After a police sting involving a 19-year-old who looks 30, 1020 might lose its liquor license. In honor of all those late nights spent hunched over sticky booths—whether there’re to be more of them or not—Bwog Editor Alexandra Svokos writes about the 1020 murals in this month’s issue of The Blue and White.
“Why, yes, I know the story well: the paintings are post-WWII constructions—”
“You’re a post-WWII construction. Be more specific.”
“It’s post-WWII, that’s all I know! They were made to represent the struggle of America to come back from war and rebuild their lives from the dust of inhumanity.”
“You’re pulling this out of your ass, aren’t you?”
Of course he’s pulling this out of his ass; no one knows what 1020’s twin murals mean or where they came from. Indeed, few of 1020’s patrons even notice the paintings.
On the left is a propeller plane that looms over the viewer; on the right stands a cavernous train station. In dark shades of brown and beige, they are indistinct from the bar’s wood paneling. Although they cover a huge amount of wall space and must have taken some time and effort to bring to life, they do not beg for attention. But the incisive, if temporarily clouded, minds of Columbia are eager to analyze it.
“It has to be about the industrial revolution, right? I mean, look at all the smoke. It’s definitely about the struggle of the working class. think about it—we’re in a bar! Bars are all about the working class!”
Asked late one afternoon, bouncer Alejandro admits from behind the mostly empty bar that he, too, has no idea why they are there. Alejandro was at 1020 when they first went up around 1995 (post-WWII, indeed), but no current employees can say why.
“And it’s not like they’ve done much more with the place,” he jokes, gesturing to the otherwise sadly decorated and rotted walls.
Alejandro did reveal one detail that I’m sure no student has noticed: each painting has “1020” written on it. The plane on the left has serial number “1020” printed in two lines on its nose, and, in the train station, the hands of the clock read “10:20,” mirroring the real clock behind the bar which also always reads “10:20.” Suspended in time and space, I can only hope the paintings remain for years to surprise those patrons who brag of their perfect familiarity with the bar.
Illustration by Alejandra Oliva