You say 'bizarre'

 I say 'bazaar'
By SHARON STEEL  |  December 21, 2006

Utilities from Truth Serum
I stood in front of thePlain Mabel table for a full five minutes, gripping a super-soft zipper pouch fashioned out of fabric that featured a pink bunny rabbit hunting for lady bugs, deliberating. I did not need it, and yet I wanted it. Desperately. I looked at the two girls holding court behind their table of handmade wares. They watched me with sympathy. I imagined they hoarded boxes of their crafts under their beds, unable to sell them, unable to use them, seized with the overwhelming desire to simply stare at them in glassy-eyed awe. Which is what I was exactly what I was doing: monopolizing not only the pouches, but the terrific journals created out of refurbished Nancy Drew hard covers.

I visited each of the 80 vendors participating in the Bazaar Bizarre last Saturday, a punk-rock version of a musty church-basement flea-market, where unique and distinctive artsy goods and silk-screened t-shirts replace bins of ill-fitting St. John’s sweaters and chipped teacups. Greg Der Ananian organized the first Baz Biz six years ago, and its grown parallel to the craft-obsessed revolution. All afternoon — gazing at the piles of cute things — I was flooded by the same impulse I tend to have when I see tiny dogs wearing clothes, adorable infants clapping their hands, and doll-house furniture displayed in old-timey antique stores. It’s the urge to squeal in a high-pitched, girlish way that would frighten the dog, the baby, and the owner of said antique store. This is quickly followed by the desire to buy everything I see and keep it for myself. But I must stifle that compulsion: ‘Tis the season, etc., and I was there to get other people gifts. Not me. Other people.  

Amongst the teeming crowd of scarf-wearing hipsters, I knew I was much better off overheating in my coat at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, fighting for a spot while the girls who runPocketo help me pick out one of their brightly-colored plastic wallets, than I would be trudging through the Prudential Center. There, I’d be livid, weaving through throngs of fanatical bargain-hunters, hard-pressed to locate an item that didn’t scream “Regift me, I’m an overpriced piece of crap!”, and so distracted by hunger I’d be forced to circulate the food court again and again, begging the free teriyaki chicken pimps for one more damn piece to stop myself from fainting out of wholesome holiday joy. Not so at the Baz Biz. The mood is feverish, though the perks are clear: cool stuff, a reasonably priced snack bar, no line for the bathrooms, and we’re spared from hearing any butchered mallrat remixes of Destiny’s Child doing “White Christmas.” Instead, a rotating slot of local celeb DJs spun background tunes, and Johnny “Spaceman” Bernhardt’s played fancy theremin carols.

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