Wednesday, December 31, 2008


So another year in thrifting comes to a close. And while it was swell in many regards, there were a lot of things I just never got around to accomplishing. Because I've been horsing around like a circus boy on the Mississippi (that's an expression, right?), my posts to this blog have kind of slackened in the past few months.

Well, now's as good a time as any I assume to lay out some resolutions for the coming year:

Next year, i resolve to make some new friends. Preferably snappy dressers with plates of food.

I will travel as much as possible and see more people. And awesome bridges too, while I'm at it.

I will bear in mind that violets grow in secret places. Which I believe is a reference to thrift store mining. That or runaway prostitution. (Looks like she's at a thrift store to me, though.)

I will definitely turn down into up. And I'll start by tying all my sweaters around my neck instead of wearing them normally. Then I will seek out the see-saw.

I resolve to read more trashy novels. How about this: Marcus Welby, MD, hit TV shows, love in crisis, acid... it all floats my boat.

I promise to pay closer attention to the around me. And then read them like a book. And con them out of their life savings. Well, maybe not the last part so much, but watch yourself just the same.

I plan to tell 1000 giant jokes, gags, and cartoons.

And most of my jokes will involve women being peed on at 50s costume parties.

I resolve to learn the secret language of wolf dogs of the north, so that I might better understand my dog's sometimes strange behavior. It probably just his inner wolf coming out.

I also resolve to learn more about monkeys. And then regale complete strangers with tales of their daring-do.

Maybe I'll pick up a new hobby, like learning more about contemporary art. Especially art that involves living rooms of the 1970s.

Or maybe finally learning how to cook a decent meal. Especially meals that involve delicious and colorful 1970s cuisine. (Okay, I'll stop now).

Perhaps I'll adopt a new pet. And then let the dog, cat, and bull snake sort out which is alpha through blood sports. For entertainment. Instead of watching so much TV.

I resolve to call more people more often. Especially if the calls are toll free and involve a big yellow telephone.

I resolve to have some deep meaningful thoughts and write them down. But not here. This blog is strictly for my unintelligent ramblings on stupid crap that no one really cares about. Therefore, I resolve also to have a secret smarty blog.

And on that new secret blog I resolve to travel through time as much a possible. Or at least act more like Einstein.

Finally, I resolve to recommit myself to my solemn task of saving junk, lurking through thrift stores, and to keep bringing you guys the visual goods from my thrift store adventures.

Thanks for a great year, see you on the flipside!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Don't judge me. This blog will soon return. I swear to Ra... or Ma'at at least.

Saturday, December 06, 2008



Aw, hell. Sad news today, sci-fi and horror fans. Forrest J. Ackerman is no longer among the living. I was lucky enough to visit the Ackermansion and meet Forry about ten years ago. Not only was Uncle Forry the first fanboy, he was the first collector, and maybe even oe of the first dumpster divers. His house was a shrine of saved stuff -- like digging the original Creature From the Black Lagoon monster suit out of a studio garbage can. Maybe that where a lot of my thrift store passion came from. His Famous Monsters of Filmland will remain my favorite magazine ever. Consider yourself lucky if you every thrift a copy.

Thanks for the childhood memories, Dr. Acula. Tell Bela and Boris I said hello.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This year, I'm giving thanks...

For my family and friends

For all my internet friends (that's you!)

For people who leave nice and/or weird comments on this blog (you again!!)

For still having a home (see last post)

For websites like this

For the time and energy to still be able to haul my butt to the thrift stores (while I should be doing my real work)

and finally, for bizzaralicious objects like the lasso-wielding kitty cowboy!!!

What are y'all thankful for?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


So, as I was driving home on Thursday night I noticed that the hillside near my part of town was on fire.

As I drove down the freeway, carefully rubbernecking with the other motorists, I began to realize the fire was in the hills directly behind our place.

With flames visibly leaping a hundred feet in the air, the sounds of electrical transformers and eucalyptus trees exploding in the distance, and the air chocking with smoke, my mind rapidly filled with a host of anecdotes about people not evacuating when they should.

So after spending a tense hour or so rifling in my piles of junk for my great grandfather's World War One mementos and some family pictures, we loaded the pets in the car and bugged out for a friend's place and then a Motel 6 a town over.


Because our dog was nervous and in a new place he naturally decided to urinate on our hotel room bed... twice.

So that is how, on the second night of the Tea Fire I ended up in the laundromat on the edge of forever.

Except for a few people who wandered in and out, the place was deserted.

The decor could best be described as mid-70s gentrified, one of my favorite decorating styles, I'll admit.

Adding to to the strangeness of the scene was the piped-in local radio station broadcast that interspersed reports about the raging fires in between classic rock tunes.

Of course, the paintings of faceless children...

and psychedelic cityscapes were a bit unsettling too.

Of course, there were some nice recent acquisitions as well. Call them post-rinse cycle surreal.

Some elements were less artistic and more pithy commentary on the decline of American school standards. "My School Suck" indeed.

All in all it was a welcome break, if a little weird, from worrying whether our home had been destroyed by conflagration.

We unlike some, were lucky though, and today were able go back home. Other than the overpowering smell of burnt beef jerky or smoked cheese, everything was fine.

But becuase that smell has permeated all our clothes, I see an ancient laundromat in my near future.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


So am I the only one who's been grazing on left over fun size candy bars for the last week? Got to justify buying that 2 lb bag at Costco, you know. $20 sounded like such a deal.

I'm sure I could cut back and spread the treats out over time -- everyone knows that junk's so pumped up with preservatives that it'll last a week into the next ice age.

I was therefore actually kind of sad that the above ancient (28 years young) package of Sweetarts that I found in an old hunting jacket at an Oxnard thrift had long been devoured.

Sure, a Carter/Reagan-era Snickers might be deadly by now -- and I have an unpleasant memory of eating a mini Hershey's bar I found languishing under my friend's bed back in the 70s. But I seriously think I would have popped these antique Sweetarts into my mouth without a second thought. I have a funny feeling that Sweetarts will be the primary foodstuff of the post World War Three crowd, what with all the zombies and radiated cans of corn making grocery shopping difficult. If it's good enough for the old man in the cave, then it's good enough for me.

Plus, the potential psychedelic effects of finely aged pre-post-punk high fructose corn syrup would be a nice bonus, no?

Maybe I'm just loopy from all the chocolate.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Why? Well, for one, this endless election is almost over!

That means no more Joe the Plumber!

Maybe we'll finally end the endless war too...

Is it too much to wish that someone will fix our broken economy?

Here's hoping the new boss has some better ideas...

...that is unless we get mired in another 2000 recount headache (gulp!)

Okay, I guess it's true -- we're just exchanging one set of clowns for another.

In fact, I can't even remember the last president that I respected...

Heck, most presidents just kind of blur together, get all swirly, until you can't tell one from another. Who the heck are these guys supposed to be anyway?

One thing I know, if we get too complacent, we've got nobody to blame but ourselves.

So get out there and VOTE! ... and then go thrift store shopping. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


It occurs to me that despite the numerous pictures I've put up here next to none of them have people in them. Mostly that's because most people, strangers, wouldn't want to be in some weirdo dude's photos -- especially some weirdo dude who's snapping photos in a thrift store, of all places. Especially, especially if the people the weirdo dude sees are as weird as the stuff the weirdo dude is photographing.

That's not to say I haven't met my share of nice people at thrift stores. Like the woman who tugged on my sleeve to tell me I dropped my wallet, or the guy at the counter who gave the 1950s bowling shirt for free because it didn't have a sales tag (even though the store's policy was to not let an un-tagged item get out the door).

Then again, I've run across quite a few un-photographable weirdos in my travels. Just last week I had the following conversation:

Me (trying to pass by a guy with prison tats on his face): Excuse me.

Weird Dude (grabbing at the clothing in my hands):
You going to wear those clothes? They won't fit you.

I guess not. They'll fit someone.

Weird Dude:
Where's the men's underwear section?

Me (uncomfortable): Um, I don't work here.

Weird Dude (icily serious stare):
I didn't think you did


Fortunately, the I'm-going-to-get-pummeled-by-some-crazy-ex-con moment doesn't happen all that often (only once or twice a year, I'd say).

But since we are entering my favorite holiday season, I thought it might be nice to feature a few thrift store people I've met.

Did I mention I love this time of year? Every Halloween it seems that so many interesting, colorful faces turn up in the thrifts. It's nice to see that such a diverse mix of characters can get together. Even if many of them are just putting on brave face, a mask if you will, to hide their true selves, it's still swell to see a big turnout even if they are a bunch of bums, artificial people, or clowns.

Of course, you will come across cliques in thrift stores. You know, the walk and talk and dress-alike crowd, with the same-haircuts and all. To me, that's bone dry and dull as graveyard dirt.

I always thought the great thing about thrift stores was that no two things were alike. But hey, I get it, there's a certain safety in numbers and sometimes two or three heads are better than one.

I actually like it when two totally different people can get along. Oh sure, you may have the glaze of the same religious beliefs, the same cultural backgrounds, the same basis way of facing the world. But it's nice to see friends who can rise above differences in color, personality, and the artificial divisions within totemic hierarchies. Maybe I've just been reading too much anthropology texts lately.

There are some unfortunate souls you meet who are somewhat plain, dull, dare I say wooden. Usually, these individuals spend their time at the periphery, less interested in the fantastic variety and adventure of thrift store culture, and just kind of stand there with a stick up their a**es.

Sure, you can dress them up however you want, but these types are just too stiff, too bland, too plastic to spend much time worrying about what's going on in their empty heads.

Scarier still are the types who completely lose their heads when they get inside a thrift store. I guess there's something about the junk, the randomness of the place that makes them lose their minds, check their brains at the door. I know for first-timers the uniqueness of a thrift store can blow their tops and they may start running around like a chicken with its head cut off. But when I see people acting like this I usually just think there's not a lot going on upstairs.

We all know, however, that thrift stores can help you find the real you, and be yourself, no matter how unusual that might be. Sure, that super outfit you just found might give you a feeling of superiority, like you have some sort of special powers, like the laws of physics don't apply. But when it's all said and done, it's fine to let your freak flag fly, even if it scares a few children a long the way.

Then again, sometimes even the kids in thrift stores are a bit creepy, hanging out in back alleys, wearing fedoras and trenchcoats...

Putting tracking devices in their friends backpacks. These kids today, with their stalking and espionage.

Now, after nefarious surveillance by preteens, you might say the company of a precise jogger would be quite welcome. But I'm getting a bad vibe from that runner there on the left.

Yep, just as I thought: Hitler in a track suit. Apparently, it's a fine line between precision jogging and fascist goosestepping.

At least most thrift stores don't allow animals. This one apparently allows hairy, ugly, bearded dogs. Niiiice doggy.

You know how they put those plastic collars on sick dogs so they can't lick certain areas of themselves? Maybe that why this little girl has bubble wrap all over her arms and feet -- so she can't lick them. That or she just digs the look. These kids today with their ridiculous fetishes for "regularly spaced, protruding air-filled hemispheres."

I haven't said anything yet about perverts. Unfortunately there's something about a second hand shop that seems to draw out the creeps. Exhibit A: slightly creepy mustachioed bowling man doing the old "oops, my pants fell down" gag...

Exhibit B: slightly creepy, embedded Mickey with a slightly inappropriate "come hither" look.

Neither one of these characters would be welcome in my home or even my outhouse. Not that I have an outhouse.

Almost as bad (or maybe just as bad) as the perverts, are the hucksters. You haven't been hornswaggled until you've been Bob Proctored. Born rich, huh? Tell that to my crushing debt. I guess its a nature versus nurture thing.

Something about this guys gives me the willies. Is it his bulbous nose? Nah, Jack Klugman and Karl Malden are tops in my book...

The thin lips then? Or the high forehead? The grandpa goggles? No...

It's something in the eyes. Freaky-deaky heebie-jeebies from that one.

Okay, after that parade of psychos, what we need is some law and order. Yeah, some good ol' rubber-clad, neoprene, shocking blue wigged, community policing. From a hot, amputee, hooker cop. You know, ta' clean up the joint, hose the place down, and maybe beat out a confession of two. Yeah. Hmm... haven't I met her sister before?

All I'm saying is there's plenty of thrifty people to be scared of year-round. That's why most of my shutterbugging is strictly of the merchandise and not the customers and clerks.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I shouldn't mistake a friendly smile for a ghastly grimace, or a warm hug for death's cold embrace. Maybe I should listen to what the rock-and-roll man says: "Don't fear the reaper." But if he's in the men's underwear section, just maybe go and check out the kid's books instead.

Happy Halloween!