Admit it, we've all peed at the Hyatt Regency. It's centrally located downtown, is gigantic enough that no one will give you shit for crashing the loo, and you can even squeeze in a nap in one of the chairs in the "Guinness Book of World Records' Biggest Lobby In The World, Like, Ever." That, along with the fact that it is just pretty cool-looking, is why the hotel has been in the movies Time After Time, The Towering Inferno, and High Anxiety.
The Eclipse Lounge lives up to its name because it is in danger of being swallowed by the entire atrium. Once you are in the actual bar, though, there is a certain charm. Twinkly white faerie lights stream down in sheets overhead while you feel humbled underneath the several stories of floors and plunging glass elevators. The bar is of course well-stocked, this being a prime businessman's haunt, but it is also, of course, attempting to appeal to the local organic/artisan set like everyone else.
I had seen Time After Time but couldn't remember how the hotel played into it. The movie is a love story about time travel, a subject I'm frankly baffled that no new TV shows are jumping on, what with everyone's obsessions with fantasy/horror/etc. Hotels are a fitting place for such a movie because they tend to be trapped in a decade, usually one at least 10 years prior to the current one. Most places looked like 1985 until about 2003, when they all seemingly got the same '90s makeover. The Hyatt is no different, but then again, I didn't come for the upholstery.
The bar was packed so I couldn't get a seat, but a nice group of women let me sit in an armchair over by them. Unfortunately they were just tired tourists who had obviously been chatting with one another all day and were beat. We all sort of sat there in some weird false intimacy, like strangers in the waiting room of a therapist's office.
In the main part of the lobby at the Hyatt is this giant, brass-colored yarn ball sculpture thing that probably is supposed to represent infinity. "What do you think that is?" said the one with the "Pink" T-shirt on. Not Pink the singer but Pink from Victoria's Secret, not that it makes a difference.
"Hmm," said the one in short shorts and flip-flops. "Looks mathy." Strangely, we all knew what she meant, because it looked, well, mathy, like something you would see as a scale model in a physics class. I had already whipped out my phone to figure out what it was and who made it, and came up with Charles O. Perry, an S.F. resident and architect who died in 2011.
"It's called Eclipse," I said, which of course led to more hmmms and diffident glances back at it. "What would make it more interesting," I ventured, and I'm going to paraphrase here, "would be if a gigantic earthquake hit and that puppy lost its mooring and rolled through here like a bowling ball, squashing everything in its path and collecting flesh in its wake like muddy radial tires."
"Ha!" said the oldest one. The other two just looked puzzled. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has imagined what would happen if the sculpture ran amok. If you ever crossed the Bay Bridge and prayed that the next Big One wouldn't happen while you were mid-span, then you have the same doomsday brain I do.
More and more people began piling into the Eclipse Lounge and they all seemed to know each other so I'm sure it was a convention. Me-plus-booze-plus-hotel conventions have been dangerous in the past. I once crashed a gathering of Pentecostals at the Hilton in Emeryville, somehow thinking no one would notice the white girl who slipped through the side door. But no, that lady with the microphone made a beeline to me, put her hand on my forehead, and declared me full of bitterness and shame. Damn she was astute.
It's tremendously easy to sneak into a convention, I recommend doing it at least once in your life. Whatever this batch of folks were in town for didn't seem interesting enough, though anything can be illuminating when you crash it and loudly announce that you are "pregnant and won't be ignored" while pointing at the speaker.
My gal friends gathered up their stuff and bid me adieu, joking that they would stay out of the path of the globular statuary. "You might want to avoid the Tenderloin, too," I told them.
Their seats were immediately taken up by the conventioneers, salespeople if I had to guess; the sort that John Cusack warned us all about in Say Anything. They nodded politely at me and then all glanced up at the sculpture. "Wonder what that is?" and "Cool!" they mumbled.
Aha! So this was what Perry meant by the seemingly endless twist of metal: It will be the Infinite Conversation Piece. It will "eclipse" all conversation until everyone has voiced their opinion on it. I got up to go and gave my seat to their friend.
"Hope that thing's on there securely," he laughed, staring up at the artwork.
Great minds think alike.