One Man’s Treasure, And Other Stories

One of the things about re-buying things I owned years ago is the realization that so many of them have become genuinely expensive, rare, and treasured items in the intervening decades. Across the past few months, there have been times when I’ve gotten the idea to try and track down one particular weird thing — an issue of a comic series, say, or one specific edition of one specific book — only to find it online and think to myself, sure, I want to have it again, but there’s no way I’m going to spend that much money on that piece of pop culture trash.

It’s the flip side of whatever nostalgia wave I’m surfing, I guess; the slow acceptance that these various totems that I’ve been collecting for God knows what reason (besides, I mean, just wanting to re-read or re-hear certain things; that’s certainly part of it, if far from all of it) have value to other people as well, and seemingly more value than I’m willing to agree to. I made the reference to how much a Green Lantern comic cost the other day, but it wasn’t really a joke as much as my sincere befuddlement at the idea that people are apparently paying that much money for that particular comic.

In many cases, these are things I intentionally or unintentionally devalued in the past; I think of my teenage bedroom, a mess of comics and books and cassettes and CDs on the floor, me treating none of it with the reverence of today’s collectors. Of course, at that time it wasn’t decades old, and still easily available; I was disposable trash culture. That might be the reason for my current confusion: this stuff remains disposable trash culture for me still, purely because I lived through it. I was there, man, or whatever.

It’s 2023; it’s, what, 33 years since They Might Be Giants released Flood…? If you go back 33 years from that, you hit 1957. Imagine how arcane, how prehistoric that era felt to you back in the day. Imagine being upset that people were selling 1957’s pop culture for collector prices.

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