Who killed Marilyn?

I just had a funny craigslist experience. Not funny haha, more funny curious.

I found an electric chainsaw on craigslist that I was interested in so I emailed the seller and asked about testing it. I got a call back within a few minutes (odd because no one calls anymore, especially for used stuff, and odd that the seller was so prompt in responding to me) and the seller was a nice enough woman who lived in a condo in Victoria but said I could test the saw. I wasn’t sure how to go about doing that in a fucking condo so I asked if she had a deck I could go out on with some scrap wood. In a polite way, she said there was no way she was going to let a strange guy into her apartment to fuck around with a chainsaw. I understood why that was wack to her but didn’t understand how else she expected me to test the damned thing, and why she said I could test it if there was no good way to do so. I was annoyed and also didn’t feel like driving to Victoria for something that may be a wild goose chase so I said I’d think about it and get back to her if I decided to pursue it.

She called me back 10 minutes later but I missed her call. She didn’t leave a message. I called her back, she missed my call, I left a message. She called me back five minutes later and explained she’s selling the saw for her uncle who lives in my area because his wife recently died and he needs help sorting through stuff (an interesting needless detail), and that it might make more sense for him to sell the saw himself since people in the country probably have more use for a saw than city folk do. I said great, if the saw could somehow make its way to my neck of the woods, I’d be all over it.

She passed my info on to her uncle and he called me shortly after. Our conversation was stunted and awkward, like he couldn’t hear me well or something. We eventually sorted out that he would get the saw and bring it back here today. I said ok.

He called me again a few hours later and we had another stunted and awkward phone conversation. That’s three lousy phone conversations in one day, by golly. Basically, he said he had returned with the saw so I got his address and headed to his place. When I got there, he explained that his niece is broke so he’s helping her out by selling a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need anymore and splitting the proceeds with her, 50/50. Then he told me he had moved to Hawaii and left his wife here so he got her this small chainsaw to use while he was away. He didn’t say anything else about his wife, why she stayed here while he went to Hawaii, or why he was back now, but he didn’t seem upset at all and he seemed to talk about his wife as if she was still around. It was really weird.

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Of course, I couldn’t care less who was helping who or whatever. I just wanted a fucking electric chainsaw. I tested the thing and it worked fine so I threw $65 in buddy’s face and ran off with it. I just used it on a bunch of firewood and it was a dream, so much nicer than messing around with a gas saw. I’m sick of those things.

But while I was working on the firewood, I got to wondering about the woman and her uncle. I wondered who was actually doing who the favour, and I decided it’s probably a bit of both: the woman probably is broke, and he’s probably happy to help her because his wife died recently and he’s lonely and lost and needs a project to distract him from all the grief. I wish I knew all the details of their macabre story but it’s certainly for the best that I don’t because that would have meant wasting even more time having awkward conversations with two weirdos.

Ah, craigslist. You never disappoint. There’s always something.

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Further trials in my quest to find an old stereo

Back in December, I went to Victoria to buy a vintage stereo. The experience went poorly. I wrote about it here.

Several weeks ago, I tried again and went to Victoria to try to buy another vintage stereo. This time went ever worse than the first. I wrote about it here.

Manic and frustrated with my experiences, I decided to try a different route in my quest to find a vintage stereo. I looked on ebay and found some stereos I really liked. I accepted the idea of paying more for them in exchange for the lack of hassle. I was hopeful that this experience would be better so I bit the bullet and spent far more on this stupid obsession than I ever thought I would.

Well, after weeks of excited, anxious waiting, the latest stereo showed up in the mail. I unpacked it and hooked it up to test it out. Guess what. It’s fucked too. The right channel only works sporadically, and if you press the button to activate the second set of speakers, the first set of speakers cut out almost entirely.

I haven’t emailed the seller yet to figure out how we’re going to attempt to make the best of this diaper of a situation, nor have I started looking up youtube videos on how to fix an old stereo. That annoying stuff is coming soon enough. But I wanted to capture this moment of incredible bad luck before I finally draw a warm bath and end it all, or the situation inexplicably and wonderfully fixes itself. Those are really the only two options I’m willing to accept at this point.

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Gee whiz, I’m having a hard time finding a vintage stereo.

Surprise! — yet another encounter with a Craigslist jackoff

Buckle up. Time for more of the same old bullshit.

Do you remember a post I made a few weeks ago about how I went to Victoria to do five errands, and I either failed or struggled to complete each of those errands? One of those errands was buying a vintage home stereo amp from a guy. He had an amp that he said worked great and had no problems. But when I showed up there, none of the lights on it worked. He acted like that wasn’t a big deal but I passed on it because I’m one of those crazy people who actually like the shit I buy to work. He showed me some other units he had for sale but I wasn’t interested in any of them so that was that.

That was weeks ago, maybe a month ago. Fast forward to today, when I found another vintage home stereo amp for sale on usedvictoria that I liked. It turned out to be the same seller so I was a little nervous — I didn’t want to make the drive down there again for another piece of shit that didn’t work. I specifically said to him, “if this unit all works properly, I’ll gladly come get it.” He said yup, it’s all good.

I showed up and got him to hook the unit for me. What do you know, the left channel was totally fucked. All that came out of the speaker on that side was a little ‘brap’ sound every now and then. Perplexed, he said, “it might be that speaker, hang on.” He switched it with another speaker — same problem. He admitted now that he hadn’t thoroughly tested it before, that he just hooked some speakers up and it made sound so he figured it was fine. “Well, huh huh, how embarrassing, that’s twice now for ya, jeez I feel bad about this…” He took the lid off of the unit and found one of the fuses on the circuit board was blown so he replaced it and tried again. It started fine but as soon as he adjusted the treble, a different fuse blew. Now both speakers only made the occasional ‘brap.’ At that point, I left, absolutely fucking furious with this loser, and with myself as well.

The essential details I’ve already recounted are bad enough obviously but there are many other little details that make it much more irritating, and I want to document them. Here they are.

  • The seller is a guy is in his late 50’s, short, pot-bellied, poor posture, and he has absolutely no ass to speak of. In fact, it looks like his ass is actually concave, sort of like his butt was amputated. Like this, but far worse.
no-butt

Do some fucking squats, for heaven’s sake.

  • The guy’s name is Rod. As in, ‘Hot Rod.’ That’s what I think of when I meet guys named Rod — 50-something yr old losers who retain their retarded elementary school nickname throughout their whole lives because they still think it sounds cool, 50-odd years later. This guy acts just like you’d expect a Rod to, too — old, lame, and sad but still somehow thinks he’s a badass cool dude.
  • He worked at a pawn shop for years and acted like this experience made him knowledgeable about all manners of consumer goods, like this makes him a connoisseur of all things. He’s in denial that people who work at pawn shops are white trash shit rats who are just trying to take advantage of the white trash shit rat customers.
  • With an air of great pride, he told me that he likes to fix all kinds of old stuff and keep it working indefinitely, like all the old stereos he was selling. But with the first stereo, he couldn’t fix the burnt out lights, and the second stereo, he didn’t even notice one speaker wasn’t working, and when he did notice it, he had a hell of a time just getting the cover off of the unit and said some things that made it apparent he actually had no idea what he was looking at, that burnt out fuses were the one and only thing he could fix. It became evident he doesn’t actually know how to fix old stuff, he just likes to buy cheap old stuff at thrift shops and jack the price up to resell it at a profit. What a benevolent, gracious human being, what an unsung hero.
  • Before we realized the second stereo was fucked yesterday, I asked him where he got these things from, because he had lots of them. In typical Rod fashion, he played it super cool and vaguely responded, “oh, you know, here and there. I come across so many, it’s hard to keep track.” But after 10 minutes of unsuccessful fucking around with the unit yesterday, he started talking more just to fill the uncomfortable silence and mentioned that he picked this unit up from a Bibles For Missions thrift store. Why would he not mention that to me in the first place, why be coy about it? Did he think I was going to start following him, picking over the same thrift stores as him and copying his ‘selling busted stereo equipment’ side business?
  • Another thing he mentioned to fill the uncomfortable silence while he fumbled with the stereo was that he had a full time job, and just did this on the side for fun and didn’t make much money off of it. He said this as if that was some sort of extenuating factor, like maybe I was expecting too much by wanting these stereos to actually work.
  • The first time I met Rod, he showed me his personal stereo, his pride and joy, and told me in his patented ‘cool guy’ voice how loud it got and how many house parties he used it at over the years and how you could hear the music clearly all the way down the street and how the cops came numerous times. Wow, that’s awesome, Rod.
  • Both the first time and this time when he was showing me the stereos, he played the same Tragically Hip song. I think it was Blow At High Dough. I fucking hate The Tragically Hip, and I hate that song. Shitty Canadian bar rock with a pretentious “I’m such an artist” twist. Garbage.
  • On that note, today while he was fucking around, I saw some terrible CDs lying around. There was a ‘Best of Classic Rock’ compilation (that was its actual name), Big Shiny Tunes 4, and a band or artist I can’t remember now but it was John Mellencamp or The Eagles or some equally bland radio rock. This detail seemed perfectly fitting to me — of course this lame old ex-pawn shop dude named Rod who looks somewhat like a prawn and sells garbage stereo stuff online would own a bunch of CDs in the year 2019 of terrible bands, and compilations of many terrible bands.

That’s my character sketch of Ron. I wish I had a photo of him to post here. Maybe I should go back there just to snap a pic for the blog. Nah, no point. I’m sure everyone who has ever been to a pawn shop can picture the little troll quite clearly now.

Can one ever have enough ugly old shit?

Just now, I was idly perusing a local used stuff website when I came across an extremely tempting ad. I took a screen shot of it to share with people so they can laugh at me and my obsessions.

toasteroven

That’s right. After all the searching, painful correspondence, problem solving, and favours I called in from friends last year to procure myself a vintage toaster oven, I have now come across one here, in my very backyard. Granted, this one isn’t quite as attractive as my current toaster oven (I prefer the fake wood print and orange highlights on the one I have) but all things considered, this one I just came across is still a very attractive little unit — lots of chrome, simple mechanical controls, nice colours on the temperature dial graphics. Not too shabby at all.

And now, I’m left with the unpleasant decision: do I merely chuckle to myself, close that tab on my browser, and continue on with my day?…

…Or do I take the plunge into becoming a full-on hoarder and buy this stupid fucking thing, just to squirrel it away in my basement and probably give it away in 10 years?

I don’t know yet but I thought it was funny and wanted to email it to a select group of people. Then I realized that the people I wanted to email it to read this anyway, so hey, why not make my dilemma public?

the difference between ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’

As I’ve been chronicling here, I’m on a journey to replace most of our hideously bland household stuff with neat, ugly, old-looking stuff. So far it’s been going well. Sure, I’ve had to enlist the help of numerous friends to traffic some of these items to me all the way from Vancouver, not unlike some kind of nefarious drug smuggling racket, but when you live on an island and have ridiculously obscure tastes, such challenges are simply unavoidable.

So far, the most difficult and exciting finds in my quest have been a toaster oven and a CD player. I thought there would be a lot more of these things kicking around from the 70s and 80s but sadly, it is not so, and I’ve had to search the deeper pools of a metropolitan city to find them.

But as difficult as it was to procure these apparently rare items, I am now seeking what I believe may be the holy grail of my quest:

a vintage microwave.

vintage-microwave-oven-1981-litton-meal-in-one-huge-gigantic-_1

This will serve as the timestamp for when I officially lost my mind.

I know — are old microwaves safe? Do they even work as well as new ones? Blah blah blah. I don’t care, Russ. I’m not too worried about my microwave giving me brain tumors since the rest of this ill-begotten world most likely has that covered already. I just want a kitchen appliance that doesn’t raise my ire every time I look at the fucking thing.

Now let me get to my point: I’m have a bastard of a time finding a vintage microwave on the various used stuff sites so I’ve been experimenting with different search terms, and in doing so I’ve learned something interesting. Apparently, ‘vintage’ generally refers to something that is genuinely old, while ‘retro’ is something newer that has simply copied the styling of an older thing. For example, the above microwave is a vintage model — it’s actually from the 70s or 80s. Meanwhile, the turd below is a retro microwave, currently in production, all cheap plastic and gimmick.

812b2baxwtuil-_sl1500_

I’m a little blown away by this revelation. I always thought vintage and retro were basically synonymous, although I felt retro was used for slightly ‘louder’ styling while vintage was more demure, boring. Well, colour me red. Turns out I was quite incorrect.

The things you learn while obsessively scouring craigslist and hoarding ugly things.

the value of the album

I had a nice day yesterday. I worked and had a busy, productive day, then went to the casino with Bill, then went with Jenn to a BBQ with some friends. I worked again today so I had to leave early to come home and go to bed.

As I was about to start getting ready for bed, I was reminded of how I used to listen to music as I was drifting to sleep each night. This was when I was a young teenager, playing death metal cassettes on a small stereo in my room. I became very familiar with many an album through this, even memorizing most of the lyrics to Suffocation’s Breeding the Spawn. That is no small feat considering the vocals are almost indecipherable.

Last night seemed like another good time to listen to music when going to sleep — the night had a bittersweet feeling to it because it had been such a nice summer evening, spending time with friends and having fun, but it was over now and I was left alone since Jenn had stayed out later than me. I love that sad, beautiful feeling, and it reminded me of Amorphis’ Elegy record, so I put it on starting at track 8. I listened to the songs Weeper on the Shore, Elegy, Relief, and the acoustic version of My Kantele, and it was amazing. I love each of those songs on their own but when you put them together, it creates a bigger, more emotionally complex tapestry, with more peaks and valleys. It got me thinking about the value of listening to a great album from start to finish, and how a good album can be a real journey, like watching a good film.

I’ve moved away from listening to albums over the years due to a variety of reasons, like time constraints and new formats for music which are not conducive to albums, but I want to get back into it. I feel like I’ve been missing out on some rich experiences, and I want them in my life again.

Fortunately, I recently added a cool old component CD player from the 80’s (a Toshiba XR-9017) to my home stereo system and it has once again made it convenient for me to play CD’s from my vast collection. Most people hate CD’s now and I don’t see myself buying any more of them but I love the ones I have, and I find putting them on is similar to putting on a vinyl record. There’s something quirky and fun in the little ritual that enriches the listening experience, and once you put it on, you just let it play. That’s a good start for getting back into listening to full records.

toshiba

Shout out to the craigslist guy who gave this to me for free, and all my pals who helped get it to me all the way from Vancouver. I have good friends, and a craigslist addiction.

i’ve had some good craigslist experiences lately

In the last few weeks, I’ve really kicked my craigslist vintage shopping into high gear. I’ve been checking a few craigslist-like sites for vintage shit on an almost daily basis, and the results have actually been great. I’ve scored some really neat things at good prices but what is most noteworthy is that a few of the recent craigslist interactions have not been total fuck-arounds. Astounding, I know, but true.

First, several weeks ago I contacted a guy about some beautiful old vintage tins he had for sale. There were very reasonably priced, and the seller ended up being a very interesting guy who was knowledgeable about a great many things, and his house was absolutely full of beautiful old stuff. Virtually everything I looked at was worthy of consideration. He was happy to show me a bunch of his neat stuff, and we commiserated about the trials and tribulations of dealing with craigslist dickheads. He hated them at least as much as me, possibly even more, so that was funny. I probably spent close to an hour just BS-ing with the guy. What a welcomed change that was from the usual craigslist freaks one must contend with.

Something this first guy said really resonated with me. He said he had accumulated tons of this vintage stuff throughout his life, and now as he is getting older, he decided it is better to sell it to ensure it gets into the hands of new owners who will hopefully cherish it as much as he did, rather than hold onto the stuff until he dies. Because when you die, he pointed out, your family doesn’t care about your vintage cookie tins. They’ve got a whole damn house to clean out before they can head back to Vancouver so they’re going to toss everything that is not obviously valuable in the trash. To someone like himself who cares about those items, that’s a sad waste of beautiful things. So, this fellow reasoned, he’d rather sell it now, make someone happy, and use the money to do something fun like take a trip at the end of the year. I loved it. Sage wisdom.

Second good recent experience: I posted something for free on the local used stuff site about a week ago and instead of the usual “gimme gimme gimme” responses that never follow up, someone came and picked the items up when they said they would. Wow!! They even emailed me afterward to thank me and tell me how sweet our dog was. That was lovely of them.

And third, today I had an experience similar to the first one I just mentioned. I bought a bunch of vintage xmas decorations from an older couple and spent about 30 minutes with them, chatting about the family history of the decorations I was buying — how and where they hung them, who in the family liked them most, how carefully her mother put them away each year, etc. They also took the time to show me how to set them up, which I really appreciated since some of these things were like a Rubick’s Cube. I ended up telling the old couple what the first guy had told me about getting these things into the hands of people that appreciate them instead of leaving it behind to get thrown out, and the old couple agreed wholeheartedly. So it’s been nice to connect with a few people through craigslist that I have some things in common with.

However, it’s not all roses, of course. The items I gave away for free to the grateful person were two partially used natural deodorants — it was sort of an experiment to see if anyone would actually want used deodorant (one time, Bill gave away a half-used bag of kitty litter and I always found that gross and wanted to outdo him) or if the ad would get pulled over breaking some kind of ‘no used personal hygiene items’ rule. So that was kind of interesting.

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Don’t put anything past a hippie, I learned.

And I did have a bad experience with some clown who had a cool old vintage vase that I wanted but they were terribly inconsistent about replying to emails, took multiple emails to give me the info I asked for right at the start, and then never answered their phone or responded to text messages. At one point in the middle of our two-week long back-and-forth, they apologized for their tardy reply and said they had been dealing with a family emergency for the last several days. I’ve been pretty clear on how I feel about the old ‘family emergency’ bullshit craigslist excuse so I pretty much gave up on the stupid fucks (shout out to golda for that little gem) after that.

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THE FUCKING VASE I WANT. JUST GIVE IT TO ME, PLEASE.

But shit, you can’t win ’em all, and with three good recent craigslist experiences, I really can’t complain. I’ll save that until next week when things go right back down the shitter in the usual craigslist fashion.