Before we left for the weekend to go to Philly, Maya and I walked around the East Village on our way to, where else, Veselka's, and stopped inside this nondescript antique store on Ninth Street.
Archangel Antiques on 9th St.
Inside, a curmudgeony old man wandered out from the back as if he'd just woken up from a seven-year nap. Maya asked if he had any small taxidermy animals, and without missing a beat, he replied he'd sold all his little ones. But as a matter of fact, he had bigger animals— a lion and a deer. I wasn't quite sure I'd heard him correctly, although Maya didn't flinch. What the......? A lion? Isn't that illegal? And where does he keep the deer? In the back storage room where he naps? It was all rather bizarre or maybe obscure, as we found out later: Obscure on Tenth St. is the place to go for small taxidermy animals. The other place is Evolution in Soho.
Welcoming mounted raccoon at Evolution with penis bones for only $8.
On Evolution's first floor is a hodgepodge of touristy taxidermy stuff—iridescent butterflies, humongous beetles and bizarre walking sticks, pinned between glass. Upstairs is the really interesting stuff, much of it museum quality, for those who have a thing for colorful birds (probably illegal) or smiling squirrels for viewing in their library.
Small smiling mounted animals. Oh please, stuff me!
What is it about taxidermy that intrigues? Obviously a lot of people want to buy it (enough to support a store in Soho), but what is it exactly that they like? Is it the grotesqueness and oddness of having a dead animal on your mantel, or a way to prolong life forever, perhaps the life of something you've love? Maya and her friends find taxidermy really cool, but she made it clear she'd never do it to a pet. Could I ever stuff our pet rat Malka when she dies? Many questions but not enough time for answers. Leaving tomorrow. Goodbye New York until the spring.