Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our variegated lawns

Ever notice how at about this time of the year, lawn ornaments used to multiply the good cheer (yes, those flaccid Homer Simpsons that turn into very dapper looking Homers at night) are getting bigger, better and more garish as years pass. What was originally a little bit of string lighting that lent warmth to the otherwise gloomy weather prospects characterizing this time has turned into a grand 'keep up with the Joneses' spectacle with Ferris wheels, chugging trains, neon signs and in some extreme cases, rock music blaring mangers (OK, I made that last one up). Walking down a stretch of Main Street that our house adjoins (yes, we are part of the ‘suburbia’ census statistic), I was wondering if I had lost my way and wandered accidentally into Times Square by mistake. A couple of wary Johns looking for a quick fix would have completed the transformation.

Lighting up is great for the mood, spirits and the festive times that December and the New Year bring, but a silly profusion of any good is an easy road to cheap excesses and that is the current state of suburban lawns today. Of course, adding to the confusion in the night is the scene that greets passers-by in the morning - large carcasses of white nylon casings that seem to billow all over the lawn shorn of their air filling (I am guessing it is air that they use to pump those huge effigies of Santa and Homer doing things to inanimate objects that cannot be written about here) and generally making a mess of the whole lawn. Yesterday, we noticed a nylon-based Ferris wheel that actually dwarfed the house that put up the abomination and had me convinced into thinking that Barnum and Bailey were in town. Honestly, I did not mean to do a Debbie here, but if this is not a lit up neon-sign of our growing trade deficit with China, then I am not too sure what is... Closer scrutiny of any of the cardboard cartons that these things come packed in would doubtless tell you three magic words that large scale retailers sing before falling asleep – ‘Made in China’. It almost looks like we are celebrating China’s expertise in capitalist acumen than Christmas and New Year.

I really do not have anything against a bit of lighting in front of homes, in fact every year we do it zealously. It lifts spirits and spreads the good cheer that comes with Christmas and New Year. But, a surfeit of lights, sparkle and gas filled monstrosities might be a little too much on the eyes - not to mention that looming trade deficit.

Luo Weidong, Luo Weiguo & Luo Weibing, 'Welcome to the world's famous brands' 25" X 21", mixed media, collage, and lacquer on wood, 1998

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