Monday night means getting back into the swing of the work week. It means football, in the winter. It means Mike and Frank will be traveling around the country, looking to pay damned near retail (or more) for junk. Welcome to American Pickers!
Mike and Frank went to Texas, this week. When you go to Texas, there are warning signs on highways that tell you gasoline will NOT be available for hundreds of miles. Everything is bigger in Texas, and that mainly means the distances between towns. You don’t go to Texas to waste gas and time hopping around from place to place in a motor vehicle. Unless you are Mike and Frank.
Mike and Frank begin their pick of Texas by instructing Danielle to get in touch with their Texan friend John so they can visit him. The boys know John from swap meets, and they are eager to pick his place. Now, if John sells at swap meets, he doesn’t need to sell his stuff to other pickers and if John is a collector he isn’t going to want to sell the stuff he bought from pickers at retail prices to other pickers at picker prices. I don’t understand the point of visiting John, but this is American Pickers and what I think doesn’t matter.
While Danielle is on her fool’s errand, the boys zap down to Texas and make a stop at Ross and Angie Neal’s place. Ross’ grandfather was a tall businessman named “Little Boy.” Texas…Land of Long Horn Cattle and Little Boy. Honestly, it’s one of the very worst nicknames I’ve ever heard, but Little Boy is no longer with us and he isn’t going to care what I think.
Little Boy had a coin operated empire when he was alive, and his family is afraid that the legacy of Little Boy will be ruined by a leaky warehouse roof. So they’ve called the boys down to pick Little Boy’s machines, which sounds dirty and possibly illegal.
Little Boy’s warehouse is just chock full of the 1970s vending machines that replaced the cooler, more decorative vending machines of just about every decade but the 1970s. They are big and silver and rectangular and they have all of the charm of a meat locker, but they are uglier.
The boys do find two games to buy. Frank buys a Magic City pinball machine for $200 that he’ll sell for $500…after he spends $100 getting it repaired. So that’s $200 for the pinball machine. Pinball machines aren’t light and they aren’t small. It’s going to take up space in the van. The boys are far from home and burning up gas. More gas will burn when the van is full of heavy things. Is the pinball machine deal worth it? Nah. Does that stop Frank? Nah.
Mike buys a large hockey game that seems to have nothing going for it other than the fact that it has “Stanley Cup” on the side. Mike has it appraised later in the show and learns that the words “Stanley Cup” aren’t worth very much and he can expect to make a cool $50 on the game, which won’t nearly cover the gas money the van will burn up hauling the heavy thing all over the country.
Flush with their questionable success at Little Boy’s warehouse, the boys rush over to Little Boy’s partner’s warehouse in search of more questionable success. This warehouse is full of shiny, colorful, eye-catching pinball machines, and at first glance we think that Little Boy’s partner stole everything good when the business dissolved, but all that glitters is not vending machine gold. None of the pinball machines in Gerald’s Land Of Vending Machines Lost warehouse actually work. Gerald has a heavy Texas accent and the show subtitles everything he says like he’s speaking French or something. I don’t know why The History Channel doesn’t subtitle mush-mouthed Frank, but we have to figure out what he is saying on our own.
So the boys run into Gerald’s warehouse and buy a broken Muhammad Ali pinball machine and a broken Charlie’s Angels machine. After repairs, they expect to make $950, which is actually one of the bigger deals I’ve seen on the show lately. Provided the repairs cost what the boys think they will cost. But how will they get these games into the van along with the other two machines they’ve already bought? No worries. When they drive off, we can clearly see straight through the rear window of the van and right out of the windshield, which means that there isn’t even one pinball machine in that damned van.
One of three things is happening here.
#1 Thing That Could Be Happening Here – The History Channel is sending out a semi truck to haul what the American Pickers buy. That cuts the value of the picks even more, since it costs more to run a semi than it costs to run a van all over the place.
#2 Thing That Could Be Happening Here – Mike and Frank bought an Item Shrinker when picking the home of a mad scientist and they shrink the items they buy for easy transport. It that is the case, I don’t know why they don’t shrink Danielle and take her along with them.
#3 Thing That Could Be Happening Here – Mike and Frank are just pretending to buy this shit for the sake of television.
The next stop is in Sugarland to see Mandy. Danielle has tracked down Mandy, who is a race car driver and a carnival memorabilia collector. Danielle stresses to the boys repeatedly how cute Mandy is. I agree with Danielle. Mandy is cute and she collects fun stuff. The fact that Danielle notices how cute Mandy is makes me more determined than ever to meet Danielle some day and wink at her.
The boys don’t seem to even notice how cute Mandy is or how cute her stuff is, which makes me understand why they don’t mind riding around in a stinky van together. I’m not saying they are gay, I’m saying they are guys to the point where they aren’t men. If they hadn’t discovered picking, they would be living in their moms’ basements and playing Xbox until they gave themselves seizures.
From Mandy, the boys buy a 1930s motorcycle helmet with goggles and a 1970’s helmet that has “Wolfe” painted on it. Wolfe is Mike’s last name, so he plans to keep that helmet. He must have planned to keep the other one too, because no value was given for either helmet. That’s $200 down the drain. Cha-ching.
Next, Mike buys a ridiculous big Tweety mask for $15. No value on that one, either. So I assume Mike is keeping that to wear, too. Frank buys three fake penguins for $125 and expects to sell them for $300. Mike buys a paper mache horse for $190 and plans to sell it for $500. Then, he purchases a Clobber The Cobra carnival game for $100. He expects to sell it for $250. Minus all of the minuses on stuff that I think Mike is going to keep, the boys get a cool $420 from the Mandy pick and they don’t even enjoy being there except for the part where they shoot a cork gun twice. Danielle should have gone and hooked up with Mandy and they could have had their own, far cooler television show together.
Danielle is on a roll, and she has finally found Swap Meet John for the boys. John doesn’t answer his telephone. He doesn’t have internet access. That would have given me pause, right there. Collectors who don’t have internet access have inflated ideas of how much everything vintage is worth. They don’t realize that you can pop over to eBay and buy virtually anything. They say things like, “This is rare,” when the thing they are pointing at actually is NOT rare. They quote mint condition prices for things that have been eaten and shat out by Great Danes. In any event, Danielle has found John, and the boys must pop over to see him.
John looks like Santa Claus and he is in his workshop minus Mrs. Claus and elves. John’s workshop is in the middle of John’s personal junkyard. John keeps telling us that he is in the process of making a motorcycle museum, which leads me to believe that John is insane and thinks that there are people in all of those rusted out cars that are parked around his building. YOU PUT THOSE CARS OUT THERE, JOHN! THERE AREN’T PEOPLE IN THEM!
John didn’t call the boys to come pick him. He really doesn’t want to sell them anything. He is nice to them, but I start to wish he would shoot them as Mike begs and begs to buy things. Mike actually couldn’t be more insulting on this pick. He says to John, “We took your tour. Now sell us something.” Like, “We let you bore us and waste our time on this visit to you, now pay us back.”
Mike finally breaks the ice by getting John to sell him a Marathon Gasoline sign. It is a rare sign. Signs like it in nice condition sell for quite a bit of money. The sign John sells Mike isn’t nice. It has been laying around on the ground outside. It was FOLDED into thirds at one point, which is the kind of thing that isn’t good for a metal sign that is going to lay on the ground and rust where the folds are until it is in danger of falling apart when some picker picks it up and flaps it around. Mike pays $275 for the sign and hopes to sell it for nearly twice that. Good luck, Mike. Then Mike forces John to sell him the back end of an old Indian motorcycle frame and two old Indian wheels. Mike pays $3500 and hopes to make $1500 when he sells them for $5000. He’s also probably going to be haunted in his sleep by the sound of John wailing for his Indian parts. Way to go, Mike.
The History Channel marches on and so do the American Pickers. I assume they’ll march around Texas for a few more episodes, meeting cute girls and not noticing that they are cute and forcing people to sell things they don’t want to sell. Boys, do me a favor and don’t drop by my house. Unless it’s to drop off Danielle.