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08 February 2008

Down at the Famous Weird-Ass Bookstore, [More:] we not only buy books from crazy people* who walk in off the street, we also have a team of guys who drive around in a Suburban picking up big lots of books from people that I sort through during the downtime between the off-the-street sellers. Sometimes these people seem to think that 'book' means 'anything on paper,' which neccessitates me going through piles of leaflets, magazines**, high school yearbooks, corporate reports, diaries (makes me feel like a voyeur, even though they are never interesting), report cards, post cards, greeting cards and once a bunch of ancient computer punch cards.

Some folks even manage to slip in very odd non-paper items. Once there was a box of microwaveable hair-removal product, another time a crack pipe. The other day there was an Oriental-lettered box containing two ceramic elephants with their trunks entwined on a base emblazoned 'Las Vegas,' (I don't know either). That I brought home and we put it on top of the TV in the bedroom. Today I found a hand held electronic bridge game. The batteries seem to be dead but other than that it looks fine and is sitting on my sill.

I'm thinking of starting a salvage business a la Sanford & Son to find homes for all this shit. Any volunteers to be my Lamont?

* Yesterday, we had some octogenarian dude with jet-black hair combed like Alfalfa's minus the point. He punctuated every utterance with 'I'm from Brooklyn'in a Rain Man-esque voice followed by the name of a Dodgers player of yore. he did this all through the store to everyone who's path he crossed. According to aco-worker he did the same thing to a pair of deaf people on the street. I'm sorry I missed that since I'd love to learn the sign for 'what the fuck?'

**The magazines are often of the [ahem] adult variety. Yesterday, midway through a batch of high end art and philosophy books, I encountered a huge stack of gay porn. And I don't mean nude photography art or figure studies. I mean porn. The mag on top was called Manpower and featured an aggressively mustachio'd dude wearing a hardhat, a toolbelt and nothing else.
I remember reading something, somewhere, by a writer who'd once worked in a library, recounting the bizarre things people had used as bookmarks and left in returned library books. The one I recall best is "a very fried egg."
posted by kat allison 08 February | 20:21
an aggressively mustachio'd dude wearing a hardhat, a toolbelt and nothing else.

A clear violation of OSHA standards. Dude's gonna get his jobsite shut down if he's not careful.
posted by bmarkey 08 February | 20:24
Was the hardhat ribbed, for his pleasure?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson 08 February | 20:35
Ahh, I remember Manpower. The naked construction dudes was alright, but by the time they had worked their way through most of the blue collar jobs they ended up with The Throbbing Oily Bus Drivers of Paramus, New Jersey, not a pretty site.
posted by Divine_Wino 08 February | 20:35
Sight even.
posted by Divine_Wino 08 February | 20:36
I once applied for work with a temp agency named Manpower. Maybe it's just as well they never called me back.

I've been to Paramus. You had it right the first time.
posted by box 08 February | 20:37
Dude, the gay porn is the least of it. You should see some of the inscriptions people write in books, once there was one that read 'Bob, grow warts on your penis, it will feel great when you fuck my cunt, Julie.'*

I felt compelled to tear that one out (after showing it to a few co-workers), lest we be embroiled in a bizarre lawsuit.**

*names have been chaged since I don't remember them

**Back when I worked at a chain bookstore, I waited on a church lady (the type with the big ol' hats who punctuate every sentence with 'hallelujah!' even if it's just ordering coffee) with a bunch of kids in tow. as the kids wandered off, I helped her buy a bible (King James, she insisted). A few minutes later, I was walking down another aisle when I heard a tiny voice say 'why the po-liceman making making the man do that?' I turned and saw the church ladies tykes had a copy of The Joy Of Gay Sex open to a drawing of a man blowing a dude in a policeman's outfit. I immediately said 'Let's put this back on the shelf or we're all going to be in a heap of trouble, OK?'
posted by jonmc 08 February | 20:50
Oh yeah, we got this in today, too:
≡ Click to see image ≡
It's an odd world out there.
posted by jonmc 08 February | 21:47
Great stories!

This job deserves its own blog. Tell the stories, transcribe the inscriptions, and give away the ephemera. (You guys do know that people buy ephemera, right? You'd think there'd be some dealer in NY who would pick up all the boxes you could fill and sort through it later. No?)
posted by Miko 08 February | 23:36
give away the ephemera.

Most of this stuff wouldn't even make the cut as 'junk' let alone ephemera. although I figure gaspode would like the electronic bridge thing.
posted by jonmc 08 February | 23:50
People might want postcards.
posted by Miko 08 February | 23:53
People might want postcards.

posted by BoringPostcards 09 February | 00:37
OMG, jonmc!

Please! do a blog about the daily ins and outs at the infamous bookstore.

We do want postcards.
posted by lilywing13 09 February | 02:09
You should blog all the weird finds in store- I'm so amused by your stories I've marked it on a map for my next trip to new york.
posted by dabitch 09 February | 07:36
You should blog all the weird finds in store- I'm so amused by your stories I've marked it on a map for my next trip to new york.
posted by dabitch 09 February | 07:36
Yes .. a blog with pictures. As I've said, I love The Strand .. it was one of my favorite places in NYC when I lived there. I would like to hear more of your stories about working there and the stuff you see.
posted by Kangaroo 09 February | 08:33
Yeah that would definitely be a cool blog.

There's a used bookstore here that plasters stuff they find in the books all over the ends of the shelves, including an electric bill for about $3 from 1930 something.
posted by chewatadistance 09 February | 12:40
Blog! Blog! Blog!
posted by bunnyfire 09 February | 12:47
Believe it or not, I have always dug book enclosures a lot, and a few years ago I set up a blog (Enclosures) to document them. However, it has languished: I put up all my own enclosures, and a few people sent me some, but then there's nothing to do but wait to find another one.

I did find one in last week's Toll House cookbook, an obit of the author. I haven't scanned it yet though.
posted by Miko 09 February | 12:50
I'm thinking of starting a salvage business a la Sanford & Son to find homes for all this shit. Any volunteers to be my Lamont?

Can I be Grady?
posted by evilcolonel 09 February | 19:34
Miko, I have your "Enclosures" bookmarked. I've meant to send you photos of some of the things I've found. I got a check in an old book once, dated 1937. I have a book called "Life in India", dated 1881, filled with clippings of foreign travel articles from the '50s and '60s.

I really want to visit your store, jonmc. I'd probably be in there for a week, judging from the website.
posted by redvixen 09 February | 21:13
Cool, rv! Anytime. I'd love it if it became a community pool.

I just realized I should probably set it up as a Flickr group rather than on Blogger. That would be a lot easier to make into a pool.
posted by Miko 09 February | 22:41
One of my favorite flickr titles || I iz a Cyclommuter!