Tuesday, March 14, 2023

In Living Color

 "The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC."

Words like those, heard often on American TV back in the 1960s, signaled that the program about to be aired was something special. Instead of being broadcast in black and white, those of us lucky enough to have a color TV would be treated to a veritable video rainbow. It sounds comical nowadays, but back then, a color TV was something of a luxury. My Aunt Alma had one, and my mom and I used to go over to her house on Friday evenings to watch shows like Gomer Pyle, USMC and Hogan's Heroes. It should be noted that our visits represented dedication to video excellence on the part of my mom and me, since Aunt Alma had a smelly little black poodle that she named Tangeroo, or in her words, "Tange-WOO." It was a sweet little dog, but still.

Fast forward sixty years or so, and here we are in a world that is very different, both in appearance and attitude, and yet still, people crave color in their lives. I'm not sure whether you've noticed, but if you take a look at home design websites or magazines, you'll see a return to color. People are no longer scared of painting a room something other than a safe neutral, and that is really livening things up. I think I have some ideas about why this is occurring.

For one, it's just time. Color choices are cyclical. Several years ago, we were all laughing at those midcentury kitchen shades of harvest gold, copper tone, and avocado. And yellow? Fuhgeddaboudit. But now, I'm seeing colorful kitchens on HGTV and Discovery Plus. Granted, I have yet to see the aforementioned marvelous three, but blues and greens are in abundance. And I read an article last week that yellow (in tasteful shades of course, because otherwise, it can knock you silly) is experiencing a comeback.

Another reason for more color, I believe, is that people need some brightening up, both in their lives and in their surroundings. Face it, we've kinda got a mess going on in the world at large, and I think that most people like to decorate their homes in such a way that they are either soothed or energized, depending on the person and the room in question. With more people working remotely and spending larger amounts of time at home, this seems perfectly understandable.

I have to stop here for a minute and address the popularity of "griege," you know, that shade of gray that has for some years appeared to be the perfect neutral. Granted, we have two rooms in our house that are painted variations of it, but I was surprised recently when, at a loss for how to decorate my gray office/study/Casbah, one of my daughters suggested that it was missing an accent color to bring in a little warmth. Enter some rust accent pieces, and voila, problem solved.

This color shift also appears to be applying to vehicles. Back in the 1970s especially, you could buy a car in almost any color of the rainbow. Some of these were glorious, others appalling, but nevertheless, they were striking, not to mention easily identifiable by either friends or law enforcement, depending on how close to the edge one conducted one's personal business. For a while there, it seemed that all vehicles were neutral, but that too is changing. The Germans, always a driven people, seemed never to have let the color wheel stop spinning. Germans are not afraid to put any color on a car and call it a day. (I can say this because I'm part German myself.) I've had three BMW's, and they were all neutral, but doggone it, if I ever get another one, it will probably be some shade that will make me glad I had cataract surgery.

In summary, I'm actually glad to see all these colors back. To me, it signals a positive change in people's willingness to express themselves in a way that is harmless to society, and heaven knows, we need more of that. There's no need for our environments to be as sterile as the inside of a refrigerator or for all rooms to be the color of the Sahara. Let's live a little.

By the way, I have my eye on some green Allbirds shoes. Think I'm gonna go for it.