through time, people seeking answers have tried out
meditation, mantras, positive thinking, and the Power of
Now. Some have looked to the stars. Others have looked for
signs and portents in animal entrails, amulets, crystals
and tea leaves. Some have used plain old plastic to connect
with the Psychic Friends Network. But most take a
mainstream approach: they pray to a Cosmic Spook for
guidance, inner peace, or free stuff.
Not me. When I’m looking for something weird or wonderful,
I open my laptop and go to Craigslist.
Craigslist, one of the Internet’s great success stories, is
a network of online urban communities featuring free
classified advertisements. There are categories for jobs,
services, housing, personals, music gigs and resumes. There
are also forums for politics, religion, and many other
topics. Founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark for the San
Francisco Bay area, Craigslist has expanded across the US,
and is now in approximately 310 cities all over the world,
Forget blogs and e-bay: this online emporium for rugs,
rants and pranks is a word unto itself, and a local one at
that. The humour – usually unintentional, but not always -
is a bonus. Typos are a treat in the For Sale forums, where
there’s always a chance of coming across a "sleigh bed," a
"rot iron" dining set, "chester drawers," and in a classic
West Coast malapropism, a "Haida bed." But I’m not on
Craigslist just to snoop around for mispelled stuff. I’m
there for the sheer mystery of it. Why do so many people
think their used Haida bed or sofa is made more desirable
if an adorable plush toy is propped up on it in the photo?
Some of the odder local offerings are preserved for
posterity on a web page devoted to the Best of Craigslist,
Vancouver. "Free Chicken to Good Home," offered "the most
miserable-looking little chicken I’ve ever seen,"
discovered at corner of Commercial and Hastings.
"So there is a dirty and tattered (but otherwise healthy)
little chicken in my bathroom, I can hear him chirping away
as I type this. He has water, some torn up newspapers and
some whole grains to eat. Oh, and we put the lava lamp in
there in case he got cold."
This Craigslister points out that he will only give this
chicken to someone "who will take care of him and NOT eat
I won’t relay the forensic details of "To the Guy Who
Crapped in My Parking Stall Last Night." Okay, I will.
"First, you are almost certainly male. Either that or
you're the 1976 East German Women's Olympic Gold Medal
Weightlifting Champion. There's a slim possibility you're a
"I Need a BBQ and I’m a Darn Good Backyard Wrestler," is
the heading from one Lower Mainland resident, who’s clearly
had trouble with the "neighbours’ no-good teenaged thug
sons" who destroyed his Broil King. "Those boys in their
oversized tracksuits, all fired up on whatever they do up
in that weird shack they built up in the tree, listening to
that foul-mouthed rap music, are trying to break me. They
know I’m a semi-pro wrestler, that I trained with Chuck
Norris back when I lived Long Beach; they know I was once
in "Blackbelt" magazine; they know I am skilled and deadly
adversary." But this fellow doesn’t fight young punks
anymore, ever since finding the Lord. "But if someone wants
go get me a new Broil King, I will train them into an elite
street fighter over the summer, get them a Ninja suit or
Karate jumper and let them into my weapons closet to select
throwing stars, whips, bamboo fighting sticks, Korean
battle hammers and secret weapons I will not describe here.
Then this person will rid my street of these p***y-boy
rappers and I will resume my weekly BBQs and backyard
Normally I’d say you can’t make this stuff up, but in the
case of the backyard BBQ wrestler, I think somebody did.
The last item below also raises some questions about people
with Internet connections and a lot of time on their hands:
"Free object: I have an object here that I'm dying to get
rid of. It's made of material and is about so big. Origin
unclear, purpose vague or misunderstood. Ideal for
something. Has never let me down. Then again, has never let
me up, either. Would easily fit inside something else and
could, possibly, allow other things to fit inside it. It
boasts an exterior surface, a top-side, a bottom-side, and
assorted vertical planes. There is no handle that I can
discern. Responds well to gravity and inertia. Take this
damn thing off my hands. It's driving me nuts."
Sounds pretty iffy to me. But come to think of it, I’ve got
at least three of those damn things at home myself.