There was sun today and it was real sun, too: not the weak light we’ve had when the clouds deign to let the star gaze down on its small blue bauble, but the sun you can feel. Then the clouds came in, the leading edge of a big angry thing revolving to the south, and it was as if a dimmer switch was slowly turned to the left. The world just darkened. Again. It never, ever ends, this weather. I was a fool this morning to see the sun splashed on the lawn and feel a lilt, a lift - as if it would stay longer than a few hours. As if.

So I wrote and planned and puttered and arranged. In the evening I went here:


It is a very silly hotel. It has hanging cuddlepods:



It has a wall of white material faceted for your pleasure:



And it has Art!



Does this look like a place for grownups?

The charmless dining room had a tile floor, which, thankfully was underpopulated; otherwise it would really have put the din in dinner. (Hah! My own line! Just made that one up!) I had the bison, which I did not expect to have the consistency of Burgess Meredith's tongue. It could be reduced down to cud form after serious jaw-work, but then it said "This far and no more," and you could either continue to wear your molars to nubs or find a spot on your plate upon which it could be discretely deposited. I sent it back because it had won, and I gave up, and surely there was something on the menu that did not put up such a struggle.

Enjoyable night nonetheless. The replacement food was good, the conversation spry. Nice staff, attentive manager, good front desk staff. Need never return.





Actually, this does go somewhere else. It's the END OF MOTELS today, my friends. The project is done. Week after week, card after card, all these wonderful old pictures of shiny hostels with their one-of-a-kind signs, it's all over.

Until next summer, anyway. I think I have 50 more cards to put up.

I remember working on the motel site in a hotel room in New York City in 2000, while staying at the Roger Smith Winthrop, a “boutique” hotel that had been redone in Laura Ashely-type stuff in the 80s, and then not redone, at all, for a long time. The hotel and the bar was upgraded to Super Arty Stuff by new owner who had a penchant for modern art, such as it was, but they never got around to fixing the second elevator. At least while I was staying there. There was plenty of history in the joint, but it was hidden and painted over and forgotten, and possibly lost. I’d like to think there was a big box of photographs and stationery and postcards and the like back in the office or the basement; I’d like to think every hotel had such a trove. There’s no other building in a big city that has that type of history. Apartment buildings? People come and go. Offices? Tenants come and go. Hotels? People come and go, yes, but things happen, as they only happen in a place where your stay is limited and your inhibitions are relieved.

We don't even know who Roger Smith was.


One of the things I've had in the hopper forever: "Motel Ephemera." Also known as "Things I took from the room when I was a kid." Ready for something I heartily doubt anyone else ever took from a motel room?



It's Form 3.101. It sat on the table, wings extended so it would be upright insead of flat, and inside were all the features and benefits of your Holiday Inn stay. As they put it so alluringly under "banquets and meetings" - "we know how to give a party." <Nudgenudgewinkwink>



Black Bowler Pub, Brynfields of London - the place had a British feel, it seems. Which might have meant HEAVY DARK with lots of blood-red furnishings.

I have no idea why BANQUET and ROOM are where they are; it's an old scan, and the original is buried away.





And then there was Howard Johnson's, which was the first motel I remember. (This is from the 70s, when HoJo modernized the logo and didn't ruin it entirely. ) A trip to Minneapolis in the early 60s cemented the brand, the colors, the idiosyncratic futurism of the lobby building - it was a place of delights and wonders.

But isn't it always that way for kids? What kid doesn't want to stay at a motel? You can jump on the bed until you're told not to. The TV has DIFFERENT STATIONS, or at least it did back then. There are ice machines and pop machines and swimming and a restaurant in the building and everything is just put together so it's handy and compact and cool. Wrapped soap! Wrapped glasses! A logo on everything! Room service, or at least the promise of!

It takes a lot to drive that spirit out of you, and all the years of staying in hotels - and eventually paying for them, which does change the complexion of one's reaction - hasn't soured me yet.

In case you thought that introducing social issues into the younger demographic was a recent innovation - hah! Here:


Lunar Patti.

Spreadie Freddie.



I wonder what Howard Johnson's Cola tasted like. Possibly Cola.




Let's not forget these. I read a piece about Hotel Secrets They Don't Want You to Know, and it said the maids sprayed the water glasses with Lemon Pledge to make them shine.

I doubt that.

I've never used a waterglass in a hotel that tasted like wood polish, and people tend to notice those things.

Most of the article was about how much the people in hotels hate guests, which somehow is supposed to make us understand why people who work the front desk may seem to hate us on general principle.

Anyway, it ends: here's the last batch. For a while. As for what's coming up after this . . . tune in next week.




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