03 September 2005

The Rex Hotel

Continuing my exploration of places noted in those guide books and on-line, I went to the Rex Hotel today. I took the elevator up to the 5th floor, then strolled outside to the roof top restaurant. It was totally empty at 2 in the afternoon, but had a seating capacity in the hundreds.

So this was the place that the CIA, or some such, used to party-down. According to various items I read in various places, it was originally a French garage, then either taken over by, or rented out to the Americans in 1962. US military officers lived there and held daily military briefings, and the Big Boys, needing a place to booze it up, turned the roof into a drinking establishment.

Originally French, then American, then it into disrepair, followed by the government taking it over, refurbishing it and re-opening in 1990. In 2005, it looked awfully kitschy, and seriously empty. I don’t know if that was because it was a rainy, gloomy day, or because it was Saturday, or because it is now September.

Whatever, I sat in a bamboo chair surrounded by plants and empty tables, and tried to envision what had gone on in that very spot not all that long ago. Helping me to achieve that state of connection with the past was the accompanying sound track. It seems the Hotel Rex is still in possession of the cassettes left by the Generals. The worst of the 60’s blasted through multiple speakers.

It was a nice break from the noise of the streets, and probably a great place to read a book, but I wasn’t in the mood to do so. I paid my bill and Elvis, crooning “Love me Tender”, accompanied me to the elevator.

And it’s 1, 2, 3, what are we….