Home is where the broken hearth is.

Spinning: The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema

Since moving to New York, I’ve lived in two different apartments, both of which have essentially been studios. (NYC realtors will call absolutely anything a “one-bedroom” if they can, but don’t you believe them.) The strange thing is, both have had fireplaces … neither of which actually worked.

My old place, in Manhattan’s East Village, had one of those glass-enclosed, gas-powered jobs, fake logs and all. I soon learned, despite initial assurances to the contrary, that it had been disconnected and was now for “looks only.” Which would have been a little easier to accept, had it been even mildly pleasant to look at.

The new apartment, in Brooklyn Heights, has a massive fireplace – a real one, with a working flue and everything. But again, no can use. To their credit, the rental company did leave a very nice candle tree in there. To their debit, they also included a set of cast-iron fireplace tools. That’s just rubbing it in.

Sure, I know some people would kill to have even a nonworking fireplace, and I certainly appreciate the aesthetic charm or whatever. But there’s a larger issue at work here. A conflict. I’m talking about the ongoing, undeclared war between the decorative and the functional.

Of course, the style-vs.-substance debate is nothing new. I’m old enough to remember when MTV was actually Music Television. But that war has been over for a long time now; it was lost as soon as the network executives realized that most of you cretins actually seem to prefer the decorative over the functional.

In that case, I guess I can live with it. That’s democracy in action, and if the masses prefer entertainment to art, I'm willing to let them choke on it.

Sometimes, though, it’s not even a question of whether you prefer the decorative to the functional. It’s whether you can tell the fucking difference.