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January 23, 2008


Brenda Love

After watching this, you'll never throw anything out again:



Wow. I've had those thoughts, but never in such sober, artful words. Brilliant. You should consider a career as a writer.

Now onto the best part:

"Although there was a mean-looking footlong survival knife with a serrated scimitar blade and a hand grip that doubled as a pair of brass knuckles that we wouldn't have minded having."

I know the feeling. That one piece of junk that sparkles like a jewel.

UF Mike

That is the saddest goddamn thing ever. And that guy at the end is nuts. We expend all of our profoundest feelings for inanimate objects. Thank you, Brenda Love!

Ben, that knife was truly the jewel in the shabby crown of Toomey's Auction House. Well, to be honest, there was also a calendar featuring a seminude woman wearing a snake over her naked breasts and if you lifted the yellow laminated page with the snake on it, she was topless! We weren't the only guy we saw giving that baby some serious eye time while looking around to make sure no one else was looking at us looking.


Hey Ben, this is the real jewel:

"It had the same musty smell and the same musty people and the same sad boxes filled with anonymous junk and the same sad "snack bar" that in the great order of snack bars sits about fourteen rungs below the old-style bowling alley "snack bar" which back in our childhood was about the saddest place you can imagine, what with its air of beyond beatnik squalor that years later we would romanticize but which stank of bad food and abandoned kids and bowling shoe disinfectant, so to say that the Toomey's Auction House snack bar is far sadder than one of those snack bars is the same as saying it is easily one of the saddest and most desolate places in the world."

In my life, I've only read one longer sentence than this. It was in an article on the unintelligibility of 20th century philosophers. You just can't buy a sentence like this, not even at Toomey's auction house!

UF Mike

We consider that a high honor, Dave. The long and winding sentence is designed to punish and torture the reader for the crime of actually paying attention. Actually, Proust was the master of the criminally long sentence. We seem to recall several of his whoppers going on for pages. But then he just sat around in bed in a cork-lined room at his leisure, thinking up new ways to abuse his authorial privileges.


Dave, that is what is known as a "Littonian sentence." Our school couldn't afford those fancy typewriters that included special characters like the comma, the semi-colon, the em-dash, the period, the parentheses, and not all of the upper case letters were functional, so we learned to write so we could type what we were writing--if that makes sense--and it lead to some mighty long sentences purely, unfortunately, coincidentally out of necessity.


What killed me about Proust is that he'd have that sentence going about 20 lines or so, then he'd throw in a parenthetical remark that would run to what, 50-75 lines, then start right back with the sentence he had just interrupted & you had to double back to see what the damn thing was even going on about before the parenthesis took over. At some point all you could do was to say "fuck it" & keep on rambling & wait for the madeleine to kick in.

UF Mike

Jack Kerouac was the Littlestown High School typing teacher.

Hey Jeffers! Yea, Proust was a real prick when it came to the serpentine Alpine switchback sentence. He wrote them solely to send you plummeting off the cliff of comprehension to crash into the heap of frazzled minds piled at the bottom. Did any of that make any sense? Probably not. Do we care? Proust had a funny mustache!

Stacy Horn

Who are you?? That was great. Thanks so much. I just came here from 3 Quarks Daily. I love going through sad boxes like that, though. It's my favorite thing, whatever that says about me. But I love wallowing in someone else's long gone life and wondering about them for a while.


I am from Manheim PA, but haven't lived there in a long time. This post blew me away. I know these places and people too well because my dad used to drag us around to places exactly like this, only on the other side of the river. I could smell the snack stands and see those slack-shoulderd John-Deere-hat-wearing guys like it was yesterday. They'd meet for breakfast at some local diner, hang around those auctions in small groups passing insipid tidbits of gossip. And it seemed like they always wore pine or olive green jackets like a plumber would wear with those 70s workboots.


amazing writer you are, indeed!

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