Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Today’s discovery involved a 1950s Studebaker. I love the contrast in this scene: it’s a gray morning. The parking lot is nearly empty. A lady pushes a grocery cart filled with napkins, milk and goldfish crackers toward her parking spot. Suddenly she sees a shiny blue car with sparkling
chrome trim, parked near her car. The surprise! The contrast between the mundane (napkins and milk) and the unusual (a beautifully-restored vintage car). It made my Monday. I fished my battered camera out of my purse and started taking photos. I’ve seen a number of classic cars in this very parking lot over the years. I think this is because in my neighborhood people tend to
own their houses for decades and a number of them have vintage cars parked in the garage or driveway, which they restore as a hobby. But you never know when you’ll see an older car and so it’s a treat to find one, especially parked near you, as though the car was waiting to surprise you.
Today’s find was especially fun and timely because we’ve been watching The Muppet Movie (from 1979) a lot lately. In case it’s been decades since you’ve seen it, I’ll remind you that in the film, Fozzie the Bear drives Kermit the Frog to Hollywood in a 1951 bullet-nosed Studebaker
Commander. Just yesterday this movie was on and so the Studebaker was still on my mind today. Imagine my glee at discovering that a car very similar to the one in the movie was parked near mine today. I took photos from lots of angles and oooh and ahhhed to myself.
Here it is after the band Electric Mayhem gives it a colorful paint job:
This shows a close-up of what seems like an original rim. My photo of the side of the car shows newer rims on the driver’s left side and older rims on the right:
Once I got home and Googled the car in the Muppet Movie I discovered a few differences. Today’s car had a split windshield and four doors, whereas Fozzie’s has no split windshield and is a two-door model. But still! One does not see this model every day. It was in terrific shape and I
had such fun looking at it.
I looked online for photos of Studebakers and discovered a few things: there is a Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana. Might put that on Bucket List. Who knows? There are whole websites dedicated to Muppets fans. (This seems reasonable to me as the Muppets are so funny and appeal to nearly everyone, but I’d never actually looked for all-Muppet websites before.) There are also great photos of cakes and cupcakes honoring the loveable creatures. My favorite photo shows the creations of two sisters who own Cupcake Occasions in Suffolk, England. They made a collection of Muppet cupcakes that are adorable and really capture the individual looks of some of our favorite Muppets:
Saturday, April 14, 2012
It’s great for people watching, too. The customers are as varied as the products sold. There are people of all ethnicities and ages. Some are there just to wander, and others leave with an arc full of necessities. The stall with vintage toys may butt up against the one with new sunglasses.
Discount shoes are neighbors to antique tools, fresh fruit, old car parts and new t-shirts (5 for $10). It’s an eclectic mix. The only predictable element is its unpredictability.
Today I learned a lesson about predicting what I would find at the meet. I learned not to expect what I’d found last time. Today’s excursion was prompted by frogs. A year ago I’d bought some small ceramic frogs at this very swap meet, and I’d incorporated them into my tile mosaic art
pieces. They made a charming accent. I was ready for more frogs, and I even remembered the area of the swamp meet where I’d found them last year.
That’s where my trouble began. There’s some force in the universe at work, I’m afraid. If you go to a swap meet with a specific agenda, it’s likely you’ll be disappointed. The very make up of swap meets is a mixed assortment and the ingredients change from week to week. That is part of the
fun: stumbling across something intriguing. Of course, the downside is that you can’t always get what you got last time, and today I was reminded of that lesson.
My first stop left me frogless but I persevered. After all, it had been a year or more since I’d bought those frogs. Maybe I was fuzzy on which stall sold them. Subsequent aisles also left me frogless, and laps around the other aisles also did not yield frogs. It was a little annoying but it was fun at the same time. Wandering is therapeutic. You open yourself to possibilities when you take the time to meander. At one stall, I found some vintage rick rack for $1, and an aisle over I bought a gorgeous plant (it’s a gift so I won’t show photos of it until after it’s been given.). I’ve never seen a plant like this and I’m fascinated by its coloration.
I left without the ceramic frogs I’d hoped to find but it was not a futile experience. The swap meet is where you may stumble across a treasure. The serendipity of it is why you go. If you absolutely had to buy a specific thing that day, you’d go to a retailer. Am I a little disappointed to have left frogless? Sure. But I’ll take the trade-off. The adventure is worth it.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Euphemisms are so…funny. We all use them, me included. There are certain words each of us would prefer not to utter. Maybe we’re trying to be tactful or maybe it’s more about our own squeamishness. We won’t waste time arguing about which words are safe for public consumption.
But can we agree that euphemisms for certain words are just unnecessary? (Perhaps we won’t agree on this, but it’s my blog so I’ll take the stage on this issue at hand.) Today I spotted a container attached to a light pole, and even though I have no dog, I stopped to read the instructions. Perhaps I was drawn to read them because it seemed odd to me that instructions were necessary for the proper use of doggie bags. (And I’m not talking about the container you take home from a restaurant.) The photo above shows the front of the container.
a visual, but the whole reason for my blogging about this is below:
Sunday, April 1, 2012
As you know, I dig fun and funny stuff. I am not one to need a flashy car or the most ornate finishes. So architecture that is playful, colorful and unpretentious is right up my alley. The items depicted below are all much larger than in real life, and a change in scale always makes for fun.
This is true whether you’re peering into the miniature world of dollhouses, or walking into or up to a food item twenty times its actual size. You feel as though you’ve stepped into the Rick Moranis movie in which he shrinks his kids and they sleep in tiny Lego pieces lost in the grass of their back yard. This playing with scale really gets my imagination going.
In the 1940s programmatic architecture was popular in America. Car culture was beginning and the trend was to build eye-catching, self-advertising buildings to lure customers out of their cars and into businesses, with their wallets in hand, of course! Although some people apparently found this kind of design low-brow, I can’t read enough about buildings of this era. If it’s kitsch (not necessarily an insult, I say!), so be it. Pop culture is a part of our lives. Why not have fun with it? Life needs color and humor.
Below are a few examples of programmatic architecture that I find delightful. If you want to see more buildings in unusual shapes, there are many photos available online.
Tail o’ the Pup was a hotdog stand located in LA at La Cienega and Beverly boulevards. It was built in 1946 and remained in its original location until the mid-1980s, when it was moved nearby. In 2005 the pup was moved into storage but the owners have plans to bring it back to the hungry public somwehere in LA. The city has declared it a cultural landmark:
advertise his business, and he even allowed people to stay in it for free. The dimensions are not typical of most detached houses: it is 48 feet long, 17 feet at its widest part and 25 feet high. The cozy feel of it might be too claustrophobic for some people but like tree houses or sloped attic walls, its small size is part of its charm:
I’ll have the Giant Pineapple, with the Door on the Side. Hold the parsley. (April 1, 2012. But this is no April Fool's joke. I love this stuff!)
Buildings that surprise us are simply awesome. Most buildings are concerned with being level and plumb, and I understand that whole stability detail. But think about how many buildings you’ve seen in your life. Hundreds of thousands? How many of them involve square corners, some variation on a box? Almost every single one. That’s why it’s so startling and thrilling to see a building created with a completely different approach.
This pineapple building flouts tradition in its lack of square corners, which I appreciate (remember my blog about the Quonset hut?). But it also appeals to me because it is playful, as I am, and most buildings aren’t designed with that quality in mind. Most buildings strive to be elegant or serious or functional. Playfulness is not a main design ideal. I say we need more buildings that are fun as well as functional. Life isn’t just about function. There needs to be
enjoyment along the way.
I’m brought back to the books and tv shows I loved as a child. Smurfs lived in curvy mushroom houses. Bears lived in trees converted into houses, complete with front doors. Winnie the Pooh’s friends all lived in houses carved into the trunks of trees. Richard Scarry’s books were populated by animals driving cars shaped like pickles, apples and eggs.
I spent a lot of happy childhood hours immersed in a creative universe in which function and square corners were not the dictating elements. No wonder I’m not fazed by buildings of unusual shapes—I’m mesmerized by them! (And who penned the memo that we outgrow a need to be amused? Most kids’ books and movies involve a suspension of reality to some degree. That’s why they’re fun. Talking frogs? Bears in dresses, driving pickle cars? No wonder kids laugh so much more than adults do. We need to reintroduce silliness to most adults. If adults laughed more, I think we’d have a happier world. I’m not saying that all grown-up problems can be solved with apple-shaped cars. But laughter is healing and grown-ups need some fun, too.)
There are too many fanciful buildings to discuss in one blog piece. I’ll break it into bite-sized pieces and we’ll have a few chats about fun architecture. All this talk is making me yearn to add a fun, curvy room to the front of our house: maybe a pineapple! Hubby is great with tools and could frame it up, I could cover the whole thing with mosaic and sew vintagy-looking curtains (with pineapple fabric) for it. Hubby is pretty tolerant of my wacky ideas, but this might be a bit much for him. Must persuade him somehow. I can see it now. Directions to our house would be so easy: take the freeway to the second exit, go south, and look for the giant fruit out front!