Friday, September 25, 2015


Alexis O'Hara

Sept. 2015

Last week, I passed a billboard advertising the Yellow Pages app and was immediately overcome with melancholy. It used to be exciting to receive the new phonebook. I remember the thrill of spotting my name amongst the thousands of other O'Haras living in the city. Not my full name, mind you, as every mother had cautioned her daughter to only use her first initial lest the mention of a woman's name serve as an invitation -  Call me! - for rapists and predatory telemarketers. The white pages have, of course, gone the way of the 8-track tape.  And we can faux-piously claim death to the phonebook and its waste of trees as we line up to slip the newest, slightly sharper, slightly faster, portable radiation machine into our pockets. Considering the ubiquity of Google, one wonders how well the Yellow Pages will fare with their mobile reincarnation. Good luck.

While I mourn the corpses left in the wake of technological advances and the progress of post-modern modernity, I know that melancholy is a key motivator to the consumer impulse. We are always behind the curve. Find out what you've been missing. For some, there is no emotional block to throwing out one thing in order to acquire another. Other amongst us cling to a every broken whathaveyou , sure that eventually it will get fixed.

I've been noticing a lot of walkmen on the metro lately and I love it. Garbage pickers of the world, unite! We find poetry in a discarded note, a slightly chipped figurine, a quaint relic of antiquated ideology. We swoon at the endearing wtf-ness of a hand-typed recipe for a "salad" that requires canned fruit, gelatin and a can of 7-UP. We are charmed by the corsets of the past as we turn our noses up to the high-heeled sneakers of today.

But sometimes it's just so bloody amazing to discover just how vast and weird the world of consumer-goods-making can be. Behold this figurine, Betty the Beautiful, first issue in the Clowns on Parade collection, a limited edition series created by Roger Brown for the House of Global Art in 1987. Aside from a few ebay listings that highlight the competitiveness of Monastiraki's pricing, there is precious little information to be found online about Betty, Roger or the House of Global Art. Betty is truly mystifying, she'd make a rather perverse addition to Aunt Margie's tchotchke collection but is not quite obscene enough to make her way into the curiosity cabinets of the avant-weirdo shoppers.

One thing for sure is that she makes a lovely addition to Bow Town, the group exhibit curated by Zuzu Knew and Starchild Stela. Come check it out. You can marvel at the eerie parallel between Betty and Laura Harte's sexy clown. And while we're at it, we'll toast the rebirth of the cassette tape.

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