Monday, September 12, 2005

On Hiatus....

I am on hiatus this week and next. This does not mean I am not going to yard sales, I am just not writing about them. If you are having a sale donate all your leftovers to one of the New Orleans relief efforts. If you’re thinking about having a sale, don’t. Instead give your stuff to a shelter. I’m taking next week off as well but plan to write about some of the links on this site next week.

A year in the Yards of Clutter.. Part II - My Purchases

In the past year I have recorded visits to 238 yard and estate sales. That number would be higher if I counted the few dozen I attended but did not document. In those 238 sales I purchased the items listed below. In my excursion thorough the yards of clutter I attempted to unveil the lives of individual through what they are ridding themselves of. Now as I examine what I have gleamed from these sales and brought into my home I can now look inward and examine my own life based on what I purchased.

I bought more books than anything else. I’d like to think that I’m an avid reader but I often buy more than I have time to read. Here’s what I acquired in those 12 months.

“How to Speak Good English”- A small book that I purchased as a gag. The 1932 work is amusing at times. I don’t know where I put it.
"You are worthless... Depressing nuggets of wisdom sure to ruin your day." This parody of inspirational books scared Cindy and she told me she didn’t want to see it any more. She was afraid it would cause her self-esteem to disintegrate. I think I hid it in a closet.
“ Satan’s Little Instruction Book” This parody was not as amusing as it should have been. I think it’s still in the back seat of my car.
“Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” - This is a work I added to my home reference shelf.
“Vern C. Gorst Pioneer and Grandad of United Airlines” I bought this for a dollar then sold it a few months later on Ebay for $26.00.
“Island of the Colorblind” I read this Oliver Sacks book this summer.
“A History of Reading” I started reading this work a few weeks ago but haven’t gotten into it.
“The Pillow Book” I purchased this book of Asian erotic art with the intent of reselling it. A lot of copies are up for sale on the Internet for around 10 dollars. I was hoping it could go for more.
“Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads” - I read this wordy work on the history of taxidermy and natural history museums this summer.
“Thou improper and thou uncommon noun” Another work I added to my reference collection. This work is on the etymology of words that were once names. It makes good casual reading.
“The Cat Horoscope Book” - I’m not sure when my cat’s were born so this work is not too useful. I’m not sure where I put it.
“Sex American Style” - This large illustrated paperback set on my coffee table for a few weeks. I read about half of it.
“Foucault’s Pendulum” This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time, but I haven’t started in yet.
“Modern Humor for Effective Speaking” The jokes are not that funny in this 1945 work. Here’s an example from the chapter entitled Fighting Forces- An enthusiastic young selectee was being given an intelligence test.
“What” asked the examiner “does R.F.D. stand for?”
The light of recognition shone in the lad’s eyes, and he answered proudly:
“Relano Fankin Doosevlet”
“The Panama Canal” - As a child of the Canal Zone I could not help but purchase (for one dollar) this 1913 work with a distressed cover. I considered selling some of the maps in it on Ebay. But did not want to cut up the work. I have perused a few sections of the book.

Clothing and Accessories
I always think I’ll end up with more clothing purchases from sales. But when I looked back I did not add a lot to my wardrobe other than sunglasses.
Ray Ban Wayfarers – I wear these all the time a great deal for $1.
A pair of Ray Bans - An even better deal for 25 cents
A pair of Ray Bans - I think I lost this pair. I haven’t seen them in a few months.
A pair of men’s shorts - I think I’ve been wearing these this summer. They were only $2
A long sleeve shirt - For a dollar I bought this shirt but I can’t recall what it looked like. I think it’s in my closet.
A suit – I paid ten dollars for this suit just a few weeks ago. I need to get the pants taken up. It’s on a hanger in my closet.
A pair of two-tone dress shoes - These look sharp and cost a dollar. I’ve worn them to work several times this school year.
Cufflinks shaped like Georgia – I think they’re in a drawer. I haven’t seen them in a while nor have I worn them.
Ultra suede sport coat - I paid $10 and have worn it many times to work. Aside from the Ray bans my most used clothing purchase.

Art supplies and materials
This year I had a photo exhibit, Cindy had a show in Florida and sold art at several neighborhood festivals and I put together a video studio for my students. Thus we were in the market for a lot of materials.
Two boxes of large format printer photo paper. – I ended up not using this paper for the prints for my show. The boxes are unopened.
2 video cables – I picked these up for a quarter and took them to school. I may have used them in the studio.
Roll of Wallpaper – I used this as a backdrop most of last year at school. I’ve replaced it with some photo backdrop paper I got on Craigslist.
I bought the following artwork for the frames, which I used for my Makeshift Memorials show.
A large etching of a cross-eyed woman.
A print of an iridescent jungle scene.
A print of a cheetah.
Two bird prints.
A print a cattleya sknneri from the New York Botanical Garden.
All the prints were tossed out when I placed my photos in them.
Two wooden frames without prints
A painting of a horse called Midnight - I gave this naïve pet painting to Claire Butler to add to her collections.
A piece of artist linoleum – I gave it to Cindy to create linoleum prints. I paid fifty cents for this the art supply stores want around $30 for the same sized piece. Her prints sold well at festivals.
A pair of easels - These are very lightweight wooden easels that can in handy to display art at festivals. I got both for four bucks.

Household and décor
Commemorative plate from Cristus Gardens in Gatlinburg – I have a few commemorative plates hanging in my kitchen. But I can’t remember if I kept this one or gave it to someone. It’s not in my kitchen.
Commemorative plate of the Edaville Railway – I also do not know what I did with this plate.
Two old Pyrex mixing bowls - These replaced bowls that were broken or lost. We use them on a regular basis.
Sword – Cindy told me she wanted a sword for a sculpture. She did not use this one. It’s now under my bed.

Food and Beverages
I low to see consumables at sales, I did not buy any food but I did buy wine.
Whole Foods brand French Merlot and a bottle of Fritz Haag Riesling – A good deal on wine the Merlot was OK, the Riesling was quite good.

I find I am a very picky music buyer. I do not buy as much as I used to.

Link Wray and the Raymen/ Mr. Guitar/ Original Swan recordings – A double CD I thought I would listen to this more but I only played one disc once.
Autographed Lester Maddox Lp – This was a famous Lp that I could not resist when I saw it. I do not have a working turntable so I have not listened to it.
Bossa Sempre Nova – This collection commemorates 30 years of Bossa Nova. I’ve put it on once or twice.
Best of Clyde McPhatter CD – I like this recording and have played it at least six times.
Laura Pausini/ le cose che vivi – Italian pop singer, it doesn’t have a lot of substance. I’ve listened to it a few times expecting it to be better than it is.
El Raunch Oh! Grande../ Latin songs for gringos – Mae West, Artie Shaw, Marty Robbins and others. It’s dumb but fun. I’ve put it on many times.
Strictly Rhythm’s Latin Thang – Latin goes hip-hop a strange mix.
Clasicas de Colombia – Traditional music from Columbia. I listen to it sometimes when I fix breakfast on Sundays.

This is one of the few things I really enjoy collecting. But my collection is not a serious one.
Postcards – I bought a stack of 20 at one sale. They are now mixed in with the rest of my collection.
1966 Delta Airlines in-flight magazine – I though I might sell this on Ebay. I might get a higher price if Delta goes under.
“Avocado Bravo” – A booklet on cooking with avocados from the 1960’s. It’s filed with my other booklets.
“How to cook with Budweiser” – One of my favorite finds of the year. Now filed away in a safe place. But I do plan to use some of the recipes.
Piedmont Airlines bag – More airline memorabilia I hope to sell on Ebay. It took me four months before I remembered to get it out of my trunk.
“Moscow’s Master Plan” – Cold war propaganda. This large booklet is in a bookcase.
Canadian vacation scrapbook – I took a lot of stuff out of this and filed it in my collection. I have the plundered scrapbook in a closet.
3.5 by 2-inch picture of Cristobal in the Canal Zone – I don’t know the origin of this card, but for a quarter I could not let this Zonian item go. It’s in my files.
1968 copy of Atlanta Magazine – I bought this because it has Julian Bond in a fashion spread. I want to show it to friends but I don’t know where it is at the moment.

Anti soviet propaganda.
Men's suit in need of alterations.

Three pairs of Raybans.

An addition to my reference collection.

An examination of popular sex culture.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A year in the yards of clutter and the driveways of divestment

One year ago this week I began keeping this on line journal of what I encountered in my weekly habitual visits to yard sales in Atlanta neighborhoods. Before I began writing I saw my activity as a waste up time, gas and effort. As stated in my heading I seldom buy any thing at these sales. This is not to say I am not entertained by my visitations to these sites of divestment. I have laughed, cried, shuddered, been appalled, insulted and amazed at the stuff I have seen. I have discovered secrets, viewed the debris of people’s passing passions and saw evidence of lives in transition. I examined the fragments of lives well lived and lives misdirected. Perhaps I have found all people have so many sales in their lives. I will even be so bold to say that men and women have seven sales in their lives.

The Seven Yard Sales of Man

The first is that of Youth. The ex-student thrust into the working world needing cash and selling their college textbooks and the meaningful music of their young days. Their yards are filled with trifles they once though important gag gifts and trendy clothing.

The Lovers combine their households and sell the redundant clutter. The inferior small appliances owned by the man, the Taiwanese hand tools of the woman. But the woman dominates the sale forcing the divestment of ugly artwork, men’s magazines and overtly masculine items of home décor.

The New Parents make space for the crying and wailing infant and rid their homes of all things unhealthy old and soiled. Space is needed and free time and leisure have vanished. Exercise equipment, dusty books are put up for sale. The initial materials of childcare and maternity are sold. Books on pregnancy, baby monitors, cribs and strollers litter the yard.

The Upwardly Mobile household moves to a grander habitation leaving behind the basic furnishing that speak of a lower station. Books on topics political, thick tomes from graduate studios and self help manuals that are no longer needed line the driveway.

The Family with children selling donuts and lemonade amid a wide yard of collected clutter. Tarps filled with plastic toys no longer needed, the broken action figure, the doll with missing shoes sit alongside the clothing of adults that are now too tight around the waist. All this mixed with the jetsam of hobbies forgotten, music no longer listened to and books unread.

The Empty Nest where the children have moved on and life is simplified. Cupboards are emptied of multitudes of small appliances. Electronics that old hands and minds could not seem to master, gag gifts given at milestone birthday parties are scattered about the porch mixed in with the clutter cleaned out of an old desk. Trophies of jobs no longer worked at and travels nearly forgotten are piled together and pillaged by rude early bird shoppers.

The Estate, the final sale where the owner is no more and the clutter is all that remains. The wake is held, the body interned and the sum total of what one man or one woman have accrued as they ventured through this mortal coil makes its final journey. It is watched over by professionals and picked at by scavengers. Some hope to profit and gain by their finds. But others may take one item home, place it on a mantle and admire it till it is forgotten and the cycle continues.

Estates of living food critics and deceased Catholics - 8/27/05

Somehow knowing that I have completed one entire year of documenting what I have witnessed on Saturday mornings for the past 12 months, I went out today without any care of finding anything remarkable or about what I might encounter. But I did find two very different estate sales, one for a living restaurant critic the other for a non living Catholic.

S. Ponce de Leon – Druid Hills "Estate Sale"

I find I have a certain amount of hesitation when I go to the sale of someone I know. Especially when it is someone who knows that I will be exposing the contents of their sale to the world or at least any one in the world who chooses to view this site. While my intent is to conduct a social scientific examination of sales contents, I often feel I am offering a critique the event. The privacy invasion that I present is one that I feel I am welcome to. Since at one time I considered doing a web site that would reveal the contents of medicine cabinets I had examined at parties. While this seemed a novel with some social worth, more then likely I would just end up losing a lot of friends or never being invited to their homes for social events. This sale was in the home of a local restaurant critic who I often see at yard sales. An avid admirer of all things found at sales this seller was forced to move her massive collection of yard sale clutter to a new location due to the expansionist policies of Paidea School.
Ignoring her pleas not to reveal too much of her life through her divested clutter I went ahead as always to offer no bias or special treatment.
In the tri-level condo most of the major furniture and useful household objects had been removed leaving a wide selection of clutter accrued from yard sales as well as other more normal things simply no longer needed. I headed immediately to the kitchen in hopes of seeing what neglected foodstuffs were for sale. In the cabinet I found a container of sea salt, a jar of instant Café Bustello, a container of Shichimi red pepper mix, a half filled bottle of soy sauce, a jar of Parade peanut butter, plum paste, a bottle of clear Karo syrup and a variety of spices.
In the living room shelves, the floor and all available surfaces were covered with the flotsam and jetsam of countless yard sales. On shelf contained dollhouse bathroom fixtures. On a table was a copy of the Talmud in French and some Braniff Airlines playing cards. Nearby on the floor were an old pair of roller skates and a large plastic Gumby figure of undetermined use.
A large selection of books included many titles in French, as well as "Waste not Want not", "Joy of Motherhood" and "Girl and a Gun". Below the books were stacks of Atlanta Magazine and Gourmet. On one wall were two frames embroidered images of terriers. Two boxes of Lps yielded works by the Judds, Bronski Beat and Danny Kaye. A tower shelf of CDs held what seemed to be an entire collection of "Les Belles Chanson François" from the 1960’s to the 1990’s.
From the living room I headed down a narrow staircase to the basement. There I found more delightful confusion. On the floor were several posters for the Ottoman Empire a group fronted by a pizza magnate that featured the violin work of the late Daniel Pearl. Among the clutter on the lower level were several Barbie dolls and a Where’s Elvis jigsaw puzzle. Further back in the basement I found Pilates and Abs exercise VHS tapes, Halloween and Ester décor, cassettes of Balalaika music, a plastic talking parrot, a Paidea t-shirt, some large old bones, an old PC, a grass skirt and a lot of feathers.
From the basement I headed to the second level. There I found one room with the bulk of the advertised Elvis collection. Dominating the Elvis materials was a large statue of the King in Vegas attire with a missing arm. Near this Elvis de Milo was an Elvis entombed in a water filled bubble. Other objects of note in the Elvis room were a purple wig, some plush bears, a lava lamp and an old zip code directory. Another room upstairs featured a framed John Lennon poster on the wall, a guide toe] NYC restaurants and a hat that said ‘Change your attitude". The final room on that level was a bedroom with the bed still remaining. Piled next to the bed were stacks of Atlanta restaurant menus, the nighttime reading of a food critic. Propping open the bedroom door was a box containing some old road maps.
I considered buying the road maps but had no money on me so I bought nothing.

Bedside menus.

Disarmed Elvis

Miniture bathroom fixtures.

Large bones found in basement
Virginia Ave. – Va. Highlands "Yard Sale"

This was a small sale in the driveway of an apartment building. There I found some Pottery Barn looking white cabinets, a dinette set, a ceramic snowman, a bread maker and some college finance textbooks.
I bought nothing.

Virginia Ave. _ Va. Highlands "Yard Sale"

A little further down Virginia I came across a slightly larger sale in the yard of a brick bungalow. On the ground was a framed and glass covered completed jigsaw puzzle of a violin near it was a painting with the image of a man that seemed to be fading into another dimension. Other clutter there included some kids books, a pile of cheap plastic luggage, two canes, a Donald Trump biography, the Internship Bible, a copy of the game Outburst Junior, a stack of old LBJ bumper stickers and a giant drinking goblet from Northwestern University.
I bought nothing.
Artwork found on Virginia Ave.

College drinking goblet.

Noble Ave. – Morningside "Estate Sale"

Roman Catholicism has always been a minority religion in the south. Even in a somewhat cosmopolitan city as Atlanta the icons and artifacts of Catholicism have always been looked on with wonder and bewilderment, as was some sort of hoodoo. While the influx of northerners and even the presence of a major BVM apparition site have toned down this attitude it continues to persist.
This was the estate of an erstwhile Catholic. The 805 ad mentioned many religious items but did not name the faith. I presumed the religion to be Catholicism since the only protestant religious items are plastic praying hands, bibles and plaques of the 10 Commandments. Judaism does have its implements but they are always referred to as Judiaca. Upon arriving at this two story colonial revival brick home a sign indicated that this was only phase one of the sale indicating that there was more clutter than the reselling pros could handle. I first headed to the second floor past a framed copy of the Nicene Creed and went into a small bedroom. There I found a box of old neck ties, some women’s clothing, boxes of Xmas tree balls, a small ceramic dog, a high quality nativity set, some swizzle sticks, boxes religious themed Christmas cards, rolls of gift wrap and a stethoscope. On the walls were a painting of a seated girl and another of a teddy bear. The other bedrooms were sealed off so I then headed back down stairs. Heading to the kitchen I passed a naïve-framed painting of the Virgin next to a votive candle. In the kitchen I found a small stash of old food for sale. Gathered in the cupboard were a bottle of vinegar, a jar or Ragu Rich and Meaty sauce, a few cans of soup and a jar of salad olives. Other clutter in the kitchen included a drawer filled with cutlery, a dust buster, an avocado green hand mixer and a sign the read "The diet stops here".
In what may have been the dining room I found a table with a selection of a half dozen crucifixes. One of the crosses was one of the popular (at least among Catholics) extreme Unction kits. The kits features a crucifix that slides off from its base to reveal a vial of anointing oil and a few other items so that the household will be last rites ready. Here the cross was opened reveling the vial, but it seems that the vial was not opened. So this kit like every other I have seen did not see action. Near the crucifixes was a bottle of Lourdes water. That appeared to have been opened since the bottle was only two thirds filled. Near the Lourdes water were two wall mountable holy water founts.
In the living room the estate sellers were watching over what they presumed were the more valuable goods arranged on a series of tables. Among the stuff found there were a trio of ceramic altar boys, a concrete yard statue of St. Francis, a small guitar, a hunting knife, a wooden figure of a monk sipping from a goblet, a large silver punch bowl, and a framed print of a young John Paul II. Some books there included "The Egg and I", "Gentleman’s Agreement" and a biography of Omar Bradley.
I bought nothing, but hope to return for phase two.

Still life with Teddy Bear.

Seated Figure.

Food found at Noble estate sale.

Cumberland Cir. Virginia Highlands "Yard Sale"

Not far from the Catholic estate were two small uneventful sales next to one another. Here I found two old trunks, a large ceramic cat, some women’s clothes, a broken wicker chair, some cheap cameras, baby shoes and another of those unused picnic sets.
I bought nothing.

Cumberland Rd. – Virginia Highlands "Yard Sale"

This sale was in the yard of a brick bungalow it was presided over by a young couple and their child. There I found some women’s clothes, a talking Mr. Wonderful doll, some cheerleading trophies, several shirts from Delta Technologies, a spice rack still containing spices and Cartoon Network party lights. Reading matter included books on Pascal and other old computer languages, some college textbooks, and a copy of "Beginning Your Marriage".
I bought nothing.

McLendon Ave. - Lake Claire "Yard Sale"

This sale was inside the fenced in yard of a small house not far from my home. The sale feature a number of books on spiritual topics including ‘Malcolm Boyd- Gay Priest", several titles by Martin Buber and "Latin for Idiots". Also found there were a pack of "Women of the Old Testament Cards", a Sony cassette deck and VCR.
I bought nothing.