Friday, April 25, 2008

Saving a Tree and the clutter of Decatur

The full blown yard sale season appeared to have opened up this Saturday as I noticed signs in several neighborhoods on Friday night while driving to an exhibit Cindy was having at the Atlanta Photography Center. This morning I opted for hitting the neighborhood sale in Decatur and a quick stop at a benefit sale in my own neighborhood.

Save Grandma Gordon Sale – Lake Clair

Grandma Gordon is a name given to a threatened Pecan tree on Dekalb Ave that is facing the inevitable axe of development unless a citizen’s rally stops the chopping. Located on a small lot on Dekalb Ave. The tree was once part of the Gordon Plantation. General Gordon was a not so distinguished Civil war hero and politician who later grew pecans at this site. The effort to save the tree is noble and I am always for more green space but with the housing downturn and rising food prices for the developer it might be a better investment to keep the tree. Today a local gallery owner organized a benefit to support saving the tree. The sale is held on the parking lot of a car repair shop within site of the tree. Like a lot of benefits people don’t always bring their best stuff but it was a good sale nonetheless. Among the stuff was old Peter Paul and Mary lps, a box of old medical supplies, some canisters shaped like vegetables, candles, framed dried flowers, a metal tapping art kit and three aroma clocks in their original boxes. I spotted two videotapes –“30 Days to Happiness” and “21 Days to Self Discovery”. Among the books there were “Almanac of the Environment”, “Hey Nostradamus”, “Illustrated Elements of Tai Chi”, “Closing Time” and a LSAT study guide.”
I bought nothing.

Box of unused medical supplies.

Aroma clocks help save a tree.

Decatur Great Lakes Community Sale

The Great Lakes neighborhood is the most upscale part of now fashionable Decatur. The name comes from the existence of Huron, Superior, Erie and Michigan Avenues in the area. But there are a few other lake streets there including the not so great Champlain and distant alpine Lucerne and Geneva. There is no Ontario or Salt. Perhaps these aquatic streets were developer’s dreams that never took shape. There is also no lake in the great Lakes Neighborhood. But I will not make an issue of this since my own neighborhood Lake Claire has no lake as well.

But there were yard sales in excess here today. This is a yearly event that I think I have covered here in the past. If a determined reader is interested in perusing through my archives please post a comment letting me know what year and month I covered the prior event.

Regardless I wanted to check out this sale not because of the quantity of sales (the ad said over 50) but because of what I had said about Decatur in an article in Atlanta Magazine. In the May issue you will find an article on my work along with half a dozen of my photographs. In the article I say that Decatur is a good place to find children’s stuff. So Part of my work today was to find if this was true. From what I saw today I will respond whole-heartedly – yes. Decatur yard sales have more children’s stuff than even families with multitudes of children would care to see. But there was a lot of other interesting stuff and even some interesting children’s things.
As for the kid’s stuff, there were bins and boxes of toys aplenty including on of bright plastic dinosaurs, and two boxes full of Pez Dispensers. (The sellers said collectors took quite a few in the early AM) and the expected bins of action figures. There were not as many over sized plastic play sets as one might expect, perhaps not tasteful enough for the upscale neighborhood. But one sale did have an elaborate kid’s puppet theatre. There was also the usual assortment of strollers and infant accessories found wherever there are growing children.

Assortment of Pez Dispensers.

But today Decatur showed that it is still an eclectic community. One man’s sale featured framed vintage photographs taken at a European nude beach. a frightening large sculpture of a human hand and several retro light up religious figures.
Hand sculpture at a more interesting sale.

Another home presented clutter that looked more like what one expects to find in Inman Park. Here was a large load of antique stuff that appears to have been stored in a basement for some time. Among the stuff here was a collection of old birdcages, a bucket full of carved wooden angels, old sheet music, an array of baskets hanging from a clothesline, and board games from the 70’s. There was a bag marked Mardi Gras Party, attached to it was a list indicating 6 necklaces, 16 masks, 21 crabs, 10 lg. Crayfish, 3 sm crayfish, 5 mini tabascos, 1 voodoo doll & lots and lots of pepper. All this made a definitive recipe for Fat Tuesday. There was boxes of old printed material in the street at this sale including old National Geographics, Richie Rich comics, old religious tracts, a copy of Wee Wisdom -a character building magazine and an old paperback entitled “The Web of Life”. On the curb was an assortment of wooden things that appeared to be broken, I could not tell if they were throwing them away or selling them.

Another notable sale was the guy who created outstanding signs for all his merchandise. Most of the stuff he was selling was very kitschy including a Marshmallow Peep Maker, a set of Peep party lights, a Sideshow Bob figure and a set of Seinfeld playing cards. On a tree he had hung some clothing where he offered a free Tom Jones shirt with the purchase of a bobble head.

Free shirt offer.

There was a lot of other strange stuff in the neighborhood this day including a very oversized (4 foot) beer stein, a Halloween miniature city, an old plaster skull and a very dirty old recliner that had holders for two beer cans. The seller was kind enough to pose his dog in the chair as I photographed it.

Plaster skull and tea bags.

Dog posing in recliner.

There were also a few notable works of arts found around the neighborhood including a angry looking multicolored cat, a scary blue snow queen and a bizarre big eyed painting showing a woman playing a lyre with a child on her back.
Big eyed mother and child.

Angry Queen in Blue.

The most notable strange item was a resplendent pheasant pelt. When I saw it for one dollar I had to have it. I purchased it under the guise of using it in some conceptual art project. When I got home Cindy remarked that it looked like road kill.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Break 2008

Two beaches and a long drive home

Cindy and I flew down to Ft. Lauderdale, picked up a rental car and drove up to visit her sister in Tequesta. We took the rental car all the way back to Atlanta at weeks end. One the way back we had a chance to spend a night in Cocoa Beach.
Our visit showed us the great contrast between south Florida and points further north. The Tequesta Jupiter area is immaculately clean, the in habitants well groomed and seemingly healthy in all it almost too tasteful. Yet with all this Jupiter did have some of the best thrift stores I’ have visited in some time. It appears the well-heeled visitors of the high season in Florida just abandon their fine beach and lounge wears upon heading north. We filled out trunk with large bags of used clothing. But we were also to see the contrast on our visit to Cocoa beach only a little over 100 miles to the north.

The beach at Jupiter.

Tequesta Sunset.

Cocoa Beach just out side The Kennedy Space flight center is the epicenter of what is referred to as Florida’s space coast. It appears that the space exploration angle is no longer the magnet for tourism at it once was (a friend suggested that last year’s astro-nut stalker episode may have been the tipping point for America’s love affair with the space program.) On our visit we found that the major attraction in Cocoa Beach was not it’s closeness to the final frontier but the presence of the nations largest beachwear store. Ron Jon’s surf shop is heralded on Florida highways in the same manner South Carolina’s famous South of the Border tourist Mecca is promoted. A constant array of billboards on I 95 and 75 remind you to visit the massive emporium of flip-flops and other lounge apparel. We had visited Ron Jon over a decade a go and found the mega store to be bigger, brighter and open 24 hours. In front of its monumental façade were large sculptures saluting beach recreation, surfing, roller-skating, volleyball and jet skiing. I was disappointed there were not tributes to sand castle construction and tanning. Inside the store has taken the higher road to tasteful ness and carried not one coconut carved to resemble a monkey head. Instead they carried an endless array of high-priced bathing suits, tasteful beach footwear and surfing supplies. The apparent success of Ron Jon has spurred the Sheraton next door to open up a competing store that carries even more expensive beachwear and supplies. This stores comes across as a Neiman Marcus to Ron Jon’s Bloomingdales.

But all is not tasteful in the least in Cocoa Beach. Around the corner are three overgrown t-shirt and souvenir shops that pull no punches on poor tastes. But these stores do give heed to the vicinity of the spaceport. One store featured garish murals of spacecraft and inside sold underwear that lauded the wearer’s ability to pass gas as well as small figurines of moon walking astronauts. Another nearby store was a covered in hand painted signs that proclaimed the presence of temporary tattoos, cheap t-shirts and live hermit crabs. Cocoa Beach over all appeared to attract families and couples that became delirious in Orlando and headed to the nearest beach. Compared to the beaches we visited in Jupiter Cocoa was crowed, congested and a little on the unclean side. Perhaps its best to visit Cocoa Before you go to the pristine beaches of southern Florida.

Remnants of the Space Age.

Cheap T-shirts and a salute to America's space program.

A Few Yard Sales

We ran across two small yard sales on Friday as we neared Cocoa Beach. The sales were in the yard of two adjacent houses on a street that ran off of A1A. The first house was the larger sale with a moderate amount of clutter piled along the driveway and stuff on tables in the garage. Near the entry to the garage was a large figure that looked like a snowman transforming into a scarecrow. In the driveway I found a plush elephant, an empty binoculars case, two life vests, a dog cage, and some towels and draperies. In the garage were old house-wares, a few items of clothing and a working Coke machine from the ‘70’s. The house next door had less stuff but was a prettier setting as lush tropical plants in a dense garden surrounded piles of shoes and clothing.

Clutter among tropical splendor.

On the way out of town the following morning we were able to find one sale before getting on the turnpike and heading home. This was another disappointing affair as the sale was in a small non-descript apartment. Here an older lady was watching over three rooms of cloth goods, a hand painted table with a woodland scene on it, a box of old Polka 8 Tracks and a Magnus chord organ.
We bought nothing. But we did get to pass by the mural of the Beer Cave on our way out of town.

Cocoa Beach Mural.

The Long Ride Home

Our trip back was as always long and monotonous, plus the crowds from Cocoa appeared to have followed us north on the expressway. We made a brief stop at the Magnolia Plantation a roadside attraction often confused with the Plantation House. Both are in South Georgia and both sell copious bags of pecans and pralines. Cindy noted that the main difference between the two is that the Magnolia Plantation does not sell cigarettes. Both also have a countless number of billboards along the highway.
We bought no Pecans.

Plentiful pecans at Magnolia Plantation.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

3/29/08 A community sale in Kirkwood and more

I’m ambivalent about community wide sales. They do offer a lot of different sales in close proximity to one another but the quantity often over come the quality. Kirkwood is a neighborhood just across the tracks from my home that has been the site of more and more interesting sales in the past few years. I think that Kirkwood’s more recent gentrification has been the reason for this. In Lake Claire middle class established households have already divested themselves of the strange collected things of misspent youth. While in Kirkwood I still see the detritus of Goth lifestyles, Betty Page clothing, manga motifs and whatever other subcultures may have absorbed people’s lives. In a way the appearance of a community wide sale indicates a neighborhood has come full term and are now no longer an outpost of urban pioneers but now an enclave of bourgeois life. Today’s neighborhood wide event showed both the old and the new lifestyles of Kirkwood.
I’m not sure how the sale was organized but most of the signs said “charity sale” and a map of the sales indicated that it funded the charitable work of a local fraternity.

A number of the sales will remain unnamed, as they were small events with little more than children’s clothes and playthings and a few discarded household items such as oversized loungers. But I did find some treasures and delights at these sales.

Bixby Ave

This was in the fenced in backyard/court of a frame bungalow. Here the hoarders of a lot of 70’s retro stuff were divesting their collection. Here I encountered Terry Coffee, a local reseller purchasing a 1960’s style cocktail bar. Among the clutter on display here were a number of tacky framed protestant religious artworks, boxes filled with plastic toys and pez dispensers, a life-sized ceramic chicken, an old Atari game set, a butterfly chair, a pair of crutches, a box of door knobs, boxes of comic books and an old TV set. Among some books I found “Gluttony”, “My Cousin My Gastroenterologist”, “Dreams of My Russian Summers”, “The Life to Come”, “Of Love and Shadows”, “Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”, “The Woman and the Ape”, “The Artist’s Way”, “Design of Wood Structures” and “Descent into Hell”.

Old gaming device and spiritual artwork.

2nd Ave.

This was a household in transition. They were selling their framed Disney cartoon cells, a fancy case for holding and displaying children’s teeth and stacks of past copies of the magazine “Punk World”.

Delano Dr.

This was a very small sale with just a few things in a man’s front yard. Here I found a pair of leather chaps, a pink feather boa, a bright Xmas skirt with marabou trim and several bunches of plastic grapes.

Howard Ave.

This was my favorite sale in Kirkwood. The clutter was crowded onto wraparound porch of a large two story Victorian home. There was just enough jumble and chaos to make this sale a delight. Here I found a variety of remote controlled toys, including a fearsome looking bug, fighting robots, some helicopters and other vehicles. Old electronics were bulging out of plastic bins. There were all sorts of variety of networking hardware, tangles of cables, computer components, clock radios and car stereos. In one box was an old Richard Nixon mask and disassembled computer parts. One larger toy featured was a Terminator II action toy done in the guise of rock 'em sock 'em robots with Swartzenegger going at fisticuffs with the shape shifting killer android cop. On a table was a stack of large spools of network cabling. Other stuff included several sewing machines, some old Lps, a few items of furniture, old small kitchen appliances and some books. Among the books were “Gay Travel A to Z”, “Dr. Atkins New Diet Cookbook”, “Professional Construction Management”, “Construction Productivity Improvement” and “Myst, the Official Strategy Guide”
I bought nothing in Kirkwood.

Dueling terminators.

Outside of Kirkwood I came across three other sales.

Candler St. – Candler Park “Moving Sale”

This was the sale of an older long time resident of the neighborhood who was sadly moving away. She even told me she was sad about moving. Here like the sale on Howard Ave. there was a large collection of confused clutter heaped onto an old porch. This porch was smaller and the clutter was more confused. Among the finds there were bins filled with faux flowers, boxes of old candles, an oversized plastic Victorian styled dollhouse, the road case of a bass drum, some ugly lamps from the 70’s, an assortment of plastic tubes marked not for sale,a large jar of marbles, a hand decorated mirror, stacks of boxes of Xmas lights and a multitude of old plates and kitchenwares. On the sidewalk and along the side of the home was an assortment of building supplies, disassembled shelving and furniture and unidentifiable objects.
I bought nothing but I did admire the woman’s fine old style garden that consisted of countless potted plants in her front yard.

Mirror and marbles.

Faux flowers.

Oakdale Ave. – Candler Park “Fund Raiser for Grady HS Orchestra”

This event was in the front yard of an older home in Candler Park. Since it was a fundraiser the merchandise here had some from a variety of households. The goods were arrayed with considerable originality. Among the stuff there were old Lps and 78’s in the grass resting upon a rusting garden fence, old iron cookware scattered on the dirt, a Santa figure with a baby doll head attached to it’s forehead and old wooden boxes filled with hardware from old homes. In a box were the following books “Cloth of Dreams”, “Acts of Light”, “The Textile Art” and “The Book for People Who Do too Much”. Two interesting items at this sale were a pillow in the shape of a scooter that resembled a frog if you turn it upside down and a device for making square eggs.
I bought nothing.

Device for creating square eggs.

Old records artistically arrayed.

Scooter/frog pillow.

Alta Ave. – Inman Park “Yard Sale”

This sale was in the grassy area in back of a condo/apartment development. Upon approaching the sale I was startled by the brightness of the pink dresser and cabinet near the sidewalk. Stuff strewn onto tarps on the grass included boxes of dolls, children’s clothing, women’s clothing and several items of décor with crescent moon motifs. Among the reading matter there was “Smart Couples Finish Rich”, “How to Make Millions in Real Estate in 3 Years Starting with No Cash”, and “Growing Up Native American”
Amid the clutter on one of the tarps was a Hannah Montana wig in its original box. Perhaps this is an indication that young Ms. Cyrus’s star has began to wan.
I bought nothing.

Used Hannah hair in original box.