Friday, June 6, 2014


Madison has its unique peculiarities. I've covered its political leftist bent, some of its more interesting eateries and its purple house cult. I've always appreciated its willingness to move north of normal. A good deal of its population is willing to take risks at looking foolish. I happily include myself in that demographic.
Although most homes and personal effects of the average Madisonian do safely rest under the traditional umbrella there are a significant number of those that are willing to take that step into the that uniquely unique category. I'm pointing a finger at all you pink homeowners. Painting your home pink takes a certain amount of daring-do.
The purple home cult has been well established but all you Pinkies need a certain amount of recognition for being bold enough to express your individuality on the gender bender abode color schemes you are unabashedly willing to display. When searching for Pinkies its best to stay away from Madison and its metropolitan area newer neighborhoods. They seem a little less willing to make a decorating statement.
It's the older more well established neighborhoods where the more expressive celebrants hang out. It's in the neighborhoods around Jennifer and Monona Bay where the devil wears pink. It takes a strong personality to buck the norm. It's an "A" personality that craves the attention that an out of the ordinary pink home will attract.
They'll have to suffer people like me parking their cars in front of their homes snapping pictures of the places they call their own personal safe havens.
Diane Arbus would never take a portrait of one of her subjects until after she got to know them. It's what makes her photographs less like intrusions on a life. Her photos are more a glimpse into a soul where you can empathize with them rather than gawk at freaks in a sideshow. I take the time to get out of my car when I encounter a Pinkie, walk around, touch the siding and sniff the surrounding air before I snap away. I want to feel their essence and have them accept me as a friend not just someone who's paid their nickel and stepped inside the tent of the bizarre.
I think my mom must have had a bit of that bizarre "A" personality. I didn't recognize it growing up. It wasn't until much later that I began to appreciate her boldness. After all I grew up in a pink house with slate gray shutters and never gave it much thought until recently. Now I can see how she marched to her own drum. I'm sure we must have had neighbors who thought we were three cards short of a full deck but I don't think my mom took the time to worry about it. I think she thought pink was pretty and that was all that mattered to her.
Back in the late seventies the students at the UW took the opportunity to show their pink when they filled the hill, Bascom Hill, with hundreds of pink flamingos. The University showed its true Madisonian colors when they didn't flinch but embraced the tradition and now use the flamingos as a fund raising event and an expression of an institution willing to show it more softer, pinker side. In 2009 by a vote of fifteen to four the Madison City Council adopted the plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament as the official city bird. Miami may be a fun city but do you think they'd have the guts to make such a bold move?
There are some Mad City inhabitants that have taken uniqueness to even higher heights than pinkness. They've done their purple house one better, they installed a bowling ball garden complete with a Fiesta plate border.
Clearly the have been very discriminating in there bowling ball selection. I'm only imagining but like Rick spends his winter months nestled in the snug pouring over seed catalogues in anticipation of spring planting I envision this gardener checking out bowling alleys looking for the newest marbleized version of a twelve pound ball.
The garden is planned with forethought as to the right groupings of balls and how some would make a nicer ground cover will others would flower better as taller more showy balls perched on their slender stems.
From balls in your garden to giant chickens in your yard. This house doesn't appear to have a lot of planned out insanity here. It's just a giant chicken hanging out in the front yard of what appears to be an otherwise fairly normal tract home. Take away the chicken and you don't have much to write home about. It was a nice touch to add the giant corn. Even plastic chickens need something to nibble on.
The bird theme continues with this out of place "Little Duckie Car" I found at a strip mall on the much more conservative far west side of Madison. When our daughter was a toddler we'd fill her tub with a hundred of these little rubber duckies. I guess we didn't think far enough out of the box. Who would have thought that gluing them to our car would have been an option we might have considered? Little rubber duckies aren't just for bathing.

Three Circus Ballerinas, 1964
Diane Arbus, photographer
Represented by Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

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