Sunday, October 28, 2007

freebie jeebies

Spent the afternoon at the Really Really Free Market.

Anarchy is a concept which loses all practicality once it leaves the realm of Zippo art and t-shirt sayings.

I say that as the most liberal of all liberals. No offense to my leftist brothers and sisters.

List of hopes and to-do’s for the day:

1. Get rid of huge bag of junk taking up space in apartment.

2. Sit outside in the sunshine. Meet new people and have interesting, random conversations.

3. Get phone number/email of hot 22 year-old vegan tail in black hoodie and form-fitting jeans. Said 22 year-old has abusive stepfather and strong feminist/artsy streak. We get together to talk about regime change and do it in the vagyroscope. DAILY.

[For further detail, please see Fig 1.1: Wes Bentley's character in 1999's American Beauty].

Fig 1.1

4. Leave with enhanced sense of community and accomplishment. I LOVE YOU, TOTO. IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. THIS PLANET IS A LOVE SMOOTHIE AND I AM BUT ONE TINY DROP.

Taking a cab to get there really helped set it off. Because really. Who doesn’t spend money to give stuff away for free?

I thought I could make it – only 3 avenues and 7 blocks, but halfway there I crapped out. (P.S. I didn’t really crap, I just meant I gave up and hailed a taxi).

I lug my bag o’ goods through the gate and choose a sunny spot. I start laying out my blanket and already I'm surrounded by 20 people.

Scarface on VHS goes first, to a woman with a 7 year old. Should I feel bad about that? For some reason I don’t.

The next 4 items are gone as soon as I set them down. To the same woman. With the same 7 year old.

Imagine if we was giving away yayo.

By now I’ve got people on all sides of me. I feel like a street hustler or some beret-wearing dickhead doing Febreze-sponsored performance art.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: The black Old Navy t-shirt with the cat hair laid out next to the paint roller is supposed to represent the way extension cords are looked at in our society. The Norman Mailer book and half-used box of crayons are a coy statement about women, sexuality, and the lack of decent bars around Union Square.

I start throwing items to the furthest reaches of the blanket in an attempt to stop Scarface Lady from taking them.

It doesn’t seem fair that she gets this huge haul while other people stand around - needy, but too polite to interfere.

The one exception was the missus who complained several times that I wasn’t unloading items fast enough. HURRY UP AND GIVE ME MY FREE SHIT FASTER.

What kind of people come to these things, Erin? Jesus.

Good question:

5% hippie
5% anarchist freegan
5% sad sack homeless
85% opportunists looking for free shit [i.e. see Scarface Lady above]

Nothing wrong with getting free shit. In fact, that’s the whole idea. But to see people taking a whole bunch of free shit without:

-pausing to read any one of the gazillion informational flyers
-chucking a nickel in the jar as a donation

or at the very least refraining from

-taking two or more of the same thing
-grabbing items out of people’s hands without saying “thank you” or “excuse me”

made me really fucking sad. This is why we have rules like “Please leave on undergarments while trying on swimwear,” and "10 Items or Less in the Express Lane."

Which everyone ignores.


I know it's not my place to judge. How people should react. Or not react. Who's needy. Who's not needy.

I guess I was just surprised at the lack of looking out for each other. I thought the whole thing would be governed by a sort of polite, restrained greed .

But nope. Just greed. Regular old unchecked greed.

I was cleaned out in a matter of seconds. The only thing that didn’t go was a pair of high heels.

They sat there for the next 10 minutes as people came by, picked them up, then dropped them like an smallpox-infected turd once I announced they were size 11.

A few people even laughed. Whoooooo eeeeeeee boy! That’s a big un’! Like it was a pumpkin growing contest or a circus sideshow and my used footwear was Big Bertha.

I don’t think they connected the shoes with the owner and how someone might find that a teensy bit embarrassing or insulting.

I’d had enough.

I left my gunboats on someone else’s blanket and went to meet my sister for a drink.


Sabina said...

Is there really such thing as a hot vegan? I'd always thought those terms were mutually exclusive, because all the vegans I know have a greyish, malnourished complexion.

White and Nerdy said...

Great post. We've all been there...

I threw a party over the weekend that got completely hijacked by assholes after free booze.

But like you said, who's going to a free flea market but people who expect something for nothing?

In my opinion, they're the absolute worst segment of the East Village (and Brooklyn) population: Fake Hippies. Like those cut-throat yoga people who'd put your eye out over floor space...

MN said...

A couple of years ago the market was going on at the same time as a large tribute for a poet who'd died a few months before. Some of the market's attendees decided to use that opportunity to, ahem, reappropriate some of the products of capitalist surplus labor--in this case, lots of fancy spreadable cheese. The fruit and wine for the reception was apparently a hard sell. I also seem to recall cleaning up an odd splatter pattern of cake frosting on the floor of the parish hall.

I say this, like you, with real love for the anarchists. Though not so much for the manarchists.

Anonymous said...

You wear a size 11?! I must tell my sister-in-law. She's only 14, but wears a size 11 and bemoans her fate. I'd like for her to think there's hope out there. Once she gets out of the small town, she may well be able to find and wear sexy red heels in just her size.

- Cyn

P.S. Speaking as a hot vegan married to another hot vegan - it is totally possible. Also, I am genetically unable to be grayish thanks to my English heritage. I will always be a fine shade of pinkish... redish in the summer if I'm not careful.

Erin Bradley said...

well, not so fast there, kid.

since even the most chi-chi of nyc shoe stores stop at size 10, i'm pretty relegated to payless, which stocks sizes up to 12 and (eeks!) 13.

i'm sure your sis-in-law has one of those in her town. they're just the same in nyc, only half the crowd in the size 11 section is composed of drag queens.

i've been told by many a kind-hearted folk about specialty shoe shops made for large-flipped fillies like myself, but i'm both:

1. too vain
2. too cheap (custom is expensive!)
3. too lazy

to search 'em out.

i've never been much of online shopper, anyway when it comes to wearables. i like to try shit on.