Green Acres
Mimbres author and goat rancher Doug Fine says, Farewell, My Subaru

The Political Kraft
Las Crucen Tim Kraft, an architect of Jimmy Carter's 1976 election

Taxicab Confessions
The bumpy road of driving a small-town cab

A World of Good
Volunteering at an orphanage in AIDS-ravaged Zambia

Voice of a
Ranch Woman

Sharing the secrets of feeding cowboys

Tales from the Rails
Four true train stories

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Editor's Note
Desert Diary

Enchantment for Sale on eBay
Lowe Card Wins
Top 10

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40 Days & 40 Nights
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About the cover


D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e    March 2008

Enchantment For Sale

What New Mexico items have found their way to eBay?

By Jeff Berg

I love going to a store and then having the checkout person ask me, "Did you find everything you were looking for?" My jaded sense of humor always leaps into action when someone asks me this, and various answers sometimes spew forth as my two brain cells collide.

Act now and this T-shirt could be yours to
wear with, uh, pride.

Often the answer would be "no," since I live in Las Cruces, and find very little of what I look for here. I buy almost everything that I need elsewhere — from clothes (try to find a shirt not made in China around here) to books (Powell's in Portland trumps them all) to DVDs (too many outlets to list) and even some groceries (monthly sojourns to Albuquerque/Santa Fe or Tucson always end with stops at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or Wild Oats, commonly known as Whole Paycheck or Wild Profits around our house).

And there are always some things that you just can't find anywhere, and that is where eBay comes in.

Certainly most everything has come up for sale on this cyber garage sale (www.ebay.com), and I have to laugh at some of things that people put up for bid on the world's biggest electronic flea market.

For those who are still fortunate enough to not be using a home computer or even a public one, eBay is a monster Web site that allows anyone to sell most anything on it. Often, something will go up for bid in an auction-type atmosphere, but there are also a number of "stores" that sell everything from Boop to mutts. Well, they don't really sell dogs, but a quick generic look at what comes up when I type in "dogs" reveals that tonight I can have my choice of 90,130 things that are dog-related. Included in this bonanza of mostly useless nonsense (no, I didn't look at all of the items, sorry) was a "24 x 35 Animal Art Oil Painting — Dog Geltleman (sic) In Suit."

Now, I try not to criticize others' work too harshly, but this painting was pretty pathetic. Not only that, but the folks who run the "Global Art Depot" couldn't spell to save their lives. Based in Texas, of course, this seller claims that similar paintings ("THIS IS 100% HAND PAINTED OIL ON CANVAS!!!") would sell for $500 or more in art galleries!

Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Since no one bid on the "Geltleman Dog in Suit," when it is reposted, it will probably be worth $1,000.

Betty Boop fared somewhat the same, and those who collect items featuring this cutesy little miscreant (she was even recently featured on a set of scratch-offs issued by the New Mexico Lottery) would have had a devil of a time trawling through the 3,197 things I count on Super Bowl Sunday. Betty is featured on everything from ladies' nightgowns to "tobacciana," a word that my computer rejects, but that is a descriptor for all things relating to tobacco — mostly lighters and cigarette cases.

The bidding on "Boopiana" is pretty quiet this night, with only a few items garnering even a single bid, and most falling into the "buy it now" category; eBay looks like an abandoned drive-in theater on a Sunday morning. What fun is it if you can't actually bid against somebody for this junk?

Soon tiring of not finding anything good to get my eBay-addicted friend to bid on for me (I refuse to sign up for my own account, as I buy very little online, preferring to give my credit-card number to a complete stranger at an 800 number instead), I plug in "New Mexico" and search.

Quicker than you can say "pop-up," I have my choice of 1,954 eBay items that are supposedly related to New Mexico.


Depicted is a lot criss-crossed with huge power poles in a development known as Rio del Oro. ("Oro," my eye!) I guess they posted that picture first so you could be sure that there was actually human settlement someplace in the vicinity. A stretch of highway with a stoplight is also in the photo. There are only six minutes and 33 seconds left for me to bid — should I be the first to bid $25 for the down payment on the lot, and sign up for the friendly owner-financing on the rest? NO, I DON'T THINK SO, BUT THANKS FOR ASKING.

As one would expect, most of the "New Mexico" items actually have the word "Mexico" in the title — stuff like a pair of new (not used, thank you) Men's Adidas Superstar Mexico shoes, size nine, for only $34.99 as an opening bid, with a whopping $11.30 shipping charge tacked on. (One day I will do a story on how to avoid most shipping and so-called "handling" fees.) These lovely shoes are also from Texas.

Among the other things that are really New Mexico-related are a number of police-uniform patches (people are actually bidding on these) and another piece of art proclaimed to be a framed "Navajo Sand Painting" was signed by the artist, "R. Johnson." No one is interested in Mr. or Ms. Johnson's labors, even with a low starting bid of $45.

I find still more land — some "Deming Ranchettes," with a starting price of $10 for a half-acre, with a photo that looks like the seller couldn't be bothered to get out of the car to take the picture. I can bid on any number of high-school yearbooks and a smattering of collectibles with New Mexico connections.

And then there is this one item. . . . Someone in Albuquerque, who also can't spell, is selling a "1960 impala 2 door hard top New Mexico car." Clearly listed as a project car, this little gem has a high bid of 2,125 buckaroos with one day of bidding to go. Oddly, the seller says, "This car has been sitting for many years. The old man that I got the car from says it runs. I have never started it. I got the back glass and the crome (sic) that is missing from the back window. This is a power steering car."

The date on the digital photo of this heap is from January 2004. Hmmm. . . buyer beware?

I can't help but wonder why someone would buy this car and never try starting it — for years? I mean, isn't that the purpose of a car — to start and go? Anyway, the primer-gray beauty is a two-door hardtop that someone had started to rebuild, but hadn't finished. Probably was distracted by the Boston Red Sox dog sweater category on eBay.

Typing in "New +Mexico," which is usually a way to guarantee better search results when using more than one word, fails me this time. The same land offer in Deming comes up first, followed immediately by a variety of Mexican flags, and an "antique Raton, New Mexico brick" that had four eBayers (eBayites?) furiously pushing the price up to $21.49, not counting shipping. What does one do with a Raton brick?

Quickly growing bored with the endless list of stuff, I scroll through pages of beer mugs and license plates. I skip past the Chico's New Mexico sweater, where the seller doesn't explain why it is a "New Mexico" sweater, and past the 15 acres of Carlsbad desert for only $579,000, until I accidentally bump into the perfect item to end this expose.

It's an item that would allow me to "blend my sense of humor with my state pride," as so aptly noted by the seller who also WRITES EVERYTHING IN BIG BLOCK LETTERS. It is a T-shirt. The catchy phrase as depicted, and which takes precedence over the other T-shirts that have such laugh-out-loud phrases as "Strippers Love The Cubs" and "(fill in your favorite sport team name) NYMPHO," is the one that screams, in all caps and missing punctuation:


I don't have the slightest idea.

Senior Writer Jeff Berg never shops 'til he drops.


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