Merlin Goes Mod
Merlin, the wizard of Arthurian tales, has been portrayed as a time-traveler. My students discovered that Merlin had spent some time visiting the last half of the twentieth century, a time most mod, hip, and groovy, when they interior decorated their wizard towers last week. They also gave his tower a moderately mad scientist look with a telescope on the roof and a chemistry lab by the fireplace. The spells and potions books they made were quite similar to Texas roadkill recipes. I just wish we'd had enough time to make little Oster blenders so Merlin could make nutritious/delicious [eye of] newt smoothies.
History may look back on the past forty years of architecture and interior design with a critical newt eye. I've lived through flocked wallpaper, foil wallpaper, and flocked foil wallpaper. Do-it-yourselfers put crinkle veined mirror tiles on bathroom, living room, and allegedly elegant dining room walls. Both VWs and bathtubs got groovy daisies. The bathtub ones were non-slip, at least. Law students studied in eyeball chairs at the University of Nebraska. Student apartments were hung with black light posters. New construction homes and ancient mildewed basements both got very scary shag carpets in red, burnt orange, and avocado green.
Perhaps strangest of all were the early-1980s personalized custom travel vans with shag carpet on most surfaces. These family vacation get-away van exteriors were done up with airbrush paintings that were part NRA hunting billboards, part carnival midway caricatures, and part drunken truck driver tattoos. A Nascar vehicle looks sophisticated and understated by comparison. That may have been too much for Merlin, as the fad seemed to disappear from the face of the United States as if someone said, "Abracadabra, please and thank you very much!"
Peter Harlaub wrote in the 10/04/05 San Francisco Chronicle about this mysterious disappearance. His story is, "Once, custom vans ruled the road" is worth a read.
My students didn't have to travel through time to style their wizard towers. We received a goodly batch of gift wrap samples that took the place of foil, flock, and crinkle veins. It was a magical riot of cut and paste, plus glitter tempera paint! If only we'd had some shag rug samples--and a disco ball or two.