Who Doesn’t Love Dogs Playing Poker?

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, black light poster 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.

greening 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 monkey 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.


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7 comments on “Who Doesn’t Love Dogs Playing Poker?

  1. You forgot the framed picture of Jesus on the cross with his eyes opening and closing as you walk by.


  2. Help
    You have given a new No Buy list for a new Gang I am creating and I did a search on Huancitos on Google and it pointed me back here. What are they? Where shouldn’t I buy them.
    La Jaula by Alfredo Zalce its kitsch because of how many people own it?
    Where do you buying Jesus with eyes opening in Closing. Jesus trumps Elvis and Frida anytime
    BTW Greening of America was one of my favorite books and I made my students read it


  3. Huancito is one of the villages of Cañada de los Once Pueblos, situated just south of Zamora. There are no longer eleven towns in Once Pueblos, but the name still sticks. Huancitos http://www.folkartmarket.org/index.php/profiles/entry/elena_felipe_and_bernardina_rivera_/ are burnished red pots with intricate designs which are rather costly and fascinating – until you acquire a good lot of them at a great price, which then makes the buyer wonder what the hell the attraction was.
    La Jaula was one of Alfredo Zalce’s best-known pieces, and its owner will feel honored to have an artist’s proof – until the owner discovers that every aficionado in the State of Michoacán has one. The head encased in a cage did give me years of inspiration when it stared down from the wall across from my desk in the office, and now it’s just part of the landscape.
    A secret edict of the municipality of Patzcuaro mandates that all expatriate women over the age of fifteen wear the Cheran half-moon earrings. A subset of that gang is also forced to wear a rebozo at all gatherings of more than three humans. It’s like the law that requires the Chosen People of the Northeast past a certain age to remove themselves to Florida, drive big cars and opt for the early bird special.
    Certain icons of Michoacán artesania are the proof that a Gang Member has ventured forth into and returned safely from the territory where There Be Dragons, the equivalent of coming back home from Hawaii with an Hawaiian shirt, Argentina with mates and bombillas, and the Middle East with a camel seat.
    David Leffler will know where to corner the market on Jesus stuff.


  4. Jennifer: Thanks for acknowledging my expertise on the Jesus stuff.
    I was going to recommend certain neighborhoods in NYC for all things Jesus, but instead it makes a lot more sense to look to the Internet, especially eBay.
    Here’s an eBay link to a great portrait of Jesus
    What makes it so special? His eyes follow you as you walk by. Woo hoo, creepy! And only $24.99!
    And why didn’t we think of the most obvious source of everything Jesus? Target, of course!
    Here’s a link to a search result for “Jesus” on Target’s website that includes everything from a talking Jesus figure (batteries included) to a portrait of Jesus throw (100% cotton, machine washable).


  5. Barbara says:

    Geez, I’ve been looking for a velvet Elvis painting for at least 10 years – if you’ve seen any anywhere, let me know!
    There used to be a bar in Houston called The Velvet Elvis, with you guessed it, zillions of Velvet Elvis’s……it was shut down by a lawsuit promotoed by the Presley organization – what a shame! WHERE was their sense of humor?


  6. Lava Lamps says:

    I say stand up to today “standards” Express yourself and you past. The Lava Lamp is making a comeback


  7. Reblogged this on Red Shoes are Better than Bacon and commented:

    While waiting for a repairman to arrive, I wisely invested my time searching for monkey paintings on eBay, which then caused me to search for renditions of Botero’s La Noche on MercadoLibre, which then made me think of the Franklin Mint, which reminded me that I’d written earlier about that. So, please enjoy this blast from the past, penned during the last year of the last Republican Administration.


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