Saturday, September 09, 2006

Putting the Porn Back in Garage Sales


Garage sales in Binghamton are serious business. (I should probably call them "yard sales" since yards are in far greater supply than garages in our area full of 100-year old homes.) In the summer months, there are literally hundreds listed in the local paper. Whole streets will get organized and have a block-long yardsale. We just got "Craig's List" in the area a couple months ago and it definitely has not caught on yet, so the locals still firmly subscribe to the old "put your unwanted crap on the lawn and hopefully someone will pay you money AND take it away" school of thought. We love that many times the ad will say something like "9-4 pm, NO EARLY BIRDS." Apparently, eager bargain hunters aren't afraid to knock on the door in the wee hours of the morn.

Anyway, this morning, I was reading the paper and found a couple of "good" listings- that is, the addresses indicated that they probably had big houses attached and therefore better quality junk than the average, middle-class garage sale junk.

John was not especially pleased about my desire to go out and spend money and other people's junk. "Don't we already have enough of our own junk?" he pleaded. No. Absolutely not. You can NEVER have enough junk. And now we have a whole basement waiting to be filled with stuff we'll never use, so I was off . . .

The first sale had a unique attention-getting gimmick: to catch the eye of passers-by, they had strapped a stuffed Santa Claus to the telephone pole (see photo above). The result was disturbing: Santa looked like a flaccid Jesus impaled on the pole. Definitely not good marketing. Inside, the bad-marketing continued. At one point I was inspecting some piece of what-not and the man-of-the-house said, "If you decide you don't like it, you can always sell it at YOUR yard sale!" Yeah, not a good sales tactic. But I did end up buying the totally ridiculous silky pineapple pillow, and any houseguests will see it on the guest bed.

A couple of sales later, I came upon the holy grail of yard sale finds: an entire box full of vintage 1960s and 1970s Playboy magazines. John and I had just watched a biography of Hugh Hefner from which we were interested to learn that Playboy was really a world-class literary magazine in its earlier decades and that virtually every important writer of the last half of the 20th century (Ernest Hemmingway, Tennessee Williams, Ian Flemming, Gore Vidal, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, etc.) had published in it. It is also had some of the most cutting-edge and historic interviews- particularly ones with politicians like Jimmy Carter.

Needless to say, this had piqued my interest in vintage Playboy and I shamelessly bought 7 from the collection ("Do you want a bag for that?" the guy asked me. "Yes!" When I arrived home this morning, I came in with an armload of yard sale loot. Just when John was giving me a disapproving look, I proudly proclaimed, "I brought back PORN!"

What a good wife am I? I went to yard sales and came back with Playboys? I think I just earned myself carte blanche to scour garage sales for at least the next ten years, since this was the kind of treasured find that keeps people addicted to the hunt.

We started reading them right away and, between the sweet vintage '70s ads for things like below-the-belt "masculine deodorant spray" and stovepipe-cut Broomsticks brand polyester trousers, we were hooked. We went back and bought the rest of the box, and are now the proud owners of 2 dozen of the greatest publications ever. The articles, discussion forum and letters to the editor are fabulous- all about the equal rights movement, abortion, homosexuality, the Vietnam war. I was shocked by how many "Letters to the Editor" were submitted by rabbis and ministers.

Another funny thing struck me: was it really worth it to this guy to have all his neighbors pouring over his porno collection for the $15 he got for it? Pretty bad judgment on his part, I think. But I guess he didn't want to throw them away, and he couldn't exactly donate them to the library or the church rummage sale!

2 comments:

wheeedle said...

I love that one of the few things I can learn from Craigslist ST is how to make FREE DIESEL!

http://binghamton.craigslist.org/vol

alisha said...

you are my hero. heroine? heroin?


whatever. I don't know how I stumbled over here, but you certainly are capable of capturing my attention for hours on end with your wikipedia-esque image links. holla!