What is the difference between a Junkman and an Antique dealer?
About three quarters of a million dollars.
Occasionally, I get something really good in my hands and it disintegrates and becomes junk. So, when I get something good, I try to turn it over as quick as I can.
For example, I once had the apple that Eve bit in my hands, and instead of selling it to a Antique Dealer or back to God, I foolishly took a bite out of that core. Mistake. I’ve been shitting out geniuses ever since. Of course, I should have done a Johnny Appleseed and seededmy shit. Imagine, an orchard filled with Apples from The Garden Of Eden. But I digress.
The point is that I come from Blue Collar roots which is like saying I was born with one foot in the grave. So, when someone asks me how much my Garden of Eden Apple is, I’m thinking that this guy is as poor as me and I say a hundred bucks. He takes my Garden of Eve apple, seperates the seeds, gets many orchids going and is a multi-millionaire. Of course, he already was a millionaire. Oh, and my great dream is to be a Thousand-aire, like I said, I have one foot in the grave… but I digress.
I digresssed so much, that I don’t remember what I was talking about. Yes, my topic is how on earth just a Jew boy from all five boroughs become a Junkman. Why? Why? Why?
I graduated College and had nothing. I was a writing major. What the fuck is anyone supposed to do with that degree. So, I got a cheap ass punk job in Corporate America. I worked for Time Inc.- which is what now :Time -Warner Mitsubishi Googly Eyes, (or whatever the fuck it is now.) Anyway, I worked production of the magazines. The lowest level possible. I just wanted to get by, while I wrote my great American novel about nothing. I had nothing to write my great American Novel about yet. I was just a stupid ass, Punk kid from the Five Boroughs; Brooklyn born I may add.)
I thought maybe I would write about my heroes in the Punk world, but then I met them, and well, I er… stopped playing music. My funny quirky, influential heroes were ah… well… Junkies or at best just Jerks. Not that I didn’t have my own jerkiness. I did always stop at Psychedelics. I did like to eat an occassional magic mushroom and havemet The Mad Hatter for Tea on occassion… but I digress into a flashback.
So, I lived in Ridgewood Queens, which was really Brooklyn. Trust me it was Brooklyn. It had a pork store on every corner and a cloud of doom hanging above all the old guys who were limping around; they knew what it meant to be born with one foot in the grave, a lifetime of limping around, usually with a hard-on both the positive and the negative kind.
And then I met my Mentor Manny. Manny had a hole in a wall shop. He surrounded himself with former Mob friends, recent addicted Crack-heads (the women became Crack whores and the Men became thieves), antique dealers who knew what to do with the apple that Eve bit, Cops arresting Chucky and buying old pottery at the same time, Bald Headed Richie picking all night and finding the best stuff from the turn of the Century,(I’m talking the 1800’s not the 60’s.) I met a dozen guys a day, all guys who stepped out of a Scorcese film and a Bukowski poem. I had my theme.
So Hemingway had his bullshit, I mean his bullfighting and his manly theme of adventure. (You know they say he had a real small dick. Just saying. And how does a Writing degree holder know that Hemingway had a small dick? That my friend is the difference between a Writing Major and a Literary Major. I’ll let you sit with that for now… but I digress to the gross… and that is what I was trained to do as a Writer.)
Anyway, I had my topic and my theme and I loved Junk and Corporate America was for the birds, and Rock and Roll was a disappointment. I knew that I would spend every available moment listening to these old timers talk about the City and how it used to be.
They all warned me not to get into the business. They said it is only good for the stories. It is only good if you like the action and have an appreciation for old things that will last for ten times your life. They warned me that I would become an outsider from society and that I would be part of a Secret Society.
And it all came to pass. Here I am a middle aged man and I am in a dinosaur business in the middle of a Computer Age that does not like dusty old things. It loves photos of dusty old things, just not dusty old things.
I felt like the luckiest man on the planet. I started to smoke cigars with mobsters who listened to stories about houses filled with treasures, treasure hunters listening to Mobsters talk about who rubbed out who and where Dino tossed the body when he walks out the room.I got to hear love stories, hate stories, rich stories, poor to rich stories, rich to poor stories and none of it documented before.
I was a kid listening to Pirates and Long John Silver. I was the kid on the ship bringing them Rum and listening to the Jungle stories of all the five boroughs. I had lived in this City all my life but did not understand that I did not know this City. I did not know the real Politics of the Corruption and how people really lived.
I was a witness to violence. I was a witness to true love. I knew there were milions of stories in the big city behind closed doors and now I was going into them and seeing on a daily basis how people really lived and thought. How they dreamed, what they dreamed on, what they ate, and what they cooked with. I got to see how they lived and discovered why they died. It wasn’t always from old age. They left clues throughout their homes. I started to solve mysteries of my own life in the process. The biggest mysteries about a man is usually in a suitcase under his bed. If I come over to your house, I am going to try and see what is going on under your bed.
Becoming a Junkman has been an adventure. It did not pay off financially for me. I did not have the shark bite for this business. I only had the poetry of it in the attic and in my basement.
This is my message in a bottle to all the poetry treasure hunters out there who understand what I’m talking about when I say,”It is not the item that you find but the who and how you got the item. ” Perhaps it is rewatching “The Maltese Falcon” and listening to Sidney Greenstreet talk about the “bird.”
I hope you share your treasure stories with me as I tell mine. I think we can learn something about ourselves. Maybe all of mankind has been treasure hunters and Junkmen; we are all looking for that apple that Eve bit, but we aren’t quite sure what to do with it when we hold that knowledge in our hands.