4 Bootleg Items Purchased on the Streets of NYC: A Review

#2. Two "Tiger Fighting a Dragon" T-Shirts

Retail Value: Priceless

Asking Price: $13

Negotiated Purchase Price: $13

Yep, I know I said I was on a mission to find some of the most frequently bootlegged items on the market. And yes, I know this doesn't fall into that category. It's not like this is a cheap knockoff of some Gucci brand "Tiger Fighting a Dragon" T-shirt. The fashion houses of the world don't usually go for shit like this. But you know who does? Me, that's who. I mean, you do see what's happening there, right? It's a tiger. And that tiger is fighting a dragon. Fucking awesome.

The Sales Pitch

The above photo might be hard to decipher, so let me provide some details. What you see there is me (on the left) just moments before my station in life improved drastically. Because right outside the frame of that picture, placed rightfully above those other shirts, is a T-shirt with the image of a tiger fighting a dragon on it. Let me repeat that. A tiger fighting a dragon. Who even has the necessary creative juices flowing through them to think up such a magical combination? Certainly not me. Maybe every Chinese artist since the dawn of time, but certainly not me. The asking price was two for $13. I didn't haggle about it. Why would I disrespect awesome of this nature by bickering over price? I went with the black version, because the only thing better than a T-shirt with a tiger fighting a dragon on it is a black T-shirt with a tiger fighting a dragon on it. I also chose one in red, because it was the only other color they had in my size. I'm a whole lot of man, people.

The Product

I know it seems as if I'm being lazy by reusing the same image here that I used in the beginning of this entry. But understand, no visual representation I can provide would do this item the justice it rightfully deserves. The only way to experience the magic as it's meant to be experienced is to have one of these shirts draped over your unworthy torso, just like I do, right now. And listen, I get that the symbol depicted on this shirt is supposed to represent equal opponents. But I don't adhere to that. Why? Because I know how dragons operate, and this tiger is most certainly fighting an uphill battle against all that a beast like the dragon brings to the table. But it's totally holding its own, and that's awesome. Sometimes, when I'm feeling like the world is on the verge of breaking me, I look down at the majestic tiger engaged in combat with the fearsome dragon on my chest, and I get inspired to keep fighting. Fuck yeah, tiger!

#1. A Rolex Submariner

Retail Value: $4,500 - $9,500

Asking Price: A "well this guy looks like he's probably retarded" sum of $150

Negotiated Purchase Price: $35

With the euphoria of purchasing the most inspiring T-shirt in the history of clothing still coursing through my body, it was time to get down to business. I came here to buy a Rolex. Thanks to my previous purchases, my budget had fallen to a mere $42. Would that be enough to score a $10 Rolex?

Well, yes, if you take the term "$10 Rolex" literally, it would be more than enough to buy one. I could buy four, even! But like anything else, inflation has taken its toll on the $10 Rolex industry, and this was going to take a bit more bargaining than my previous transactions.

The Sales Pitch

Right off the bat, I realized that buying a Rolex for less than $40, even one constructed using mostly plastic and speaker wire, was going to be tough. Sure, plenty of people will offer to sell you a watch, but they're less receptive to the idea when you start throwing out offers like "I'll give you five bucks and a copy of The Grey on DVD" in response. So, I decided to get serious.

Right outside the shop where I purchased those magnificent T-shirts, I was once again approached about buying a watch and, this time, I simply replied, "How much?"

Just like that, it was time to negotiate. The woman pushing the knockoff timepieces pulled out a laminated sheet of paper with pictures of all the various items that were available. I settled on a Rolex Submariner with a green face, because it was the brightest picture and I'm immediately drawn to anything that looks shinier than the rest of the stuff around it. I asked the price, and she replied, "For you, one-fifty." While the "For you" was a nice touch, I wasn't having anything to do with it, so I offered her $20. Back and forth we went until finally settling on a still absurd price of $35. Whatever, I can write it off on my taxes as a business expense. That's one of the joys of being a writer.

Alcoholism is another.

What went down next was a transaction of the utmost shadiness. I was told to wait while she whipped out a motherfucking walkie-talkie and sent my order off to God knows who. Then she just went about half a block up and stood there, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. After about 10 minutes, a man walked up to her, placed something in her hand in the same way a spy might pass off documents to a foreign dignitary and then continued walking. I've seen heroin deals that didn't look this suspicious. But a few moments later, I had what I came for ... a fake Rolex.

The Product

I have to admit, if you're just glancing at this marvel of forced labor camp engineering, it doesn't look too bad. Granted, I don't know shit about watches, but it's not like the thing says "Holex" on the face or has a pencil eraser where the crown should be. But the first-glance test is about the only one this beast would ever pass. The bezel feels as if it's constructed from the finest of plastics, a feature you just don't find on the more well-constructed Rolexes of the world. Like any knockoff, the smooth motion of the second hand on a real Rolex is conspicuously absent, but that's to be expected.

By far the biggest surprise, though, was the crown. To say this watch is hard to set is an understatement. It actually required prying the crown apart with a knife to even get it into a position that would facilitate winding it to its correct setting, and even then, the razor-blade-like ridges on the crown made doing so unspeakably painful. As for the performance, a Rolex Submariner gets its name because you can take it to the farthest depths of the ocean and it still functions like a champion. I didn't have an ocean handy, but I still wanted to test the waterproof feature out, so I opted instead to just pour beer on it. And by that I mean I accidentally spilled beer on it the same night I bought it. I don't know if that's the most scientific test possible, but it was revealing nevertheless. An hour or so after the beer test, my new watch stopped working. The second hand just stopped moving altogether. Because I'm not wealthy, I can't confirm if this is how a real Rolex would respond to such treatment, but I have my suspicions that it would fare at least slightly better than that.

So what's the conclusion here? Basically, a fake Rolex purchased on a street corner in New York City does not amount to money well spent. Who could have possibly seen that coming?

Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. Be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

For more from Adam, check out The 5 Most Ridiculous Causes to Ever Get a Website and 5 Horrifying Food Additives You've Probably Eaten Today.

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