Sep 14, 2009

The Color of Kitsch

This diverting LA Times profile of multi-hyphenate Allee Willis and her outsized kitsch collection, which has now become some kind of Internet social networking thingy to augment her "kitsch of the day" blog (of which the above is a choice sample), strangely fails to mention that this oddly cropped eccentric, whom one source memorably dubs "Martha Warhol," was also co-songwriter of the musical The Color Purple. Insert your own ultimate-kitsch joke here--except I happened to be one of the few critics who quite admired that underrated show (I was reviewing for, which has taken all its old reviews down).

The other thing the Times story made me think of is that kitsch and trinket collections are, if not a uniquely L.A. thing, then something greatly enabled by 1. more spacious living quarters and 2. the car. I can't tell you how many hours of impulsive yard-sale and used-record-store browsing I did in my salad days there (Aron's, we hardly knew ye!), nor how many irresistible car-hauled tchotchkes I shed before my cross-country move to NY in 2005. And it wasn't just the kitsch I happened to own that I remember fondly from L.A.: When I was a poor college grad, a visit here was nearly as good as a pass to LACMA.

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