Tim and Jeremy are both waiters at a restaurant in downtown New York City. During slow times at work, to stave off boredom when it is slow, the two young men draw pictures. These pictures are made using ink and what is called the "Triple Dupe Pad," a book of paper used to place orders in the kitchen. The drawings usually take about a week to make, all the while also being used by fellow employees to take orders; this sometimes leads to other collaborators or in a couple cases, to the loss of the work. The drawings are then scanned and colored in Photoshop where they come to life in stunning technicolor! The subject matter varies from piece to piece, as they are made over a long course of time and under various moods and states of mind. They all retain a playfulness that serves as a coping mechanism after spending a night catering to the endless needs of hungry patrons.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

#45 "Fever Dream" November 17, 2011

(Click on Image to Make it Bigger)

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling. Sometimes you can remember lyrics to a song you haven't heard in fifteen years, or a certain smell will transport you instantly into the deep past. Miriam Webster describes nostalgia as homesickness or "a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for returning to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition." The second definition is aptly applied to many people who patronize and work at the Cafe Loup. The Loup serves a large portion of Greenwich Village's elderly population who have lived in the neighborhood since the 60's or before. Every night you hear people talking bout the history of New York and the history of the neighborhood. For a culture that doesn't care that much about history, (since ours is so new, and also because America is obsessed with the newest thing and the future) Cafe Loup customers and employees are obsessed with New York's recent history. People always ask how long the restaurant has been open, what was in the space beforehand, where it was originally, who used to own the place, and on and on ad nauseam. The Loup is actually the perfect place to have these conversations because it is actually a place that has no clear place in time. If, for some reason, no one was using their cell phones on a given night, one might think they have travelled back to the 90's, or even further. There are no computer screens, our cash register is the old pre-60's kind with all the great big push buttons. The bar itself is older than I am and the decor is black and white photos from Brassai and Irving Penn. It has a timeless quality that instantly makes people feel nostalgic. A lot of times I will engage in these conversations by answering questions about the past for customers, but a lot of the time, I get very frustrated about this constant harkening back to the old days. Don't get me wrong, I love listening to Jay tell stories of New York in the 1960's and beyond. I love New York history, and the history of America in general; I find it fascinating and have always agreed with George Santayana's famous quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But there is a difference between forgetting the past, and being obnoxiously vocally nostalgic about it. Mixing alcohol and nostalgia is sometimes a warm and fuzzy place with fond memories and great stories. It is also a place of bitter resentment for the present and a rose colored version of a past that was probably just as bleak and depressing as the present that one is lashing out against. You might know what I'm talking about, people saying things like, "New York was so much better when it was dangerous." and "New York has lost all of it's edginess." People who say these things and things like them are always so bitter. I understand that they have a certain amount of pride in surviving New York in it's horribly gritty heyday, but just because I wasn't living here/ alive at the time, doesn't mean I'm not a New Yorker. Yes, I would have liked to see the Velvet Underground at Max's. Yes, I would've loved to see the Talking Heads and Television at CBGB's, but I didn't. I can imagine it and read about it and listen to the live recordings, and that's it. Having lived in New York for 11 years now, I am sometimes nostalgic for the New York of 2001, but that is a rarity. I am happy with what New York has become, and I am happy with my life as it coincides with New York's life trajectory. I guess those people who are so violently nostalgic really are homesick. They have become unmoored and feel that the life they are living now may not be their own; that this place, while resembling something from the past, is not, in fact, their real home. They were home in the past, and this time in their life is mysterious and menacing, making them uncomfortable and bitter. They escape to the past to try and grasp the notion of home, while the memories of that time grow more and more abstract while at the same time more comforting. I always think that these people should leave New York, if this modern incarnation upsets them so much, but then I think about the rest of America, and how foreign it feels to people who are used to the frantic pace of New York. Someone who lived in New York for so many years would be completely lost outside of the city, and so instead, they stay here and come to the Cafe Loup and bitch about how everything used to be great and how everything now is awful. Maybe one day it will all come full circle for them and they will find their home again. Until then, the Cafe Loup is open seven days a week (except on the 4th of July).

No comments:

Post a Comment