Showing posts with label kitsch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitsch. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 : Scenes from the End Times

Once again, I must apologize for a hastily constructed blog entry.  However, it has been brought to my attention that today's date is full of awesome number orderliness.  It is a repetitive pattern that will never be repeated in our lifetimes!

This is especially true given that the Mayans said the world would end on December 21st.  Bummer.

Presumably, the end times will be interesting in a chaotic way until the Earth splits asunder and we are consumed by the inner fire.  Or something like that.  I've tried to imagine what December 21st might look like and have drawn from an ample inventory of photos taken in junk rest homes to share with you, the gentle reader.

So there you have it.  Apparently, only the strong will survive.  Mostly.

My Spousal Unit commented that perhaps this image collection had gone a bit too far.  To that I say we must face The End with as much mirth as we can muster!  I sincerely wish everyone of you a pleasant last week or so on this poor, doomed planet.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Off to San Francisco and Pre-travel Ramblings

Bad Godzilla!  Drop that rhino, right now!

Greetings, all!  I'm sorry for the scarcity of posts as of late, but life has been busy and complicated.  Tomorrow, I get on the plane for San Francisco!  In looking for maps and background information, I ran across this unfortunate story on Google news.  It appears that an undersea earthquake caused the usual awaking of giant monsters.  Poor San Francisco!

Thank goodness local emergency management officials planned ahead and built up their inventory of giant robots!  The battle of the titans will no doubt cause much damage and chaos.  However, this is a near montly event in the Bay Area.  I have faith that the BART will still be running on time.

As for this beautiful city, I probably won't see a lot of it.  I am attending Greenbuild; the main event for everything related to sustainable buildings.  The sessions will be great along with four evening receptions and a day spent with the third-party laboratory and certifier I work with.  Yes, pity me.  I will be trapped inside a convention center from sunup to sundown.

There is supposed to be a really nice typewriter shop in Berkeley.  I'll be within a mile or two of it during some Monday meetings, but probably won't make it there.  <sigh>  I most likely will make it to the Super7 store!  It is home to many amazing vinyl monsters and is pretty much Nerdvana.

It will be a week or two before the next entry.  The recent event summary goes like this:  My oldest daughter has been down with a migraine for several days.  We tried to deal with the swirling vortex of leafpocalypse today.  The wind is not helping.  I did a major garage cleaning and organizing binge last weekend and now have some great rolling racks.  The garage work bench is once again clear and I can work on my latest acquisition.  I'll blog it later, but here is a little preview.  No, you should not be worried - much.

As Claire noted, it is extremely beige.  I'm thinking it will need to be repainted dark gray.  Isn't this a nice look?

OK, time for some truth in advertising:  I did not get the full size leviathan Adler.  It is a 1966 Adler Standard.  The only information I have found on this particular model comes from Richard Polt's blog. As for the San Francisco backdrop, that was a bit of amazing timing.  When I went out for lunch on Friday I found this lovely piece of black velvet art at my favorite thrift store for $2.00.

I look forward to sharing some pics from San Francisco and the Greenbuild Expo.  My employer is exhibiting, but I stopped working the booth a couple years ago to immerse myself in the education and networking activities.  This year I get to check out the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Google's Green Team lair.  Nice.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Art from the Black Velvet Abyss

WARNING:  Really hideous "art" ahead!  Please vote for your favorites in the comments section (if you get that far without clawing your eyes out).
The rodeo clown, after the show.
It's no secret that I frequent places that harbor typewriters, bits of old technology, interesting books and other cultural breccia.  Bad black velvet art fits the latter category.  As strange as it may seem, my heart goes "pitter-pat" when I find a particularly grotesque piece in an antique mall or thrift store.  These are few from the last year or so.

I'll start with one of the classic themes: the Bullfighter.  Once upon a time in America, people had Mediterranean inspired furniture and art in their living and family rooms - kind of like a really old Mexican restaurant.

The Bullfight is by far the most common black velvet theme I run across.  Some of it is quite expressive.  I just can't quite imagine it on a modern living room wall except as an intentional bit of irony.

The majesty, I tell you.

Sadly, at some point the bull must be dispatched.  I'll move on to other sporting events.  Horses-in-motion is another recurring theme.  This one also happens to be the ever popular Romanticized Native American genre.

 The Romans really knew how to throw a party!

Ripping off famous cartoon characters is also good sport.  Some prefer track and field events.

For some strange reason, I've run across three slight variations of Snoopy playing baseball.  Those eyes... they haunt me.

Elvis is the most famous black velvet portrait cliche.  I've only seen a few, but for now I'll share a kinda scary rendition of The Duke as Rooster Cogburn.

Yeah, I think black velvet portraits will need their own post.  That would be good for mid-winter when cabin fever is setting in.

If you made it this far, count me as very impressed!  You have amazing intestinal fortitude and impressive intelligence as evidenced by the fact that you can still read after losing many IQ points.  Maybe you should relax and have a drink.  Just so you know, even black velvet creatures get tired and need a rest!

Really, someone actually painted that bunny creature and someone presumably hung it on a wall. Come to think of it, he kind of reminds me of Senator Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse, from the comic strip "Prickly City".  Maybe he spent an evening with Hunter S. Thompson.

I wish I could say something profound about the redemptive and emotionally powerful nature of velvet art.  But the world doesn't always work that way.  Sometime bad art needs to be enjoyed for the kitsch relic that it is.  Rest assured, I cannot avert my gaze from the velveteen beauties and will share more in the future.  Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your snarky comments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Like a Candle in the Windy City: Marilyn Hits the Road

WARNING:  Tacky Camera Angles Ahead
Marilyn Monroe was loaded on two trailers said goodbye to Chicago on May 8th.  These photos were taken on May 7th as she was being disassembled.
Once again, insomnia and a love of street photography got me out of my hotel late last Monday evening.  I tend to wander aimlessly with a camera in hand.  Chicago is a great people watching town and there is always something interesting going on.  On this particular evening, that something was the sculpture Forever Marilyn being taken apart and readied for shipment to warmer climes.

But first, I need to provide a defense of tastelessness.  I like to think of the camera as a neutral party.  It will always seek drama and interesting light.  A misty night in Chicago with the Wrigley Building bathed in floodlights provides more drama than a poor camera can tolerate.  The view from the other direction was comparatively boring.

You were warned about the tacky/tasteless camera angles.  Turn back before it is too late!

I love the Wrigley Building.  My employer provided the restoration products for it and many of the other landmark buildings in downtown.  Bear in mind that tourists have been basking in the 26' Marilyn's glory for almost a year.
The specter of a 26' Marylin looming over Pioneer Court was controversial to say the least.  It wasn't around long enough to become an object of adoration.  It did draw a number of protests and attention from the teeming masses of tourists.  The Chicago Sun-Times produced a celebratory editorial entitled "Goodbye and Good Riddance, Norma Jean."

This statue represents a titillating and iconic scene from the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch.  Today we would find much worse on network TV.  It's the scale and placement that draws attention.

As public art, it would be hard to argue that the entire installation wasn't a bit tasteless.  It was kitchy and over-the-top and probably would look more at home in Vegas.  Actually, Palm Springs is a sensible home.  It is warm, optimistic and smells vaguely of Hollywood.  According to local news reports, Marilyn Forever arrived in Palm Springs on May 14th.
I would not have guessed that Marilyn was assembled onsite.  It makes sense.  How could you get this under an overpass in one piece?  Factoid:  this sculpture weighed in at 34,000 pounds!

And we have separation!
Not surprisingly, the crew was very professional and everything was planned out ahead of time.  Seeing Marylin split in half triggered some science fiction memories.  Yeah, like the saucer separation of the Enterprise D!  (Just don't let Troi do the driving.)

The Marilyn Separation continues.

The Marilyn Separation also reminded me of another iconic Star Trek scene.

I didn't want to go too heavy on the photos or I would have added images of one of the crew climbing in and out of the lower section.  Tasteless is one thing; tasteless and disturbing is quite another.

By now you might have surmised that more than one camera was involved.  For walking around at night, I fit the Sony NEX 3 with an Olympus PEN F 38mm f1.8.  I pressed the iPhone into service for wider angles.
Marilyn always did love the bright lights.  Goodbye and enjoy your new desert home!
I walked by Pioneer Court last Friday before heading to the airport.  It looks barren without Marilyn, but I'm sure Chicago has other mass installations in store.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wishing you a Merry Retro Christmas!

I love Christmas!  For a photographer and fan of all things retro and kitsch, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  Vacation is coming and I will have time to catch up on typecasting, but in the meantime here are a few signs of Christmas from years gone by.

We'll start with the creative and crafty.  Fortunately, I have encountered no objects made from slaughtered typewriters.

This is an amazing assemblage of otherwise forgotten silver serving ware.

It took one of my musically inclined kids to notice that these include old sheet music.

I keep forgetting how cool the cup and light decorations look.
Of course, the decorations we find today in our local big box store will look like it came from a certain era.  I am fascinated how materials and design can become so thoroughly embedded in a cultural period.  Will we look back on the light up inflatable yard creatures and remember a long, long recession, or will we wax nostalgic upon 2011 twenty years from now?

This little guy reminded me of David Sedaris and his Santaland Diaries monologue.  "Oh little Elf..."

From the "What were they thinking?" category.

Once upon a time, someone thought this gift set looked cute as opposed to vaguely disturbing.
And then there are the many faces of Santa. 
Such a heavy burden.

Wise Santa is watching.
There is such a thing as too happy.

Glowing, blow molded decorations remind me of my own childhood.  I can't say a single mean or snarky thing about them.  This is as about as good as Christmas gets.
We're preparing for Christmas.  The girls got through concert season.  My wife has been baking up a storm.  We're doing a bit of shopping and enjoying the challenge of family handmade-or-thoughtful-and-less-than-$5.00 presents.  I have two typewriters in cleaning and service mode (SM9 with robot type and a Wizard branded Brother) getting ready for gifting to the next generation of addicts.  Vacation starts the day after tomorrow.  All is well.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!