Tag Archives: popular culture

Storage Whores ~ How ‘Sell’-ebrities Devalue Our Treasures

Storage-WarsGentle Readers,
While we enjoy ‘reality tv’s’ foray into the collectibles business, we can’t ignore how they are stealing money from us while we watch them. Reality is now defined by scripted episodes, sort of like professional wrestling only with antiques.
Antiques Roadshow, the premier PBS series on collectibles, presents real opinions by real auction experts who tell real prices on items that any of us may own. We find this to be very interesting and helpful. The once-respectable A&E Network gives us Storage Wars, the once-believable History Channel doles out Pawn Stars (and obviously does not ‘fact check’ stories Rick Harrison tells suckers, er, customers about their soon to be lost valuables) and TruTV, among the most audacious channels, shows Hard Core Pawn.
The premise is the same for all three – somebody makes a mint while somebody else gets screwed. Yes, it sounds like Washington, DC.
Nonetheless, in efforts to lowball the poor stiffs who feed them, items which once held value to us are picked apart, scoffed at, niggled over and usually sold at a huge loss to the poor nitwit who sells it. The other two take place in pawn shops while Storage Wars follows collectors who buy storage bins and sell the priciest items within. If you have watched these shows for a few seasons, you may have noticed that prices are going lower on all the items. Even when figuring out how much an item from storage is worth, a leather jacket will be said to be worth ten dollars. We know damn well they cost more than ten dollars, even used…unless you are very slick and crafty at getting bargains.
On a recent episode (recent to us, anyway) of Pawn Stars, Harrison talked a customer out of a vintage cap gun/holster collection. The seller wanted $250 and ended up taking $65 for the collection of guns and holsters. Last year, we found some old cap gun holsters in out stuff while moving and put them on Ebay, not expecting much. We had three holsters with no guns. One holster had the buckle ripped off and another was missing the gun sheath. We sold them for $350, all together. That was OUR reality!

Do you get the idea?
Our Superman lunchbox with thermos from the sixties used to sell for over $800 to collectors. Thanks to Ebay, the set has fallen to under $500. If anybody finds one on a ‘reality show,’ the reality will be that the price goes down.
Remember…all those idiots on Duck Dynasty grew those beards just for the show!

this is a free blog. as such, expect some typos….
thanks for reading!

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Tips On Stealing An Xmas Tree

treeIn today’s economy this topic generates a lot of interest, Gentle Readers, so – in this atheistic, agnostic. faithless world – let us look at how we can ‘spruce up’ (ahem) our lives by sticking shiny things on dead trees. As you see in the photo provided by ABC News, some people like to get trees for free!

About ‘the holidays’…here in the great North West, anybody driving in store parking lots over the past week can attest to how the holidays bring out the worst in people. As part of our calendar training this time of year represents our time…our chance to celebrate, our chance to consume, our chance to eat and drink too much, our time to satisfy as many cravings, gain as much weight, and kill as many brain cells as possible.
Banks used to have ‘Christmas Clubs,’ savings accounts where people squirreled away cash all year long to blow during the holidays. We wonder if the clubs still exist. Banks don’t stick around long anymore. A year is time enough to get scammed. Remember when we trusted banks? No, not when we trusted them before the Great Depression; we mean remember when we trusted banks up to a few years ago, after we forgot the depression.
The bottom line, as regards stealing a tree, here is: too many people are at the shopping areas. We act crazy enough, abusing our way through the tortuous weeks, but many must have their special holiday food and are in a hurry to get home and stuff themselves. Many can’t wait to see what they are going to pay for on credit for the next year and a half. Most want to park close to the door because they must carry the all of the precious bounty. Impatience reigns.
Cars get keyed. Frenzied parkers hit and run, scraping or denting anything parked on either side of their space.
Accomplish stealing your tree away from such behavior.

Several choices present themselves. Each person has their own way but since the holidays haunt us, we pose a few guilt-free solutions. First and most obvious, we present the old-fashioned way of driving to the woods, then parking along the road. Find whatever conifer grows in your path as you walk into the forest, you cut it down and bundle it on home.
The same method produces equal success when picking your prize from the lawn of a local mall or landscaped office park; your old high school principal’s house makes for a perfect spot to shop, maybe the school itself. Sticking with the guilt-free theme, bear in mind that nurseries have the nicest trees. These trees stand proud and straight in rows until sold….sold. It should be a crime to make money on holidays which celebrate spiritual beliefs. That is the same kind of shit Jesus threw the moneylenders out of the temple for. What harm can we do to an evil merchant?
When stealing from a business…make it a large business. Leave the Mom & Pop tree nurseries and find a chain store.
Most importantly, never ever steal anything from a friend!

Equipment is paramount to success. Chainsaws (we prefer Stihl) wake people so are best used only for deep woods scenarios, or very bold daylight ‘removals’ from front yards of vacationing enemies. Hand-saws present tricky problems, particularly if you use such tools infrequently. Green wood not only causes blisters, it shows the tenacity of a whole Druid nation if your blade is dull.
Those magic knives that cut through a can of beans, then cut down a pine tree and then cuts tomatoes into the thinnest wedges possible? Forget the part about the pine tree. Ha. We tried that years ago in a nursery one rainy night with a QVC gift knife which worked wonderfully on TV. With the rise of security cameras far off in the future, the new moon provided enough cover to allow us an hour to hack through the muddy trunk. Blisters formed in the first five minutes. Our legs froze from squatting down low enough to cut an even line across the sappy, cold wood.
Naturally, dragging the muddy tree into the house filled us with a sense of pride. Sopping wet, cold, blistered and bedraggled, we saved fifteen dollars to abuse ourselves with….enough for a case of beer at that time.

We presume that most Kind Readers are adults.
If you have children, then you probably need a tree. If not, think it over. For you parents in the house, we suggest the good old American Way – trickery! Tell your kids that Santa brings the tree when he drops down the chimney of the apartment you live in. Slip the kids a little eggnog (with a Mickey, natch) and take a midnight drive late on the 24th. Pack your pliers, a couple wire clothes hangers, and a machete or similar large knife. Avoid using QVC knives.
Drive toward your local shopping center (better yet, the best one in your town) and there you’ll find a beautiful assortment of misfit trees. Awww…just like on the Rudolph TV special, sorta.
Most trees have a good side – the one that is showing, or the side which is face up if it is on the ground. Turn them around and there’ll be branches barren and broken. Sad in a way, if you are an Arborist, however finding two half-trees to wire together with hangers solves so many problems. Besides providing for our families we utilize trees which would have otherwise died in vain. We see a certain urban heroism in this. Next, simply use the machete/knife to even out the bad sides of two tree of the same approximate height by chopping off the deformed branches on the ‘sick’ sides. Fit them together until they appear to be one tree. Children do not notice the double trunk if you steal enough presents to hide it behind. Bind top and bottom together with hangers, set it up in the living room and just watch those tender little eyes light up next morning! Be careful and try to find to trees of the same variety. A half-pine, half-spruce tree might cause a curious child to wonder; if this is your only option, concoct a good story and have it ready in the morning.
These few helpful hints carried us through many a holiday season.
We hope you find them to be useful, too! Just remember the security cameras!

Now, go get a tree – if you must.


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Whatever Happened To This Blog?

Michael (6)Gentle Readers, for months, perhaps a year, we have been putting you off and have let this once-heralded blog slip into near obscurity. Today, we return and not only that – we return with our original name.
We remain uncertain as to whether we were trying to protect ourselves or trying to get laid when we changed the words ‘substance abuse’ to ‘substantial abuse’.
Too much information on one’s pattern of substance abuse can put low on the list for certain social invites. The fact remains that, as a result of being fed beer regularly as a baby (imagine yourself sucking from a beer bottle as tall as yourself…but just on weekends…), the editorial we naturally became alcoholic. We missed out on all the fun of gateway drugs – ha, ha, as if such a thing exists. We are not Hippies because we were born too late but we did manage to ingest LSD in every decade since the seventies, inclusive, and still keep the old neuro-plasticity working well enough to keep your attention!

We thank all the people who kept reading old entries of the blog while we were out of action.

We also thank Paul Krassner – for inspiration. We contacted him regarding some Beatdom business. Although he influenced us greatly over the years, from MAD to High Times magazines, we felt a pang of guilt when viewing his bibliography. He never shies away from a topic. He is fearless. He wrote a lot about drugs and put them in the titles of his books. He has integrity. We were afraid we would never be able to get laid if we had to explain our substance abuse issues…a pretty lame excuse, looking back.
Mr. Krassner helped change the course of American history to a degree. His activities during the sixties – his outspokenness, sense of humor and respect for Truth – allowed many others to open up with their personal views. Somebody always has to break the ice in a repressive situation and he melted minds. Conversely, The Realist allowed so-called ‘broken minds’ to melt the ice of the oppression of the time through humor. We remember how you Dear Readers love illustrations, so here is the book to look for…confessions…if you do not buy it and read it, you will not know what we are writing about when we refer to it in future important dispatches.
Anyway, there is a lot to learn about him and we encourage you all to pick up copies of his books. The best place to find them is on his website, http://www.paulkrassner.com

So, with all that being said, we shall now resume the blog as it ran a few years ago, three to four times a week. We will try to be more politically-minded and will try to be less silly. Things have gotten a lot more serious since we reported Governor Christie getting stuck in his gubernatorial bathtub and being pried out with two boat oars and a handy few pounds of butter from the larder….ah…”larder”… We thank the Gov for allowing us to resurrect an old word! May we gain from his girth.
Another reason for our return lies in the excitement we feel as we explore new lands. Native to New York, we left the east coast and drove west this past summer. After a lifetime in the Eastern Standard Zone except for vacations and other excursions, we find great novelty here in the State of Washington. We knew the diversity of topography to be extreme but the last thing we expected was to wind up stuck in a desert, much less the scablands. Everybody said it rains all the time here.
Not so.
We never experienced such pesky sunshine in all our days. Sun, sun, sun…nothing but sun, all summer. Like Bob Dylan asks a recent LP, “Don’t you know the sun can burn your brains right out?” Speaking of Dylan, we can’t help but compare the area to the locale depicted in the film Masked and Anonymous. With all the Native Americans, Mexicans, sand and abandoned junk cars, the resemblance strikes us as uncanny. In fact some areas here are so bleak as to resemble Afghan mountain ranges; so much so that troops bound for that bloodbath got used to the elements by training near here.
Fall arrived and clouds followed and as the sky got darker, things got brighter. We love rain! The first good rain to come in brought our first dust storm along with it. A fantastic sight! A cool thing to view from the safe confines of a car with rolled-up windows.
There is so much here to discover in Washington, we didn’t know where to start so food is never a bad idea. Crossing the US, we noticed portions of food increasing in size as we pushed westward. True, we settled for road food but it actually tasted good and we had to start comparing fast foods, just to see the cultural anomoly we are faced with.
It started at the ‘Steak’N’Shake’ somewhere in Michigan. Years passed since the last fast food burger touched my lips. It came down to ‘eat or starve’ so we went with Steak’N’Shake. It was amazing! The first thing that freaked us out was the whipped cream and cherry on the milkshake…we remembered that from soda fountains in the distant past. When we opened up the burgers, a cornucopia of veggies stuck out from the bun. While we chose our move to a liberal land where pot is legal, as is same-sex marriage and assisted suicide, liberal portions never occurred to us.
So amazed were we, that to push the idea to the limit, we tried a McDonalds…we must report that our two kitties, along for the trip, actually ate some of the ‘meat’. We tried the same thing in Pennsylvania and they shunned it. Finally, even McDonalds had a cherry on top of the shake.
Now here is the rub.

It is sort of like Lenny Bruce’s ‘Jew vs Goy’ bit…only it seems like Lenny was wrong on that one. He said anybody who lives in New York is jewish, whether they are goyim or not. While admittedly goy to the catholic degree at childhood, we can’t help but feel that the whole northeast seaboard, as well as points as far west as Chicago, create the true demarcation.
Try to find some real foods, foods we grew up with and now we seem to have entered a weird zone of culinary depravity. Perhaps being in the east, where European immigrants first landed, exposed us to a variety of victuals. Ethnic foods spread out from immigrant neighborhoods as they became popular with other cultures.
Brie, capers, anchovies, hummus, halvah, Finlandia or Jarlsburg brand swiss or Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil from Italy, couscous…mention these items and prepare to be met with a blank stare. Other seemingly unbotchable staples – pizza and bagels, for instance – get ‘the treatment’. To find a simple slice of pizza (crust, sauce, cheese and spices) the closest option is to send out for a Papa John or Domino imitation pie and cut it in the shape of a slice…or make your own. The concept of an italian pizza shop where you can walk in and buy a slice is exactly that, here on the eastern part of the state, a concept. It is an idea that does not exist. Maybe you can get it in Seattle but we have not gotten that far yet.
Forget bagel shops…but the street tacos rule!
We admit to enjoying a bagel at the most fabulous hotel we could find this side of the Cascades, The Davenport Hotel in Spokane. hotelHere, birthplace of Crab Louis (after Louis Davenport), they referred to the smoked salmon as lox and knew well enough to put capers on the plate. For as many salmon as swim through here every year, we expected that most people would be familiar with lox. Maybe they are better off. I did see a number of big fish float belly up in the Columbia River just around migration time, when the state warned residents not to eat the local fish due to dangerous levels of pollutants in the filets.
Hordes of homeless tweakers who live under bridges and eat these fish since a little added protein never hurts a meth binge, are likely unaware of these warnings. A lot of homeless drifters hang here, though, so that makes us feel welcome. Hitch-hikers spot the roads, too. We hadn’t seen one since 2003 in Ireland. No wonder the serial killers like it here.
There is so much to say, so much to compare, so much to type that we will hold it for another day, tomorrow maybe…

Sorry for not really promoting the substance abuse this time. We did drink beer while driving across most of the states, though. We shall make up for this in due time.
Thanks all, for coming back to read this blog, and it feels good to be back!

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