Monday, February 25, 2013

When You're At Home: The Grey Gull

And once again, we have a look at the Grey Gull both before and after its current owner got ahold of it! Which is not quite as useful as a look at the Cape Rouge before and after Duke got ahold of it, as the Grey Gull is a commercial establishment with all the constraints that entails, different from the layout of a home. But we can still determine a few things from how Duke chooses to decorate and run the place.

When we first see it it's a restaurant in progress, the Second Chance Bistro, run by the McShaw brothers and a sister in law, mostly propelled by Geoff McShaw as what he considers a favor to his brother and the memory of their parents. This may or may not influence the decoration and layout choices for the building, if not the building itself; there's so little data on when the building was constructed and the elder generation of the McShaws that it's hard to say anything about that part of it. It does seem likely, especially on further watching, that the upstairs was never intended for commercial space. In the downstairs, for the restaurant, the kitchen is towards the parking lot side of the structure, and it's a small kitchen. There's a stove, what looks like a prep area or two, shelves, a sink, and that's about it. It's pretty much a galley kitchen, which would drive me absolutely bonkers if I had to prepare dinner for a restaurant full of people every night, so I sympathize a little with the head chef. There's a pigeon coop on the upper floor, the back room seems to be in the same place as Duke's back room, which is largely storage for both businesses. And so the layout is pretty much the same, which makes sense on both a Watsonian (all the pipes and spigots and outlets would need to be rearranged otherwise) and a Doylist level (easier to rearrange the smaller pieces of a set).

The key differences between the two seem to be a lot of the surfaces and the increase of lighting. With the Second Chance Bistro, much of the lighting came from small, localized lights to create a private, exclusive atmosphere. There was overhead lighting to clearly illuminate the cooking area but wall sconces and table lights provided most of the rest of it for the Second Chance. With the Grey Gull, the lighting is much more cheerful and present both than the Second Chance in particular and some types of bar in general. Recessed ambient lighting provides half the power while more numerous ceiling and wall single-shades light the area the rest of the way. The walls and the underpinnings of the tables remain the same dark walnut-y color as before, but this time the countertops and some of the tabletops are a much lighter wood, something more like a butcher block top than the dark woods of the rest of the furniture. The chairs and maybe a third of the tables are black, what looks like the same black-painted wood as we've seen stored upstairs. The shades on the lamps are rich brown-gold, more neutral than adding a new set of colors to the palette of the room but still lending richness to the area, which in turn adds warmth. He does keep individual citronella candles in the fatbase glass jars on the tables, less for light and more for ambiance, it looks like. Or possibly because citronella, because dusk plus coastline equals bugs in places you really don't want bugs if you're not careful. Towards the evening the string bulbs come out, it seems like, for outdoor patio lighting, the same sort, yet again, that he has on his boat.

The decorations on the wall are about what one would expect for a coastal establishment called the Grey Gull. There is, even, a picture of two grey seagulls on the wall, which I suspect Duke either bought or brought with him from somewhere in his ship just to suit the motif. Possibly bought or traded for, it doesn't match the decor in his ship so well so I don't see him exactly having it lying around waiting for some suitably bird-themed place to hang it. There are nets tastefully decorating the wall and ceiling, and two what look like surfboards hanging from the rafters. They might be kayaks, but they look more like surfboards from the limited glimpse I get of them. They might even be Eric Balfour's idea, again, going with the picture in Duke's boat that might actually be of Eric Balfour, but short of an interview there's no real way to tell. The outside furniture is white Adirondack towards the front and the parking lot and wicker along the side patio, at least in later seasons and portions of seasons. Which is apparently what replaced the patio furniture after the Trouble-induced plague of hail hit Duke's bar and his newly purchased glass-top furniture, nice bit of continuity there.

Off to the barman's right there's something that looks like a skychair, a small set of drums, and what might be a karaoke setup. There is at least sometimes dancing at the Gull, as we may remember from Nathan's well-meant and very drunk attempt at dancing, so this might be more intended for beat poetry and karaoke than actual live bands. I don't have any explanation for the skychair, nor any confirmation that anyone ever sits in it.

For the most part, the Gull is decorated as one would expect a nautical/coastal bar to be decked out, with minor touches showing Duke's influence only in that they're the sort of thing he has or has similar to on his boat. The purpose of the Gull isn't to be a strong hallmark of Duke, anyway, the purpose is to be a backdrop for social scenes, group scenes requiring non-law-enforcement-related open areas (interrogating Jordan, hiding Henry, discussing Audrey's imminent departure), or scenes underscoring Duke's responsibility in a more Doylist sense while allowing him to maintain separation between his front as a legitimate businessman and his more accustomed life as a courier/smuggler. (Presumably he also ships/imports legal goods if the price is right, so specifically calling him a smuggler may not be entirely accurate.) The fact that he decorates the Gull in the same style indicates the aspects of him that are constant and driving: the preference for good lighting and lots of it, the warmth of the colors. But there's none of the foreign masks or fabrics in the bar, and none of the blue-greener elements we see from the Cape Rouge. All of the photographs in the bar are either group shots or groups the Gull has sponsored, as is traditional for a local business. The fact that Duke has gone as far as he has towards putting in personal touches in the decorating indicates that he's both taking his responsibility as owner seriously and possibly that he intends to value and keep the place, either because it was given to him by his friend or because it's something he's finding he genuinely enjoys. It's hard to say either way, but he clearly is settling in as the owner and proprieter of an establishment in Haven. Which, in turn, says some fairly complimentary things about his character.  

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