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Slauson Swap Meet ~ South Central

12:54 PM PDT on September 9, 2008

Slauson Swap Meet ~ 1600 W. Slauson Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90047

You all dress like crap and you know it. I'm hardly one to say shit, I wear the same thing everyday. And not even a variation on the same thing, just the same thing. These clothes, like so many dead hoors, just happen to be laying on my floor in the morning. While I do smell like someone's grandpa, jettisoning my personal dignity has never felt so soft and comfortable in the past. But we have no excuse to bemoan a lack of shoes with a sole (I won't name names) or wear t-shirts from corporate picnics in 1987 that we didn't even attend, in states we've never seen!

Deals in nice-looking clothes abound in and around Los Angeles's zillion-deep "swap meets." These are not the open-air markets of your childhood, but in true SoCal fashion, many small stores mobbed up together in an effort to get money. From Venice to Ontario their rows glitter with the latest in gorgeous designer knockoffs and yesterday's trends. Baseball caps, bandanas, underwear, and basics like t-shirts are found by the arm-load at the prices they should be. So fuck Target (thought they do have a much better return policy).

The most famous of all our swap meets is no doubt the Slauson Super Mall. A mecca in L.A. for great, inexpensive shopping, it has passed into the realm of cultural institution through the lyrics spit about it through ages of G'd up tracks. Set on the tracks itself, between Normandie and Western on Slauson Ave., the swap meet is a colossal square of gray cement topped with a Miami Vice-colored crown.

Penetrating at one of three entry points finds you greeted by corner-side displays of white sneakers, Timboots, and 14K gold and fake ice pieces. The ingenuity of some of the designs is worth a look on the fake ice, who doesn't want a basketball-that-rotates-on-a-turntable-chain in one way or another? The shoes and lids found in the swap meet can be sick. A purple Indian graces a Cleveland Hat and old school Lakers Converse await in home and away flavors, that kind of thing. It's well worth a look to check out more than a few stores in this category for something unique or rare.

Used items are on sale as well, plus an okay cd shop among the 100+ vendors. I like the clothes stores where you can get good jeans for $20 and nice collared shirts for $12-$15 depending on how your skills are with talking some poor old woman down from her price. There's also a ton of shops devoted to the ladies, with plenty of inexpensive stripper-gear and mean heels for work and/or role-play, depending on what you're into. Hugely stocked Black hair shops also abound with limitless products.

Then there's the shit that makes this place truly special. I have not achieved anything good enough in life to justify a green silk suit, but maybe you have. In the back, a middle aged Asian man reads the paper over an insane display case of gold and diamond grillz, with his celebrity clientele's mugs poking out of posters behind him. Again, I can't pull off gold, diamond-tipped fangs (my days with The Gravediggaz came to an end with the passing of Poetic), but a potential McCain presidency could inspire a Mad Max apocalypse fashion craze. So who knows?

And I haven't yet figured out why airbrush artists aren't the most exalted members of our society. They rule, with their libraries of lettering and characters and dedication to graphics. I'd rather have these guys paint me a shirt that shows Bernie Mac resting on Heaven's cloudy dander than join Ed Hardy's legions of the graphics Afflicted. I did find their casual plea to keep gang work in bags and for "no wacking out" a sobering reminder that at the wrong time, it's not unheard of for individuals to get fucked up here. The area is in dispute between Brims and Neighborhood Crips and word is, the shopkeepers are more than capable of holding their own, thier armed rooftop vigil the reason this swap meet was not touched in the '92 riots. It could have conceivably been a Dodger fan whipping that sick blue and gray Charger into the parking lot with its blue rims shining, but nonetheless I was heading out as he headed in. There's also food here, but I've never fucked with it. Anyone?

So, instead of donning that avocado-stained, faded tee with the hole in its pit for your next party, take a carload of people to the Swap Meet and get dudded up. Imagine the envy of everyone as you step out of your Honda wearing a neon blue suit, classic Jordans, and gold fangs, or as the belle of the ball in your clear heels and nails airbrushed like dollar bills. At the Slauson Swap Meet, you are only limited by your imagination.

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