Monday, October 8, 2007

Glass House Blue Goat Art Dinner

I'm standing in an apartment.

My friend Stuart is there.

The apartment belongs to Mark Chester, a San Francisco photographer.

For some reason unknown to Stuart and I, we are visiting Mark.

We walk through the apartment and it is rather odd. Around the place are Mark's personal belongings, photography equipment and the like. However, the place itself is a strange construction.

The apartment is a kind of "loft" that takes up the whole top floor of a building. The building is in the shape of a "u".

The walls of the building are made of glass and we can see outside. In the middle of the "u" of the building is another "u" shaped building that is similar constructed and, inside that one, another smaller "u" shaped building. All have glass walls and I can stand in Mark's apartment and see into and through all the others.

I comment on the apartments and think they're interesting - they seem so open and there's so much light. I see inside the other apartments on the same floor as Mark's place and see some covered furniture, but they mostly look empty. I ask Mark if anyone lives there.

"They're away now," Mark says.

Stuart and I continue to walk around Mark's apartment as he tells us about the place. I wonder what he's doing with his photography now, but he doesn't seem to be interested in talking about that.

I look outside and it's getting to be late afternoon. Stuart and I are both feeling hungry, so we decide to go eat.

We say goodbye to Mark, open a door at one end of Mark's apartment and start walking down stairs.

Down and down we walk, around and around the stairway.

We pass by different apartments, which all have glass walls. The building must have thirty floors, but the whole place seems empty.

Outside, I see rolling hills and meadows.

I comment to Stuart that moving from San Francisco to Maine must have been a culture shock for Mark and Stuart laughs.

Soon, we reach the ground floor and open a door to the outside.

It's a beautiful place - lush grass, flowers - and it feels like Spring. There are a few birds chirping here and there.

As we walk, we pass by a field where there are about a half-dozen goats grazing. A couple of them bleat at us as we pass by.

The goats are blue.

Bright, primary-colored blue with white patches.

"I've never seen blue goats before," I comment.

"It's a special breed," Stuart says.

"You mean they're not painted or something?"

"No," Stuart says, "that's their natural coloring."

Soon we come to a small wood building under some trees.

A wood carved sign outside the place reads "Blue Goat Cafe".

We step inside and it's a kind of rustic place; it looks something like a log home on the inside with wood walls and a stone fireplace.

It's still a little early and the place hasn't opened or is getting ready to open for dinner. So we look for a menu as we wait for someone to show us to our table.

On a little stand, there's a thick box that looks something like a book. It contains the menu for the place. The cover is hand-crafted leather, dyed blue, similar to the goats.

I open the cover and see that the menu is some type of mechanical thing. I push a button in the lower right corner and it shows different meal options on little rotating banners, similar to the changeable signs they have at drive-through restaurants.

By reading the menu, I discover that we're on the campus of Glaxo Smith Kline Arts University in Maine and that the campus was formerly called the "University of Maine" until the company bought the naming rights to the school.

The menu is quite strange. Each week's menu is different. The food and options are chosen by a committee of art students at the school each week and work on a theme.

This weeks theme is "I Ran So Far Away: Cultural Constructions of War" and each meal you can get is designed to be a statement about the Iraq War.

The meals don't actually contain food - the idea is that you are seated at a table and brought some drinks and some type of artwork (sculptures, paintings, etc) as your "meal". One, for example, consisted entirely of Lego constructions - an appetizer of little figures representing Congresspeople having a hearing, an entree of an Iraq battle scene, and a dessert of little Lego coffins covered in flags.

Next week's theme was to be "Race, Gender and Identity in Glass Houses".

"This doesn't sound very good, Stuart," I said. "Do you want to see if there's a burger joint around."

Stuart peered through his reading glasses at the menu, smiled and laughed.

"Yeah," he said, "let's get a burger."

And then I woke up.