Saturday, August 23, 2008

Garden & Gun's Favorite Hotel: 21c

If you'd ever told this decade-and-a-half subscriber of The New Yorker that her favorite magazine would be replaced by one called Garden & Gun, she would have laughed her brown-thumbed, critter-lovin' ass off. But since its inaugural issue a little more than a year ago, this gorgeous magazine has offered some of the best writing and certainly the best photography and artwork on the magazine rack. From Roy Blunt Jr.'s regular column to features written by luminaries from Jimmy Buffet to Clyde Edgerton to Rick Bragg, Garden & Gun is worth reading from cover to cover; even the advertising smacks of stunning, classy taste.

This month's Garden & Gun arrived yesterday and the cover article led me to furious thumbing through the thick magazine: "Best of the New South: 50 People, Places, and Things We Love." (By the way, the cover model/musician is Miranda Lambert who is third billing-- seriously? third??-- on the closing act of the Kentucky State Fair. After reading the article about her, I could ALMOST pony up the $41 bucks to see her if it didn't mean also suffering through Trace Atkins and Keith Anderson.)

I couldn't be prouder that my favorite magazine chose to recognize one of my very favorite-est things about Loueyville; G&G's "Best Hotel" is our very own 21c.

Yes, I admit, my love affair with 21c began with the penguins. I'm a sucker for penguins. And on my very first trip to Loueyville, when I was interviewing for my current job, I first came across the curious penguins atop the building on Main Street and was smitten. Since then, 21c has been a regular stop for me whenever I happen to be in downtown.

I've had so many little "moments" courtesy of 21c. And when I say "courtesy of," I am stressing that these experiences are FREE. 21c's art is free and open to the public always. And that's the very best thing about the hotel/museum. Shortly after I moved, a cousin visited and we sat in the lobby and watched the moving sand-sculpture-installation-coffeetable for the better part of a half hour (and it was the middle of the day and there had not been any alcohol consumed at the time). Two dear friends stayed at 21c when they came to the Ville; Roommate and I passed a half an hour in their hotel room and opened the door to find one of the penguins standing guard at the door. I have spent an inordinate amount of time lingering by the elevators watching the boggling video installation of letters that rain down upon your reflection and settle upon your shoulders and hair (or in my case, lack thereof). I purposely make time to visit the loo, where the water runs off the edge of the infinity sink and where two-way mirrors wreak havoc on your sense of privacy.

In fact, I have a poster of the penguins in the hallway of my house and a throw pillow of the red penguin on my couch (those, of course, were not free). If there were a fan club, I'd have a membership card. I've promised myself that once I get through my chemotherapy and can truly enjoy an evening downtown, I will splurge and get a room at 21c to celebrate.

So congratulations to one of my favorite Loueyville places for earning an honor from my favorite periodical. It's a lovely match. While I have not yet drunk the Austin, TX Kool-aid (and admit it's been more than 15 years since I was last in Austin), it seems a good fit that 21c's plans to expand into that "It's in Texas, but it's not Texas" city (not to mention that Austin originated the whole "Keep ____ Weird" campaign that Louisville has so embraced).

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