The illicit things they carried

Hey, Lars. Remember that time you wanted to bring back the salami from the old country, and I said, No, Lars, the customs dogs will sniff it out for sure? And you said, Betcha I can pack it in a pitcher, and get it through that way? Boy, that didn’t work out so good, huh?

The New York Times has a photo essay of items confiscated at New York’s JFK airport, selected from more than 1,000 images taken by photographer Taryn Simons, a Guggenheim fellow who is putting together a book titled “Contraband.” It’s a collection of weird stuff — or, as the Times puts it, in its elevated way, “a snapshot of the United States as seen through its illicit material needs and desires.” Yeah, that too. But mostly it’s weird stuff.

Like, for example, counterfeit Viagra. Or a dead falcon. Or pirated copies of “Lost,” Season 4. Plus the salami in the pitcher, a bottle crammed with mystery meat, and a pair of expired guinea pigs.

Coming up next: Someone will publish a coffee-table book of coffee-table books that got exactly one read and then were never, ever opened again.