The new season of Storage Wars has been a bit peculiar so far. As Randy Jackson used to say (at every opportunity), it's been a bit "pitchy". This season Dave Hester (who I had expended some energy in rehabilitating) has not endeared himself to the "studio viewing audience at home" with his dull high bids for boring but valuable "white goods". Who fucking cares if you get a dishwasher cheap, Dave? It ain't great TV. One week he bought about thirty vending machines - and was brimming with delight. Strange to report this excitement and delirium did not transfer infectiously and irresistibly to the viewing audience at home.
The problem is that Barry Weiss and Darrell Sheets don't own a consignment store like Dave's, so there is no point in them bidding on the sort of junk that Dave can sell in his would-be dollar-tree warehouse. (In fact at this point it is unclear what Darrell's remit is, or even why he is on the show - except to bitch bitterly about Dave). Meanwhile Jarrod and Brandi do sell similar chintz, jetsam & miscellaneous bushwa to Dave, but they simply don't have as much dough as Dave so they can't compete. Consequently Dave seems to be on a winning streak by default, buying boring merchandise and then toting up how much they are worth himself. Shall we, you and I, my dear reader, "switch off our television sets and go out and do something less boring instead"?
"Sitting at home, watching TV,
Turn it off, it's no good for me.
Why don't you?
Why don't you?"
I have occasionally had to discuss Storage Wars with outside-world (i.e., "non-television character") people when the conversation has reached such a nadir that I am forced to say, just to stave off sleep, "Hey have you seen that show Storage Wars?" When I do lisp these thrice-doomed words out loud to the table, the chattering classes of New York routinely say something that would never occur to me; they say "Oh yeah I've seen that show. It's fixed."
I fail to see what the point would be of fixing a show like Storage Wars. I think that rather this is a case of "post-punk" ennui; that is, "media-savvy" kill-joys being overly, even ostentatiously, jaded. I very tediously respond to their allegations by patiently listing instances where there was nothing valuable in a locker ("When there was nothing to gain from rigs or calumny"), or when the characters ("contestants") ("real people") are hopelessly misguided in the pursuit of riches and rarities ("Fool's gold is ofttimes all they mine, milord"); but only a few sentences into my earnest testimony I notice with some sad surprise (and yet a corollary reflex of horrible familiarity) that I have become the despised bore at the table -- again -- and I pull about me my customary mantle of enigmatic introspection for the rest of the evening.
This season has also had a rush of nondescripts jockeying to become regular, featured characters on the show (which, nota bene, if it were "scripted" and fixed would be an impossibility). Like the fat bloke with the skateboard/skronk goatee. You know, Herne Bay c. 1993. Swallowed squirrel is the look. He bustles like a navvy about the forecourt and painstakingly essays to crane into shot but he is almost invariably edited out every time and his interior existence remains unknown to us the viewing audience.
Because the premise of Storage Wars is simply that in the state of California unpaid lockers are auctioned off, it seems that anybody can turn up at one of those auctions and potentially appear on TV. It is not a "closed set". Obviously this differentiates Storage Wars from Big Brother or American Idol. And lo this season the regulars have been shown, more and more frequently, grumbling about the people who have been coming to the auctions and grandstanding and pratfalling to be on TV, bidding high rubles for rubbish just so they can be seen on TV bidding against Dave or Barry.
Worse case of this was yesterday's episode with this vile, slimy, morally broken-down interloper called "Mark Balelo" who turned up at the Hollywood auction and proceeded to bid astronomic, inordinate amounts for every locker. He pushed the prices up unnecessarily for the lowest specks of dross. (Would he care, I wonder, to bid on a pile of issues of Punisher 2099 comics I have?) He swaggered and pouted and planted himself on the spot squarely, impertinently, arms folded, feet apart and then duly and right brazenly played pocket billiards in front of the womenfolk, with his wad of cash between his teeth (and his cellphone, of course, tucked under his chin). He sucked the pleasure (not to mention the carbon dioxide) out of the whole enterprise. He added nothing more to the show either - he has the personality and the face of a squashed rat-turd. But what he has, it seems in droves, is cash - which abundance he loves to advertise.
I googled this guy, because I grimly observed that he's going to be on next week's episode as well, and I thought "I hope this swaggering schnook isn't going to inveigle himself on to the show as a regular."
He certainly seems to think he is the new "character". An online site (not attached to the show's official site) already trumpets that "Mark Balelo owns and operates a successful wholesale and liquidation company in Simi Valley California. He has two beautiful children, Ashley and Brandon which [sic] are the loves of his life. Currently appearing on the popular reality show Storage Wars, Mark can usually be found at an auction bidding on merchandise and treasures unknown. His charisma and fun personality make him an instant favorite in everyone's heart. Part of Mark's corporate responsibility awareness led him to offer his company as well as personal support to one of his passions, helping children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder." It is to be noted that this is not the TV company's official site.
Is this "charismatic" and "fun" nouveau rich Tea Party fridge magnet going to bid against all the regular characters every week, pushing everything up and outside the bounds of reason so that nobody even bothers attending the auctions anymore, and the show ends in fizzling piffling disrepute and acrimony? And if they try and bar him from attending the auctions, will he launch a "civil suit" against the television company and Dan Dotson the auctioneer, and take it "all the way to the Supreme Court"?
Where will it all end - the Hague?!
As an amusing addendum, I also found out, while again effortlessly mindlessly googling, that this self-same A-1 pilchard was involved in the recovery of a priceless copy of Action Comics #1 belonging to another poltroon of California extraction, the esteemed actor and adventurer Nicholas Cage, D.D.,F.R.S. One LAPD detective involved in the recovery remarked:"It's just too bad that Balelo with his big mouth thought it was necessary to contact the media."