Alpiner Kuntsverlag Hans Huber, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Nothing warms the cockles of my heart so much as finding a kitschy treasure. I scour flea markets and bazaars for little pieces of tacky delight, and sometimes I find gold. One of my prized possessions is this postcard, sent in 1965 from the Netherlands to a certain Marty Shulman of the Bronx.
I bought the postcard for the sweet, drunken young blonde things in their Alpine splendor, but when I got home, I flipped the card over and realized that the true gem was the message from Joan and Martin to their friend Marty.
It reads as follows:
We are having a good time getting drunk every night on wine so that we can hardly get back to the pensione. However, there are no bad feelings or regrets in the morning, as we scourge ourselves of these sins by spending our days looking at everyone’s religious paintings.
Write + come to see us soon.
Joan and Martin
P.S. You can come now as we have rugs on the floor
I can add nothing further except to wish you all no bad feelings or regrets in the morning!
It’s still way too hot here for January, but at least I needed a light sweater today. Inspired by the sunshine, I took off for a little town not too far from here and did some wandering around. Apparently I wasn’t the only one inspired. A street musician, wearing some multi-colored quilted jacket, was wailing away on his recorder. In between little trills on the thing, he’d yell out “Aieeee!” or “Arghhhhh!” I tried not to make eye contact with the madman as I passed, but he started to follow me a little bit, inclining his head in my direction as I sped away. I ducked into a shop, and the owner explained that he just does that. She simultaneously turned the music up a bit louder. Poor thing, having to endure that all day.
After walking around for a bit and getting a junk-shop fix (where I saw the ceramic bust, above) I stopped for a coffee at a little café. There I did some knitting, reading, and uninteresting eavesdropping (gossip about a friend’s impending divorce—these friends don’t think it’s a good idea—and the wonders of Tide detergent pens). It always disappoints me when I take the time to listen in and the conversation’s boring. Oh well. I was being rude, so I guess it serves me right.
I also read this interesting passage from my book (The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, a little literary candy about vampires). In it, the father of the narrator is musing about the change in landscape from Istanbul to Budapest:
It is a gradation of towns, of architecture, of gradually receding minarets blended with the advancing of church domes, of the very look of forest and riverbank, so that little by little you begin to believe you can read in nature itself the saturation of history. Does the shoulder of a Turkish hillside really look so different from the slope of a Magyar meadow? Of course not, and yet the difference is as impossible to erase from the eye as the history that informs it is from the mind. Later, traveling this route, I would also see it alternately as benign and bathed in blood—this is the other trick of historical insight, to be unrelentingly torn between good and evil, peace and war.
I thought briefly about the way the Earth has memory that can be sensed from being in a place. I also resisted the though, because I don’t like to think of nature as being solely a reflector of human history—we don’t define it; it defines us. But then my coffee was getting cold, and it was time to go.
Holy crap, this story made me laugh. I can see it now. A family brings home their Christmas tree, and the fresh pine scent fills the house. Mugs of hot chocolate all around. Singing along with the Christmas music, the family begins to decorate. Everything is just holiday perfect until… Aieeeeee! The tree has beady little eyes! I can see a horror movie franchise here. Perhaps I should write a screenplay, The Christmas Trees Have Eyes. Whaaa haaa haaaa haa.
So I didn’t go out with Flattering French Guy, as you may have guessed. I just couldn’t go through with it. I called him and wound up having to leave a message saying that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to meet up. When I hung up I felt nothing but relief. There are other men out there, and I’m sure that Flattering Guy can flatter his way in to some other woman’s heart.
Nothing much went on with me this weekend. I stayed close to home and made some major progress on the holiday knitting. Check out my posts on Punk Rock Knitters (here and here), if you’d like (exception: Ms. Smokestack cannot click on these links, or she will ruin her surprise).
The only other thing of note that happened to me was that I fell in the driveway. Splatted was more like it. Hey, Grace! I turned my foot, and now I’m walking with a limp. I have huge bruises on my elbow and hip. Pretty. And now it’s off to the warehouse.
The third day of alone time was the charm. I awoke this morning prepared to deal with other human beings and with no desire to watch endless reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.
Although I’m sure today’s high of 60-plus degrees bodes ill for our environment, it was balm to my New England soul. New England winters are hard. They aren’t Montana hard, with endless snow and roads that never get plowed. Nor are they Alaska hard, where I heard it was -31 this morning. No, New England winters don’t usually pit one against the elements like they do out West. Instead, they wear you down in an endless succession of cold, snowy days—until May. So when it is 60-plus degrees out at the end of November, we New Englanders rejoice. Those of us who had the day off (like me) go outside.
First I took a lovely walk on the beach. I smiled at strangers and petted dogs. Here are a few pictures from my stroll.
Then I went to my favorite junk shop and wandered around.
And then I went and had coffee at a café and did some knitting (results will be posted shortly). Sitting across from me at the café was an aspiring novelist (she was not writing for National Novel Writing Month, either). I thought of Robyn. I ended my travels with a vist to this little gourmet take-out place my sister works at. There I got some delicious potato leek soup for a late lunch.
All in all, it was a wonderful day. Never you fret, though. I go back to work tomorrow. The snarky vitriol will return shortly.
As a lover of all things kitsch, I thought that I would take a moment to mark the passing of the plastic pink flamingo, made by Union Plastics right here in Massachusetts. Union Plastics has announced its intention to cease manufacture of the tacky birds.
I have a special connection to the pink flamingo. Someone in my hometown started the Society for the Preservation of Artificial Wildlife, and pink flamingo nesting sites were found in various areas in the region. These were reported in the local newspaper, to great fanfare. One time, I saw a pink flamingo nesting high up in a tree in wintertime. My heart was glad, and I was proud that our little area was a sanctuary for Artificial Wildlife. Soon, the little critters will be extinct, and the world will be just a little less wonderful than it was before.
*I did not take this photo.
Posted in Flamingo, Kitsch