Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Talkin' New York

Alright. So I just got back from my whirlwind adventure New York (Noo Yo-ack) City, which included, among other things, fur coats, hooligans, and Cy Twombly everywhere Cy Twombly!! Let me elaborate.

The first thing I wrote in my Moleskine under the heading NEW YORK, scrawled down so that my trip could be remembered in fine detail for posterity and for you guys: “There is something sort of delightfully irreverent about all this: I’m sitting in the lobby of a very fancy, very highfalutin, tight-lipped type of hotel; wearing my striped sweater and my hair is in a ponytail but the drizzly rain has made all the hair around my face curl crazily; and I’m listening to “I Touch Myself” on my iPod and grinning like mad and chewing on the end of my pen as I write this, and the guard just gave me a stern you-don’t-belong-here look and I smiled at him as if to say, I know!”

So that is how it began. While we were waiting for my dad to park the car, I went into the hotel bar and got a Shirley Temple, and I struck up a conversation with a woman who told me how to get free swatches of the Gates fabric (“the volunteers re-stock after lunch”) and when to get to the MoMA to minimize the wait. In an almost-hilarious-but-mostly-irritating turn of events (and miscommunication), my mom and sister and I lost track of my dad and by the time we re-connected, it was past seven. So our first view of the Gates was in the very bitter cold, in the dark—and still it was lovely and breathtaking.

The next morning we disregarded the MoMA-woman’s latter advice in favor of coffee and muffins, and we suffered for it: when we got to the MoMA the line was massive…and it was raining. “Entire block and all backlots filled with people: the contrast of the bohemian long-haired artistes with knitted backpacks and looking like they rarely venture out of the Village, and rich old women in fur coats—so many fur coats!—hair dyed ash-blond as a rule, who look like they rarely wait in line. Listening to Ted Leo, scribbling this in my Moleskine on my mom’s back. Two people next to us just pulled out a full-sized magnetic chessboard (!) and started playing…” We moved about ten feet each half hour, and I didn’t even mind one bit!

(I apologize that the notebook bits are slightly incoherent, but y’know…I don’t think notebooks are meant to be coherent and anyway, that’s a little bit how my mad thought process jumps around. Hm, so.)

The MoMA was, um…unspeakable. Unbelievable. Beautiful and frankly, overwhelming. There was a Miro (!) hanging blithely above the ticket booth; Damien Hirst was the background on a bunch of LCD screens (or, as my sister obliviously calls them, LSD screens) with touring information, and I was just…in heaven.

Oh, about my love affair with Miro. He’s one of my ultimate favorite artists—maybe the favorite—and there were tons and tons (and tons more at the Met) of his paintings hanging at the MoMA. I would stare at them and stare. They were just magnificent. Regarding Miro, I scrawled: “I think we can all agree that, in the case of a duel between dead Spanish surrealist painters, Miro would totally beat the lights out of Dali.”

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(This is a photo—don’t worry, non-flash!—that I snapped of a Miro painting at the Met)

I walked into this one gallery and right in front of me were three of my all-time favorite paintings, side by side. Rousseau, Gauguin, van Gogh. Bam bam bam. All in a row. I stopped dead in my tracks and my dad started laughing at me because my mouth had literally fallen open.

Later, I made my sister look at what has been called the vilest still-life in history: the castration still-life in Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” (“See!” I insisted, “now aren’t you glad that you’ve got me along instead of one of those lame audioguides?”—to which she replied, “Ugh, no! I thought that was fruit!” Whoops.)

Needless to say, my sister groaned when I insisted that we visit the Met the next day (yes, the MoMA and the Met in two days--a bit of an art binge, I know, sorry sorry), but she hung in there while I trekked from the roof garden to the Costume Institute exhibit in the basement (it was called “Wild: Fashion Untamed” and it featured many an alligator-skin bikini and peacock evening dress…quite fantastic), to the Rubens exhibit to the Matisse gallery.

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(This Matisse painting was called “Marguerite,” and it was very tiny—maybe six inches tall—and basically, in my opinion, a perfect painting. Just look at it!)

Anyway, I’m not really a good person to go to museums with because I always get distracted. On our way out, I kept on ducking into other galleries and five minutes later I’d hear my mom calling my name from afar. By the time my family managed to pull me away from the Met later on, we found that my distractibility had put us off track and I was almost late for my Columbia tour; I taxi-ed from Great Art to The Admissions Process, which was quite a drag. Ech.

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And let’s see… On the news reel at Times Square I found out that Hunter Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, committed suicide. (“Oh,” my mom remarked, unfazed, “I thought he did that a while ago.”)

Also: I thought we were blending in pretty well as New Yorkers until a coupla young hooligans yelled “You’re from the suburbs!” at us in voices that implied we were perhaps from a leper colony. I had about fifty oh-so-acerbic retorts on the tip of my tongue, but I kept my mouth shut when I decided that we were not, um, on my turf.

But really, I’m not surprised that I couldn’t pass for a native New Yorker or even a city college kid; I was walking around so wide-eyed all the time, trying to take in all the vastness and busy-ness and excitement of the city. I could barely believe it, let alone act utterly unimpressed as all the city-folk seemed to do—oh well; I wonder if, when I really do live in the city, I’ll continue to be mistaken for a tourist?

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That is mostly all. Well, there’s more, but I have a feeling that you, my friends, have had quite enough. I think I’ll do a Part Two tomorrow about the Gates and Greenwich Village and whatnot. And by the way, I’ll dump my copious amount of New York photos at Flickr sometime today or (more likely) tomorrow. So there you go.

Oh, and I forgot to follow up on my cryptic (ha) Cy Twombly comment earlier. Well, I was looking at a few of his paintings at the MoMA and then lo and behold, on our way back to the hotel, I had a bit of a déjà vu…for only in New York City would a department store display be based around Cy Twombly paintings! That was rather exciting. (Well, that and the fact that I had yet another occasion to say “Cy Twombly” out loud. What a name!)

This seems like a rather abrupt place to end, but I think I’ve rambled enough for today. I’ll just end with the sentiment that truly, I belong in New York. And if you get the title of the post, let me know!

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