Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – USA – Day 42/43/44 – New York, NY (Antiques, Art, Memorials & Alcohol)

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 26, 2010

WT2010 – USA
Day 42/43/44 – New York, NY (Antiques, Art, Memorials & Alcohol)
[On the iPOD] Brainiac / The Replacements / Sparklehorse / David Bowie / The Libertines / New Order / Pink Floyd / American Football / Dizzee Rascal / The Whitest Boy Alive / The Thermals / Johnny Foreigner

Heading over to Brooklyn for the last time, I wanted to see if I could find some more bargains in the excellent shops around there. Wandering into an antique furniture store for no real reason. It’s really interesting checking out antique stores in foreign countries because their cultural history is so dissimilar to anything you’ve experienced back home. Amongst the furniture were toys, instruments, trinkets and nik-naks. Something that stood out in this particular store was a huge collection of ‘Life’ magazines dating back decades. Flicking through them is like stepping back through time.

Another interesting collection near the vinyl music section of the store was a collection of photos, literally in a huge pile in a 2metre wide crate, you trawl your fingers through them finding snapshots of memories people had shared and mattered at some point in time. It’s funny how you can discern what era a photo was from by the style of print of the photo and fashion/style of the subject. There was something from every decade from the 20’s and 30’s I’d say. Another area had boxes and boxes of postcards; used and new dating from as far back as the 1920’s. I flicked through them reading the messages from sender to recipient, one dated 1917 another 1946 and another 1974. I literally wanted to read them all but it would have taken days.

Wandering onwards to a used clothing exchange, a cool shirt for $10; perfect. My stomach rumbling I wandered back to the main strip and a Pizza place. Have I mentioned New York’s obsession with Pizza? It’s utterly ridiculous, there is one on every corner and that’s not an exaggeration. This particular store had an amazing selection and was probably the best I’d had in NY. I was then staring down at the wall eating my bbq marinara ranch chicken with pineapple! when I noticed a banner reading “Welcome new recruits” and the logo reading “DHARMA” hold on…

An Internet link flashed straight into my mind. Over a year and a half ago I came across an Internet link where someone had blogged about being in Hawaii and roaming around in-where they somehow stumbled on the shooting location of the TV series “Lost” and found a whole bunch of props from the show unattended and started taking photos. I linked everyone I knew to this blog because I thought it was rather amusing (and I loved the show at the time)

I was all set to ask the attendant where the hell he’d gotten the banner but then overheard people in the booth next to me talking about it first hand; “So a guy who worked here was in Hawaii and…” (long story short It was the same guy!) and apparently he decided to take the banner as a souvenir. Here I am, having traveled 15,000km and I randomly stumble into the guy’s Pizza place staring at the very sign I’d seen online.

Got back to my hostel and spoke to a dorm mate Bryan who was going to see a movie with other pals, I ended up tagging along (the movie being Kick Ass, which is an apt movie title) Afterwards they all decided to head for drinks in Lower-Manhattan so I tagged along. Next thing I knew we were putting cool songs on the jukebox and ordering pitcher after pitcher and approaching 3am (on a tuesday mind you) we decided to grab some food and call it a night.

We were wandering towards the subway when Bryan spotted an Art mural being posted up. As it turns out the mural was this The Artist being none other than Shepard Fairey (he was actually there finishing it off) The name sounded familiar but it didn’t click. I’d soon realise it was the same artist responsible for the world-famous OBEY works. Bryan knew his work a lot better than me (I think a friend had mentioned him in passing a few years back) But it didn’t click immediately. It was quite the experience, seeing this being worked on whilst tipsy drunk in New York and actually meeting the Artist there.

The Following day and I’d been pondering visiting the WTC site. I didn’t initially want to do it, because I knew it’d effect me profoundly and I’d be on a downer for the rest of the trip which is not to be disrespectful but In the end I decided I had face up to reality and do it. I hopped a train down to the financial district and wandered about there first. I came across a man bowing down before a giant bull-statue (the symbol for wealth/wall st? I’ve been told?) I’m not sure if it was performance art or simply some poor disgruntled American whose lost his home thanks to the recent Crisis’ (He was yelling at it; “Are you mocking me?”)

I’ve always laughed off banking conspiracies (you know the ones about the major banks of the world knowingly plotting in some clandestine/cult-like fashion to control everything; a tip of the hat to the empires of Rome) It all still sounds like utter crap, except for the Architecture and sheer money put into these buildings. They do almost to some extent look like ‘holy’ shrines to a bankers/traders money-fueled way of life.

The WTC site is huge, the footprint of the area below where the towers stood is probably two regular city blocks. My first impression of the people around was one of ‘We’ve got work to do” the cranes and construction workers scaling cast-steal beams in the far distance directing the pieces of a new tower in place. Signs around me point you in the direction around the site though I stopped short at a fire-station memorial with a placard of the faces of some 100 firefighters who scrambled as fast as they could to get into the towers to help people only to give the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.

Around the corner was a permanent memorial cast into the walls of the building. Some personal effects of one of the family members hung off it along with flowers and a flag nearby. The area was mostly tourists and school kids visiting, learning about the scale of what happened and what the future of the site will hold. The plans included a few things; from a new tower, to a park, to a memorial to two huge receding 2-tiered-level square ponds (which occupy the original footprint of the two towers) which will look amazing at night I think. For now the area is a buzz with construction. I tried taking some long-distance photos of the construction workers erecting steal only to have one walk past me and whistle at his buddy 50metres up as if to say ‘look good, your on camera’.

The vibe of the area is one of reserved pride. All the workers minds are on the job; getting these plans built whilst all the tourists stand solemnly in remembrance gawking at the new constructions forming before them. I will visit this place again when it’s completed. I think it’ll be a fitting tribute, you can always trust Americans for that. America is a country built on a secular constitution and I believe this place is holier than any place of religious worship.

Wednesday night was a trip back to Brooklyn and a venue by the name of the Brooklyn bowl to see Portland’s finest The Thermals with the best Jerseygirl ever; Molly. The band played a solid set which numbered something like 16songs-18songs. It was the second show in two days (the show the night before sold out) The crowd got treated a huge selection of songs spanning all of their albums with songs from The Body, The Blood, The Machine and last album Now We Can See seeming to get the biggest crowd response. Lead singer Hutch Harris exclaiming they were playing a longer set than yesterday because It was the last show of the tour, he also mentioned their new album is finished and being mixed by Chris Walla and will be out soon. For me; “Here’s Your Future”, “We Were Sick” and “I Called Out Your Name” were stand-outs. The band also played the song off the split 7″ vinyl they’ve released with The Cribs (which I hadn’t heard yet) amongst other new material which sounds rad overall. Full of energy, but plenty of room on the floor. The Brooklyn bowl is amazing; It’s a bowling alley and a restaurant and a venue in one. And you can see the band no matter what your doing! They even had projection screens above the ten-pins so you won’t miss anything if you’d rather bowl and drink and have the music as a live soundtrack.

Thursday, Last day in New York. I was considering visiting The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) because people have said it was ‘good’ but I kind of felt “museumed out” but after hearing Bryan and Ed rave about some of the installations there I knew I had to go. Luckily it closed 8:45pm on a Thursday. Little did I know what I’d run into…

I was expecting another run of the mill gallery, instead I got 6 levels of wow. Ill quickly summarise some of the stand out moments. Marina Abramovic is a performance artist who uses her body as her medium. She’s been doing this since the early 1970’s (in installation form) and MoMA just happened to be showing a retrospective of all of her ‘works’. For the first time, her older works were being performed by other people whilst she was present in a new piece which struck me as soon as I walked in.

It was a room with a square painted on the ground; A table in the centre and 2 chairs, one with Marina sitting there in an eye-catching red ceremonial style gown and the other free for members of the audience to participate in. People queued around the square watching on as Marina and a member of the public stared each other down. There was no time-limit for a person to sit there, some took 5minutes some an hour or more. I actually walked through other exhibits and came back to find the same women sitting there. For some it was too much, they’d leave with tears in their eyes perhaps recalling sad memories or successfully having read some in the blank stare of the artist herself. The performance was filmed and streamed on the Internet live and a photographer took photos of the participants which you can find here I overheard an array of comments from; “How completely lazy” to “I don’t think I could go up there” and “This is intense”. My interpretation of it was a commentary on the interaction between people on a daily basis, the distractions of speech and meaning removed.

I wandered through the works of Picasso for sometime then eventually moved on to more modern works like those of Kentridge. On my way up through the levels of sculpture and design I reached the second last level and walked in to find Van Gogh’s The Starry Night staring me in the face. I kind of froze, In the single art class I’d failed in high school we were made to re-draw this painting. It took me awhile to adjust to realise I was actually looking at the real thing (I wasn’t aware it was hung in America let alone the museum I’d just wandered into on a hunch) It is one of my favourite paintings to this day. Nearby were other Van Gogh works as well as those by Munch, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and Dali. What can one say other than wow.

I’d missed some of Marina Abramovic’s other retrospective works however I think they had closed for the night. They were being performed by other people one of which an interpretation of her 1974 work entitled “Rhythm 0” was chillingly retold to me by my mates at the hostel it goes like this;

A woman was in a room by herself, only accompanied by a table with 72 objects on it; including scissors, markers, a whip and knives and a gun with 1 loaded bullet. The audience was instructed to use the objects on the women as they saw fit they were also allowed to put her limbs in any position. Initially people used the markers to draw on her and put her arms in certain positions but as time went by people started to use the knives to cut her (on the face) and it all slowly culminated to the point where an audience member, grabbed the loaded gun, placed it in the hand of the women, moved her arm and pointed the gun towards her own head and began to pull the trigger only to have the audience gasp in shock horror and head to pull it away.

MoMA really is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. My last stop before closing however was the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition. Basically he is the original intrepid exploring photographer. Starting in the 1930’s. As you enter the walls are plastered with maps of his journeys, he literally travelled everywhere before the average person knew what ‘there’ looked like and he took a huge array of photos being published by magazines such as Life, he also helped establish an photographers right to own his work. India/Indonesia during Independence / China during the revolution / USSR and the death of Stalin / The American post-war boom. He covered everything from the average shot of the everyday person to portraits of icons. I kind of got inspired after seeing his work and travels. Just thinking about it all logistically (how one traveled the world with camera gear in the early 20th century) It was utterly impressive.

I wandered around towards the Apple store on 5th Ave and that was pretty much the end of the day, my last set of photos in New York were black&white of random people interacting on the sidewalks of Midtown Manhattan some sort of pathetic attempt or homage to Cartier-Bresson? I don’t normally focus on strangers but I thought I’d give it a shot.

Later that night involved vodka, beers and generally a good time at the hostel (a hostel party of sorts)

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