Oh, is it Pi Day today? Excellent news for the mathematically-inclined.
I ate the last of my birthday cake this morning…a celebration of an entirely different sort. While still in the prime of my personhood, I can feel Summer slowly turning to Fall within my bones. I spent the actual day reflecting on my past—wandering old haunts in old neighborhoods in the company of an old friend—and in the days since have been working on future plans. My big takeaway from this birthday is that I cannot go back to who I was, or how things were.
It was a mix of old and new. I checked out the Pawel Althamer exhibit at the New Museum, which was a pleasant surprise. Admittedly my main impetus in going was getting free admission with the donation of a men’s coat to the Bowery Mission, but I’m glad I checked it out. Althamer works mostly in mixed-media sculpture; the straw/hemp humanoid statues covered in wax were incredibly lifelike and creepy. Some of the pieces were collaborative, and I appreciate Althamer giving credit where it’s due. That being said, the mixed-media collaboration with African migrant workers didn’t resonate with me. It felt more like appropriation, promoting racial stereotypes instead of exploding them.
The reason my photos of the exhibit aren’t up is because I finally broke my dry spell and rocked the Nikon N2000 all day—4 rolls in total. I’m going to get negs developed at two different photo labs, and hopefully upload some pics in a week or so!
On another floor Althamer’s interest in interactive/collaborative art was extended to all museum visitors; the elevators opened onto a large room where anyone could paint or otherwise mark up the walls, floor and ceiling. (Art supplies were provided by the Museum, you couldn’t bring your own gear.) Small kids in oversized smocks tripped over themselves and gave their helicopter parents immense agita, all the while happily throwing paint around. I did not indulge in a scribble, but found some interesting visual connections and took some shots.
While heading to my afternoon rendevous, I wandered up the Bowery for a spell. The beautiful, clear sunny day was perfect for a leisurely walk. Passing by what used to be CBGBs and the Amato Opera House was fucking grim, and the new club that opened up nearby looks exactly the same from the outside as the new Knitting Factory on Havemeyer in Williamsburg—bland, grey/brown pseudo-minimalism with large windows covered up by flyers. (On a positive note: The Upper Crust will be playing there next week. I’d better get my wig powdered and de-liced!)
As I hit Houston Street I noticed Liz Christy Garden was open. It’s been a community garden (the very first one, in fact!) since I was small, and it was heartening to see volunteers pruning shrubs, feeding the fish and rustproofing fences. I walked in, finished my roll of film, started a new one and hung out for a while. I get irritated by people who rail against cities because they aren’t “natural”—one of those loaded concepts that means something different to everyone, and no one who uses it knows exactly what they mean when they use it! Trying to place psychic impressions of various environments (cities vs. suburbs vs. rural areas) on a “better-worse” continuum is a fool’s game. There are calming, tranquil places anywhere you happen to be, if you care to seek them out. Thankfully I found such a place on my birthday, just a mile from the place of my actual birth.
I headed east on 4th Street, noting that Meadowsweet Herbal Apothecary was no more (now it’s a kitsch shop) but the photo gallery is still around. Up First Avenue and over again on 10th, admiring the shop that specializes in plants and semi-precious stones while being thankful the Turkish Baths still exist. Things change; things stay the same, sometimes. Now matter how often we change, we’re still always ourselves.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent in convivial reverie, catching up, knocking back pints of stout and ale, checking out galleries and somehow forgetting to eat. I made it home by Midnight; as I walked through the door I was thankful to have lived this long, and hopeful to live even longer.