When "American Pickers" Met Prince Mongo

Posted by Greg Akers on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe of American Pickers talk to Prince Mongo (center)
  • Greg Akers
  • Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe of "American Pickers" talk to Prince Mongo (center)
Yesterday afternoon, the leads of History Channel's phenomenally successful show American Pickers were in downtown Memphis. The tall, thin, sarcastic Mike Wolfe and the shorter, rounder, more subtly funny Frank Fritz are a kind of Abbott and Costello of antiques. Never mind that the show, appearing on the channel it does, necessarily equivocates history with material possessions (forgivable, because there is some social history value to considering what past generations considered valuable) or that it led to an immense rise in copycat shows piggybacking on American Pickers' success (unforgivable, because Pawn Stars).

Though Mike is based out of Iowa (his company, Antique Archaeology has also opened a store in Nashville) and Frank out of Illinois, fans of the show know the duo traipse all across the country looking for finds.

So it's not surprising that the American Pickers found their way to Memphis, unofficial capital of the Mid-South, an old part of the country with lots of old stuff in it. Nevertheless, driving down Front Street yesterday afternoon, having just punched the clock from work, spying Mike and Frank on a sidewalk surrounded by cameras was still a surreal vision. (True confession: I saw Mike first, and, in the context of being surrounded by cameras in downtown Memphis, my initial thought was that it was Flyer contributor and local filmmaker Chris McCoy — they do share a resemblance.)

The surrealism achieved Dalian proportions when out strode Prince Mongo, Memphis' court jester/civic joke/frequent mayoral candidate/Code Enforcement fiend/visitor from the planet Zambodia. The American Pickers AND Prince Mongo? I hastily illegally parked and took some photos. I realized they were in front of Prince Mongo's building near Union and Front. See the slideshow for more.

What did the trio talk about? What was Mongo selling and/or buying? Did they agree on a price for the auditorium chairs, or that weird net thing, or Mongo's bewigged neck-skeleton companion? Is it possible Mongo died 5 years ago and is now himself being picked? And what would Mongo be valued at?

All will be told, one hopes, in an episode of American Pickers in the near future.

 When "American Pickers" Met Prince Mongo

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=739478876072152&set=a.636105789742795.1073741826.161584927194886&type=1&stream_ref=10 Prince Mongo posing before they arrived.

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Posted by Floyd Yancey on 03/26/2014 at 3:10 PM

Mongo has a massive warehouse of stuff near the firestation...antique cars, boxes and boxes and crates of random crap...and I'm not talking about a small warehouse either, it's easily a full city block of junk. They're gonna have a field day in there.

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Posted by Jim on 03/26/2014 at 5:01 PM

Does he still have the MGs?

report 5 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by Janet Abraham Kloville on 03/26/2014 at 11:05 PM

Who wrote this? A Master of non colloquial expression! Masterful grip of exhibiting the rather banal very exquisitely! Kudos!

report 10 likes, 10 dislikes   
Posted by Terry Hawks on 03/26/2014 at 11:12 PM

I remember when when Prince Mongo's junk was on display in front of his house on Coloniel in East Memphis. Don't think the neighbors liked it to much. Made the drive back and forth to pick up Calvin from school interesting though.

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Posted by latisha5 on 03/27/2014 at 9:14 AM

The Colonial Drive house was a disgusting mess--brought down the value of homes in the area. People couldn't get anywhere with the city and they couldn't sell. Only A$$HOLES do that.... MAJOR A$$HOLES.

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Posted by cancanjody on 03/27/2014 at 1:58 PM

Wasn't there a toilet in his front yard as part of his "display"?

report 7 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by Belinda Johnson Henry on 03/27/2014 at 10:04 PM

I wish he'd open the foosball parlor back up. We all had good times there!

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Posted by Bryan Johns on 03/27/2014 at 10:42 PM

Nice piece, but..."copycat shows piggybacking on American Pickers' success (unforgivable, because Pawn Stars)?" Wait a minute, it's possible I'm misreading, but Pawn Stars, which I prefer (chacun a son gout, nesspah?) came first. 2009 vs. 2010, right?

So I must have misread, because Greg is a clear and exacting writer. But in this case.... What about it, Greg, do I need a new prescription for my glasses, or do you need a new calendar?

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Posted by Jackson Baker on 03/28/2014 at 6:52 AM

I can already hear the Memphis, Hell-Yeah! crowd going into their closets with a bottle of booze and a handful of ludes. This will set their marketing efforts back at least 20 years.

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Posted by Jeff on 03/28/2014 at 7:42 AM

BTW, I have to congratulate Mongo on his coup (nesspah?). He never won an election, but he will soon be the face of Memphis.

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Posted by Jeff on 03/28/2014 at 7:48 AM

Ah! So I have a student of parlez-vous in Jeff. Now if he can just return the favor and school me in sarcasm....What? He has? Oh.

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Posted by Jackson Baker on 03/28/2014 at 8:37 AM

Jackson, clearly the rhetoric is that AMERICAN PICKERS is in part unforgivable because it retroactively spawned PAWN STARS in reverse chronological fashion. Obviously.

Besides, I've been watching COSMOS, and I'm over this whole idea of linear time. What does "2010" even mean anymore?

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Posted by Greg Akers on 03/28/2014 at 8:55 AM

Excuse me, while somebody is in the Mongo warehouse, would they mind looking for the chimpanzee skeleton... It couldn't still be alive could it? Oh and some extra long toddler ware.

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Posted by CL Mullins on 03/28/2014 at 8:55 AM

I can't believe this guy is still alive! I remember him from my days growing up in Memphis in the 70's and 80's! I guess he's always been and always will be delightfully...odd. :)

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Posted by Elisabeth Eickhoff on 06/03/2014 at 9:11 AM

Mongo, it is I, the tall, skinny fast running runaway from Mississippi 1972. ?3 Did not recognize you on show until I saw painting of you falling for your space as the pickers went through your travels.

Posted by Darb on 10/22/2014 at 5:04 PM
Showing 1-16 of 16

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