I go a little out of my way on my drive home from work each day, just so I can mosey down Park Avenue in Williston Park.
All the houses in this area are all the same basic model:
Or are a mirror-image of the same basic model:
But each one is individualized so that, at first, I didn’t notice that they were all basically the same house:
And, once it dawned on me that this is the dreaded cookie-cutter suburban landscape of old folk songs protesting small-minded conformity and Punk angst yowling against the lifestyle of working-class Republican lockstep and novels about the fearsome blandness and soul-killing materialism of keeping up with the Joneses, I became fascinated by this place.
I love driving down this street. I love seeing how each house’s individual personality puts on a public face, exerts its unique presence. Take that, all you snotty Montesorri-bred careerist “artistes”.
And, by the way, those houses that I’ve shown you (above) are all facing the street sideways, like this one:
This next house is how the house actually looks when it is facing front (you can see, on the side there: put a door on the back edge, and give the whole house a quarter spin, and you have one of those front-facing sideways houses):
And of all the little castles of sub-urbanity that I drive past on Park Avenue, this little brick number is my favorite:
Not merely because it faces front, with a rock garden/Catholic shrine in the front yard (although that is pretty spiffy, that grotto with the Virgin Mary hunkered within).
But because this little house uses its picture window for its natural, ordained purpose. Picture windows are where people are supposed to put, on display, for the world to see, the totemic items that tell the world all about the residents within. It’s where the people who own the picture window put the objects that, in their opinion, best communicate to the outside world some essential truth about themselves. That’s why I call picture windows The Museum of the Self.
And this little brick house has a magnificent display of self-hood. Which I think is very brave, very generous, and very wonderful:
And very, very much worth jumping out of the car and taking careful documentary photos of:
The Pink Stallion.
The Italian Soldier (in, as far as I can tell, a totally bogus cavalry uniform).
The Cut Crystal Water Pitcher (might be used on special occasions for sangria).
The Goblet (standing in for the Holy Grail?).
The Pink Persian.
I don’t think there’s a better Museum of the Self out there.
Or is there anything interesting in your neighbors’ Museums of the Selfs that we should know about?