There are those who love the nice summer weather for the sun, the beach, the cookouts, baseball, and the legions of women wandering about exposing acres of yummy flesh — yeah, that one’s pretty damned awesome — but my favorite thing about the season in Brooklyn is the stoop sales. Yes, the stoop sales, an urban analog to Portobello Road wherein “the riches of ages are sold, artifacts to glorify your regal abode,” a block-by-block bazaar where you never know just what you may find.
In my decade of living in Park Slope I’ve seen everything you could possibly sell on the stoop of your building — with the possible exception of twelve-year-old children for use as who knows what, but I haven’t been to every stoop sale in this huge borough so I wouldn’t necessarily write that out — from six-foot bongs to crude homemade clay replicas of the cast of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (oh, if only I’d had my camera on me to capture that one; Captain Picard looked like the Elephant Man about to audition for a road show of A CHORUS LINE), orange macramé teddies (I can only imagine how that would irritate one’s ninnies) stationed right next to water-damaged copies of THE TAO OF POO and THE TE OF PIGLET, an assortment of those cylindrical PEANUTS waste baskets from the early 1970’s, the Hand of Nergal and the Heart of Tammuz in a lovely collector’s case with a set of 7/11 CONAN THE BARBARIAN tumblers thrown in gratis — I immediately spotted the Hand and Heart for the fakes that they were; I have the real items here in the Vault of Buncheness for safekeeping — thigh-high platform go-go boots that once belonged to a saucy chick who’s now someone’s flappy-titted grandma, back-issues of PLAYBOY and OUI that are now better suited for use as DNA samplers or roof shingles than practical spank material, you name it.
All of that discarded-yet-collectible detritus was brought to mind while I wandered about in the early Saturday hours, a lovely morning that considerably offset a disappointment from the previous day that I won’t go into, and during the trek along 7th Avenue I saw some kickass stuff up for sale, but as it was on 7th Avenue it was mostly offered at ludicrous prices and I refused to spend a cent on any of it, not even for the foldable bicycle put on the street for the asking price of $85, a sum that my oft-mentioned pal Jessica — who, sadly and for the record, is not my Osh-Osh compadre, so stop writing in with questions about that one — was a pretty good deal.
Over the years I’ve found tcochkes, books, LPs and general weirdness that have caused the Vault to grow to a pretty much unmanageable degree, but I have to say that I’ve never made a better score at one of these impromptu flea markets than that of this wondrous curio:
It was laid out on a blanket in front of the building directly across the street from where I reside, nestled amongst a jumble of crumbling Harlequin romances and novelizations of flicks like THE FISH THAT SAVED PITTSBURGH and BALLISTIC: ECKS VERSUS SEVER.
Yes, it looks like a well-used walking stick — it’s a bit short for a cane — but I recognized it for what it really was and asked the lady selling it if she really knew what it was. She looked back at me with a cocked eyebrow, sensing a fellow enthusiast, and asked me, “do YOU know what it is?” I nodded, picked it up, rolled it over while checking out its engraved bits, and then thumbed the hilt to the left, smoothly unsheathing two feet of solid, pointy Damascus steel.
The blade was dull and may or not be made for sharpening, but the metal was extremely sturdy and with a good shove it could easily penetrate a tire or a person.
“How much?” I asked, and the seller said, “Ten bucks! I just broke up with my asshole boyfriend and I’m selling off all of his shit before he comes back to reclaim it. God, I’m such a bitch…” I forked over the ten dollars, and since she was nice enough to hook me up with an inexpensive antique cane sword I figured I’d see if she had anything else of interest; I ended up adding a hardcover copy of Douglas Adams’ THE COMPLETE HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY — the one with all four novels — and a mint condition Mork doll, still in the original box, both of which cost me another ten bucks. Hopefully I’ll be able to find more such deals before the stoop sale season comes to an end…