I was once gifted the book The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, many parts of which I found hilarious. The writers, Michael and Jane Stern, have selected the most egregious infractions on good taste in American culture. There are chapters on Easy Cheese (in a spray can), Spam, Velvet Paintings, Chia Pets, celebrity death cars, lava lamps, etc. One article highlighted lawn ornaments.
Most of us have seen a lawn display featuring classics such as the plastic flamingo. I thought I was well versed in lawn displays (particularly after seeing the Dyker Heights Christmas displays). That is, until I saw the display in front of the mansion of Alla and Alex Shchegol at 724 Todt Hill Road, Staten Island.
I was happy to find a little information online about the house and the Shchegols, who have been collecting these lawn statues for years. However, I was not prepared to find a small uproar in Dongan Hills/Todt Hill, Staten Island, one of the wealthiest communities in New York City. An article in SI Live voices the concerns some have about the danger of distraction to motorists. It certainly comes as very startling to drive by this property and encounter Tarzan hanging from a tree over a lawn full of statues in a loosely themed jungle and Jurassic Park. There are dinosaurs, jungle animals, and other creatures.
The many comments to the SI Live article range the gamut - see the article and comments here. Some say the huge ornaments are terribly distracting and dangerous, while other locals say the concerns are exaggerated. The vast majority of naysayers are just horrified at what they consider to be one of the supreme examples of tacky, bad taste.
Actually, I was very surprised to read about the congeniality of the owners. Apparently, many passersby stop, some even knocking on the door for information about the display. Others ask permission to take photos with their children on the various animals, which the owners typically grant. A number of people, like the Shchegols themselves, just see this as harmless fun and encourage the outraged to lighten up.
Most will agree, however, that no Encyclopedia (or lawn) of Bad Taste would be complete without Pink Flamingos :)