Wednesday, June 28, 2023

245. "Where the clock } is hidden behind the bar."


My friend John published an essay in the New York Times Magazine. It’s about quiet bars. Or… dwindling spaces both public & quiet (where alcohol is served). Places where he can talk w/ another person & hear what they have to say (“My hearing is nearly gone,” he writes). John’s essay is about interior design that favors conversation. I might suggest he bring a pint of rye & a pair of tumblers to a public library—libraries currently favor community outreach over silent study. Public libraries are loud. So, not the library, John. John recommends mid hotel bars—“a Marriott will do, a run-down Hilton….” Plush spaces. Great absorbers of noise.

Don’t be distracted by the summarized conversations offered for color. Polyamory, you say? Romance novels? Sex workers? Don’t be distracted by the word “spider”—it appears twice in this essay.

For a directed study on “dread” my student & I watched Giulio Paradisi’s film The Visitor (1979). There’s lots & lots & lots going on in that film but relevant to John’s essay is a scene shot inside a hotel in Atlanta. I once stayed in that hotel. There’s a lagoon in the lobby & around the lagoon are little pods—circular couches that create intimate spaces that overlook the water. Interior design meant for real conversation (& canoodling).

When you enter Barbarella’s shagpile spaceship cockpit, do you wonder just who shampoos the place? Perhaps humans of the 41st Century weave their wall-to-wall from a self-cleaning organism. Otherwise, an all-fabric décor might not be sanitary. Isn’t that what we think when we end up beneath the water-stained popcorn ceiling at a Radisson lounge? Implied cleanliness is part of what appeals about, “bars and coffee shops… made of materials like slate and metal, with high ceilings….”

What’s the middle ground?

John’s essay is about interior design & what certain aesthetics fail to consider or actively discourage. His essay is about people inured to noise & about people who find conversation uncomfortable. The effect of his hearing loss is amplified by the ruckus, but his essay (unintentionally) speaks to anyone who wants to listen & to be heard.

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