I don’t this point can be made often enough – tacky, eclectic, oddball, low-rent, artsy and/or just plain freaky storefronts are by-far the best for both musing and photography. Nor is this for such an entirely obvious reason as that old mean-comedy schadenfreude pleasure of still being able to look-down on something – even as many of us are pushed inexorably downward ourselves.
Yes, the supremely engineered and the hilariously individual are both almost always trying to manipulate us – to gain our attention at least – but the simple (and profound) truth is that I feel far better treated by weirdness than formulae.
Ornery? Sure I am – much as I respect the ancient mercantile trade and many guilds of diverse urban skills (most of which go all the way back to Babylon) I despise corporate monopoly capitalism with an abiding and enduringly fierce hatred – for excellent non-arbitrary reasons, mind you. Murder and enslavement being only one and two on the deplorably long list of charges for which it’s worth revoking their subsidies, protections and special market-eating status.
But it’s actually a heck of a lot more basic than that. Even assuming everyone had equal snake-oil on offer (and discarding my preference for the affordable and hilarious aesthetic, over the more classy and boast-worthy axis) in one window I’m being talked-to by a human being, and in another, by a marketing team who are then reviewed by a board, and then a standing-committee and then a study group – snorefest pablum shite!
Still don’t see where I’m going? Try this exercise – put on your art-head and go into a big chain coffee-shop (but don’t give them your money, just look) ;o) Consider the artistic problem offered (and also notice the repeatability of the customer assortment, branch to brach – hilarious if it wasn’t so sad).
Okay now try going into any lousy run-down corner-store in any area of any town of any decent size at all. There’s curiosity on the walls, on the ceilings, tucked under things, over things, behind things. Sun faded signage for products they last carried in the late 1960s, cans of cleaning products long since made illegal (with supremely bold and lovely package-designs).
Even just trying to think about where to start, your brain instantly lights-up – the gum and penny-candy section? The Brylcreem and Final Net, under a linty mat of decades-dust? The neat brass rack of model paints in tiny square bottles, the once ubiquitous full-spectrum display of clothing dye? Maybe the magazine and comics rack, where the old fake-wood melamine surface has been so chipped-away by reaching hands and tugging sleeves that you can see that it’s actually been real wood underneath it, the whole darned time? (From back in the days when fake was considered better)
No, of course it’s always got to be the crappy puzzles and import plastic toys mounted on pegboards in the corner-back of the store – hilariously poor translations and all – nothing else could even come close – for a starting-place only though. Take days just to do the plan, if you want to really catch it comprehensively.
Why do I like the robot on the left the best? I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I can’t seem to eliminate any of several competing theories. For one thing, he looks just a tiny-bit left out of the group, but he’s still standing tall. The other two – who are obviously terrible conformists, even seem to be leaning in toward one another, as if they’re whispering unkindly about him.
And what about style? The yellow and blue robots look as if their eyes, noses mouths and ears could fall off, with just a little bit of play. And their instrumentation – so gauche! Who uses dials anymore? Tres clunky!
My modest hero on the other hand, has eyes nose and mouth that will never fall off, no matter how much you play with him – also a nice radar-scanner (key) on his head, and what looks to me like a cathode ray tube on his chest, configured to display a lissajous pattern. Like I say – way more advanced than the others – we’re talking 1950s tech here – none of that namby-pamby 1930s stuff!
Or is it just his fine choice of footwear – a consideration of vastly outsized weight, to a walking fanatic like me. The other two would be skittering around and complaining after a half a klick – my buddy wouldn’t even slow down until sunset (and even then, only to ask, very respectfully, for another winding).
Also – let’s face it – it’s pretty clear that the yellow and blue one are about to be disintegrated by the Cylon standing behind them – so once again, my money’s got to be on mister getaway-shoes!
Good thing I think these important matters through so thoroughly, eh?
Bozo sold here