Some of us would be mortified if anyone found out what was on our iPods. Go ahead and admit it: if you’re reading this, you probably have some Herman’s Hermits and country western lurking on that tiny hard drive. Since I have no pride, I’ll tell you that I’ve got David Seville’s Witch Doctor on mine. (The 45 rpm record was the first one I ever bought with my own money, back in the summer of 1958.)
A generation ago, we decorated their squalid college apartments with black light posters (yes, I still possess some, stashed away in the bodega), lava lamps, and marijuana paraphernalia. A poster of Disney characters engaged in sex acts inspired me to write a law school piece about droit moral and Article 6bis of the Berne Convention, which ended up making me more money than I’d ever made in my entire life up until that point, so the acquisition wasn’t exactly in vain. Our artistic inclinations grew more sophisticated, beckoning M.C. Escher and René Magritte. And the guy who did portraits out of fruit.
Still on our bookshelves are remnants of another era: A Child’s Garden of Grass, The Whole Earth Catalog, The Anarchist Cookbook, The Greening of America, and Steal this Book. Only a month ago, a distinguished researcher plucked Jerry Kamstra’s Weed from my library, commenting that its passages on Mexican culture still rang true. We can’t rid ourselves of them, even if these books are the literary equivalent of white vinyl go-go boots.
Years would pass, and we would discover Mexico. And acquire nearly all of the items which are now on Gangs of San Miguel’s No Buy List. I plead guilty on most counts.
In Michoacán, we have the artsy-craftsy equivalent of the FAA-mandated airplane reading material, too: Huancitos, an artist’s proof of Zalce’s La Jaula, some other Zalce lithograph, the Patamban green pineapple, the Cheran half-moon earrings, pointelle Capulaware (a.k.a. Michoacán Melamine), plaid Patzcuaro tablecloths, chisel-carved chests from Cuanajo, something bright and shiny from mfa Eronga, a Cocucho or two, iridescent Santa Fe de la Laguna candelabra, Ocumicho figures, and a scattering of Santa Clara de Cobre copper. And enough crucifixes and images of the Virgen de Guadalupe to make visitors ask “When did you convert?”
I really need to kick up my décor a notch by adding some black velvet paintings of Elvis, unicorns and the Last Supper and pink flamingos. But first I want to acquire one of those solar-powered squirrels that lights up at night.