Wow, it's been a month since I've updated this thing. Wow. The Tape Mountain mentality is alive and well.
Today I went out garage-saling--the Sunnyside neighborhood (about 10 blocks east of my house) was having their big annual neighborhood day-of-sales. And I must say: wow. In terms of scale, this was similar to the swap-meet days of yore, but I found it way more exciting for some reason. Not to say that Orange County's swap meets were not exciting, mind you--they had some amazing stuff--but: I liked the Portland second-hand merchandise thing for its own merits. Namely:
1) For one thing, you are walking through lovely flower-scented, verdant streets instead of asphalt-scented, heat-radiating parking lots.
2) People in Southeast Portland tend to have cooler stuff than random Orange Countians would, I think; sure, there's plenty of bad Hawthorne-style semi-occultist crap and lots of frou-frou liberal paraphernalia, but then there's some damn good liberal paraphernalia. My big scores included this record of Carnatic music (wow), a couple tapes of world sacred music (ecstatic--and damn fine dishwashing music), a tenor recorder which I am now attempting to master but my hands are struggling with the big reaches it requires, plenty of fine kitchenware (replacing the flimsy and tacky thrift-store stuff I had been using), a small French-press coffee maker (single-serving size, for work, etc), a coffee-grinder--you get the point. People who share more interests with you are going to have stuff that you will like better.
3) And you get to interact with these people--they notice when you find something cool and tell you more about it, or other things like it, as opposed to the mercenary swap-meet-vendor attitude, where, if they speak English at all, don't know a damn thing about what they have. Actually, this can be a good thing, and I'm not going to complain when people have, say, fabulous and valuable musical gear that they are selling for preposterously low prices--but still, it's nice to have a conversation about the instrument you just bought for a low and fair price; not as nice as buying something incredibly rare and cool with a silent and straight face and then bursting into a smile and hysterics a few feet away, but still nice.
4) No bad "new" products--no "Buttwiser" t-shirts, no cheap ripoff cosmetics. Aahhh.
5) You get this nice sense of community--everyone is walking around, everyone seems pretty happy, no-one seems to be doing this as their tedious duty. You don't see the bent-over-and-exposing-buttcrack middle-aged rotund record-collectorscum; you don't see people haggling over gross figurines; etc.
6) No little kids running around throwing those pop-pop firework exploding tinnitus-incitors. Thank god. Unfortunately Independence Day is coming up.
All in all I can't complain. I was talking to Aileen recently about jonesing for the swap meet, and I still do sometimes, but this will do fine. At the end of the morning I walked back home (also a bonus) and I felt pleasant and kind of clean instead of grimy and sweaty and gross, like a coalminer in a parking lot. I washed the dishes to make room for the new pots and pans I bought. It is Okay.