I took the morning to take myself to the Alameda Flea Market this morning to see what the fuss was all about. This event happens the first Sunday of every month, attracting around 800 vendors and over 10,000 people. Today was no exception-- I drove across the bridge around 8:30am and found myself in a line of cars backed up a mile or so from the actual market. I parked my car on the side of the road and walked in the distance.
Alameda is actually an island on the east side of the bay, just south of Oakland. The flea market takes place, as you may imagine, upon an enormous expanse of concrete-- I'm not sure what was once there, but perhaps a shipping yard? On the walk I saw huge dormant cranes next to enormous barges stacked high with shipping containers, mostly imports from Japan and China (you could tell from the company labels on the side). I thought it was interesting how this kind of product distribution, at least for this twelve days a year, shying in the shadow of an event cherishing things from the past. There's actually a rule posted at the front gate that nothing less than twenty years old is to be sold at the Alameda Flea Market-- followed by "NO EXCEPTIONS" in a large bold font. They're serious.
But after all the hype I found myself a little nonplussed by the whole thing-- the maze of stands was dizzying, true, but it was hard to feel like I had intimately discovered and made a connection with any object there when it was laid out on a table and three people were waiting behind me to see what I was looking at. No privacy! No intimacy! But other patrons were totally unfazed by the crowds and performing grotesque public displays of affection, showing off their newest 'score' to whoever would listen.
I purchased a few photographs, and had some lucky finds-- photographs of twins, of waterfalls, small wallet pictures of handsome soldiers, photographs of a small sepia plane in the sky and a boat fetching golf balls out of Lake Erie. To be posted on a later date, promise.