Of residual social technologies

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and claim that the photo booth is a residual technology. I base this claim on the fact that, even if the booth uses a digital camera and various editing software to allow users to pick filters, it still spits out those darling little strips. Hard media. You don’t plug your phone into the machine to pull off data. You get to hold the glossy rectangle in your hands. Oh, the sweet pleasure of such a thing, a document of whatever the hell it was you were doing in the booth when the flashbulbs went off to catch you.

I love photo booths. I want one in my living room. They offer a strange social function–one is forced to sit in a very small space with the people one is closest to and be photographed. And, in this particular moment, are not all our activities always already ready to be documented? Do we not crave mediation of even the most banal affairs? The photo booth answers this desire without the instantaneity of broadcasting that the YouTube video or the smart-phone pic seem to demand. It’s the nostalgia in me, I suppose, for certain mechanical devices now fallen into disuse, and for the print and paper sort of recording that makes me so attracted to this particular form of documentation. But one likes to relish in such nostalgia. To that end I’ve sought out the best bars housing photo booths in the Easterly side of my lovely Los Angeles.

They are as follows, ranked in order of preference:

The Cha Cha Lounge (Silverlake). An excellent bar, except on late weekend nights when the hipster crowd takes over and you have to scream over the very loud, very contemporary pop rock and equally loud classic 60s and 70s tracks (played, I think, because scenesters find them ironically enjoyable). In addition to a photo booth, though, they have a foosball table. Awesome.

The Shortstop (Echopark). Also an excellent bar. They have a dance floor and occasionally, soul night. Dark and loud and lovely. This was a college haunt of mine.

Tony’s (Downtown). Perhaps my favorite bar in Los Angeles. It is listed in 3rd place only because it’s further away from me than the others on this list. They have a sizable outdoor area and a ping pong table. A long list of whiskeys. Two good IPAs on tap and the crowd is fabulous, in the down-homey downtown sort of way. Their booth is nice because you get two sets of prints.

The Edendale Grill (Silverlake). Kind of a charming space–I believe it’s in an old fire station. This bar’s crowd is a bit ‘young professional’ for my taste, but its a perfectly reasonable place to spend an evening. It’s also a restaurant if you’re hungry and the food, while overpriced, is pretty delicious when you order well. I like the mussels. But I always like mussels. Because they are delicious.

Those lovely little pics you see above this post are of myself and my dear comrade Marco. Taken at the Edendale, they are a pretty typical example of what such machines can produce.*

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*I realize that my scanning and uploading of this strip of images may make unstable the opening lines of this post. But that’s the beauty of the narcissistic endeavor that is blogging. Meta-ironies abound.



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