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Flea Day: Long Beach

September 22, 2009

Succulent choices abound

It’s the third Sunday of the month, time to hit the Long Beach Flea Market. And, early! Because for me there’s nothing like getting first dibs on the stuff as it’s still coming off the trucks. Especially when it comes to plants. The two vendors that deal mainly with succulents usually have their best specimens snapped up very quickly, so I have to be there by 7 or 7:30 am, at the latest, to have my pick. This visit I was able to purchase 3 different varieties of agave, one that the vendor said was very rare. He described it as coming from the hillsides of Puebla, Mexico, and that there were very few in The States. I love a good story so that one was a must-have. I also got a tall thin-leaved type as well as a beautiful pale green and white variegated version. But, best of all, I got a dragon tree which will go well with the other variety of dragon tree I already have. All for $80! The vendor gives me a price break because I always buy so many plants from him and because, as he says, “I know they’re going to a good home”.


Prints and paintings; garden spiffers; industrial carts

Of course plants are not the end-all at the flea market. There’s also, well, everything else. Some of the things that caught my eye were signed prints and paintings from Mexico City, including a great Tamayo print of a crimson shrimp that was commanding lots of attention. The dealer who specializes in old concrete garden ornaments brought out both a pious St. Francis and a classic slumbering Mexican she said was made in the ’30s. Vintage industrial carts showed up with a makeover, ready for a new life as patio tables or maybe even chaise longues — just add cushions.


Carefully curated randomness

Some vendors go to great pains to make sure their wares are well-displayed, leading to quirky arrangements of seemingly random things. All playing off each other in a bizarro and fun way.


African effects; carved whatsits; private display

Seeing some of what’s on offer you have to ask yourself: where did all this stuff come from? The answer’s easy in the case of African artifacts; ask the vendor and he’ll tell exactly which part of the continent his goods were made at. Other stuff on offer is harder to pin down. A belligerent carved plaster monkey atop a doric column, next to an unrefined attempt at Aztec stonework, defy you to ponder their origins. This particular visit there also seemed to be many privates showing. Not private showings, but all manner of art works with their bits on display. A full chested beehive-sporting cutie here, a fishnet-stockinged provocateur (male) lolling on a bed in a huge painting there, and this athletic lower torso and legs carved out of wood for $600. We didn’t note any offers on the piece while at this vendor’s area but if I were to place one I’d have to haggle on price — the, er, man-parts were an obvious afterthought and not even the same color as the rest of the wood!


Graphic eyecatchers; curious hybrid

I’m always struck by colors and the overall graphic impact of some vendor’s displays. Much of it is accidental and that unconcious association makes it even more fun for the eye.


Paul rolls off with the booty

A usual Long Beach Flea Market visit takes about 3 hours. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes we, well, I, spend lots of money and sometimes not that much (this time, I had to work to spend $125). Sometimes prices are really low and the vendors are into haggling (this was not one of those times). Sometimes it’s super hot, sometimes super cold, sometimes all in the same visit (so it’s best to dress in layers). This time it was super hot, so after arriving at 7:30 a.m. we were ready to pack up our plants and other gew-gaws at around 11 to head back to The Rancho. Now, to decide where to plant these latest additions…

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Eve Maram permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:47 am

    Hi Reuben! Your blog is beautiful- no surprise! Art is life and vice versa where there is Reuben, so now the magic touch is gracing the Rancho! Looking forward to more of your vision and verse-


    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 24, 2009 4:29 am

      What a great response, Eve! Thanks, and keep reading, there’s more to come. R

  2. Sheeba permalink
    September 24, 2009 6:03 pm

    I finally get a moment to read “what you guys did last week”:)
    Beautiful pics, great picks & love Paul’s hat. I particularly like the industrial carts…thank you Reuben for giving us a glimpse of the Long beach flea market…can’t tell you how much I’ve heard about it.
    Can’t wait to see where you have them all planted.


  3. Bonnie Reynolds permalink
    September 26, 2009 1:09 am

    Great mention in the Times today for your blog…congrats!
    By the way, I have a new neighborhood rule that you & Paul needs to bring 2 carts to the Long Beach Flea Market and drop one off at our house everytime you go and bring back plants. If it ever gets any cooler I will be interested in working in my yard again; meanwhile I will have to make do with jealously driving past your house.
    Really enjoy reading your blog and the photos are great.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 27, 2009 1:26 am

      Thanks, Bonnie… When the weather cools off you and Bruce should come to the flea market with us; it’s really fun!

  4. Rae permalink
    September 27, 2009 12:05 pm

    Reuben, I met you at your yard sale this morning. Thank you for mentioning your blog. Being a Riverside resident, I can’t help but ask if you’ve visited Mexican Hat Cactus Nursery? The prices are probably not as good as those at the Long Beach Flea Market, but the guy (who pretty much converted his property into a full blown cactus/succulent farm and has been there for decades) has wonderful species. Unfortunately, you have to call before visiting, but he’s usually there throughout the week. I’m hoping to pick up a Madagascar ocotillo soon. On the topic of dragon trees, I saw a 300-year-old Dracaena draco in Portugal so large it warrants structural support:

    Hooray, plants!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 27, 2009 12:38 pm

      Thanks, Rae… it was nice to see you again and I was happy you were so happy with the painting! Email me a pic of it in its new home, I’d love to see it. You know, I have heard of Mexican Hat but just have never seemed to get out there (the weekday hours-thing, I guess). Will have to try soon. Thanks for the link to that amazing dragon tree picture! I only wish I could live long enough to see mine reach half that size… almost as amazing as the tree itself is that support device — some definite design sensibility at work there!

  5. Mary permalink
    September 27, 2009 5:09 pm

    Thank you Reuben, for sharing your wonderful garden and artistic talent with me and my friend Cecilia. We love what you have accomplished in such a short period of time.

    I LOVE your blog! Keep up the great work.

    Hello to Paul and Pucci.


    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 27, 2009 7:16 pm

      My pleasure, Mary! Thanks for the kind comments and it was great having you and Cecilia over. Hoping to see you both soon, Reuben

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