Last month Troy Patterson, author of the Slate column The Gentleman Scholar, wrote an article on the history of the bachelor pad. It includes the following observation, certainly known to all of us here, but a worthwhile clarification for anyone who might stumble across his column, or this site.
Just because a single man inhabits an apartment doesn’t make it a bachelor pad. A bachelor pad is a very specific concept.
Thus, the bachelor pad—a midcentury institution and modernist trope, a machine for living large. The term has been horribly degraded over the years, so let’s be clear: A pigsty aspiring to the aesthetic of an unmopped sports bar does not qualify as a bachelor pad, nor do the vast majority of apartments inhabited by roommates, which lack the solitary bachelor’s freedom of environmental control. We’re talking about sophisticated digs, pretty toys, the sleek sovereign kingdoms depicted in Playboy’s design coverage of the 1950s and ’60s and in quite a few Hollywood films of the same era. Think of Frank Sinatra’s floating clubhouse in Ocean’s 11, of Tony Curtis controlling traffic in Boeing Boeing, of Rock Hudson’s projections of traditional machismo in Pillow Talk.
The article is a lengthy but great read, so sit down for it when you have a few minutes.
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