Angelenos, do you still visit the Westin Bonaventure Hotel? A trail head of this global communicational network, another glittering infrastructure we’ve cyborged into, one of the first hyperspace blast-off strips, the Bonaventure Hotel, in downtown LA, spirals up and down, a crystal of a just passed collective imagination. With enthusiasm, S~ and I roll down the hill from a star perch near Frank Lloyd Wright’s old, muscular Ennis House. We are thirsty for a backdoor hotel sneak into some post-modern disorientation, to experience the psychogeography of architect John Portman’s Bonaventure, from our own body, now. We want, as in Frederic Jameson’s words about the hotel: “to grow new organs, to expand our sensorium and our body to some new, yet unimaginable, perhaps ultimately impossible, dimensions.”
It is the beginning of winter in LA. I say to S~, meaning to sound hopeful, a little brave for adventure, but trying too hard: “In the future, you may never feel cold, except when hurtling headlong.” We follow arrows to the California ballroom (locked), then stop, stretching from a mid-loop railing. I explain sonotubes, cement cast with sonotubes. S~ points to under pod balconies. We see, to the right, an elevator cove, though we cannot see exactly how to get to it. You do not have to remember to pre-map. On many budgets, you can choose to map as you move. We wander. Eventually, up one floor, in the center of the Bonaventure, a surprise gym: cement, painted exercise track, soldier blue with two white racing stripes around. In separated, cement barrier, pod balconies, we sit on our individual machines. S~ would do an ab crunch; but the ab crunch machine is broken, a wire cut. I lift from my shins. S~, raised voice, over from her pod: “I can’t find anything since I moved. It’s like I forgot to pack everything useful. I can’t find the strainer, the cheese grater, the potato masher. I had to use two dish towels to dry off after my shower this morning.”
Down to the lobby where two wide-mouth, metal fish-frogs continuously shoot impressive streams of water that arc, stream over stream, splashless, watery doorway to the hotel bar. The streams land just next to the fish-frogs, land, like the Bonaventure’s glass elevators into this shallow, lobby pond. I try to stop the water, pinching my fingers around it. I can’t hold the streams—still not much splash, the streams of water are so strong. S~: “I feel like something horrible happened in this hotel bar, happens in all hotel bars.”
Up! The motors of the glass elevators surge quite impressively, shooting us over familiar highway ribbons. And down, and up again. In one numbered-room cul de sac, a Franz Kline poster, reproduction of two thick, black, gestural brush strokes, ingloriously water-stained, matted to cover the edges of the composition, framed in a thin, rounded, plastic gold. A spent hotel bed sheet lies between the Kline poster and a next door.
From outside, across the street, pushing up to sit, legs dangling over a steel girder of a red Mark Di Suvero beacon, we train our eyes back on the windows and colored lights of the elevators where we were just up and down. We imagine cleaning those rooms, everyday. S~ might open wine at convention banquets, summer weekend weddings. We would get used to the color-coding of the meandering hallways, find staff parking, shortcuts to timecards, get friendly with a certain security guard. I would fantasize too much about re-framing the Kline, S~ would take digital pictures for sets of under the fish-frog water arcs. We would get used to the one man, in a white shiny sweatsuit—clearly not a hotel guest—walking around the gym track, every night at 9:15.
If I had a GPS Navigator, I could probably save 2 hours a week to write. I get lost all the time, but, lost, I like seeing people button up their coats when they leave restaurants I haven’t gone into, I could go into, catch sight of a crew painting, cleaning the blinds—neighbors happy in whole other countries. This is not Edward Hopper alienation. We have faith we can go to the spaces we cannot yet see. We are all of us here together today, clicking. We are less disoriented, but still the disorientation in the postmodern built environment at least tingles. Our virtual life and our body life have not synergized; I have no new limbs yet.
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