12 March 2007

Whatsit Mean?

How do you keep the consumers interested in your hotel if you happen to run a broken-down fleatrap? Word puzzles and conundrums, that's how.

Outside the seedy and indestructable Hotel Carter on W. 43rd Street (opposite the Times building, doncha know?) hangs a cheap and shiny marquee adorned with two perplexing selling points. One reads: "You Always Wanted in Time Square and Less." The other: "A Short Trip From Wherever You Are."

WTF? Do they mean "Everything you always wanted in Time Square." And if so, why "less," not "more." Do they mean the Carter is a short trip from wherever I am? If they do, what do I care? Since I'm already nearby and close to the things I want to visit, why do I need to stay at the Carter? Or do they mean the Carter is a short trip from wherever I want to go?

Thinking the bad grammar and mangled meaning was on purpose and steeped in irony, I went inside and spoke to the concierge, a dignified Asian gentlemen with silver hair. But when I asked him to explain the slogans, he merely repeated them, straight-faced, as if they were the most logical maxims imaginable. Were any words missing? No. I got the feeling he thought they were dynamite slogans. Then he handed me a calling card for the Carter, emblazoned with the same bizarre appeals.

The Carter lobby is a spacious, strange place. Lots of clocks telling you the time in foreign cities. A bunch of oriental rugs rolled up in the corner. Stairs up to something called the Dixie Restaurant, which is closed, with the promise of a sushi joint to come. And in one distant corner, something you don't see in hotels anymore: a framed directory of local churches. And I mean EVERY church. Maybe after a stay at the Carter, some prayer is in order.

1 comment:

tylerchill said...

While I have no idea what those signs mean I believe that Hotel Carter owes its name to Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

The Dixie Hotel and its battalion of working girls became a staple of Johnny's monologue in the late sixties and early seventies.

In 1976 the new owner renamed it Hotel Carter (in honor of Jimmy Carter) in an attempt to restore hotel's reputation. I understand that business since has always remained brisk.