Service of More Isn’t Always Better

August 27th, 2015

Categories: Uncategorized

Millbrook neighbor's trees 018

More isn’t always better even when speaking of food or makeup, plantings or building height. We all have stories. I’m sure you’ve seen average looking citizens sport the Lady Gaga/Tammy Faye Bakker dramatic makeup look thinking they’re glamorous when just a touch would be better.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

For me there was that memorable celebratory roast beef dinner upon college graduation with a two-inch slab of meat that overwhelmed the plate and smothered my appetite. I was skinny and ate enormous quantities of food in the day but even so…too much!

Here are some recent examples.

Tree Huggers

I had to get this topic off my chest so my husband no longer has to hear me whine and see me wince every time we drive by this neighbor’s house. I feel that they have exploited their property and I can’t figure out what they are trying to achieve with their smorgasbord of trees to which they seem to add more every few weeks. I’ve not before seen anything like it on private property either here or abroad.

They have planted such a hodgepodge that they have destroyed what was once an elegant property. My photos top and bottom don’t make my point for a reason: From my photo styling days, the camera likes “more.” Driving by makes a far more crowded impression. If they wanted to live in a forest, why not buy a house in a forest?

jacket with fringeI like to postulate their reasons for rogue planting. Maybe husband or wife is a dendrologist studying what thrives in upstate NY. [Dendrologists study woody plants.] Or maybe their son or daughter owns a garden center and they want to be supportive. Or they love their [unscrupulous, untalented] landscape architect who gets paid a fee based on the cost or number of plants/installations. Or maybe this is the latest fashion and hopefully, like fringe on the edges of women’s suit jackets launched by Chanel years ago [see photo at left], it will have a short life.

Sky High

One World Trade Center. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

One World Trade Center. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

I’ve mentioned before that once he experienced the first east coast blackout, my father said he’d never rent an office on a floor higher than he could comfortably reach by stairs. I thought of him when I read an article in crainsnewyork.com, “How tall can NYC’s skyscrapers go? You won’t believe the answer: As towers surpass 1,400 feet, one structural engineer predicts 2,000-foot spires are around the corner—and maybe even half-mile-tall spires will follow suit.” [I was puzzled by the 1,400 foot reference as according to Google, One World Trade Center has far surpassed it at 1,776 feet.] We see three skyscrapers-in-progress from our apartment windows. There are days where dense clouds obliterate the top floors making me think, “There goes the view” and “I hope there are no disoriented pilots out today.” Our apartment building has 22 floors, two passenger elevators and one service elevator. My husband arrived home one day and none were working. It happens. Imagine if you lived on the 39th floor.

What’s your favorite “too much” story?

Millbrook neighbor's trees 019

10 Responses to “Service of More Isn’t Always Better”

  1. jpm Said:

    It’s funny, but it seems that most of our collective ailments today find their sources in one characteristic of modern society: We collectively consume too much.

    Whether this is the consequences of politics of “Supply Side” economics or the juggernaut of increasingly sophisticated marketing techniques and strategies is an unanswerable question. However, truth be told, in a world of diminishing resources and expanding populations, this mindless, unceasing collecting of clutter can only lead to ghastly consequences for all of mankind.

  2. ASK Said:

    Or maybe the tree-planters are like my dad, who just found an empty space on the property, gave a little thought to sun requirements, and then dug a hole. Many years later, the results were wonderful. Alas when we sold the house, the new owner cut most of them down, including a rhododendron bush that had reached tree size…Very, very sad.

  3. Kathleen Said:

    Your blog made me wonder who said “less is more.” I thought it was someone in design. I was partly right. According to Wikipedia, the phrase first appeared in Robert Browning’s poem “Andrea del Sarto.” But it was adopted by Mies van der Rohe and that’s what I was thinking of. It certainly applies in your examples.

  4. Lucrezia Said:

    Having “too much” is subjective, so other than being confronted undue quantities of food, I little to say.

    What appears to be too many trees on a neighbors property may look beautiful to the owners, and some of us (not me) thrive on height, as per Dubai!

    A friend coaxed me into visiting the top of one of the World Trade Center Towers, and when the bloody thing started to sway while we were shooting up to the summit, I announced that wild horses weren’t dragging me into its twin. Kudos to the people willing to work while the floor floats back and forth all day. It’s just not for everyone, but to say it’s “too much” is unfair. The friend, among many others, enjoy it!

    Heed the Goldilocks tale: Too much, too little & just right are all subjective!

  5. jmbyington Said:

    ASK,

    These people don’t plant a pansy much less a tree. Their property had a magnificent fruit orchard now lost in the mayhem. As for those who bought your Dad’s house + tore down most of what was special about it–dont get me started. I say to them: buy a house with no landscaping already!

  6. jmbyington Said:

    Kathleen,

    Wonderful connection that I should have thought of, in fact Service of Less is More should have been the title!

  7. jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    NYC’s infrastructure can’t support more people–streets jammed with cars, subways jammed all day, people gridlocks on sidewalks, all indicate that the city is filled to the brim. Adding higher buildings–or any–without thinking of repercussions is foolhardy. I think of kids in a playground chanting “my father is stronger than your father” as buildings continue to crop up one taller than the next.

  8. Martha Takayama Said:

    I am in total agreement with your sentiments about “more isn’t always better”. Unfortunately worship of more is a pervasive mantra in many areas. Copying theatrical or unsuitable makeup is a disastrous move for anyone, but the excess looks worse with age. “All you can eat” buffets with no concern for taste, subtlety or sensitivity of food offered, just the promise of endless quantity for a fixed price are another example. The concept is even less attractive in a country struggling with ever increasing obesity. Excess in landscaping is silly and not very attractive. Excess in decor which is touted so often in specialized and major publications can be hard to live with, hard to maintain, and oppressive.

    The Icarus like building mania seems to go against all commonsense and understanding of fallibility of humans and technology. My father always referred to FDR’s concern about not finding himself on a high floor because of fear being trapped. My own mantra is in favor of simplicity because less is most often more.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    JPM,

    In a recent post I quoted a trade editor who noted that Americans have begun to wait to buy until they’d figured out how to pay for purchases. So this trend, if it continues, will help turnaround the collection of clutter. It will mean that manufacturers and retail operations whether on the Internet or in real estate, will have to step up their games in order to stay in business.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    Excellent example of more is too much–all you can eat–especially sad if all those calories are tasteless.

    You made me giggle when you mentioned folks who copy theatrical makeup because I don’t think that they realize that this is what they are doing. Yesterday I saw something disturbing on a marble bench next to the water pool at the Clark Museum in Williamstown, Mass. Etched into the marble were words to the effect that beauty can be spoiled by an inappropriately placed mole or bad hair style. [I did not copy the quotation but this was the spirit of it.] No wonder some people think that by applying a ton of makeup they’ll change what faces them in the mirror. It’s similar to those who pay $800 for a hair style when it won’t take off the 60 lbs they need to lose or make a snarly face smile.

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