Arnie, you could have made a killing
Californians in need of cut-price cars, pearl and diamond earrings and old prison uniforms were in luck at the weekend: an enormous garage sale held by the state governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, offered buyers the chance to get their hands on all of the above and more, in the hope of raising money for the state's ailing coffers. Among the 6,000 items filling the governator's "yard" (a warehouse in Sacramento) were state-owned cars and pick-up trucks, pieces of office furniture, computers, electronics and even a surfboard. Of course, the contents weren't actually Arnie's, but had been deemed surplus by the state, or confiscated from parks by law enforcement and unclaimed.
For the really lucky ones, there was even an Arnie autograph to be had: the former Mr Universe and governor of California since 2003 decided to sign a few items in order to boost their value, including the sun visors of several vehicles. A 2001 Ford Focus with 110,059 miles on the clock and such an autograph went for $1,625.01 [Dh5,970]. Schwarzenegger reportedly got the idea from Twitter, where he has around one million followers.
"I look forward to selling these signed cars and making some $ for California," he tweeted the previous week in a bid to create hype around the sale. And, in the true spirit of "one's man's trash is another man's treasure", he said in a statement on his website: "This is a win-win for the state and for shoppers. Together we are eliminating waste and providing great deals in this tough economy." Those unable to get to Sacramento were able to purchase things online via eBay and Craigslist.
The state of California is, it seems, in need of every penny. Its $85 billion (Dh312bn) budget has a reported deficit of $26bn, a figure that presumably led Schwarzenegger to sign the order to reduce the 40,000 state vehicles by 15 per cent. The Great California Garage Sale may have gone a small way towards helping, but with BlackBerry phones going for around $25 (Dh92) and laptop computers for around $200, it would have taken an awful lot of junk to make up the difference. More lucrative, surely, would have been a sale of Arnie and his wife Maria's personal possessions. The former bodybuilder must have whole cupboards full of dumbbells, which, since taking on the full-time job of governor, he can no longer have time to use. Sign a few of those and a few paltry cars with autographed sun visors would suddenly seem like pocket money.
Then there are the clothes. In a recent online video conversation with the founders of Twitter, he told viewers that signing items for the sale would help boost their value because previously a signed jacket with the governor's seal had sold for $30,000. Well, why not throw in a few of those, not to mention some film memorabilia? Anything from the Terminator days - those iconic sunglasses or his famous black leather jacket - would fetch a tidy sum. In fact, just such a jacket is known to have sold for around $40,000 in the past.
And let's not forget the first lady of California, who hails from the Kennedy family (her mother is Eunice Kennedy, who died earlier this month and was JFK's sister) and is something of a snappy dresser herself. Surely there is a stash of family jewels, or wardrobes full of outfits worn for state occasions that could be sold off if things get desperate. Such a sale would bring in millions, and, even better, bestow Arnie with a warm, benevolent glow - never a bad quality in a politician.