"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rant about something minor

Okay, now you know I'm feeling better, cuz I'm pissed off.

I had a switch on a lamp break. The lamp's 60 years old and I expect to hang onto it for another 30, so I went out to find a replacement part. I live in an older blue-collar neighborhood, where we try to fix things, rather than throw them away and buy newer inferior goods. My neighborhood hardware store, which was famous for having everything - including spare vacuum cleaner parts - got bought out by a major chain after the owner developed Alzheimer's, so I went to the nearest big box store (you know the one) and dug through a bin of lamp sockets. All but one of them were broken; they were so cheap, they didn't even survive the trip to the store. In order to have the lowest-priced goods, they stock goods that are just barely held together; my old one was brass, the ones being sold were electroplated cardboard with plastic moving parts - it would take a molecular sieve to put any less metal on them.

I went to another place. Same story. I briefly considered going through junkyards to find what I want (My neighborhood junkyard was recently bought by the St. Paul Port Authority as part of a gentrification program, by the way).

Because I live in a metropolitan area of 2000000 people, there is a place that specializes in lamp repair; those of you who live in remoter areas - good luck with your tickytack lamps. I had to wait until they were open (lamp repair not being a major business) and then drive the 20 miles to get the part I wanted. They exist to restore $20000 Tiffany lamps to $30000, so their idea of profit margin is somewhat skewed, but they had what I wanted.

So I bought the part and made the repair and it only cost me a two day wait, 50 miles of driving and twice the cost of a new lamp.

There is a world between those who change residence every 5 years and don't bother moving their lamps, but buy new ones to suit the new decor and those who buy lamps as investments and status symbols to decorate the mansions they serve rather than inhabit. We tend to think that the people who hate America because it's destroying their way of life live in quaint villages in remote areas, but I'm thinking I'm becoming one of them.

And it's not even a lamp I like.


Kel said...

Glad to see that you're feeling better ;)

See ya Saturday?

arah said...

With a story like this, we need a photo of said lamp!

So, that lamp shop on West 7th near downtown didn't provide? They've helped me resuscitate an old lamp.

Which dump has been gentrified? I hope it's not the one on Water St.

Glad to read that you're feeling better!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Perhaps this tells you more about me than you care to know, but I actually consider this to be not a minor problem, but a symptom of a major one - viz., a wasteful society built on the shifting sands of planned obsolescence.

When Yeats wrote the line you quoted in a previous post - "Things fall apart" - I don't think he meant within weeks of being manufactured, two days after the warranty runs out. When my toaster breaks, I don't want a new one - I want the old one fixed so it doesn't just end up in a landfill; and I want it NOT TO HAVE broken after a mere three months because it was crappily made. I'll pay MORE for a good one that will last 15 years or more, as it ought to.

I have too much broken sh*t in my house and my shed and my garage. This country needs to start manufacturing things - well-made things - again instead of overpaying speculators who ruin the economy.

Man, I'm an even bigger crank than you are! Luckily, I'm cranking out here, on your blog, so no one will ever know.

nwgdc said...

Wow. You need...NEED!...to meet my brother-in-law. Seperated at birth, I tell ya.

Glaven: Whatever happened to that sink Teh 'Bride picked up?

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Nic - Teh Sink(tm) is STILL rotting in our backyard! Still! I should post a pic of it now. Even Teh 'B. admits it's beyond reclamation at this point, but yet it sits there still.

She has since picked up other "items" from our neighbors' trash.

Cue Theme to Sanford and Son ...

brothergrub said...

I work for a 120 year old decorative arts company that specializes in restoring decorative elements of Historic Churches, Theaters and Public Buildings. This includes decorative paint schemes, decorative plaster, scagliola, stained glass, murals and mosaics. You wouldn't believe the things that sometimes get "replaced" in these historic buildings. Beautifully made Louis Sullivan lights, ornate marble, decorative wood window frames. I have become a hoarder of all things old and beautifully made. Not sure what to do with it all but I can't stand to see it thrown out. This summer I built my girls a playhouse and used discarded decorative wood window frames - Way nicer than anything I could have purchased...

J-ManRunner said...

Glad to hear your feeling better Steve!

Andrew said...

Across 7th from Wescott's antiques, I think its Terry's or something like that. He does a ton of lamp repair and will, or used to, sell the parts too, good quality used stuff. Good luck. Glad to see you back to your old crabby self.

Beth said...

So glad you are feeling better and grumpy again. :)

SteveQ said...

G., how nice that someone knows the reference (I had someone think it was Chinua Achebe)... I was thinking of a couple lines later "anarchy is loosed upon the world" or something like that - I'd have to look it up. How ivory tower of us effete snobs to denigrate the ubercapitalists.

Two people mentioned the same shop and I'd actually been there once to replace the cord on an appliance, but I'd forgotten it. Of course. West 7th. Duh.

Arah, sorry, but I post very few photos (my next New Year's resolution), but if you rent "Le Samourai" - and it's a film worth seeing - the same one shows up in the background!