Sometimes I think I live in the wrong era. Today, 30,000 Santas have descended upon New York and have been given a map of where to go drink until 3 a.m. Yes, really. All the proceeds from their drinking will go to Hurricane Sandy victims. I already had some surreal encounters today with Santa men and Santa women. Imagine what the streets and subways will be like later, with drunk Santa men and drunk Santa women.
I much prefer the Museum of the City of New York’s approach. This summer, I worked on inventorying their huge collection of Currier & Ives prints, so it was fun to see the show finally come together.
Whereas I don’t fantasize about being a part of that 19th century world, I did get a huge kick out of the sleigh and sleigh bells, the festive dress and winter coat, and the obvious need for the fur blanket (check out the slide show below for more).
I’m ready to go. Want to join me?
Another really fun show there is “Designing Tomorrow: America’s Worlds Fairs of the 1930s.” Now you’re talking an era where I’ve always felt like I fit. And I just love every aspect of the design elements the exhibit shows off, even in its weirdly cramped space. You know I love a weird gee-gaw, and I salivated over the souvenir cans (yes, really), makeup compacts, banks, razors, charms, neck ties, and napkin rings. I’d take one of each, but literally have nowhere to put them.
Now this was a time when my hometown of Dallas (yes, really) was a shining light. In case you didn’t know, Dallas is a city that’s all about the money, never more evident than with the National Cash Register Building at the 1936 World’s Fair in Dallas (yes, really).
The fair celebrated the 100th birthday of Texas as a state. But interestingly, the deco design had Apache influence (not a tribe known for being in Texas). Some of the buildings, albeit a bit crumbly, are still there, in Fair Park, and the State Fair of Texas is still an awesome annual event to visit.
The architectural program wasn’t built to last. Just like all the other fairs (and so much of the American ethic), it was meant to be destroyed when the fair closed. What hasn’t been torn down marks some of the classiest buildings in Dallas.
Check out the people sitting on top of the future in the “Futurama Spectators,” Margaret Bourke White’s famous photograph from the GM Building at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. This was back when the U.S. had a vision for the future, and I don’t think there was a drunk Santa in sight.
Easily my favorite was Elecktro the Moto Man, from Westinghouse–my “Meet George Jetson” moment. Elecktro is made of vacuum tubes, a 79 rpm record player, mesh, gears, and motors so it can walk and is much bigger than life size.
The exhibit features a film from the period, demonstrating Elecktro’s ability to respond to commands (take that, Siri!). It was a pretty big Wow for the audience.
The idea was to help people embrace technology, when science fiction had been using it to generate fear. Elecktro was described as a “friendly Frankenstein” — “all kindness and geniality.”
Hmm, what do you think?