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Monday, October 23, 2006

Everything Is My Everything

Bob Woodiwiss

Everything Is My Everything

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

It’s hard to believe but this month’s issue of Packrat Today, the very one you now hold in your hands, marks our 20th anniversary. This milestone means that for all the loyal hoarders out there who have been with us since the beginning, you now have 240 back issues of this publication mixed in with the other paper goods you have stacked, stored, or strewn around and about your house. And for that we thank you. Without your help, we couldn’t have become the third-most undiscardable monthly magazine in America (right behind National Geographic and Playboy).

But if you’re like the vast majority of our subscribers, just because your obsessions and/or compulsions make it impossible for you to throw away, recycle, or otherwise dispose of our magazine, we recognize that you may not be able to readily lay your hands on any of them. For instance, some issues might easily have gotten buried beneath the small mountain of junk mail-stuffed 30-gallon trash bags piled up in your living room. Others could be in the small bedroom’s closet, behind the wall of empty one-pound coffee cans you’re planning to use to hold the two stationary tubs full of nuts, bolts, screws, and washers down in the basement once you get them sorted and separated by size. Or could it be that your old Packrats are part of the eclectic mélange des objets chers crammed tightly into your garage and—dammit!—part of what’s been blocking the door from opening for the past few years?

Well, not to worry. Regardless of why you may not be able to locate a specific issue, now you don’t have to. Because to commemorate Packrat Today’s 20th anniversary, we’ve produced this special triple issue. Between these covers you’ll find dozens of our most popular, most talked about, most useful, most revealing, most practical features from the past two decades. In fact, this super-inclusive, ultra-multifarious 256-page extravaganza is so dense, so thick, so comprehensive, it’s virtually a fire hazard all by itself.

Of course, selecting what went into this landmark edition was like picking favorites from among my 67 cats or the half-dozen junkers in my driveway or my porch-full of salvaged computer monitors that I’m hoping to get around to fixing, probably next weekend or the one after that. But choices had to be made and after much discussion, hysterical tears, and an emergency psychiatric intervention, I, along with the rest of the editorial board, made them.

Here’s just a small preview of what’s in store:

The Media Savvy MetaSaver (September, 1986, première issue)
Our groundbreaking guide to what to say and how to say it when, after a tip from the Public Health Inspector or complaining neighbors, the press descends on you regarding your “practice of complete and unconditional preservation of goods previously thought to be disposable.” Instructive in the use of high-minded counter-phrases like “freedom of expression” and “jack-booted thugs” plus it provides several plausible alternative explanations for the high vermin count in your home’s vicinity.

A Guide to Alternating Layers of Newspapers and Dog Waste for Maximum Home Insulation (September, 1989)
This installment in our “Saving Energy by Saving Everything” series was instrumental in establishing “Arf-factors” as the certified incremental measure of fecal energy efficiency.

If Garbage Is So Worthless, Why Does the Sanitation Department Want It So Badly? (June, July, and August, 1999)
A hard-hitting three-part investigative report that exposed the all-too dirty dealings of the trash cartel.

Dumpster Diva (December, 2002)
An in-depth profile of “Cockamamie” Mamie Fletcher, Chairman and C.E.O. of the world’s largest “domestic detritus decorating” empire, OmniCrap. Among the many revelations in this story, none was more powerful than Mamie’s recounting of her early struggle with and eventual embrace of O.C.D. (recited three times in a row without interruption while standing on one foot with each retelling accompanied by a fresh piece of Bazooka bubblegum). On a lighter note, she also put fresh spins on two of her classic D.I.Y. sprucer-upper projects: “Turning a pile of old tires into a stack of old tires” and “Broken floor lamp or lightless hat rack?”

Pushing Your Luck: Is the 1999 AisleMaster Grocery Cart the One to Steal? (October 1998)
This report not only demonstrated the cart’s dangerously wobbly left-front wheel (putting one’s piled-high aluminum cans or other precious assets at risk of overturn), it was eventually responsible for the government recall of over 100,000 of the rolling hazards.

The Colossal String Balls of Rhodes, Idaho (March 1995)
A photo essay that captures the awesome majesty and alluring mystique of ur-accumulator Cecil Fleem’s life work: 14 magnificent and magnificently eerie 100-foot-diameter spheres of kite string randomly arranged in his back yard.

Buried Alive! (May 2004)
The first-person account of George Delvecchio, who, when his home’s floor collapsed due to the excessive weight of his amassed belongings, became trapped in his basement and, in order to survive, was eventually forced to eat the South American rugby team he had squirreled away behind the furnace.

So what are you waiting for? Get reading. And I hope when you’re done that you’ll not only be incapable of throwing this special issue away, you won’t even want to.

Phil Dupp
Managing Editor
Packrat Today

Bob Woodiwiss is a humor columnist for CityBeat, an alternative newsweekly, and is a regular contributor to The Morning News and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living: An Indulgence of My Peculiarities, an Indictment of Yours, is a collection of humorous and satirical essays.