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hitting bottom

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Is the concept of the “Residence Inn” imaginable in any context other than the American one? If I was ambitious (tee hee) I’d spend the next six days and nights writing a Ballardian novel about the whole thing. HBO is showing Prairie Home Companion right now. I keep it on and muted to keep me company. In order to buy some beer, I had to sprint across an eight lane road. Not a highway. Just an eight lane local road. In the dark. I was (of course) wearing dark clothes. There was probably about a 4 percent chance that I would die each way, there and back. There is no bar here. No, I don’t simply mean in the hotel itself – I mean in reasonable (or even unreasonable) walking distance from the place. Fast food, yes. Tapped beer, no. I am not (technically) permitted to smoke outside of a parkbenched area at the corner of the parking lot (fuck that). I type right now while seated next to something called a kitchenette. They sell Lean Cuisine meals in the lobby, which I guess you are supposed to insert into your microwave. No smoking, no drinking (without risk of death by car-to-forehead injury) but there is a goddamned “play area” for adults (a “multifunction” basketball court). There is a menu stuck to the fridge which tells you what will be served for dinner in the lobby each night. Except they don’t serve dinner on weekends. Instead of leaving the space blank for today (Sunday) they have written “Go to the church of your choice!”

Yay. Sometimes you actually do earn your CV bullets. Does it make me damaged in someway that I was praying that my seminar-mates would suggest, on the bus back to the Residence Inn, that we call a cab and find some place to get some drinks? Instead, they discussed the idea of jogging the four miles into the center where the seminar is tomorrow. Is it awful that I was tempted to tell them that the important people in this business go to get some drinks on a night like this. They don’t bitch about forgetting their sneakers.

Pray for me.

Written by adswithoutproducts

July 9, 2007 at 12:15 am

Posted in meta

5 Responses

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  1. Oh my god — where the fuck _are_ you? Are you ten miles from good food as well as any beer? Could you at least get pizza delivered?

    There is something to be said for how these types of trips make you appreciate what you’ve got, but nothing to be said for foolish conference-mates who don’t know how you should be exploring and getting into some sort of minor trouble instead of being freakishly healthy and well-behaved.


    July 9, 2007 at 1:55 am

  2. Well, I don’t want to say exactly where I am or what I am doing, because a nice foundation is paying a lot of money for me to be here. Nothing against them, not at all. And right now I’m typing from a lovely little office in a exquisitely modernist building. So it’s not their fault. But Residence Inns are emblematic of something that’s really, really wrong with our country. They materializes the expectations of what constitutes a comfortable life for the junior executives who live in these things – and it’s not a pretty picture. Teetotaling volleyball games, followed by a marathon cable tv session with a big ol’ bottle of Mt. Dew. Oigh.


    July 9, 2007 at 10:56 am

  3. And there is probably a Humbert Humbert staying there as well–contemporary version of the kind of place he and Lolita travelled to and from, over and over. Photos are excellent, remind of similar places I did a job in in Glen Cove, Long Island and now I can see that what this sort of environment does in heralding something flat and without any resonance as the norm of much of what is considered desirable, to some degree, but much more, merely inevitable. It’s not as inevitable as it seems, but it tries to produce that sensation. I can imagine what the coffee is like in that place–bitter, but not flavorful, except perhaps they use one of those heavy sweet things like Hazelnut. Americans have begun to physically look much more like these environments, of course. It’s impossible that they don’t. Deleuze said something along these lines, but most people would think that’s ethnicist, racist, nationalist, or what have you. Of course people in tropical places who aren’t impoverished are going to look more voluptuous than those in religious-fanatic hard-bitten weed-ridden places where all pleasure is forbidden. There is NO pleasure in that Residence Inn, although the pool and bedroom would not turn me off from certain place. But the facade is maybe even worse than the meeting room for whatever conventioneers. That sort of thing started in the late 80s, I think, and is like an extension of the period when these ‘architects’ used old Williamsburg and other colonial styles for suburban banks and car insurance places. One is stuck with nothing but air-conditioning.

    ‘They sell Lean Cuisine meals in the lobby,’

    Even I’ve never seen that, it’s one of the most ghastly things I’ve ever heard of! They don’t want people to ‘eat lite’, they want them to starve. Lean Cuisine is inedible.

    patrick j. mullins

    July 9, 2007 at 1:10 pm

  4. Hmm, I gotta say that teetotaling volleyball games followed by Mtn Dew and cable sounds great to the daughter of an alcoholic executive who’d drink Jack Daniels while watching cable until passing out on all his business trips.

    Which brings up the question — haven’t we always had some form of soulless business hotel chain, just in different historical iterations?


    July 9, 2007 at 9:33 pm

  5. Well, Sisyphus. That doesn’t sound too great either, I agree. But there has to be a healthy medium, and it probably doesn’t involve volleyball.

    You’re probably right about the hotels. Probably. Although some life is being squeezed out of your average american normalguy. A sad form of infantilization or something. And perhaps what’s really setting me off here if that American academics are perfectly at home in this diapered adult world.

    It is getting harder and harder for me to resist the sense that the entire point of this line of work, from one direction, is to keep me domesticatedly sweaty, thankful and scared that I have been provisioned, improbably, a middle-class lifestyle in exchange for the very possibility of making the slightest bit of difference in the world, or, alternately, for doingly even the most slightly transgressive thing.

    See here


    July 9, 2007 at 9:51 pm

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