Lately I’ve found myself becoming intolerably hateful to just about everything. If you’ve been anywhere near me in the last few weeks, it’s possible you’ve gotten a dreary, but well argued ear beating about the awful state of the world and how everyone is a total drag. Even I’m over me right now, but the first and most important step to no longer being an epic twat is to recognize you’re being an epic twat.
Why am I so unhinged and awful to be around? The identity hustlers on the left and right have opened the dump valves on their hair trigger outrage tanks and now we’re all swimming in a sea of unreasonable posturing and overblown stories about thought crimes. Corporate entertainment has internalized these toxically fallacious outlooks and mobilized them to sell products. It’s clowns to the left, jokers to the right. Forever.
All these people who think they’re participating in radical political acts or retrograde patriotism are simply plugging into abhorrent off the shelf ideologies. There is no revolution. And if there was, not only would it be televised, there would be commercials run every 9 minutes and it would be produced by Ryan Seacrest. What’s the point of even having a strong reaction to this sort of nonsense? All I’m doing is making myself unhappy and being a stone cold bummer.
It’s all because of the tv shows and podcasts I’ve been listening to are designed to put cunty thoughts into your brains like weird little necrotic worms. All I absorb is a mixture of academic nihilism, reactionary commentary, and comic book drama made for man-children.
But there’s one show that helps reverse the foul tide: American Pickers. That’s right, my favorite show is about two weirdos driving around to the junk hordes of old coots. They get elbow deep in America and identify the odd fetishes of their fellow collectors. This is a show about people who love the past.
In no particular order, here are some things I like about the show:
I see old people. Television would have you believe that the world is sort of like Logan’s Run, everyone over 30 just gets eliminated and recycled. Not only does this show feature a lot of old timers, it venerates their experiences and showcases their lived experiences.
Quality and craft is valued. The only reason any of the old uni these guys collect is still around is because it was made well. Looking around my loft, I don’t see anything made in the last 15 years, other than books, I would imagine will make it another 15. Even so called artisan products I own are total pieces of shit.
It shows what balanced self interest looks like. The stars of the show obviously want to make a profit on the things they buy. That means they have to buy low and sell high. This is the interesting tension of the show. What will the collector let the piece go for? What is it actually worth?
The pickers can be seen taking a chance and bargaining hard, but they also resist outright thievery and often give people more than they ask for if the piece is obviously special and the seller is ignorant to the value.
They seem to seek win-win partnerships, which benefit all the stakeholders, including Antique Archeology’s customers.
It’s a politics and religion free zone. The entire focus of the show is the adoration of cool old stuff. One can imagine any number of tedious critical theory perspectives about the fetishization of relics from a less egalitarian society, but this show isn’t playing that game.
The pickers are fans of old things, like to make a buck, and desire to treat the people they run into fairly. Many of the sellers they deal with are real deal outsiders, yet they are never minimized or ridiculed. To use some of the high faultin’ theory I learned in college, the gaze of the show is kind.
The antiques are windows into the history of average people. One of the more noble goals of Howard Zinn’s social justice focused People’s History and Thaddeus Russel’s politically opposite, libertarian minded, A Renegade History of the United States, is to shift the historian’s focus away from the powerful and towards the average and overlooked.
Most of the objects the pickers end up getting were not impossibly rare at the time they were made. For every rare model Indian Motorcycle Mike finds, they grab ten rusty old dirt bikes. Well made industrial fixtures from grungy job sites find new life in high end restaurant bathrooms. Metal signs advertising farm equipment authenticate craft bars with heirloom vegetable mixers.
Mike and Frank seem to be happy. I’m sure the leads of this show have hard days and I get that this shit is about as scripted as a Kardashian show. But they at least have a positive vibe
It’s pleasantly repetitive. This is the kind of show you can throw on in the background and go to sleep. It’s one of the only shows I like while under the influence of the Devil’s Cabbage.
It reminds me of my mom. She loves all that old, clutter nonsense. She’s a terrible collector, though. She will spray paint the coolest old iron antiques with gold spray paint without a second thought. She gives zero fucks.
That’s it. Watch that shit and feel better about your fellow North American monkeys.