the stuff from my garage. It looks good. Old wooden benches, stools and boxes. Steel containers and tools. Old ropes, brass ornaments. That’s what the shop is about.

What will help us survive is that we are at the end of the earth in a small neighborhood full of working families. The dream is we become the neighborhood connection. The strength of my personality is that I like to introduce people. I keep a list in the back of my mind of who’s looking for what and like a living game of go fish I keep watching for the match. It might be people who need a plumber, a small wooden desk or someone to walk their dog. I feel the most important when I connect someone to what they need.

Otherwise, how can a junk shop survive? There’s a ton of free shit on the street corners.

January 15, 2012

Can’t see from laying in bed but I think the elk has 11 or 12 points and the head hangs with soulful dark eyes in the living room.

The cat jumps up on the tv stand, scrambles up the backside of the flat screen and leaps on the neck of the mount jutting from the wall.

She nestles at the base of the antlers and naps.

Down the street Jimbo bought a 1966 Ford Ranchero. You remember Jimbo is my partner at the shop. He named it “Mixed Nuts”. The shop not the Ford.

Sometimes I worry having a partner. He’s younger and more handsome than me. All sorts of things could go wrong with that combo, then you throw a bad ass old car in the mix, one with a 289 and glass packs, then who knows?

I’m feeling like an old man with bad hips. One who isn’t sure what hip hop is when it comes on the radio. Time to stop worrying and get to work in the shop. It’s all gonna work out great.

The neighbor’s kid calls me poo poo head. The cat walks across my face. Life isn’t necessarily hard, But why does the coffee lid always leak on my shirt?

This store may never open. We spent a day renting a stripper – for the floor. Most strippers wont take their hat off for 30 bucks, but this one got down and scraped the wax off linoleum.

Let’s see if we can get the merchandise in the showroom tomorrow.

January 12, 2012

Called my friend at the dump and secured permission to spend the afternoon scavenging for wood. Came upon this mannequin laying on pot plants.
But I don’t miss hanging around the tipping floor. I also saw mattresses wrapped in plastic – bed bugs. And the dark brine at my feet created in the unhealthy swirl of misters, dust and garbage leakage creates what I call dump juice.
I brought home some old fence planks to use at the new shop. Didn’t have quite enough but my old pal Seano came through and gave us a beautiful barn door to cut up.
Finished at 1 am and forgot to take a picture. But you’ll see it tomorrow.

January 10, 2012


Take a look at why this blog has not been performing up to speed. This is the new shop. We moved here from the old one two days after the grand opening party. It was too small.

Having to patch/sand/prime/paint walls and otherwise transform a neglected space all over again is overwhelming.

Luckily Jimbo is excited and his energy is carrying me through. The shop is 1000 square feet with two giant skylights set in a row of 1930’s art deco storefronts. Really beautiful. Wish they were on the sunny side of the street where it was 10 degrees warmer but it would be too expensive to move the building.

Signed a three year lease. The Kung Fu shop to the left, dog grooming to the right. A famous Chinese dumpling restaurant and a place that teaches the lost art of fencing join us as we squat in fog at the edge of San Francisco in the neighborhood no one knows: The Richmond.

it’s a beautiful morning. somewhere

Woke up early from an amazing dream to move the truck before 7 am street cleaning. Couldn’t find my keys. Get a spare, get to truck and back door is part open. Yes, they stole my belt sander.

Drive along beach for the scenic view and see someone else is gonna have a bigger loss than me this morning.

Ive been warned myself not to risk parking at the end of a long street overnite. The fact there were no skid marks explains the problem.

January 6, 2012

how to get by in a dumpster

The transfer station will charge you to drop them off and the scrap metal place won’t allow you to drop them off but I found a place that buys them at 20 cents a pound. So I was in the yard loading a big rolling cart up with ballast. That’s the long black box in a flourescent light that controls the flow of electrical current. The scrap yard is worried I’ll drop off the old ones that were filled with PCB laced cooling fluid.

The guy next to was sorting his metals and I asked if he had anything I could resell at the flea market.

“I got some Christmas decorations. Some other stuff too.”

I was expecting something from his metal pile, but he pulled out a box and showed me a bunch of stuff.

A merry-okee microphone that has prerecorded Christmas carols and a setting that pitches your voice to elfen heights caught my attention.

“How much for this? My girlfriend will love it.”

“Make an offer,” he countered.

I started at 2$ and got it for 3. With my money in his pocket he told me a secret.

“I get this stuff from the dumpster. After its on final sale they throw it out. I take it in and get credit on gift cards. They give me the lowest sale price but that’s cool. I’ve got a wallet full of cards, 180$ bucks all the way down to 75$. And there’s a Walgreens on every corner.”

January 3, 2012

doug has a cool mailman


Doug came through for the holidays. LA is treating him, and it’s mail carriers, well.

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