Take The Weather With You

At the Decafe in Wilder Hall, there hang several vintage posters for various events (Drag Ball, Debutante Ball, a "Reading of THE SHARK AND THE SARDINES"), but one always catches my eye: a collage poster for a "FREE DANCE" on May 13 in Warner Hall. The writing on the collage's red sheet is trite in its "revolutionary" phrasing, full of the usual cliched catch-phrases of the 60s:

"PROTEST...ANGER...SHITHEADS..STATUS...ANNOY...ESTABLISHMENT...MARXISTS...STATUS QUO" (although I do like the way "CONFUSION" breaks on a line ending, becoming "CONFUS" and "ION", and throwing the metaphysics of the whole project into question).

It's actually the New York Times backing behind the red sheet that catches my eye: presumably meant as a staid bourgeois background for this most "REVOLUTIONARY" of dances-- something, in other words, to be mocked-- its early 70s typeface, and the fashions in the pictures, dominates the words that mar its front. My eye struggles to go past the hippie pretensions of the red sheet to read the headlines and ad copy, to see how much a trip to Sweden cost 35 years ago, to ponder the neo-wonders of the "San Jeronimo Hotel." It reminds me of Barthes:

Why do some people, including myself, enjoy in certain novels, biographies, and historical works the representation of the “daily life” of an epoch, of a character? Why this curiosity about petty details: schedules, habits, meals, lodging, clothing, etc.? Is it the hallucinatory relish of “reality” (the very materiality of “that once existed”)? And is it not the fantasy itself which invokes the “detail,” the tiny private scene, in which I can easily take my place? …

Thus, impossible to imagine a more tenuous, a more insignificant notation than that of “today’s weather” (or yesterday’s); and yet, the other day, reading, trying to read Amiel, irritation that the well-meaning editor (another person foreclosing pleasure) had seen fit to omit from this Journal the everyday details, what the weather was like on the shores of Lake Geneva, and retain only insipid musing: yet it is this weather that had not aged, not Amiel’s philosophy.

But more than anything, what catches my eye is the date on the newspaper: April 22, 1973. I like the serendipity of having lunch next to a newspaper published only three days before I was born.


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