This month I read with sadness about the closing of the long-standing and legendary Chelsea Flea Market. As a long-time New Yorker and a person of the Gen X generation, it is distressing to see yet another NYC cultural institution, the weekend flea market, fade away, along with record shops and book stores. As noted in the NY Times article, Andy Warhol used to frequent the Chelsea Flea Market in the 1980s. Now, most likely, the space will be turned into a bank or some such antiseptic corporate entity.
I remember years ago wandering around the Chelsea Flea Market and discovering the “Appealing” Orange Box, a wooden box magic trick that I once owned as a pre-teenager. It’s rare to find vintage magic tricks at regular flea markets, as those items usually stay within the specialized circuit of magic auctions and collectors. That’s why it was exciting to see this oddly painted, somewhat beat-up box trick sitting on a table among other ordinary antique objects.
Unfortunately, most of my MAK magic tricks were destroyed in a basement flood years ago, but the Orange Box remains. It is actually a pretty bad trick in terms of routine and fooling, but I don’t care. I love it. And now, in addition to being a memento from my youth in magic, the Orange Box will also be a reminder of the now lost Chelsea Flea Market in New York City. Along with Tower Records and Gotham Book Mart, may she always be remembered through the objects that were once purchased there.