Sometimes my blog entries just write themselves. This is one of those . . .
John and I decided to make the most of Memorial Day weekend and take an impromptu trip to two of those glamorous upstate New York destinations . . . Buffalo and Rochester. Actually, I'd been curious about visiting both, but they have been mostly ice-bound for the past 6 to 8 months, so I've had them on-hold while the tundra defrosts. Even though we only have a couple of days, these cities aren't exactly beckoning the tourists so I've been wringing blood from a stone, trying to find stuff to do. My research paid off BIG TIME, though: I have found Americana kitsch gold, right here in Upstate NY. Who knew we had THESE cultural destinations at our doorstep?
Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz Center
Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, NY, which is apparently the best thing that happened in Jamestown since 1911. This town is doooooown on its luck, but it has latched on to hometown girl Lucy and started its own Lucy & Desi museum, no- let's call it a cultural center. No, this is not only a closet-sized room full of her old dresses and bad wigs. This is a serious mecca for people trapped in 1952 (which is not an insignificant percentage of the local population). Check out the online store- it has more items than the USC gift shop! You can even pick up some Vitameatavegamin or an I Love Lucy blender salt & pepper set? Seriously, take some time browsing in that online gift shop- its holdings are tremendous, I'm telling you.
In addition to an annual celebration of her birthday, Jamestown hosts the annual Lucy & Desi Days. This is a 3-day extravaganza of the most random crap- I cannot even tell you- you've just got to check out the endless schedule. But if someone can explain this one, I will give them $5- Why is Wilmer Valderrama the lead VIP guest for this event? Not only is the connection tenuous (apparently he's going to speak about how Desi Arnaz paved the way for Latino actors) but no one- NO ONE- in attendance is going to have a clue who Wilmer Valderrama is. PRICELESS.
As my mind was trying to make sense of this crazy Lucy & Desi Days thing, which is apparently a well-attended and organized event, I had epiphany that would explain everything- this is a draw for GAY guys! DUH! It's like if there was a gathering of Judy Garland fans, and they all came in Dorothy-drag, right? Nooooo, my friends, judging from the photos I can find, the only gay guys are the ones who might sneak in, unnoticed by the hordes of overweight seventy-somethings who prefer to time-travel back to the 1950s than live in Upstate's present rust-belt condition. Moving on . . .
The Kazoo Museum
One might think that the Kazoo Museum is the most bizarre museum you've ever heard of, but I can't possibly top the Lucy & Desi museum (oh wait, I can- read on). The Kazoo Museum in Eden, New York (about 30 minutes outside of Buffalo). Here's the short story, since I went nuts on Lucy & Desi- the metal Kazoo (yes, metal- we are splitting hairs in kazoo-land) was first manufactured in Eden, NY in 1916. This factory operated for decades until its father & son owner- apparently for lack of a grandson willing to strike out into the uncertain kazoo biz in the new millennium- gave (yes, gave- wouldn't be surprised if it was worth more as a tax write-off than a going business concern)- gave the business to Suburban Adult Services, Inc., which provides work for mentally and physically challenged individuals. Oh, and I'm guessing they probably also get free kazoos.
This blog got looooong, so we'll do fun with J-E-L-L-O in a Part II to this entry.