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Semiformalishmaybe

Madness and Civilivilization

Replaces an earlier post with (most of) day 1 of 2 in NYC. Way too much detail.Packed last night, woke around 7:30, spent some time trying and failing to find my Final Fantasy Tactics A2 cart for my gameboy (sigh, one of the problems with ever-smaller carts is that they're easier to lose), ran out the door, decided I was hungry so grabbed a Leo d'Veggie at the bagel place, and took the bus to CMU. Unfortunately, missed the bus I wanted, so rather than wait, I called a cab. Another 28X came and gone and I grew increasingly nervous, called to ask for an ETA, and they were like "We have no requests on file for you", so ... *grumble* asked for a cab again, and got a pleasant cab driver who (as usual) wanted to talk about politics - this was neither a "FoxNews" conservative nor a Libertarian, just a thoughtful, worried guy who actually knew something about european current events and politics(!!). Started discussing some california plebicites (do they call them propositions? I think they do) he was worried about that sounded like rent control for taxes, ended up discussing the greek financial crisis and comparitive greek and italian governments (he was much more familiar with the greek, oddly). Anyhow, he got me to the airport with enough time for me to make my flight.

Small plane, better designed than most small planes. I slept for most of the flight. Arrived at JFK, stared at the transit map long enough to revise my previous plans significantly, two rails later I was in Penn Station, walked to hotel, checked in (over irritating noise of maintenance people working on one of the elevator), went up to room to drop off (smaller) clothes bag.

Hotel is literally perfect. Not too expensive, very small but nice, reasonably tech-savvy (wired+wireless with just a web-based gateway - always use konqueror to do those so as not to confuse Firefox's DNShelper, also has a huge LCDTV with an exposed VGA and DVI interface - kickass!). Set up like a hotel in Paris - very narrow (10 rooms a floor), very tall (33 floors?). Best of all, it's a hotel that I call "homestead style" - it has a microwave, fridge, washing machine, utensils, basically everything one would need to live out of it comfortably for a reasonable amount of time. I *love* this type of hotel (the smallness actually is a big plus too - I don't need a lot of space). The only thing I dislike is that it's not all ground-floor, but that's probably hard to do in NYC.

Schlepped myself off to MoMA, which was free! (Fridays are sponsored by a few local big businesses), but first, on the way there I stumbled on a protest against Israel. It was a grab-bag of people - Neturei Karta (a strand of Orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionist - a lot of mainstream Jews of all flavours, who have generally come to support Zionism, consider the matter settled to the extent that they consider anti-Zionism to be anti-Semitic, holding their definitions of being Jewish to enforce one position on the matter. I don't necessarily like the NK per se, but I think it's both ugly to try to close debate using games with identity that way, and I think Zionism is as ugly as all strongly nationalist creeds. However, I am aware that the alternate framework of civilizations (which are open to any race, and depend on inculturation/values as a big part of membership) that I use instead could be called culturally imperialist, and rightly so - this doesn't bother me one bit - I won't claim that the universe loves the culture I would like to build, but I nontheless would go to bat for it and try to make it cover the earth, even as much as it does have significant "don't care" areas where many aspects of existing cultures could be preserved as local variations - I am not a liberal multiculturalist, but I'm not aiming for a deep monoculture..... anyway)), Turks (who were particularly peeved that several turks were killed in the Israeli raid, and whose president has said a number of incredibly daft things about the events, but then he *is* a member of the AKP, which is kind of a "political islam, lite" party), Palestinians, etc. I didn't actually talk to anyone at the protest, because my thoughts on the matter are quite nuanced and I think it's a situation where there really wasn't a right answer. People who are shouting are not generally in the mood for subtlety and nuance (actually, most people do not appreciate either even at their calmest). I have some pictures and a video. I probably would have better pics and a longer video had the police not been around to keep people moving if they wern't in the fenced-off area (the police were quite gentle but insistent that people keep moving - they had a point).

Anyhow, MoMA. Things:

  • First, the bathroom, where there were hand driers from the future! "Dyson Airblade" was the type - I put my wet hands into a groove in an open thing, and some crazy wacky air currents dried them instantly. The wikipedia article says 10 seconds, but it really was instant.
  • Edward Hopper - 「Gas」
  • A few exhibits used styrofoam and wood together, and I thought that maybe our notion of styrofoam as something to be ignored is a prejudice from product delivery. YMMV - might not have been instended from any piece
  • Lots of french people because there was a big Picasso exhibit
  • Architecture exhibit talking about NYC flooding because of global warming, ways to cope with that a bit. Neat
  • DeGoya - Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters - Neat piece, awesome title.
  • Joan Miró
  • Mark Fobey - 「Void Destroying the Gadget Era」
  • Enrique Chagoya
  • Wageohi Muti - 「One Hundred Lavish Mother of Bushwack」 (might have this title slightly wrong)
  • Ron Horn - 「Still Water」
  • Bruce Hauman - 「Days」 - Awesome talking flatpanels saying days of the week in many accents
  • Lee Bontecou
  • Pollock - Had some of his proper paintings
  • Francis Bacon - Number VII - Creeptastic
  • FY andy warhol you are a talentless schmuck and don't belong in any museum hate hate hate (apologies to fans of Andy Warhol)
  • Giorgio de Chirico
  • Matisse
  • Marc Chagall - 「Me and the Village」
  • Gino Cevaia - 「Covered Train in Action」 - I might have the author's name slightly wrong
  • Henri Rousseau
Anyhow, it was starting to get dark, so I left and sought indian food at Utsav. It took me awhile to find it, and as I passed the 3rd Halal food stand, I thought it would be terribly funny to have a food stand near them marked "Haram food!" as if it were an endorsement. Eventually I found it, it was kind of hidden. Utsav is up in a bridge between two buildings, and looks down into a square. It had a neat view, but because they really gave the place an atmosphere, looking out felt slightly out of place (although it'd be an absolutely wonderful vantage from which to see a thunderstorm). It was a bit pricy, but worth it.
  • Saag Paneer - Oddly without rice, more paneer than usual, and with lots of great spices (onions?!). The spices were different than I've ever had before, and there was a lot of subtlety in the taste.
  • Sweet Lassi - Meh. Uninspiring. I've had roughly the same experience in california indian fast food.
  • Naan - Much higher quality of bread than I've usually seen, much less butter. Tasty, although I took most of it back to the hotel and ate it here.
  • Provided a very hot, damp towel in a plastic bag after my meal. Neat that they pulled out all the stops.
I'm glad I went with them rather than Indian places I've been before - was convinced by Zagat as well as plenty of good reviews.

Walked back home (did I mention I've walked everywhere once I made it to the hotel?), changed into running clothes, walked to penn circle (which is my favourite place in NYC - I think New Yorkers like to name good things "Penn $thing", as Penn station is decent too), and started a jog through the park. I wanted to try running all four corners of Central, but I had a mild migraine of the type that objects to any strenuous activity (still have one, in fact), so it was mainly repeated cycles of running until I saw spots and felt like I was going to have a seizure, walking until it almost completely went away, running... (yeah, dumb, but I really wanted to run this thing). On my trips to Central Park before, despite having a lot of memories in the park, I've only ever seen the Penn Circle corner, and wanted to know if the others are awesome too. As it turns out, northwest is in intense tension between slum and wealthy, northeast is mostly the same (but the east bits are nice and museumy), and southeast is just like penn circle but less so. Saw lots of dogs, was reminded that at some point the urban engineers in NYC were people who don't actually go to parks, because they have these HORRIBLE CROSS-PARK ROADS EVERY SO OFTEN WHERE EVERYONE GOES 90 MILES AN HOUR. Bastards. Had a pleasant run apart from the migraines and the terror-roads. As I was heading south down the east line of the park, I passed the statue where I remember photos being taken some years ago in a pleasant NYC trip, and as I passed certain rocky areas, I remembered an even earlier wonderful trip I took there with Martha, which then reminded me of the trips I took here with Nicole and the places we went... so many memories. Made me feel more lonely now, as nowadays I barely have any social ties left and certainly don't matter to anyone in the way that people need to belong. Sigh. A bit south of the statue was a bizarre out-of-place bar open to the park, and someone was playing guitar - sat for awhile to listen and to try not to think for awhile. Eventually got up and continued the go. Stopped at Penn Circle, sat for awhile to people watch and reflect on memories and difficulties in making real connections to people. Fished my driver's license, hotel passcard, scribbled map of important places, and the $20 just-in-case out of my shoes, and decided to head back to the hotel. On the way, bought some oranges from a street vendor - things are huge, and I have a fridge!

Wrote this thing out.

Going to take a shower, then if I still have the energy I'll schlepp myself out to Yaffa Café to see if it's as cool as I remember. I might fall asleep instead.

It's probably a good thing that I haven't felt the need to turn on the gameboy yet on the trip.

Comments

This makes me want to go to NYC.