Friday, January 30, 2015
I want you all to know that this is no "found on Tumblr" interior desecration. This was taken, by moi, in my father's living room. My father, was not a man known for his "taste" (if you can call it that) in home decor. And that is the living room in the house of mirth where I lived from Kindergarten in 1968 until third grade until 1971.
But this lamp is what my Stepmonster, Shark, brought to the relationship. Tasteful, just like her.
"Don't you love it? It's art, don't you think?" she asked.
Yes, the woman who told my mother that she was going to redecorate the "kitchen and the bedroom first - because that's where a woman does her best work," moved into the house last touched in 1968 (this picture was taken circa 1995) and redecorated by plunking this thing down in the Living Room.
The picture simple doesn't do it justice. I showed it, back when I took it, to my mother who stared at it and then said "Of all the women through his revolving do he finally found someone who has taste worse than his - but what is it?"
Good question. "It's a lamp, but Frankensteinish."
She then tried to figure out what its creator was trying to accomplish.
"Well, it looks like someone took and ugly sofa lamp, and mated it to a pedestal for an occasional table. But why is the cord coming out of top of the pedestal? And that shade? It's too small and ugly. But there is something so absurd about it, it's funny. Your Aunt Nan would just die for this lamp."
I asked her what style she would call it and she decided on "Belle Watling Rococo Revival."
At one point the lamp stood in front of the living room picture window. Thats how I learned about. I started getting calls from people I knew up in Cleveland, and they usually started with "Have you driven by your father's house lately?" No. Why. "If you do, do it at night."
Finally, one friend described the sight as "A Jewish version of the major award" from A Christmas Story."
This I had to see. My father and I weren't speaking - one of our many not speaking periods, so I took a business meeting and dinner in Cleveland just to see it. The house sat at the top of plain hill, no trees to mask the view, and the curtains were parted. The library of the house - the original man cave where my father's barcalounger sat before the 25" Zenith and where he spent all of his time - was lit up.
But in the living room window on the other side, there it was, lit brightly as to show off its garish curves. It was beyond ugly. But it was something so over the top. As I have written about before, my father and his family members were the Jew's with the faux Louis XVI furniture. And cherubs everywhere. Even our Jewish Guilt was colored with faux gold gilt. So this lamp was something larger than life and so horrible that it went full circle into right into what we call "camp" - the lie that tells the truth. It was so horrible, it was magnificent.
The surface, as I would discover, was in gold and copper metallic paint, and the 250 watt bulb illuminated it, so it glowed. Like Jean Shepherd wrote in Ralphie's voice "we were bathed in the glow of electric sex" when his father turned on the infamous leg lamp, I too felt bathed in the glow from this lamp; bathed in glow of bad taste and Jewish Angst as only our family could do.
On my next visit to see the lamp in the window about a year later, it was gone. I had hoped that someone had accidentally knocked it over and broken it. But it was not to be. Stepmonster, who my mother referred to as the Imperial Concubine, had simply moved it to another location away from the window.
Eventually, when my father was stricken with the first of many attacks that would end his life, I made the effort to overlook his transgressions over me and at me and sucked it up and spent time with him. These visits were taxing. Even though I hated him for what he did to me, and my mother, he was still my father. Though he never drank a day in his life, his liver had cancer and he was dying, all the while the stepmonster was feeding him a diet high in sodium and off plastic plates. It was on one of those visits when I could get in the house and that was when I took this picture.
We all are going to die, sometime. It's what our destiny is from the day we are born. But something that over the top, and that garish deserves to live on. Maybe it's the Baltimore vibe. Maybe its living down the road from Divine's grave and up the road from John Waters, but I want it. I want that lamp.
Because no matter where you go in life, you can never outrun your past. It may not be who you are now, but your past can't be undone because its part of who you were. And that lamp is the perfect symbol of the burlesque that was my life in Shaker Heights at one point. Besides, every house deserves something that represents a joke or is pure "camp" - the lie that tells the truth.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
It's been a day like this.
A well regarded coworker found another job in retail that pays better than the Beef House and Strip Club. I will miss her because she was the type of person you want to work with. Great ethics, a black sense of humor, and she brought out the best in her coworkers - these just don't fall off the tree with every application. So not only are we short handed, but one of the regular came in and asked for said co-worker, and when told that said employee was no longer with us, Customer launched on another coworker who was trying very hard to help said Customer.
It was ugly. People literally stopped what they doing and listened at the rant.
So a couple of us stepped up to back this co-worker up, get this person quieted down and out of the store ASAP.
Later in the day the husband of the crazy bitch came to the store and spoke with the Manager. The husband explained that the wife was going through a rough bout of menopause and she just felt "horrible". The manager listened, and told about the apology one by one.
"She going through the change of life," says Manager.
Well what the Hell is she changing into? A Harpy?
"Mehbee," said Manager, "she no want to take the hor-monays."
My mother used to say that Menopause is like "riding a wild bucking bronco to Hell for some women."
So riding that wild bucking bronco to Hell during Mercury's retrograde phase must be some kind of special trip.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Cookie would like to take the fun loving hat off of his head and put on a serious one for a second.
Waaaay back when - twenty plus years ago - in fact, Cookie signed up for a referral list called Angie's list that had just opened up in Columbus, Ohio - the center of midwest consumerism. My reasons were varied, but as a new homeowner, I didn't know who to call the stuff that was beyond skills.
I can sweat copper pipe and wield an acetylene torch, with the best of them. But I don't do sewer replacements. Installing a new toilet is a sinch, climbing on the roof, is not my forte.
So I joined Angie's List. For annual subscription fee, we could join, call and get referrals to businesses that passed muster.
In turn, we were told, that our information was kept confidential. The system was kept honest because subscribers paid to be in the system, which was supposed to dissuade false reviews. Good enough for me - I was in.
Over the years, Angie's List changed. The organization that vowed not to take ads from service providers started taking ads from A+ businesses. Then we started getting peppered with email ads. Deals of the Day that involved Angie's List as the pass-through payment system. The monthly magazine grew less chatty and useful and converted to general, mundane information that wasn't telling us anything about service providers. In other words, the things that made Angie's List special erroded away.
Well, two weeks ago I, after pestering emails from Angie's List that I had not left a review for Herb's General Amalgamated Contracting, I knuckled under just to stop the pestering emails. I left a glowing review for a contractor, with four out of five stars on the quality of their work on our old house. But I also said that an estimate for the new place came in way too high and that consumers considering using their expertise should be prepared $$$$$. We found a local contractor who did the same work for a fraction of their bid, and were happy. Case closed.
Or so I thought.
Last week I started getting calls from the vendor - their manager for social media, "reaching out, after my comments..." and the kicker was "because of the impact on social media..."
So, on a lark, I called Angie's List yesterday and asked: "How did the contractor get my name and phone number?"
And the answer was: "We provided all vendors with the names of people reviewing them."
And that was when my blood went cold.
Here's the thing, I have never written anything untrue about any vendor. But at the same time, I have a problem with a vendor calling me up and trying get my to change my review - especially a four out of five star one - so that it makes them look better.
I also have a problem with a company founded on keeping clients identifiable contact information confidential, all of sudden providing that information freely. Especially when they are goading me to write reviews, that they charge an annual fee to other people to access.
So, keep in mind that IF you write a review for Angie's List, they won't share your name with other members, but they certainly will share that information with the business. Knife+Your Back = Stabbing.
Cookie has cancelled the service, and instructed them not to send me anymore "electronic" promotions, sales, magazines or elsewise. All communication from Angie's List to me has to be sent in letter format.
Consider yourselves warned.