There's something incredibly creepy about estate sales. They're the closest most folks will ever come to grave robbery (not me, though, I write while tenderly caressing my lucky grave-robbing shovel) what with the overwhelming aura of death and all. Who wants to drink from the same flask as the recently deceased? Sure you might get a bargain but at what cost?
Sean O'Neal's beyond-awesome latest Friday Buzzkill hipped me to a very strange sort of estate sale. Only this time the tacky little brick-a-bracks on display belong not to a dead man but rather a man whose career and self-respect clearly died a hideous, painful death not long after the turn of the millennium. I'm talking of course about the Ebay auction for the personal items of corpulent boy-band-pimp Louis J. Pearlman Esquire, he of the Jabba The Hut-like physique and Fagin-like sense of personal and professional ethics. Here's a link: http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZa-v-sales .
As my colleague Mr. O'Neal has alluded, the items for sale on the Pearlman auction tell a heartbreaking story of greed, fame and disgrace. Perusing the list of items on display is like rummaging through a dead man's house and reading his diary. It's creepily, compellingly voyeuristic. Together these items function as X-ray into Pearlman's soul. His tacky, tacky, tacky soul. It's filled with items that are unexpectedly revealing from 11 CDs of ginormous self-help guru Anthony Robbins' "Personal Power" program to 6 new Chippendales coffee mugs. Then there is the endless procession of awards, many of them European, most of them obscure, all of them for sale at cut-rate prices.
Collectively these items spell out Pearlman's ascent from humble Queens College graduate to world-beater to tacky, disgraced dude reduced to selling his trinkets and baubles to the highest bidder. Pearlman's falling fortunes can be traced in the steep decline from world-beaters like N'Sync and Backstreet Boys to the dozens of new, unsold CDs of latter-day Pearlman acts like Natural and US5.
Few of the items on sale are sadder or more disturbing than paintings chronicling happier times. Honestly, is there anything in the world sadder than the following painting? Incidentally, Pearlman is the fellow in yellow at the center. Pearlman hobnobbed with Presidents and rock stars and transformed teenagers into household names only to lose it all to hubris and arrogance. It's a tacky pop-culture tragedy summed up in the tacky little doo-dads Pearlman assembled along the way.
This got me to thinking: if all my worldly belongings were sold on Ebay what would they say about me and the life I led? Would I be proud or ashamed? Would my story be told in awards and screaming headlines or my complete set of Hurricane Glasses from the Hard Rock Café? What about you, dear reader? What would an online auction of your belongings say about you? That you loved Dane Cook more than you let on? That you were the hippest hipster in all of hipsterville? That deep down you actually found Robin Williams both hilarious and touching? At least you can derive a small measure of comfort from the knowledge that you weren't anywhere near as pathetic as that Louis Pearlman chump.