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A few weeks ago I saw an invitation for a swap run by another swap site along the lines of Bib and Tuck, called Swapdom.  It promised an appearance by the insanely photogenic blogger Keiko Lynn, who like so many of her ilk derives her fame from being photographed looking fantastic in artfully mismatched outfits and dispensing affection, item giveaways and various product endorsements from the environs of her white-backgrounded blog.   Here’s the listing on her blog.

While as I have said before I find most swaps to be utter shitshows, I was intrigued  – by the offer of free food and drinks, true, but mainly the seemingly curated nature of the event – one item in, and, presumably, one item out, right?

After being held up unconscionably at work I finally walked over to Ten Degrees, a bar on St. Marks Place. St. Marks Place has always been trashy and frenetic, though steadily over time the places I remember have been ground out of existence, even though my neurons still bleat “Coney Island High!”  “Holiday Cocktail Lounge!” “Lox Around the Clock!” (ok, that last on 9th) as I walk down the street dodging mildly confused or disappointed tourists. Still, it is always remarkable that right after you cross 1st avenue it seems that the entire street deeply exhales, sheltering the older businesses that still remain. Ten Degrees is a relative newbie, but I forgive it for its interloping as it’s quite charming.

The bar was full of women, the occasional man, and a small posse of fashion bloggers of both genders, identifiable by their flawless pancake makeup and dramatically floppy hats. I did not see Keiko Lynn, but then again, it was already 7:15, and she probably had some other winsome place to be.

I found the Swapdom intake table, where my item (a vintage Capricorn necklace) was tagged. The tag had places for me to note my name, Instagram account and Twitter handle. I decided to stick to first name and a bit of item history, scribbling in the margins that the necklace dated from the 70s . I was then given a tote bag and invited to head to the back and “take what I liked.”  Uh-oh. This means that this was an uncontrolled swap, and the rule of the commons, along with the restricted intake, would mean slim pickings.

Sure enough, when I entered the steamy back room, packed with people, I found  a few racks with perhaps four unwanted things on them, a photo area where bloggers posed for cameras, and a photographer gamely keeping on the lookout for someone doing something that involved swapping or looking at clothing. While a few latecomers poked at the sparse array, most of the attendees therein were hanging out, posing for photos, drinking the free wine and waiting to pounce on the occasional new item, like lions lounging by a watering hole. I shoved my necklace back in my bag and headed out to get a glass of comped rose wine.

I know this is a crappy photo, but does depict the racks as well as a behatted blogger.

(That said, the swapping should work much more effectively online and I know I sound like a crankypants, grousing about an event that included not only free drinks but also a very tasty little bresaola/pear/cheese sandwich, so please do check out Swapdom online! I’ll post something and let you know what happens. I think my disappointment reflects issues with live swaps in general, not Swapdom.)

On my way out, I passed East Village Books, and I could not resist the lure of its weathered wooden floors and the perfume of the old volumes cramming its shelves. Shopping after two drinks (for I’d downed a complimentary vodka soda after the rose) generally leads to silly purchases, but I told myself that I was spending the money I’d saved on free drinks by buying an old book from 1943 on building radios (inscribed “From Daddy”) and supporting a worthy institution, an independent bookshop. Then again, once one feels the need to pity or protect a store, the game is almost up.  A business needs to exist without being coddled or fetishized, or it’s like knocking the dust off a butterfly’s wings – it can’t fly on its own anymore.