There I was, minding my own business, listening to an episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR, when I had a brainstorm: Jesse Thorn needs to be a guest on Five Things. He was talking about the PBS show “Antiques Roadshow” with a sense of devotion and discernment that I had never heard before — like, he had a preference about the graphics package used by the British version of the show as opposed to the U.S. version. He’s intrigued by the stories behind things, he’s a veteran eBay-er and flea market-er, and he likes to talk. Home run.
I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jesse about some of the very particular items he loves. A programming note: this is the last episode of Five Things for the season! We’re taking the summer off, so might I suggest you spend some time in the archives? There are over 60 conversations just waiting for you there. I’ll be back in the fall with new episodes.
On his enthusiasm for particular kinds of stuff:
“I love things. My mother is an antiques dealer, and I am an antiques dealer — or at least a vintage dealer — and it is just something that has always been important to me. It’s always been a value that’s important in my family. And when I say that I love things, it’s not that I love consumption. I’ve always felt uncomfortable in suburban homes of the kind where there’s like a bar with a minifridge and it always has sodas in it. I grew up a mix, depending on the year, of lower middle class and actually poor, and so that kind of stuff is not relatable and of particular interest to me.”
On his huge collection of baseball books, which he has gradually winnowed over time:
“As a kid, to say I was a baseball fan would not even begin to describe my relationship with baseball. I think I kind of checked out of school around second grade, because I was bored, and latched on to baseball as a thing to fill my brain-space-slash-time. When I was a kid, I had a six-foot bookshelf of just books about baseball, and I had actually read all of them.”
On his fox-head hats made by artist Barbara Keal:
“It’s a kind of 3-D felted woolen fox head. It’s not cute at all. I want to emphasize it’s not like, if you’re imagining a cute Etsy thing, it’s not that. It is, in fact, extraordinarily beautiful. And my wife, for Christmas, bought one for me and one for our oldest child. So I have them on hat stands on my bookshelf, because they’re kind of a very special thing, but then sometimes my kids will come downstairs and they’ll be like, ‘I want to wear the fox hats,’ and we’ll put on our fox hats together and then go upstairs and act like foxes or do a funny dance.”