Friday, August 06, 2010

No Honour Among Thieves: Buyers and Sellers Either

One of  Toronto's more picaresque attractions are the TV advertisements by those who offer "cash for gold". There are two in particular Russell Oliver - who's been a provider of chintzy TV ads for a number of years, and a recently independent protege, one Harold the Jewelry Buyer. There are others,  a mail-in-your-old-jewelry-and-we'll-cut-you-the-cheque outfit and, apparently, the subject of this story.

It strikes me that societal circumstances must have reverted to a previous time when 'jewelry buyers' and pawn shops are becoming more noticeable (and reputable?) again. There is now a series on the A&E channel about a pawn family in Las Vegas - some of whose members bear a striking resemblance to other more notable 'bounty-hunting' and chopper-building' dynasties, or to the Munsters of comedic fame.

What's  humorous in all these is their stereotypicality. 'Dog, the Bounty Hunter' his blowsy missus, his tatted and pigtailed trailer-trash progeny are one-ers. As are the mustachioed and muscle-bound biker building family - except for the one overweight 'nerd' among them. These are modern-day replacements for the 'rasslers' of past times. The 'pawners' are larger than life too, with a coterie of experts and advisors who look like the came straight from a Bob Crumb comic. And no less are Russell the "Loan arranger" Peters (Oliver) and Harold the Schmuck.

Oliver has been around longer than the other, but longevity hasn't improved him, or apparently, his service. Here's one of his ads:

Russ Oliver has some bad press for his attempted rip-offs and apparently lousy 'bedside manner'. He did however raise Harold to manhood, or at least the position to want to go it alone. Harold doesn't have the flash, but he does an outstanding rendition of Shylock. Here's one of his efforts:

One could imagine somebodies  like Harold, or Russell being in the Temple courtyard the day Jesus 'lost it'.

To-day's story  puts a another  slant on things. There aren't enough people peddling granny's old adornments, or there are too many buyers jacking up the price, for these guys. And so we have equally colorful 'extreme fighters' claiming to be hired to knock-off the opposition - by Granny of all people! You can't buy advertising like that.

It really isn't surprising when one considers that Bathurst Street in Toronto, once the quaint heart of a little shtetl, has grown like a beanstalk that extends Toronto's Judenrat for some 40 miles through the city and out into the hinterland.  Not much in the 'news' about it, but Toronto's Jewish community has grown, obviously as quickly,  if not far more prosperously, than some of the others. Russell and Harold are part of a 'vibrant' religious and socio-economic scene, even if they do from time to time want to kill each other. The 'schwarzers'  do that with striking regularity.

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