I'm A Legal Alien Now

Monday, September 04, 2006

New York: A Pictorial Report

Firstly, I cannot believe Steve Irwin is dead. This is strangely upsetting for me.

On to more pleasant news:

My Weekend in New York: A Pictorial Report

So Hurricane Ernesto was bearing down on the Atlantic Coast and DC spent most of Friday in gale force winds and driving rain. What great weather for hopping on a plane! But hop I did and, in all honesty, it really wasn't that bad. Even the TSA were nice to us (perhaps in case the winds blew our plane into the Potomac). Deltaflot was perfectly acceptable in a bare-minimum way. Just before 10pm, I arrived at New York LaGuardia and got a cab (yellow, of course) to the Paramount Hotel on bustling West 46th Street and next door to the Church of Scientology which, unfortunately, was spending its weekend having a Open Weekend Recruitment Drive. How I glared.

As I had wisely not packed any liquids to blow up the plane with some plastic explosives mixed into my toothpaste, I had to venture our to the Tourist Vortex known as Times Square, not even a block from my groovy pad. I hate to admit, but this first adventure was actually quite neat:

That is not a very good photo, but I refused to be one of those wankers who stops dead in the crush of pedestrians so they can focus their camera.

I had a rather rotten night's sleep, but nonetheless I faced the somewhat inclement weather on Saturday morning. I hunched my shoulders into the wind and drizzle that often ran parallel to the street and charged up Broadway with grim determination to Central Park which had the rather wonderful benefit of not acting as a quasi wind tunnel:

I eventually ended up at the Metropolitan Museum. Now this is a truly wonderful institution and I wish it no ill-will but their rather shady ticketing practices make me rather annoyed. They have a 'suggested' ticket price of $20 for adults, which considering the size of the collection, is quite reasonable. However that this is a suggested price is only in tiny print- you can, in theory, give the girl a penny and she must be admit you. To me, this seems to be trying to have one's cake and eat it.

But, onward from such negativity. I was quite selective in what I saw in this vast space as I didn't want to get museum fatigue so early in the game. I looked at the Anglomania Costume Institute exhibition which was quite striking visually, but I felt it was lacking a certain something curatorially. I also sussed out the Egyptian collection including the iconic Temple of Dendur which apart from being gazillions of years old is also quite charming for the graffiti scratched into the rock from the 1800s.

I should point out that the practice of turning into a room and finding a complete Egyptian temple is not that unusual at the Met. I also found a complete 16th century Spanish terraza shipped over brick by brick. And, this rather exquisite room, which I covet endlessly, by Frank Lloyd Wright:

So the Met is quite great, but not as good as the Louvre mainly because the Louvre is unapologetic about the fact it charges admission. Speaking of Mr Lloyd Wright, my all time favourite architect despite the fact his buildings have a nasty habit of not aging well and falling apart (this is important- read on), I then braved the weather, which was already improving, to charge north up Fifth Avenue alongside Central Park to the Guggenheim Museum, talking to Daniel and Anne at his farewell on my cellphone all the way. This is FLW's only building in New York, and an absolute icon of architecture. I imagine poor Daniel was quite shocked when in the middle of quite a convivial conversation I suddenly shouted 'FUCKERS, FUCKERS'. The Guggenheim was completely under scaffolding. This did not bode well and indeed I was completely underwhelmed when I eventually handed over an exorbitant admission fee (no 'suggested' business here) to look at a rather bland and irritating exhibition by someone I've never heard of when I wanted Miro, Picasso and Pollock.

There was only one way to cheer myself up.

I fell in love. His name is Barney and he is a department store with seven floors of the most divine clothes for men. The good thing was too that the only things I liked enough to actually buy were so severly out of my price range to be beyond question, so I was not tempted to stray financially. But I adored it. This was followed by a visit to Tiffany's. I believe I have mentioned that they have such good service and are not snobby at all in a previous post, based upon my visit with Xena in July. Well, I take it all back. The only way I could have been served there before they were good and ready and made sure all the richer looking people were being looked after was by stripping myself naked and singing 'Amore' at the top of my lungs. I bought cufflinks, which I wanted anyway, but also to spite them.

FAO Schwarz, the toystore, was next and it must be absolute unmitigated hell at Christmas time. I bought a bear. This was actually a more reckless decision than the cufflinks, despite being less than a quarter of the price. As Bear is rather large, and I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to get him back to Australia should the need arise in November. Here is Bear, with some other purchases I made, elegantly arrayed in my groovy Paramount hotel room (neat design for a small space but woeful pillows):

I suppose I should just be pleased I didn't go all out and buy a $300 soft toy African Savannah animal (they were AMAZING.). The book, by the way, is the autobiog of Joseph Volpe who ran the Met Opera until recently. It was rather biased and he didn't come off too great, which is always a bit startling in an autobiography.

That night, I went to see The History Boys, by the wonderful Alan Bennett. Now I realise I'm a whee bit behind the boat here, but it is absolutely brilliant. I found it absolutely brilliant despite that there were four women behind me moaning that they couldn't understand the English accents (though quite frankly Dominic Cooper, who played Dakin, is so hot he could've been speaking Persian for all I cared) and should have gone to Mamma Mia instead (bitches), and the guy beside me spent most of Act II rustling in an M&M's packet. The third scene, done entirely in French, was hysterical.

Lo, a new day dawned and the weather was surprisingly generous and quite stunning. I jumped in a cab (I'm not entirely sure when I developed an aversion to the Subway, but I did and it cost me) and headed to the BODIES exhibition at the South Street Seaport. It in itself was quite fascinating. There were some extraordinary cadavers and dissections on display. Yet throughout it all it was very obvious that these bodies were all poor Chinese people with bad teeth. I also skipped the Foetal Development room. So, my moral ambiguity about the enterprise is not relieved.

This was followed by a bit of a stroll around Lower Manhattan. I saw Wall Street, and look what I saw in the far distance from Battery Park:

This of course being Lower Manhattan, September 11 still casts a bit of a shadow over the place. Contrary to popular belief, Ground Zero is not a fun outing for the whole family but rather bleak. Also, I wonder how the people staying in the Hilton there feel when they look out their window at the hole in the ground.

As an aside, the rather well done memorial in Battery Park of the distorted bronze globe that stood between the towers was quite effective. However I don't like how 'hero' and 'sacrifice' have become so commonplace. Whilst I don't doubt that every fireman and so on who went into those buildings deserve honours, the civilians I'm not so sure about. This is not to demean their deaths in anyway, as it must have been such a strange and frightening way to die, but they didn't really sacrifice anything- all they did was go to work, like they did every other day. I actually find that quite unsettling in itself.

A bit depressed by this, I headed to the ultra-trendy Balthazar for brunch in SoHo or TriBeCa or UnuSualCaPsville where somehow the devastatingly handsome host (he was one of those elegant, slender young black men with gorgeous eyes and dashingly dressed) pulled me ahead of the queue waiting for a table and I was seated within minutes of arrival. I know, deep down, that this was somehow pure luck but nonetheless it made me feel special and I tipped accordingly. I then bought a t-shirt from a guy on the street. It's cool. Another cab! This time to the Natural History Museum where in the Village I saw this billboard from the cab which made me snort:

I am referring, of course, to the billboard for a law firm. Everything about is so wonderful- the billboard, the fact that they're painted on it (it may look like photographs in the photo- but trust me, it was a rather entertaining weak portraiture effort), the 'hablamos Espanol' in text and the ACCIDENT VICTIM? heading. But, best of all, is that the billboard is above a sex shop called Fantasy World.

The Natural History Museum was conflicting. For a start, it was too expensive. It is actually rather charmingly dated- I did love the diorama heaven in HALL OF AFRICAN PEOPLES and so on, but most of the museum sucked surprisingly so. There was this cool gigantic thing called the Hayden Sphere though (I think it was some sort of Imaxy thing inside) and you walked round it in a descending spiral and they used it to indicate scale of things in the universe. Sort of like 'If the Hayden Sphere is the Sun... this is the Earth' then they'd be a model of the Earth suspended next to the sphere. Eventually you got down to 'if the Hayden Sphere is a Hydrogen Atom... this is a proton' and there was a tiny speck. It was brilliant.

I walked down the Upper West Side and decided that were I able to afford to live in New York the way I would like to, I would like a brownstone (not neccessarily the whole one! a floor or two will do!) on West 75th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Paid my respects to the Lincoln Center, popped into the Met Opera Shop and then down to Columbus Circle where I investigated the new Time Warner Center, which has a very swanky shopping mall which includes Botero sculptures (that I adore) as standard decor. And this is the atrium:

Another nap then time for Avenue Q, which was one of the funniest nights I've ever spent in the theatre. I even related to the characters, all the more surprising since half of them were puppets. The main character, Princeton's, first song was how he had a useless degree. Plus, any show with a song called 'Everybody's a Little Bit Racist' or 'The Internet is for Porn' (best line= 'so grab your dick and double click!' is alright by me. I had intentions to mount the Empire State Building afterwards, but the wait time was two and a half hours at 9pm at night so I rather decided I wouldn't. Instead, I had a cocktail or two back at the Paramount mainly so I could perv on the hunky barman with killer arms like shipping cables.

Oh, before Avenue Q I even saw someone who may very loosely qualify as a celebrity.

After a horrid night's sleep (those Manhattans haunted me all night), I dragged my sorry ass from bed and went to MoMA. Again, I resented the exorbitant $20 entry fee especially considering MoMA isn't exactly strapped for cash. However any lingering resentment eventually faded as the collection completely won me over. Seriously, I was going Gaga for Dada and that I got to see Joe Dallasandro's penis a few times was a bonus.

Now some MoMA sculpture garden photography:

It was time to head home, via Saks Fifth Avenue (fabulous) and Kenneth Cole in the Rockefeller Center (surprisingly disappointing). I did however need to pick up some postcards in Times Square, which by this point I found absolutely horrendous, despite the presence of a rather famous icon- a particularly buff guitar player in his tighty whities-

Another furtive photo as the type of tourist who throngs Times Square is so repulsive I dreaded to think that anyone associated me with them.

The flight home was uneventful, though greatly enlivened by sitting next to a hottie who made me sweat slightly everytime our thighs touched.

It was a strange feeling to be 'coming home' but not to Brisbane. I 'came home' to U Street and it made me feel a bit odd. It is very hard to explain.



Blogger rob@blogoftheday.org said...

Great blog! I've added a link to your blog on Blog of the Day under the category of Photo. To view the feature of your blog, please visit http://blogoftheday.org/page/112223

9:12 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

Uhh... thanks I guess.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Moody said...

"Y’know, I think we’d hate each other if we actually knew each other but I adore your blog.

I also adore this font."

Why would you say such a thing?

10:06 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

Honesty, mostly.

But I did say 'think' and not 'know' so who knows?

Also, I really did love your font. Very chic.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Moody said...

Well, ok, but why? Complete this sentence:

I think we'd hate each other because...

8:37 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

'...because I think we too different and stubborn but difference makes it all more interesting. I think the posing would get me down, as I hate posing for a camera as I tend to look like a demented goldfish.'

6:44 PM  
Blogger anney said...

What a glorious adventure!!

I am also impressed by the person wanting to know why you think you would dislike them.

All in all, a most fantastic thing. And while I simply cannot remember anything we discussed on the phone as I was a bit tiddly and you were a bit grumpy I appreciated it and it was great to hear your voice.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

I wasn't grumpy! Just irritated that the freakin' Guggenheim was under scaffolding. The call only cost $13 too, so not as bad as I was anticipating.

8:19 AM  

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