LOST IN CHELSEA

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The weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, I ventured to NYC with my friend Shadya and a sinus infection.  What I planned on doing versus what actually happened is quite different from one another.  Being born in New England, I am used to cow paths utilized as paved roads.  NYC has a grid…it never occurred to me that something rational could be so confusing.  I am completely conditioned to find my way around chaos presenting itself as logic.  I would have thought one would lend itself to the other.  Not so much.  I had a plan that included a list of galleries I would visit, the biennial at the Whitney (which on Friday’s is pay what you want) and to eat a slice of pizza somewhere.  I didn’t think this was too much to do in 36 hours.  That was my mistake.  I mistook the enormity of the city, the mass amounts of humans, and how it’s all crammed into this gridded space. In my research before I left I found there are over 1000 art galleries in NYC, 500 of them right in Chelsea.  When we first got there we walked forever and nothing, then I found one…I don’t even think it was in Chelsea, it was by accident, within moments of entering we were ejected due to a special event.  That was the Forbes Gallery.  It didn’t ring my bell at all. My phone died completely 3 times that Friday.  I was obsessed with the map, so obsessed I kept going in the wrong direction.  I couldn’t access a proper horizon to get my bearings, the horizon is completely geometric.  The whole city is a math problem I can’t solve. After walking miles in various directions all over the lower part of Manhattan and taking in so much stimuli (visually, physically, my senses were on overload) we resolved to hail a cab and head toward the Whitney.  That’s on, I believe, the upper eastside, so it took a minute.  I find 2 miles can take up to a half hour to travel…I prefer my own car to their meter, it’s cheaper to ride and the parking is more affordable than Boston during a Sox game.  I am not a fan of the train.  I don’t like to touch hips with strangers unless I choose to.  Anyway, I am getting off topic here. What I noticed is that as you travel from wherever I was (the village I presume) to the Whitney there is a shift.  A significant shift; keep in mind this is an observation from a complete outsider.  I dare say I could draw a gigantic line across the sections I see this shift occur in throughout the city.  Maybe it’s that this city is a microcosm of all that contemporary culture has to offer and in a way presented itself to me as a gigantic installation with all of the people and parts important to the performance, all significant within the role of their own reality, how that effects the environment around them collides with other realities and culminates as the definitive referred to as NYC.  The shift is obviously rooted in an economical demographic.  The style of dress, the restaurants, the dwellings of Chelsea and the Village shifted during my cab ride to the Whitney.  Suddenly, all I see are suits, labels, accessories to the hilt, amazing dwellings and not a slice of pizza in sight.  The attitude on the street shifted too.  You can almost feel it if you pay attention.  It’s not that people think they are better, they are better.  Just ask them.  They all talk about how important they are with each other.  Every single conversation I eavesdropped (which was a considerable amount) was super intense regardless of the topic.  Intensity is key—this attitude did follow me back to Chelsea.  So, it may not have been something I picked up on until I was in the upper eastside and quite possibly the prevailing attitude of the populous residing within the grid. We entered a stuffy gallery after ringing the bell.  I don’t remember the name of this one.  It was located near the Whitney.  There were some Picasso’s in it, not good ones, just Picasso’s.  How could I say such things?  Let’s face it…even Picasso made shit sometimes.  My favorite piece in the gallery was by Lucio Fontana an all-white standard size canvas with a vertical slit cut into the middle presented in a floating frame.  After all of this, I am starving, time for that slice.  Being where I was and not knowing where that is, my best bet to find a slice…ask a pregnant lady.  She suggested and directed and we found delicious pizza on Lex.  I never would have found it on my own.  I was able to recharge my phone while we ate.  I don’t like to be hungry when I am in a museum because I can’t properly focus.  The news was on; it’s interesting NYC news is relative to the whole city.  It didn’t report news for New York State.  It could be the massive explosion happening the day before dominating the mediated imagery.  I will watch it every time I go to see if it proves true.  This is a lot right?!  I haven’t even gotten to the Whitney yet.  We were trying to stall for the Friday night deal.  It was about that time and we headed over.  My ADHD lights on fire in this city, there is a constant radiating energy that hangs in the air of NYC and it makes me feel instantly shiny but I remind myself to remain skeptical.  When we get there, the line is long and wraps around the museum.  Everyone is dressed in what they perceive is their best.  I only brought my backpack so the clothes I have on are the ones I showed up in and will also be wearing home.  I learned this trick on an accidental trip to Barbados.  Bear in mind at this point I am still under the impression that I will find a ton of galleries to explore in the morning.  Once we were in, I paid $1.00 and entered the annoying stairway, it was loud.  There were so many things at the Whitney Biennial; it’s hard to describe everything.  One installation was an immersion of the senses.  It was a video of sheep crossing a river; the sound was of the herd and their surrounding environment.  The room was dark, except for light from the video and the entrance.  Black chairs provided for people to sit in.  The only way out of the room is the way in.  People were essentially herded in, sat as a herd, watched a herd and exited as a herd.  I stood, watched this for a while as it entertained me endlessly.  The artist managed to make the viewer emulate what they were viewing.  I loved it.  The other piece that I really enjoyed was another installation, with two employees of the museum donning hand woven sashes, one “bigger,” the other, “better.” In front of them, a “megazine.”  It’s a 23-page book with full color photographs depicting psychic establishments and the content of the text comprises various things all psychics told the artist.  In order to turn the page, the viewer had to request “bigger or better” turn the page for you.  Of course I asked a mazillion questions and when I walked up no one was there, which made my experience with the book more conducive.  As people gathered, I would request the page to be turned before they could comfortably view it.  It was like a fabulous game.  Once we finally reached the back cover, I asked how the front cover looked.  So, one page at a time, they turned back through the “megazine.”  I was ecstatic when the front cover revealed an image of a dark longhaired tiger-striped cat.  Completely satisfied I walked away.  Soon after we left, it was pretty crowded. I had only arrived 6 hours before.  We headed back to Chelsea, cab rides are so much better in the dark with the windows down.  It just feels good!  Once back at the hostel we were staying at, it was decided we would hit up a gay club.  Only to find there are only 3 lesbian clubs in all of NYC, 1 in Brooklyn, 2 relatively close to where we were staying.  The first one was the size of a bathroom, with objects hanging from the ceiling and had a line of people with it that we waited in for 10 minutes listening to more important people have such important conversations.  Abandoning that plan we went to some treehouse, full of straight people.  I am not anti-straight; I just like to drink with my own people.  There is an unspoken acceptance that differs from regular bars.  After paying for my beer, Shadya wanted to go.  I hid the bottle in my jacket and we walked towards wherever it is we thought we were going.  I finished my beer on the side streets.  We hailed a cab and went to Henrietta Hudson’s.  Not quite as small as the first place and no line.  Now, I drank, made fun, and drank some more, danced, continued drinking until I arrived at drunk.  This is not a regular habit for me however, I do enjoy indulging myself.  We had a lot of fun, maybe too much….nah, never too much.  Let’s just say the next morning, I awoke, only 4 hours after going to bed, still very drunk and I didn’t find any more galleries.  It wasn’t until now I could even write this because the very sight of NYC made me nauseous.  HA!

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