Friday, April 29, 2011

Estamos En Nueve York

To celebrate Spring Break, my brother and I decided to go to a park and a museum. We celebrated our escape from academia by doing something rather academic. You can take the teacher out of the school, but you can't make the teacher not be eager to learn stuff. Curiosity is an asset. We were curious to see the panorama of New York City at the Queens Museum.

When we got to the museum, I paid student price and he paid full price. I am cheap. He is not. The entrance fee is a suggestion anyway, so we could have bypassed the information desk altogether, but we didn't. I don't know why it was called an information desk because the woman was not very informative. She didn't even tell us how much to pay. She kind of stood there while we scrounged around in our wallets. Then she did not give us any kind of floor plan. She simply pointed and mumbled. Thankfully, I speak mumble; my brother does not and had no idea that she said, You can start with the panorama.

We walked up some stairs in a dark hallway and then, voila:

P space A space N space O space R space A space M scpace A

I, in my infinite miswisdom, figured a panorama is a long diorama. Remember those? Take a shoe box, cut up some construction paper, add some cotton balls and glitter--instant Ice Age! So I was planning on walking into a large dark room with a table in the middle of it, under a spotlight. I apparently generate this ideas based on subconscious memories of movies about artifacts under glass cases in museums.

The entire floor of the room was the panorama. Around the edges of the room is a walkway on an incline so the more you move around, the higher you go on a slope up to the second floor. It was magnificent. The buildings are teeny tiny. The boats and planes are eenie weenie. The legends along the walkway are not helpful. Instead of relying on them, I relied on my brother.

I am convinced my brother knows everything about New York City, and by the end of our walking tour around the panorama, I was trying to convince him to get a summer job doing those city double-decker bus tours. He took me on a tour through the city, pointing out where our grandma used to live--around 88th and Lex for a rent of around 4 or 5 hundred in a rent controlled apartment--along with where he lived in the Bronx, where he lives now, where he used to work, where he works, and mostly where he bikes, which is everywhere.

While we went around pointing at things--look there! where? there, right there, where I'm pointing! I am looking there! No! There!--a rather loud Hispanic man had a laser pointer that he used to more accurately point at things. He spoke very loud Spanish. It was echoing. When we were halfway around the room, I said, That guy has not shut up since he walked in! Anthony responded, he's got a laser pointer. Then I realized at the end of the room that they were on a tour; I realized this only because another group came in at the top with a different loud Spanish speaking man with a laser pointer. I am slow on the uptake sometimes.

After the panorama, we looked at all the old posters and trinkets from both World's Fairs along with pictures of the builders building it. It was all very kitschy. There was also a small spiel about the Valley of Ashes, a very big part of The Great Gatsby. (Fascist bastards knocked down the inspiration of the Gatsby House this month. Not cool, rich people. Not cool.) (Note: I am not calling the Queens Museum fascist bastards. That's directed to the people who tore down the house. My rant seems to have been unclear after reading it back to myself). (Note: I actually did read that back to myself, which, I believe, is unprecedented. Double checking what I write as I write will not become a habit of my lazy ass writing process in which I rarely proofread and even more rarely fact-check).

We then went back around the panorama down to the first floor again. We walked further down the long dark hallway to find two big screens playing movies on a loop. Anthony said, It feels like porn is gonna start playing. I agreed so we went back to where the light was.

Having no map of the place and no idea of where to go, we wandered into a room with a topographical map. It was almost room-sized. The walls were huge photographs and drawings of pipes. The map was about where water comes from.

Then we saw some art. The exhibit was Not The Way You Remembered. Some of it was very cool. Bryan Zanksnik offers a 2 channel 5 minute video called Preserve that features his father acting as a docent in a taxidermy museum intercut with a tour of the family home, with the best part being the mom complaining about vacuuming. Also, Jason Lazarus has a collection of photos called Too Hard To Keep, Agathe Snow presented Paper General which is a collection of caption texts and non-narratives, and Jean Shin's Altered Trophies were trophies with the people on top changed from athletes into maids and gardners.

Then there was the other kind of art. I'm gonna steal this description from the guide I found at the museum: Dave Murray's 85% Of The Art I Made Turned Into A Diamond, .29 carat diamont: Dave Murray has given actual, material value to discounted artistic ideas and creative false starts by cremating their physical remnants, and transforming them into a diamond.

Now let me give you a description of what it actually was: a diamond chip on an oversized velvet stand under glass. Kind of how I pictured the panorama would be set up.

There was also a large wooden thing. We could not tell if it was part of a piece of art on display, its own piece of art, or just a piece of wood hanging around.

Then we did what everyone has to do when they go to the Queens Museum. We walked around the park, took way too many pictures of the unisphere...

...and then walked around some more. The sun came out at the end of our walk and I got overheated, having worn my Northface hoodie with the long sleeves with thumb holes. He made fun of me for wearing it, but really, the sun didn't come out until the end of the day so I was glad I wore it since he took me over the LIE to the manmade lake on the other side. It's still too chilly for waterside walks.

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