Diane Arbus & An Egg Cream
Cut to 11pm last night. I'm in the midst of a prison den / karaoke 'lounge' on 32nd, surrounded by a bevy of babes, singing in various keys to The Weeknd's "The Hills". It's a sinister, sexy song and we're fcking riding that pony down, ruining it in 20 different ways. We're going high, we're going low, we're aiming for gangster but we're landing in Bar Mitzvah - my balls just cracked - territory. No matter. There's a table full of Kirin Ichiban, macarons (no idea why but I'm into it), Korean beer from "K Town Grocery" down the street and we're committed. I get fresh on the mic, get walked in on in the bathroom, grab some free tootsie pops from the 'complimentary' tootsie mountain near checkout and give Kristina a big squeeze (she's headed to London Town!) before heading to the train around 2.
I wake up this morning with a game plan - I'm heading to the Met to see Diane Arbus & Manus x Machina. Sometimes I like to check myself and come back to center, feasting on the fact that pretty much everything is within reach here in NY - a cheapo pretzel, the best photography in the world. We're a generation dominated by mood (aren't Millennials the worst?) but sometimes I like to flip the negative connotation of that, e.g. identify what I'm yearning to do and get after it. Hence the day trip.
So I fry up some veggies and eggs (a holdover from the engagement party, went a bit overboard at the produce section) and hop on the 4, headed uptown. When I get off at 86th, it's raining cats and dogs and I'm hiding with the lithe French tourists under an awning in front of H & M. We kind of half laugh at the rain and our close proximity in that "summer in New York! isn't it a bitch?" way that only the miserable and determined can share. I grab an umbrella at Duane Reade and walk down Madison, snapping a few pics of UES shrubbery in the process.
I make my way into the museum, marveling at the sheer volume of people. As usual, I've tricked myself into thinking I might be the only person with a specific idea only to realize that the majority of the population is vibing on a similar wavelength. I'm surrounded by tourists of all colors, shapes and denominations and we're all confused about the museum layout. I take refuge in the Egyptian archives, wandering in and through the Hellenistic lion earrings, miniature gorgon heads and those delightfully blue lapis lazuli clay pots which, truth be told, I'd really like to loot for my next dinner party. I end up in a hidden wing which opens into airy brightness, the rain gliding down epically long glass walls. I should be interested in the Temple of Dendur but I'm not; I'm drinking in the people around me. Museums - like trains - usually offer a backdrop to let my thoughts wander. I'm contained and floating free - at once concentrated on the world in front of me and simultaneously existing on another plane, where entirely separate narratives and situations are playing out in technicolor.
I half skip back out through the tombs and carved headless sculptures and make my way to the second floor to check out the oil portraiture and erotic country scenes. I'm not disappointed by the collection, in fact I'm kind of floored by it: 8 foot long oil scenes of crumbling grape wreaths and vestal virgins and Spanish princes flanked by dogs symbolizing their sex appeal or nobility or something epic that I would have learned in Art History 101 while abroad in Rome if I hadn't been drunk and/or hungover the entire semester (hi Nicole). There I was, face on my hand, eyes drifting out the window to the Castel Sant'Angelo, the body of Hadrian floating in the humid mist, with not even an art history text book to my name. Mi dispiace to my professor Pier Paolo.
But back to NY. The oil scenes are iconic and the guards protecting them are even more so; there's a man who looks like DaVinci himself, scribbling and sketching to himself as he barks at people to drop their backpacks. He gives my jean shorts an approving glance and holds open the door for me which makes me feel like the countess I believe I was in another life.
I go back down the stairs and head into the Costume Institute portion of the afternoon - Manus x Machina. The exhibit plumbs the intersection between machine and man and I don't react to half of the pieces but the House of Chanel wedding dress at the exhibit's center is so beautiful I have to gulp in some extra oxygen to concentrate on it. It's a long sleeved cream wedding dress with the most regal train you've ever seen - hand painted with gold metallic, machine printed with rhinestones and embroidered with gemstones. Pretty breathtaking - even the straight dudes are snapping pics.
At this point, I've worked up an appetite and walk myself down Madison to Laduree for a sampling of macarons - when on the upper east side, live like an upper east sider. I order three confections - two citron and one "Marie Antoinette" - si vouz plait. I eat them hungrily, half scaring half the clientele, and then walk back uptown to see Diane Arbus at the other Met branch on 75th. The photographs impact me like they always do - a glimpse into moments so of their time and simultaneously new that I kinda rock back on my heels looking into them. My favorites are snapshots from New York summers of years past: 50s couples tanning on their lawns and a guy in curlers, springing out from the heat in a dark room in god knows where.
Post Arbus, I sit myself at a little table in a nondescript diner, flipping open "The Corrections" with an egg cream and a grilled cheese. The egg cream is a spur of the moment decision. I see it on the menu and feel instantly nostalgic for Florida and my grandparents; my "Uncle" Jerry used to waltz over at 3pm to talk about the GOP and why egg creams were the god damn best thing on the planet. Sadly it's not phenomenal (shouldn't it have fizz?) but the grilled cheese is text book and totally on the money - endless cheddar and soft griddle marks, with a heap of fries and dollop of Ketchup.
I'm back on my couch now, sitting in the dusty breeze of my fan with some Sauvignon Blanc and the "September Issue", thinking about the merits of Kendall Jenner. Can't wait to see mom tomorrow for some fam gossip and delish Indian grub. NY summer - it's a toss up.