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The Gobbler
November 27, 2008 6:05 AM   Subscribe

A Thanksgiving treat from Lileks. The Gobbler may be the most ill conceived, worst designed hotel to ever grace the American landscape. I sure wish I could have visited there.
posted by COD (41 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I heart Lileks. Thank you for this. I would be delighted to stay in a Gobbler suite, although probably considerably less delighted by the reality.

What I wonder is, why does it seem that it was only in 1980 or so that it became desirable, among ordinary people, to open windows and have natural light in your interior decoration? The rooms have windows, one or two, but they're practically soldered shut. One constant of a "grandma house" is the way that all the curtains are heavily decorated and constantly drawn. I miss the exuberance of '70s decor sometimes, but I'm glad we're not supposed to think of rooms as sealed boxes anymore.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:22 AM on November 27, 2008


I visited a looong time ago. We didn't make reservations (how packed could it be), but found out that the entire hotel was booked. Solid. With brown paper covering every available window. Hrm...

We went back the next morning and had breakfast at the large bird. I think it was some sort of greek breakfast? Food wasn't amazing, but the building was. Sigh.
posted by armacy at 6:54 AM on November 27, 2008


I'm sure this hotel has been in the newspapers recently, and the phrases "brutal slayings" , "unimaginable horror", and "blood everywhere" were probably featured in the article.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:05 AM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was great. Thanks. I LOLed several times. The Dr. Strangelove directed by Prince was a killer.
posted by secondhand at 7:06 AM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. That hotels gives me the LOLs.
posted by wharman at 7:23 AM on November 27, 2008


Oh man, I love that site and visit it at least twice a year; I just can't get enough of that horribleness. Especially noteworthy and easily overlooked in the face of all the other horrors: the chairs with the fluffy blue seats and their backs of flimsy, brown-tinged, transparent plastic. I still remember when we would read those IN THE FUTURE WE WILL ALL LIVE THIS WAY! books, and they all had the same kind of furniture...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 7:23 AM on November 27, 2008


Wow, it is nice to see the gobbler pages revamped. The original Gobbler stuff was my first introduction to Lileks nine years ago.

I'm sure this hotel has been in the newspapers recently, and the phrases "brutal slayings" , "unimaginable horror", and "blood everywhere" were probably featured in the article.


I think the place was burned to the ground as part of a Fire Dept. training exercise. The restaurant was spared, but that was what I heard a few years ago. Some more pics of the later years are here. http://gobblermotel.blogspot.com/
posted by Badgermann at 7:26 AM on November 27, 2008


"Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-GOB-LER!" is now our official American Thanksgiving theme song (Canadian Thanksgiving gets the original Hockey Night in Canada theme).

The exterior was so funky, and still looks futuristic today, but the room interiors...did people EVER really think that looked good?

The architect's website is interesting. He's designed some pretty cool buildings and other things.
posted by biscotti at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


"backs of flimsy, brown-tinged, transparent plastic",
Transparent Plastic?
Unh-unhh, that's Lucite (TM), baayybeee!
posted by secondhand at 7:51 AM on November 27, 2008


And as long as we're on the topic of Thanksgiving, here's a holiday message from an angry tit.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:57 AM on November 27, 2008


Great link. Thanks for the shagadelic Thanksgiving cheer. RIP Gobbler.
posted by pixlboi at 8:04 AM on November 27, 2008


I was prepared to hate this. I did hate it, but in a very good way.
posted by Justinian at 8:28 AM on November 27, 2008


Erstwhile Republican apologist wallows in shag pile carpeting. Film at eleven.
posted by trondant at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


AAAAARGH!!!!

My eyes!
posted by cstross at 8:31 AM on November 27, 2008


I'm astonished at the restaurant's sprawl. Surely there can't be enough people in Wisconsin or maybe even the Midwest wiling to make the trip halfway to Madison to fill that place up at one time.
posted by sugarfish at 8:42 AM on November 27, 2008


Hey, it's a feature of my childhood! Man, wisconsin is really, really weird.
posted by stet at 8:52 AM on November 27, 2008


No way could have ever waited 1:20 for the bartender to come back around-- but at much higher speed, it would have been spins-inducing -- what's a rotating bar designer to do? No wonder it failed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:52 AM on November 27, 2008


The design of The Gobbler reminds me a lot of the Madonna Inn, in San Luis Obispo. While it doesn't have quite the '70s modern thing going on, each of the 109 rooms is separately themed, and there's a related sense of crazy design.
posted by MythMaker at 8:53 AM on November 27, 2008


I've been there! In high school we went to the state drama festival in Whitewater, but the Gobbler was the only hotel who could host us all, even though it was 25 miles away. (We were only from Madison, but that was another story...) My enduring impression was that if you ever wanted to film a bad porno, this was the place. Red shag carpeting all the way up the walls, decor courtesy of the bad old days of the Playboy Mansion grotto, you name it.

So we were running around all night, and they closed the pool at about 10, but around 1 we noticed two sets of eyes poking up above the edge of the pool deck. The desk clerk obviously didn't care, so within half an hour we had about 40 skinnydippers of all persuasions running back and forth between the pool, hot tub and the sauna. It was '70s heaven. I don't know how we managed not to get more randy in there (I'm sure more action was had elsewhere), but we had an awesome time.

I'd been to the restaurant a few years back as well. We had the pleasure of joining them during the holiday season, so in addition to the ceiling, walls and balcony-undersides being carpeted in pink shag, every crack was stuffed with fake show fluff and every ceiling had mirrored prisms hanging from it. Throw in a revolving bar and a dizzying pattern on the floor, and you've got one heck of a holiday hangover.

What an incredible bummer that they're both gone. The restaurant's been empty for at least a decade; I can't imagine anyone doing it justice out there by the outlet mall.
posted by Madamina at 9:03 AM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Man, wisconsin is really, really weird.

No doubt. Weirdness just kind of sprouts out of the land. You're just moseying along, enjoying the landscape and trying not to hit any deer, and suddenly a great big WTF! just appears out of nowhere.

It's a magical place, Wisconsin.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:12 AM on November 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Great link, COD. Thanks.

Erstwhile Republican apologist wallows in shag pile carpeting. Film at eleven.

What Lileks's political beliefs have to do with this post and these links is beyond me, but apparently you perceive some connection.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:34 AM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great stuff, I was giggling like an idiot.

I know it's odd to speak of the room's designer, but you have to remind yourself that someone intended all this to happen. These aren't things that were pushed into place by a glacier over the course of a million years.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:41 AM on November 27, 2008


Excellent; thanks. And, it must be noted, technically by MeFi's own (though he hasn't been here in years).
posted by chinston at 9:41 AM on November 27, 2008


Holy crap this is fantastic.
posted by mazola at 9:42 AM on November 27, 2008



What Lileks's political beliefs have to do with this post and these links is beyond me, but apparently you perceive some connection.


Let us celebrate a true genius.
posted by trondant at 10:02 AM on November 27, 2008


I took a date to the Gobbler for my high school prom night and went back many times. They had no problem serving strong drinks to 8 obviously underaged high school kids all night long. It was a great place, but in terms of Wisconsin weirdness, the Gobbler really can't hold a candle to the Don Q Inn in Dodgeville, WI (featuring its famous "theme rooms").
posted by Cletis at 10:31 AM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Back in 1999, I went to the Gobbler and took "after" pictures to Lileks' "before".

My pages are still there, exactly as I left them. The before pictures, hotlinked in (with his permission, I believe -- that wasn't nearly so frowned upon back then) have broken links since James moved his pages around, but my after pictures are still there.
posted by ewagoner at 10:55 AM on November 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Boy you could tell that the fine dining was really fine by the white paper placemats on the colored tablecloths.

I love that the brochure illustrator felt the need to use old people as a way to entice new customers. Nothing makes me want to try a restaurant quite like the sight of a few lonely strands on the back of a bald head.

If you did have to cut-up a dead body for whatever reason, those red rooms would have been ideal. All that red carpeting on the walls. Man, that must have been hygienic. It boggles the mind to think what liquids could have been splashed, spurted, and wiped onto those walls.

Carpeted ledges. An interesting idea. It's better than, say, carpeting the bathtub or carpeting the windows. Purely decorative, do you think? Because I don't find them very decorative, but then I don't have a carpet fetish. On the other hand it is hard to think how they could have been useful.

So is the lack of landscaping seen as a futuristic touch? Nary a tree or a bush to soften up the sterile lines of concrete. Indoors, I can only imagine the plants hanging in the macramé hangers in the rooms were plastic. Plastic chairs, plastic plants: the future wasn't too warm or inviting.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:09 AM on November 27, 2008


Erstwhile Republican apologist

Nothing erstwhile about it, unless Lileks has recently seen the reality-based community light and abandoned his Little Coulter on the Prairie shtick.

Politics aside, thanks for the update. I, too, shall be introducing the Gobbler theme song to those assembled around the Thanksgiving table tonight. "Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-GOB-LER!"
posted by scody at 11:32 AM on November 27, 2008


The poor maids. Am I the only one wondering how you would ever make a bed like this?
posted by marsha56 at 2:01 PM on November 27, 2008


Surely there can't be enough people in Wisconsin or maybe even the Midwest wiling to make the trip halfway to Madison to fill that place up at one time.

Actually, it's smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin's recreational corridor. It probably got a lot of business from people traveling back to Madison or Milwaukee from other places, as well as people weekending in the area. And I-94 is a pretty busy corridor so you get through traffic as well.

Restaurants and non-chain motels can be a dicey business, but it's surprising to me it didn't survive longer. This general area -- I'm closer to the state line, but generally -- was once chock full of supper clubs and roadhouses serving the Chicago day-trip crowd since the interwar days -- like the Wagon Wheel (now the site of the FatWallet.com headquarters, no joke), or Honey Bear Farm. They all had some sort of gimmick. As googie as it was, the Gobbler wasn't alone.
posted by dhartung at 2:25 PM on November 27, 2008


Groovy, baby
posted by ElvisJesus at 2:32 PM on November 27, 2008


This place would be a great alternate location for Shivers.
posted by brundlefly at 4:09 PM on November 27, 2008


Am I the only one wondering how you would ever make a bed like this?

The same way a man wears a Speedo. Plenty of tucking.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 4:54 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find myself irked by the Gobbler jingle. But not for the earworm deluxe melody, but for the fact that the lyrics manage to rhyme "before" with "before". It ranks right up on the Teeth Grinding scale with the line from Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die that describes "this ever-changing world in which we live in".

Must
control
pedant
ragFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
posted by Spatch at 10:01 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


i always thought that line was "in which we're livin'". shows what i know.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 11:48 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, hell.

If that's the case, boy is my face gonna be red. You can't unmail angry letters made out of newspaper headlines and magazine covers.
posted by Spatch at 5:28 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder what flotsam of today will be the stuff of hipster ironic humor of the future?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:37 AM on November 28, 2008


I wonder what flotsam of today will be the stuff of hipster ironic humor of the future?

I worry incessantly that it'll be exactly the kind of flotsam I've surrounded myself with. "Ha, look at the pics of the geezer in front of his 20" display and his G5. I bet he thought that crap was sooooooo. cool. Har, heh, heee!"

Actually, it's already happening. Shit.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:55 PM on November 28, 2008


I think I actually unironically love this. I have a soft spot in my heart for hideously ugly architecture and decorating. I don't know why it pleases me so, but it does.
posted by LMGM at 2:25 PM on November 28, 2008


The Legion of Doom meets the Flinstones.
posted by cirocco at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2008


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