Friday, 16 March 2012

The Secrets of Downtown


In my line of work I have occasion to chip in (as all members of our office do) in receiving donations from generous souls who have furniture, electronics, or any random assortment of goods that we can redistribute to our clients. Today I had the opportunity to pick up some donations from what was previously the Bay , a rather eccentric local nightspot.



What happens to a local hotspot gone to seed? The building formerly housing the Bay is on the historic register in Utah. It is a nest of unintentionally and quite entertainingly occult architectural insanity.


The interior of the building is vacant and gorgeous with potential. The owners, whom I met briefly, are amazing people, passionate about the building and its future and very generous to have given so much of the former furniture to the non-profit I work for. But step through the side gate and into the back courtyard with me, won't you?


The area is being heavily renovated, but you can see what used to be an esoteric Greco-Roman-Babylonian themed stage area, with a sort of Temple of Solomon vibe. More bizarre, and far more splendid, is the Bay's legendary fountain/pool (no swimming allowed):



This Masonic Playboy Mansion  has existed in partially obscured view right here in Salt Lake (in more or less its current incarnation) for a while. It's excellent that the new owners are renovating it.

Note: one probable student of the hidden path (and/or bizarre and reclusive art and architecture enthusiast)  had, until recently, taken advantage of the mystical protection no doubt afforded by the Bay Temple:



This abandoned squat - bedding, an introductory manual to the game Magic the Gathering, two shopping carts full of filthy clothes and a half dozen battered, empty purses - was accompanied by perhaps the most polite eviction notice that I've ever read:


The squatter - whomever he or she was - evaporated overnight, leaving behind what I imagine to be all of her/his earthly belongings, abandoned to the unearthly realm of the corpse of the Bay, soon to be reanimated in one of those urban experiments in recalibration we are so familiar with in Salt Lake City.

Old bar furniture finds new life helping more than a dozen families, and an itinerant person who had found a pretty comfortable nest becomes another ghost.

Salt Lake City - like any city, I'd wager - is full of these little undiscovered koans, these beautiful, completely inexplicable acts of self-contradictory passion and creativity. Who builds a Gomorrah Water Park in the isolated rear patio of a crumbling bar? And who takes up relatively tidy residence there in its somehow majestic and hidden decline? Ships cross in the night, paradoxes abound, and Salt City carries on.

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