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Showing posts with label guest author. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest author. Show all posts

Friday, November 8, 2013

Guest Author, Bob Deakin Returns with "Simple Minds = Complicated Sale"

Simple Minds featuring Jim Kerr (front) on lead vocal and Mel Gaynor (right) on drums
"Simple Minds" By Bob Deakin

Homeowner John Gillespie received a disturbing knock on his door this past Friday evening. The knuckles doing the knocking belonged to Rob Wixted, an attendee of Gillespie's tag sale the previous weekend. Turns out Wixted wasn't happy with his purchase at the sale – an old VHS tape of rock band Simple Minds from the early 1990s.

The videotape is from a 1992 concert shortly after the band's Real Life album release and features original members with the exception of drummer Mel Gaynor, who’d left the band for a brief spell during that tour.

Therein lies the problem.

Turns out Wixted's fixation with Simple Minds begins and ends with the drummer, and he was none too impressed with Gaynor’s replacement.

“If you buy a Beatles album would you expect to hear Ringo Starr playing the drums?” he asked Gillespie rhetorically, from his doorstep. “Sure, Jim Kerr’s lead vocals were great on the tape but Simple Minds is about the symbiotic fusion of art and sound and that doesn’t happen without Mel Gaynor on drums.”

“I didn’t produce the f…ing album,” Gillespie responded indignantly. “I’ve never even watched it. I just had the thing lying around and sold it at my tag sale. Who the hell is Mel Gaynor?”

“Who is Mel Gaynor?” Wixted responds with eyebrows raised above his hairline as he glances to and fro. “He only played the best drum fill in rock history.”

Mel Gaynor on drums in the 90s

Gillespie pauses then suddenly and surprisingly knows exactly the fill to which Wixted refers; the pseudo-march, reverb-laden drum fill late in Simple Minds’ biggest hit, Don’t You (Forget About Me).

“Oh yeah,” he says excitedly. “You mean that fill followed by all the la la las.”

“Duh… Yeah… That’s the one,” Wixted responds sarcastically.

“Love the way he does that roll thing then clangs on the cymbal really loud for the rest of the song,” Gillespie exhorts.

“It’s actually 32nd notes he plays on the snare with syncopated open hi-hat hits followed by 8th notes on the off-beats of the closed hat combined with down beats on the ride,” Wixted declares. “Nobody else could have played that fill and it makes the song, the band and the decade.”

“It makes their career,” Gillespie responds with a laugh. “That’s the only thing they ever did and it’s only famous because it was in The Breakfast Club movie.

At that moment a pall descends over the front porch as Wixted takes a step back in horror at what he has just heard: a hard slap in the face of his favorite band.

“Who are you!” Wixted utters in disgust, his voice quivering with revulsion. “And how dare you say that about the quintessential band of the eighties?”

Gillespie then steadies himself, lifts his head and holds his ground.

“Quintessential band of the eighties?” he asks, pompously, before launching into an impromptu critique of several of the bands lesser hits. “Let’s see, Sanctify Yourself – not exactly Stairway To Heaven. Alive & Kicking…”

Gillespie chuckles as he continues to ridicule the band and the homely looks of the lead singer.


At that, Gillespie pulls out his wallet, peels out a dollar bill and hands it to Wixted, refunding his money for the purchase of the tape before politely bidding him adieu.

“And don’t you,” he pauses, “forget about me.”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Guest Author Bob Deakin wants you to meet: "Tony the Tagger"

Tag sales are a tedious event for the homeowner but without the shoppers, it doesn't work. Most tag salers make a stop a couple times a year but some are professionals known as “taggers” for their years of dedication to the craft.

One glowing example is Tony “Tony the Tagger” Corso of Canton, CT. He earned his nickname by virtue of decades as a familiar face at tag sales and for being featured on both Good Morning America and Hoarders.

Corso comes off as a know-it-all talking about all things, and as cocky as a football player in a night club he explains his strategy for every sale he approaches.

“First thing I do at every sale is back my truck up the driveway. Right away they start showing me around and the prices drop like dollar bills at the strip club.”

Even those that don't know him quickly notice the tall man in denim strolling arrogantly through the throngs of shoppers with his trademark fedora tilted slightly to the left.

He's been attending sales throughout the Connecticut-Massachusetts-New York area since Nixon was president and is known for his penchant for late 19th Century furniture and golden-age Hollywood memorabilia. He not only longs for artifacts but genuinely believes he is entitled to them. Whether it's an oak cabinet Thomas Edison might have owned or a poster of Betty Grable, Tony the Tagger is determined to call it his own.

He says one of the most memorable tag sales was held by a legend of stage, screen and television. Employing a dramatic pause and taunting this reporter with his good fortune, he elaborated with the tale of rubbing elbows with a star before divulging her name.

“Valerie Harper,” he said, slowly and deliberately, leaning forward in his chair with a wry grin, as if announcing the name of the first lady. He went on to detail the day spent at the star's home examining items for sale and the cozy conversation he struck up with her. He claims he spent several hours at the swanky estate and ended up rubbing a little more than elbows with the married actress.

It all began, he says, with a few innocent questions about her Victorian-era armoire, which led to a personal tour of her movie memorabilia collection from the 40s and before he knew it, they'd locked eyes, both leaning over a vintage cocktail table from the 50s when their hands touched for the first time.

“You can't put a price tag on what I walked away with that day,” Corso says, smiling, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands behind his head.

Asked if he was alleging to have slept with Ms. Harper – made famous by her role as next-door neighbor 'Rhoda' on the Mary Tyler Moore Show – Corso asked with a wink, “Who said anything about sleeping?”
Hello? Who said anything about even meeting this jerk?

While Corso is well-known amongst tag sale hosts it doesn't always equate to admiration.

“He's a jerk,” says Helen Fink, owner of a palatial estate in Greenwich, CT, worthy of Bruce Wayne and his ward. “He walks in like he owns the place and makes low-ball offers on authentic hand-made pieces from the 1800s like they're cheap TVs. He's married and spends more time hitting on me and the shoppers like he's at a strip club.”

Complimented for the coincidental strip club analogy she doesn't bite on an offer for further comment.

“My next door neighbor, Jean, hosts estate sales for homeowners every summer and this guy's been showing up for years,” says Carol Showalter of Norwalk, CT. “He's so full of himself he even gave himself a nick-name; 'T-Tag.' Jean refers to him as 'D-Bag.'”

Told of what the estate sale hosts said of him Corso doesn't even blink, choosing instead to explain the difference between an authentic Universal Studios poster and a fake. Asked what motivates him to continue his week-to-week performance attending sales year after year, Tony holds up a first-generation "Mr Coffee"  and conceitedly quotes baseball great, Joe DiMaggio.

“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time and I owe him my best.”

Confronted with the fact that very few children go to tag sales and even fewer show up to see him, he downplays his role as a local celebrity.

“Ah, I'm just a simple man with simple tastes,” he states, again with a wink and a grin. “Who can resist a 19th Century gem or an authentic framed Casablanca promo? I also can't help it if the ladies can't resist a tall, confident, handsome man in a fedora.”

Perhaps they can't, but when it comes time to get rid of an old relic, a warm body with a wallet often seems irresistible.

Mrs. Showalter was later asked if any of Jean's clients, by coincidence, were TV stars in the 1970s and said no, then looked up, curiously.

“You know,” she remembered, “everybody always tells Jean she looks just like the next-door neighbor on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Thanks for another interesting tale from the tag sale trail, Bob! You can read more of Bob Deakin's work by visiting his site here.  I'll be keeping my eye out for the notorious T-Tag.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Author Bob Deakin Returns: Take a letter Maria...and read it!

(While editing some changes Blogger burped and brought this post to the top. Oh well, it's a good entry from Bob. Enjoy this re-post)

I have an open invitation to anyone (and I mean anyone!) who would like to contribute a story of something they've discovered either at a tag sale, or their own attic, basement, or garage. I have been thrilled to receive several story's in the past 2 years because, well, it means I get a night off. My friend Bob Deakin whose own site is on my list of favorites has found something within a "find" and in his own way is looking to connect, or should I say 'correct' the previous owner.

Letter to the Owner of the Nakamichi Cassette Deck
By Bob Deakin

Dear Maria Santoro,

You don't know me but I feel compelled to write you regarding the cassette tape player I just purchased at a tag sale in Bridgewater, CT. I found your Eustis, Florida name tag and address inside of it when I started cleaning the tape heads and oiling the rollers.

It's a beautiful deck. Nakamichis were some of the best decks available in the early 1980s when this was manufactured. Looks like you took good care of it and for that I thank you very much. Quite forward thinking of you to put your name on it in case it was ever stolen or lost, which I hope was not the case with this one as I intend to keep it.

The reason I am writing is because of the cassette you apparently made and left in the deck. It was a mix tape you must have made some 30 years ago and I have listened to it a number of times and am impressed with many of the musical selections. It's not every day I hear Eddy Arnold doing a soul song or Glen Campbell singing Jimmy Webb.

What does not impress me is the ebb and flow of your unruly assortment of songs. Early on Side A you follow Jose Feliciano's “Light My Fire” with Elvin Bishop's “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.” These two songs could not be any more different in feel, construction, style or even time period. One is a Spanish acoustic guitar driven ballad while the other is pure blues rock.

This sequence has me puzzled.

Another combination I have a big problem with is Richard Harris's “MacArthur Park” followed by Seals & Crofts “Diamond Girl.” What we you thinking? An Irish actor singing a dramatic, lyrically confusing love song followed by an American duo know for their ultra new age religious beliefs? 

Bad segue and it detracts from the quintessentially American wholesome, sunshine feel of the Seals & Crofts piece.

Late on Side B you made the awkward decision to include Ronnie Milsap's “It Was Almost Like a Song” followed by “If Loving You Was Wrong I Don't Want to be Right” by Barbara Mandrell.

Emotional confusion anyone?

First of all the Luther Ingram version of “If Loving You...” holds ten times the emotional impact over the Mandrell version but I'll give you a pass in that Mandrell's country sensibilities work better on your tape. The two songs should not follow one another, however, in that Milsap's song laments a genuinely innocent lost love while Mandrell's song selfishly brags of an illicit affair that everyone should be ashamed of, including you for putting the two songs back to back on your tape.

I could go on but I'll keep the criticisms to a minimum. The quality of the tape was good and living in Eustis, FL in the early 80s surrounded by nothing but orange groves, pickup trucks and Richard Petty fans you must have had a lot of free time on your hands to over-think the choreography of your musical mix.

Sometimes too much thinkin' makes for bad thinkin'.

I will hold onto the tape if you don't mind but if you really want it back send me an email or a self addressed stamped envelope and I'll put it in the mail. I can even, dare I say, burn a disk of it if you want, but the audio levels of your mix are so dynamically inconsistent that I fear the audio to digital conversion will sound like crap on your home stereo, computer or whatever contraption you listen to music on these days.

I wish you the best of luck and thank you again for taking good care of this deck. I get the impression you are a nice person and I think we are – to some extent – kindred spirits in our musical tastes. The Nakamichi still works well and will sound even better with some maintenance and more sensitivity to musical selections.

Bob Deakin

P.S. I mean no disrespect but next time leave more than one second between songs. A more dramatic pause makes for better listening and the music search feature requires at least two seconds to work properly.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This just in!!...Mixer's Panties in a Twist....Sends Craig's List Fist!

Urban Archeology Field Reporter, Bob Deakin, is on assignment and sends in this story of revenge, non-violence and intrigue from the tag sale trail:

Traffic backs up in front of the Davenport home.
(UA) - Police responded to a disturbance at 111 Northrup Street early Saturday morning when a traffic jam formed in front of the Davenport home as dozens of people showed up for a much-anticipated tag sale. Police were called by the homeowner, who claimed he had announced no such event.

“I never arranged for a tag sale for today or any day,” said angry homeowner Vincent Davenport to police, who were forced to direct traffic in the rural neighborhood for several hours. “Why would I invite a bunch of strangers to my house on a Saturday morning?”

Mr. Davenport first opens the door to unexpected taggers.
Davenport was initially awakened by knocks on his door and startled to find several dozen people milling about in front of his house. When they refused to leave he grew angry and returned with a baseball bat to scare them away, only to receive several offers for the bat and frequent requests to pass out numbers. This only proved to heighten Davenport's anger; "What the hell do they want numbers for?...and no this bat isn't for sale!"

Respondents produced an ad in the local newspaper showing a tag sale slated for 7 am at that address on that day, which police took into evidence. Several attendees also produced a printout of the notice posted on Craigslist for the same event, which police quickly discarded as fraud.

The disturbance erupted at approximately 6:55 am when a prompt group of  'taggers' - veteran tag sale aficionados - or 'Early Birds' as they are known in the trade (at this hour), arrived to peruse the wares at the Davenport home at the start of their well organized day.

Tagger Hank Zeppo was typical of those who showed up.

Mr. Davenport angrily confronts the taggers with a baseball bat.
“We were following our itinerary through the southeastern quadrant of town – based on the rising sun – before moving on to northeast quadrant number two at 41°31′33″N 73°21′39″W. From here we move on to central sectors one and two, then to the north and west, as is normal for our coverage pattern launch at dawn on Saturdays.”

These experts come well prepared for the weekend missions armed with food, water and generic soda rations, GPS devices, dubiously-claimed amounts of cash (depending on the item discovered) and small slips of paper known as 'checks,' formerly used as a form of currency now used only by women over 50 at grocery stores.

Veteran tagger Ray Hornig was none too pleased with the goings on at 111 Northrup.

“Jannie and I were all set to start here as part of a busy day of tagging and we get this,” he said, incredulously. “I don't know what's going on but we were going to designate 20 to 30 minutes to this place and 15 to the next and now we've got to make adjustments on the fly all day. This world is going to hell in a hen basket.”

Other, more astute taggers, were quick to correct Ray's poorly executed cliché to 'hell in a hand basket,' which still makes no sense, but his point was made.

Tagger Justin Mitchell, whose first name belies his age – estimated to be in his late 60s – intends to approach city hall to crack down on the tag sale ordinance in Springfield.

“We must have an ordinance for police to identify permitted tag sales,” he stressed. “My wife and I came here looking for Wacky Packages, Partridge Family and M*A*S*H memorabilia, as any tagger worth his salt would expect to find in a neighborhood like this. We just heard a minute ago he didn't plan this sale but since we're all here and traffic's backed up can't he just pop open the garage door and let us have a quick look around?”

The ad printed in the local newspaper (and allegedly on Craig's List) welcomed early birds and boasted of vintage clothing, Hammond organs, HDTVs, cocktail glass sets, 1970s memorabilia, classic furniture from the 1960s and much more.

All anyone got was disappointment.

“I've been searching for a Hammond B-3 organ for the last ten years and I thought today might be my lucky day,” said Troy Dufiss, oblivious to the fact that there was in fact, no tag sale at the house. “Is he going to open that garage or am I going to have to open it for him?”
Mr. Davenport continued to guard the garage throughout the day.

After several hours of research police determined that the announcement of the tag sale was a hoax concocted by an acquaintance of the homeowner. It turns out Ed Maloney, bartender at the local tavern, “One For The Road,” submitted the advertisements as an act of revenge on the part of Mr. Davenport.

Davenport and his wife – both regulars at the tavern – were there earlier in the week and gave Maloney yet another in a series of extremely poor tips after spending several hours at the establishment.

“What comes around goes around,” is all Maloney is reported to have said to police during questioning.

Mr. Davenport declined to press charges but Springfield Police Sargent Duke Morris confirmed that several of the taggers filed complaints. Asked how residents can prevent such scams in the future, Sargent Morris gave only one bit of advice.

“Tip your bartender.”

Thanks, Bob, for that sterling report. We now take you back to our regularly scheduled blog....already in progress.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You could tune a piano...but you couldn't tune a fish...until now.

Guest author Janice Vance returns with another story of her travels and the treasure that is out there for the taking.

A fish story: the two that didn’t get away and the one that did

Okay, I confess to liking fish. Not just to eat. I like cartoonish fish with goofy expressions in wild colors, maybe striped or polka-dotted, fish that remind me of summer and beach cottages, fish that make me smile when I look at them.

So when I found the two small greenish-blue ceramic fish in my local Thrift Mart, priced at a buck-fifty each, I grabbed them without really looking all that closely. There was a maroon one too, but he didn’t fit into my color scheme, so I left him behind. Bad decision, in hindsight.

My fish are the same aqua color you might see on a 1956 Buick, and these little guys have Attitude in the same way the butler Jeeves does: upturned nose, a no-nonsense, disapproving gaze. The dorsal fin is part of a lid that lifts off. I thought: how clever, inside this little critter you could store sugar packets, cotton balls, spare change, or anything you really wanted to hide, like your Rolex or great-grandmother’s diamonds, because no burglar worth his watch cap would give these fish a second look. In the Thrift Mart, they stuck out from the surrounding mugs, wicker baskets, picture frames, candle holders and lamps, but that’s only because I have a well developed fish-interceptor sense.

It wasn’t until I got the fish home that I flipped them over and looked at the bottoms. Yeah, I know, all serious antiques aficionados always check out the bottom of plates, figurines, and vases, looking for Really Important Manufacturers. Not me. I’m thinking of color and function. They either work in the décor, or they don’t come home with me.

The Really Important Manufacturer information on the bottom of the fish turned out to be “Made in California.” But the oddity was the “Chicken Of The Sea Tuna Baker-Salad Server” line just below it. We all grew up eating Chicken Of The Sea tuna. In fact, my mother served me so many Chicken Of The Sea tunafish sandwiches for school lunches I pretty much cannot look tunafish in the face even today. But I had no memory of ever seeing a Chicken Of The Sea Tuna-Baker-Salad Server when I was growing up.

To the internet I went. In among the links to various tuna recipes (flipped past those real fast!) I found a few sites by folks selling various retro and classic ceramic items. And there was my fish, along with this information: “Bauer Pottery made this individual... tuna fish baker as a promotion for Chicken of the Sea in the 1940s.” Apparently the fish were available in several colors: green, yellow, red, and burgundy. Originally they came with a metal stand that fit snugly around the fish’s bottom section. Mine have no stand, but whataya want for a buck fifty?
You can purchase one of these fish online for $48 to $59, plus shipping.

Well. I’ve been looking at my fish more respectfully now. Obviously there is a reason they have Attitude. They are Fish with a West Coast pedigree. Fish made by an actual serious Art Pottery. Fish that can be viewed as a nest egg, instead of simply a vessel to hold a nest egg. I’ll keep them safe and warm.

And you can bet I won’t be using them to serve tunafish. 

Thank you Janice, for giving me the night off to get an extra hour of sleep..maybe.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Will you ever be the butt of a joke? You bet your ASH!!

Here’s a story from a buddy of mine who lives in a suburb of Albany, NY. Tony and I go way back to the late 70’s and we still keep in touch – often over the cell phone amidst a Saturday of searching for treasure. He had an odd find recently and I invited him to be my first guest author.

So, my kids and I, who often will take great pleasure in finding a good sale, had a pretty good sale-ing day last weekend. My son found a brand new, never used bike with a price of $30.00 that we haggled down to $20 (Thanks to Greg’s real time haggle tech-support advice over his really old noisy cell phone). I hope this doesn’t go to his head.

After you’ve made your first good deal of the day, the rest of the hunt was pretty much going to be a win any way we looked at it. But it wasn’t long after we hit the road to the next sale that we turned the corner and saw the "estate sale" sign. As Greg has told you, being less frequent than tag or yard sales, if you are looking for treasure these signs can make you a bit giddy. Now, I am not as much of an enthusiast (I prefer to call him “freak”) as Greg, but an estate sale is more than a hunt for good stuff. It’s often a search through someone’s personal history.  Sure, it can seem ghoulish, but you do it anyway. You can say that sifting through the life of a stranger is a bit like a voyeur at a binocular convention, but you keep wondering, “What little nugget will I see next?”  I typically looking for stuff I need or want, not like your Vmartyr who just wants to find those items that nobody ever thought existed until he dug it up and now wants to blog about it.  This estate sale we discovered was one great weird-o-rama jackpot. 

 Want proof? I found what might currently be the only personalized ashtray in existence. Oh, I bet maybe 40 years ago this was the cat’s p.j.’s. You want to give dad that special gift that will have him thinking about you everyday. Hmmm, what could you personalize? Let’s see… He loves to smoke. He’s always smoking… How about a, ummm, glass ashtray with my picture? Yeah! Every time he smothers out another cancer stick on his way to an early grave, nothing says,  “I love you” like the ash covered remains obscuring a loved one’s face.  Like I said, this was probably from years ago when Hollywood was securely in bed with big tobacco and made smoking look so cool.

Truthfully, the picture looks like it was probably lifted out of an old yearbook and quickly glued onto the ashtray as a joke gift for someone who, from the picture, looks as though he was probably chain-smoking from the crib. The list of other oddities is too long to share here. I don’t know where Greg find’s the time to blog but when I figure out his secret (possibly time-travel), I will invite you to read about the rest of my weird-o-rama sale stories as well. 

Thanks for the story Tony! That image was snapped at the sale, in case you were wondering, “Why in the world did he buy that ashtray?” That’s not Tony’s style, as he so clearly described, and fortunately, it not my style either. But an interesting story none-the-less.