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...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


According to my local public library, 3 of my maximum allotted 50 books are due soon, so as usual, having procrastinated to read them in the prescribed 30 days, I am doing a rush job on all three. It helps that I speed-read (which goes with my speed-typing, as any IRC'er will tell you).

One such book is "Found: The best lost, tossed, and forgotten items from around the world" by Davy Rothbart. I have to return it, like yesterday, so I was flipping thru' it just now, trying to jog my memory why I had taken it out in the first place.

I read the forward from the author (who seems to have a hip-hop sounding fetish, as many young urban whites do, poseurs all, half-in-jest Ali G.'s), and I realised I remembered why. He quotes someone who sent him items for this compendium of bits and bobs found all over the place:

"All these years I've been picking stuff off the street and everyone here thinks I'm a freak. But now I see I'm not alone!". Rothbart continues, "I love that. It's exciting to sense an invisible community emerging from the shadows and finding each other."

My favourite entry in the book so far is this on Pg. 71, which I'll try to reproduce font-wise:

Color: brown, black, yellow, red (on teeth), blue (color of tongue)

Snake has been known to bite off heads.

Snake is not house trained.
Length: 7"
Weight: 45 lbs

Warning, snake is deadly.
Will bite if provoked.

IF FOUND, CALL (501) 3......

Psycho has a strong scottish accent

That's comedy gold, people.

And, guess what? I'm part of that invisible community!! Dear heavens, I'm really a donut short of a Krispy Kreme six-pack, aren't I? Shut up.

It all came about rather forcedly though, and no, unlike almost everyone in that book who seems to collect rubbish as a hobby, quite by accident. They are would-be bag ladies, all. Freaks.

I was visiting my friend's chi-chi condo in Coral Gables, when we came upon four items on top of a Winn-Dixie bag next to an empty parking space. Being a childhood veteran of many an IRA bombing in London tube stations, I would never have approached it, had it not been ON TOP of said bag. But it was, and so we did.

The items were:

- A letter from a woman in Brazil to a man no where near the address we were at
- A can of "Festival" Instant Smelly Crap (obverse side reading, helpfully, in three languages: Merde Puante, Merda Spray - Scheisse!)
- What seemed on distant inspection a piece of poo by a very large dog (turned out to be plastic)
- And a postcard of a red-polished fingernailed hand covered in fur (obverse reading "Meret Oppenheim: Beyond the Teacup")

Who, what, why? You can be forgiven if that was your reaction on reading this above, because I had the exact same reaction then too. What (im)possible combination of events could make a person place these 4 items on top of a supermarket bag in a car park?

When I arrived home, I fortified myself with some Schnapps, and decided to do the unthinkable, and read the letter in Portuguese, which fortuitously I can read. Perhaps there would lie my answer.

It seemed a kind of intro snail mail letter from a Friendster connexion, although I did get the impression the man was married, and this wasn't the missus writing. To the left, it had "Boas Festas" in gold glittery pen, like I used to do in kindergarten class for homemade Christmas cards.

It ended unsubtly with the words:

"Gostaria de ter uma foto sua e tirarei uma de corpo inteiro para lhe enviar." [I'd like to have your photo and I'll take a full-body one to send you]

How I would have given anything, even, say, a plastic piece of poo, to have gotten the letter-sequel.

P.S.: I may send this to Davy Rothbart, I think. But I'm keeping the Merda Spray.


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