Cave-dwellers

Played hooky from group practice yesterday to have a day off. The Bodum store has been on my mind recently (their things are perfect yet understated functional forms) so I decided to go to Chelsea, meet a friend there for coffee and then we would go look at some galleries. The friend then got a migraine, so ahead with my plans despite the dubious weather. I haven’t been down 14th street in a while, or at least not on foot where I would notice this: the store, along with a few others familiar to that block, have all been replaced with fashion designers. The Bodum store was sleek and shiny too, but airy, light, and had an airy light coffee bar; the whole place took advantage of the wider-than-average street and low building height by constructing a floor to ceiling glass front and white and light wood interior to reflect the tremendous light of their southern exposure.

Now occupied by (I think) Stella McCartney, whose clothing designs I actually like, but the store, AND EVERY OTHER STORE ON THAT BLOCK, was a cave of black walls and narrowly focused spotlights. And the region of activity within and without was of a highly-fashionably-dressed species that one normally associates with 5th Ave. And it reminded me of why I avoid the Chelsea galleries – the entire region has this taint of materialistic commerce, hype, competitive transactions in a vaccuum – either an all-white or an all-black cave within which people lust after things rather than simply appreciate and enjoy. Of course one can simply appreciate what’s there but the atmosphere seems geared towards a totally different attitude: without adornment, you’re nothing.

South of this I wandered, the weather now turning to whipping winds and rain, in search of the elusive place to relax with a coffee and light and space. I looked for Chocolate Bar, which was tiny, but bright and minimally noisy – ALSO GONE. The vegetarian coffee&lunch cafe across the street was still there, but it was crowded, dark, and noisy with music and espresso making. Corner Bistro, the coffee house next door, everyplace I encountered seemed to have this claustrophobic, damp, cave-like quality, separate little cocoon-pods strung on the tree of the West Village. I was seeking the wrong thing in the wrong place. I walked across town to Joe, found a setting for my mental state, and slurped away depressing thoughts of impermanence.