Amoeblog

Dumpster Diving Story

Posted by Whitmore, May 12, 2008 08:56pm | Post a Comment


As a child I spent many of an hour dumpster diving, trash picking and rummaging where I shouldn’t have been rummaging. In my neighborhood, Wednesday was the night-- trash night. I’d sneak off after dinner in search of treasure, check out all the neighbors' garbage cans, boxes of junk curbside, apartment building dumpsters, and I’d be back home an hour or so later, laden with exotic booty from the world over. My mom would usually yell at me to get my latest cache out of the house, “That crap might have bugs in it, for Christ sakes!” But it wasn’t all infested! In fact, I still have some of that ‘crap,' and some of that dumpster swag still decorates my parents' house.


Over the years I’ve lugged home great pieces of furniture, collectible books, pottery, artwork, glass wear, jewelry, you name it … and once I found something that altered and twisted my thinking forever. I found it right there on Franklin Avenue right down the way from the Shakespeare Bridge in the Los Feliz district in Los Angeles. Stuck to the bottom of an empty trash can was an LP from 1963 on Vanguard Records, Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo by Sandy Bull. Back then I was just an innocently corrupt thirteen year old Catholic school boy, but already on the long path I’m still unraveling today-- that of a musician. I had just started taking guitar lessons, and as could be expected, I was struggling with all the important fundamentals: getting the hang of bar chords, finger picking, playing those newbie-guitar standards like “House of The Rising Sun” and “Knocking on Heaven's Door,” and trying to convince my parents to let me grow my hair long. Anyway, I got home, I threw this Sandy Bull record on the turntable, turned it up and it blew my freakin’ pubescent mind.

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One Man's Basura is Another Man's Trash - 2

Posted by Whitmore, April 30, 2008 09:44pm | Post a Comment

At one time in my life I thought of myself as one helluva talented dumpster diver and a professional son of a bitch with an eye for detail who, in a micro-second, could spot a rare trashed treasure at a hundred paces. Since I have some history and knowledge on this subject, and since these are tough economic times when many of us need to find ways to cut corners and you may be tempted to take up the hobby of dumpster diving, I thought I’d suggest some rules of etiquette and some safety measures that novices may not have considered. Here are some tips:

#2- Never climb into a dumpster at a hospital; you don’t  mess with medical or hazardous waste. That’s a job for HAZMAT. Between sick sheets, icky crap and errant needles, it's not a good place to hang… besides, I’m pretty sure you would find nothing worthwhile. If there was any good stuff to be had, like furniture or books, it’s already been pilfered by hospital employees, that’s why they work there.

#14- Beware of dumpster lids, they’re heavier than you think and lids have a tendency to slam down suddenly and unrepentantly in windy or even slightly breezy conditions. As with many aspects of the dive, shit happens quickly, and when you least expect it. I’ve always blamed accidents on the "garbage ghost," that nasty invisible demon that lurks in many a dumpster, protecting its secrets, seeking revenge for all its stolen and landfill-destined artifacts.

#11- Wear protective clothing that covers your legs and arms. Gloves are always a good idea, if for no other reason than you won’t leave any fingerprints. Wear good shoes or boots with solid soles:  sharp objects are not a lot of fun and are inevitably hidden.

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One man's basura is another man's trash,

Posted by Whitmore, April 22, 2008 09:48am | Post a Comment

Ever since I was a kid learning, practicing and mastering the sophisticated skill of dumpster diving, I’ve always been kind of fascinated by all things garbage. I think that’s why I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was young, to unearth and study ancient crap, and then take it home and put it under my bed.

Rubbish, trash, junk, waste, debris, rubble, crap or whatever pithy expression best suits the smell, garbage has always been one of civilizations greatest, never ending problems. I thought I’d occasionally dig into the tricky world of rubbish and blog some numbers, pictures, anecdotes or whatever gushes from my filthy, litter packed desk. For example, a 2004 study conducted by the University of Arizona points out that perhaps as much as forty to fifty per cent of edible food in the United States never gets eaten, an estimated $43 billion worth of edible food is tossed out every year. And here is something for Earth Day: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex in the North Pacific Gyre has plastic floating debris covering an area thought to be at least the size of Texas, or possibly twice the size of the continental United States. There is an estimated 100 million tons of flotsam in the North Pacific Gyre region alone.
 
Here is my favorite favorite song that's sort of about trash.