Hyperbole World - Doug Johnson

Hyperbole World

Visually, this is a book of photographs showing Mom and Pop shops named “X World” where “X” is a noun like bagel or crocodile or condom. The images, I hope, are interesting, well-crafted and aesthetically pleasing. The “stars” of the show are the shops and their names but if you look closely, you will often discover other interesting bits and pieces like the missing letter “l” in “Baby Wor d” or the dour bicyclist rolling past “Froyo World” draped in a pink and white boa or the full moon rising over “Pet World.”

Taking a step back though, the contrast between the modest actuality of these shops and their aspirational names emerges and often adds a touch of humor. One has to smile at a rickety roadside “Farmers World” (“Growing since 1978”) offering a few bags of onions, carrots, cabbages and potatoes.

Ultimately, the goal of this book is to recognize the pride, gumption, imagination, humor (and, OK, maybe a little hubris) of these proprietors. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Ashley resolved to name her shop “Rug World” or when Mary settled on “Furniture World” or Dan opted for “Tree World.” Who wouldn’t want to roll out “Bunk Bed World” or work at “Wig World” or shop at “Spandex World?” It’s so aspirational! So entrepreneurial! So American! Actually, saying “So American!” is not hyperbole. I’ve been to a dozen other countries since starting this series and have never seen a single shop named monde or mundo or anything comparable. A few years ago, a friend pointed me to a web site for “Semen World” (bovine artificial insemination service) in Tipperary, Ireland but it went out of business before I could get there.

Individually, these images are interesting enough but only as a collection do they illustrate the hope, wit, imagination and pluck of the owners. That’s why I created this book.

Farmer's World

Farmer's World

Worcester, MA; November, 2014

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