REVIEW: ADDICTED TO AMERICANA by Charles Phoenix is a great way to soak in good ol’ fashion kitsch
Charles Phoenix is a quirky, awesome guy and “Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic & Kitschy American Life & Style” is a quirky, awesome buy. I’d only vaguely heard of him prior to getting a review copy of his new book and but any Disney fan who loves the classic nostalgia of the early days of Disneyland will slip quite easily into this great new read, available now.
Disneyland is pretty representative of Americana and for Phoenix it was a gateway fascination of wonderment that would take him across the country to search out the beautiful, gaudy, tacky, and perfectly peculiar must-see locales that these fine United States have to offer.
Addicted to Americana has a two fold premise; it is semi-autobiographical but through the lens of appreciating vintage sights and sounds of American pop culture. So you learn about the author quite a bit but also about the distinctly American pop-culture of the past century.
What started as personal obsession — collecting vintage Kodachrome slides — turned into a career-defining hobby that would eventually spawn this book. The pages are loaded with tons of pictures and fun facts, there’s a wide-ranging assortment of topics to take in; all told from his very personal experience growing up with it. If it was gigantic, googie, or dripping in kitsch, Phoenix has probably seen it and it’s probably covered here.
What’s more, there’s no less than 16 pages dedicated to Disneyland with other mentions throughout. If you’re like me and feel like you already know what there is to say about Disneyland — but you’re no less giddy and excited to take it in — then that’s definitely the case with what’s covered about the Happiest Place on Earth. Still, it’s always great to absorb these visuals on printed medium.
Phoenix has a fun, casual, tone that is informative and personal but not insufferable and overbearing. I never knew I wanted to learn about random motels, shopping centers, restaurants, bowling allies, or cars and yet I poured over each page and image inset to read about the sights within. While we don’t dive particularly deep into any particular subject, we get a great colorful taste of what is surely much much more to enjoy. And I hope to see more.
“Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic & Kitschy American Life & Style” is available now.