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Penn Christmas Comes But Twice a Year

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Say neighbor, have you heard the good news? These two young men in white collared shirts would like to share it with you...but it's not what you think! Look more closely and you'll see those collars are popped. And the name tags? Well sir, merely ironic T-shirts based on pop culture.

You see, it's that magical time of year when broken Ikea furniture sprouts like toadstools on the sidewalk and seldom-used housewares flow out of trashcans like Bud Ice from a Solo cup. Call it the Gospel of Wealth as preached from a trashcan. That's right. It's Penn Christmas! Or, more accurately, the sequel that is August/September lease turnover in University City. But just because most of the good stuff was thrown out in May doesn't mean you have to be a rail-hopping crust punk leeching off the very society you claim to opt out of in order to find a deal at this bargain bonanza.

Penn Christmas The Lesser is a peculiarity of a neighborhood rife with apartment leases based on the school year. The end of August means leasing companies are busy readying the vacant units for next semester's tenants, and a number of intersession interns, summer school slackers and other subletters are in the process of moving out this week. In their haste to prime over the pot leaf painted above the couch, tenants may forget to pack the actual bong or other accoutrements of student life—meaning you, the conscientious consumer, stand to benefit.

Just listen for the soft growl of the F-150 fitted with an improvised railing of futon frames as it prowls the alleys and you'll know it's garbage day. Things to keep an eye out for include clothing from last season's J. Crew catalogue, greasy toaster ovens, and half-full bottles of designer hair products. You'll have to be your own judge when it comes to food, though condiments are reliably abundant and usually less perishable. Occasionally you can score something legitimately valuable, though it's wise not to quibble with any scrappers taking an otherwise operable air conditioner or metallic trinkets. Anyone who can lift industrial boiler plates into the bed of their truck should not be trifled with.

As you shamefully scrounge, take heart, and anything else not affixed to the building, because this is the detritus of the very same folks who will probably gamble away your 401k in a few years. So get it while the gettin's good.