Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Still around after 50 years

Happy Birthday, pink flamingo! In the flamingos' heyday, everything from ovens to Cadillacs came in pink, and flamingos were all the rage as the unofficial symbol of tropical Florida. What better way for newly affluent suburbanites to revel in Florida's exotic cool factor than to stab pink flamingos into their well-manicured lawns? There were the dark days, too, when the flamingos were reviled as tacky trailer-park kitsch, the repugnant epitome of mass-produced artifice and bad taste. In fact, some communities even banned them. We can thank Don Featherstone, 71, for creating what he later dubbed phoenicopteris ruber plasticus. Now a resident of Fitchburg, Mass., Featherstone had nine years of fine arts training under his belt when Union Products, a plastic molding company in Leominster, hired him in 1957 to design three-dimensional lawn ornaments. Now here we are, raising a glass of pink champagne to this pop culture icon, toasting its 50th anniversary. Maybe the fact that a plastic bird merits attention on its 50th anniversary lays bare a profound truth: a bit of black-velvet Elvis painting lurks in all of us. Photo found at Confined Space

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