Oh, we have twelve vacancies. Twelve cabins, twelve vacancies.

Welcome to day 24 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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Who knew there was so much to know about motels?

Wikipedia’s motel article is pretty detailed, with sections on architecture and layout (“typically constructed in an ‘I’-, ‘L’-, or ‘U’-shaped layout that includes guest rooms; an attached manager’s office; a small reception; and in some cases, a small diner and a swimming pool”); room types (some with small kitchens, some connecting); a history from auto camps and courts to early motels (“a handful used novelty architecture such as wigwams or teepees or used decommissioned rail cars”) to chains, and from expansion (when motels added swimming pools, colour TV, Magic Fingers!, and beach-front motels were popular) to decline (here’s a handy list of defunct motel and hotel chains) and then revitalization; international variations (Canada, Europe, and South America); “crime and illicit activity” and “motels in popular culture.”

HolidayInnResorthotelbackJekyll20Dec2015

If you’re interested in staying at motel with character, check out Momondo’s June 2016 list of “Iconic American lodging: cool and offbeat motels in USA,” which includes The Madonna Inn (I knew someone who stayed there once) in San Luis Obispo, CA (“rural ranch meets pink fantasy palace”), the Red Caboose Motel in Philadelphia, the Thunderbird Marfa in Marfa, TX, Kate’s Lazy Meadow, a 1950s marvel near the Catskills in NY, and Dog Bark Park Inn, shaped like a beagle, in Cottonwood, ID.

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bathroomOldeTavernMotelOrleansCapeCod1Nov2016

The “motels in the popular culture” section mentions some movies known for a motel setting, notably the Bates Motel in Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho. An “isolated motel being operated by a serial killer, whose guests subsequently become victims, has been exploited in a number of other horror films, notably Motel Hell (1980) and Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986).” Somehow, I missed those. The 2011 thriller The Innkeepers used actual rooms and hallways of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, in Torrington, CT, for interior shots.

Of course, the “long-established connotations of motels and illicit sexual activity” manifests in “Motel Confidential (1967) and the porn film Motel for Lovers (1970),” as well as “Paradise Motel (1985), Talking Walls (1987), Desire and Hell at Sunset Motel (1991), and the Korean films Motel Cactus (1997) and The Motel (2005).” Sordid events take place in Pink Motel (1982), Motel Blue 19 (1993), Backroad Motel (2001), Stateline Motel (2003), Niagara Motel (2006), and Motel 5150 (2008).

An article in the National Post (9 Oct. 2015) succinctly summarises in its subtitle (taken from comments by Dave Alexander, editor of Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue) why sleaze, horror, vice, and violence are housed in hotels and motels: “Hotels are a pseudo home where people go to do bad stuff and a place where strangers intersect.”

From the same article, Canadian film director Brandon Cronenberg says that “‘a hotel room is both a foreign space and an intimate space. … We might sleep there, bathe there, have sex there, but it’s also somewhere unfamiliar and uncontrolled, and that creates a sense of vulnerability.'” Further, says Cronenberg — getting at the heterotopia as a place that both exists in time but also outside of time, as a discontinuity of time, an accumulation of time — “a ‘hotel is like a labyrinth of secret history.’ … There is something delicious about the idea that a sordid moment from that history might resurface in the present, perhaps literally in the case of a supernatural story.'”

EdgewaterBeachResorteveningmistDennisportCapeCod15Sept2017

“All good hotels tend to lead people to do things they wouldn’t necessarily do at home.” — Andre Balazs

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When I think of motels, I think of My Cousin Vinny, starring Joe Pesci as Vinny, an inexperienced lawyer from New York trying to free his nephew and friend from a murder charge in Alabama, and his sharp-witted girlfriend Lisa, played by Marisa Tomei. Technically, Vinny and Lisa are staying in an H OTEL, but it’s basically a motel, one with a railroad track abutting it. If you haven’t seen it, watch this 2-min video to see what happens at 5 a.m. in the motel room.

Then there’s Fawtly Towers, the British comedy set in “a fictional hotel in the seaside town of Torquay on the ‘English Riviera.'” John Cleese is the “tense, rude and put-upon” and socially conservative owner Basil Fawlty, with Prunella Scales as his bossy, acerbic wife Sybil, Connie Booth as the peacemaking chambermaid Polly, and Andrew Sachs as the “hapless and English-challenged Spanish waiter Manuel.” The quartet tries to run the hotel “amidst farcical situations and an array of demanding and eccentric guests and tradespeople.” It’s such an iconic show that hard to believe there are only 12 episodes! The whole series came about after Cleese, then with Monty Python, stayed at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay while filming on location:

“Cleese was fascinated with the behaviour of the owner, Donald Sinclair, later describing him as “the rudest man I’ve ever come across in my life.” This behaviour included Sinclair throwing a timetable at a guest who asked when the next bus to town would arrive; and placing Python member Eric Idle’s briefcase (put to one side by Idle while waiting for a car with Cleese) behind a wall in the garden on the suspicion that it contained a bomb. Sinclair justified his actions by claiming the hotel had “staff problems.” He also criticised the American-born Terry Gilliam’s table manners for not being “British” (that is, he switched hands with his fork whilst eating).”

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“Of course great hotels have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the particular societies they service.” —  Joan Didion

Philip French, in the Guardian’s 16 Dec. 2000 article, “This Looks A Nice Place To Stop,” gives a brief history of 75 years of motels in Hollywood, “a metaphor for angst and alienation.” He perhaps overstates the case for danger: “Motels are places for assignations and illicit sex, for planning crimes and dividing the spoils, for insecure people in transit or desperate people on the run. There’s always the chance that you’ll wake up alone, robbed after a night of passion, or that the place will be surrounded by cops (as in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) or this year’s Way of the Gun) and you’ve the choice of shooting it out or getting handcuffed.”

backofWestinhotelfrombeachJekyll29Dec2015

French describes as motels as “located on the edge of cities, identifying their patrons as marginalised, or they are out in the wilds of the Midwest, dwarfed by the big sky and the majestic landscape. … They have a dispiriting anonymity,” either homogeneous chains that “protect us from local colour,” or “squalid, cigarette-scarred, kitsch-decorated, the thin-walled suites located behind flickering neon signs and fetid swimming pools. The upmarket places were acidly satirised in Richard Lester’s Petulia (1968), where would-be adulterers George C. Scott and Julie Christie book into a San Francisco motel so impersonal that you never meet the staff or other guests. The experience of staying in downmarket versions is cleverly caught in Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000), whose protagonist suffers from short-term memory loss and has to take Polaroids so he can recognise the LA motel he’s living in.”

Not movie-related, but French tells us in this article that in 1934, “Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated a motel in his design for a utopian city called Broadacre. Lloyd Wright planned a ramp for visitors to drive their cars virtually into their motel rooms.”

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Besides those named already, there are lots of other famous movies set partially or wholly in hotels and motels, among them Grand Hotel (1932) with Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore (the Grand Hotel, where “nothing ever happens”); the Marx Brothers movie Room Service (1938); Week-End at the Waldorf (1945) with Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson; Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953); A Touch of Evil (1958) dir. by Orson Welles, with Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh; The Bellboy (1960), with Jerry Lewis as a bumbling hotel bellhop; the Barbra Streisand/Ryan O’Neal romantic comedy What’s Up, Doc? (1972); California Suite (1978) with Maggie Smith, Richard Pryor, Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Bill Cosby; The Shining (1980) with Jack Nicholson; the rom-com Pretty Woman (1990) with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere; Lost in Translation (2003) with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) with Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith; and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), with Ralph Fiennes and F. Murray Abraham.

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I’d never heard of it before but The Florida Project (2017) — about young kids who live in “the Magic Castle, a purple-colored budget motel that’s near the Magic Kingdom and above which clouds resemble dollops of cotton candy” — sounds like something I’d want to see: The camera moves “in and out of [the motel’s] rooms, investing the minutia of the down-and-out lives within this little ecosystem with a bittersweet energy and significance.” From the same (linked) review, this is also intriguing:

“Some might argue that The Florida Project’s ending constitutes another such misstep, but that would be to misunderstand another of Baker’s fundamental projects. Joan Didion has written, and better than no one else, about Miami as a transient metropolis, one that’s been built in the image of so many Cuban cities, and one that seems like it will, if not exactly crumble, reveal its essential ephemerality when so many of its Cuban-born citizens feel like they finally have the license to return to their homeland. The same could be said of Orlando, a city which feels like it only exists in relationship to Disney World, a capitalist dependency that’s very much felt throughout this film. As lived-in and detail-rich as the lives in The Florida Project are, the environment where they’re rooted is fleeting, a place where one passes through but never stays.”

Coming of age at the Magic Castle motel abutting the Magic Kingdom: Heterotopian in multiple ways in its ephemerality, marginality, placelessness (a place that disappears or where we simply can’t stay for long): the motel, the resort “World” itself, and even perhaps in the fleeting nature of childhood. Foucault himself speaks of child’s play as heterotopian in a way: “In one example [of heterotopias, Foucault] refers to children’s play, when they invent games. They produce an imaginative space, but at the same time mirror the physical realities around them. A bed can become a boat or a sandbox a whole universe.”(from notes on Ylva Ogland’s 2014 art exhibition, “Diverse Variations of Other Spaces”)

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Title quote spoken by Norman Bates to Marion Crane in Psycho.

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No-Frills Flagship

Welcome to day 23 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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Another of the stand-bys today, the Flagship Inn in Boothbay, Maine.

It’s a roadside motel, no frills, two stories with outside corridors and stairs from the expansive parking lot. Outdoor ice and vending machines, picnic tables in the grass alongside the parking lot, breakfast included in a separate dining room that used to be a full-service restaurant.  A small pool and hot tub. Men in white T-shirts hunched in plastic white chairs outside their rooms, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. It’s the kind of place short-haul truckers, motorcycle groups, and utility workers stay. It’s where families who can’t afford a hotel for a family reunion have their reunion, eating potato salad and grilling hot dogs at the picnic tables. It’s where people with multiple dogs can bring them all.

When we (spouse & I) started staying at the Flagship Inn, we had dogs who travelled with us. We had been staying at the charming Lawnmere Inn and cottages, on nearby Southport Island, but then it closed in 2008 (became a private residence) and we cast about for another spot.

Photo of Lawnmere as is was, by someone else (you can see the glassed-in dining room):

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Our dog Petunia relaxing in one of the Lawnmere’s chairs, in the late 1990s:

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spouse and dog enjoying the lawn and cove view

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The Flagship Inn, in Boothbay, is in some ways the antithesis of the Lawnmere: It’s a basic motel, the Lawnmere was an old-fashioned inn and cottages; the Flagship fronts a busy commercial road, the Lawnmere fronted a winding country road and its back view was waterfront, onto a cove; the Flagship could never be called charming or elegant, whereas the Lawnmere could, with a hotel bar and a lovely dining room that served gourmet dinners on white tablecloths overlooking the water.

But the Flagship has merits of its own. It also accepts pets, which mattered to us once. It’s relatively inexpensive, from $100 to $160 depending on when you go and what kind of room you want.  Most important for us is its location: From the motel, we can walk into town — Boothbay Harbor — in 15 minutes, so we don’t have to drive through town and park a car there, saving a lot of frustration in the summer months.  And it sits adjoining one of the many Boothbay Region Land Trust preserves, Penny Lake, which makes it easy to walk the trails there — just by stepping out the door — mornings and evenings. We can also walk next door to the grocery store or across the street to the laundromat (handy when we had dogs with us); and driving to other land trust properties, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Southport, or perhaps the King Eider Pub in Damariscotta for lunch are all made easier by being already on Route 27, while getting to East Boothbay and Ocean Point is easy, too, because the intersection with Route 96 is a block away.

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Here’s the exterior:

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(photo by someone else, at Trip Advisor)
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Flagship Inn, cleaning cart, June 2015
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solar panels on the Flagship Inn, May 2014
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dog walk area with lupines and maple, June 2015
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view of Flagship Inn from Penny Lake Preserve lane, evening, May 2014
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there are often warblers in the shrubs near the canal alongside the motel
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canal (with bridge) between Flagship Inn and the Carousel Music Theater and Penny Lake Preserve, May 2012 … we saw a muskrat swimming in it once!
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having wine with cheese and crackers outside on a picnic table, May 2014
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spouse and Gretchen dog sitting outside near canal, May 2012

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Interior (We’ve stayed here at least six times but I guess I haven’t taken many photos of the motel):

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king bed room, with table, chairs (and plants bought at Coastal Maine Botanical Garden plant sale on the floor), May 2014
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Gretchen dog in her spot in a pet-friendly room (no carpet) at the Flagship, May 2012

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Penny Lake Preserve

We visited in 2004, 2006, and 2008, at least, but I took or preserved (get it?) few photos then. For one thing, we lived in Bath, only an hour away, from 2002-2009, so we didn’t need a motel when visiting Boothbay and probably only attended the area garden tour then. Upshot is that the photos here are from 2017, 2015, 2014, and 2012. All are in May or June, which is when the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens holds its plant sale.

Entrance and signs:

PennyLakePreservekioskBRLT14June2015PennyLakePreservesignPennyLakeBRLT11June2015signaboutbirdspennylakepreserve28May2012

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Meadow:

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ash bloom with multiple bees, June 2015
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meadow, two trails diverged, June 2015
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grassy pathway, June 2015
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evening meadow, May 2014
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Eastern kingbird, May 2014
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clover and hawkweed, June 2015
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red clover, June 2015
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bench among hawkweed, June 2015
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yellow hawkweed, June 2017
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hawthorn blooms, June 2015
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Yellowrattle (Rhinanthus Minor), June 2017
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dandelion, May 2012
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cedar waxwing (part of a large flock), May 2012
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red Admiral butterfly, June 2015
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Harris’s checkerspot butterfly (Chlosyne harrisii), June 2015
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another Harris’s checkerspot butterfly (Chlosyne harrisii), June 2015
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either silvery or Harris’s checkerspot butterfly, June 2017
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meadow path, trees and shrubs, June 2015

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Woods:

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trail, May 2012
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bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), June 2015
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ferns, June 2015
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Clintonia flowering, May 2012
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green Clintonia berries, June 2015
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lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule), June 2015
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pale pink lady’s slipper, June 2017
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starflower (Trientalis borealis) blooming, June 2017
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Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), with goldthread (Coptis trifolia), June 2017
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yellow trail marker, lichen, June 2017
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small chipmunk, June 2017
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sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) flowers, June 2015
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woods from the bridge, shaft of sunlight, May 2014
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trail with roots, June 2015
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sunlight in woods, June 2015

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Wetlands:

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bridge connecting woods over the brook, June 2015
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bridge over brook, June 2017
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brook, marsh, June 2017
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brook, marsh in the morning, May 2012
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lily pads, May 2012
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blue flag iris, June 2017
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green frog in water, June 2017
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green frog on log, May 2012
blackcrownednightheronhunchedPennyLakePreserveBoothbayME23May2014
black-crowned night heron hunched above marsh, May 2014
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one of many red-winged blackbirds in marsh, May 2014
phoebebirdnestingmaterialbestPennyLakeBRLTBoothbayME15June2017
phoebe with nesting materials, June 2017
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phoebe with caterpillar mouthful, June 2015

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There are lots of things to do in the Boothbay area. I posted a field trip to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in June 2015 and May 2014, and also in May 2014 field trips to the Porter Preserve, Singing Meadows Preserve, Zak Preserve, and Ocean Point Preserve (I see I have a lot of postings to do from more recent visits). It’s fun to walk in Boothbay Harbor, which has lots of good restaurants. There are lots of hotels, inns, B&Bs, and a few motels in Boothbay Harbor, too, but the Flagship, just a mile outside, has been handy and comfortable for us.

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Taking Sanctuary in Diners, Train Stations, Motels

Welcome to day 22 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” — Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

I’m fairly certain Father Nouwen wasn’t speaking of hotels and motels in his words about the division-healing work of hospitality, but there is something about the “free space” offered by motels and hotels, without conventional expectation and placed outside ordinary relationships to a greater or lesser degree, that perhaps gives the humans who stay in them some freedom for the mind or heart to open. As I’ve quoted earlier,

“Hotels bring together individuals whose paths might not normally cross, and they create relationships and social hierarchies new to those individuals — relationships and hierarchies that do not always correspond to the individuals’ ‘normal’ relationships outside the hotel. In subverting the status quo, they are fundamentally political spaces in the broadest sense” (from The Shining’s Overlook Hotel as Heterotopia by Elizabeth Hornbeck, 2016).

Or as Beth Lord — then teaching fellow in Philosophy at the University of Dundee in Scotland, now Head of Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen — notes, concerning museums but equally applying to motels and hotels,

“What are we to make of Michel Foucault’s claim that the museum is a heterotopia? When reading Foucault’s description of the heterotopia in his 1967 essay “Different Spaces,” we are left with the impression of something negative, uncanny, and disturbing: a heterotopia is a space of difference, a space that is absolutely central to a culture but in which the relations between elements of a culture are suspended, neutralized, or reversed. Unlike utopias, heterotopias are real places ‘designed into the very institution of society’ in which all the other real emplacements of a culture are ‘at the same time, represented, contested, and reversed, sorts of places that are outside all places, although they are actually localizable.'”

Dr. Lord mentions two of Foucault’s prime examples of a heterotopia, the cemetery and the ship, adding about the ship that it “is ‘a piece of floating space, a placeless place;’ it functions according to its own rules in the space between ports, between cultures, between stable points.” Places that are heterotopian “are those sites in a culture designated as spaces of difference, spaces in which ordinary relations within the culture are made and allowed to be other.” (Beth Lord in “Foucault’s museum: difference, representation, and genealogy,” in Museum and Society, March 2006)

It is this “being allowed to be other” than who we normally, routinely, habitually are that I think merges with Nouwen’s concept of hospitality as a space where we and our relations with others (other people, other beings, the earth, the abstract and eternal, the power structure of the culture) are allowed — not coerced, forced, or manipulated (except by architecture, perhaps) — to be other; not that being other than usual is necessarily a good in itself (as countless horror movies set in motels can attest), but that it offers us freedom where change can take place, because we are freed to question ourselves, the prevailing society, our relations with all things and beings.

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Philosophical writer Alain de Botton, below, is in part speaking of motels when he describes one of their functions as that of a sanctuary:

“The twenty-four-hour diner, the station waiting room and the motel are sanctuaries for those who have, for noble reasons, failed to find a home in the ordinary world, sanctuaries for those whom Baudelaire might have dignified with the honorific ‘poets’.” ― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel, 2002

The welcome of a good motel, hotel, or inn (or a 24-hour diner, or a station waiting room) is such a comfort in the midst of the rigors of travel. On our first evening near Newport, Rhode Island, in late spring this year, we couldn’t find a suitable restaurant without an hour-long waiting line at 8:30 p.m. You know that physically fatigued, stressed feeling you get when you’re hungry, tired from travel, trying to navigate and orient in an unfamiliar place, easily frustrated, ready for bed but needing some sustenance and just … some impersonal, disinterested, non-demanding comfort? That night, we found such a sanctuary in the Blue Plate Diner in Middletown, RI. No, it’s not a 24-hour diner (but it was open until 10), and the food was fine, but more importantly, it was warm, available, and served with friendliness in a comfortingly casual, anonymous, and just-well-enough-lit space.

dinerMiddletownRI6May2017

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I’ve spent a fair amount of time in train station waiting rooms. Most are unremarkable, a few are unpleasant, but a few stand out — either because of their architecture, amenities, and the feel of the space, or because of my need for that kind of comfort just then, or both — as exemplars of sanctuary for those of us who who have, by and large, failed to find a home in the ordinary world. Or, I would say in my case, as one who has found herself equally at home when somewhere not designated as home; and more at home and at peace, contented, in the non-ordinary place rather than within the circumference of my ordinary world.

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Union Station in Washington DC

It’s changed quite a bit in recent years, with the Center Cafe, in the center of the “Beaux-Arts main hall,” closing in 2016 after 28 years there  (I miss it, contrary to this March 2016 Washingtonian article that says it won’t be missed by many), as well as B. Smith’s restaurant closing in 2013 after 23 years, and the Barnes & Noble bookstore being replaced with an H&M clothing store. There’s still the Thunder Grill, which offers a roomy space for travellers with lots of luggage, and the service and southwestern food are surprisingly good for the location. They also have a full bar.

Really, Union Station is just a beautiful spot, if you like classical architecture. Some of the police ride segways through the space; there are large waiting areas; and there are many boutique shops (though most open up late, close early, or for whatever reason aren’t open when I’m there) and some chain restaurants/cafes like Au Bon Pain and Pret A Manger. (A Legal Seafood is coming soon.)

I often have layovers of 1-3 hours here and don’t mind it at all.

XmastreeornateceilingpublicspacebUnionStationWashingtonDC1Jan2017
Christmas time at Union Station, Jan. 2017
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Thunder Grill at Union Station, Sept. 2014
ThunderGrillrestaurantbarUnionStationWashingtonDC1Jan2017
bar at Thunder Grill, Jan. 2017
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Center Cafe when it was still there, Jan. 2011.
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waiting area, Union Station, Dec. 2013
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Gate J is usually my Union Station gate. Jan. 2011
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with my sister at Union Station, Nov. 2006
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sign inside Union Station celebrating 45 years of Amtrak, 1 Jan. 2017

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Penn Station in Baltimore, MD

Not a grand station at all but serviceable, airy, with a Dunkin Donuts and an eat-in/take-out place called Java Moon Cafe. I’ve had some scary moments scrambling with my luggage off the train in the middle of the night — it stops for about 2 minutes in Baltimore before heading on, and not all doors open onto the platform, which if you’re asleep and disoriented poses a challenge — but waiting here for a train is one of the less stressful travel connections, since there’s pretty much never a queue as there is at termini like Washington DC and Boston, and people sit reading the newspaper on the comfortable wooden benches — like pews in a sanctuary?  — until their train is called. Very civilised.

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Penn Station (on left) in the Mount Royal section of Baltimore, May 2008
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me, looking tired indeed, waiting for a train, in 2004 or 2005

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South Station in Boston, MA

I’ve spent more time here than any other train station over the last 25 years. (It’s also a major bus terminal, including for the bus from my NH town to Boston, which I’ve probably taken at least 30 times in each direction in the last eight years. The bus station side is not nearly as nice — in terms of architecture, spaciousness, amenities, etc. — as the train station.)

On the one hand, I like that South Station is an Amtrak terminus, which means trains start and end there (this is the northern end of Amtrak’s very popular Northeast Regional and Acela lines), so on boarding all the seats are available when you get on and on disembarking you never miss your stop, even if you are asleep. But being a terminus also means that riders often line up, inside and outside, long before the train is scheduled to depart, in order to get the best seat possible or seats together if travelling in a group. I do this, too, but it’s kind of a pain to feel that urge. On the other hand, if I’m going to be sitting on a train for 8 or 12 hours, it’s not a bad thing to stand in a line for a while beforehand.

SouthStationtreebranchesBoston1March2015
South Station exterior, March 2015
plantinggardenbySouthStationbusstationBoston9May2016
plantings, the bus side of South Station, May 2016
SouthStationwithStarbucksBoston30Dec2013
South Station Starbucks (almost side-by-side with Dunkin Donuts), Dec. 2013
SouthStationAuBonPanBostonMA18Oct2015
Au Bon Pain at South Station, Oct. 2015
lineatAuBonPainSouthStationBoston30Dec2013
line at Au Bon Pain, Dec. 2013 – look how perfectly spaced the queue is
SouthStationwithxmastraindisplayBoston20Dec2013
arrivals and departures board, and train display during Christmas, Dec. 2013
SouthStationBoston31March2011
arrivals and departures board with Apple ads, March 2011

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Actually, just looking at these stations has me itching to take the train again right now.

“So I’m more at home with my backpack, sleeping in a hotel room or on a bus or on an airplane, than I am necessarily on a bed. It’s weird being here. It feels like I’m standing next to my real life.”  — Henry Rollins

A bed is certainly more conducive to sleep, but in some ways I prefer sleeping (or trying to sleep) while being no-where, on a train or bus, or being somewhere that feels like no-where, like a hotel or motel.

Train stations, diners, hotels — I love those that feel welcoming, comforting, a home away from home that’s nothing like home.  A placeless place feels like my place.

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Mash Up of Public Spaces

Welcome to day 21 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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Exteriors, Entrances, & Lobbies

Included are: Holiday Inn Resort, Jekyll Island, GA, July 2016; Olde Tavern Motel, Orleans, MA (Cape Cod), Nov. 2016; Sand Dollar Motel reception, Pine Point, ME, June 2013; Midtown Hotel, Boston, Feb. 2015; Cotton Sail Hotel, Savannah, GA, Sept. 2014; Clark’s Motel, Santee, SC, Sept. 2013; Flagship Inn, Boothbay, ME, June 2015; Tall Timber cabins, Pittsburgh, NH, July 2015; Casablanca Motel cabin, Manchester, VT, Nov. 2012; Cove Motel, Orleans, MA (Cape Cod), April 2017; Schooner Bay Motor Inn, Rockland, ME, Aug. 2013.

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Lobbies, Public Living Spaces, Breakfast Rooms:

oneofmanysittingareasatClarksInnSanteeSC21Sept2013
one of many sitting areas, Clarks Inn, Santee, SC, Sept. 2013
HamptonInnRoanokebreakfastarea6June2013
breakfast and dining, Hampton Inn, Roanoke, VA, June 2013
birchwoodinnbreakfastroom
breakfast room, Birchwood Inn, Lenox, MA (Berkshires), May 2010
hudsonhotellobby13nov2010
lobby, Hudson Hotel, New York City, Nov. 2010
partialbreakfastroomFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017
partial of breakfast room, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Kennett Square, PA, Oct. 2017
HamptonInn&SuitesHotellobbyPortsmouthNH28Nov2014
lobby, Hampton Inn & Suites, Portsmouth, NH, Nov. 2014
lobbyMiddeburyInnhotelMiddleburyVT1Nov2015
lobby, Middlebury Inn, Middlebury VT, Nov. 2015
hotellobbyICHBoston20March2016
lobby, Intercontinental Hotel, Boston, MA, March 2016
lobbybPlantersInnSavannahGA1Jan2017
lobby, Planters Inn, Savannah, GA, Jan. 2017
lobbyviewtobreakfastareaElementHotelSeaportBostonMA25March2017
lobby, view to breakfast area, Element Hotel Seaport, Boston, MA, March 2017

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Hallways and Corridors (I mean, what are they thinking with some of this carpet?):

stairwayhallwaytolobbyparkinglotMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015
stairs & hallway, The Midtown Hotel, Boston, MA, Feb 2015
corridorcarpetdesignFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017
wacky hallway carpet, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Kennett Square, PA, Oct. 2017
2ndfloorMiddleburyInnMiddleburyVT1Nov2015
2nd floor of Middlebury Inn, Middlebury, VT, Nov. 2015
3rdfloorhallwayElementHotelSeaportBostonMA25March2017
3rd floor hallway, Element Hotel Seaport, Boston, MA, March 2017
HamptonInn&SuitesHotelhallwayPortsmouthNH28Nov2014
hallway, Hampton Inn & Suites, Portsmouth, NH, Nov. 2014
jijich4thfloorhallway24April2012
4th floor hallway, Jekyll Island Club Hotel, Jekyll Island, GA, April 2012
corridorcarpetHyattPlacehotelOwingsMillsMD15Oct2017
hallway carpet, Hyatt Place Hotel, Owings Mills, MD, Oct. 2017
hallwayroomette97train16Dec2016
hallway of roomettes on Amtrak, Silver Meteor train, Dec. 2016

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Might be Motel Sixing but it feels like Turks and Caicos

Welcome to day 20 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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As I mentioned previously, there are six motels/hotels that we (spouse and I) stay at over and over. I’ve posted about The Holiday Inn Express in Savannah, Georgia, and the Middlebury Inn in Vermont. Today I’ll tell you about another of our favourites, the Footbridge Beach Motel in Ogunquit, Maine.

The Footbridge Beach Motel is really just a basic roadside motel, with a pool (which we’ve never used), with wifi (which we require), but what makes it perfect for us is that it’s a 5-10 minute walk to the Footbridge Beach — usually quite uncrowded, even in the middle of summer, and if you drive there in season you pay a $20 parking fee — and a 1.3-mile walk on a sidewalk into the lively tourist town of Ogunquit (about a 25-minute walk for us), which means we can leave the car most of the time at the motel and walk to the beach and town. (There’s also a trolley shuttle to town in July and August.) And there are good places to eat across from and next to the motel.

MollyHollytrolleysogt27Aug2012

They also accept pets, which mattered to us when we first started visiting Ogunquit in 2012.

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It’s a relaxing spot, both the motel and the beach. Photos below were taken at the end of August 2012, mid-June 2015, and late May-early June 2016.

Property exterior

FootbridgeBeachmotelsignOgt30Aug2012TandGatFootbridgemotelwiderOgt30Aug2012

patiomotelFootbridgeMotelOgt20June2015
patio, where you can cook out on one of the grills and/or eat outside (or have a smoke)
poolFootbridgeMotelOgt20June2015
pool (2015)

Our room(s)

TomsittinginfrontofmotelroomFootbridgeMotelMollyreflectionOgunquitME4June2016
spouse (and my reflection) in chair outside room 12
MollybyroomatFootbridgeMotelOgt19June2015
We had room 5 this time
KingbedtablefridgemicrowaveFootbridgeMotelOgtME18June2015
king bed, nightstands, fridge and microwave
kingbedtablewindowTVdresserFootbridgeMotelOgtME18June2015
king bed, table and chairs, dresser with TV, closet (2015)
bathroomFootbridgeMotelOgtME18June2015
bathroom
GretcheninFootbridgemotelbedOgt30Aug2012
dog in her bed with toy in mouth (2012) (spouse in foreground on bed)
GretchenbirthdaycupcakeFootbridgeMotelOgunquitME27Aug2012
the dog celebrated her 11th birthday at the Footbridge

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The Foot Bridge (across the Ogunquit River to the Atlantic Ocean)

signatFootbridgeBeachOgt27Aug2012
signs here are in English and French — there are lots of visitors from Quebec to Ogunquit
bridgeFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME31May2016
the footbridge (May 2016)
bridgeeveningFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME3June2016
the footbridge (June 2016)
MatFootbridgeBeachogt28Aug2012
me on the footbridge (Aug 2012)
bridgerailingrugosarosesriverFootbridgeBeachOgtME19June2015
footbridge railing over the river (June 2015)
AmericanBlackDuckinOgtRiverOgt31Aug2012
American black duck in the river (Aug. 2012)
boatbackchanneleveningbFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME31May2016
boat often in the river (May 2016)
bridgerailingrugosarosesFootbridgeBeachOgtME18June2015
rosa rugosa lining bridge path (June 2015)
pathwaydowntobeachFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME1June2016
pathway from bridge to beach (June 2016)

Footbridge Beach

threateningcloudspeopleonbeach1210pmFootbridgeBeachOgtME19June2015
threatening clouds (June 2015)
FootbridgeBeachOgt31Aug2012
(Aug 2012)
lookingstormyatFootbridgeBeachOgt31Aug2012
stormy (Aug 2012)
footbridgebeachogt27Aug2012
people on the beach (Aug 2012)
oceanwavesluminescentsailboatMarginalWayindistanceeveningFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME31May2016
surf, sailboat, long view to Marginal Way in the evening (May 2016)
FootbridgeBeach8pmOgt27Aug2012
beach at 8 p.m., Aug. 2012
PlanktonexcitedtoseeseaFootbridgeBeachOgt19June2015
Plankton very excited to be on the Footbridge Beach! (June 2015)
beachbluepinkskysurfFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME31May2016
evening (May 2016)
tracksbackchannelbeachFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME3June2016
bird tracks on the river beach (June 2016)
signforploversternsnestingFootbridgeBeachOgtME19June2015
plovers and terns nest here (June 2015)
ploverpinksurfoceanreflectioneveningbestFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME31May2016
plover in evening surf (May 2016)
ploverbeacheveningcFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME31May2016
fluffy plover, evening (May 2016)
ruffledploverbeachFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME4June2016
ruffled plover (June 2016)
twosanderlingsonFootbridgeBeachOgt31Aug2012
two sanderlings (Aug 2012)
mistybeach745pmFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME4June2016
misty beach, evening (June 2016)

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Ogunquit – Marginal Way: A one-mile walk along the coast from the Sparhawk Motel to Perkins Cove

oceanfromMarginalWayOgunquitME1June2016
June 2016

SUPoceanoffMarginalWayOgunquitME1June2016sprucehousealongMarginalWayOgunquitME1June2016

sparrowinsnagMarginalWayOgunquitME1June2016
sparrow, June 2016
onlittlebeachoffMarginalWayOgunquitME1June2016
June 2016

bluegreenwhiteoceanswellsoffMarginalWayOgunquit3June2016

GeorgebulldoglobstertrapMarginalWayOgunquit3June2016
lobster trap with St. George the bulldog on Marginal Way (June 2016)

viewoceanbenchMarginalWay630pmOgunquit2June2016twoSUPoceanMarginalWayOgunquitME1June2016

giantalliumsirisesSparhawkMotelMarginalWayOgunquitME4June2016
allium and iris at Sparhawk Motel along Marginal Way, June 2016
ladybugleafMarginalWayOgunquitME4June2016
ladybug, June 2016
beewhiterosarugosacMarginalWayOgunquitME4June2016
bee in white rosa rugosa, June 2016
wavescrashingMarginalWayOgunquitME4June2016
crashing waves, June 2016
viewtoNorsemanmotelMarginalWayOgunquitME4June2016
view to Norseman Motel and Ogunquit Beach from Marginal Way, June 2016

peoplewalkingonMarginalWaybOgunquitME4June2016womanonSUPOgunquitME4June2016

viewoceanthrugrassesrosesMarginalWayOgtME19June2015
June 2015

viewMarginalWayOgtME18June2015

BonapartesgullsinsurfbOgtME18June2015
Bonaparte’s Gulls on beach, near Marginal Way, June 2015
rosarugosarocksgreenseaweedoceanbeachMarginalWayOgt20June2015
June 2015
someonedoingtaichionbeachMarginalWayOgtME20June2015
yoga on beach, seen from Marginal Way, June 2015
manflyfishinginwavesMarginalWayOgt20June2015
man fishing in waves, seen from Marginal Way, June 2015
MarginalWaybridgeOgt29Aug2012
bridge on Marginal Way, Aug. 2012
oneofmanycovebeachesalongMarginalWayogt29Aug2012
one of many coves along Marginal Way, Aug. 2012

“I looked along the San Juan Islands and the coast of California, but I couldn’t find the palette of green, granite, and dark blue that you can only find in Maine.” –Parker Stevenson

oceanviewsalongMarginalWayogt29Aug2012
Aug. 2012

flowersalongMarginalWayogt29Aug2012

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Ogunquit – Restaurants and Cafes: Lots of good ones! We like Back Yard coffee house   for breakfast, and Banditos Mexican Grill, Caffe Prego, and La Orilla tapas for lunch/dinner.

viewfromporchCaffePreggoOgunquit2June2016
view from Caffe Prego porch (June 2016)
olivemezzaCaffePreggoOgunquit2June2016
olive mezza at Caffe Prego (June 2016)
CaffePreggoexteriorOgunquitME3June2016
Caffe Prego (June 2016)
CaffePregoporchseatingOgunquit30Aug2012
porch seating at Caffe Prego (Aug. 2012)
dinneratCaffePregoOgunquit30Aug2012
view from porch at Caffe Prego (Aug. 2012)
CafePreggoOgunquitME1June2016
Caffe Prego and alliums (June 2016)
LaOrillatapasrestaurantoutsideOgunquit3June2016
La Orilla tapas restaurant (June 2016)
cheesebreadfoodOgunquitMEJune2016
cheese, bread, chutney – June 2016, I think at La Orilla
shrimpOgunquitME1June2016
lovely grilled shrimp – June 2016, I think at La Orilla
BanditosMexicanrestaurantOgtME20June2015
Banditos Mexican — great to sit outside with a Negra Modelo and come chips and guacamole (June 2015)
Banditosoutsideogt27Aug2012
Banditos Mexican (Aug. 2012)
BanditosMexicanrestaurantoutsideOgunquitME19June2015
Banditos, June 2015
BanditosMexfoodinsideogt27Aug2012
Banditos inside, Aug. 2012
fishshrimptacosBanditosOgunquitME4June2016
fish and shrimp tacos at Banditos Mexican (June 2016)
HechoinOgunquitshirtBanditosOgunquitME4June2016
Made in Ogunquit T-shirt at Banditos Mexican (June 2016)
BackYardCoffeehouseEateryOgtME20June2015
Back Yard coffee house (June 2015)

And Angelina’s Ristorante: Wine Bar & Tuscan Grille, across from the Footbridge Motel, is nice, too (both photos Aug. 2012):

AngelinasRistoranteOgunquitME27Aug2012AngelinasRistorantewineandwaterOgunquitME27Aug2012

BeachFire Bar & Grille, right next to the motel:

onpatioBeachFirerestaurantOgt20June2015
patio, June 2015
BeachFirefireOgunquitME3June2016
BeachFire fire, June 2016

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Beach Plum Farm – community garden on the way from the motel to Ogunquit

BeachPlumFarmcommunitygarden8pmOgunquitME1June2016
8 p.m. June 2016
raisedbedscommunitygardenBeachPlumFarmOgtME19June2015
raised beds, June 2015
lettucesetccommunitygardenBeachPlumFarmOgtME19June2015
lettuces, June 2015
angelicasoontoflowerBeachPlumFarmOgtME19June2015
angelica, June 2015
meadowtoriverbeachplumfarmogt29Aug2012
Aug. 2012

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Can’t forget the inspirational trash cans around town, of which these are but three:

ConfidencetrashcanPerkinsCoveOgunquitME4June2016
Perkins Cove (June 2016)
AcceptancetrashcanPerkinsCoveOgunquitME4June2016
Perkins Cove (June 2016)
trashcancalledFaithfulFootbridgeBeachOgunquitME3June2016
Footbridge Beach (June 2016)

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*post title lyric from Vacation by Thomas Rhett

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Now, the Berkshires seemed dreamlike

Welcome to day 19 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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I have stayed in at least one B&B that worked for me, because we — spouse, dog, self — were in one of several separate cottages surrounding the Birchwood Inn, in Lenox, Massachusetts — in the Berkshires — and the innkeeper (Ellen, who has since retired; unfortunately, the new owners don’t seem to rent the cottages anymore) had two dogs of her own: a sweet golden retriever, Quinn, who was trained to help the deaf, which the innkeeper partly was, and this lovely little black dog, Piper, a beagle-lab (bagel) who looks demonic in my photo for some reason.

birchwoodinnpiper

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This was May 2010; spouse and I hadn’t had time away together except for a family birthday party in two years, and after our difficult fall and winter — full of sad goodbyes and uprooting, spouse’s medical diagnosis and ongoing treatments, the dog’s medical diagnosis and ongoing lab tests, my father’s death and my mother’s Alzheimers, as well as the weight of friends’ sorrows in tough times — it was a much needed pampering. Sometimes B&Bs are good for pampering, as long as they leave you alone, and they did.

We interacted with Ellen and other folks only at breakfast and afternoon tea (yes, tea! so civilised; talk about pampering), if we felt like it  — though with Piper more often, as she had the run of the place — and the breakfasts, at our own table, were incredibly delicious, including: cheese blintzes with a Maine blueberry sauce on top, a spring omelette with peas and asparagus, lemony stuffed French toast, fondue Florentine soufflé, fabulous ginger pear pancakes, a berry fruitini, a watermelon and kiwi stacked on a crumble with a lemon curd topping, poached pears with a lovely sauce, and sausage, bacon, or ham if desired.

birchwoodinnbreakfastroom

We were invited to sit on the inn porch, for tea and otherwise, and I think we did …. it’s been 7-1/2 years and I can’t quite recall anymore, though I remember that we got bread, cheese, a fruit tart, olives, beer, etc., at the local farmer’s market and gourmet shops and had lunch on our own cottage porch one day.

birchwoodinnfrontporchseats
Birchwood Inn seats and table on the porch
birchwoodinnfromlawn
Birchwood Inn porch from the front lawn
birchwoodinnourdoorandporch
our cottage and porch
birchwoodinnourporch
our cottage’s porch
foodfarmersmarketlunch
farmers market lunch

We bought marcona almonds and cheese at Rubiner’s Cheesemongers in Great Barrington, too. (I guess the woman behind the counter wasn’t pleased about my photo.)

greatbarringtonRubinersCheesemongers

Somehow I neglected to take any photos inside the cottage room, except of our dog, Gretchen:

gretchenatbirchwoodinn21may2010gretcheninbirchwoodinnroomonbed21may2010

She seems relaxed.

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This was our cottage from the outside, in the evening —

birchwoodinnourcottage

there was a rabbit running around  —

birchwoodinnbunny

— and our entrance (the back entrance) into the Inn proper —

birchwoodinnourentrance

— and another shot of the Inn’s porch:

birchwoodinnwithfrontporch

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It was quite a nice place to be, walkable to Lenox, and the restaurants in the Berkshires were amazing, especially Viva Tapas Bar in Stockbridge — their fried artichokes live in my memory as one of the best things I have ever eaten — which sadly apparently closed in 2012,

vivarestaurantfoodwineatvivafoodfriedartichokes

and especially especially Rouge in West Stockbridge, from whom I still get emails and to which I would return in a heartbeat if it were closer. (I guess I took these weird photos with my phone at the time. Sorry!)

rougebarStockbridgeMA22May2010foodrouge

Bistro Zinc in Lenox was good, too, where, sitting next to a tall window that opened onto the sidewalk, I had trout meuniere and spouse had soft shell crab. Mmmm.

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There are so many interesting things to do and places to visit in the Berkshires. We had only a week or so and went to Edith Wharton’s house, The Mount — what I remember from it is climbing hydrangeas; the mind-boggling Asia Barong in Great Barrington (still get eccentric emails from them, too); Naumkeag House & Gardens in Stockbridge (44-room Gilded Age house, designed as a summer home by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, & White, the former country estate of New York City lawyer Joseph Hodges Choate); Kennedy Park trails in Lenox; the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, which runs about 11 miles from Pittsfield to Adams, MA — we walked from the Farnam’s Rd entrance in Cheshire to the town of Cheshire proper, and back, about 4 miles; Tanglewood, in Lenox, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays in the summer; and a play (preview performance of Julius Caesar) at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox.

The Mount

themountthruarchway
long view of The Mount
themountbackviewfrombelow
view of The Mount from below
themountfromfrenchgardens3
The Mount from the French gardens
themountarcheswithvines
arches
themountallium
allium
themountitaliangardenwithfountain
Italian garden with fountain
themountinsided
interior
themountinsideenotedogtreats
table setting (note dog treats)
themountinsideikitchen
kitchen
themountinsidef
people in the living room
themountinsideb
fireplace and columns
themountinsidea
another interior shot
themountinsideafadedtulips
faded tulips

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Asia Barong …. a unique place: “In the unlikely event we do not have what you are looking for, we can search in Asia for it. Or by using the link to the order form below, we can carve to your specifications any sculpture in any quantity or material.”

asiabarongoutsiderecliner
outside Asia Barong … I can see this in my garden
asiabarongoutside
buddha, elephant, etc.
asiabarongTwithjeep
a Jeep, with shovel, axe, etc.
asiabaronginsidehugephallus
a huge phallus, upstairs
asiabaronginside
inside
asiabaronginsidecolour
more inside

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Naumkeag (not quite open for the season, and no indoor photos allowed):

naumkeaghouseandtreepeonies
back of house
naumkeagfrontofhouse
front of house
naumkeagmaples
maples
naumkeagsteps
steps
naumkeagasiangarden
Asian garden
naumkeagpinktreepeonies
tree peonies
naumkeagwhitetreepeonies
white tree peonies
naumkeaglitepinktreepeonyclose
pink tree peony, close
naumkeagtreepeonies
tree peonies in bloom
naumkeagviewlawns
views

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Kennedy Park in Lenox:

naumkeagwoodlandpath

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Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

AshuwillticookRailTrailsign

AshuwillticookRailTrailreseservoirc
reservoir
AshuwillticookRailTraillilypadsgalore
lily pads galore
AshuwillticookRailTrailcottagewithlupines
cottage with lupines
AshuwillticookRailTrailpinkhoneysuckle
pink honeysuckle
AshuwillticookRailTrailfemalemallard
female mallard duck

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Tanglewood

TanglewoodKoussevitskyShedevening
Koussevitsky Shed
TanglewoodKoussevitskyShedinside
Koussevitsky Shed (inside)
TanglewoodOzawaHallandT
Ozawa Hall

Tanglewoodgardensevening24May2010

Tanglewoodtreetrunks
tangled tree trunks

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Shakespeare & Co. – some dilapidated buildings on the property

lenoxshakespeareandcohouseclenoxshakespeareandcohouseb

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Also, the 15-acre Berkshire Botanical Garden, in Stockbridge:

bbgsign

bbgwallwithsedums
wall with sedums
bbgstripedirisyellowclose
striped yellow iris
bbgweepyconifer
weepy conifer
bbgpoppy
poppy!
bbgrodgersias
Rodgersias … a favourite of mine
bbgopenpinkpeonies
pink peonies
bbgpondandlawns
pond and lawn
bbgfrog2
frog
bbgfrog
another frog
bbgalliumwalkway
walkway with allium
bbgdianthusgarden
dianthus swath
bbgcornerofyellowshed
yellow shed
bbgyellowshed
yellow shed
bbgpurpleshed
purple shed
bbginsidepurpleshed
inside purple shed

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Plus this quirky cemetery in Stockbridge! (cemeteries are another heterotopia, uniting all other places and people in a community in a past-present sacred-forbidden place of crisis, often on the margins of town — this one is on the edge of a golf course):

stockbridgecemeteryarchway

stockbridgecemeteryhorseracingandredsoxsmall
He liked horse racing, she’s a Red Sox fan
stockbridgecemeterybarneyslanesmall
Someone liked golf

stockbridgecemeteryphotosofdeceasedsmallstockbridgecemeteryviewtogolfcoursesmall

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If you want more travelogue, I blogged about this in May 2010 in several posts: intro; Thurs-Sat; Sunday; and Mon-Wed.)  I note, on re-reading them, that the innkeeper saved us scones one day when we didn’t make it back for afternoon tea on time. That’s one perk of a good B&B: you are offered comfort and reliability in a difficult, unreliable time.

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* Thanks to James Taylor for the title …. “With 10 miles behind me, and 10,000 more to go.”

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Intersections

Welcome to day 18 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
__________________________________________

In an article about museums (Foucault’s Museum: Difference, Representation, and Genealogy), Beth Lord writes: “As we will see, the space of representation is the heterotopia. … the ‘space of representation’ makes possible an institution that interprets objects; an institution that puts on display the ways that objects are conceptually understood.”

This weekend, I visited The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), which in itself seems to be reinterpreting and reconceptualising the way it is understood. Speaking of the Anne Truitt installation “Intersections,” Kerr Houston (in Bmore Art, April 2017) says:

“[I]t seems clear that this show of work by Truitt was developed with larger ideas in mind. In recent months, the BMA has done a great deal to recast the experience of entering visitors, and it’s worth thinking at least briefly about how this show thus plays a part in a larger museological project.

“The most radical change, of course, involves the rehabilitation of the museum’s traditional, formal entrance. Placed at the top of a dramatic set of stairs, the large portal features two massive sliding bronze valves, and can feel almost forbidding in its scale and associations; as Carol Duncan once noted, such entries suggest that the art museum is a modern, secular, equivalent of a temple. …

“The architectural historian Vincent Scully used to claim that, in arriving at New York’s elegant Penn Station before its destruction, ‘you entered the city like a god.’ Mount the stairs of the BMA, stroll through the large doors into the renovated Fox Court, and you can gain at least a sense of what he meant.”

That is how we entered the BMA on this occasion, and grand it is.

historicentrancestepsBMABaltimoreMD15Oct2017

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The special exhibition at the BMA right now is Tomás Saraceno’s “Entangled Orbits,” which I touched on in a previous post. Today I want to highlight Anne Truitt’s “Intersections,” and particularly some of Kerr Houston’s comments about it and the BMA itself, as well as Truitt’s own words in an extensive oral history interview, which I think are pertinent to heterotopia, blurring of real and representative, and perhaps related to this conversation about motels and hotels as well.

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First, I want to say that as a child and teen visiting relatives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I swam in a pool that belonged to the Truitt family and I heard of Anne Truitt as an artist. I don’t think I ever met her personally, but I understood then that a woman could make art her life’s work.

So, with that tenuous connection, I always look for Truitt’s art when I visit museums. Anne Truitt: Intersections, installed in one small open room near the BMA’s Asia and Africa collections, consists of five wooden columns of different colours (perhaps, as Houston notes that Walter Hopps once claimed about her work, evoking the “light and color of Maryland’s Eastern Shore”), “roughly human in scale,” spaced apart and actually created at different times in the 1960s. She has layered acrylic paint on them, “using increasingly fine sandpaper in order to create a surface that was so smooth that it looks almost ethereal;” Truitt said of the pieces “‘I let the color, which must have been gathering force within me somewhere, stream down over the columns on its own terms.'”

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Probably Hopps is right about the Eastern Shore influence of colour and light on Truitt’s work; she herself says this in an extensive oral history interview in April 2002, two years before she died:

“So that gave me a place on the Eastern Shore. What I’m really leading up to is the fact of why this is so charged for me, the whole Eastern Shore. It was the first thing I opened up my eyes on. I think it’s very important what you open your eyes on first. There’s a kind of decision that you have to take as you go through your life: whether you’re going to stay in your body, so to speak, whether you’re going to look at it realistically or actualistically and whether you’re going to settle and address yourself to the situation. [Laughs.] I think the first environment on which you open your eyes tends to tincture or tint or color the way in which you view the world from then on. … The exterior world as opposed to the psychological world. … So the first things I opened my eyes on were in the Eastern Shore. And they’re still there in my work. I’m still, you know, never — it’s just ingrained in me.”

Later, she adds

“On the eastern shore of Maryland, the sky seems to be uniform, more or less. It’s not a place of clouds. It’s a place where the molecular — the osmotic — everything, all the color is held up in osmosis in the moisture, but it’s not cloudy.”

Also on the subject of colour, Truitt says you couldn’t pay her to study it — “I suppose if they offered me a million dollars, I would leaf through Albers’ book; but it would take a million, and I would leaf” — because “I think if you apply your linear mind to color, you’re going to come out with a linear scheme for color, schema, and I think it would bear no relation to what color means to me.” In other words, studying colour would intellectualise what is essentially experiential. It would falsify in some way what is real, what is true to experience, emotion, perception, intuition.

(More on Truitt and colour)

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Houston notes the “stark geometry of her columns and the way in which they casually blurred the lines between painting and sculpture,” which is exactly how it seems when you’re looking at them. They are like standing paintings. He also describes them as “mute witnesses” that are “testifying to their presence in a manner that only affirms their thereness.” Truitt herself affirms the referentiality of her work — that it represents something in the real world, a real there there —  and Kristen Hileman (BMA curator of contemporary art) has written that “Truitt’s pieces were commonly rooted in her own experiences and memories. They often bore titles that evoked intensely personal associations: Odeskalki, for instance, was derived from a late-night fireside chat with a friend, who told Truitt of a Hungarian nobleman who had been hanged on a meat hook. Far from being chaste exercises in form, Truitt’s pieces are thus bound to specific lived experiences.”

Truitt has said “I have struggled all my life to get maximum meaning in the simplest possible form.” Her sculpture in some sense then may act on us, standing alongside it or looking at it, as heterotopic space does; because it holds multiple layers of overlapping meaning, it may disquiet in its ambiguity, may disturb us or evoke ambivalence as we absorb her life’s experiences emanating from the painted form.

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At the time Houston wrote his article (but not now), there was also an installation called “Imagining Home” at the museum, featuring “recorded interviews with local Baltimore residents who were allowed to live, for a time, with an object of their choice. Through this process of temporary loans –- an idea occasionally practiced by other museums in recent years, as well –- the works literally became a part of a home, and the line between public and private is momentarily dissolved.”

Dissolving the line between public and private is a heterotopian concept, a way of bringing our attention to what we normally don’t notice about the hegemony of places, the official and authorised purpose of spaces, who may inhabit them, how they may be used, how they’re accessed, whether they are closed or open, what they demand of us, how they divide or unify us, and so on. As Laura Rice writes in Of Heterotopias and Ethnoscapes: The Production of Space in Postcolonial North Africa (2003) about the mirror, it “serves as a heterotopia when it focuses our attention on the ambiguous relationship between what we think of as reality, and representation: a site where this dynamic of recognition/misrecognition is especially pronounced. The destabilizing force of the heterotopia rests in its ability to foreground [i.e., to make us notice] the representational foundation upon which we construct what we commonly think of as reality. It shifts our attention to the power of representation to manage, manipulate, and distort reality.”

I can just imagine this awareness of reality’s basis in the representational when sitting with an exotic Matisse or an ornate bowl & spoon in your familiar living room.

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It would act as reminder that all the decorative objects in our house are actually representational at some level, and yet they seem so real to us; and if that is so, we might wonder what else seems solidly itself when in actuality it’s not only itself but a rendition of something else, a depiction that could be otherwise, that could carry multiple meanings, harkening back to memory, history, experience or forward to imagination, dream, recurring patterns, eternity.

Interestingly, Truitt recalls growing up with troves of great art in her house — tapestries, Chinese art and clothing, French furniture, sculpture, paintings of ships — which she was allowed to interact with as she liked.

I hear echoes of heterotopia — of a non-place place that makes more noticeable the structure and purpose of other places — also when she muses (in the oral history again) that “when you see something, its opposite is implied. If you see black, white is implied; if you see light, dark is implied; good, evil. It seems to be set up on a line of dichotomy.”

When we feel disquiet in an familiar yet unfamiliar space, like a hotel room, it maybe be because we are reminded of a familiar space, like a home, and in the junction between the two, in our minds and experience, we sense how there is like here, how away is like home, how being a stranger is like belonging, and we also sense how it’s different, what governs each place and identity, perhaps how we are different or feel different in different places.

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Houston says,

“In sum, it does more or less exactly what a museum show should do, presenting iconic works in a way that implies their current relevance, while also framing them in provocative, productive ways.” For example, the text on the wall accompanying the sculptures offers a short essay by Shannen Hill in which she suggests that Truitt’s vertical forms can be compared with verticalilty in traditional African art. Houston sees this as the BMA’s encouraging “a conversation between its curatorial departments, while openly acknowledging that our responses to works of art need not be monolithic. Does the asymmetrical positioning of the columns remind you, perhaps, of the idiosyncratic placement of the rocks in a Japanese rock garden? Carry on, the museum seems to say.”

Again, a heterotopia is one kind of place that’s in conversation with many places; it comments on, questions, and subverts culture by connecting with it in unexpected or disruptive ways, by contrasting with the mores and conventions of other places in the culture. That seems to be what Houston could claim for the BMA, in its quest to juxtapose unexpected pieces of art and to prompt viewers to consider them in unfamiliar ways.

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Some other interesting bits at the BMA on Sunday:

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‘Blue Edge,’ Sam Gilliam, 1971 (paint runs around the canvas edges)
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‘Autumn Flight,’ Norman Lewis, 1956
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I Am Your Shower Curtain And I Am Watching You, shower curtain
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moth on the wall of the museum
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begonia and sculpture
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leaves on stairs
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detail of Tomas Saraceno “Entangled Orbits”
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another detail of Tomas Saraceno “Entangled Orbits”
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yet another detail of Tomas Saraceno “Entangled Orbits”
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Tomas Saraceno’s “Hybrid solitary solitary semi-social semi-social semi-social Amateru built by: a solo Nephila senegalensis – one week, a solo Nephila senegalensis – two weeks, a duet of Cyrtophora citricola – four weeks, a solo Cyrtophora citricola – one week, a solo Cyrtophora citricola – two weeks, a quartet of Cyrtophora citricola juveniles” — spidersilk, carbonfiber, glass, and metal sculpture
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bubble sculpture by Tomas Saraceno
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Manchester 1949 by Charles Sheeler (Manchester NH)
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Artist in Greenland by Rockwell Kent, 1935 and additions in 1960
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reflections in ‘Bluebird’ Sparton Model 566 Radio, c. 1936, designed by Walter Teague

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