I have until this very moment carefully avoided using the term “kitsch” in my writing. I have a folder of photographs with that name, but I haven’t used the term publicly for fear that it is too judgmental, too superior, too patronizing.
When I use the term “kitsch” to describe elements of the wonderfully quirky front yard at 2634 McGee, I do so in a laudatory sense. I love the lamps:
I admire the ethnic stereotype ceramic figures. I sense irony here, not naive racism.
I confess that I am not especially fond of the bunnies, but I accept them as part of the bigger package.
Most of all I like what is best of all – the small world in front of the house. It is not over-the-top. It is not too much. It is, for me, just right:
This is the only lighthouse that I remember seeing in a Berkeley yard. I might be wrong. There is a stunning one on Arlington in El Cerrito.
For obvious reasons, my friend is simultaneously drawn to and repelled by small-world tableaux. He was busy writing a short story based on this photograph:
The working title of his story was “When Timothy Leary Sat Next to Alduous Huxley in 1961.” I am not sure where the story goes after that title, but what do I know? I asked his opinion of the McGee small world and kitsch.