What Cambodia and Lil' Flip taught me about when to buy things

There's this cool shop in Austin on the south side of town in the same area as a comic book store, clothing resale shop, and just behind the diner that serves cinnamon roll pancakes. It’s called Aaron’s Rock & Roll and it’s like Spencer’s Gifts had a baby with a Hot Topic then left it with of its babysitters of punk rock scene kids, movie buffs, and kitschy toy collectors while making the bacon as a bouncer and comic book artist respectively.

Legend has it, their original location was on the infamous 6th Street where drunken college kids could venture inside to buy band t-shirts, vintage toys, and an assortment of buttons, patches, and stickers. The things I saw in there were proof positive that South Austin is still keeping it weird every day. It’s always nice to have that reaffirmed when you’ve been gone a while to somewhere like Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Like every country, Cambodia is a patchwork of buyers and sellers. The interesting part is how $1 and the $1 million deals happen on the same street as each other - sometimes at the same table. In the states, Wall Street types only stop at their local bodegas in the movies when they aren’t banging out beats on their chest and speechifying on masturbation and their cocaine use

Phnom Penh is constantly shifting, like a Rubik’s Cube that a frustrated ME is playing with. The lesson learned is that when you see something you like you had better get it right there, because you may never see it again. Everything is for sale but it’s all on limited supply whether it’s an apartment or chips and salsa. You may know where the markets are, but you can’t really count on same shop even being there next time.

Did you find a cool fabric to make awesome old Khmer lady “all day pajamas” for yourself? What about the cat with the sweet face that comes up to you when you’re getting coffee or the transforming hat that will make a perfect gift for your mother? If you see it and pass on it it could be vapor by tomorrow provided you even remember where you saw it. Your brain can only process so many Cambodian corners.

And so begins the urban traversal. You travel the city looking for the one place you saw… it!that painting of Chairman Mao out of the corner of your eye while day drinking last week. Your capitalist boss will love it! The only problem is that difference between “around” Russian Market and “inside” Russian Market is Rivendale to Mordor.

What Cambodia taught me is the importance of conducting myself as Houston, TX rhyming profit Lil’ Flip did in the early 2000s as he once said:

“If you see it, you want it buy it, own it…“

Living in Cambodia taught me that Lil’ Flip may have been right. You may want to wear “iceberg with Bart Simpson,” but if you don’t buy it when you see it, you’ll never own any Simpsons or flaunt it.

Naturally… I didn’t take this advice.

Picture by the author and his unfulfilled consumer tears.
It's just a sticker, but I want it - Picture by the author.

At the moment, I do not have the greatest, most Michael sticker I’ve ever witnessed. Luckily… the homie Rob Holla still lives in Austin, so there is still so hope he can quickly rectify my mistake. If he can, I can have both the item and the lesson it helped me remember thanks to Cambodia and Lil’ Flip, then never working ever again.

Michael Bridgett

Michael Bridgett

Michael Bridgett is a copywriter, songwriter, and voice talent that writes about media. In addition to essays, articles, and ideology, Michael also releases music under the name Mike Dynamo
Western Hemisphere