Thursday, February 27, 2014


It's a rare weekend when I'm in New York that I don't do a once around at the flea market garage on 25th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. This pilgrimage has been going on for years. We started when the flea market stretched across several outdoor parking lots dotting Sixth Avenue and winding around Twenty-sixth Street.
There was a time when we could pick up yardage of vintage barckcloth for a song and fiestaware plates for a dollar. Celebrities and prominent interior designers were out early flashlights in hand scouring the tables for precious finds. Things change, trends change and the value of a dollar has changed. Our, Rick and my, need for accumulating has also changed. We're no longer in need of trying to stock our country store or fill our home with those treasures we just couldn't pass up. The store is gone and our real estate has diminished.
Now we have two storage units filled with our overflow and a daughter who tries desperately to keep us in check letting us know we don't really need another light up globe.
So I can stroll through the aisles of the diminished flea market under the mantle of a mere observer enjoying the oddities on display and the beauty of my comrades in arms. The flea market tends to draw a unique crowd even for New York and I am proud to count myself among them.
Eva doesn't know my name but I'm well aware of hers.
She sets up her racks of vintage clothes every weekend that I've strolled by marveling at her sense of style and total fun. It is to her I owe a fabulous seersucker suit and a half dozen retro vests, my signature article of clothing and my major weakness.
I usually try to come home with one vest from every visit. I figure I can bury a $20 purchase somewhere in my expense account without anyone being any the wiser. Oops, I guess my secrets out.
Last weekend I almost walked away with this box of clip-on ties to go with my vests but I decided I wasn't Brad Goreski or Jesse Tyler Ferguson so I passed them by. I can still carry off a bit of flair but a clip-on is beyond the point of acceptability for someone my age.
I'm a sucker for signage and this Quality Court sign would have been in the back of a cab if weren't so big. Sometimes there are things that even I can't figure out how to justify.
My daughter would have killed me if I had managed to figure out a way to squeeze this mountain lion into the overhead compartment and don't think the thought didn't cross my mind. I've got a real soft spot for the bizarre.
I guess a taxidermied mountain lion fits that profile but even I had to think twice about this doll that resembles Chuckie's creepy evil sister.
I had no idea Hannibal Lecter memorabilia had a market but these masks made me think of fava beans and a nice Chianti.
The designer side of me always gravitates toward what I can put on my wall or place on the living room rug. I can't completely explain my fascination with this Doberman painting, it's kind of anthropomorphic the way it seems to capture such a human stare even if it is a bit menacing.
I did like this marbleized lamp and the red crackle crescent moon bookshelf. It pulls at my shabby side. It makes me think of cabins in the woods with a roaring fake fireplace, a mug of fat-free hot chocolate and a stack of People Magazines.
Every year there seems to be another rumor that the flea market is going to close. It's a bit sad the way the flea market has dwindled to two levels of a parking garage. It has a name but the market really doesn't feel as if it has a permanent home, not like Paris and their Porte de Clignacourt or the first weekend of each month when the streets of Arezzo are taken over by miles of stalls and tables baring embroidered 19th century Italian linens and paintings by obscure artists whose work is still worthy of hanging on a wall. We have antique malls strung throughout the land but they seem to come and go. America has yet to put the kind of value on its pedestrian past the way the Europeans do with more permanent places where you can pick up a 1930's handkerchief with the Eiffel Tower stitched in one corner or a vintage brooch made from some now obsolete Lira and know you can come back decades later and that market will still be there

Hardware Store Lower East Side, Bleeker Street, 1938
Berenice Abbott, photographer
Represented by Lumiere, Atlanta, Georgia

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