Joe Bob's America

Which Part of This Performance Art Space Is the Actual Hotel Room?

December 06, 2018

Which Part of This Performance Art Space Is the Actual Hotel Room?

MINNEAPOLIS—Do you ever walk into a hotel room in a strange city and get the feeling you’ve been invited to a sleepover at a 1960s-style love-in staged at the Museum of Modern Art?

No?

Haven’t yet had that experience of searching for the coffee maker in the morning, then realizing that they don’t have space for a coffee maker because it’s all taken up by that vintage electric guitar hanging on the wall that plugs into the retro amplifier on the bedside bench?

I say “bedside bench” because there’s no such thing as a table. They don’t believe in tables. Or drawers. Or shelves. Or chairs. Or closets.

They believe in pegs. And they’re good pegs. They’re burnished wooden pegs, similar to the ones used to hang children’s winter coats in a second-grade class, and if you’re very careful you can put all your shirts and pants on them, lined up like specimens pulled out of the assembly line in the Van Heusen factory. You might have to pull the collapsible leather-strap table off the wall so you can place it next to the sling-back leather chair so that later you can sit two inches off the ground and try to use your laptop like a 5-year-old peering over the edge of the candy counter, but in the meantime better to get access to that last peg so you don’t have to stack your hoodies and sweatshirts on the floor.

It’s a beautiful floor, by the way. It looks like the deck of a weekend yacht in the Virgin Islands, all polished hardwood, so cold to the touch that you’ll have to dance across it in the morning like a tentative firewalker on your way to retrieve your Pants-on-a-Hook.

“Would the person who invented the yogurt parfait please take two steps forward and present your torso for the firing squad?”

Of course, you won’t need pants while you’re in the roo…uh…performance art space featuring tonight’s presentation of Man Attempting to Dump Water on His Body. Because the shower features not one but two windows allowing anyone else in the room to gaze through frosted glass at your amusing attempts to lather your private parts while dancing under one of those nickel showerheads that descend from the ceiling like the chandelier at a midget wedding.

Later you’ll decide that it’s time to redeem the guitar pick they gave you at check-in, good for an artisanal craft vodka sold at the lobby bar, which is less a bar than a sort of alcoholic Starbucks without the charm. It’s located next to the Vinyl Room, where you can play Chubby Checker albums on old record players or indulge in a little recreational foosball while waiting for the Cocktail Artist to prepare your gin smoothie and offer you a yogurt parfait with pine nuts.

By the way, would the person who invented the yogurt parfait please take two steps forward and present your torso for the firing squad?

A yogurt parfait is not breakfast.

Let me repeat that.

Dude. A yogurt parfait is not breakfast.

Fortunately everything in the lobby of the hotel…actually I’m using the word “lobby” very loosely…actually I’m using the word “hotel” very loosely…everything in the Google-style beanbag-chair playground area is more comfortable than the room, so you’ll want to iron your Cotton Dockers—yes, they still wear those—and settle into one of the overstuffed armchairs with your legs crossed under you, Indian-style, so you can balance a Microsoft Surface on your right knee, insert your wireless earplugs, and start emailing your digital marketing staff in Boulder, Colorado, while weeping every time an Avicii song comes on.

If your Dockers aren’t creased properly, by the way, you’ll need to stop at the Ironing Station tucked away in an alcove off the room corridor featuring a wall-size photo of a tattooed guy named Ian—nowhere does it say his name is Ian, but you can tell he’s an Ian—in the act of ironing his Rush T-shirt, but since you’ll be facing away from Ian, you can bliss out while staring at the hallway wallpaper featuring disembodied arms arranged in geometric patterns. (Ian, clad in his boxers, is also featured on the official Do Not Disturb sign. But why not disturb him anyway? He might be in the Theatrical Shower spraying his body like the stripper scene in Flashdance, hoping we’re all watching through the frosted glass. You know this shower has been the scene of many encore-worthy moments, since the shower drain is marked “DEEP END.”)

Once you’ve visited the convenient Food Kiosk, formerly called a refrigerated convenience-store display rack, and chosen your plastic-wrapped free-range chicken sandwich with stone mustard from Provence, you’ll want to finish organizing the Swarthmore reunion while reclining in one of the designer hammocks strung from the walls of random spaces next to floor-to-ceiling windows, sinking into a euphoric afternoon nap.

But sooner or later you’ll need to mosey back toward your Sleeping Cubicle, which gets really dramatic at dusk when you realize that the funky metal light fixtures don’t actually give off any light. Don’t worry, though, because the underbed lighting will blink on and off intermittently as you walk near it, and besides, you won’t want to stay long in the knee-high single-mattress wooden-frame bed equipped with a thin, scratchy, gray prison-issue blanket.

Yes, everything about the room indicates it was designed by a masochistic leather-clad exhibitionist, probably a gay male but possibly just a person who’s taken too many classes at the Savannah School of Art and Design, and the subliminal messaging is that we don’t need creature comforts, we don’t need television (the flat-screen features eight subscription services and the remote has no option for changing the channel), we don’t need desks or chairs or spaces of our own because we’re all in this together, we are all brothers and sisters in Hip, the world is Brooklyn and that world is Good, we love artisanal craft vodka because it’s been distilled 24 times until it tastes like water, we only friend non-sweatshop shirtmakers on Facebook and isn’t that a cool mash-up of a Sinatra standard with the “Blue Danube Waltz,” because the important thing is vinyl. Vinyl and hardwood and guys named Ian who iron in their boxers. And showers that show the whole world how we shave our wispy mustaches on our way to next year’s vacation in Belize. Bring me that backless camp chair and my Samsung tablet, I need to write a poem about drafty medieval inns and how life was so much better then because I was on the Isle of Mull and the seagulls were awesome. Yes, I’ll have another yogurt parfait because who says the yogurt parfait is just for breakfast? I’m a wild man.

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