I am sitting in the lobby of the hospital at UCSF’s new campus at Mission Bay, waiting. This place is the strangest blend of the elegant and the crude. In the surgery waiting room, a relatively small space that seats a couple of dozen people, there are three wide-screen TVs along one wall. They sit about 3 feet apart. All three are turned on, to different channels, three different action movies. Thus, I find myself downstairs in the quiet lobby, where I shall spend the next 10 hours.
These buildings are beautiful, their fixtures state-of-the-art. There is artwork all over the place, some of it stunning, some obviously the output of physician-photographers. Or their friends. The city of San Francisco, in its wisdom, has decreed that new construction must include a budget for art. From there to selection committees is but a short step.
Here in the lobby atrium there is a mural, two stories high and about 10 feet wide, a digital photo printed on glass. It represents tree branches with leaves and buds and is comprised of five panels, assembled to form a vertical pent-tych, if that is a word. At this scale, you can see the sharpening artifact from across the street. Some of the buds must have moved during the exposure: they are outlined in blue, something the photographer apparently did not see a need to fix, it’s become part of the art. Having nothing better to do, I examine it from close up, noticing that the luminance noise has been removed, replaced with a fine Photoshop grain. Earlier today, as the patient was being prepped, I saw less ambitious, framed photographs and paintings upstairs in the waiting rooms and hallways. I really liked some of them. Maybe I’ll walk around later to look.
A couple of visits ago I tried the cafeteria, but it wasn’t very good. There are also two coffee stands on the ground floor that serve a decent-tasting beverage that just fails to wake me. It’s not labelled decaf…I don’t know what the problem is. Fortunately, I discovered a cafe two blocks down with good coffee and decent sandwiches. I sat there this morning and fed a pigeon. I’ll probably go hang there this afternoon when I get tired of looking at artwork. The doctors all wrote down my cell phone number, are supposed to call me with updates. I would go home to sleep, but I have been asked to contribute karma from closer range. Om.