Skip to main content

"Hell Bank Note Arcade": New Environmental Description by Kurt Weller.


Hell Bank Note Arcade

There is a hallway that's long...  Straight.  It's hard to make out its colour mostly because of the lighting.  Sometimes it appears that the hallway is different colours based upon the light source as you walk down it.

And there are skid marks on the floor from tires where electric carts drive up and down this hallway.  One wonders how there could be skid marks as the carts never seem to travel that fast; and there are also bump marks on the walls: black and rubbery where the same carts have obviously run into the delicate painted surface.

You wonder if it is dry wall on the surface of the wall covering up brick or block and you just keep going down this hall and you can't see the end of the hall.  It just keeps on going and going and there are no markings on the hall.  And the lights are the same.  The only thing that seems to change the coloration of the lights is the plastic shades and their level of filthiness:  if they are clean the light is pure white which effects the walls, but if the plastic shades are filthy the light is more yellow, more brown, more orange; and there seems to be a light every ten feet.

These ceiling lights are the only thing that give you any bearing as to how far this tunnel goes.  Every hundred lights or so there is a bench.  The benches all appear to be by the same manufacturer: they are wood and metal and vinyl.  The sides are metal with in-laid wood veneer.  Real wood is used as the base of the cushions which seem to have a piece of squared off foam beneath the perfectly squared-off vinyl.  These are all a dull gray.  They are also, like the lights, in different states of disrepair.

Sometimes there will be a stain on one or a cigarette burn.  You wonder who would smoke down here because it is such a long hall; such a long way to go.  But someone must want to smoke down here.  So as you continue walking you reach into the breast pocket of your jacket and you pull out your cigarette case.  It is a gift from your partner.  I have decided not to establish the gender of your partner or your gender for that matter; However, we do establish that you are wearing a unisex outfit.  A suit with a tie.  Close cropped hair cut, slowly faded down the neck, a little longer on top.

There isn't a non-smoking sign so you light your cigarette, have a seat at the bench, and then you start wondering if one of those electric carts is going to come by and if one does come by you wonder if the driver would be kind enough to give you a ride down the hall.

When you entered the hallway from the main building with its beautiful concrete and glass atrium which actually encloses a whole third of the eastern end of an older building built in the nineteen fifties and connects it to similarly dated buildings creating a closed in space over what was once an outdoor courtyard.  You start to miss the atrium with its store fronts and people and as you looked to the north away from the entrances of the three buildings you saw the beginning of rolling hills and a lush forest further out.  The entrance to the hallway you are now walking through which at some point in the north disappeared into the side of the hill.

You assume that you are underground because you have been walking for several minutes.  so you finish up your cigarette, you look down and see that there is an ashtray between the two vinyl cushions of the bench, you stand up and you continue walking north, you assume, though it is hard to tell:  If the hallway was built at an angle and due to the length of it even the slightest angle could take you on a northwestern or northeastern track without really knowing it.  So you keep walking and then when you turn around you see that the bench is on your left hand side when before it was on your right so you are confident that you are going in the right direction.

You walk about 250 more feet, you base this on the number of lights that you started counting and you begin to hear a sound coming from up ahead so a little spring adds to your step and a few feet down you look to your right and there is a fully carpeted room.  Gray carpeting covers the floors and a sort of aqua gray, dark grayish blue carpeting covers the walls and the ceiling is covered by a black grid of mirrored lights which are quite dim.  Inside this room, which is about fifty feet by fifty feet, are several video arcade game cabinets.

There is a large cabinet with its back towards you.  Its wiring disappears into the floor through a small carpeted hatch that you are sure if you were to open would reveal a crawlspace where different internet and electric sources go.  When you get to the front of the game you find that it is your favorite Japanese fighting game.  A game that you have been playing for several years. so you walk over to the token dispenser, swipe your debit card, and request twenty Hell Bank Note slips and then you realize that you don't have your gold access card to the game so you have to purchase one of those as well, which costs four dollars.  So to make it an even twenty five dollars you add an extra credit.

The slips come out, printed Hell Bank Notes, and you didn't notice before but the back wall is decorated with a giant blow up of the Hell Bank Note so common in Chinese funerals as ghost money.  You place four of the bills into the bill feeder of the game, you push your gold card (and when I say gold it is not shiny gold but just the basic colour of gold.  Matte finish.  Almost mustard yellow/orange in colour) and embossed in it is the strange symbol of the game.

You are then asked if you want to format the card you push "yes" on the touch screen.  The game cabinet has a very large 40" screen.  You touch it "yes".  As it is formatting there is an animation of a more cartoonish version of your character running in place.  Your character is a tall androgynous looking female, black pinstripe slacks, a bustier pushing up very small breasts - almost completely flat-chested, a long trench coat, a red and black scarf, a shock of black hair that rises out of a red and black lined headband.  You only get access to this character during the formatting after you typed in your user name and password.

You slide in the rest of the Hell Bank Note credits and you power up all of the attributes of your character by tapping on the 'plus two' symbols next to each pictograph depicting strength by a fist, health by a cartoon heart, agility by a foot, marksmanship by a rifle sight and you start the first bout.

You easily wipe out your opponent because you have jacked up your stats so quickly, somewhat taking a short cut because you have paid so much money.  And after you beat the first bout the game tells you that it has to do some calculations which could take up to twelve to thirteen minutes so you lay down at the foot of the game on the carpet, running your hand along the base of the game, following the seems of the carpeted floor.

The other games in the room, games that you are not familiar with and have no intention of playing have their access panels to the crawlspace as well and as the game is calculating it makes a soothing tinkling sound like coins being dispensed by a slot machine or like pachinko balls and this sort of soothing din slowly puts you to sleep.

Popular posts from this blog

Vertically adjustable ceiling

After looking at the modern meeting room ceilings of several business and medical centers it becomes apparent how difficult it is to the maintain the cleanliness of the intricate series of recessed light fixtures, hanging lamps, video projectors, audio speakers, smoke and co2 detectors, climate control vents and sprinkler heads. An average sized room would not be too difficult to service but the rooms with higher ceilings, the fourteen, fifteen and sixteen foot ones can become a challenge and/or danger.

Perhaps it would benefit the environmental services worker if the ceiling could be raised and lowered at will. It could also make for a refreshing aesthetic change dependent on whether the tone of the meetings in question wanted the cozy feel of a low ceiling for small presentations or the grandeur of the high ceiling for larger exhibitions.

The Plaza of the Mind Interview with Paul Robb of Information Society!

I had been a fan of Information Society since the release of their self-titled LP in 1989. But it was their follow up release, Hack, that propelled them into the forefront of my favorite recording artists, a spot that they have remained in ever since. The original line-up of the band [Paul Robb, James Cassidy and Kurt Harland] dissolved shortly after their third release, Peace and Love, Inc., and was continued solely by lead singer Kurt Harland on the incredibly atmospheric Don't Be Afraid.Information Society had not recorded any new material since that 1997 release and I had begun to give up hope of ever hearing anything new until last spring when it was announced that Paul Robb was working on a new record [Synthesizer] with James Cassidy and newcomers Christopher Anton and Sonja Myers and would soon be playing select cities. I was lucky enough to catch the reunited Information Society last summer [see my coverage of the show here] and had an amazing time. Information Socie…

Plaza of the Mind Interview with Adam Parfrey.

I first heard of Adam Parfrey in the late nineties when I picked up a copy of his record A Sordid Evening of Sonic Sorrows:A collection including covers of Lou Reed [Kill your Sons] and Black Sabbath [Paranoid] as well as several memorable originals, my favorite being Nation Down For the Count, which can best be described as an easy listening rant.I later discovered that Mr. Parfrey was also a book publisher and is the founder of Feral Housebooks.I had already been a great fan of Donna Kossy’s book Kooks, which was published by Feral House.Feral House specializes in books dealing with the extremes of human behavior and outsider art.They are not books for the squeamish but they are quite well crafted and nothing if not interesting.I sent Mr. Parfrey an invitation to participate in a short piece for the Plaza of the Mind and he was generous enough to accept it.What follows is an electronic interview conducted over a couple of days.Enjoy![The Plaza of the Mind quotes appear in Bold-type,…