Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adventures in Junking

I owe my uncanny junking abilities to my mother. She had toted me along on her own junking adventures when I was a kid. Little did I know that I was actually apprenticing her. The ability to find cool treasures for free is now inherent to my being. I have what I like to call dumpster-vision and can identify good trash from bad in the split second it takes to drive past it. Pair that with the powers of the Internet: Freecycle and Craigslist and oh boy, the stream of cool stuff is endless. That would probably explain why I have a arcade in my garage and why my house is full of crazy knick-knacks and vintage furniture. I am very good at finding junk and by junk I mean all sorts of cool stuff, not trash but treasures.

That's where it comes in handy to have a big ol car like Lucy that can hold a lot of "junk in her trunk", if you will. I've decided I love to drive the car when it is fulla stuff. I know I look like "Sandford & Sons" (imagine theme song playing right now...waa waa waa wa wa, wa wa wa wa waawaawaaaaaaa...) when I'm dragging home a 3 piece mid-century sofa set and the tailgate is down and chairs are strapped down and I'm checking for cops and lost cargo in the rear-view mirror every few seconds; but that right there is my narcotic of choice. I get high on junk. Usually it is just me on these missions, a lot of them are impromptu and dusty-dirty but just last weekend I had a co-pilot for a night of random treasure hunting and it was amazing.

At her suggestion, my friend Candice launched us on a night of back-alley treasure hunting and secret thrift store adventures. Candice, Lucy and I started off with a fine sampling of illegal Thrift store Donation drop offs. You see, on the weekends people have yard sales and bouts of house/garage cleaning that lead to a superfluous amount of donations which they leave unlawfully at the back doors of thrift stores after hours. This, I admit is a moral gray area for me. These things are meant for the thrift store but it is written in plain sight that "NO DUMPING" of items after hours is allowed. So if these people are leaving stuff that isn't supposed to be there in the first place, is it wrong for us to take it? I dunno, but Candice scored a heater for her kid's room and I scored a window fan, so there. After that we stalked as quietly as you can in an old car down the streets of select neighborhoods looking for the elusive "FREE YARD SALE LEFTOVERS" piles that accumulate on the ends of driveways on a Saturday night. Right away Candice spots a collection of items and we pull over and briefly chat with another free-finder who is trying to fit a bulky piece of furniture in the trunk of her Volkswagen Passat. I offered to haul it in the wagon if she was going someplace close but she was going to Thousand Oaks which unfortunately is out of my jurisdiction. Sorry lady!

From there we headed downtown and drove behind some more thrift stores and didn't come up with anything. We bumped into Candice's husband who was standing outside the Nights Of Columbus where a Hardcore show was taking place, talked for a while and then decided to drive down the Avenue to search for more freebies. Now, I would never go down the Avenue by myself on whim, in the middle of the night. It is a little rougher down there but with a very convincing co-pilot, who I admit, is tougher than me; we went for it. After a few streets with nothing on them we were losing steam. Then I remembered this crazy thrift store called La Barata that may be open. I used to go to that shop when John lived down on the Avenue and we found some neat things in there. For some reason La Barata had not been open during the day anymore and not to long ago I was on the Avenue after dark and spotted the lights on. We cruised by and sure enough, the place was open. We went in and Candice was surprised how chock full of stuff this place was. From floor to ceiling and in every corner there is junk. None of it is priced and almost all of it is dirty. I think the owner buys out old storage lockers that have gone delinquent and just throws the stuff anywhere in the shop. It is like a mummy's tomb of random crap. You can't help but feel like a tomb raider when you pick up a photo album that still has pictures of the last family in it. Candice made a purchase, more of a souvenir I think than a real need; something to prove that this unusual late-night thrift store actually exists.

After La Barata, we headed back to her place where we found some stuff right there in the back alley. I scored a cool 50's black cabinet that I already have plans for turning into a custom television stand. We went into her place to chill for a minute and wash our hands. I had never been to her house before and there was so much to look at, it was like a veritable show and tell and right away I recognized a similarity to my place. We both have homes full of the little curiosities that make us happy. I had never hung out one-on-one with Candice before we had always been in a group setting and in fact, me hanging out at all is a new thing. I can be a bit of a recluse but have recently been more social with a large group of girls. It was really cool to get to know her better. Candice is funny as hell, cantankerous and generally amazing. We didn't do anymore junking after the pit-stop at her place. We joined up with some friends for drinks and spent the remainder of our night out on the town. I have to say, even though I turned in a bit sooner than the others, I'm sure I had just as much fun. It was an unusual night filled with everything I have come to love, good friends, good junk and and my faithful old wagon.

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