Friday, January 20, 2012

retreat is good

It's not that I mind gridlock especially when on the bus, it was just knowing that there's a whole pile of interesting books on the desk at work and none of them made it into my bag to read so I tried to sleep and texted my fellow public transportationistas out of lack of anything better to do before stumbling out into the snow and walking up the street, happy to cook something warm and spicy, curl up in one of my dad's flannel shirts and some blankets with a pot of tea and Stoned and Dethroned on the stereo, with a stack of books on Siberia and the Ottoman Empire and Victorian London on the flimsy coffee table to peruse.

Taschen has these beautiful African interiors books bound in batik cloth on the shelf at the east side bibliotheque and I'm a hopeless sucker for interiors that remind me of The Arabian Nights and places that I'll never get to see, with names like Marrakech and Zanzibar and Abijan, and these full-color tomes are my only window to them from my state of peonage on the other side of the pond.

Still, having majored in English and reading Edward Said and following the news, I approach these beautiful estates in Capetown and Cairo with some degree of trepidation. I wonder how the kitchen staff feels about this "authentic dress" and think about the cost of each one of those artifacts, because not all of us work for Conde Nast or have diplomatic connections, even as the aesthetic appeals to me and I find the wares at World Market and City Buddha appealing even as I know that there is a conscious marketing of pseudo-bohemian orientalism on a budget to suburban housewives looking for something funky in the mini-mansion or bachelorette twentysomethings like yours truly who furnish with hand-me-downs from more affluent relatives and more well-traveled friends. The co-opting of the "authentic artifacts" can be debated by the ivory toweristas, but I think of all the tumult and revolutions and regular folk who live in townships and slums and wonder if I'm either trying to see beyond the walls of exclusivity or if I'm just overthinking this altogether.



    The staff lounge does not look like the above images.

  2. not even yellow walls and authentic indigeonous tapestries can counteract the ugliness of the Towering Slab.