April 12, 2002
I have been a busy bee this week, teaching courses and doing appraisal events. All of which I am doing, of course, so that I can give even more money to the tax man. And now my reward - I get to type to you!
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PEOPLE WHO WILL ATTEMPT TO MAKE A BUCK FROM JUST ABOUT ANYTHING
A Connecticut toy manufacturer is making action figures based on "global politicians". They are namely George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Rudy Giuliani. Okay, Bush and Blair I can understand. But Rudy Giuliani? C'mooonnnnn. Global in his own mind, maybe. Don't get me started on him. The figures are dressed in combat fatigues. Considering that none of these guys ever saw any combat, I guess we can conclude that accuracy was not a primary factor in the creative process here. But we already knew that. So, when you have politician action heroes, you need an adversary, right? Herobuilders.com, the manufacturer, couldn't decide whether to go the route that would offend everyone, or to stick with a cliche'. So, they did both. They made a "villian action figure" - Osama Bin Laden. They claim their customers demanded it. However, most of the people interviewed about the figures by the New York Daily News said they thought it was a stupid and tasteless idea. Tasteless, yes. But how stupid was it when the result was endless free publicity? Oh, they issued photos of the Bush and Blair and Giuliani dolls posing heroically (you know - arms akimbo, legs far apart). But they put out photos of Bin Laden in a pink dress, or with a knife at his throat. Oh ha ha.
If you feel you simply must see the photos of the Bush doll holding a gun to the head of a stick figure Bin Laden (you haven't lived until you've seen a stick figure in a turban), or the Bin Laden doll in a pink tulle dress with matching handbag, or an appropriately insane-looking Giuliani figure, mosey on over to www.herobuilders.com. A statement issued by Barbie indicated that none of these guys is welcome in the Dream Kitchen.
WILD AND CRAZY THAI FOLKS DEPARTMENT
Like many religious festivals, one in Thailand has evolved into a free-for-all. This weekend is the Thai New Year celebration. No, I've no idea why they celebrate the New Year in April. Perhaps they need time to put together the party, or perhaps they've been hung over from January 1st. But part of the tradition is to sprinkle water over Buddhas and over the hands of monks and elders, as a sign of respect. This, of couse, has evolved into the tradition of shooting water pistols at each other in a giant water fight. In the past, Thai police have toted water pistols and joined in the melee. However, this year the government has forbidden police to carry water pistols because - and, I assure you, I am not making this up - they are afraid the police will get mixed up, mistakenly draw their real guns, and blow away some of the revelers. Police spokesman Major Phongsaphat Phongchareon (translation: John Smith), said: "The National Police chief has ordered police nationwide to strictly refrain from carrying water guns so as to prevent them from mistakenly shooting people with real guns in a moment of emergency." No word on whether the Thai police exam includes an intelligence test.
Also this year citizens are forbidden to participate in the traditional smearing of wet talcum powder all over each other, because it might lead to sexual assault. Of course it might also lead to a lot of pasty but nice-smelling folks walking around the streets, ducking the bullets of the dullard police. So, if you collect water guns or talcum powder tins, have I got a deal for you! But you have to travel to Bangkok to get it.
THE COLLECTION NO ONE WANTS
Paris may be known as the world's most romantic city, but it's also known as the dog poo capital of the world. The streets of Paris make the streets of New York look clean. Finally, the government is fed up. They have issued an edict that, beginning tomorrow, all dog owners will clean up after their dogs under penalty of a stiff fine. For decades the government has tried in vain to deal with the more than 200,000 dog owners in the city, but nothing has worked so far. There was the brigade of pooper-scooper scooters. There was the phalanx of "canine counselors" who tried to reason with dog owners, there was the ad campaign, showing photos of blind and wheelchair-bound people unwittingly approaching piles of poop with the caption, "Dog owners: you're absolutely right, why bother to clean it up? Let them do it for you." The new offensive against the offenders includes a large group of young rollerbladers who will be dispatched at dawn to dispense educational pamphlets to early morning dog walkers. Dog owners asked to respond to the news about the new tough law said that "people will get up at 2AM to avoid the cops". One dog owner said, "Personally, I don't object to clearing up - as long as the dog's healthy. But what are you supposed to do if it has an upset stomach? They didn't think of that, did they?"
Can you say "dough scraper"?
It doesn't look encouraging for Paris, or for the 650 Parisians a year who are hospitalized after slipping on doggie gifts and falling in the streets. Perhaps the fine of the equivalent of $261 isn't stiff enough. In spic and span Geneva, first offenders caught in the act are fined $1,566, and repeat offenders are charged as much as $6,690. Watch your step, Parisians!
Don't miss the Library of Congress exhibit on vaudeville. In fact, you don't have to miss it. You can go to their web site at LINK and see the show, featuring none other than Bob Hope. Fabulous!
You may also want to see "Harry Benson - 50 years of pictures" at LINK. Harry Benson is arguably the world's greatest photojournalist. Many very famous news photos are attributable to him, and the site includes a gallery of his work.
I think I've broken my promise of a short newsletter. I apologize, but there was just so much mock-worthy material this week. He Who Is The Light Of My Life and I are sticking close to the city this weekend. Except for him. He will be playing golf on Sunday, while I bake with my darling niece, Mallory. Tomorrow is a family day. So, you'll have to go out there and hit the sales for me. Buy great things and tell yourself, "I have to do this. I'm doing it for Judith." Hope you have a great week, Accumulators. Happy hunting!
© 2002 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #177
U.S. Library of Congress
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