Sunday, May 30, 2021

Smile and be Preposterous


Because of health reasons I was unable to update this blog as normal. As it turns out the human body goes through horrid changes as it ages and I have to be more cautious of my habits. I, being in my late thirties, have come to realize my newly discovered limitations and it sucks. The discovery of near 20 food related allergies, the possibility that I may have a condition called Barth Syndrome, and now hypertension had me scrambling for answers. Thankfully though, I have found a bit of equilibrium in all of this apparent disorder. 

I need a bit of luck to keep me going, and I feel that with Billiken's help I am able to absorb that luck from the cosmos. 

Since my last post, my collection of Billiken items has grown. I now have a chalkware Billiken from 1908, one of the earliest. Both his throne and Billiken himself have their medallion from The Billiken Company Craftman's Guild. I never thought I'd own one of these since they're so rare and fragile. I feel very lucky to have purchased one for such a low cost too. He may be a little broken, but I will love him all the same. 

I've come to call this particular Billiken "Grandfather". I'm not sure why. I suppose it has something to do with his frail but friendly demeanor. Like all the other Billiken items I've found myself with I have to wonder about the journey they've all been on before they've reached me. I'd like to think that this is the end of their journey so they can finally rest but who knows what's next for them. 


So here's my collection so far; my three statues; 1908 chalkware Billiken, a 1909 brass bank Billiken, and a mysterious Billiken who might be of Hawaiian origin, and maybe made in the 1960's.


I also have two dolls; one is a reproduction of the  1911 Teddy Bear Billiken and a modern plush from Japan.


I have three coins; a 1908 Billiken Pocket Piece, a Peak Frean's Billiken coin premium, and a Rexall Pharmacy Gudlukk coin (who looks to be very Billiken inspired).


And lastly I have three postcards; Billiken, Balligan, and Sillgen. I plan on getting more of these Billiken postcards as they pop up online.


So as my quest to find more Billiken stuff continues, my devotion to this mostly lost and forgotten god of luck just continues to evolve. On Twitter I re-share whatever I find being posted on Japan Twitter (mostly from folks in the Osaka area), but also I find myself looking through old newspapers, magazines, and photos trying to find any traces of him. 

Here is Ol' Billy hanging out in some otherworldly realm with his many off-brand god friends. Clearly planning something, but who knows what!


In other news, last weekend I visited Salem, Massachusetts for the very first time in my life. It was a great trip and was one of those things I always wanted to do but never had a chance to. It was for my life-partner's birthday and I think it went super well. We saw a lot of fun and historical place while being super lame tourists at the same time. It was the perfect balance really. 

We stayed at the famous Hawthorne Hotel, which is said to be haunted. We had no experiences there ourselves but plenty of "ghost hunters"/"paranormal investigators" have said they had experiences. I don't know about all that, but it was a real classy place let me tell you. It's a really beautiful place and if you have the chance to stay anywhere in Salem, this is the place. 


Somehow I didn't take any pictures of our hotel room, or of the exterior of the hotel, but I did take a picture of this mural on the wall. I think it's a map of the area but I have no idea really. What do you think it is? 


So, here are some of the places I visited;

Here I am with the statue dedicated to Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame. I actually didn't know about this statue until like 3 days before my trip so I was pretty excited to see it. I grew up on Bewitched reruns so seeing this monument to classic television left me starstruck. 


Here I am at the Salem Satanic Temple. It was a lovely place. They have a wonderful art exhibition going on right now. I did feel like their gift shop left a lot to be desired, especially for being the Salem branch of the Satanic Temple (you'd think they'd lean more into the kitschy nature of their location), but they are a pretty humble place so maybe it's just not part of their vibe. 

I love the Baphomet statue. It was made for people to sit on his lap so I took advantage of it. Is Baphomet a "him"? I don't want to use the wrong pronouns for this beautiful deity.


Right by the Satanic Temple is this little place called Coffee Time Bake Shop where I had a raspberry lime Rickey and some bismark donuts. All delicious and refreshing!! 


Here are some random places we saw. The house from Hocus Pocus, some gift shops whose names I don't remember (there's a bunch of them), the Witch Dungeon Museum which is like a haunted house based on real life history, and The Witch House which has a ghastly history as well. 


We learned during our tour of The Witch Dungeon Museum that it is pretty likely no practicing witches were killed at all during the witch hunts in Salem, and that all the lives lost were because people wanted certain plots of land so they just accused landowners of witchcraft to get what they wanted. 

It's not surprising in the least if I'm honest, it just makes the whole witchsploitation tourism aspect to be a little deflated. It's still a great place filled with wonderful pagan, satanic, wiccan, and alternative lifestyle people of course, but after learning that I did see Salem in a different light. 

The Coven's Cottage and Count Orlock's Nightmare Gallery did not allow photographs inside, but both were really wonderful places. The Coven's Cottage is a Norse spirituality shop filled with dried herbs, books and literature, talismans and other trinkets for those who follow Odinism. 

Count Orlock's Nightmare Gallery is a monsterkid church, filled with really wonderful and lifelike monsters from throughout cinema history. The displays are simple but if you're a horror movie fiend you'll be foaming at the mouth here. I loved this place and I really wish I could have taken photos inside. 


The Witch Board Museum has an amazing collection of Ouija boards, novelties, movies, etc. dating back to the early 1900's and maybe even earlier than that. A lot of cool stuff here, and some of the boards are just wild to look at. 


Weirdly, I didn't pick up any souvinirs for myself, just for friends and family. I did find these though; a vending machine monster toy I picked up off of the ground while walking around, and a figure of Deet (from the Netflix Dark Crystal show) who is now a part of my Discordian shrine. 

And honestly, that little blue monster guy was basically waiting for me. I love him with all my heart. 

Hopefully I will update again soon. Until then, Smile Damn You Smile.

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