Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ten Amazing Finds from the 2019 Dixie Highway 90-Mile Yardsale!

Folks, you wouldn't believe the kind of stuff they're selling second-hand down in the Deep South ...

By: Jimbo X

You know, there's not a lot of truly great things about living amidst the ever-growing urban sprawl nightmare that is moderately suburban Atlanta, but one of the few exceptions is all the second hand selling going on.

North Georgia is easily the world's capital when it comes to thrift stores, salvage yards, and junk antique specialities. In fact, the deluge of unneeded and excessive consumerism is so pronounced around the Atlanta epicenter that it even inspired its own unofficial regional holiday in the form of the 90-Mile Dixie Highway Yard Sale.

For those of you unfamiliar with such a thing, basically, it's this weekend long festival that occurs in early June each year, which stretches from the Georgia/Tennessee border all the way down U.S. 41 to damn near the Cobb County Braves baseball stadium. As the name implies, it's literally just a mass of humanity hawking all sorts of random shit all over the highway, and it's both the white trashiest and most endearing thing imaginable about the modern Southland.

To give you a quick geography lesson, there ain't a whole lot of things going on between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Sure, you've got some fairly large pseudo-metropolitan hubs like Dalton and Marietta sprinkled in there, but for the most part, the roadside scenery of U.S. 41 is simply grass, empty fields and big ass rocks and shit. You can literally drive for 15 or 20 miles on certain stretches of the highway and not encounter a single residential, commercial, industrial or retail structure, and unless Interstate 75 is really gummed up, it's very, very unusual to see traffic on the roadway get anything more voluminous than a light trickle. 

Well, all that shit goes out the door during the 90-Mile Dixie Highway Yard Sale. You know all those abandoned lots and empty, muddy fields and rundown pawn shops that, 51 weekends out of the year, are nothing more than tax-delinquent properties and rendezvous spots for methamphetamine deals? Well, for one magical Friday-through-Sunday epoch, those bucolic hills come alive with the sound of commerce, and it's certainly a sight to behold.

It's utterly surreal. You'll see THOUSANDS of cars just parked alongside the road, with waves of humanity flopping around from blue-tarped tent to blue-tarped tent rummaging through old cookbooks and VHS copies of Pocahontas. Sure, if you're actually looking for something with a functional purpose — like furniture or kitchen equipment or bedroom dressings — you can certainly find it at rock bottom prices, but really, the TRUE draw of such a phenomenon is the absolute deluge of kitcsh on display. Long story short, there is just so much useless ephemeral shit all over the place that one could conceivably spend three or four whole days just snatching up random, obsolete knickknacks and doodads. We're not just talking stuff from decades prior you've forgotten about here, we're talking about oddities of capitalism you never knew existed in the first place. If the free market had a freak show, this, undoubtedly, would be the part where the pinhead geek bites the heads off chickens.

So yes, while the 90-Mile Dixie Highway Yardsale may mostly be a buncha' fat, old people trying to sell their 24-year-old George Foreman Grills they never used, it's also a venue to just marvel at some of the weirdest mass-manufactured goods in history. As a matter of fact, I reckoned I would show you ten highlights from my trip to the festivities earlier this year: and you better brace yourself, folks, 'cause you ain't gonna' believe half the shit I'm about to show 'ya.


For all of you Johnny-Come-Latelies, Super Bowl XXV is the one they had in January 1991 — i.e., the one with Whitney Houston, the Gulf War and Scott Norwood single-footedly fucking up the lives of everyone who has (and ever will) reside in Buffalo, New York. Considering that Super Bowl was held in Tampa, it's a little curious how this reflective promotional item made its way all the way to Atlanta's exurbs, but what the hell ever — it was still remarkably shiny, that font on the side of the helmet was classy as fuck and it's sure as hell nice to think about an NFL championship contest NOT involving Tom Brady for a change. I came *this* close to buying it, but then I remembered — "oh yeah, I'm NOT legally retarded again."


Ya'll niggaz don't know how BIG Shaq was in the mid-1990s. With Michael Jordan taking a few seasons off because he fell behind on his gambling debts and the mob killed his daddy he wanted to try his hand at minor league baseball instead, the 7-foot-1 center for the Orlando Magic was about as close as the NBA got to a true pop cultural successor to MJ. Indeed, Shaq was so popular that not only did they let him record an entire rap album about dookie diarrhea coming out of his butt, one toy manufacturer even decided to launch an entire action figure series revolving around O'Neal, complete with one playset that allowed you to break a fuckin' basketball goal, NBA Jam syle. And hoo boy, if you thought that was the ONLY vintage Shaq ephemera just laying around, wait 'til you lay your peepers on this shit right here ...


By all accounts, Shaq-Fu was a horrible goddamn piece of shit of a video game, but at least the Genesis version was a slightly LESS horrible goddamn piece of shit of a video game than the SNES version. For whatever reason, the Genesis version had a couple of more playable characters and a longer story mode, not like anybody ever played the fucker long enough to ever finish it. I also kinda' sorta' wanna' say the Genesis version had more megs than the SNES version, which is really weird because I'm almost certain both games were made by the same developer. So while it's always a pleasant sight to see some old Genny carts out in the wild, you can't help but do a double-take when you see such digital duds still floating around out there in the second-hand markets.


I'm still not sure if this thing was an officially licensed product or a knockoff, but I'm kinda' leaning towards the former — the sculpting on the face looks WAY too professional for it to be something a sweatshop worker in Guadalajara made for that oh-so-lucrative carnival prize market circa' 1998. The ensemble here definitely makes it hard to guess when, exactly, the product came out. The leather vest and black boots and tights would seem to suggest the doll is based on The Rock's first heel turn, which would've been sometime around early 1998, but the fact that his underwear still has his Rocky Maivia initials on it seems to indicate it's more of a product from late 1997, early-EARLY 1998 at the absolute latest. And while I wasn't exactly ambling around the local Toys R Us too often in the late 1990s, I genuinely don't recall seeing these Wrestling Buddies-like products on store shelves at the local department stores, either. So all that to say ... who the fuck knows, really.


Now here's one of those "holy shit, I had no idea this was a thing", uh, things, I was telling you about earlier. I mean, where in the world would you even find a talking Rodney Dangerfield dummy, let alone have the occasion to Google such a thing? Alas, it appears the actual electronic mechanism on the doll no longer worked, so who knows what sort of hilarious quips the contraption spat out. Man, I can only hope that "Hey Kurt, can you read lips? FUCK YOU!" was one of the default Rodney-isms.


Again, we find ourselves treading that fine line between is this real or knockoff territory with these two action figures dedicated to two of the biggest ECW draws of all-time ... which, no, isn't an oxymoron. I think. This is kind of an inverse situation to the Rocky Maivia doll from earlier, where the bodies look all professional and shit, whereas the heads look ... well, off, to say the least. Granted, I didn't watch a whole buncha' WWE in the mid-2000s, but I don't recall RVD ever rocking a goatee at any point in his career, and I don't remember Mike Awesome having an approximately 5-foot gap between his two front teeth, either. Still, you have to dig the craftsmanship on the latter's coif — there's no denying that's one sweet ass plastic mullet.


Such a great assortment of pro rasslin' nostalgia right here, ain't it? Amidst all of the DX-era Jakks Pacific products and Triple H dolls, you might spot a few oddballs, including what appears to be a Toy Biz-era Stevie Ray figurine from back when WCW was still a thing and a Val Venis figure with a face looking like Jeff Daniels got stung by an armada of angry African bees. Still, I have no idea who the hell half of them are supposed to be. In particular, can anybody give me any clues as to who the guy on top, in the powder blue San Diego Chargers underwear, might be?


I ain't even going to try TO give you any profound insights on this one. I mean, there's only so many words one man can say about a zebra-shaped TV set, and most of those are just various permutations of "Oh, holy fuckin' shit." From the looks of it, the TV itself was stitched INTO the zebra, so you'd basically have to dissect the thing to separate the cathode ray tube from the rest of the unit. I'm not sure how old this thing is, but judging from the speaker placement and the fairly minimal number of settings buttons, this thing had to be a relic from at least 20, 25 years ago. Of course, thanks to the big digital switch of 2009, this thing is literally technically obselete, but who knows? With enough patience, you might be able to hook this sumbitch up to a VCR, or maybe even an old Sega Dreamcast. I mean, this thing was practically tailor made for late night sessions of Illbleed and Seaman, and we all know it.


These kinds of things were ubiqitious as a motherfucker when I was a kid, but you kinda' have to figure that toys allowing children to a.) walk around with plastic facsimiles of assault rifles and b.) pretend to be members of the DEA probably aren't the most in-demand products in America's modern inner cities. Still, it's nice to see that such romanticization of the police state is still alive and well in 2019, although one has to wonder if real SWAT members walk around with fucking' daggers out of Predator movie in real life. And along those same lines, what is it, exactly, that makes a mundane wrist watch such an important aspect of role playing as riot squad responder?


If something can legally be sold in the United States, odds are, you're kinda' find somebody trying to sell it at the Dixie Highway 90-Mile Yard Sale. Amidst rows and rows of people peddling boxes of mini-toothpastes and single-serve potatoes, I encountered one merchant selling what appears to be a line of tube socks emblazoned with what appears to be a crudely-drawn and botanically inaccurate facsimile of a marijuana leaf. Furthermore, there was this weird yellow stain on the plastic wrapping which smelled like the combination of cold coffee and mildew. Now, we here at TIIIA never look to jump to conclusions, but if you got a whiff of this stuff ... and saw what the guy selling it looked like ... pretty much the only assumption you COULD have made was, "yep, this motherfucker is expecting to make non-taxable income off a box of weed socks he probably pissed on."

And that, in one sentence, explains what makes the annual yard sale such a beautiful part of living in the American Southland.

In fact, that kinda' sums up what's so great about America, and capitalism herself: everybody's free to spend — and make — as much money as they're capable, no matter how goddamn stupid their purchases or business plans.&

Which, naturally, makes the 90-Mile Dixie Highway Yard Sale the ultimate rejection of communist philosophy: I mean, what greater "fuck you" to Marx than people making legal tender off 25-year-old shitty video games, beat-to-fuck pro wrestling toys and TV sets shaped like fucking zoo animals could ever possibly exist?


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