[slidepress gallery=’davidmcgowan-american’]

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David McGowan

I’m One Of Those Americans

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A garage sale is the sale of miscellaneous household goods, often held in the garage or front yard of someone’s house.

“My good friend David McGowan has been working on a very personal photo essay since last summer. He’s been documenting garage sale culture in West Michigan as the economy continues to decline and people reevaluate what they truly need and what has to be sold. What’s surprising is that as bad as things seemed only six months ago, the bad news has only gotten worse and there isn’t a whole lot of hope that things will improve. At least not for a while. People like to say that when the country gets a cold, Michigan gets pneumonia, and that certainly holds true these days. Things are bad in the rest of the country and even worse in Michigan.

I’m One Of Those Americans is respectful and honest and taps into our collective anxiety and resignation. What’s unnerving is that in this story, I fear we’re only at Chapter One and that the rest of the story is going to get a whole lot darker.”


Brian Widdis

Detroit, MI


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132 thoughts on “david mcgowan – garage sale”

  1. DAVID McG,

    Nice surprise this morning after an early wake-up from my jetlag (started commuting back and forth with Europe). Another piece of work that we have seen develop on Road Trips and it is a good feeling to see it published here. I very much enjoyed watching the essay, being transported into the lives of these average or ordinary americans facing unusual tougher economic times… I like the fact that your essay does not get into the drama that some may face…it is subtle, suggests rather than demonstrate…There is this great feeling of nostalgia of the past, of the “better” days… Of course, some will say that the edit could be tighter… but it worked for me…. I think it is the complete assembled body of your essay that works for me rather than any particular individual photographs… Some of your individuals pictures taken out of the whole may lack something and in my view and could have benefited from a stronger composition but altogether, which I think was your intent, you have been able to create a mood and I was touched by the whole essay….so for me, it is a success…. Regarding my point about composition etc, I just bought a book in Europe from Larry Towell “The World from my Front Porch”. Great example of a family album and of work that you can do right where you live without having to travel the world… While these are family shots etc, the composition is superb and each photograph taken in isolation is also great…A good example of how to take our family albums and photographs to the next level….You may want to check it out….

    Hope all is well with you David and hope to see you sometimes. Congrats again.


  2. Sheila Johnson

    I feel really touched by this work. I’m an American who has recently made the switch to starting life in Europe (Spain) and I often feel such a tug on my heart for the “real” America, made up of ordinary folks- that you have captured so well here.
    I financed my transcontinental move by having, you guessed it, a GARAGE SALE! One of many over the course of my life… they are always punctuating points that represent a mad drive to follow faith and cut my ties with my possessions in order to live true to my dreams. Of course, there are always things I miss— I can empathize greatly with the guy who had to make the heartbreaking choice to part ways his old truck, even if it was a present for his 16th birthday. I’m one of those people that also like to keep some haunting objects from my past that serve as a vivid reminder of who I once was, and who I may become.

  3. I really enjoyed your essay David, very intimate. Photographing the ordinary-everyday is not easy. That you have created a sense of time and place, peopled with humanity is a measure of your success. Obviously a labour of love.

    Loved the fade from the “bride” photograph.

    Best wishes,


  4. David! :)))

    wow, what a terrific surprise indeed to watch this before tossing off to teach. It’s so wonderful to have seen this story progress from it’s first incarnation (focused on the ‘objects for sale’) to the more mature, more evocative and more accepting of circumstances essay that it has become. I absolutely love the edit and thing it indeed bridges the right gap between faces/profiles/people and objects-for-sale (glad to held tightly onto the Watergate shot) and envirnoment (though would still love to see more of that). Some of the environmental photographs are the most powerful and evocative and still silences, and expresses for me all that despair that comes bubbling up amid the difficulties of shifting life. I think the photograph of the tree hung with shirts is absolutely knock-out dead haunting and heartbreaking: a bereaved Christmas tree, a tree after the Johnstown flood, the palpable death there clinging. so too the empty parking lot transition to the lake…the boat for sale, adrift dry, in the apple orchard…and the portraits are, as always powerful. The portrait of the woman who is having the garage sale to raise money for her son’s tombstone is just drop-dead profound…and an example of the intensity and maturity that this project has taken on over time as you’ve attended more, spoken to more people, watched more: that garage sales are not just to raise cash from job loss/bad economics, but for other things both joyful (summer clothes, family trips, extra cash) and tragic (to pay for the cemetary marker for a lost child)…and all those small details: the woman holding the photograph whose 1 finger nail is significantly shorter than the other too, the scar on the man’s chin, the mismatched socks, the mis-tapped sign, etc etc etc…and i too love the introduction piece, to introduce the people, and then the body of the story, follow by the quiet coda, thank you…..it’s deepened, and enrichened and i’ve really enjoyed it…as a book, i imagine the voices of the people, their stories, their reasons…the edit is superb as well as the inclusion of old pics that are strong and the addition of all the new stuff (love the opener)….

    my only regret David: that soulful and melancholic picture of the Garage Sale sign in the field with the country road tailing and stretching away into the distance…(maybe for a final pic??)…where did it go?…the road…isnt’ that the real part of all garage sales? ;)))

    Wonderful, powerful, thoughtful and humane….

    not a lamentation but a celebration of the small, quiet moments that accumulate in each of our lives that build up a house of a lifetime…..

    congratulations David…great stuff!


  5. I have a problem with slide shows and this one is no exception. When constructed the way this one is, I’m absolutely at the mercy of the maker, as far as pacing and thinking goes. I can stop but I can’t speed up, I either have to listen to the music or have to turn it off. In short, I feel like I’m at the movies, the subject matter is intriguing and I’d love to spend some time with it, but I can do nothing but follow what the film editor served up. Now, film editors are pros at making the work flow. Slide show makers are not. Solution? If one MUST serve up a slide show, I’d love an option of viewing the contents one by one, without music, at my own pace. Then I might be able to actually see the images the way I need to see them, and perhaps be able to make some possibly helpful comments on them, instead of just posting this stupid one.

  6. David McG (and DAH):

    Stoop has a very important point, one i thought about while looking at the essay. For example, yesterday i watched Larry Towell’s MAGNIFICENT Essay Train of Thought (at magnum motion) and there the viewer is able to control the speed or films/framing…i spent a bunch of time with the essay, both listening to the audio (Larry’s poem and music) and without the audio, slowly and then examing slowing some of the pics that broke my cut….I looked at David’s essay 2xs this morning before writing, letting the ‘film’ sit inside me, but now, as a viewer and photographer, i want to go back to specific pics…and linger…that’s something for us to consider :))…

    this aside, I’m so please to see David’s essay finally up and speaking :)


  7. what i mean about linger: you can stop the movie for sure, but you can’t ‘fast-forward’ or click back and forth between pics (which is what i love to do with all these essays, like i do with a book)… you cant click on specific pics…make sense?…ok, running….hugs,b


  8. Another essay I’ve been waiting to see here on Burn…

    David, it feels like a lifetime ago that you started this project, back when Michigan’s economy was on the slide but had not yet fallen off the cliff. I live in the eastern part of the state so know what I’m talking about. To see your essay now is more poignant than ever. You were prescient in starting it, my friend. Unfortunately.

    It believe this essay is stronger than ever. Your introductory narration gives it a personal touch. That and your choice of title make it clear that you are not standing back as objective photographer/documentor but are right there in the middle of the story.

    David, your technical abilities as a MM artist shine here. There is a “trueness” to every note you hit. Nothing is done for effect; it all rings true. The use of “snapshots” posted to the wall is brilliant. And, to me, the size of the edit was perfect. You kept my interest throughout.

    Where I might be inclined to pick out individual shots for comment in other essays, I’m not inclined to do it here. This work is all of a piece and calls out to be critiqued as such. My only suggesion is to keep going. We’re coming into another garage sale season here in Michigan and I encourage you to take more pictures and continue to work on this project. There is more desperation than ever in 2009 and it will show up in what people choose to sell. I would imagine your audio will become all the more heartwrenching too.

    Whether this becomes a book or a short film, it deserves to be seen by the public. It definitely speaks to the times we are in. Excellent work, David.


  9. david MC

    wondered where you have got to and here it is.. just great.. love the openeing narration and the photos on background – genius..
    the portraits opening up really make it personal.. so much more personal than it would have been.. and the title.. you really have nailed it my friend.. some brilliant individual photographs.. gentle music.. background noise.. really able to connect here and climb inside the resigned feeling of what you are photographing..

    never mind the garage sale – would love to see you sell this somewhere.. could see it on any number of media sites who may have money.

    it’s been said before – i could have watched more of this.. would have enjoyed it for much longer.. i think that is true of several essays on burn now.. it is an excellent job you have doing, regardless.

    just great.
    good luck getting enough work off this presentation to remove the need to sell from your ‘god box’

    hope you will stick around – missed your voice here.
    david b

  10. David, great work giving an insight into the people. I found the photo of the woman holding the garage sale for her son’s tombstone particularly fascinating and it drew me into wondering more about the people’s individual stories.

    Maybe it’s just curiosity from somebody on the other side of the Atlantic, but I’d love to know something more of the process, people sorting through their treasured possessions and weighing up their value; sentimental vs monetary. I can see from above that this essay has been developed with feedback and comment and I apologise if this has been covered before!

    Great stuff


  11. Great multi media piece..
    love the 2 audio tracks (after narration),
    very effective…
    the great US of A
    the real US of A..
    captured with respect and
    Perhaps your story is also about letting go…
    not just as a result of the economy?!?

  12. kathleen fonseca

    Well, i just loved this! The content was, well, it made me cry. Like Sheila i am an American living abroad and this essay captures so much of my people, my family, my country that it filled me with yearning to be back and be one with them during these hard times. There’s a spirit and optimism here that feels so American to me, that is part of who i am and when times are difficult that’s when we come together in this spirit, that’s when, for example, hot casseroles find their way to the front porch of Jim’s house from someone who knows he and his wife lost someone close to them and might not be up to cooking tonight, that’s when a conversation in front of the supermarket turns into a plan for a BBQ on Sunday and hey, let’s ask the whole neighborhood, everyone can bring something and it will be fun. That’s when people keep an eye out for jobs for those who don’t have them, fix each other’s cars, furnaces, whatever, the smiles get bigger for each other and people step over the curb onto the grass lawns of neighbors they’ve never spoken to just to say hello. I’m not saying that’s unique to America but these are my memories of my people and this essay sings of that resourceful optimistic spirit that i have always loved. The photos are all wonderful. Treasures each and every one. Thank you, David, this essay says “chin-up, we can do this!”

    As far as format, i really liked hearing the sounds of the garage sales over the photos. The birds, the chatter, it was great. Like i was there. The only thing missing was the smell of new-mown grass :))) The “fade to blur” that you used a few times makes the eye then have to focus for the next shot. It was kind of uncomfortable for me. Also, and this is just really me..i didn’t really like the second part being photos “tacked’ onto plywood though it made sense and worked with the theme of your slideshow. The photos are THAT good that anything more than just seeing them with a neutral space around them stole something from their magic for me. I think the plywood idea would have worked for a final photo, as sort of a THE END summation that says that even (and most especially) family memories are disposable during times like this and there’s nothing that can’t be sacrificed and relegated to the sale bin. We will do what we must to survive. That would have been a final jolt that would have said so much. But this is just my opinion. The essay is utterly, totally, stupendously wonderful. CONGRATULATIONS!

    A parting thought for these times..i read a quote once by an Eastern European woman who had been dispossessed by any one of the conflicts in that area, or even earlier during one of the World Wars, cannot recall and it doesn’t matter. But she said “There’s no real estate except memories”.


  13. David McGowan,

    This is a very moving piece, well done.

    I grew up in flea market, yard sale culture, some of my earliest memories are of “hawking my wares” to the flea market crowd. Often I was the consumer, but mostly I was selling stuff to make a buck. We would pack an old 58′ Chevrolet truck to the brim, and head out before sunrise on any given weekend. Garage sales, pawn shops, thrift stores and flea markets play an important role in the Four-Corners region, the economy here also plays it’s part I’m sure.

    To this day, my mother makes her living by packing up the Jeep every weekend, and “selling”. Driving as far south as Kirtland or Shiprock. The Neighbors in Durango have put an end to the Yard Sale, forcing her to fuel up and sell at the markets. In this area, as I am sure is true across America, you have the “lifers” and the “one timers”. My mom is the first; selling, collecting, and reselling. I often wonder if it’s really worth it, by the time you add up the time, energy and gas money- but then again- for many it has become a way of life.

    My own memories of tracking down the elusive garage sale, or spending a day under the blazing New Mexico sun standing guard to a card table full of odds & ends have mostly been fond momories! I sure the economy will continue to play an even stronger role in the proliferance of garage sales in the near future, as cardboards boxes find their way to every American street corner!

    Thank you for this sharing this essay!

    Cheers, Jeremy

  14. This is one of those photo-essays that reinforces and affirms one’s belief in photography as a medium of art as well as of information. It makes me realize that I should jump out of my chair and take my camera and go out shooting so that some day I am able to be as good as this. By choosing a simple and everyday subject (Garage Sale) which can be overlooked by many, David has conveyed the message (information regarding the effects of the present day economic crisis on the general people) very close-to-heart manner and yet so successfully and in such a strong way that probably even earth-shattering photos of devastation could not have made such a statement so close to heart! I am in love with this presentation. Thanks for sharing.

  15. panos skoulidas

    Kathleen, Sheila…
    Do you guys have psychic powers or what?
    While we are going through our second step of depression here in the states..
    you guys were smart enough to get the hell out??
    Why nobody told me anything???

  16. panos skoulidas

    oh… i see why…
    who wants to disturb a californian struggling artist anyways????
    ( laughing )

  17. love this essay. i love the connection it has with so many of us right now. even here in canada there is such a shift now in small towns. small factory town being deserted slowly but surely by all of this. but as well new connections within community arise form this. people realize that we all need each other to get through this. very well done essay david. i enjoyed this allot. very personal. thanks so much.

  18. All the strength of your essay comes from the gentle eye and true compassion you brought to the subject. Looking at it, we imagine we could have almost driven by, so to speak, not notice, but yet, as we stopped the car (metaphorically) and started to look around, as can happen with garage sales, we are struck with the realization that it is our very own family that we keep driving by and not notice. This is for me, as much a family album, as any other.

  19. kathleen fonseca


    Can’t speak for Sheila but i’ve been gone for 20 years and after 3 of those years i would have kissed the ground anywhere in the USA to have been able to move back “home”.


  20. I love this essay! My family and I were one of David’s “subjects”. I have to admit I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but I think it is great!
    I wanted to be a part of this for a couple reasons: my childhood often involved summer garage sales,and I was not a fan back then. Now that I am a parent of 4 small children, they are a necessity, so the project intrigued me. One of my son’s (his photo is in the essay) has recently been diagnosed with hearing loss which required MANY doctors visits, many tests and the purchase of hearing aids. (Most of which are not covered by insurance.) So the extra income was necessary.
    The other reason I became involved – I wanted a way to share this time in our lives and in our country’s history with my children some day when they are older. This essay shows in a real way, the economic times that we live in. I am hoping there will be a book in the future… what a great gift for my kids!

    There’s my 2 cents. I loved being part of this project. David – it was a pleasure having you at our house for the day. (My kids really enjoyed it as well.)

    Good luck with everything in the future! You are a truly gifted photographer. Thank you for letting us be a part of your essay!

  21. First of all I have to say thank you for the responses, they’re quite overwhelming when related to the amount of work that goes into a project like this. And I do have to apologize for being so absent here for the last couple of months. Being deep in editing, building soundtracks, etc. is so time consuming, and there have been so many great essays posted here — especially from 10 or 15 photographers in the original group when this online mentoring experiment started. I anticipate more great essays from that group to be posted here, and I promise to start paying attention more!

    Not just the editing has been time consuming, but being “semi-employed” leaves too much time to have my head in current events, politics, the economy, and all the positives and negatives that go with it. The news turns into a poison that I’m addicted to, but at least it relates to my story.

    I probably will continue shooting something related to the economy, and it could get really personal – I haven’t completely resolved what it’s going to be yet.

    I’ll try to address specific comments – not all now, but as I can.

    Eric E

    Thanks man – totally appreciate your kind words. I did want to mention something about the compositions, and I’m glad you brought it up. The work for this essay started out as really mundane, but instead of dismissing it, I really embraced how ordinary everything was (and I mean that in the most positive way) from the people, to the items, to the signs, etc. Considering the subjects, it was a more conscious decision to create straightforward, “snapshot” compositions than anything I would consider more contemporary or exploratory.

    In other words, I embraced the mundane, and I stand by it.

    more soon…

  22. Bob

    Always always eloquent kind words from you, and I’m always happy to see your comments. You are right, the small sign with the road backdrop should have found a home somewhere, but you know the editing process – sometimes things get lost.

    Bob and Stupid

    I see your points, and sometime in the near future I can post a series on my site that you can flip through easily. I guess I really knew how I wanted to have this timed with the audio and message, so it could be a little more palatable to non photographers (yes, it is kind of a cinematic experience) and not just us.

  23. panos skoulidas

    congrats… YOU ARE NOW OFFICIALLY published in BURN..
    are you ready to get BURNed? or should i wait a bit?

  24. i felt entertained. i was holding my breath for it to get cringe-worthy and over-sentimental, but it never did; it seemed honest and deliberate, not an easy thing to do with this subject i suppose. i also never felt distracted by the MM delivery, not dazzled, but i woudn’t want to be. As an american living outside the states for the last ten years i also felt things that i remember being very american. Thanks for the show David :-)

  25. Now this is a tricky one as I do enjoy alternative presentations, but I feel in this case the second part of the essay is not helping your images shine. Don’t get me wrong, I love your idea of placing the images over the ply wood and wallpaper etc, and I’m not sure if it is the thick white border, but i’m struggling to read the images a little, there is a little too much distraction, or maybe they are just a little too small.

    Perhaps decreasing the amount of (background) space around the image, or increase the size of the images? Maybe shrinking the the borders a little would help?… I must stress again that I do love the concept! Maybe just a little fine tuning?…

    I do realize that this would mean starting from scratch again, so maybe not doable this time, but worth considering for the future projects. After all no matter how creative we get with the presentation (a good thing!) It is all about the images at the end of the day and they have to shine.

    Did enjoy the work though David and the subtle audio drifting over the music. Will you be continuing with this project?

  26. panos skoulidas

    just for starters David…
    I will get involved more “deeply” later…
    But … i’m sorry to disappoint you ….
    i dont see anything wrong yet with your essay…
    In fact i like it…i f*****g like it A LOT…
    but, i will dig more..i “promise” you..
    but so far…
    your essay just like Andrew S’s or Chris B’s , it really shines…
    ( many great essays recently in Burn , i have to admit…)
    … and i’m not having a good day either…:)))))))))))…
    so trust me.. your essay must be good..

  27. panos skoulidas

    Joe, i will second your thought..

    “… i was holding my breath for it to get cringe-worthy and over-sentimental, but it never did; it seemed honest and deliberate…”

    Honesty i see here and lack of cheap tricks…
    Right on

  28. panos skoulidas

    … oh one thing…
    next time please use a sexy greek voice as a voice over…
    other than that … great

  29. David McG :))))))

    no worries on the MM :)))…totally get what you want (and as we’ve discussed before in the past, i dig your feel for sound, both musical and ambient)….remember the camping pics ;)))….and my concern (as with Stoop) for the format is more a personal constraint and not a criticism of either the essay, the work or the vision/totality of the piece…i just LOVE to swim around, back and forth, with images…but, since i also worship cinema, i can live with being stuck ;)))))))…..so happy to see people dig this…

    funny, I never think ‘i am an American’ (i actually hate that), and i respond to the work in a very universal way….taking the peculiar (an american tradition) and making it universal (stories and the things that make up, accumulation and loss), people’s livesso the essay …(pics and stories) work so well for me because it takes a very american cultural thing (garage sales) and makes it universal: the uncovering of stories….

    I’m one of those people, regardless of nationhood ;)))))


  30. BB

    funny, I never think ‘i am an American’

    Of course, Bob…. You are a canadian. ;-)

    On you about the universality we can find in so many subjects, but here, I find the story is very important as being and seen primarily as “local”.

    If only because “America-USA” is hardly thought around the world as “local”, save anecdotally. Too many stereotypes, too many bird’s eye views and generalities, and for an essay like this, whith little for people to hook the same, if correct at times, generalities to it, I find it crucial to be seen as “USA-american”. IMO.

  31. DAVID McG – i fucking love this essay. i do not know what else to say that others have not – it is personal, honest, touching, etc. i really like the music and the audio combined. the recordings in the background truly bring it all to life. I agree with eric – that not every image could stand on it’s own – but works so beautifully in telling your story. Well done my friend, well done!!

  32. Patricia!

    Thank you so much. I probably will have to keep shooting this to some extent, though I will probably have to refresh the context a bit. I thought I was covering a story of people on the edge that were maintaining their optimism (which is true) but I also thought that we would be pulling out of it by now. Now I’m afraid that the smiling faces in my intro might not be so optimistic this year.

  33. Actually , Herve,
    Bob is an American ..
    He was born in the USA..
    just for the history…

  34. Sheila J and Kathleen F

    So happy to bring a bit of Americana to the expatriates. I know the feeling of being away, then seeing something that really brings you back in a way that those around you might not understand. I would advise not coming back unless you have a job lined up, though!

    Kathleen F and James Chance

    I do understand the risks of attempting a new presentation technique, but I do try to push these things without going overboard. My biggest concern is that the technique not be too distracting, so I kept control of it – to some anything other than pure photos is distracting, and to others it may be just enough of a reinforcement to the Americana theme. Moving forward, I may keep it more pure, but who knows?

  35. hey there..a big warm congratulations to you for moving through your initial concept and staying with this to what is, indeed, a very sweet and touching piece that most certainly is imbued with your own experience as one of those Americans. I loved the audio especially, personal and tender..and I also appreciated the scrapbook of memories style presentation.

  36. Note:

    If anyone knows any of those AIG executives who received the $1M+ bonuses — no contempt from me, I mean, those guys were just having their contracts fulfilled – more contempt for the government, that shouldn’t be providing bailouts in the first place – anyway, if you know an executive, tell them purchasing one of my prints is excellent guilt therapy. Or just have them come to a garage sale here in Michigan. Whatever. Might not be the most appropriate time to toss that out there. Or is it?

  37. HERVE :))))

    i couldn’t agree MORE with you! That’s what I LOVE about this story: that it is quintessentially American. What i mean by ‘universal’ is this: the sense of loss, the sense of negotiating memories (things, objects, reasons) as a way to try and survive. I LOVE garage sales, not only because they are a quintessential american thing but also they become universal: scavenging through them was one of the things i loved to do as a teen and college kid…and to this day, now in Canada, it hasnt left: here Canadians tend to have Yard Sales (which they have too in the states)…and so, i agree, the success of this work is that David has taken the peculiarities of something very american and offered it, in a respectful, funny and ultimately reverent way, as a way for each of us, americans and non-americans alike, to get at that same story. :))

    yea, i always hate nationism and i’ve had a totally wacked life: born in san diego, lived in Taiwan as a child before returning to the states…like you, have lived in europe, asia and n.american and now married to a woman from russia. Our son’s sense of identity is even crazier: russian-canadian-american-whatever ;)))…….and as a person whose friends are from around the globe…and as a teacher who everday conducts a glass of koreans, japanese, mexicans, lebanese, saudi’s, brazilians, chinese, venzuelans, russians, kazakhs, turkish and columbians (and that’s just this semester), i dont know what my identity is…but one of universality……but i probably talk like an american ;)))))))))))))…

    u r right, it’s the American story the highlights the universal story here…as a writer much greater than I once said: get the particular right and you’ll get the universal done ;)))

    u absolutely right

    (though i still hate when identify themselves by nation as a means of identity, but that’s my own hang up from a bifurcated childhood ;)))


    PANOS :))))…I;m a california kid by birth…dont hold that against me ;))))))))))))…hu8gs, b

  38. A note about “…Americans”

    The title really came about when considering the way we are saturated with current events, and the thought process many must go through when identifying with these events. A collective response could be “I’m one of those Americans.”

    For example, a local report could read “Factory X to let go another 2000 employees by May…”

    I’m one of those Americans.

    “Home foreclosures highest in a decade…”

    I’m one of those Americans.

    “Spike in garage sales the result of tightening family budgets…”


    Or it could be my news report. “Unemployed man, 40, drives rusty van and lives with his mother, studies the culture of garage sales in Michigan…”

    I’m one of those (hilarious) Americans.

  39. panos skoulidas

    BobB, i know, i know… U R more californian than me bro…
    I know…. i was just telling Herve… coz HISTORY is very important for me…
    thats all…

    David McG,… please stop slapping OBAMA in any given chance…
    Poor boy just started… damn…

  40. panos skoulidas

    …. i mean there is thousands of s**t happened in this country the last 10 years under the bush regime and you are so upset with a man that is up for almost a month………….! i really hope you are joking otherwise its pure hate for hate!!!!!

  41. Well I wasn’t really going down this road, but if you’re referring to my “bailouts” comment, such bailouts were famously started under the Bush regime, and apparently will be continued by Obama. I’d say simply calling them “government bailouts” about covers it.

  42. kathleen fonseca

    David McG

    For several reasons, some that i wrote above and others that shall remain private, i just want to say thanks for this essay. There´s a comfort and solace in the photos that is hard to describe. It´s a bone-deep recognition of qualities and character that is part of my DNA. I can only say that the feeling i got as i watched it was akin to sitting down at a worn kitchen table and being handed a cup of coffee in a chipped mug with a red heart and the word ´DAD´ printed on the side as morning sunlight streams through a curtained window, a car or truck passes on the street outside, a dog slouches with a weary groan into a nap along the length of a slanted sunbeam on the linoleum floor, a newspaper remains where it was tossed over the toast crumbs, it´s insides all disordered, the sports page is probably on top. And right then, right there, is a quintessential perfect moment when time stands still, problems are back-burnered, the coffee´s hot the conversation is good and for awhile there´s a surplus of hope and the knowledge that, yes, this too will pass.

    There´s nothing else i can say..just thank you for this and thank you for understanding the ex-pat thing.


  43. I agree with you, David. The bail-outs were not to save anything, neither is the stimulus, it’s merely to keep a corrupt and broken system alive, that does porfit to a few powerful corporations and their political acolytes. To let dices fall out as they may, would force everyone of us, like the people in your pictures, to face our own destiny, square and brutally. That’s the last thing any government want to see happening… And it won’t. They keep us divided too skilfullu. One other merit of such essay as yours is to keep a little flame alive… Imagine…

  44. David;

    You really nailed this one. The multimedia presentation really suited this essay. It gave me a real sense of “down home-ness”. I know that’s not a word, but it’s how it left me feeling.

    The introduction and images definitely need each other, but the second half is great as a stand alone without music too!

    Sensitive, thoughtful and real are the words I’d use to describe it!


  45. Kathleen, that’s just lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    Herve, every time I read your words, I think you’re spot on – thanks for taking the time to comment on this essay. I look forward to hanging out with you someday.

  46. a bit cliched and for that on the safe side, but well done. also some clichees can´t be repeated often enough, in the hope some fine day there will be no reason to repeat them on and on.

  47. STOOP….

    yes, i would love to figure out a more interactive way to deal with the presentations…and i am working on it..not being a tech wizard myself , i must rely on the experts around me…to do what you want is i think beyond our tech capability according to Anton who helps me here with the essays and tech stuff in general …i think i would need a full time tech guru…Anton has limited time and i just cannot ask him to do more than he already does….David had to make a Quicktime movie in order to coordinate music, words, pictures…just not interactive….however, some of the slide shows here are interactive..it just depends on whether or not the author wants synched music, sound etc…

    if we do in the future get some no strings attached sponsorship and i can hire a small staff, then i will try very hard to set it up so that readers can view the slide show as presented by the author and, as you suggest, make it interactive as well even if it has synched sound…

    so far on BURN i have allowed each essayist to present their work as they wanted,after i did some editing and made some suggestions (as per requested by the photographer)…this McGowan show was his second go around with me….his first was all wrong…he knew it, he changed it..could he have made even more changes?? perhaps, but one of my goals here is to give photographers some rope..yes, perhaps enough rope to hang themselves at times, but that is their freedom, their choice…i too have freedom….no advertisers to please!!! so, there is a bit more flex here than in the “real world” and i do think there is something to be said for seeing a photographer the way he/she wants to be seen…and that in and of itself results in all of the interaction here of which you are an integral part….your comments are to the point and generally right on IMO…and the comments in general seem to be very helpful to the essayist presented…must be, because i receive every day about 20% more submissions than the day before…so many that i could update several times per day if i had the time to do it…

    i always welcome constructive good ideas(and good people to help me make it happen)…thanks for this one Stoop ….

    cheers, david

  48. David,

    Great stuff. Loved the shopping center/lake morphing. The elephant stool. The old man in the photo-booth picture tucked into the frame of the boxer. More than that… but you get it.

    Cheers, man.

  49. panos skoulidas

    and not only…

    this goes to everybody out there that lost “god”
    but found “love”… instead..

    once again the “SHIVERS”

  50. panos skoulidas

    its weird that both of us had to visit the E.R.
    this week… and its the first essay that we both agree..
    and its Saint Alcoholics Day… next Guinness to you.

  51. DAVID…

    you were a pleasure to work with David…particularly in all that you had to do for the re-make…i hope you agree it works a bit smoother..yours is a poignant story…there are many ways to make a point…your solid down home approach is just perfect for this subject…one of the two or three essays here that really reflect the nature and environment of the photographer….and David as long as we do not get into politics , we will always get along just fine!!!

    cheers, david

  52. I agree that it did work out better, David. Originally I was trying to avoid the voiceover, but sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up and do it.

    As far as politics… well… I’m just trying to figure out how much we let Obama spend before Panos will let me question his motivation and economic savvy. (Without calling it hate.)

    Hugs and kisses Panos!

  53. I’m very taken with this essay for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, I love garage sales. It all started back in the seventies when my wife dragged me to one against my will. There in the corner was a superb little Leitz Valoy enlarger with the original Focotar lens for 20 bucks. I was hooked. I used it regularly and still have it, even though I don’t shoot film anymore.
    I don’t go to as many sales as I used to, partly because at my age what the hell do I need more stuff for?

    I like the presentation. In the olden days I worked in audio-visual and we produced slide shows with music and naration. This is the modern version I guess, though looking at a laptop screen while listening to its’ dinky little speakers doesn’t compare to viewing projected transparencies in a darkened room with a big sound system. Such is progress.

    The sound track works beautifully, and for the most part so do the fades and transitions. the wood and wallpaper backgrounds are a nice touch and work for me.

    Mostly I like this essay because it is composed of clean non-gimmicky photographs of ordinary people, real lives, close to home, personal and heart-felt.
    I’m really much more interested in this sort of work which looks inward, than more exotic fare. Good on ya David. You are a talented guy.

    One last comment David. I realize that your motivation for the series was the economic downturn etc. However you chose not to show any evedidence of that in the series. I’ve always viewed garage sales as fun events, a good way to get rid of your junk as opposed to a way of raising money, though I’m sure there is a lot of that sort of motivation you must have encountered. I just feel that the phenomenon of the garage sale is fascinating enough on its’ own to warrent exploration and documentation without being tied to the current economic situation. Garage sales were happening before the crisis, and will continue long after the recovery.
    I hope this turns into an even longer project for you.

    Best of luck to you.

    Gordon L.

  54. David, I liked this a lot. I passed the CNBC studios a couple of hours ago and they had the talking heads going at it about the economy. They’re all sharp and with it and on the ball, and they’ll tell you that ordinary people are feeling the economic crunch these days, not, of course, that they know anyone like that themselves. The first rule of good storytelling is to show the reader what is happening, not tell them what is happening. Your essay shows us what is happening to the ordinary people the talking heads are telling us about. An excellent job. As for how much of the taxpayers’ money the former junior senator from Illinois and his Congressional cohorts can spend before we can call him names without Panos calling us names, that I’m not sure of, but if the price of Diet Pepsi goes up to three bucks for a 20 oz. bottle sometime in the next three weeks, I’m gonna say something about it whether Panos likes it or not (sorry Panos ;o)

  55. panos skoulidas

    “….One last comment David. I realize that your motivation for the series was the economic downturn etc. However you chose not to show any evidence of that in the series. I’ve always viewed garage sales as fun events, a good way to get rid of your junk as opposed to a way of raising money, though I’m sure there is a lot of that sort of motivation you must have encountered. I just feel that the phenomenon of the garage sale is fascinating enough on its’ own to warrent exploration and documentation without being tied to the current economic situation. Garage sales were happening before the crisis, and will continue long after the recovery….”

    i have to admit that IS A GREAT point…!
    it didnt cross my mind because of the “sad” music and “sad” artist statement…

    I dont want to bitch about it but,
    with a happy song ( covering the slideshow )
    and a “happier-positive” voice over , that could have been a bright , positive story about garage sales….

    “… you chose not to show any evidence…”
    you make me think!

  56. panos skoulidas

    …..if the price of Diet Pepsi goes up to three bucks for a 20 oz. bottle sometime in the next three weeks, I’m gonna say something about it whether Panos likes it or not (sorry Panos ;o)….

    diet Pepsi! DIET PEPSI????? 3 BUCKS ??????????????? for a 20 oz bottle ????????
    My oh my… Now that’s HUGE !!!
    ( and i was complaining for the $10 increase per eighth for chronic in LA…at the local dealer…. how ungrateful of me…)

  57. David is right, Obama brought the presidency, money rules.

    Panos is hilarity, a real Shakespearean fool, (just not as clever).

    America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

  58. panos skoulidas

    …………………. SCENE 117………………

    Ouahhhhhhhhhhhh ( baby crying at the background )

    END OF SCENE 117

  59. panos skoulidas

    … funniest things about worms: once you step on them once they immediately learn how to retract…

  60. Gordon, I was going to say that’s a great point, too, before Panos beat me to it. The tradition of the garage sale has been with us for a long time, indeed, but what I noticed when I started shooting was the sheer number of sales popping up, and the reasons there were so many more than usual. I was really carful to not sensationalize any particular reason there was an increase in the number, but did underscore that the result was from a downturn in the economy (and didn’t feel it was too much of a stretch to think so.) It just turned out that stories related to the economy were the ones I pursued, but still tried to show a sense of resilience and hope, mixed with a good dose of nostalgia that goes with any yard sale.

    There’s already a lot of talk here about the need to sell items in the coming garage sale season, for economic reasons. The percent of sales out of need seems to be increasing.

  61. panos skoulidas

    March 17, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    “…America I’m putting my queer ( in America we call it “gay” ) shoulder to the wheel…”

    Hey Benji,
    we dont need to know your sexual preferences but if you insist…:))))))))))

  62. Congrats brother 79 comments and people are still talking about the essay, maybe this will become a trend.

  63. Panos…

    “i mean there is thousands of s**t happened in this country the last 10 years”

    “and its Saint Alcoholics Day… next Guinness to you.”

    Do you not have any knowledge or empathy for centuries long plight of the Irish?

  64. David…

    Long time thanks for sending this to me I really enjoyed your work.. Hope things are good.


  65. kathleen fonseca

    David McG

    i don’t think your essay has been as successful as it could have been. It doesn’t seem to have generated any controversy aside from a tepid political discussion (and Panos, for the record, i’m with you on Obama)..damn, nothing to bring the hornets from their nests. Just off the chart approval ratings. David, aren’t you ashamed? What do you have to say for yourself? :)))

    well, here’s a question though..considering that many of these people would not have garage sales had the economy not gone south, then what happened to all their extra stuff when times were flush? Did they just keep jamming it into attics and garages? Or did they give it to Goodwill? And if they are now selling what they would have given away for free, then what are all the people doing at the lower end of the feeding chain? I mean, wow, just thinking about whether charities are drying up and what kind of impact that’s going to have..I remember when you could drive around the night before pick-up day for really big stuff and you could practically furnish your house with furniture left out at the curb. I remember when i was a totally broke newlywed with no furniture on Christmas Eve going to Goodwill to buy a couch. A really NICE couch. Kind of interesting if i was doing a documentary where i might take this next.

    well, thats it..time to zzzzzzz, as Gracie says..thanks for the essay..right up my alley it was..g’night!


  66. panos skoulidas

    ok… ALL… i need to pay some bills…
    please ALL…I’m begging you…
    buy this book below…
    ( you might find your “own” voice in there…)

    Click here:

    Venice Beach | By as seen & felt … by panos skoulidas | Category: Fine Art Photography | Blurb




    (…its a limited edition… before the “real” edition … and please order the Hardcover….)

  67. david mcg-ee,

    well, i had to digest and digest your essay, with music and without. i could not seem to get the ‘sadness’ you wanted to impart except maybe if i was on the selling end of the garage sale culture. well, i think i get that part.

    i have gone to garage sales as a buyer and i have had this certain ‘happiness’ when i scored!! like buying lens filters for 50c or baby clothes with tags still on for 10c. for me, garage sales were a necessity. hard work during the week and then knowing that when the weekend came, ill hit the road. navigating through my city, turning round and round the map (before gps) til i got to these addresses lined up in the paper one by one early in the morning when air was still clean. going through the trinkets and small little gidgets was therapeutic. maybe not for most, but certainly for me.

    and then there are these buyer hagglers that would haggle your $5 unused backpack to 10c just because youre having a garage sale and nothing should be priced more than a quarter.

    those two sides are each a different story. i like the picture frame with the small picture tucked in, tired elephant legs on an elephant stool, etc. rather than the bad and ugly of people taking advantage of somebody else’s misery by haggling down an ancient trinket. i guess this last part is the part that’s sad.

    i like the essay overall but for some reason, my feelings about garage sales for how they affect me are different from what you portray in your pictures and from what you write on the essay.

    am i making any sense? or should i now zzzz

    ngork… pardon me, zzzzz

    gnite, kat
    and everyone

  68. McG, when you first started this I thought, this is going to be tough to get beyond boring.
    But then I thought about it more and it seemed a simple stroke of brilliance really.
    And so it is. Well, well done. And the double track with music and background garage sounds was a nice subtle touch.

    And the more I think about it, the more I hope you continue, even if garage sales are not the subject in the end but merely the door into, really into, people’s lives and how things are changing in this country because, regardless on where your political views lie, there is no denying that things have changed and are changing dramatically and where that becomes real, really real, is inside peoples’ homes and lives. You just rippled the surface of the pond here. I hope you dive deeper. I think you are really onto something.

    Burn on brother! :))

  69. Hmmm, Panos, that last shameless plug reminded me of the guy on the street corner the other day with the sign that read, “Why lie, I need beer money.” Getting your book, the hardcover, wrap.

  70. Kathleen, yeah I know, but no worries. You’d think it could be, but maybe this isn’t really a politically charged essay. I like the comments, but I’m not much fun when it comes to criticism, because I’m likely to agree. And it’s not a controversial essay, but more a timely story many folks can identify with. Actually DAH tosses out the political bait once in a while, and I take, but not much transpires. Considering the historic significance of the election, the platitudes, the inspiring speeches, the economy, the hope, etc., not much has come up around here regarding the actual governing, and that’s the most important part.

    But to answer your question, man, I don’t know – I think people have a natural tendency to keep as much as they can, wherever they can. But the situations are so case by case, it’s really hard to generalize. Let’s try to guess anyway. Take the man with the truck. I think that if he’s settled into a full-time job, he doesn’t even consider selling his truck. Unless he’s really inspired by something other than his lack of personal finances, the truck sits in his yard, and it’s always in the back of his mind that he’s going to restore it. I’m speculating of course, but it feels like a pretty good guess.

    Or a different situation, the woman holding the photograph of the man in the electric scooter. The day I was at her sale I explained what I was shooting, and she told me she had sold a scooter the day before. It was her husband’s, who had died of cancer six weeks before the sale. She ended up unemployed, the result of choosing to take care of him during his final days. She said that she cried for six hours after she sold it. I left that sale a bit beside myself, and went back the next day to ask if she had that photo so I could take a portrait. I think that’s the kind of sentimental object that is best to choose not to keep.

    Regarding Goodwill, I don’t think they’re affected, or I should say I don’t think the least fortunate are affected by their lack of product. These least fortunate are the ones doing the actual shopping at the garage sales, so they’re likely to find a better deal at a garage sale than Goodwill, if they’re willing to search for it.

    Something those having garage sales may not know, but I’ve heard – it’s more profitable to donate to a charity and write it off than to have an actual sale, but where’s the charm?

    I did have an outstanding thing happen when I went to Goodwill the other day. I found four pair of pants, all brand new, all clean, for $3.29 each. Considering the tough times we’re in, a place like Goodwill didn’t seem to be hurting for products.

    So will there be plenty of garage sales when we see better days? Of course. We’re a country of consumers. My study simply attempts to make note of what some are doing with their current situations, in response to times that are tougher than usual.

  71. Okay. Firstly, I have to admit that I cried when I watched the essay. Secondly, I cried when I watched the essay a second time. Thirdly, I hate commenting in the middle of the fucking thread when I’ve had to be away from my computer all day. The comments are still immediate and BuRN my soul and ever-hungry intellect, but I feel like I’ve missed the previews, cut-ins, interjections, and cast reviews, interviews, and reporter commentary…my fucking DVR is apparently BROKEN…

    But BuRN is my crack…I can’t turn it down, it’s there, on speed-dial, an ever-ready click to give me a hit…I need it, but it drains me, intoxicates me, bewilders and enchants me…challenges me against other needs more pressing for survival, such as, water, sleep, food…But it offers me nourishment in a completely different way.

    I wake up and I BuRN. I edit and I BuRN. I blog and I BuRN. Fuck, I check my email, all the while BuRNING and fucking facebooking at the same time. Not that I am cheating on you, BuRN, I just have to get my other fixes as well…

    Ok…sorry about my “FUCKing” tirade and for sabotaging the comment space (Dave McGowan, I am touched by and in love with your essay)…but I do have comment on the brilliance of DAH at this point. David Alan Harvey, you are one man who claims to be nothing special…but you have created a special and important forum with BuRN. You challenge us constantly, immensely, (and I’m quite sure) indefinitely… To share your vision, in what you see, in your wanting to educate others, in showing beauty and art and circumstance and personal, static, unheard of, romantic, abhorring, unrelatable subjects to tugging at heartstrings I didn’t know existed…I love BuRN, for it is a new home to me….

    All this said, it exhausts the fuck out of me to read 101 comments before I get the chance comment myself. So, sometimes, I don’t. Fuck it….if that’s selfish, so what. I’m tired but I want my opinion to be heard. Back to the work at hand…

    David McGowan, I did read many of the comments prior to posting this, and I echo many when I say that I felt the American experience here. The edit, the music, the backdrops against which the images were played off of, the pace, the voice over…all made me recognize myself. I am this experience. You are this experience. We are this experience. There is something so relatable…middle-class poverty at it’s best…trying to step up….not renewing, but trying to attain, get a glimpse of, realize what we call the “American Dream.” This is what life for middle America has become. And it’s not towering hotels, Prada, and trust funds…it’s taking care of your neighbor’s dog when they are out of town. It’s helping a friend when they are broken down on the highway at 3 in the morning. It’s being there to help when you’re parents split and new routines need to form. It’s helping a friend’s mom tag items at her garage sale, so she can pay for Timmy’s summer camp. It’s making popcorn for the kids you babysit for when you come over for movie night. It’s firing up the grill and crackin’ beers with your best friends over memories past and hopes for what’s to come.


    These are memories I see when I watch your essay…they are not necessarliy mine, but that of the collective American…what is the American Dream and how came it to be seems like a myth, some intangible concept upon which this country was founded…How did the arrow fall so far from the mark?

    David McGown, your essay touched me and I thank you. I’m sorry that I didn’t read all the comments prior to commenting myself, but your essay was my crack, some reading helped with the fix, here’s my comment, and there it is. You are very talented and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

    Til next time fellow BuRNERS…which will be tomorrow, ya know…got to get my fix…

  72. BOB….DAVID

    i do not recall seeing that sign picture with the road running off into the background as part of the essay that was to be edited…i should have remembered that picture from awhile back, but i certainly did not take it out…i like it too….should we consider getting it back in?? …. i remember now it was a great closer in one of the earlier versions of your essay…

    Bob, i saw your comment regarding the ability to interact after i had written to Stoop (with not much time, i am skimming fast)…i hope you read my comment to him because you were feeling the same…

    David M., i hope you know i was teasing about politics…i doubt we disagree on much…..my grandparents were salt of the earth self reliant Iowa farmers..Republicans of course for just one reason: everyone should take care of themselves….of course, the second generation of that same family later became very dependent on government subsidies to survive as small farmers..still, they thought of themselves as self reliant, hard workers, and hated the thought of the government helping “welfare mothers” in the “big cities” which was their main issue against the Democrats which the whole wing of my side of the family became after leaving the farm life and “moved back east”….when i go visit my Iowa relatives now, we do just have to stay away from politics…we actually disagree on nothing substantial on issues, but the methods on HOW society operates or gets “fixed” is a different vision…as i travel around the country now working with families, from all sides of the political spectrum, it seems that this is pretty much the way the whole country is divided…we all want the same thing, but have different ideas on the best way to get there…

    cheers, david

  73. So great to see David’s work honored on Burn. Thank you David Alan Harvey for bringing this to a wider audience and thank you David McGowan for this project.

  74. “I wake up and I BuRN. I edit and I BuRN. I blog and I BuRN. Fuck, I check my email, all the while BuRNING and fucking facebooking at the same time. Not that I am cheating on you, BuRN, I just have to get my other fixes as well…”

    Well, DAH, you’ve arrived. Your magazine has become a verb.

  75. David (AH): no worries amgio, i read your response….and my frustration with being unable to ‘interact’ with it is NOT a criticism of David McG’s story…or Burn at all :))…just for me, when it’s photographs (and for me, everything so far, except the homeless ‘film’) have been photographs, like small books…with or without words, with or without sound/music/ambience…so, that’s why, when i see pics, i need to finger them, run with them…the way i look at a photo book, or read a book of poetry: never linearily, but once through the 1st or 2nd time, then i jump all over the place :)))…but no worries, i know as technology evolves, so too the stories :)))…

    and as for the ‘missing’ pic…i guess David McG left that beauty on the cutting room floor…i always loved it, though it was a great intro or exit shot…wide sky, long, twisting road, a solitary sign….oh, well, maybe he’ll use next version…but i also know the oddity and the photographer-specific thoughts about edits :)))…it’s David’s lovely work, not my own ;)))


  76. Pingback: Leelanau.com Blog » Garage Sale Culture by photographer David McGowan

  77. Well David, you know know the editing process. I like that shot of the small sign too, but when evaluating strength, others won out with consideration for this show, though I can’t exactly say why. I could bring it back but wouldn’t know what to sacrifice, so maybe it’s not so important that I start chopping this up now.

    David, I wouldn’t care if you were serious about politics. I’ve probably lead you down a path to think I’m more to the right than I actually am, but that’s just my idea of fun (I know, I’m a barrel of monkeys.) I’m gaining a disgust for political parties, being that their end-game seems to be simply to grow government, but if I had to align myself with one, (sigh) I’d have to say I’m a Libertarian minus the isolationism. So I guess we’ll take it from there.

    But when O’s honeymoon is officially over and he starts to own the results of the bills that he’s signed, do make a post about that, because I think it will be some inspired conversation.


    i left comments here this morning and for some reason, nothing i write shows up now…i have no idea what is happening, but i am very frustrated…i’ll try to write later when i am home…there must be some ping problem between burn server and the provide that services our school’s internet access…..but nothing i write now comes through (including my comment for Young tom)…..urrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  79. kathleen fonseca

    David McG

    heh, the one i was poking fun at with the controversy/hornets comment was me. Don’t even get me started on politics ;))

    So, it would seem as one already at the lower end of the feeding chain, David (and most photographers), that you can say with authority that Goodwill is doing fine, thank you very much. *wink-wink*…actually one reason i was musing about that is because here in Costa Rica things are changing quite a bit also. I mean, hello, the recession shares something with the world wide web..it’s the WWR. It seems to me that economizing is becoming chic, something that’s not just personal, a crime committed in secret against a culture of excess, but is now coming out in the open. I hear friends who would never have admitted buying from surplus stores bragging about their finds. Others who would never have done so saying, “I can’t afford it this month”. Others saying, “Let’s cook at home together instead of going out. it’s too expensive and besides I’m cutting calories”. The recession has affected my lifestyle a great deal since the company i worked for was recently sold and i was suddenly out of a job though kept on in a lesser capacity to manage the previous owner’s financial affairs. And i was terrified, worried about how my lifestyle would be compromised. But i find that things are much simpler. Sometimes i feel nostalgia for the good old days of gluttony but i recognize that those days were the aberration, this is a return to some kind of balance for which i feel a sense of rightness.

    Your stories are very touching. The one that got me was the girl in the wedding dress. When she had it on, the look on her face was so self-conscious, brave, almost giddy.But giddy with what? hope? i don’t know. The truck was another one and this story here about the scooter..this essay is more than a pretty face and it’s about way more than just the USA. There might not be so many garage sales in other parts of the world but there is still a common experience shared globally that goes beyond any one neighborhood or group of friends. This is what’s occurring to me today..about what we ALL share, the guilt, the reality, the hope for our collective futures and well being.

    Sorry if this is not particularly coherent..i am in a bit of a rush this morning but did not want your nice long reply to my question go unanswered.


    What else can i say? FUCK YES!!!!


  80. Kathleen, one more note before I have to take off for the day. If there’s something that remotely resembles a political message here, it’s that a recovery will come as the result of resilience and ingenuity of citizens and small businesses, not the result of the actions of a government. (And quite possibly in spite of it.)

  81. Carrie, I’m a bit embarrassed when I hear that people cry when seeing this (probably because I’m so void of emotion) but I think I touched the right chord here at the right time and it resonates with people. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  82. David McGowan,
    There’s no need to be embarrassed, and I don’t cry all that often, but the essay, like you said, hit a chord with me. I’ve been thinking a lot about the “American Dream” over the last few years, and the fact that it seems like a longshot at best, for most, makes me sad. So many Americans here are complacent in every capacity, settling for jobs they loathe to just pay bills, staying in unhappy marriages and relationships to, well, I don’t know why exactly, and following what society deems to be right for them instead of following their hearts and passions. I know that your essay was more about the effects of the recession to the common folk, and I get that, but I think that is also related to the out-of-reach American Dream. The “American Dream” to some simply means to be able to live relatively carefree, without having to worry that the paycheck won’t be able to pay for food or the mortgage or new shoes for the kids. It’s being able to hold onto that truck from your 16th birthday and go fishing with your friends on the weekend and buying the name brand over the generic one. Maybe what fueled their dreams was to live simply, with sentimental possessions that are physical manifestations of memories and goals achieved. This America is not the one that I was led to believe existed when I was a child…do we call that a loss of innocence…THE loss of innocence? This different world that we now live in is not without hope, however. I will always believe in this country and the people that tread on its soil. Hope can be an unstoppable force… there is strength in believing and power in knowledge…what we do with it is up to us…

  83. I do have to give a special thanks to my friend Lux Land for letting me use her song. She’s super talented and has a new album coming soon – be sure and watch for it:


    With all the talk of usage rights, etc. I think it’s best to reach out locally, ask permission, and give credit when credit is due!

  84. david mc.

    saw this recently http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/03/scenes_from_the_recession.html
    it’s flat.. hollow and completely sanitory to me.. where are the people suffering?

    someone got paid for it though.. many probably..
    have you shown the piece here to any editors or had any interest in it for publication?
    it is a timely essay and i’d really hope that something is going to happen with it.. throw the link out to 10 national newspapers in the u.s. and u.k. and see what happens?!

  85. That’s good advice David. I’ll get this around to newspapers. Of course any editors here that see this are welcome to contact me.

    I think I’d like to follow up with an essay about the “tea parties” that are growing in number, which are basically revolts against corporate bailouts, wasteful government spending, and the taxes that will follow as a result. The gatherings aren’t getting much attention from the mainstream press, but thousands (and growing) are participating.

    I can’t do anything until I work out an income though. Totally stuck here.

  86. it sounds like a rolling project that will run david.. stick with it.
    empathy for the money troubles – really hope it turns on it’s head for you, and soon.

    the most crucifying thing about garage sale for me is that it is priceless memories being given away to fund short term needs – once the money is gone the situation can only be worse.. no money.. no context for your life.. and an even more steep curve, saddled with regret perhaps, to get back on the up.

    it’s a tragic illustration of what’s happening..

  87. mkathrynmcbride

    Hello David The students and staff of Cabrillo College Ceramics dept in Aptos CA have created a group collaboration ceramic sculpture that resembles a yard sale for the annual Calif Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Art as a social comment on the economic downturn in America. We found your photo slide show in the web, and showed it to our students to help set the tone of our project. It is truly inspiring! Thank you. May we have permission to show the slide show on our laptop, occasionally, as part of the exhbition April 29, 30, May 1st at the conference? This is an educational event, for students and staff of northern calif colleges and universities. We would be happy to send you photos of our project. Thanks! Kathryn McBride and Gail Ritchie Ceramics instructors Cabrillo College (central coast) California.

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