Pittsburgh architect Jason Vrabel was unhappy with what he labels the "radical Bush regime" and its "circus of freaks." He wrote a nice little manifesto and sent it off to 60 of his closest friends: "Many of us are good at signing petitions! We can also write a rippin' good letter and fire it off to Senator So and So. ... What we generally suck at, however, is raising money."
So Vrabel proposed a "REVOLaUcTION": Give him some of your old stuff that has at least a little resale value and he'll take upon himself the hassle of selling it on eBay -- or in the Pennysaver, if you're offering a bowling ball, upright piano or other things too tough to ship. Once Vrabel's collected the cash, everyone who donated belongings can vote on which political group -- the Democratic National Committee, local Democrats, or a progressive PAC like Move On, for instance -- should get the money. Ten percent will go to a veterans' organization.
"Young people can't part with $20, but they may have a toaster oven or Def Leppard record to part with," Vrabel says -- particularly if they followed President George W. Bush's exhortation to go shopping after Sept. 11, 2001.
Among the treasures for-sale (listed at www.revolauction.blogspot.com): A Kip Wells bobblehead, a Splatmaster! paintball gun, a "gently used" bathrobe, a gold wedding band and a pile of books and CDs. The most valuable item (worth about $1,200) is a pro bono residential landscape design. The only rejected donation so far: a set of "used brake rotors."
So far, Vrabel has solicited donors locally via word-of-mouth to keep the REVOLaUcTION manageable. But five days after it debuted, Vrabel notes proudly, MoveOn.org announced its own Virtual Yard Sale for Kerry. In Move On's nationwide effort, though, everybody has to post and market their own stuff.
Vrabel, who only began selling in earnest after Labor Day, says he already can count on over $1,100. Though what he calls his "secret underground bunker" of auction-related program activities (his basement) is filling up, Vrabel says he'll take on yet more goods -- if they're good. With the exception of books and CDs, "I'm sort of raising the threshold, from things worth $5 to things worth at least $10-15."
Does every REVOLaUcTION buyer know where the money's going? The eBay listings, for instance, make no mention of REVOLaUcTION. Admits Vrabel: "The guy who bought The Big Lebowski DVD for $3 has no idea."