Category Archives: Devoted Obsession

Devoted Obsession, Offbeat Museums / , ,

Dr Shankar’s Wonderful Collection of Brains and Other Medical Obscura

It came up over a bowl of brain stew at Karim’s, Old Delhi’s famously-dingy 1913 eatery.

“Tasty,” I said, wiping my mouth. “By the way, did I tell you about the brain museum in Bangalore? The architect told me we should go.”

Michelle tore off a piece of naan, and sopped up a wet chunk of brain. “We have to go,” she said.

And this weekend, we did.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 9 Comments
Devoted Obsession / ,

Noel Wilson’s Awesome Soccer-Themed House

In a street filled with single-storey houses, Noel Wilson’s juts up like a skinny football-worshipping minaret. It’s bizarrchitecture!

noel-wilson-football-house

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/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Devoted Obsession / ,

A Tiny Roadside Village, Made From Quartz

In 1968, Henry L. Warren decided to do something special. He started building a tiny village on the side of the road, using white flint rock, concrete, and red brick. He called it “Shangri-La.”

“Wow,” said Scotty, jumping out of the Dart. “Look at all this quartz!” It was amazing. Warren had mined the rock himself using dynamite on his land, and built the town next to his own home on old highway NC86, forty minutes or so from Chapel Hill.

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Cute & Kawaii, Devoted Obsession, Offbeat Museums / ,

The Owl Lady and Her Gazillion Owls

I love obsessions, and Myong-Hee Bae is obsessed. She’s a freak for owls.

Her home is crammed full of 3,000 owl-y items. Clocks, quilts, paintings, stamps, cut-outs hanging from the ceiling, mugs filled with steaming hot tea, candles, toys, and rugs. It was weird. And absolutely wonderful.

“Her love of owl started when she was in 2nd grade,” a clumsy document she printed out, then handed to me, read. “She was very much attracted by the big eyes of the wooden own sculpture and became owl mania.”

She spoke no English besides “tea?”, and we spoke no Korean at all, so this document was all the info we had to go on. She wouldn’t let us take a photo of her.

But everywhere she went, she sought out owls. Everyone who visited her brought an owl. Before long, the bizarre collection included owls from across the globe.

She reminded me a little of Paul MacLeod. He was obsessed with Elvis. He shared this obsession with his son, Elvis Aaron Presley MacLeod. Paul told me, years ago, that his wife left him because he was too obsessed with the King. She set down the gauntlet, and said, “It’s him or me, Paul.” Paul made his choice, and she moved out.

Myong-Hee Bae’s husband didn’t fight it. He brought her even more. And when they married, this bird of prey collection was considered the family jewel. Now that’s romance.

But doesn’t it all kind of remind you of this?

The Owl Art and Craft Museum, 27-21 Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
82-2-3210-2902

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Devoted Obsession, Offbeat Museums / , ,

This Strange Collector Has 1,000 Pairs of Shoes (and a Fetish for Foot Binding)

Yang Shaorong lives in a small Shanghai apartment. He collects women’s shoes. Tiny shoes. Shoes for bound feet.

“That’s horrible,” said the publisher of my magazine, when I mentioned Yang the collector to him. “It’s a disturbing part of Chinese history.”

I was confused. I didn’t really know much about them, or why he was so upset. So I did some reading. And the more I learned, the more nauseous I became.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 7 Comments
Devoted Obsession, Offbeat Museums / , , , , ,

The Craziest Holy Sculptor in Laos

The long, slow, dusty bus-ride cost 20 cents and took lord knows how long. But eventually it delivered us to the incredible Buddha Park.

You see, 40 or so years ago, some loony Lao was hiking along a remote mountain trace, accidentally tripped, and fell into a hole. A deep hole. It was a lot like Alice in Wonderland. But instead of meeting his quick, bloody end, he… fell into the padded lap of a meditating guru. Nice!

The faller and the padded became quick buddies, and traveled Laos and Thailand together, spreading their unique mystic word.

I’m sorry I can’t be more specific than this, but a large part of their divine message was that the world didn’t have enough outsider art. Hindu-Buddhist outsider art. AWESOME Hindu-Buddhist outsider art. It didn’t matter that neither of them had much artistic experience… they had divine tutelage! All of a sudden, out of nowhere, their inexperienced acolytes started creating hundreds of these bizarre masterworks.

Later, an eavesdropping Lao leaned in to our conversation about the temple, and interjected: “Hey, I was a monk, once. Twelve years! Twelve years no sex, no drugs!  You know what I mean?  I MEAN NO BOOM BOOM!”

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