Unitdaisy and I were so inspired by the (now defunct) drunkgamers.com's garagesaling adventures that we decided to follow their example and searched about Chicago, scrounging for games and, when we were done, forced others to relive our experience.
For those unfamiliar with the term drunksaling, it's simple: it's kamikaze garagesaling for video games! The following events unfurled on August 26th, 2006.
G. Turner: We didn't know whether this week was going to happen or not - the weather reports fluctuated between storm & clear skies so often that it made my head spin. As you can see by the above picture, it's not quite storming but the sky definitely has a tinge of menace to it.
unitdaisy: Still, it doesn't worry me as much as back in the day when we had to wait for buses in the pouring rain.
G. Turner: Why would anyone try to sell this filth? Oh, right - it's easier than cleaning it.
unitdaisy: Goodness gracious! I can't believe someone actually looked at this and thought "Ok, someone might want to buy this."
G. Turner: While running in fear that the sale's disgusting incense-ashtray would attack us, we ran into the following:
G. Turner: An entire block of shuttered hospital, including an abandoned and fenced-off parking lot. It's like our own private Silent Hill, and a mere three blocks from our house!
unitdaisy: Who put up a chain link fence while the parking lot was full and trapped all those poor souls?
G. Turner: I know where we're going for Halloween!
unitdaisy: Only if you find a big pointy mask to wear.
G. Turner: We arrived at our next sale, a neighborhood alleyway garage sale, just in time to run into Chicago's finest:
G. Turner: According to what we gleaned from eavesdropping, these cops are sent to check and make sure those operating garage sales have the proper permits. Of course, they don't actually do that - they just do cursory walks around the sales and conveniently forget to actually ask for documentation. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.
unitdaisy: I think they felt it was beneath them to go around and check for permits; I agree. I would much rather have my police officers tracking down violent criminals, illegal garage sales seem a lesser priority.
G. Turner: Without their valiant protection, I wouldn't have found this bounty of Xbox demo discs!
G. Turner: Or this low-rent Tetris portable!
unitdaisy: I actually would not have minded buying this just to see what music was on there.
G. Turner: Goddamn I can't wait for Harp Hero.
unitdaisy: Yeah, that will come out shortly after "Spoons Hero" and shortly before I move out.
G. Turner: Continuing our theme of unsettlingly dilapidated architecture...
unitdaisy: Chicago is a world class architecture city. This may be the work of a new avant guard designer. Frank Gehry eat your heart out.
G. Turner: There was a time when we once delighted in finding outdated technical manuals. Sadly, those days are far, far behind us.
G. Turner: I ain't afraid of no ghost.
unitdaisy: Hmmm, I'll test that theory later, you'll just never know when.
G. Turner: It was at this point I had to remind the missus that our VCR is deep, deep in storage.
unitdaisy: But, but we could have excavated it! This would have been worth it...
G. Turner: Plug & Play is fun, but not as good as the real thing.
G. Turner: If this were a film site, this would be my find of the week. I'm a huge Peter Greenaway fan, and Prospero's Books is one of my favorites of his. And to think that I would have missed this supplemental text if it weren't for unitdaisy's watchful eye!
unitdaisy: My eyes are perspicacious. (ooo unitdaisy loves using her favorite word!)
G. Turner: Around this time, the weather started getting nasty. Clouds were raging across the sky and the wind was whipping through the trees. However, we refuse to quit unless it's pouring, so onward we pressed! Unfortunately all we found at the next sale was face cream.
G. Turner: Actually, they may be candles. I can't tell. Either way, there are a lot of them, whatever they are.
unitdaisy: Actually you can tell by reading the box label in the picture as I discerned with my perspicacity.
G. Turner: I think we've repeatedly learned that we can't always trust what we read. In fact, I think that was a Lesson of the Week!
G. Turner: This is the filthiest candy dispenser I've ever seen. You couldn't pay me to take that off your hands, much less pay you.
unitdaisy: Why would they not dump the container out before selling it - this is truly the week of the lazy sellers.
unitdaisy: City fauna in it's natural habitat.
G. Turner: Generic teenage rebellion kit, only $39.95!
G. Turner: Sure, we may have not hit the video game goldmine yet, but we're doing gangbusters on the print front. For those who aren't food geeks, this is a first print of Mrs. Kellogg's Science in the Kitchen. Mrs. Kellogg is the author of this health-oriented text, as in the wife of Mr. Kellogg, as in 'Corn Flakes' and 'that guy who ran the sanitarium in The Road to Wellville'. This recipe book, while containing not-so-delicious recipes, represents the culture of dietary and culinary needs of the times. While calling her the late 1800's version of Alton Brown is probably a bit far-fetched, the book was still well-worth the price we talked the seller down to.
unitdaisy: Now we can have healthy bowels.
G. Turner: But is the sale at the top of the stairs, or the bottom?
unitdaisy: Ooo the choices...
G. Turner: Sadly, all that met us at the top of the stairs (those who answered 'bottom' chose poorly) was a box full of Piers Anthony novels. Oh, and some grungy pillows.
unitdaisy: Now listen here, those were lovely pillows and they will be the stars of my sitting room.
G. Turner: unitdaisy's roots are showing.
unitdaisy: So pretty.
G. Turner: Finally, some games! If only I cared more about Trophy Hunter and creating my own floor plans!
G. Turner: I'll take my Sonic any way I can get it. Except in spinball form please, thanks.
G. Turner: Oh yeah, I forgot pictures can capture guilt and preserve it forever. When we walked up to this sale and saw these games, we heard a young kid (six years old, perhaps?) talking to the proprietor of the sale and his father about buying something. They never specifically said what, and it seemed that they'd be talking about it long after we'd be gone, so I darted in, paid for the game I was interested in (Republic), and we started to leave. Just as we had made our exit, we heard the father say 'here's the money, buy the game' to which the owner replied 'oh, they just bought it.'
Stealing from a six-year-old. I feel like a big man now!
unitdaisy: Oh please I have no sympathy for the child. When we arrived he was trying to get his father to buy him all the baseball cards instead of just picking out the ones he wanted. If he hadn't wasted his time being greedy he would have been able to buy the game before we even appeared. What does a six-year old need with a communist simulation anyway? He is much too impressionable to be playing it - we saved him from a life of motorcycle riding and rabble-rousing.
G. Turner: That's true - the game is rated T for Teen. We weren't stealing, we were parenting!
G. Turner: Am I the only one creeped out by the idea that someone's reselling candy on their front lawn? Also, Good & Plenty is delicious.
G. Turner: If we ran an 'image of the week' bit, this would be my pick – hands-down. Just look at how intensely he's shouting while swinging that stunted bat!
unitdaisy: Men who get that emotionally involved in pretend sports are foolish. Yeah I'm talking about you, all you fantasy football players.
G. Turner: This is my pick for materials for the next Brick Flick.
G. Turner: Okay, by this point it was closing in on 2pm and a smattering of raindrops had started to fall from the sky. This 5200, which lacked a power supply (and who knows what else), was in desperate need of a cleaning, and had nothing but terribly common games bundled with it and was terribly overpriced. We pitched a 'more realistic' price to the head of the sale, which resulted in her placing a phone call and, ten minutes later, denying our request. So it goes.
unitdaisy: Yeah, goes back in her basement, cause no one was going to pay the asking price.
G. Turner: I'm not exactly sure why, but this is becoming an increasingly common sight at many garage sales: loads and loads of Official Playstation Magazines and Official Xbox Magazines, but never an actual video game for sale.
unitdaisy: Hey little boy, want something sweet?
G. Turner: Stop trying to sell me laced candy!! It's time to go where people don't know the meaning of sweets – let's head to the thrift stores!
G. Turner: What you see in front of you are our winnings from one of the local Village Discounts, i.e. the chain of resale shops that get really upset if you photograph inside. So that's why these are being photoed on top of a Red Eye newspaper dispenser. And now, thanks to The Village, we have a complete King's Quest set, which kind of makes our earlier King's Quest acquisitions look like a pile of crap. And what's that machine in the bag...?
unitdaisy: An answering machine?
G. Turner: See, that's exactly what I was wondering while standing in the very, very, very long service line. The red screamed 'Famicom' but the rest shouted 'household appliance'. Eventually curiosity won out and I forked over $15 for it. More on the mystery machine in a bit.
G. Turner: Hmmm Wing Commander IV? And for a Mac?
G. Turner: $15?! Maybe another day Mr. Hammill and Mr. McDowell.
unitdaisy: This and bottle of rum, do it yourself recovery.
G. Turner: It is miraculous.
G. Turner: We found these at the second local Village Discount. Those who have been reading us for far too long might be saying 'but, you bought a Game Gear two years ago! Yes but, sadly, shortly after I wrote that Columns article, the sound started dying on it. Plus I never had an A/C adapter for it. And this Game Gear came with a free copy of Sonic 2!
unitdaisy: It fits in your pocket! Your very large pocket, now I hope you have two very large pockets.
G. Turner: While parking our car to hit up the final thrift store of the day, I spied with my little eye the following license plate:
G. Turner: It's hard not to applaud that.
G. Turner: Hey, a Gamecube!
unitdaisy: I knew Nintendo was not clever enough to come up with that name themselves.
G. Turner: Syberia's the only new addition here. It's a fine game, if you're too cheap to buy sedatives.
unitdaisy: Zzzz... wha?
Find of the Week: So, remember that odd machine that we lumped in with the King's Quest package? It turns out that I'm just not all that familiar with my Famiclones: it's a Family Boy! In other words, it's a top-loading, non-Nintendo-created console that plays both NES and Famicom games. Consequently, it plays many of my NES games with much less hassle than my two NES decks, which are much more finicky than the Family Boy (although the Family Boy really didn't like my Castlevania 3 cart). Obviously, the big appeal here is the support for Famicom carts, and that's what cinches it as Find of the Week!
Lesson of the Week: Not so much a lesson but a reiteration of what Chris Kohler has repeatedly written: buy now, or you'll regret it later. I was terribly close to ditching the Family Boy but instead decided to take a chance. Ditto with the Game Gear, and I'm sure that A/C adapter will end up paying for itself now that I won't have to constantly refuel the machine with AA batteries. The one exception was the 5200 we ran across - the console itself is far too common and, simply, we don't care about it enough to buy it without cords.