On Saturday night, or Sunday, (I can’t remember which, it was that boring), the Contrarian found this masterpiece that he thought, (heaven only knows why) that I might find some interest in.
It was on PBS, which is always a good start. It was entitled something like “weird architecture” or something to that effect. I expected some of those warped buildings that now pass for state of the art urban building.
But no, it had to do with rather dull and stupid houses and business buildings, erected because the owner wanted to live eccentrically, or wanted to “advertise” what was inside.A full hour of this crap followed.
The Duck House, pictured above, is not a house, it’s a business establishment. What do you buy there? All kinds of trivial crap that reminds you years later that you wasted several very good hours traveling to this monstrosity, and horror of horrors taking stupid pictures of the members of your family posing with the duck as a backdrop.
The owners are always interviewed, and they marvel, each and every one, at the “genius” of the original owner who commissioned this eye-popping phenom. Next they interview visitors, wo also, each and every one, crow about how they traveled six hours, to visit this amazing feat of engineering. The “feat” consists of a timber frame, lots of chicken wire to mold the shape, followed usually with stucco.
The Shoe House is actually a house and the current owners, like the original run this scam by giving guided tours of the interior, to prove there are really bedrooms and bathrooms and the like.
You pay your fee to take the tour, and receive all kinds of worthless information about the original “genius” and the usual timber/wire/stucco litany.
If you look at the visitors, you find a rather hefty percentage of large and grey-haired women and their husbands or caretakers. It’s of course always important to keep learning “history”.
Some bright lights chose to advertise what they do inside by their architecture. Inside this one, they sell dairy products. This one, or the one I saw, sold ice-cream and it was the “best” in the world, or so the patrons who drove miles to sample the wares, attested.
Funny, but I wonder why if it was so good, one needed the gimmick of a milk bottle to attract the passing fancy of the drive-by traffic?
A trip through a small door and we were inside the rafters looking at how finely preserved this brilliant architecture really was. Lots of beams, the best I’ve ever seen for sure.
By the by, if you thought these were one of a kind, you are very wrong. It seems just lots of super brains thought up the very same idea across the wild and wooly US of A. There are lots of different ducks, shoes, and milk bottles.
Ditto the Catsup Bottle Water Tower in Collinsville along Route 159. There are probably a dozen or more of these, but the dull folks of Collinsville take their monument seriously indeed.
The “catsup lady” raised over $80,000 in good hard-earned buckeroos when the water tower had fallen to rust and ruin, to renovate it, and get it all spiffy.
A festival is now held every summer to celebrate the red bottle, where, I am told, catsup tasting events are everyone’s favorite enjoyment.
I would tell you this was all a joke, but alas, it is all too true.
Plenty of Collinsvillians will tell you that the bottle put them on the map, making them a tourist mecca the likes of which makes a souvenir seller cry with joy.
Well the whole hour was filled with lots of these wonderful stories of America gone to hell in an orgy of gaudy cheap treats, but in the end, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the biggest and best of them all.
That my friends, would be the famous Corn Palace in South Dakota. And yes, it is the ultimate homage to corn. For the entire outer surface of the building is covered in corn.
Now this has turned into a fine racket. Each year the design changes from gaudy to more gaudy, employing the talents of God knows how many individuals.
They buy their corn exclusively from one dude, who now makes his living just growing different colored corn for the pretty designs.
And then, all the construction types who are employed to nail all those corn cobs to the edifice. Why, people sadly do come from other states just to see this. And yes, the Contrarian admits he was one of them, many a moon ago. I am ashamed to admit it.
Now what all these buildings and owners have in common is that they are simple and boring. The visitors are simple and boring, and thus a perfect marriage is made. For simply and boring people are willing to travel hundreds of miles to see stuff that is not boring to them, and willing to spend money to commemorate their visit. It’s a perfect storm. Parasite meets willing host.
So, my beloveds, look through your local PBS offerings, and don’t miss this engaging little hour of boring bliss. How else to know when you are having a wonderful time, than to belly up to a full-court bore once in a while.