Sunday, February 16, 2014

MAD World

I am madness maddened.
-Captain Ahab

Working backwards a week...

I ventured out last saturday to visit the Museum of Art and Design.  I hadn't heard of it before, but my friend Miles had recommend it, and he is a pretty good judge of cool things.

On my way out of Brooklyn, I picked up a used copy of Sigmund Freud's Civilization and its Discontents ("Das Unbehagen in der Kultur") for a dollar from a bookseller outside the subway.  I chatted with Lennox the bookseller from Guyana.  We talked of warmer weather in California, where he had never been but was interested in seeing the Pacific if only once.  I slipped the small red book comfortably into the beige pocket of the soft beige camel-hair coat.

It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement -- that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.

I hopped the 3 train, and switched to the 1 local to get to 59th and Columbus Circle on the cusp of Central Park.  I had been in the area once prior, but had not seen the building of interesting design.

I entered into a world of bling.  There was an exquisite exhibition on Fashion Jewelry.  Collections of Channel jewelry with pearls as big as grapes.  Pearl garlic slivers.  All sparkles and stones.  It was pretty stunning.

There were diamond bow ties with emerald center pieces.  Gold ravens with red saphire eyes and diamond collars.  Emerald peregrine falcons.  I found a diamond and glass praying mantis and grass hopper.
I kept wandering through the exhibits, including one on ceramics called Body and Soul.  I found an utterly bizarre yet wonderful collection of figurines by Jessica Harrison that can only be titled "The Porcelain Dead"

Much of the museum dealt with imagining the future of art based on 3D printing and futuristic designs in a wonderful collection called Out of Hand.  Paul's predictions on the future: 3D printing will revolutionize fashion, design and jewelry design.

After an enjoyable romp through the museum, I wandered through the snow-covered Central Park, and over to Rizzoli- a nice, old fashioned bookstore on W. 57th.  I wandered through the stacks, searching for a birthday gift for my friend Dani. I settled on the immaculate Shantaram for him; for me, I bought a book of phantasmal creatures from Borges.  

On my way down to purchase the books, I stumbled on a 4 foot edition of Sebastião Salgado's Genesis.  I laid out the giant book on a giant table, and called over the French book store clerk to show her my treasure and make sure she knew what was in her store.  

I was first introduced to Salgado's work a decade ago in Prague at his exhibition Exodus, an exhibit that left me riveted.  I was stunned that he was able to find such incredible beauty in the most dire places.  It was if you felt guilty for being so mesmerized by the tragedy wrapped in beauty.  I had a similar experience later on that chapter,  behind my own lens in Auschwitz in autumn.  The changing color of the leaves on the white bark trees and the symmetry of the barbed wire on the red bricks were horrifically beautiful, and I felt empty for finding beauty in such horror.

But Genesis was different.  This was far more elemental and expansive.  Free from the emotions of Exodus but equally beautiful  I slowly flipped the 3 foot page pictures, gasping and sighing. 

After a jaunt back to Brooklyn to drop my camera, I headed north through Brooklyn up to Williamsburg for my old friend Dani's birthday.  We started out at Cafe Argentino, where we drank fernet and coke, and sipped malbec over morellas (sweet breads in cognac sauce) and medium-rare Bife de Chorizo.  How could I maintain my veggie-ness at an Argentine steak joint?  Besides, like hugging my shomer negiah friend Bethy because I knew her before she was as such, I had ex post facto relations to Argentine meat that had precedence over veggitude.

After a delicious Argentine meal, we headed over to my old friend Heidi's place for a party for Dani, before we hopped a party bus into a Bulgarian disco bar.  The Bulgarian disco bar had an Ice Cage, which offered all-you-could-guzzle vodka in the iced room for 2 minutes.  It was a baaad idea.

Let's just say I ended up falling asleep on the subway home.  I think I might have been in Brooklyn when I dozed.  I woke up in THE BRONX.  That means I slept to the end of the line in Brooklyn, back up through Brooklyn and through Manhattan to ultimately arrive in the northern tip of the Big Apple.  Not the best of moves.

I switch tracks and headed back south.  But even that was a struggle.  I usually take the 3 to get to my stop.  I caught the 2 and was heading south, but got off to try to switch to the 3.  I waited a while so I caught the next 2 as the station was cold.  So a few stops down, i got off again to try for the 3.  After watching a few 2 trains pass, I realized that the 3 was not running late night.  So I got back on the 2 and took it down to Franklin Ave to switch to a 4 train gone local.

I finally made it home at close to 6am. Not pretty.

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