I Wanna Rock, pt. 1

Crazy week, crazy weekend. I won’t bore you with the details, but after successive days of an NBA playoff game in Atlanta and the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, I got an eyeful of Americana. Based on those experiences, unfortunately, I do not have high hopes for the future of humanity. Rather than dwell on that, I have decided to spin a yarn for you. While this true story focuses on design and is set in Chattanooga, it is a departure from the typical C.Rushing post. 

UPDATE: Some of you might have caught the pop culture reference in the title- 1988's monster hip-hip track "It Takes Two" by Rob Base & D.J. EZ Rock. Minutes after my post went live, I read that EZ Rock had passed away, aged only 46. That's very sad, but hat's off to him for leaving us this.

Hello, my name is C.Rushing, and I have a problem. For the rest of life I will be battling this obsession, but I get stronger with every passing day. I offer a sordid account of my battle with dependence and my struggle for redemption. One plays with fire when reminiscing about their demons, but I feel compelled to tell the story. At the worst of times I was in to the heavy stuff- the LC3 lounge chair, the Eileen Grey table, the Corbusier dining table, Moeller chairs, and indeed, the granddaddy of them all- the 50th Anniversary edition of the Eames lounge chair with Santos Palisander veneer. I was a furniture junkie.

To fully understand my struggle, one must go back to the beginning. I was born into La-Z-Boy addiction. I suppose it can be traced back to infancy when my PaPa would spend hours rocking me in his avocado-colored, pleather, rocking recliner. For as long I can remember I needed to rock- I had to rock. I rocked so hard that after PaPa passed, I wore out his chair, and the two replacement rocker recliners that BaBa (the classic enabler) provided me as I grew into an adult. I was raised in a good and decent family. My family appreciated the value of the odd antique, the timelessness of classic style, and took a prudent approach to budgeting for home furnishings. Aside from my seemingly innocent dabbling in rocking, the furniture scene at home was benign.

How it all began

Like many others, I experimented a bit in college. Architecture school gave me the first taste of forbidden fruit- modern furnishings. Look at this Mies van der Rohe chair. How about a little Bertoia, everyone’s doing it. Try the Noguchi, a little bit won’t hurt. My time out west gave me an opportunity to kick the rocking habit for a few years, but my irrepressible desire merely lie dormant. Upon returning to the south for graduate school and settling in on the plains, I moved in with a roommate who had a smart condo in quiet neighborhood. He also had a La-Z-Boy. I used his chair, sparingly at first, but with increasing frequency over time to the point that I used it more than he did. After some months my steady rocking destroyed both the chair and our friendship. I made amends as best I could on both counts, yet I was again a slave to the chair.

Upon my graduation and subsequent move to Chattanooga, my stepfather (another classic enabler) bought me a La-Z-Boy of my own. The grey-mauve fabric upholstered beauty sucked me in and didn’t let go. I rocked day and night. I would wake early for the sole purpose of rocking before work. Instead of meeting my friends for drinks after work, I lied to them and to myself in order to get back to my hovel of a studio apartment at the Pink Building where I would commence to rock myself to sleep.

It was during this time that I met my future bride. She was a good and decent woman who lived in a respectable and inconspicuously appointed duplex in an emerging nook of North Chattanooga. My desire to spend time with her was so intense that it loosened the grip of the chair. As we grew to spend more time together, it was done so at hers. I was frightened that she would discover my secret- would she still be interested in me if she knew that I rocked? Over time, the inevitability of her discovery became apparent. She would visit the Pink Building from time to time, and sit with me as I rocked. The rocking clearly made her uncomfortable. She often commented that she couldn’t even look at me while I rocked, as the motion induced dizziness and nausea. Yet she returned time and again. Love makes powerful excuses.

Our relationship blossomed, and eventually we moved in together and were married. There was no serious discussion about the furniture. She accepted me for who I was and with the obvious furniture baggage that I carried. This tacit approval of my vice was another form of enabling, one that would have a profound impact on our relationship and my continued journey down the path of furniture dependence.

Oh, the shame.

The obsession grew to impact life outside of my four humble walls. Such was my state that I repeatedly swapped chairs at my office with co-workers in a vain effort to find one with any semblance of a rocking motion. This continued until the City became another unwitting accomplice with their creation of the Development Resource Center. The DRC, appointed as new buildings are with new contract furniture, became the new home of the Design Studio. My new seat was a Herman Miller Aeron C, not a rocker mind you, but a pleasure to sit in. Of more interest to me, however, was the seating in the waiting area. Our guests would be treated to none other than the Eames molded plywood lounge chair. This was a piece that I had only seen on the pages of architecture history books. This piece also sparked an intense jealousy. If I could have this type of seating at work, why can’t I have it…at home.

To Be Continued...

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