By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003
My routine was the same. I rubbed off the crusty eye boogers and took a long, well-deserved piss. I dressed myself in the first clothes I found on my messy floor. I sold whatever material items I could get for a few dollars. Some days they were books I’d read. Other days they were watches I’d stolen from street vendors. Sometimes, they were clothes from ex-girlfriends that I had pilfered during heated verbal disagreements. I wandered out into the streets with bags of vintage clothes, hoping to sell them to over-priced, trendy shops in the East Village. Some of the girls with a thousand piercings and tattoos who worked the counters would give me good deals on what I’d stolen. I always made up a story about how I had acquired the clothes. Usually, it was the same old line.
"We've moved. We have less closet space. My girlfriend wanted me to try to sell these clothes, so we can get some extra money to pay for her abortion. If we have any money leftover, then we can adopt one of those half-naked, pot-bellied, starving kids we see on TV every day. Just for 43 fucking cents a day... the cost of a cup of coffee (in 1976), I can find spiritual rebirth and enlightenment by sending my money to some kid in the middle of a small village in Africa or South Asia. He'll use the money to buy clothes and food for his seventeen brothers and sisters. And if they ever get a TV, they can watch me get the shit beat out of me on COPS: Live in Mardi Gras."
Sometimes I did not get the money I wanted and I had to beg, borrow, or steal just to scrape together enough cash to buy a couple of drinks. For some reason, bartenders don't give out free drinks anymore to wayward philosophers or jaded artists down on their luck. Originality was dead in those days. Everything original was done by 1996. Originality reached full circle that year. And anything of significance that arrived afterwards was a derivative, a tweaked collaboration of multiple genres and forms from before. Nothing was original anymore, life seemed to have photocopied itself. Skies were not as clear as they used to seem. The birds flew a little slower.
Sometimes I thought about the quality of art, of books, of television, of fashion, of the newest blockbuster movie... all bad clones of stuff we've already seen a thousand times before. I tried to break out of that desperate funk, that undesired rut that I found myself mired in, in a dark alley, with the odor of stale urine lingering about, about to embark on a confrontation with a group of drunken, horny, thuggish girl scouts and their hundreds of packets of China White heroin which they smuggled in their boxes of Mints and peanut butter cookies.
Editor's Note: Vintage is an excerpt from Tenzin McGrupp's fourth novel Bar Hopping with Buhhda.
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.