Friday, December 26, 2008

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.

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At 6:57 PM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

The wonderful camelot sign with its struts showing reminds me of "17 Reasons Why" which should have been declared a landmark. There's a wonderful mock tudor home near Buena Vista fact I think I might be located on Buena Vista Terr.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Bryce - There is also that one in between the LGBT center and "Friendatella's" apartment building. We really don't have nearly enough faux or mock Tudor.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

"a law was made a distant moon ago here:july and august cannot be too hot. and there's a legal limit to the snow here in camelot.
the winter is forbidden till december"

in years gone by I was most appreciative of tudor architecture, but today I'd have to say I have grown quite enamored of anything that captures gaudi's magic and whimsy! who wouldn't want to live in casa batlló?!!

faux reuben sandwiches, that is just wrong!!

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mouse - Now that I think about it, I think it was a faux Monte Cristo sandwich not a faux reuben that I used to have there. Personally, both seem pretty gross to me today.

I'm with you on the work of Gaudi. My two favorite American architects are Greene and Green and Louis Sullivan (SO much better than his grossly over-rated protegee Frank Lloyd Wright.)

At 5:44 PM, Blogger WAT said...

Oh, awesome post! Good insight into Lennon's home and stuff. Love your glasses changing style along with John's. LOL!

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

WAT - If he were still alive, I'm sure he'd have the same sleek, French frames that I have. Wait, I think Sean has a pair.


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