A home is not only a dwelling but an outward manifestation of the owner’s personality. Thus some are simple and some are complex. Some are overwrought. Some are tidy. Some are messy. Some are open-planned and some are like beehives. Some are a gigantic assault on the meager parcel of land they occupy. Some exist in harmony with nature and some are an affront to it. Some are hidden from view and some are right out there in the middle of it all, like my neighbor, who tends his conspicuous front yard in a wide-brimmed seeding hat and bright red bikini underwear. At least I think that is what he is wearing. Us neighbors won’t get too close for fear his microscopic gardening uniform is nothing more than rubescent body paint, and his exposed dingus a kind of warning to predators, like the granular poison frog, of its extreme toxicity.
Where was I? I forgot why I started this thing. Oh yes. A home as metaphor. Last week Argentinian authorities found a Fuehrer’s ransom of Nazi artifacts behind a wall in a secret room in some fancy house in Buenos Aires. The owner of the house, a 95-year-old German man who immigrated in 1946 and who had never even heard of the Third Reich was as surprised as anybody when informed of the discovery. At first he blamed the secret collection on his manservant, a Chilean named Manolo, whom the elderly Aryan always suspected of harboring secret Nazi sympathies. It was the way the poorly educated major-domo judiciously rid the garden of inferior weeds, his obsession with white bread, white eggs, whole milk, and vanilla ice cream, and his cheerful willingness to undergo forced sterilization.
After the police hauled the pernicious treasure trove away, the old German breathed a sigh of relief. At least they hadn’t found his secret room of bizarre German pornography. Now THAT would’ve been difficult to explain.
Apparently the authorities grew suspicious after someone noticed that the welcome mat at the front door declared, “Home Is Where The Heart, And Assorted Nazi Artifacts, Is.”
The inventory list was nothing too surprising. Bust of mascot with curiously narrow mustache. Oversized steak knives. That symbol with all the right angles in it. Egg timer.
Bad, fascist, un-American eagle. Playbill for smash Broadway show “Springtime for Hitler.” The only thing that struck me as really out of place was a box of Nazi harmonicas. What do those guys know about playing the blues? It doesn’t count that they were really good at creating the conditions necessary for the singing of them. They won’t get by on a technicality.
Of all the news clips concerning the 70-year-old breaking story, Fox had the best montage. They really know how to put a soundtrack together. Tense, racing, violin-strummed quarter notes as the photos of the secreted objects were displayed. I half-expected the razzle of a harmonica when the instruments appeared onscreen.
Everyone seemed more surprised than I was. After all, this area of the world was the last known residence of Herr Doktor Josef Mengele, the sadistic Nazi experimenter and loose constructionist of the Hippocratic Oath. Finding hidden Nazi antiquities in Argentina is like finding mouse turds in the basement. Of course that is where they are. It is where they feel safe.
Argentinian construction workers and architects should’ve gotten suspicious in the late forties when blue-eyed, German expatriates began showing up all over the city enquiring about real estate, particularly houses with fake walls and hidden rooms.
“Vee like to play zee hide und seek,” would be their weak explanation.
The problem with fascism, other than the obvious, is that a group will realize they can never be quite fascist enough. After clearing out whatever category of undesirable they have decided to focus on, they will realize that within their own remaining group of putative elites, there are members who are now impure, subordinate, imperfect, and damaged. The scale has slid. It is time to eliminate the new inferior. So they approach good old faithful Hans, who has nice skin, hair and teeth, but he is a little pigeon-toed and he stutters when he is nervous. They pat him on the back and show him to his new apartment, which doesn’t have cable TV or air conditioning and is surrounded by razor wire for his own protection.
“But I’m part of the team, right?” says Hans.
“Sure. The team of oxen. Be in the field tomorrow at sunrise.”
“What do I do until then?”
“Learn to sing the blues. Here is a harmonica. You’ll need it.”
More Alembics to come