It’s indescribably strange being in New York at the moment. In Midtown and Uptown Manhattan, you’d never know that anything had happened. Capitalism roars on; the lights flash, the taxis honk and the tourists continue to pour in. We got stuck tonight and couldn’t find a hotel anywhere in the city. It’s rammed.
But that’s not the real picture. The taxis aren’t going to be here much longer, for starters, because unless petrol is shipped in in vast quantities, they’re all going to run out. From 25th Street downwards New York is still a strange, pitch-black, post-apocalyptic nightmare. Anyone living down there (The Man and I included) is living a strange life. Piling in to cafes, bank lobbies, literally anywhere that has power so that we can stay connected to the outside world; skyping from outside still-closed Starbucks branches, taking laptops for lunch so that we can get online for a few minutes. It’s embarrassing, really; my residual images of this monumental crisis have been of people sitting in the streets charging their Macs from stations set up by kindly companies (pictured) or skyping with their phones plugged into outdoor pillars in the road.
The worst of it is that nobody living below 25th street really knows what’s going on in the rest of New York and New Jersey. I learned tonight that what’s going on is truly appalling. I’ll update you about that tomorrow. I need to know more before I blog about it.
For now I’m taking a break from the heavy stuff. I’m taking you to an art gallery, in fact. The MoMA.
The Man and I went yesterday. In comparison to many we’ve had an easy ride but it’s still felt pretty brutal at times. Apart from anything else I totally stink after days without a shower. So we wanted a break.
It was rammed. The tourists have nowhere else to go. Everything you want to see (or buy) is closed apart from a few museums.
Now, I’m not really one for art galleries. Museums – yes, if the exhibition is a good one. But art galleries . . . I just . . . I’m sorry. I know I’m a disappointment to you. But I don’t like spending time in art galleries, unless I know a lot about the art I’m looking at. If I don’t, I get bored very quickly. Those descriptions only make me angry. They should not be written by arty people. They should be written by people like me. Words like ‘explore’ and ‘relationship’ and ‘tensions’ just make me snarl in this context.
I’m at an age where I can say that now, without embarrassment. I have a perfectly decent cultural life and I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t like my ‘art.’ Although even I would struggle to call my novel a work of art. It’s brilliant, of course. Outstanding, you might say. But art…? Hmmm. Anyway, doesn’t matter. I get bored in art galleries and that’s that.
I’d forgotten, of course. I love the idea of floating whimsically around the MoMA, taking in contemporary art and photography and making incisive comments about what’s on display.
Instead I had these jewels to offer:
SCENE: An installation entitled Slavs and Turks. I can’t describe it much beyond the fact that there were some rugs hanging up, a few benches and something unremarkable in the centre.
ME: (whispering) I’d forgotten that I find a lot of art to be really shit.
THE MAN: shhh.
ME: Come on!
The Man: (sighs; gives in.) There’s a cucumber over there. On a cushion.
We both got awful giggles and had to leave, sighing over the cucumber on the way. Although to be honest I suspect the cucumber was in fact a dried up old dump.
SCENE: A video installation showing a man, naked, having a punch up with a projected image of himself.
ME: Look, The Man! It’s a naked artist punching himself!
The MAN: Stop looking at his knob.
ME: Am not!
THE MAN: You are. You’re aroused.
ONLOOKER: Excuse me?
ME: I think we should give up on this stuff and go and see some Van Gogh. We’re disgracing ourselves.
THE MAN: Yes. Good. Oh and let’s go and see some Jackson Bollock.
ME: (childish giggling)
ONLOOKER: Are you for real??
SCENE: The Man and I are standing in a gaggle of tourists in front of Munch’s ‘Scream.’ It’s a pastel version of the famous image. All of the tourists are taking pictures of it. They seem excited.
ME: Wow. It’s even shitter in real life than it is on TV or in books.
TOURIST: (Stares at me like he wants me to be dead)
THE MAN: (half-heartedly) Shhhh…
ME: Come on! It’s fucking dreadful!
THE MAN: (dolefully) Yeah. It really is. I think we should go and have a cup of tea.
ME: Yes! And go to the shop!
THE MAN: Yes! The shop!
ME: I love galleries!