Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bowling for Food Stamps

Spotted by the always-alert PZ whilst I was navigating the vehicle through shoals of rusted cars drifting aimlessly or with a desperate aggression around the nearly-deserted Southland Shopping Center in Parma Hts., south of Cleveland. Traditional retail is cooked, as exemplified by the empty Southland stores, but there is a remarkable upsurge in thrift stores, which is different from previous recessions. In the past, thrifting declined as recessions took hold and people retained their old goods, instead of discarding them as they bought shiny new replacements. When the recession waned, the pipeline of second-hand merchandise would begin to flow again.

In the current downturn, there seems to be a sharply increased supply of (and demand for) cheap used clothing, appliances, books and household doo-dads that inverts the old recessionary thrifting equation, and suggests that the "D" word may soon be applied. The Pearl Road-West 130th Street crossroads now features three big thrifts: the flagship Value World on Pearl, and a brand new Goodwill literally a block south of it, in a fast-changing shopping strip behind the Firestone outlet (a new ultra-cheap grocery store is set to open next to the Goodwill in a large retail space formerly occupied by a traditional food palace).

The Pearl-West 130th trifecta was completed when something called Unique Outlet (no relation, I was told, to Unique Thrift Stores) opened last month on West 130th side of Southland, in a former sporting goods superstore, with the usual thrift store fare but also with huge racks devoted entirely to leftover merchandise from the now-defunct Steve and Barry's. I found an astounding LP there, the cover of which can be seen over at one of my other rapidly proliferating blogs, Vulture Stew

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


January: Brutally cold, rarely above 25 degrees F, often down to sub-zero single digits, 40"+ of snow. February: started like January, then a break, with temperatures rising to the 40s, heavy clouds, perpetual twilight gloom, rain, occasional snow. Previous month's massive snowpack completely melted away. Everything filthy with salt and black dirt. The implication that this is just a surface manifestation of what we're breathing daily here in an aerated suspension. Camera stays indoors, and so do I.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Do You Know Me?

Found art. Character portrait, oil on canvas, painted by Enrico Frattini, 1890-1968. Born on the island of Capri. Click image for close detail.

There's very little information about this artist online. Any data beyond what's reported here would be very welcome.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Water Damage

Minor water damage to window frames and interior walls from heavy snows melting into leaky gutters resulted in the exposure of this remarkable wallpaper from the 1950s or '60s.