Human Condition’s Almost Closing Party
Saturday night was a scream at Human Condition’s Almost Closing Party in the abandoned Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center. Once an institution for the ill, the hospital is now an amusement park for sick-minded citizens, such as ourselves. We explored five dilapidated floors reanimated by the power of art and curious USC undergrads.
Our first priority, where were all these people getting drinks? In the cafeteria, a beer line slouched along the buffet counter displaying Bettina Hubby’s piece. Where there were once mystery meat, mashed potatoes, and slimy peas, there now resides an erect yellow rubber glove, a bronze yam, and some dental floss. Everyone rejoiced when the Tecate was passed down the line.
We experienced Chris Reynold’s kitchen installation, where bubblegum pink has never been so disturbing. Like moths to zappers, we approached an enigmatic box in a mop closet. The pungent odor of lemons and bleach suddenly swarmed our olfactory systems. “It’s a scent room,” muttered a scruffy beard matter-of-factly. Thanks Sherlock.
Wall paintings in smeared blood and a nurse’s station converted into a bar cheered up the ICU. We’re pretty sure the bartender was the artist, Michael Haight. Modeling blood-splattered scrubs, he dodged any questions about the artist, his eyes darting cagily as he slurred, “He has black hair.”
At a desk crowded with used wine glasses, a frazzled doctor in a gold sweatshirt answered the phone. “Donald Trump has cured all the patients! They’re gone sir. They’ve all left the hospital.”
In the morgue, we discovered gashes revealing insulation and rats; the drip. . . drip of old sewage from the ceiling; a biohazard bag of skin grafts and blood samples next to an unopened bowl of ramen; the foul stench of death and decay . . . Fortunately there were food trucks strategically parked outside, immediately smoothing our goosebumps.