One thing in the presidency of The Donald is seeing how he and his wife redecorate the White House. I’m imagining all kinds of Roccoccocccoccco embellishments, great ostentatious displays of gilt and leather. I think he could give the Mad Prince Ludwig a run for his money. With Bill Clinton we had effing IN the Oval Office, with The Donald we could have the complete effing UP of the Oval Office. It will be interesting to see. Anyway, there won’t be any of those understated neutrals familiar to anyone who has watched the TV series House of Cards. I anticipate plenty of sinister maneuvering, though, I understand, House of Cards was based, somewhat, on The Clintons.
Ambition, insecurity and ostentatiousness — they seem to go together.
In 2004, I was in Munich. Only two nights, two jet-lagged nights and two full days (I arrived early in the morning). During the second day I was taken to Nymphenburg Palace by a docent I met at an art museum. This art museum in Munich is one of the few civic (as opposed to prison) buildings remaining from Hitler’s fascist architectural frenzy. It’s a nice art museum; well laid out, and I’m glad they didn’t tear it down.
Anyhoo, the docent — a very nice and intelligent guy — met me and we went by tram to the palace. I didn’t know anything about it. I knew only about the Mad Prince from a mad friend years ago who believed he was the reincarnation of that singular person.
In the carriage house of the palace were, uh, carriages. They were all gilt and embellishment, so much so that I thought they looked like vomit. I don’t know how to explain that except there was so much stuff there that the decoration seemed to have no purpose or design. It was decoration piled on decoration piled on decoration piled on decoration. I thought at the time that they were hideous and I said so, shocking the docent and possibly hurting his feelings.
Munich was far more than I could wrap my head around. This palace, the art museum, the nearby prison camp (that I did not visit), the press of history, of repeated tyranny, of time. I was happy to leave. My true destination on that journey was Verona where I would study Italian and look at frescoes. During that journey, I would visit a villa that had, in WW II, belonged to a Nazi general. I would also wander through a formal garden which Goethe had loved. Time pressed against me less heavily there, even with the Roman amphitheater in the middle of the city, the centuries of paintings, the history of conquest and the ultimate receding of the conquerers.