The other day I walked past this heap of trash on 46th street, and was so delighted to see this discarded Halogen lamp that I snapped a photo. I savored this moment, because it means one more NYC apartment that’s been freed from this blight. One less possibility that I will be invited to someone’s home and have to endure it’s brutal glare.
Because here’s the thing: Halogen lamps depress the hell out of me.
According to their press releases, Halogen lamps have become very popular due to their reasonable price and ability to produce a vast quantity of light. Now, this may be beneficial at the proctologist’s office. But I don’t get why people want all that glare in their homes. Especially my 1930’s era apartment, where there are cracks, bumps and the pubic hair of dead strangers embedded in the sloppily painted walls, and the floors probably haven’t been redone since Truman was in office.
But it seems that the Halogen lamp epidemic has hit New York hard. This lamp is embraced by members of all religions, neighborhoods and demographics. For some reason, the hideous Halogen lamp appeals to all. They can be found flooding their harsh glare on paint-smeared canvases in artist’s studios below 14th street. They are lurking in Chinese restaurants, literary agent’s offices and theatre lobbies. Many times I have even peered into the window of a glamorous Park Avenue apartment for a glimpse of how the other half lives, only to find that the other half lives with Halogen lamps too.
Don’t get me wrong. The Halogen has its place. Say for example, in college dorms. College is the time of disposable décor, cheap food and fleeting relationships. It all sort of goes together. Sometimes with disastrous results. The less said about my own experience involving a red scarf thrown over a Halogen to create the rosy hue of romance and the subsequent half-naked dash down the hall to escape the flames the better.
But what I can’t understand is why people well past their dorm days still have them. The frat t-shirts, beer bongs and ability to stomach large quantities of Ramen Noodles will be left behind, consigned to college memories. Yet people will celebrate their 30th birthday by the harsh light of the same depressing lamp. Why is this?
It certainly can’t be for the decorative value. I’d venture to say that it is a very small pool of people who have walked into a room, slapped their hand to their chest and cried, “Oh Beth, that Halogen is just breathtaking.”
No. These lamps are serviceable at best. But how did they become so ubiquitous? I do not recall any clever Halogen lamp ad campaigns claiming that your chances of winning the lottery, getting a date or losing 10 pounds would improve if you bought one.
Could it be that there is a discreet civic pride in knowing that the Professor in 312 has the same lamp as the Burlesque Dancer in 317? In a city like New York where unique personal style is highly valued, where you can express yourself in so many ways, perhaps some people take comfort in the one item that says, One People, One Vision, One Lamp.
While I may never solve this Great Halogen Mystery, I have become a hard-core vigilante:
A friend of mine had a particularly nasty Halogen. It leaned to the left. It was white with some curious burnt sienna stains on the base. Not only was it ugly, but it hadn’t actually worked in two years. One night we met at her place for drinks, and with drunken moxie I seized it and triumphantly marched it out to the dumpster. A couple of days later, I came home to find the lamp in my apartment. Apparently, her doorman simply couldn’t believe that she actually wanted to get rid of it and brought it back into the lobby. She found this so funny she brought it to my place. Not to be outdone, I clipped the head off and sent it to her with a ransom note demanding:
“IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR HALOGEN LAMP INTACT AGAIN SEND $19.99.”
I have yet to receive the $19.99.