Garbology – June 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Collecting Hypo’s Kennedy and Jazz

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

Manny took me over to see ProCon Mike’s apartment. Loaded. 200 boxes of junk and when I say junk I mean heroin. Every box had heroin in it. He had used needles, great old jazz records and all the old Kennedy conspiracy books.  He had sculptures of Kennedy’s shattered brains in the morgue. The guy was something else.

The way I see it, first he worked himself into a frenzy about Kennedy and then he shot some dope when it all was too much for him.  Then he stumbled over to the turntable to listen to some Miles Davis.

No one was willing to do the cleanout. ProCon Mike was also gay. His boyfriend and dopefriend had Aids. This was in the beginning of Aids in this country. Talk about conspiracies!

Even the junkies were afraid to do the cleanout and there were full bags of  dope in the place.  I did the job. Made a ton of money on  the records and kept the sculpture of Kennedy’s brains and the telephone book with all th CIA’s  agents home phone numbers in it.

Hey anybody want to make some prank phone calls to old agents who worked on the Kennedy assassination?

By the way, I threw out the dope, didn’t want anyone to get Draino.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Obsessive collector of used hypo’s Kennedy and Jazz

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

Some people take their hobbies to dangerous levels of extreme obsession. Conspiracy Mike was one of those people. Every facet of life to ProCon Mike was shoot dope, listen to jazz and discuss the Kennedy assassination. Everyone was in on the murder. Everyone! Sometimes, he even said Jackie O’ did it. Once, he wondered if it could have been suicide.

ProCon Mike commited suicide. He injected Draino into his system as a train rumbled by. His window was right by the elevated M train…

I do the cleanout next time.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Funeral Parlors Are Fun

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

The Funeral Parlor became a drop off of junk for those who recently died. A drop off for those who dropped off. Manny charged 100 dollars a truck ,which was nothing. It can cost a thousand to throw your trash away at the dump.

“The landlord is going to kill you,” I said. “You were supposed to empty the building not fill it to the gills. I need an umbrella. It’s raining in here.”

“This is why I didn’t want to bring you here. You cry like a baby… Listen while you are here I’ll sell you all the funeral stuff. You can buy all the coffins and all the equipment but you have to take it all.

I salivated. All of a sudden, I didn’t give a shit about the uprising going on in the funeral parlor. I was going to make alot of money with these prized antiques. Why should I care about this three ring circus Manny was running… I got all the stuff out that day.

I had coffins lined outside my store. Every freak in New York was yammering and clawing and scratching outside my store looking to buy their own coffin. I was an instant star. Rock people, Dominatrixes, Vampires, Wall Street types. Everybody had to have a coffin from good ole Shecky Wreck.

The scream, and what a scream it was from one of the Dominatrixes put an end to the hupla.

The Police were summoned. They wanted me to explain the fresh corpse in the beautiful mahogany casket as well as the Mummified corpse in the very vintage one.

I knew I could not rat out Manny, though he had royally fucked me. I could have gotten 2 grand a piece for those caskets and God knows what I could have gotten for the Mummy on Coney Island. Now, the cops had them up for auction.

Let me just cut to the chase. The Funeral Parlor Director died from a heart attack when he saw what Manny did to his property. Manny wanted him to die. He found that Mummy and recognized him.

The Mummy was the partner of the Funeral Parlor Director who supposedly took off with a hundred thousand dollars and went to Central America twenty five years earlier. Well, it seems he just made it to the basement, ala Arsenic and old lace.

Manny said,”You done good kid. You didn’t rat me out. Now I got the job to clean out the Funeral Parlor for real. Maybe we’ll find the missing money. Wanna help?”

“Yeah sure. Listen, how did you recognize that mummy?”

“You think if you were a mummy that in twenty five years from now I wouldn’t recognize you? It would just be a dried up you.”

And that is a smidgen of Manny.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Funeral Parlors Are Fun

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

I followed Manny one day.  Very cloak and dagger of me. I had to know what was going on. A month had passed with Manny at the Funeral Parlor. What was going on. I could not believe my eyes when I got there.

Sheer mayhem. Manny turned the Funeral Parlor into a circus with an unusual  sideshow. Every Junkman from the Eastcoast was dropping off their garbage into this six thousand square foot indoor dump. Trucks are honking outside. Inside prostitutes are giving junkmen blowjobs. Junkies were ripping out pipes from the walls in order to sell it for scrap. Water is spraying everywhere like in a water park. What the fuck.

Manny said,”Finally, there’s a place not only for the dead but for the dead’s posessions as well.”

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Funeral Parlors Are Fun

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

I’d walk over to Manny’s store ask Johnny the Juiceman ,”Where’s Manny?”

“He’s at the Funeral Parlor.”

“What, oh no.”

“He ain’t dead,he’s heavy.”

Heavy is a Junkman expression for busy with a cleanout.

“I want that stuff. My bohemian people need their coffins.”

Manny would not bring me to the Funeral Parlor. I got upset with him. It wasn’t just not getting these coffins,but I felt left out of the loop. Other people were getting to go. Why wasn’t I. How was I going to learn the junk business if Manny wasn’t going to bring me on to a coveted cleanout like a Funeral Parlor.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Funeral Parlors Are Fun

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

We don’t usually hang our linen on the line till it has been washed – Rex Stout. Manny got the keys to a funeral home. He was supposed to caretake the funeral home for the old curmudgeon.  He was supposed to get rid of all the furniture and all the coffins and all the dead  guys. The dead guys were in cans. No one ever came to get them. They sat in a pile like tomato sauce in the supermarket. They were left in the dingy basement.

All Manny had to do is sweep the outside, take care of a slight plumbing problem and remove the contents of the building.The Funeral Parlor Director was retiring. There was no rush. It would take a good six months to a year before the building sold.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Garbology: an informal history of boxed dirt and artifact

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers


Two and two always equal four , except in unusual cases,where they equal three or five. – Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen, “The Problem of Cell 13,” The Thinking Machine, 1907

I thought running a thrift store would be easy. I had old time guys mentoring me. Manny, for example, learned how to become a junkman on a horse and buggy in the Lower East Side of New York. Sonny, learned how to become a junkman by first becoming a junkie and going to jail. After jail, he discovered that people would pay him money to cart stuff away instead of making 5 or 10 bucks by climbing through a window and trying to steal a television, while a cop slept in the other room with a gun under his pillow.

I had alot of mentors:

1) Manny

2) Sonny

3) Johnny Juice

4) Cadillac Joe

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Garbology: an informal history of boxed dirt and artifact

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

A lot of old timers took me in and taught me this dying trade of buying od stuff and reselling it… They would never have guessed what the world was becoming. A world of non-stuff, of clean white walls and empty apartments. A world filled with heady blogs and twenty thousand songs in a pin. A world where these brash loud piratey type men would be seen as obsolete cavemen.

Hello, I have become that obsolete caveman. I thought I was learning a trade with a shot at finding the apple that Eve bit. I thought I was becoming part of a secret society of men, not unlike the mafia. Mafia light. I only know of three murders in the history of junkmen. I’ll tell you about them some time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Garbology: an informal history of boxed dirt and artifact

Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

“This business will keep you busy,” Manny said as we schlepped the fifth slot machine out of secret compartment in a basement which was a speakeasy in the twenties. Dino and Johnny Juice found a barrel of coins in this basement.They filled their pockets so full of the coins that when they tried to move they were floating around like a boat on the water. They were like drunks unable to walk that straight line. Dino walked right into this wall and it opened up the secret compartment where the speakeasy was.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Garbology: an informal history of boxed dirt and artifact

Sonny, Sonny, Sonny.

I loved Sonny. He was cheap. He wouldn’t even eat a chinese take out lunch special because, “they were over charging you.”

He understood the junk business better than anyone,”Get the shit, flip it, and get out.” He’s the reason I sell the stuff at the store so cheap. I’d even sell it cheaper if the rent wasn’t so damn high. Sonny is also the reason I do alot of my own chinese food cooking. I will eat a lunch special without thinking about it too much though.

Sonny worked the flea market for years. He kept a big wine barrel right smack in the middle of his railroad apartment. After every weekend, he threw all the change he made from selling junk for a quarter or fifty cents into this barrel. After 10 years, the barrel was full and he was ready for his payout.

He tried to move the barrel. He couldn’t. He called me. We tried to move it together. We couldn’t. He went to a toy store and bought 100 pails and shovels. The kind kids play with in a sandbox. We filled all the pails with coins and the barrel was still half full.

Somehow we got the booty to his van. The van was way loaded down. We went to a supermarket that had the coin exchange. Sonny covered up the counter which showed how much money he was exchanging. He was afraid of getting robbed of his coins.

It took us all day to shovel the coins into the machine. The machine would conk out from exhaustion every couple of hours too. Kids trying to exchange their piggy bank pennies were turned away by Sonny, “Come back tomorrow when we aren’t so busy,” he would say as if we worked at the joint. He did buy one kid’s change for ten bucks because he was sure that it was at least twenty five bucks, “Stupid kid doesn’t know the value of a penny.”

The grand total after ten hours of work was roughly twenty grand! Yes, twenty grand of coinage now being converted into greenbacks. They gave him two shopping bags filled with single dollars. Yes, two bags of singles. 10 grand in each bag filled with Washingtons.

The next day he bought a new used van and went to a travel agency and booked himself a trip to Disneyland. The Booking Agent refused the singles and treated him like a criminal, “Come back with Lincolns.” And he did.

For my reward of backbreaking work, Sonny gave me the shovels and pails. I would like to point out at this time that I have a select few of these pails and shovels available for the low price of 200 pennies.


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