Tag Archives: bizarre

Pimp walking ain’t easy

I wish I had gotten a better picture.

He spun one heel on the blinding white floor and started heading in my direction. His left leg went into a deep bend as his right extended forward, like R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural. He was wearing a brown disco hat, double-breasted tan pleather jacket, sunglasses stolen from Erik Estrada’s face and jeans that had been converted into bellbottoms with triangles of corduroy fabric hand-sewn into the seams.

He thrust his jaw forward to the rhythm of the lite funk Muzak piping into the room, and changed up his pimp walk every few steps. At one point, he was doing an exaggerated West Side Story-meets-The Hustle finger point/snap, other times bobbing his head with a small boom box hoisted to his ear. The computer-generated music had absolutely no business inspiring anyone to move that way. Clearly, he wasn’t just anyone.

He zig-zagged through several of the walkways of the department store, fully immersed in its soundtrack and his own universe. A small fleet of people chased him with cell phones, trying to catch a video clip or photographs. Others dove back into the sea of clearance racks with a nervous laugh, raised eyebrow or hushed “ooo-kay!” In a matter of minutes, he made it to the mouth of the mall and walked out of sight with a full upper-body swagger, one arm swinging behind him as he looked deeply right, then deeply left — never straight ahead.

There are plenty of places I go in Columbus where this might have been funny yet not entirely odd, like the Gallery Hop, any number of arts events and festivals, or anywhere on the Ohio State campus. They have all seen some share of  guerrilla theater (there can never be enough, in my opinion). But this guy chose to strut through the heart of a Macy’s department store in one of the city’s oldest surviving enclosed malls (Eastland). It’s a dinosaur of a place where the majority of the shoppers are either 16 and willing to buy clothes that have a logo stamped across the rear end, or 66 and looking for suitable pants with plain hindquarters for senior rear ends.

Shucking, jiving, mall pimp-walking dude, I salute you.  Your cartoon presence was just what I needed to combat the absurdity of sale shopping and trying on clothes in florescent lighting.

Related Posts:

I’m Thinking of Joining This Caravan

Caravan of Love

Have you seen this wandering tribe? Since they are a caravan, I assume they are wandering and not still standing on this golf course lined with rainbow flags, but I’m not sure. Who wouldn’t follow a love-preaching guy with this protective jewelry and waistline anywhere that he asked you to go?

Like so many things from the 1980s, this is something I never knew I wanted to remember. The song and the video are awesome in completely different ways — it’s like an archeological dig that’s turned up sweatbands, day-glo fingerless gloves and the cartoonish international archetypes that early music videos embraced so shamelessly.

I’m hopeful that the Isleys have set the crowd straight by now, because the shoulder-padded huddled masses’ sense of rhythm is atrocious. If I find them, I’m bringing a set of klavés.

P.S. I’m your brother.

P.S.S. Watch the whole thing. It out-mesmerizes the Trolololo dude.

Related Posts:

I gave birth to the whole universe

I decided to make up a bedtime story last night, choose-your-own adventure style.

Me: “Once upon a time, there was a boy named… Antonio or Declan?”

Declan: “Declan!”

Me: “This boy Declan grew up to become a… paleontologist or astronaut? Which should he be?”

Declan: “A paleontologist goes around looking for dinosaur bones and putting them back together to make, like, T-Rex.”

Me: “True. So is that what you’d like to be? Or an astronaut?”

Declan: “I don’t want to be those. I want to be something I want to be.”

Me: “Like what?”

Declan: “Space.”

Me: “Space? Like… all of space? The universe?”

Declan: “Yes. Space.”

Me: “Uh… okay… Once upon a time there was a little boy named Declan who was actually all of space. He was as big as everything and expanded a lot while stars and galaxies and planets formed inside of him. He watched the Earth as it started to form, and people started to evolve…”

Declan: “I couldn’t do that. Everybody knows that space doesn’t have eyes. It can’t watch anything. It just is. It’s everywhere.”

Me: “Uh… okay. One day he yawned, and 14 stars and 732 planets were sucked into his mouth.”

Declan: “No. Only a black hole could do that.”

Me: “Well if you were all of space and you yawned, wouldn’t that be like a really big black hole?”

Declan: “Maybe. But space doesn’t have a mouth. It doesn’t have any kind of face.”

Me: “Well what would you do if you were space, then?”

Declan: “Nothing. Just be.”

Me: “Okay. Where would those stars and planets go if you yawned? What would space’s stomach be like?”

Declan: “Maybe nowhere. Maybe another dimension. They would be spaghettified. We just don’t know where they would go.”

Me: “Okay. So maybe they would go into space’s stomach! So… Declan, who was all of space was just hanging out, just being everywhere and expanding while the stars formed…”

Declan: “And the stars made people.”

Me: “Okay. The stars made people on Earth…”

Declan: “Now say that mommy and daddy and Declan were born on Earth.”

Me: “Mommy and daddy, who lived on Earth, decided to have a baby, and Declan, who was actually all of space…? Was born?”

Declan: “That’s right.”

Me: “Okay, so, mommy and daddy had a baby who was actually all of space, but they didn’t know that, and he tried to tell them all about the universe.”

Declan: “Babies can’t talk.”

Me: “No, but he tried. He said “ooo” and “da” and “thpppphhh” but they didn’t start to understand until he learned to say words.”

Declan: “Then he taught you about the universe. That’s what you say. You didn’t know about it until I was born. You didn’t even know that after Pluto there was Eris and Ceres until I watched shows and told you.”

Me: “And read books. That’s true. So… Declan came along and learned to talk and started to teach everybody about space and the universe.”

Declan: Nods.

Me: “And then a giant sea lion — bigger than anything, bigger than all of space — that was made out of happiness came along and swallowed the enormous Declan and everything in the universe, including everyone on Earth, became very peaceful and happy because it was very cozy in the sea lion’s stomach.”

Declan: “No!” (Laughing)

Me: “Why not? Sometimes scientists talk about our universe actually being a small part of something even bigger.”

Declan: “Okay.”

Me: “Phew. The end.”

Related Posts:

Geek love in real life

I read Geek Love by Catherine Dunn when I was in my mid-20s — a novel rich with wicked and sympathetic details about a family of carnival geeks and the social pecking order of people who market physical differences or deformities as entertainment.

I had seen the sideshow tents on the midway of the Ohio State Fair since I was a little girl, but never ventured in. The first time I decided to pay the admission so I could be an armchair anthropologist at the so-called “freak show” – shortly after reading Dunn’s novel in the mid-1990s – I found only sword-swallowers, characters with a few corny costumes and some poor optical illusions. I was told that “political correctness” (a term that I loathe) had driven the traditional sideshow characters into obscurity. Geek love had supposedly become something only seen through a Diane Arbus camera lens to the past, even as the value of “Outsider art” was skyrocketing.

So I was surprised when Declan and I were walking into the Midway hell portion of the fair last week and a carnival caller yelled out for us to watch “the fire-eating Pygmy King.” Wasn’t “Pygmy” a pejorative term? Was “king” supposed to mitigate that? And weren’t these shows the domain of illusionists and heavily tattooed self-mutilators who like to shove hooks and nails into themselves now? (I cannot stand to watch those things, by the way.)

So we stood there in the walkway and watched the “Pygmy King” eat some fire and then guzzle a bottle of Pepto while the caller heralded the other “wonders” inside of the tent, like hirsute and two-headed women. It was an evening special – only $2 for the show. And if I hadn’t had Declan with me, I would have gone right in.

Related Posts:


Went to the zoo a couple of days ago. This brick, laid in the Australian section, was near several others, most of which had the proper names of people who donated money, or those they wanted to memorialize.

Not sure what this one is supposed to mean.

Related Posts:

Weird Barack Obama art

Growing up in a Catholic household the 1960s, my husband says that most of the living rooms he visited as a child had pictures of Jesus and JFK hanging on the wall.

As a child of the 1970s, I don’t remember any presidential administration that inspired that kind of iconic reproduction. Things have changed. The stream of Barack Obama faces printed on clothing and hats since early summer festivals this year has been steady to overflowing, many using design elements that intentionally evoke Bob Marley, Che Guevara, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. Apparently, we like wearing our new leader, putting forward our faith in his abilities.

Meanwhile, weird art has been emerging from all corners of the Internet, putting forward its own agenda:
A lot of pundits claim that voters have unrealistic, Jesus (or Fabio)-like expectations of our new President. On first view, this illustration seems to underscore that idea. It was actually intended to poke fun at Obama supporters in Portland, Oregon this past May.
This one comes from Dan Lacey, Painter of Pancakes, who mostly paints political and celebrity figures with pancakes on their heads, although he also has some of famous figures donning jock straps, carrots and “Minnesota” toast” on their noggins. If you poke around his site, you’ll find that there are a couple of other nude Obama with unicorn paintings, including a revision of this one with a leaner president-elect.
An Indiana man who calls himself the “Taco Werewolf” created a series of “Obama Taco Underwear” paintings. Over the summer, when he finished his shifts at a Mexican restaurant, Mr. Werewolf would nosh on free tacos in his underwear and watch Obama speeches, which filled him with such inspiration he was moved to make these paintings.
Last but not least, here’s a camptastic one (pointed out to me by my mom), from local artist Paul Richmond. It is available as a Giclee Print on Etsy.

More pieces, strange and mainsteam, have been dutifully catalogued on a couple of blogs: the Art of Obama and The Obama Art Report.

Related Posts:

A story experiment

I’m one of those people who has an emotional attachment to nearly everything in my house. I have inherited a lot of items once held by grandparents or great-grandparents, kept physical reminders of my own childhood and saved many reminders of moments during and before my marriage, of other people who have passed, of times and travels I want to remember. Much of my house is a map of myself and my family, filled with landmarks.

This makes me pretty annoying to live with, because there are things that look like garbage to my husband, which are decidedly not garbage to me. He’s failed me more than once on this count – and some piece of my history has rumbled off to the landfills.

It also makes me not a very good Buddhist, since it doesn’t exactly help me accept impermanence.

But I do find that there are a lot of objects out there with an interesting story. So, I’m examining some of the items people have put up for auction that have little material value, but rich stories behind them at auctionchronicles.com, a sort of blotter of items that are for sale with an unusual narrative. I’m not looking for things that necessarily have a bizarre element, so much as a personal story behind them. So if you have a couple of minutes, give the site a visit and let me know what you think.

Related Posts:

Spongebob Scarepants and friends

The theme for scarecrow competitors at the Ohio State Fair this year was Cartoon Characters:

(If you couldn’t tell, that’s Betty Boop below the Spongebob picture. The bottom pictures Mr. Scarepants, Shaggy & Scooby Doo, Jack Skellington and Woody from Toy Story. There was a Speed Racer there too.)

Related Posts: