Grok My Enthusiasm (46)
November 23, 2016
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars.
At some point in my childhood we had two TVs, which we watched stacked one atop the other. One didn’t get a picture, the other didn’t get sound. Both of them were trash-picked, and they were eventually replaced by another trash-picked TV that had both picture and sound. No one, it seemed, bought a television in the seventies. Ditto for sofas, kitchen chairs, and lamps.
Around the time of the stackable TVs, my mother built me a loft bed, which freed up floor space in my room for more trash-picked stuff. Trash night was like Halloween every week: a time to walk the neighborhood sidewalks at dusk, getting free stuff! I dragged home teddy bears, jewelry boxes, punch bowls, crates of Christmas decorations, rolls of multi-colored shag carpet. I was going to invent my own Muppets. Most of it went right back into the trash. Years later, when I encountered Antiques Roadshow on PBS, I recognized in those hopeful antique owners members of my own tribe. The humbler the provenance of their objects, the brighter the stars in their eyes. This old thing? My grandmother kept her hairpins in it. I found it under a tarp. We paid $5 for it at a rummage sale. And what origin story is more promising than “I pulled it out of my neighbor’s trash”?
When I was a young adult, a non-negligible portion of my wardrobe came out of the trash. I acquired some of my best statement pieces that way: a grass-green double breasted pleather pea jacket, a caveman vest made from what appeared to be weasel fur. I still wear a T-shirt I trash picked in Portland, ME. It’s black, printed with a phony priest’s collar. On the front, it says “Heaven Help Us” in gothic letters, and on the back: “If God Wanted Me To Be An Angel He Would Have Given Me Wings.” Does trash picking still happen? Of course it does, but in this time of peak bedbug paranoia, the rules have changed. Will my millennial friends have any way of understanding how unremarkable it once was to put a trash-picked wig on your head? It’s like trying to explain the mass appeal of Quaaludes, or how everyone under 25 once subsisted on hot dogs, Bustelo, and 10-cent popsicles.
Without question, eBay, craigslist, and even Antiques Roadshow have changed the landscape. These days, no one is throwing out swag lamps covered in lumpy jewel-toned Lucite chunks. The stuff that does end up on the curb is generally more disposable now, and less worth dragging upstairs. Particleboard bookcases and plastic end tables. The low-hanging fruit is gone, but friends, there is still fruit out there. Maybe even a massive fruit lamp:
Or for that matter, a guitar lamp:
If you sort through your neighbor’s recycling, who knows — you might just come up with a vintage swinger’s magazine [pictured above]. And maybe, unlike me, you’ll still be able to make eye contact with that neighbor the next time you meet him on the sidewalk.
GROK MY ENTHUSIASM: Rob Wringham on THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | Gordon Dahlquist on WEEKEND | Joe Alterio on MILLION YEAR PICNIC | Adrienne Crew on LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | Josh Glenn on THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | Alix Lambert on THE SKIES BELONG TO US | Adam McGovern on PENELOPE and CHAVEZ RAVINE | Rob Wringham on THE LYKE WAKE WALK | Mark Kingwell on NORTH STAR SNEAKERS & GWG JEANS | Gordon Dahlquist on FELLINI SATYRICON | Erik Davis on AH! | Devin McKinney on WHISPERING AFRAID | Mimi Lipson on 1973 SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOG | Jessamyn West on MOSS | Josh Glenn on THE SCOUT HOW BOOK | Brian Berger on SLACKER | Alix Lambert on ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS | Chelsey Johnson on MONOTREMES | Devin McKinney on THE BUTCHER COVER | Flourish Klink on ONE DIRECTION | Gordon Dahlquist on FULL METAL JACKET | Allegra Huston on CLOTHESLINE | Jenny Davidson on POWERLIFTING | Evan Narcisse on REZ | Deborah Wassertzug on VEGETARIAN MEATBALLS | Chris Spurgeon on WALLACE AND GROMIT | Mandy Keifetz on BENEFICIAL MICROBES | Annie Nocenti on MARKS ON WALLS | Molly Sauter on THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF | William Nericcio on LAND OF THE LOST | Dan Fox on “VOICE OF GOD” RADIO DJS | Brandi Brown on WIKIPEDIA TALK | Claire Lehmann on THE APPARATUS REVEAL | Alice Boone on COSTUME JEWELRY | Colin Dickey on WIDESPREAD PANIC | Anshuman Iddamsetty on THE FULL BODY PROJECT | John Hilgart on MAKING GRATEFUL DEAD ALBUMS | Rob Wringham on STEVEN UNIVERSE | John Overholt on DECKLE EDGES | James Hannaham on HABIT PATTERNS | Jessamyn West on THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM | Adam McGovern on THE SPACE GIANTS | Brian Berger on MEDIUM COOL | Chris Spurgeon on THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT | Joe Alterio on TABLETOP WARGAMING | Mimi Lipson on TRASH PICKING | Jason Grote on CZECH CINEMA | Roxane Gay on AUTOMATED CAR WASH | Dan Fox on JULIA DAVIS | Amy Thielen on BINGO | Steph Burt on FEIJOA.
#SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.