Mark Dery on the old, weird eBay

At Hyperallergic, BB pal Mark Dery mourns the loss of "the Internet's kitschiest, most surreal" flea market and laments its new role as "the world's largest mall."

(In the 1920s,) the Surrealists preferred “Les Puces,” as the flea markets on the outskirts of Paris were called. Andre Breton, the group’s self-appointed leader, wrote in his novel Nadja that the market at Saint-Ouen was “an almost forbidden world of sudden parallels” and “petrifying coincidences,” where unexpected encounters with dreamlike objects lurked around every corner.

EBay, the first e-commerce site, was until recently the web’s kitschier, crummier answer to (cultural critic Walter) Benjamin’s arcades or Breton’s Saint-Ouen. In its early years, its hit-or-miss search engine was conducive to close encounters of the absurd kind. Stumbling around the site, you’d find yourself in some obscure corner, staring in slack-jawed amazement at William Shatner’s kidney stone (auctioned off in 2006 for $25,000) or a Lilliputian suit of armor handcrafted to guinea-pig proportions, guaranteed to keep the dauntless rodent “protected and secure in all situations.” Unlike its sleeker competitor, Amazon, whose algorithms ensure you only see things like those you’ve already seen, eBay seemed, for a while, to facilitate chance meetings with the offbeat and the downright bizarre.

Lists of the most curious, absurd, abject, and grotesque eBay auctions have taken their place in the folklore of consumer culture: the grilled cheese sandwich miraculously emblazoned with an apparition of the Virgin Mary, which sold for $28,000; four golf balls (not just any golf balls; they’d been surgically removed from the belly of a python, who’d mistaken them for hen’s eggs); your advertising slogan tattooed, for $10,000, on some cash-strapped woman’s forehead; a corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois; a Dorito shaped like the pope’s miter; the meaning of life, on offer from a seller who claimed to have “discovered the reason for our existence” and was “happy to share this information with the highest bidder” (which he did, for the dispiritingly small sum of $3.26).

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The internet promised open markets, delivered rigged ones, then fake ones, then outright monopolies

Markets don't solve all our problems, but they sometimes produce remarkably efficient systems for producing and distributing goods, and the internet traded on that promise with marketplaces like Ebay (anyone can sell, anyone can buy); Google (anyone can publish, anyone can read), and Amazon (one marketplace where all goods are transparently priced and ranked). Read the rest

"Sculpture" of horse's head yours for $59.99

Eliza Gauger spotted this Horse's Head Beach Wood Driftwood Sculpture Hors Nose Eye Taxidermy Decor Art on eBay. The resemblance is uncanny, don't you agree? Read the rest

On Ebay: the rare, original "woodgrain" D&D set

A mere $5,700 (as of current writing) gets you the 1974 first printing of the game that Tactical Studies Rules used to change the world(s). Read the rest

Own a legit British sign for "Battle Station"

Battle is a town in East Sussex, England. Battle has a railway station. A pilfered road sign directing travelers to Battle Station is currently £23.95 on eBay. "This deserves a good home" writes Ben Goldacre. Read the rest

eBay auction shouts STOP! STOP! STOP!

r/videos rediscovered a remarkable (albeit old) video of an eBay auction for a DVD "backing card"—the art from the box—that warns browsers in no uncertain terms that they are not getting the movie itself. Read the rest

eBay outsider art

Outsider art is big on eBay, a lurking in the shadows of a vast website whose incredible blandness and shonkiness hides a myriad of fascinating subcultures. Paintings of aliens, clowns, Jesus, Trump and the like are fetching wild prices. Read the rest

How to bring the look of women's high fashion into your closet for cheap

Over at eBay, fashion designer/stylist Kelly Sparks, who moonlights as my wife, wrote about how to bring the trends seen in the crazy couture of fashion show runways into a woman's everyday wardrobe: "Five Fall Fashion Trends That Aren't Just for Supermodels" Read the rest

Fun guide to women's vintage clothing on eBay

Do you dig women's vintage clothes? My wife Kelly Sparks is a fashion designer and stylist who has been a hardcore vintage and thrift treasure hunter since she was in high school. Kelly was asked to write a series of shopping guides on eBay and her first one, no surprise, is "The Thrill of the Hunt: A Personal Stylist's Guide to 10 Vintage Items Every Woman Needs In Her Closet." Read the rest

eBay gives up on same-day delivery service

eBay Now is dead, reports Trevor Mogg. The get-it-today delivery option was launched in 2012 in New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago, but was not popular with buyers. Read the rest

eBay's marketplace of "haunted" crap

Search "haunted" on eBay and you'll find a slew of junk that its owners claim is spooked in some way. Usually, that invisible something extra will significantly bump up the asking price. Read the rest

Refrigerator full of Super Nintendo Jurassic Park cartridges could be yours

It's on eBay for $1,500, but the seller is entertaining offers. "No questions or answers have been posted about this item." [via @toastmaster]

Just in time for the new Jurassic World (Jurassic Park) movie that is coming out, you can have your very own refrigerator full of Snes Jurassic Park carts!! There are just about 300 Jurassic Park carts including a handful of CIB copies and a PAL version CIB. I will also include the schlue of other Jurassic Park games: gameboy CIB, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Saturn CIB copies. Also have a CIB Jurassic Park 2 and sealed JP 2 for snes that will be included. And a laser disk movie for kicks and giggles. Fridge and Bacardi not included

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Lee Harvey Oswald's car on Ebay

You snooze, you lose. You have just missed the chance to bid on, and possibly own, the last car driven by Lee Harvey Oswald, which just sold on ebay. Read the rest

Paul Dini's cyber garage sale

Paul Dini is having a garage sale, and you're invited. No, it's not for charity, and these are not big ticket items, it's just, in his words, "Original art, collectibles, One-of-a-kind pieces, animation memorabilia, costumes, and generic crap I don't want to pay storage fees on anymore." It's his collection of mostly unopened toys and action figures; but to geeks, these are Paul Dini's toys! Dini is somewhat of a towering figure in the superhero world for his work as a animation and comic book writer and creator. In addition to being part of the core team of writers on Lost, he is a five-time Emmy award winner, as well as the Eisner award, Harvey Award and several Annie Awards. Now his toys can be yours!

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Buy your own TSA-surplus pornoscanner for $8K

Remember when the TSA spent $113K on Rapiscan pornoscanners that turned out not to work? Now they're selling them off for $8,000. Read the rest

Original 1971 Disney World monorail for sale

The Buy It Now price on this 1971 Mark IV red Walt Disney World monorail cab is a paltry $189K. So far, no takers. LOOK AT THAT CONTROL PANEL. The 1% is wasted on the 1%. Read the rest

Tech financiers fight

Financier Carl Icahn takes aim at Silicon Valley capitalist and eBay board member Marc Andreesson, who profited handsomely after eBay sold Skype to his investment group at a marked-down price: "Icahn says that profit came at the expense of eBay shareholders," writes CNN Money, "and is demanding to inspect 'all books and records' associated with the sale to Andreessen's group. Andreessen says that Icahn is lying: "I dispute all accusations." Read the rest

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