Why, you must be illiterate, and interested in overpriced, pretentious, tacky crap!

Now that the pre-Christmas onslaught of catalogs is in full-swing, it has been amusing to see what kinds of companies think I’d be interested in their products.  The comedic winner, by a wide margin, so far this year is Source Perrier, which makes Levenger look like Wal-Mart.

I particularly admire the wisdom of sending to an English professor a catalog including Worthington Book Panels,  which are a bargain at a mere $950 per panel:

Made of solid wood with hand applied, embossed, and gold tooled leather book spines that emulate the most prized Morocco bindings.  . . . The book “shelves”  appear to hold collector’s editions of such classics of fiction as The Great Gatsby, and The Old Man and the Sea, volumes of political history, and little known period literature like Memoirs of a Cavalier.

Poor Defoe!  I also love the naked class fetishism of the Libris Book Stand.  At least Levenger *gestures* to what’s inside the book!

What kills me about this catalog isn’t even the ludicrous crap it pushes, but rather the appalling copy.  If you’re the sort to drop $765 on a “Sang de boeuf porcelain urn,” then I suspect you probably would care about the usage error and abused quotation marks in the writeup:

Combinations of “complimentary colors” or those that are opposite one another on the color wheel are a hallmark of fine Chinese porcelain.

My other two favorite bits from the catalog:

  • “People in South Africa gather these naturally shed porcupine quills, sort, match, and then hand wire them onto an antiqued brass frame to create these intriguing, clip-on lamp shades.”
  • “Happy best describes the feeling generated by our red, demi-lune table . . .”

Maybe if they donated $10 from the sale of every Sang de bouef vase they could hire a copyeditor.

Here’s hoping our mailman doesn’t judge us by our catalogs!

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5 Responses to Why, you must be illiterate, and interested in overpriced, pretentious, tacky crap!

  1. Alex says:

    I would love to burn that, except I own a pair of these: http://www.trueswords.com/chronicles-riddick-knife-p-793.html
    and really have no grounds to argue.

  2. jbj says:

    To be clear, I’m only targeting copy here, not product . . . except for the fake book panels.

    But the knives are pretty sad, I think.

  3. My favourite is the description of the Cherry Blossom Pillows: ‘In the language of flowers, cherry blossoms mean knowledge. All we know is that these lovely silk pillows woven with golden branches laden with tufts of white, cherry blossoms on a soft caramel ground are as welcoming as a day in spring.’

    I’m wondering, though, if my own budget flat-pack bookcases are really all that far from the Libris Book Stand (‘that dates from a time when books were a symbol of their owner’s wealth and learning’, none the less!). Cheap and functional though they are in themselves, it’s not an accident that the shelves in full view of visitors always get the more academically and aesthetically impressive books, while the falling-apart airport novels are tucked away in the case behind the armchair. Hmm.

  4. Horace says:

    The greatest irony here is that the copy mentions as one of its classics, The Great Gatsby, which has a scene in it in which the owl-eyed man specifically comments on the fact that the book pages in Gatsby’s Library have not yet been torn open, a reference to a vanity library as a sign of hollow wealth! I love it!

  5. David LaPierre says:

    When I walk into a home decorated with Source Perrier, my first instinct is to run out the door screaming. Heavy on ostentation usually equals light on everything else.

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