Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Hello again, dear friends. Hope you had a lovely 2007. I certainly did, due in large part to the extensive time I spent in thrift stores, with a photographic mission, a place to share these documented deliriums with people from all over the world, and of course help in relieving the terrible addiction of collecting stuff. Now, of course, that particular ailment will never be quite beaten (and truthfully, I wouldn't really want to completely overcome its ravages), but I hope this blog stands as testament to the myriad temptations I face on a daily thrift-going basis.

Were it not for my shutterbug therapy, nearly every item depicted would have gone home with me, from broken 50s vacuum cleaners, to Last Supper Clocks, to hippie board games. Anyhow, thank you blog readers for the support, and to you would-be enablers out there, well, thanks for trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson(s).

It has recently been suggested to me that I write a book about my junk store jeremiads, but I like the no-journalistic-excellence-required world of the internet. And I fear that if I was luckily enough to get published, most volumes would merely end up in crevices of a local Disabled American Veterans shop, wedged between copies of 1988: The Coming World-Wide Depression and #78: Bomb Shooters, A Mac Savage Adventure. There are worse fates, like ending up next to these books:

If someone had told me there was book about Electric Bread I would have guessed it was about some 60s garage psych band. But no! Mr. Chambers, it's a cook book! Something tells me bread and electricity don't mix. Tastes just a bit too tingly.

Editor: "How do we sell this sci-fi book Superbaby?
Art Department: "With a painting of an creepy alien planet, a giant Florence flask, a white dude in shorts inside crouching, and "Superbaby" in shocking yellow bubble script. Ya can't beat it!"
Editor: "Good, but... why not an Erlenmeyer flask?"

You had me at "Kinky sex" -- then you lost me with the "violent, compulsive reading" -- then had me again with the decapitated-head-LSD-trip-demons-cuddling cover. Tiny head indeed.

Not Eating: The Miraculous Weight-loss Plan!!!! Who'd have ever thunk that no food = skinny? Prisoners of war, that's who.

Society went wrong when we stopped putting optical illusions on self-help book covers. Actually, don't stare at it too long before you'll want to throw up. Too late?

Don't worry, you'r guardian angel will apparently clean it up. Or maybe that's not upchuck, but really the "golden treasures" strewn in your life path. What kind of drugs was Vernon Howard on? He should have totally written about that instead.

Not cosmically mystical enough for you? How about Psychic Politics? Worst-use-of-psychic- powers-ever! What do you expect from the author of that page turner Seth Speaks?

Worst-use-of-transcendent-spiritualism-ever! Sure, it's easy to be all Zen on a back country road pushing your Audi TT to 122 mph, but this author has obviously never been stuck on the 405 at rush hour in a beat up Ford Escort without air conditioning. Actually, it'd be nice to transcend that experience.

Still in a spiritualist mood? Here's your typical thrift store choice: the path to enlightenment through non-violence or a really groovy coming out party where Mandy totally gets kissed by Derek Rutherford III, of the Massachusetts Rutherfords. Can't decide? How about both? A Cotillion for Ghandi.

I didn't even have the backbone to open this one. I'll have to wait for the movie.

You now, I'm sure the subject of sucking the water out of vittles deserved its own article, or maybe a nice pamphlet. But a book? C'mon. No, really. I'm serious, hippies, don't write these anymore. just stop, okay?

I'll tell you hat the world needs more of: X-rated pianists. Or perhaps how-to guides about nasty ivory tickling.

What? You think I'm mis-interpreting "Easy Adult Piano"? Just look at the Red Shoes Diaries/ Cinemax After Hours font.

And what of the fuzzed out glamor-shots-style photography, the empty wine glass on the piano, the sweater cleavage shot, her 80s soft-core-porn makeup and hair-do (and totally bored look)? Am I the only horny one here?

Well, nothing kills a boner like Styrofoam art. Here's a whole handbook of things to do with earth-poisoning, animal killing, it-will-outlive-the-sun polystyrene.

Styrofoam (TM), brought to you by DOW Chemical, the friendly folks who brought you Agent Orange and Napalm. Mr. Florist here himself looks like the offspring of a plastic mannequin and a Styrofoam cooler.
Mmm... I could go for a big bowl of polystyrene right now. I wonder what the other 58 mutants are having for lunch?

But let's get back to a simpler time, before metallocene-catalzyed polymerization, where men and women knew only naked lust and fear and dark and brutal passions and sexually suggestive caves and wooden clubs and underwear made out of mud and leaves. Ah, the Pleistocene era.

She looks pretty positive for a woman with such a negative out-look on life. Miss Nobody From Nowhere -- feel sorry for ourself much? Sounds like something inane my sister would yell during a fight. "I guess I'm just the silent and invisible girl!" Why not focus on the positive, you're stranded in the alps with two J.C. Penny male models, how bad could it be?

On the other hand, the Spice Girls are always so upbeat. I don't really have the heart to tell them that one them is getting killed off. I hope it's Sporty Spice.

It's hard to imagine a time when $10 could buy something, anything, in Japan, much less pay for a whole day. Do you get the feeling this guide is suggesting one could party with geishas for less than a Hamilton? Ah, the 70s.

Another outdated travel guide. Fairly commonplace...

Except for all the handwriting on the inside. Apparently the previous owner was pretty anal.

Really, really anal. Either that or stranded on a deserted island and really, really bored.

Forget 1964, the coup de grĂ¢ce and probably the oldest thing I've ever seen in a thrift store is this German bible.

Americans have a tendency to think that anything from the last 50 years is ancient...

But a book dating from the early 19th century is pretty-freaking-old. In 1813:
  • James Madison, author of the constitution, was still president.
  • Thomas Jefferson turned 70 and and Abraham Lincoln celebrated his 4th birthday.
  • The population of New York City was under 100,000 and Los Angeles hovered around 500.
  • The Americans went to war with Canada (yep, we did that) and burnt down Toronto, for which the British would later retaliate by burning down Buffalo, New York and Washington D.C. (yep, they did that).
  • The Russians invaded Berlin.
  • Napoleon wins a few loses a few, and then gets his ass handed to him at the Battle of Nations in Leipzig.
  • The Enlightenment was winding down (what with Napoleon, the Americans and British burning down everything) and Romanticism was just getting started.
  • The field of Toxicology was founded.
  • Puffing Billy, the world's The fastest steamed-powered locomotive raced along at 6 mph
  • Average life expectancy in the Western world was about 35 years.
  • Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was first published.
  • Composers Verdi and Wagner were born.
  • Zebulon Pike (of Pike's Peak) died and Tecumseh (of Tippecanoe) was killed.
  • And somewhere in Germany this bible was printed only to end up in a thrift store in Goleta, California 195 years later.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


In 2008, may the thrift store gods smile upon you, or at least regard you with solemn, stony, but ultimately benevolent silence.

Hope you're partying like its 1999! 1979 or 1959 are also good. 1929 and 1939, not so much.

See you soon!