Sunday, October 09, 2005

Five Items, Six Feet

Yet another variation on the "name (insert number) things" meme:

Name 5 items located within 6 feet of your computer
that are metaphorically, literally, or otherwise connected. Explain briefly.

The Clog Almanac's list:

(1) Silvestri accordion. Yes, an accordion in its case sits mere inches from my right foot. Coordination of one hand with the other while moving the bellows of the instrument is difficult, in a rub-your-stomach, pat-your-head sort of way.

(2) A mano (primitive stone pestle for grinding corn by hand) from the environs of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajauto, Mexico, where I lived for a few months in 1979.

(3) Also held in the hand, a carved alligator cane, circa 1900, Jacksonville, Florida. Shafts and handles of these canes were fashioned from sucker shoots pruned from orange groves. The cane's curved hand grip bears an exquisitely carved juvenile alligator on its upper surface. It's a fine example of a rare high-dollar souvenir from the very early days of Florida tourism, when the gentry sported fashionable hats and canes.

(4) My Old straw boater. A label on the satin lining proclaims the hat maker was Knox, 5th Avenue, New York. Now it so happens that the Knox Building was designed for the famous hat maker by John H. Duncan in 1902, about the year the alligator cane was created. The facade of the Knox Hat building, as well as most of the adjacent Kress building (Eduard Sibbert, 1955) were eventually both incorporated into the
Republic Bank building in 1985 by architect Eli Attia. The resulting structure overlooks Bryant Park and the New York Public Library to the north. The north facade of the newest construction accordions between and above the older buildings with pleats and to-the-street-line expansions that preserve a palimpsest of the two beaux-arts and art-deco predecessors. In my opinion the conglomerate strains toward the ugly as a whole. Decide for yourself whether to laud or to decry the preservation effort.

(5) Nicholas A. Basbanes' lovely book Patience and Fortitude, titled after the pair of
marble lions that guard the 5th Avenue entrance to the New York Public Library. One can't help feeling sorry for the old Knox and Kress building's remnants forlornly being engulfed by modernism. Perhaps they should be named Patience and Fortitude too.

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