The Golden Apple piece was surprising in its delivery. I expected something a little less theatrical and intentional, but it was still a cool look into Americans in the 21st century. In fact, I continuously found myself conscious of this fact – the who, where, and when of the situation. It’s the kind of thing that would be fascinating to discover in a vault several hundred years down the road. This is how people were in this year at this place in Chicago. You gain a lot about people’s desires, hopes, and perspectives. It was more a collective meditation than a collective story.
However, one of my favorite, if not my favorite, scene didn’t focus on a person at all. It was the bit about the pie display case not turning and how that’s resulted in a 50 percent drop in dessert sales. It’s details like that that you tend to remember, it’s so specific and visual, practically demanding you envision it, its peculiarity and its place in this space. It asks for so much attention and is such an image in-and-of-itself… of diners, America, the 24/7 lifestyle…
Contrasts were also a big part of the piece. The transition from the butcher to the purification center worker seemed to form an auditorial ying yang. It’s a subtlety and placement that I assume took some thought, to bounce these individuals off one another. That such different worlds could be sitting back to back at a diner in Chicago. They both had their eccentricities, the things that made them tick. The man’s was meat and the woman’s was purity. The way he and she said things, the bits of recounting each person did, it all seemed to bounce off the respective other and create a nice little glimpse, one that didn’t last long but felt pretty deep in its scope.
Background details about the subjects, other than the obvious ones like why they were there at the Golden Apple, added a lot to the depth of the characters. The one waitress who came to Chicago when she was in her twenties, divorced, and with three kids stands out. Just the phrase that mentions this happened in her twenties adds so much, it shows she’s aged, that she’s experienced the world and is a different person because of it — but here she is in the same place, with the same name on her name tag.
“They go home and sleep, but this is their base”
It all seems to have the view of a fly on the wall, or in this case, a waitress. The whole thing seems to be from through the eyes of a waiter or waitress (except when the reporters make themselves known in the interview). This is reinforced by the fact that the piece ends on a waitress, waiting for the sun to come up and her shift to end. She’s done it for 26 years and enjoys it, but still the sun comes as a sign of rest and relief. It’s such a cosmic, universal thing that she still notices the sun rising, and the cops do too. For the cops it means their shift is almost over, the night of fun and possible danger comes to an end, the day breaks. Very primal stuff here in a diner in Chicago at 5 a.m.