Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Morgan, Hemingway, and Me

The Morgan Library stands in midtown in NYC, a few blocks from Penn Station, which makes it one of the easiest museums to visit. Why I've never been there before remains a mystery wrapped in stupidity tinged with laziness. Hemingway's A Moveable Feast had me mesmerized as much as McLain's The Paris Wife had, only this time, it was Hemingway's own voice, and it was non-fiction. Then I came across the current exhibit at the Morgan Library -- Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars.

Serendipitous! I had to go! Of course, I found out about it two days before it was to close. I was free on a Friday. The Morgan has free admission on Friday nights from 7 to 9. Serendipitous again! I love free! I love libraries! I love Hemingway!

The Morgan Library's midtown location means a lovely evening walk to Madison. In my head, I repeated 1, 2, 3, Little Piggies Make 5 to make sure I knew how many more blocks to go.

Sidenote: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Lexington, Park, Madison, 5th. Mind blown? I thought so.

No stranger to overheating after a brisk walk in a winter coat, I arrived at the Morgan quite warm. The winter evening was not a typical NYC winter evening. The temperature sat around a balmy 39 at sunset. Inside the museum, you have to check your coat or wear it. I opted to check it because the building generated its own balminess at what felt like a mild 807. I stripped off my scarf, gloves, and coat and stood on line to wait. Then a museum official person came over to me and two people behind me to take us up the stairs and around a corner to a second coat check. So there's your tip of the day--go to the second coat check.

Fancy room across from the second coat check
Of course, once I found the exhibit, there were people walking around holding their coats. The coat check is free. Follow the instructions! Some were following instructions, wearing their coats. These people also generated a quite unpleasant stench. Again, the thermometer read, I'm estimating, 807, so they dealt with that while wearing winter coats.

I found myself sweating at first, too, because, well, I'm prone to sweating, but also because my feet were all cozy in new winter boots that are probably the warmest boots I've ever owned.

Flashback to like two weeks ago, I'm meeting S in the city to see Sisters (incredibly funny movie!). As I'm walking to the theatre, I hear behind me some guy say, Eskimo boots! Eskimo boots! He didn't so much say it as exclaim it. I looked around. Then I looked down. Oh. I was Eskimo Boots. It was the first time I was wearing them, so it was the first time I noticed how brightly white they were. The woman he was with agreed with him: Eskimo boots! Yes, Eskimo boots! Sometimes I acknowledge this kind of thing. This time, I did not because they weren't actually talking to me. They were talking to each other, and then they were off ahead of me, crossing against the light, and then hollering things about other people they clearly did not know. Anyway, I suppose what also made them Eskimo boots that our lovely couple could not know was that they were really super warm, and I'd arrived at the theatre practically doing a strip tease.

So while oohing and ahhing at the first set of journals and letters of Hemingway and his friends, I focused on not passing out. Lots of crowding and bunching happened at first, but then people found their own groove of looking and reading, so it thinned out, and finally cooled down.

We were not allowed to take pictures. I took pictures. I did not get caught taking pictures. I'm guessing two reasons we could not take pictures. Either everything was copyrighted or they wanted everyone to buy the $35 book from the museum shop. Thank you no thank you. I'll take my on the sly blurry pics any day over that. I also spent much time scribbling down interesting tidbits from the letters, the pictures, and the explanations. Because I'm not an asshole, I'm not going to post pics from inside the exhibit here. In fact, I feel so bad about it that I'm deleting them right now. (No, I'm not).

I had about fifteen minutes left after seeing the exhibit before the museum closed, so I went to see some of the permanent rooms. The rotunda, the study, and the huge rooms of books are pretty and awesome and pretty awesome.
Gutenberg Bible

Phyllis Wheatley, the first published African-American poet
I checked out the museum store to see what Hemingway books they had. They seemed to have them all plus the aforementioned exhibit book of extraordinary cost. They also had this:
Because Hemingway lived in Paris and he drank a lot
Then it was time to go.  I allowed myself one corny moment on my way out.
The next time I go to the Morgan Library, Andy Warhol will be there. Can't friggin wait!

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