I love walking out my front door without a plan. Destinationless, I step into Limbo and keep trekking on a whim. This Limbo road is long and lonely, but we continue in pursuit of the perfect sanctuary hangout with lively atmosphere, inside art, outside garden, refined beverages, and characters all sizzling with inspiration. This method has stimulated much spontaneous creativity, frequent synchronistic encounters, heart-pounding adventures, a handful of citations, a restraining order, and one public gastric disruption described in court as “serving no legitimate purpose.”
It’s not the particular place, it’s the state of mind, and yet an establishment can institute an atmosphere, character, and quality that encourage this state. Wit spews from the lips like rabid rivers of lava burning and drowning us dead and awakened into our dawning enlightened life…or else I could end up in Carl’s at last call (part dive bar, part Clockwork Orange) pinned to something vaguely feminine.
The true greatness of a coffee shop, brewpub, bar, or diner shall be assessed by its potential to facilitate cultural experiences that are spontaneous, dynamic, and profound. This intangible quality is the most important element of any hangout.
As a cultural facilitator, my job is to transform parties into art exhibits and art exhibits into parties. There are certain criteria to consider. The setup should encourage a free flow throughout and amongst all social circles. We can read or reflect alone, spontaneously jump into a conversation with strangers, or lead naked conga lines.
In order to stimulate the spirit of enthusiasm, an establishment must play good music that compliments the atmosphere, characters, and mood. Provide quality goods and services, and expel anything that inhibits this ever-important soul transformation (except my friend Shag).
Spatial limitation can strangle the life out of festivities (that’s m’s job). Be careful to consider the feng shui of the place and encourage a flow that keeps the energy circulating. Time limitations also inhibit enthusiasm. This ‘last call’ experiment has failed miserably. Some of my best festivities don’t get full-flailing until dawn. On that note, drunk tanks should have breakfast specials.
Electronic gadgets distract people from the possibility of authentic interactions and have no place in social settings. I don’t even like to see cell phones in public. Once, two people sat in stools on either side of me speaking into their cell phones. I think they were talking with each other. Look people; if you want to isolate yourself inside the grid, please do it at home. I’m here to party.
Take the television for example. It’s not possible to mingle amongst different groups or spark unplanned adventures if everyone is hypnotized by the boob tube. I have two pieces of advice for all bars regarding televisions:
- Unless you’re trying to be a sports bar, don’t have televisions.
- Don’t try to be a sports bar.
Fifteen years ago, I vowed to never pay for cable again. This was the greatest decision of my life (sadly, this is accurate. I really haven’t made many good decisions). Along with this choice, I have taken steps to better tune my awareness to the spirit of authentic culture. Throughout these years, I have continued eliminating electronic gadgets and machinery from my life. Some have argued that my position is reactionary and irrational, leading to a decay in my living standard. Certainly these technologies bring their conveniences, but there is always a cost. Commitment to true art must take priority over comfort, social status, family, friends, and even my own biological survival. So now, no TV, no cell phone, no internet (not even e-mail), no car, no phone, no video games, and no electronic pocket massage toys (well, I haven’t given up Mr. Giggles). No one is perfect.