Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Welcome to My Art Deco Dump


I hate reality. It's so fucking real. It's so easy to dig yourself into a happy little rut of non-reality that takes years to perfect and develop, only to do something stupid like stop using a tool that helps you do it. Be in denial, that is.
As much as I like to think I live my life with an awareness of who I really am, I just found out nothing can be further from the truth.
I stopped smoking about a month ago, and it shattered the illusion of thinking I have a pretty good understanding, as it's happening, of how I can use 'things' or 'activities' to disguise aspects about myself or my life I don't like, or can't deal with.
I don't know where I learned to do that, white-wash reality, self-medicate, hide from the truth, be afraid of the truth, or whatever the hell you want to call it, but for me it started at an early age, with sugar consumption.
My friends, Cathy, Sue and I would shoplift dozens of candy bars at a time each after school, in our neighborhood gas station/convenience store, and sit in the parking lot and eat every last one before heading home to face our dreaded realities, sugar-coating the lumps and bumps of our horrid junior high lives nicely. If we could have been doing shots of whiskey, we would have. But that didn't come til the next year.
We did this every day, the girls getting plumper, til the tough, greasy-haired Wisconsin-style cashier woman caught on to our little scam, and busted us.
I guess writing these posts dredges up things I had forgotten I can only deal with when I smoke. But ya gotta fight through it, right? Like Saint George and the dragon? Whatevs. Ricolas help.

If you saw my apartment, you'd think it was a dump. I've got nothing...but good taste. Oh, it's designed to perfection; 1920 meets 1950 meets 1970 in a 2000's kind of way, in White Stripes red, black and white, but it's a dump. Little has changed since my place was built, before G.D. electricity was invented, and it shows.
I am writing to you from LA, and, now that I think about it, the last time I wrote a post out of town, in NY, I wrote about the deco era as well.
I often wonder about the folks who lived through that time. It was a boon time for American, and many buildings were built in that style that seemed to define the 20th century. Was thew average person 'over it'? Did they roll their eyes at seeing yet another Art Deco building going up in their neighborhood?
I know I roll my eyes and spit in disgust when I see something new in my neighborhood that tries to look modern. It always seems to come across as cheap, or worse yet, derivative. I guess what really can annoy me about new constructions is that it usually destroys something old and interesting.
Though sometimes, they do get it right, like the house built on Wrightwood, just off Clark. It took them years to create it, and I watched it grow daily, inch by inch, for it was on my walk to work at the time. There is an ugliness to it, but the right kind of ugly.
"Ooo, that place is the right kind of ugly" I thought to myself when I heard President Clinton had dinner there. He wouldn't eat in any old dump. Even the years old pine trees were imported, and placed to look like their seeds just happen to land there, fifty years ago.

I'm guessing the people of the twenties marveled at being surrounded by so much new modernity, and felt they had an active hand in creating the twentieth century, by brushing off the excess design and darkness of the previous century, leaving the fruits of the desire to create a clean balance.
What inspires me, in the dawn of this new century, are homes donated and built by volunteers for people who need them, and how the younger generations in my family desire to be apart of that world, like I was drawn to be apart of the creative world.
And the ultra-hyper modern public spaces created in Chicago over the past few years remind me of a quote by Joan Miro: My art work is an invation for the youth of today to invent the future.


American Girl said...

Ooh, you're one of those cranky quitters. Well, bitch away because it is better than smoking.

I don't think your place is a dump (I've lived in worse without your flair for design). I love your red couch som much that I'm calling, "Dibs!" just in case you ever think it has to go. Sarah

David said...

I love your apartment!

Aaron said...

I've not seen your place, but it does sound a lot like my first apartment in college. Only I had no cool vintage ANYTHING, except for a plastic Tiffany-style swag lamp that used to hang in our living room in the old house when I was a kid. When I was in the apartment, we had to hang it in the bathroom because there was no overhead light. Then we discovered that the shower of the apartment upstairs leaked into my bathroom, which caused my lamp to short out. (It's a damn good thing it happened while I was home and could unplug it!)

So sometimes, there's BAD old and there's GOOD old...