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Sunday, March 14, 2010

New York State of Mind

Last week we went to New York for a few days, to see if we'd like it, my alt and me. My alt got sick and complained a lot, but I had the best time. First of all, the apartment was beautiful. There was a nice kitchen, and although we mostly ordered-in absurd quantities of Asian Fusion cuisine, I did make coffee - there and I bet you didn't think I knew how to boil water.
It was cold in New York. Definitely fluffy scarf and boot weather. The house is close to the Park, which looks as if it was just abandoned to the wildlife when they built all the skyscrapers, although of course this is cunning terraforming - Central Park is entirely artificial, from the lakes to the rocky outcrops to the lawns. Just our kind of place, except for the dirty snow.
A short walk along 5th Avenue takes you to Museum Mile - I'm such an uptown girl, my first stop was the Metropolitan Museum. I could have spent a week just wandering around in there. I really enjoyed John Singer Sargent's ladies, who look very primped and primmy. That neck is way too long to be real, isn't it? And if that hair isn't a wig...
I moved on to the Picasso room, where everybody was being awfully careful not to fall on the paintings - don't laugh, back in January someone managed to stumble right into 'The Actor' and tear it - how embarrassing! I thought it would be safer to sit down a bit, to avoid stiletto-related repeats of the incident. As you can see, pretty much everyone else had the same idea.
I went by that picture of Mao, and saw Damien Hurst's ridiculous shark - we have much better sharks in SL, ones that move... I was also fascinated by Pablo Bronstein's exhibition in which he assigns a mythical history to the Met, through pseudo-archival 'documents' - it was so our cup of tea. Pretty tiring, walking about in these shoes, so I finally assumed the position before some magnificent Pollocks.
My favourite bit in the whole of the Met was the Bronzino exhibition, I am all over Mannerism, it rocks, but it was too gloomy in the rooms for taking photos, where's the Full Bright when you need it. The most depressing part was the recreation of 17th and 18th century European rooms from Great Houses, ripped out of their homes and transplanted here with infinite care and attention to detail. Their doors and windows going nowhere, they always remind me of the elderly pickled organs you see in Natural History Museums, out of time and place. But one of them had a harp in the corner, so I just had to go in and sit for a while.
The Guggenheim, (entrance fee $18 - I just TP'd past the hippy at the ticket desk) is surprisingly dull inside. Talking about Mannerism, and long slow spirals, I think these people should check out the Scala Regia of the Villa Farnese at Caprarola before getting on their high horse about the 'originality' of this place. You aren't allowed to take photos of the interior of the Guggenheim, which frankly could do with a fresh coat of paint, so just for fun I went into one of the single unisex loos and took a few shots; when I came out there were two Eastern European cleaners eyeing me suspiciously.
Manhattan is just London all straightened out and simplified. I eschewed all the usual shots as I walked by, just to be boring - on the whole I tried to stay on the quieter streets, away from the unfathomable famousness born of the knowing nods of what felt like millions of passing tourists.  Lots of good food to be had, of course, though Italian cookery really doesn't make the transatlantic journey intact. With my little waistline, that was probably just as well.
Eventually I headed to Soho. The best way to get there is on the subway, which is small and easy and like a love affair, a jostling journey in the company of strangers, fraught with the anxiety of misread signals, and the fear of not arriving at one's destination, or of going too far with disastrous consequences.
At Broadway I lingered on the platform. After the rush of the train, it was very quiet. The few passengers hurried up the stairs out onto the street, having places to be, and things to do. They barely noticed the platform beneath their feet and the tunnel around them, this transitional space, this essential non-entity, between coming and going.
Not me. I had arrived. I saw the stains on the wall and the font of the signboards. I saw rats in a puddle. I saw the reflection of the neon lights on the tiles. I looked at the posters and the black trough where the trains run into the velvety thereafter.
I stopped and really saw it because I had been here before, here in SL at Pirats. Igor Ballyhoo's installation richly and masterfully captures the essence of the station as a physical space, and then re-illuminates the whole with photographs of the city, animated by trains. Here are a few photos of photos... but hurry, while it is still there, go and visit it for yourself.
Oh and then I had some rice.

1 comment:

Gracie Kendal said...

OMG that rocks!!!! Great article :))))