Distinguishing the Faux from the Fakes
Do you have a favorite style of regional architecture? Growing up on the Great Plains, I saw a lot of faux Tudor, Prairie Provencial, Sage Brush Deco, Cattle Baron Baroque and Airplane bungalows. My favorite was always faux Tudor, and I would always get into arguments with my mother when she spoke of it dismisively. "Isn't it redundant to call if 'faux'? As if anyone thinks that an original Tudor mansion was built in Omaha." She would point out that the London Bridge had been transplanted to Arizona, so it would be much easier to dismantle, ship and reconstruct a Tudor home somewhere in Topeka, so it was important to be accurate.
I was always struck that John and Cynthia Lennon lived in a faux Tudor home in Kenwood, letting us know that faux is not a uniquely Midwestern pretense. We always associate John's home with the Yoko years at the Dakota, but that house in Kenwood was always the one that I adored. When I listened to "I Am the Walrus" and John sang the line about sitting in his English garden, I was always annoyed that it seemed redundant to call a garden in Kenwood English. Would someone in Kansas say they had a Kansas garden?
That song, particulary the image of the custard coming from a dead dog's eye, was when my mother started becoming concerned about my obsesson with the Beatles and John in particular. So it was with considerable resistance that she caved in early in 1969 to help me make the transition from clunky plastic framed glasses to uber-hip John Lennon wire framed glasses -- er, I mean faux John Lennon wire framed glasses.
The Lennons' faux Tudor home could have passed for one in Kansas City's Westport or Oklahoma City's Nichols Hills, though it was smaller than the ones there. One thing my mother and I did agree about was that Cynthia was always our favorite Beatle wife. Mind you, I adore Yoko and always came to her defense, but Cynthia's long suffering angst really earned her many a badge of courage. But the name the Plastic Powell (her maiden name) Band probably lacked the level of menace that John was after.
Around the time Rubber Soul was released, the Camelot Inn opened in Tulsa, and I always forced my parents to stop there on our trips back and forth to Kansas City or St. Louis. They made the best faux reuben sandwiches on the Great Plains. The Camelot was not really a true faux Tudor design but sort of a modernist Tudor homage. I was particularly fascinated by the knights' armour that could be found throughout the lobby. During its eventual demise, the Camelot became even more fascinating than during its heydey. It has long since disappeared, an embodiment of All Things Must Pass and a reminder that it's really hard to find true faux these days.