Newsletter #189

August 29, 2002

Greetings Accumulators!

As summer draws to a close, the weather has turned decidedly ugly here in The Big Apple. We've endured a hot, dry summer in New York, so the pouring rain is necessary, but why it had to wait until Labor Day weekend to rain, I do not know. I'm grateful, of course, that it didn't rain on our annual nieces-and-nephews-inclusive excursion to an amusement park. This year we went to Dorney Park in Allentown, PA. Some of the rides there are wild enough to really separate the men from the boys. And apparently I am the man of the family. My family watched as I climbed up to the top of the giant body slide alone, and came whizzing down at the speed of light. Well, the speed of sound, anyway. To give credit where credit is due, He Who Is The Light Of My Life consented to go on The Wild Mouse, which is a roller coaster. A children's roller coaster. We could barely stuff ourselves into the car together, since it was child-size. There we were, after having zipped around the bends at, oh, 15 miles per hour, and having hit those giant three-foot drops, pulling into the station to the open-mouthed stares of all the five-year-olds waiting to ride next. Sigh. If you're going to Dorney, don't miss Talon, the wild looping roller coaster from which you ride suspended. It was fun to read the signs on the painted floor as we slowly ascended that first big hill. They said "Here we go...We're on The Way...Almost there...GOOD BYE". Great ride. No, Artie didn't go on it with me.

We all thought it was a little creepy that Grandma had a brooch made with a photo of Grandpa on it, and that she wore it to every important occasion. This was, of course, long before I learned anything about mourning jewelry and discovered that the Victorians were way stranger than Grandma. I wonder if we all could have benefitted from a new service now being offered by a Chicago company. LifeGem Memorials says it can turn cremated human remains into diamonds that can then be set into jewelry. Of course you are now thinking, "Eeeeuuuuuuw!" But, really, would Uncle Alphonse be happier sitting up there on the drafty mantel in that old urn or seeing the world from his perch on your well-manicured ring finger? Greg Herro, head of LifeGems, says the company is "building on the simple fact that all living creatures are carbon-based and diamonds are carbon-based". Before you run out and have your ancestors made into a pair of earrings, be aware that the blue diamonds aren't cheap. A 1/4 carat stone, which requires just a thimblefull of ashes, will set you back $4,000; and a full carat will cost $22,000, meaning it might be more cost effective to leave Aunt Tillie where she is and just buy a natural diamond. No word on whether you'll be able to get a bracelet made of Fido, Tabby, Chirpy The Canary, or your favorite ficus.

To all my subscribers on the other side of the pond: please do not take offense. There are heaps of tasteless art in the USA as well, as you shall soon see. This story deals with an art exhibit scheduled to be held at the Blink Gallery in Poland Street, Soho, central London. Or, more exactly, in the window of the Blink Gallery. It consists of a man and a woman, and also a fully-stocked condom machine. The couple, who have been dating for about three years, will lie in bed in the window, eating, sleeping, and making love if they feel like it. The exhibit is called "No Inhibitions", which is why it will interest you to know that if the couple does decide to make whoopee, there is a curtain they can draw around their bed. The exhibit will remain in place for one week, after which they'll just have to have sex in their own bed at home. Now, on to the USA story. Next month New York City is to be graced by the opening of a new museum: The Museum of Sex. I thought we already had one of those in downtown. It's called The Pink Pussycat. Never mind. The Museum will feature the 30-year pornography collection of one Ralph Whittington of Clinton, Maryland who sold it because his house was packed to the rafters with porn. The Museum of Sex claims to be a serious museum. Be prepared, O Curators, for hordes of angry women, who will not be amused by the pornography exhibit. Personally, I shall be easily able to resist the pull of the Museum's archives.

The end of summer seems to bring its own brand of craziness to the world, when humans give in to their primal urge to ...celebrate. Celebrate what? you ask. Well, some mighty strange things. Here are just a few of the unusual festivals taking place around the world this time of year. This is a service meant to halp you plan your travel schedule for next year.
TOMATINA - This one takes place in Bunal, Spain and consists of about 40,000 people throwing tomatoes at each other. Truckloads of fresh, ripe tomatoes are brought into the town square, where shirtless tourists (yes, ones of the female persuasion as well) bean each other mercilessly for an hour, after which they are hosed down by the local residents. Boy, are their faces red! Their other body parts, too.
IL CARNEVALE D'IVREA - In Ivrea, Italy, the Fight Of Liberty is recreated by 10,000 participants organized into colorfully dressed teams. These teams do battle by hurling oranges at each other. Ouch! Not nearly as harmless as being hit with a tomato.
THE COOPERS HILL CHEESE ROLL - This one takes place in England, where competitors chase a hunk of cheese down a steep incline.
HOUNEN MATSURI - I covered this festival last year, but it is so amusing, I just had to mention it again. It takes place in Japan, where the townspeople parade a large wooden penis around the square. No word on who is the model for this effigy.
NUDE OLYMPICS - This one is held in Arizona, and is very easy on the wardrobe. I suppose the local hospitals must see a dizzying array of unusual injuries.
BURNING MAN - Held in Black Rock, Nevada, the third largest city in the state. Too bad it's a city that only exists for one week a year. It's a virtual Utopia, with safe, clean streets, original art, bicycle transportation. Apparently one week is about all most people can take.

So, Accumulators, we'll be slogging off to the country place for the weekend. For many of us in Northern climes, this is the last chance at some great yard sales and flea markets. For those of us in the USA, it is a holiday weekend, and just a week or so before that dread anniversary. Hope you all have a peaceful and happy weekend. If you're going to a party, please have your last alcoholic drink at least an hour before you head home. Better yet, designate a driver. And watch out for the other guy on the road - maybe no one loved him enough to take his keys away. Have a great week, Accumulators. Happy hunting!

2002 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #189
U.S. Library of Congress
ISSN 1520-4464


Your comments, as always, are welcome. If you have something to say, write to me.
To subscribe to the free short weekly email newsletter, send a blank email to





Any questions? E-mail us at

1996-2002 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.