BEST SEINFELDIAN EXPERIENCE (2003)
Being Waited On by the Lamp Nazi at Modern Lighting
For fans of all things light-giving, Modern Lighting is the only place to shop. This Phoenix mainstay is as much a gallery of great lamps of all eras as it is a shining shrine that proves how illuminating art can be. It also proves that Seinfeld's Soup Nazi has nothing on Phoenix, where surly shopkeepers like Peter Alper (known in collector circles as "The Lamp Nazi") are as likely to snap your head off as offer to sell you a parchment shade. We've shopped here for years, albeit cautiously, because no matter how big we smile, no matter how politely we ask questions, our Mr. Alper (who's a genius at rewiring lamps and reupholstering old, torn shades) always sneers us at. During our last visit, we pointed to a fine-looking floor lamp and asked, "Do you know the price of this lamp?" to which Herr Alper replied, "Yes, I do. I know the price of everything in the store." And then proceeded to ignore us for the remainder of our visit. Another time we asked if a particular lamp was antique or a reproduction, and were treated to an astonishing display of eye rolling and the reply, "I am closing in seven minutes." And it's not just us; we've asked around and discovered that Mr. Alper's nasty temperament is as legendary as his remarkable selection of vintage goosenecks. But we don't mind. In fact, we kind of like it -- as long as Modern Lighting continues its bright homage to the wonderful lightness of being.