Scrap Exchange Update

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Editor’s Note

This doesn’t actually have anything to do with this blog, except for the Support The Scrap Exchange logo in the sidebar, but it’s what I’ve been doing, so I’ll give the update. For those who are not from this area and/or have not heard me talk about The Scrap Exchange, I’ll say that The Scrap Exchange is a nonprofit creative reuse center that collects unwanted materials and makes them available at low cost to the community for reuse. I’m on the board and spend a lot of time there.


The last two weeks have been too crazy to even try to describe, but I think we’re through the worst of it. We moved, then moved, then moved again, finally settling most of the massive volume of stuff that was in our store at 923 Franklin St, which is a huge building behind Golden Belt, where we hope to be for many, many years.

We’ll be open for business beginning Saturday, June 4, regular store hours (Sat 10 to 5, Sun 12 to 5, MTWF 11 to 5, Thu 11 to 6). Also on Saturday there is a benefit concert at the Casbah (next to Brightleaf) with a bunch of bands and other fun stuff going on.

We love our new space, and we have a lot more room to work with than we did at Liberty Warehouse, but our rent just tripled, and we’re taking a huge hit with disruption from all the moving, so we need to hustle.

We finished getting things out of 539 Foster today and then I ate and took a nap and when I woke up I was thinking about one of my favorite stories from the Arabian Nights.

The story is called “Ali the Persian” and it’s just a little throwaway piece that isn’t typically found in the published abridged versions of the book, you generally have to look for it in the large multi-volume sets.

It’s about a man who left Baghdad on a trip with his possessions in a small leather bag. He stopped in a nearby city and while he was in the market, the bag was stolen by a “rascally Kurd” who claimed that the bag was his. They agree to take the case to a judge (Kazi) and abide by the judgment.

So the judge asks whose bag it is and the Kurd says that it’s his

Verily, this bag is my bag and all that is in it is my swag. It was lost from me and I found it with this man mine enemy.

The judge says okay, if it’s your bag, tell me what’s in it.

The Kurd says

There were in my bag two silver styles for eye-powder and antimony for the eyes and a kerchief for the hands, wherein I had laid two gilt cups and two candlesticks. Moreover it contained two tents and two platters and two spoons and a cushion and two leather rugs and two ewers and a brass tray and two basins and a cooking-pot and two water-jars and a ladle and a sacking-needle and a she-cat and two bitches and a wooden trencher and two sacks and two saddles and a gown and two fur pelisses and a cow and two calves and a she-goat and two sheep and an ewe and two lambs and two green pavilions and a camel and two she-camels and a lioness and two lions and a she-bear and two jackals and a mattrass and two sofas and an upper chamber and two saloons and a portico and two sitting-rooms and a kitchen with two doors and a company of Kurds who will bear witness that the bag is my bag.

Then the judge asks Ali the Persian, the original owner, to tell him what was in it.

Verily there was naught in this my wallet, save a little ruined tenement and another without a door and a dog-house and a boys’ school and youths playing dice and tents and tent-ropes and the cities of Bassorah and Baghdad and the palace of Shaddad bin Ad and an ironsmith’s forge and a fishing-net and cudgels and pickets and girls and boys and a thousand pimps who will testify that the bag is my bag.

The Kurd hears Ali the Persian’s words and weeps and wails.

O my lord the Kazi, this my bag is known and what is in it is a matter of renown; for in this bag there be castles and citadels and cranes and beasts of prey and men playing chess and draughts. Furthermore, in this my bag is a brood-mare and two colts and a stallion and two blood-steeds and two long lances; and it containeth eke a lion and two hares and a city and two villages and a whore and two sharking panders and an hermaphrodite and two gallows-birds and a blind man and two wights with good sight and a limping cripple and two lameters and a Christian ecclesiastic and two deacons and a patriarch and two monks and a Kazi and two assessors, who will be evidence that the bag is my bag.

So the judge asks Ali to reply

Being filled with rage, I came forward and said, “Allah keep our lord the Kazi! I had in this my wallet a coat of mail and a broadsword and armouries and a thousand fighting arms and a sheep-fold with its pasturage and a thousand barking dogs and gardens and vines and flowers and sweet smelling herbs and figs and apples and statues and pictures and flagons and goblets and fair-faced slave-girls and singing-women and marriage-feasts and tumult and clamour and great tracts of land and brothers of success, which were robbers, and a company of daybreak-raiders with swords and spears and bows and arrows and true friends and dear ones and intimates and comrades and men imprisoned for punishment and cup-companions and a drum and flutes and flags and banners and boys and girls and brides (in all their wedding bravery), and singing girls and five Abyssinian women and three Hindi maidens and four damsels of Al-Medinah and s score of Greek girls and eighty Kurdish dames and seventy Georgian ladies and Tigris and Euphrates and a fowling net and a flint and steel and many-columned Iram and a thousand rogues and pimps and horse-courses and stables and mosques and baths and a builder and a carpenter and a plank and a nail and a black slave with his flageolet and a captain and a caravan-leader and towns and cities and an hundred thousand dinars and Cufa and Anbar and twenty chests full of stuffs and twenty store-houses for victual and Gaza and Askalon and from Damietta to Al-Sawan; and the palace of Kisra Anushirwan and the kingdom of Solomon and from Wadi Nu’uman to the land of Khorasan and Balkh and Ispahan and from India to the Sudan. Therein also (may Allah prolong the life of our lord the Kazi!) are doublets and cloths and a thousand sharp razors to shave off the Kazi’s beard, except he fear my resentment and adjudge the bag to be my bag.

The judge was completely baffled by all of this and told them that they were both a couple of jokers.

I see ye twain be none other than pestilent fellows, atheistical villains who make sport of Kazis and magistrates and stand not in fear of reproach. Never did tongue tell nor ear hear aught more extraordinary than that which we pretend. By Allah, from China to Shajarat Umm Ghaylan, nor from Fars to Sudan nor from Waki Nu’uman to Korasan, was ever heard the like of what ye avouch or credited the like of what ye affirm. Say fellows, be this bag a bottomless sea or the Day of Resurrection that shall gather together the just and unjust?

Then he had them open the bag: “…so I opened it and behold, there was in it bread and a lemon and cheese and olives.”

I’m not sure why I like this story so much, but I think it’s really funny. And the description of what Ali the Persian and the Kurd claimed to be in the bag is what it feels like we moved over the past two weeks. Though maybe without the she-goats and the singing girls. But the little ruined tenement and another without a door were definitely in there.

One Response to “Scrap Exchange Update”

  1. Bryant Says:

    Thanks Rebecca, this is a great story–I think moving the she camels was hardest for the Scrap X. Other than the camels, everyone was pretty even tempered and untiring, or rather pulling energy from that bag with the bread and cheese and lemons. Sort of like the loaves and fishes–people came out of no where and we moved and moved and moved. Then you and Ann moved some more. Amen

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