Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On big, yellow inflatable things



The backsides of American cities usually leave me cold. I have spent too many hours among the crumbling concrete acres of parking lots gazing at the linear roof of a box store to ever appreciate beauty again.

Or maybe when I do I'll go a little bit crazy and come over all American. I'll start screaming about how beautiful Buckingham Palace is when, we all know, it's an ugly oversized pile.

It only took me three pages of Christopher Hitchen's memoir to realize the guy is, in fact, a god, albeit a conceited and pompous one.

He describes how he looked over a woman's shapely shoulder to the "horrible wedding cake architecture of Sacre Coueur" and it made me think of my last visit to Paris when I kept telling myself this church was meant to be beautiful but it struck me as forced beauty.

Likewise Gaudi's unfinished Sagrada Família in Barcelona is magnificent and iconic but ultimately left me unsatisfied, probably because it is unfinished.

Although I was obviously not as unsatisfied as an American woman who started shouting "look, look" and pointing in the direction of the soaring ediface.

"It's a Polish bus," she screamed at her rather nonplussed husband.

In contrast to the Sacre Couer the greatest buildings of the world seem less self concious as if they have grown up effortlessly from the ground. The architects who built Florence's magnificent cathedral surely had the wings of angels and designed the heart of this city with little conscious effort.

I won't say America has no architectual legacies. The Chrysler Building in New York is one of my favorite structures.

But away from the big cities, art seems to have taken a hike and lost its tent en route.

So I drove through the endless suburbs taking little in, until suddenly something completely unexpected and audacious caught my eye, like this giant yellow inflatable gorilla by the side of the road advertising a gold shop.

I was so impressed by the size of it, I decided to take my kids to see it for a day out, although I fear it could give them nightmares.

Even so the free days out citcuit is starting to become a bit predictable, the lobsters at FarmFresh and the fish tank at the Pro Bass Shop. And sometimes a turtle makes an appearance in the retention pond near our development.

Time to book my tickets to England before the excitement round these parts gives me a heart attack.





15 comments:

  1. I think I may have nightmares now. He's pretty awful looking.
    It is difficult to find impressive architecture in this country, especially relative to Europe. Pony trees, fields of trucks, and huge bright yellow gorillas aren't quite the same.
    xoRobyn

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  2. Oh well. He got your attention, at least, eh? That's what he is intended to do. I like the way his teeth look like marshmallows. hahaha! :D

    Good luck in your quest to see beauty in architecture. I am always searching for beauty in nature, I think, rather than man-made things.

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  3. So true, we can't compete with Europe in the Architecture department. But there is magnificently glorious landscape in much of U.S. And historic Charleston makes my heart flutter... ;)
    (And Virginia has its gems, too! Monticello, UVA, my goodness, Jefferson left his mark all about your beautiful state!)

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  4. I agree with you to point. What we lack in architecture, we make up for with beauty in nature.

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  5. Oh but the Bass Pro Shop is so fun: http://dontmindmeimdiscombobulated.blogspot.com/2010/05/moxy-on-move-bass-pro-shop.html

    (:

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  6. I am more of a wide open spaces lover. Hated New York and Chicago.

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  7. A little over the top....beautiful architecture is hard to come by nowadays....Buck palace is a better sight than the ugly shapeless glass monsters...one man's art is the other's horror show.... :) Loved the skirt wearing English lad, wish i had the courage to face the nuns in scorching heat in mini skirts...

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  8. Hi Dave, this is my friend Frank. Frank L. Wright. Lloydie to his friends (side-eye)

    Frank, this is Dave. Show 'em whatcha got.

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  9. Being that the US is still rather young as a country it certainly can't compete with the amazing architecture in Europe. However, there are actually some beautiful cities/neighborhoods if you look outside of the cookie cutter suburbs and strip shopping centers with large blow up animals. Or you could leave the cities altogether and head into nature where beauty abounds.

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  10. The gorilla has a certain something doesn't it. I'm not really a city person, but Fed Square in Melbourne is something I really like, though it's not on the scale of the old european cities. Sue

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  11. Oh god I'm really depressed now. I'm dying to get out of this country and experience life that doesn't include brand spankin new buildings and giant inflatable gorillas. Haha.

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  12. How intriguing! This is exactly how I feel about English suburbs once you get out of Greater London! I really dislike all the crumbing down High Streets and the industrial areas situated right in the middle of suburbs. In Johannesburg, ugly things such as factories and plants had their own neighbourhoods called Industria and Aeroton and they were far away from my leafy green suburb! Then again, we paid for it by not having any buildings older than 100 years old.

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  13. I know Robyn - the gorilla sure was a classy touch. I agree with you about nature, Daisy but I think there are some man made things that inspire. For sure Oilfield, the US has some great landscapes. Cool post Anna, I checked it out. Really, I loved NY, Nubian, probably only for a visit, tho

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  14. eek - the nuns in mini skirts sounds a strange concept, Rek. Oh yep, we like Frank, Mollie. For sure Empress, but the cities round these parts are unremarkable. Well Melbourne sounds cool, Sue, Sydney too. sorry to depress Jennifer, but we all need our inflatable gorilla quota. I know Em. I used to live in East Ham - say no more.

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  15. How intriguing! This is exactly how I experience about British suburban places once you get out of Higher London! I really don't like all the crumbing down Great Roads and the business places located right in the center of suburban places. In Gauteng, unpleasant factors such as industries and vegetation had their own neighbourhoods known as Industria and Aeroton and they were far away from my natural green suburb! Then again, we compensated for it by not having any structures mature than 100 decades of age.

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