Monday, March 16, 2009


#75, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Doors like these are the architectural equivalent of that "when I am an old woman I shall wear purple" poem, your neighborhood's own equivalent of the old dear tottering around in a "red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me". On the one hand, you want to applaud the old broad for not giving a toss what the world thinks of her gobbling up samples in the shops and pressing the alarm bells at inappropriate times. On the other, you want to scream in her ear: "Stop pressing the alarm bells! Terrible shirts are not life's answer to sticking it to the youth-obsessed establishment! Sit down! You are making my eyes hurt!" So you may think similar thoughts as you pass your own neighborhood's "unique" door, sign, lawn ornament, or window decoration.

Lovable eyesores. Every neighborhood has them. I can think of dozens of these from my daily walk: the giant plush German shepherd dog in a window on Clinton Street, the bloated inflatable seasonal displays that decorate the apartment on Sackett Street, this duo of hue-screamers on Bond Street. Then you get, a few paces down, this more sedate, subdued, inexplicably dull chocolate-dipped 75C. It is as if the building had been firmly instructed to tone it down and the owner painted the remaining door the blandest shade imaginable:

Interestingly, it is often the eyesores that I remember most from my youth: that giant 50 near my doctor's office, my next door neighbor's 2-car garage decorated with "HIS" and "HERS" (the clincher was that - the store must have run out of "I"s - the "HIS" half of the garage was actually labeled "H1S". There was also a bright pink barn that was Klemm's nursery.

I'm curious to know: When you think about your own neighborhoods, past and present, what are the lovable eyesores you see? And do you mostly love them or despise them for daring to be, er, unique?


Jackie said...

Wait-- did your neighbors seriously have "his" and "her" garages??! That's hilarious!

Back on the ol' island, I can think of a few off the top of my head:
A few doors down, a family has this spotlight which they use to project images onto their garage for every single major (and minor) holiday and for more personal celebrations like birthdays, graduations, etc. It's classy.

And Christmas time, of course, brings its own slew of horrific images...
The house on Richmond Ave. (I'll pretend readers know where that is) with the giant inflatable Nativity set. ("Oh, honey... Christmas is getting too commercial!" "True, dear. I know what we can do! Let's buy a giant inflatable Nativity to remind our neighbors of the true meaning of Christmas.."

But like your blog suggests, I think I might be sad if these things didn't exist... they feel strangely... homey.

Therese Cox said...

Holidays bring out the worst offenders! Wow, I haven't seen the pan-holiday spotlight yet, Jackie. I'll have to keep my eyes open for this so I can very quickly look the other way.

Not surprisingly, the "H1S and HERS" neighbors were also known for their highly tasteful Christmas decorations, including a plastic Santa's sleigh and reindeer on a wire that was pitched upward to make it look like the reindeer were in fact taking off from the lawn. Ugly, yes. But a subject of much hilarity to us as kids.

Julie said...

I shall endeavour to commit that epithet to memory. I am sure it will prove useful.