Posts Tagged ‘ebay’

867-5309 for sale on ebay

well it was a mont h ago

Having a phone number immortalized by a hit song started out as a goof for a Weehawken deejay, but in five years, it’s resulted in about 50,000 phone calls — mostly from strangers — some long-distance friendships, a possible windfall from the sale of the digits, and at least one girlfriend. The notable numbers were made famous by Tommy Tutone’s catchy 1982 hit song, “867-5309/Jenny.” Spencer Potter, 28, got Jenny’s number in the 201 area code when he and several roommates requested it in jest for their home phone. They were in luck, it seemed. “We thought it would be funny to call people from that number,” he said. “The day I called the phone company was the day they released the number back into circulation, though, so we got it.”

Potter said the second they plugged their phone into the wall, it began to ring.” All hell broke loose and it hasn’t stopped since,” he said. According to Potter, the now-famous phone receives approximately 30 to 40 calls a day, and as many as 10,000 calls in a year. The daunting number of calls has required an answering machine and a second phone. One of the callers was a young woman who gave out the number to men who she didn’t want to hear from.

“She called me one day, since she gave out my number as a bum number,” he said. “She thought I must be cool if I had the number…so I invited her out for drinks — we dated for a while.” Despite the barrage of calls, Potter has maintained the number since he moved to Weehawken five years ago, where he ran his entertainment business, A Blast Entertainment. But Potter’s association with the musical numerals will soon come to an end.

A Blast Entertainment is now up for sale, and Potter has moved to Rye Brook, N.Y. to run his newest venture, Turntable Events. Along with his company, he is selling the phone number as part of the package. Potter is using Internet marketplace eBay to sell the number, which he says allows him to do so as a part of the sale of his company. “The problem was with just selling the number by itself,” he said. “With selling the business, and the number coming with it, it’s an asset of the company.”

Potter said he has also secured permission for sale of the phone number from his provider, Vonage. Even though Potter has received calls at all times of the day and night for five years, he does not regret the experience. “It’s been awesome, you meet some great people. I’ve met people from all over the (United States),” he said, adding that he maintains friendships online with some.

Verizon Spokesman Rich Young was not surprised that such a number would receive that volume of calls.” From a practical stand point, a number like this would certainly generate a lot of calls,” he said. “It is certainly a number teens or children would make calls too…maybe even adults reliving their youth.” Tommy Tutone, the entity behind the distinguished digits, is not actually a person, but rather, a four-piece band fronted by singer-guitarist Tommy Heath. They featured the phone number prominently — overall, it is uttered 20 times during the song, and shown three times in the corresponding music video. Potter admitted that there was one aspect of having a famous phone number that he won’t miss. “I’ve heard some very, very bad singing performances, ” he said

Found on Ebay

If you surf the net, you’ve probably looked around on Ebay. What did you search for? Collectibles or antiques? used DVD’s or video games? maybe a book or used electronic items? Maybe you’ve even tried your hand at selling something on Ebay too. But have you ever looked for used clothing? How about circus freak memorabilia? dentures? Or canned rattlesnake meat from the 1950’s? Marc Hartzman discovered that all of these items and more like them, (much more) were available for sale on Ebay if you looked in the right places. In fact, he found so many weird items, he wrote a book about it! Called (appropriately enough) “Found on Ebay”, it chronicles not only the items themselves, but the sometimes odd stories behind them, as well as the conversations he had with the sellers prior to purchase.

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Marc Hartzman lived in Jersey City at the time he wrote this book and was gracious enough to show me some of his Ebay collection, and discuss the various pieces. So how did Marc turn a search for circus freak memorabilia into a book complete with press interviews? “It began really innocently. I was doing a search for freak show stuff, and a lot of other things can up in the search. I couldn’t believe some of the things I was finding, so I began entering keywords like Poop, used dentures, enema, garden gnome, penis, etc. Also, descriptions were good: old dirty, old filthy, old rusty, gross, nasty, etc. “I found this hysterically funny, and I just knew there was a book in this somewhere. Soon I was bidding on some of the items I had found. I even emailed some of the owners, and I asked them about their items, but I couldn’t come out say that I was writing a book, so I had to be coy about it.” One of my favorite examples is his conversation with the owner of the deer poop paper weight. “Where was the poop found?” he wrote the seller. “I’m a collector of animal droppings from around the world.” The response? “I have Massachusetts and Maine whitetail deer poop. I also have wild turkey (MA) and porcupine poop (ME).” (The mark of a true seller: marketing your other products…) He said that as things wore on he started asking stupider & stupider questions and amazingly they were answered as if they were serious questions. Marc asked the seller of a hornets nest (hornets not included typed in caps) if he could use it as a piñata, and the seller said, “sure it’s all sorts of pretty colors.”

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By December 2001, Marc had assembled a list of items for the book and he pitched it to several publishers. Universe immediately responded, and things were rolling. For legal reasons he had to get signed waivers from the individuals, most of whom were quite cooperative. One notable exception was a gentleman who was selling a used sock. “You’re a pervert and a weirdo, absolutely not.” This from a man selling a used sock on the internet! “I found that most of the people who wouldn’t consent were the ones selling clothing. They apparently were worried that somehow they’d be linked to the item I guess.” Like selling a smock with a bullet hole in it from a store robbery would be consider lo-brow or something…. Surprisingly he didn’t have to get Ebay’s permission to use the word Ebay, although he was unable to use their logo.

Among the items he showed me were: an antique oatmeal box, an antique enema machine, a walking staff made from a Bull penis that was dried, stretched and had a metal shaft poured down the middle, a bag of shredded money, a bottle carved out of the top of a fence post, a lucky bingo cowboy, a shark fetus, a bowling trophy, used dentures, and a can of Libby’s Corn Beef, a deer poop paperweight, a patriotic sears hat, and a bull testicle purse pouch…

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Click here to buy this book at Amazon.com Click here to buy this book at B&N.com

Click the links above to buy the book online

NJ Turnpike tumbler penis Garden old Sears hat

Necklace made from goat toenails Frog turned into zipper coin pouch Frog turned into zipper coin pouch

Marc Hartzman lived in Jersey City at the time he wrote this book and was gracious enough to show me some of his Ebay collection, and discuss the various pieces. So how did Marc turn a search for circus freak memorabilia into a book complete with press interviews? “It began really innocently. I was doing a search for freak show stuff, and a lot of other things can up in the search. I couldn’t believe some of the things I was finding, so I began entering keywords like Poop, used dentures, enema, garden gnome, penis, etc. Also, descriptions were good: old dirty, old filthy, old rusty, gross, nasty, etc. “I found this hysterically funny, and I just knew there was a book in this somewhere. Soon I was bidding on some of the items I had found. I even emailed some of the owners, and I asked them about their items, but I couldn’t come out say that I was writing a book, so I had to be coy about it.” One of my favorite examples is his conversation with the owner of the deer poop paper weight. “Where was the poop found?” he wrote the seller. “I’m a collector of animal droppings from around the world.” The response? “I have Massachusetts and Maine whitetail deer poop. I also have wild turkey (MA) and porcupine poop (ME).” (The mark of a true seller: marketing your other products…) He said that as things wore on he started asking stupider & stupider questions and amazingly they were answered as if they were serious questions. Marc asked the seller of a hornets nest (hornets not included typed in caps) if he could use it as a piñata, and the seller said, “sure it’s all sorts of pretty colors.”

A collection of Oddities

By December 2001, Marc had assembled a list of items for the book and he pitched it to several publishers. Universe immediately responded, and things were rolling. For legal reasons he had to get signed waivers from the individuals, most of whom were quite cooperative. One notable exception was a gentleman who was selling a used sock. “You’re a pervert and a weirdo, absolutely not.” This from a man selling a used sock on the internet! “I found that most of the people who wouldn’t consent were the ones selling clothing. They apparently were worried that somehow they’d be linked to the item I guess.” Like selling a smock with a bullet hole in it from a store robbery would be consider lo-brow or something…. Surprisingly he didn’t have to get Ebay’s permission to use the word Ebay, although he was unable to use their logo.

Among the items he showed me were: an antique oatmeal box, an antique enema machine, a walking staff made from a Bull penis that was dried, stretched and had a metal shaft poured down the middle, a bag of shredded money, a bottle carved out of the top of a fence post, a lucky bingo cowboy, a shark fetus, a bowling trophy, used dentures, and a can of Libby’s Corn Beef, a deer poop paperweight, a patriotic sears hat, and a bull testicle purse pouch…

click here for larger picture click here for larger picture

click here for larger picture click here for larger picture

Some sellers gave him items for free, or in some cases loaned them to him for the purposes of the book. One of the best stories involved the JFK Lawn gnome. The Lawn gnome is one of a 4 piece set of World leaders, the others being Khrushchev, Adenauer, and De Gauile. Marc really wanted the item because a) it was unique, b) it could valuable years from now but most importantly c) it struck him as hysterically funny. (That appears to have been the prerequisite for most of the items it seems) He got into a bidding war, and the price climbed to over $100 but it didn’t meet the reserve. Marc emailed the owner and asked if he could buy it, and the owner said the reserve was $150. Gritting his teeth, Marc agreed to the price. Why? Why does anybody pay more then they wanted to on Ebay? Because they have to have that item! Unfortunately Marc revealed what he was doing, and the owner then refused to sell it to him. “It’s a museum quality piece,” the owner stated. Luckily for Marc, the owner agreed to loan him the piece, with Marc sending him a $150 deposit in case it wasn’t returned.

Other people loaned him items but with less then successful results. One man was selling his big toe nail clipping. What’s the big deal about a toe nail clipping? Says Marc, “It was a BIG toe nail clipping.” Ebay shut the auction down because of it’s prohibition of sales of body parts. The seller agreed to let Marc borrow the sale item, and shipped it to Marc in a standard white envelope. Unfortunately, the rigors of the US Postal System crushed the nail en route, and all Marc received was bunch of toe nail fragments. Amazed at the poor shipping manner, Marc relayed the news to the owner and asked if he wanted it back. Said the owner, “Wow I thought it would’ve arrived in mint condition.”

Some sales on Ebay are closed by them because it violates the rules. Like trying to selling your soul. Definitely against the rules. Why? Well you have to sell something tangible, & you can’t sell body parts. If a soul doesn’t exist, then it violates the first rule, and if it does, it violates the second. But that doesn’t stop people from trying. So some entrepreneurs have found a way around that rule: tie it to something else like a whiffleball.

A look around Marc’s house reveals quite an eclectic collection of items. Aside from the items bought on Ebay, the apartment was full of freak show and circus memorabilia, comics from the 1940’s, and dozens & dozens of small figures from Ozzy Osbourne to Where the Wild Things are to comic book characters. So what does his fiancée think about all this? According to Marc she “would prefer I get rid of some of this stuff. But she wouldn’t mind if we picked up a two headed calf.” Considering the owner wanted 20,000 as the opening bid, it seems doubtful that will happen. Of course if Marc ever found a two headed calf, he could sell it on Ebay and pay for his wedding. Something tells me that if that ever happened, he would keep it for his collection.

Marc publishes his own publication called Backwash zine. It is a collection of humor stories, music reviews, and interviews with unusual people ranging from Vanilla Ice to the original Blockhead. The zine has skewed recently towards circus show freaks in recent issues, as evidenced by his interviews with Beetlejuice the dwarf wrestler and Johnny Fox, owner of the Freaktorium. Does he make money selling his zine? “I used to have a sweet deal with a publisher, but he lost his job so now I have to pay full price. Sometimes I lose money, sometimes I don’t overall I guess I break even.” What if the book doesn’t sell enough copies to cover expenses? “I don’t know! Let’s hope that doesn’t happen!”

With positive press, an energetic attitude and armed with a banjo-playing dead frog, a 2 headed baby chick, an antique enema machine and a whole lotta high hopes, how can he not succeed?

Shaving as an art form

Roger Sayre is a photography professor at Pace University who preference is conceptual art. In 2004 he turned himself into a walking piece of art by offering on Ebay to shave his beard into anything the winner wanted (with certain limitations). The auction generated thousands of hits and made newspapers and tv reports worldwide. He sold his “art” for $160 and donated it to charity. I heard about this auction and art creation when he contacted Weird NJ and they included a reference to it in their weekly email update. About 4 days into the auction Roger decided to try to generate some publicity. He began by emailing friends, but then decided to put out a press release on a news website. From there it took off, and he did radio interviews on an Opie & Anthony type program in Chicago, and even in Ireland.

Roger was gracious enough to allow me to document the creation of this art, and to tell me his story, which has numerous unexpected turns including fake bidders. Although I’ve detailed the story below, you can listen to him discuss the project in an interview Roger gave on WFMU. Click on June 3rd 2004 and go 1:04 into the audio file.

One of Roger’s more recent art projects was a phone booth sized pinhole camera which takes one picture over the course of an hour. After placing it in a studio gallery, people would reserve time to have their picture taken. “It really creates very different pictures depending on whether they sit still or move their face much.” After attending a presentation about artists who use Ebay as a medium (one person sold his soul, another sold his “blackness”) he wondered how he might be able to utilize Ebay. He decided to grow his beard for six months and then offer the beard for sale. Not the beard itself – the auction winner would get to decide how he would shave his beard, ala Wooly Willy. Ever heard of Wooly Willy? Me neither. It’s a tablet based game with a bald guy face and you drag the magnet marker around to leave iron particles as hair either on top of his noggin or as a beard. This game was popular about 40 years ago, but not so much now.

Under the title “Shave my beard for art, real life Wooly Willy”, he started his auction at $4.99. The winner would decide what type of beard Roger would have, then Roger would shave his face. He would wear the beard in its new form for at least one month, making him a walking piece of art. Roger suggested numerous types of beards including the Mutton Chop, the Handlebar, and the Anchor.

Roger really wanted no money for this and planned to donate the entire amount to charity, but he didn’t tell anyone because he wanted the purchase to be about the art, not a charitable contribution. “I was hoping I’d get $25, and after a day or so I began checking the hit count frequently.” To his surprise the hit counts and the bidding just kept going up. Unsurprisingly some bidders wanted unusual designs. He immediately specified 2 restrictions: no Hitler moustaches, and nothing involving an intricate design (too difficult).

One bidder who was insisting on a Hitler moustache piqued his curiosity, but had nothing but negative feedback. He investigated the identity of another of suspicious bidder, checking Ebay records, did some Google searches and came up with a phone number. What he discovered was that a disgruntled HS student had created a fake Ebay ID using a teachers info. He then bid on things and didn’t pay, generating negative feedback. He apparently also did other things to make the teacher look bad.

The auction eventually closed at $160, and Roger invited me to be present for the shaving of the beard. The winning bidder lived nearby and she selected an Amish look. A few strokes with an electric razor, cleanup with a BIC and it was done. The winner got a picture of the result, and a certificate of ownership of this “living artwork.” When he dons a serious expression he actually looks Amish (the glasses really add to the appearance). All he needs is a felt hat and a pitchfork.

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