A Brief Seduction
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A Brief Seduction<br> By Marc Porter Zasada <p> EVERY DAY in the metropolis, the Urban Man faces dark and mighty seductions. Today the assault began when I stood at a tattered newsstand along Robertson. It was one of those hazy, overly bright noons when the whole city seems to fill with an uncomfortable light and you become unusually aware of litter and traffic. <p> The only other customers were two men with cowboy hats, quietly showing each other photos in girlie magazines. <p> But the Urban Man stood before a vast shelf of interior design journals: House and Garden, Dwell, Kitchens, Home, at Home, Country Home and Interiors, World of Interiors, Period Ideas, Instyle Home, Architectural Digest. Here in L.A., even mainstream glossies now obsess about chrome fixtures and polished blond wood. Page after page of photos show men and women of magnificent beauty sitting in half-empty rooms of teak and steel or standing languorously in long white robes beside $20,000 tubs hollowed from single slabs of granite. <p> And for a moment, like the men in the cowboy hats, I allow myself to be transported into an imaginary world: this one built of cool marble and modernist symmetry, a place for everything, and everything valuable. An interior paradise, free of urban issues. <p> Suppose I had the time and money to give serious consideration to a minimalist, $1200 faucet I see in a two-page bathroom sink layout? Surely, some of the best minds of my generation are now designing the faucets for bathroom sinks. And surely, our present hysteria for interior design represents more than the mere narcissism of wealth. Maybe it represents some fresh understanding of the human soul. Many of the designs, after all, are inspired by austere Asian masters, and promise a Zen calm. <p> On impulse, I jump in my car and drive straight to a famous bath fixture boutique on Melrose I see mentioned in the article. I happen to be wearing a black turtleneck, so they take me without an appointment. And yes, immediately I enter a palace of serenity where a man and a woman can have a quiet and revealing conversation about brushed stainless steel. And yes, truly, those best minds of my generation have done good work: for here the faucets arc like the necks of swans, reflect the clear principles of Bauhaus or bristle with complex, nickel-plated joints. <p> I tell the saleswoman that instead of my traditional sink, I now want to follow the fashion of a freestanding bowl or "vessel" perched mysteriously on the top of my bathroom counter. I spot one polished from rough concrete, along with a copper faucet that runs a little open aqueduct into "the vessel." Prices are not posted, but I lean close, and she intimates that the concrete bowl alone runs $950 and the faucet another $1600 --installation, of course, not included. <p> All told, the price of such a sink might buy a decent used car for my son. Plant a row of trees on a city boulevard. Or perform some great good, somewhere out there. <p> Only now the Urban Man glances uneasily through the plate glass window, where outside, L.A. remains overly bright and dusty with chaos. And briefly, I allow myself to be seduced. I picture myself standing languorous and calm beside this empty vessel, like a man in a glossy photograph. It's the end of another uncertain day, and I'm wearing a long white robe. I lean forward. I turn the copper handle. And yes, in a moment of guilty fantasy, the Urban Man runs water through the little copper aqueduct to cleanse the city from his hands. <p> Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada. All Rights Reserved. <p>
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