Local Sales

In Minnesota the telephone poles are just beginning to bloom with iridescent signs exhorting one and all to come to Logan, Chowen, or Humboldt Avenue from 8-4.  After a winter spent looking at the same old stuff, it is time for spring cleaning and a purge of things that no one in his right mind would want.  There is a natural rhythm and cycle to the gathering and casting away of stones and fondue pots.  I believe The Old Testament and the Byrds each addressed the seasonal need to sow and reap.  Yes, aside from many friends and neighbors, I miss Minneapolis garage sales most of all.

Since moving to southern California almost two years ago I have been trying to figure out what the locals do with their unwanted possessions.  After attending what residents call garage sales in the South Bay, I am still stumped.  A typical sale will consist of very used and worn clothing scattered in the driveway.  At high class sales the same beat-up clothes are strewn on a sheet on the driveway.  There are three or five plastic patio chairs stacked together because at least one of them will be missing a leg.   Aside from Reader’s Digest and copies of Barry Goldwater’s  “None Dare Call It Treason” there is no literature.  The plastic cups and dishes have teeth marks in them, and the boxes of ribald cocktail napkins are too new to be kitsch.  There are jigsaw puzzles that, how do I say this tactfully, were previously owned by a local hospital. The cookware looks as if it were discarded by Rommel, and the automobile transmission (1986 Chevy) which graces the steps is beyond my comprehension.  There are videogames in strange cartridges, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass albums, and sets of sheets that appear to have been slept on by visiting Hell’s Angels.  The rest of the stuff is junk.

I am part anthropologist, and part busybody.  The last thing I need is more stuff, but I am obsessed with what these Californians who have 1,600 square foot homes and no basements and no attics do with their “leftovers.”  With the seasons pretty much the same, there is less impetus to do spring cleaning, but I cannot believe these folks are so highly evolved they do not acquire more than they need.  I still have not solved the mystery, but I picked up a significant clue recently.

Local sales are not good, but a small part of the reason is they are picked over early in the morning.  Minnesota has its “sharpies” and people who buy to resell, but they would be eaten alive and their Volvos turned over out here.  The term of not quite endearment is “coyote.” Coyotes will hit a sale and abscond with the dorm size refrigerator, the mostly working television, and the cut glass pitcher, while civilians are looking for a legal parking place.

Next month:  I track the coyotes to their lair and find some pretty good stuff

California Governor Schwarzenegger is behind the still tepid movement to allow foreign born naturalized citizens to run for  president.  Arnold is not content with Sacramento and is eying the presidency in 2008. I would suggest a rider to his amendment which would prohibit a son from becoming president if his father once held the office.  The current George Bush stated that Saddam Hussein “tried to kill my daddy.”  This post 9/11 remark has stuck with me.  This, along with the information Richard Clarke has added, makes it appear that over 500 American lives have been lost in Iraq in part because of a feud involving Bush the Elder.


Tom H. Cook still has a Minnesota AAA card and is at heart a Midwesterner.  

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