Slept in Beds
By Sara Billups
Monday, July 30th, 2007


Slept in Beds
Photos by Nick Zinner
Prose by Zach Lipez
Design by Stacy Wakefield
Evil Twin Press (2003)
$26.00.
http://www.eviltwinpublications.com/BEDS.html

I’ve been told to try all sorts of goose-chased remedies for my occasional insomnia; homespun cure-alls like sipping valerian root tea or wearing frozen cotton socks under thick wool ones before bed. I have my own peculiar methods of inducing sleepiness, too. Sometimes I imagine that my bed is a giant seven-layer cake. Each pillowcase, sheet, blanket and afghan oozes into a different flavor and color. Other times I think about all the beds I’ve slept in for more than a month’s time. I’ll picture a classroom globe, then zoom in and connect sleep cities with an unwinding ball of yarn, stopping to tie a knot at each of the places I’ve lived.

I start on the east coast, at an NYU dorm in Union Square with a vinyl mattress that must have been an inch thick. Next there’s that squeaky twin bed in the loft of an old theatre in Muncie, Indiana. The place smelled like must and wet brick and cost $187.50 a month. There’s my aunt’s walk-up in Chicago where we slept in a shagged room in the basement. And there’s the bed stuffed in the corner of an old brothel-turned-guesthouse on Lower Haight in San Francisco where I spent a summer. I used to spook myself before falling asleep, pretending to hear ghosts of burlesque dancers rattle the doorknob to my room.

Sometimes I skim over certain hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, ones that felt both like no-one-has-ever-slept and the-whole-world’s-slept here all at once. Which is very much how it feels to look at Nick Zinner’s photographs in Slept in Beds.

Evil Twin’s small batch, cult classic picture book Slept in Beds (2003) is a collection of travel images by Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) with prose by Zach Lipez. Zinner’s photographs of unmade beds from different hotels he stayed in on tour several years back fill the book’s 38 glossy pages. Twin sisters Stacy Wakefield and Amber Gayle pressed and bound a precious 1,000 copies of the title, and as a sweetly done detail they even snipped the last page of the book out of a bed sheet.

Zinner’s photographs serve as strange comfort for the insomniac. It’s like listening to the radio–most of the time the song is sallow, but sometimes it turns brilliant, becoming the very thing that connects us. Zinner does the same thing with his pictures. It’s the best sort of sleeping pill, seeing places after people rest.

Sara Billups writes the blog Weatherspoon, a diary of living alongside the weather in the Great Northwest.

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