Sunday, October 5, 2008
Seventh Avenue Bizarre
As a teenager, I had a temporary summer job selling handbags in a department store in my hometown. It always amazed me that even the ugliest bag could find a buyer. I know that one cannot legislate taste, but it was still frightening to think that anyone could find certain items attractive. In an issue of The New Yorker, some years ago, there was a cartoon by the wonderfully wry Roz Chast that showed a shop window that was typical of some small stores around town. The displays were of the most hideous dresses and accessories imaginable, and the caption read something like, "Who shops in these places?" On my way along Seventh Avenue to experience beautiful ballet at City Center, I frequently pass tourist shops like the ones pictured here and wonder the same thing: Who buys this stuff anyway? Especially in these parlous economic times, who is going to spend money on tchotchkes? And yet they do. These places have been in business a long time. It remains to be seen if they'll stay alive in the coming months and remain an endless source of amusement, at least to me.