Have you ever worked in a souvenir store, memorabilia outlet or run an online auction? If so, odds are you have developed a venal, burning hatred for collectors.
Rocks Off isn't going to mince words: collectors are some of the worst people in the world, and rock collectors are the worst among those. We're not talking about someone who wants to own one of George Harrison's old guitars or one of Billy Gibbons' old amplifiers; such things are genuine articles of music history, and can still be used to create new, beautiful things.
We're not even talking about someone who proudly displays an old pair of Elton John's sunglasses on their mantle as a quirky conversation piece, or buys Michael Jackson's "Thriller" jacket for $1.8 million so he can send it on tour to raise money for children's charities.
No. We're talking about the chronic, obsessive-compulsive addicts who make it their mission in life to own every pair of shoes Rod Stewart ever wore, or who have formed an expensive, museum-quality gallery in their rec room featuring framed towels used to wipe sweat from the faces of performers they may or may not have ever seen live, from performances the collector almost certainly didn't even attend. These people are a nauseating hybrid of hoarder and perfectionist who will drive you crazy with all their specifications, rituals and requirements.
No, you can't ship that 30-year-old pair of Tina Turner's false eyelashes like THAT, you must ship it like THIS, or else the eyelashes get bent against the grain and then I CAN'T DISPLAY THEM. Trust me on this, I am a professional with a lifetime's worth of experience in the packing, shipping and displaying of false eyelashes.
Sorry, can't hear you over the roaring howl of the deep, eternal void in your soul. But please, do continue to try and fill it with tiny pieces of those who have actually accomplished things.
You can keep yourself from turning into one of these people. Simply have a look at the following items which were actually auctioned off. If your reaction is "Seriously? Someone would rather have that than money?", you're fine. If your reaction is "I don't see a problem, that's a perfectly legitimate thing to buy," then please seek help soon before it's too late and you're buried alive under thousands of dollars worth of Eddie Vedder's old jorts.
Justin Timberlake's Half-Eaten Toast: After Justin Timberlake finished an early-morning interview at New York radio station Z-100, the enterprising morning DJ found the half-finished French toast the singer/actor had left behind and got an idea. He auctioned off the breakfast remains on eBay and wound up selling it for $3,154. It was purchased by a fan who said she planned to freeze-dry it, seal it, then put it on her dresser.
Pretty sad, yes, but even sadder than that is it's not even the first time someone has auctioned off half-eaten toast: Famous auction house Christie's once sold a piece of toast someone claimed to have swiped from George Harrison's plate at the start of Beatlemania and then had frozen for nearly 30 years. It sold for only $450, which seems paltry compared to Timberlake's sum, but then, Harrison claimed he always finished his toast and the auctioned toast in question couldn't possibly have been his.
Scarlett Johansson's Used Tissue: In December 2008, actress / singer Scarlett Johansson went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to promote one of the worst movies we've ever seen, The Spirit. She did so while suffering from a cold she allegedly caught from Samuel L. Jackson at a promotional appearance for this wretched waste of celluloid, and Leno handed her a tissue with which to dab at the snot gushing noticably from her nose (we may be exaggerating slightly).
Johansson joked "This is Sam Jackson's cold, so bid high!" just before blowing her nose with the tissue. NBC then placed the snotrag on eBay, where it sold for $5,300. All of that money went to benefit the charity USA Harvest, but that's no excuse.
Bryan Adams' Unwashed Socks: No, these weren't sold from a Japanese vending machine, because they did not belong to teenage schoolgirls but instead to a 45-year-old Canadian two-hit-wonder. Bryan Adams ditched a pair of sweaty Armani socks in the back of a limo after a concert, and the limo company decided that rather than do something sane with them (wash them, return them, etc.) they would auction them off as-is.
Somebody out there loved "Summer of '69" enough to buy Adams' dirty socks for 600 pounds, which we're told is no small sum of real money. This, despite the fact that Adams was four years old in the summer of 1969, and has admitted that the song is mostly about getting all nostalgic over one's first blowjob.
Britney's Book Reports (Yes, That's Plural): One can almost understand the draw of owning the infamous umbrella Britney Spears used to attempt to send some paparazzi to their final reward. It's somewhat confusing, then, that the umbrella auction was shut down before it could complete, but several auctions of Spears' old homework have gone off without a hitch.
Book reports on works by Toni Cade Bambara, Kurt Vonnegut, and Sophocles have all been auctioned off, some more successful than others - Spears' report on Bambara's Raymond's Run far exceeded expectations by selling for $1,900, while her report on Sophocles' Antigone only brought in a disappointing $200. The fact that so many of her old book reports have been so highly sought after makes Spears a much more successful literary critic than most writers we know, including ourselves.
We're going to go curl up under a table with a half-finished bottle of Southern Comfort that once belonged to Sebastian Bach for a few minutes.
Everything Elvis Presley Ever Touched: Okay, we're back. Elvis fans: they're a unique brand of crazy. Come to think of it, the whole country kind of went nuts in the mid-fifties, when people were either worshipping Elvis' gyrating crotch or protesting it like it was the Devil. Well, that kind of revolutionary hip-swiveling has carried over into the memorabilia industry. With Elvis Presley dead - supposedly - people will cling to anything with even the tiniest, most tenuous connection to the King.
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Things such as scarves, jewelry, furniture, cars, cigar boxes, pill bottles, cups, his draft card, a Christmas tree-shaped TV antenna, a macrame plant holder, a single billiard ball, a tree limb that fell during his funeral, and some of the hair he had shaved off when going into the Army have all gone to the auction block. Leslie Hindman Auctioneers tried to auction off some of the tools used in the King's autopsy, but the funeral home put the kibosh on that... most likely so they can sell those tools themselves someday.
Elvis has been dead (supposedly) for over 30 years, his bones no doubt picked clean by now, yet they will never be picked clean enough to satisfy the cravings of the collectors. Lord have mercy.