August 30, 2010
In journalism, there’s something called the telling detail. It’s what professional journalists do when they observe the person they’re interviewing and writing about, or the place where a crime or fire has taken place, or a restaurant they are reviewing.
So if the person you are interviewing has a photo of President Obama in a frame on her desk, that might be a telling detail about the power and importance of the interviewee. Or if a 20-something sports an antique ring, that might be his or her telling detail. Or if a middle-aged man’s hair is dyed purple, that might be a clue as to their personality.
When we eat out at restaurants, I love to try to find the telling detail(s) that makes dining there a special experience.
Recently, while having a drink on the far edge of the bar at Six Seven in Seattle’s Edgewater Hotel, I noticed the ultra-cool tree branches sticking out of the log-like columns.
What makes the branches so weird and compelling are the metal brace-like pieces that hold them together.
In their own unique, strange way those branches capture the zeitgeist of the place; they are the bar’s telling detail.