Before today, I had never visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I walked past it years ago when my mother took me on a surprise trip to New York City. It was one of her greater surprises — all was dramatically revealed at the Olive Garden. There were clues, but I foolishly hadn’t seen them. When I think back on it, it was rather odd to find her sitting on the ground in a weird corner of Barnes & Noble slyly reading a guidebook to the city. That was a nice trip. I was real fat and had a good time dining at Alfredo, which will forever be my favorite restaurant (even though it is now tragically closed — temporarily they say, but I don’t know; there’s something up with that). Anyway, today, I finally had the chance to visit this renowned museum and I couldn’t have been happier to spend the day in those hallowed halls.
But, before all that happened, I had to wake up, which is never an easy feat. When I finally fall asleep, I have no intention of ever getting up again. It’s a curse, reader. I couldn’t sleep the day away, though, so off I went to the showers at the end of the hall in a shorty robe provided by the hotel. I don’t think they were meant for tall people. The provided slippers certainly weren’t meant to fit my size twelve feet. Is that abnormally large? I will have to look into this…bear with…bear with…never mind, I couldn’t find any scientific data. All I could discover was that sixty-eight percent of men wear a ten and a half. So, I guess my feet are larger than average, but I can’t quantify the information. SORRY, READER. Anyway, the slippers barely fit, so I kind of shuffled my way down to the showers — I galloped actually. I gallop everywhere. I had at first thought that this shower situation would be odd or unpleasant, but it was perfectly fine. Something that was far from fine was my hair — I don’t think it was very happy with the New York water or something because it was a mess. No matter what I did to it, it refused to cooperate, so I gave up and took a look out the window and saw the Statue of Liberty. I hadn’t expected that — how nice.
After getting all dressed up, I was soon underground trying to find a day pass for the buses and trains. For some reason, unlike every other city I’ve ever visited, this wasn’t an option. They only sold passes by the week. So, I bought a single pass and figured out where I was going. This wasn’t too terribly difficult, but it wasn’t as simple as in Paris. Their system is absolutely flawless. Each station has a unique name, the colors of the line are clear, the names of the line are obvious, and they are easy to navigate. New York seems to have gone out of its way to be confusing with a million different lines of similar color all going to places with names like “West 14th & 8,” which to a person unfamiliar with the operations of the train was rather perplexing. But, nonetheless, I got on the right train and was soon speeding uptown to be released outside the Museum of Natural History, so I headed through Central Park.
It wasn’t terribly warm out, but it wasn’t that bad, which surprised me. It recalled to my mind my time in San Francisco. I didn’t mind how chilly it was there either. In fact, I found it rather refreshing. Am I ill? Is there something the matter with me? The park is much lovelier in the spring and summer, but it wasn’t bad at all and I enjoyed nonsensically winding my way through the curving pathways as I made my way over to Fifth Avenue.
Once I was on that well-known Avenue admiring all the Ashley Olson impersonators with their big coats and massive scarves and monstrously huge bags and ridiculously oversized sunglasses, I made it a life goal to have an apartment there someday. It doesn’t have to be big or terribly grand, but it has to be on Fifth Avenue — overlooking the Park would be nice, of course, but I’m willing to give that up for the address. (Of course, I’ll still need the San Franciscan townhouse, the Parisian apartment, and the Floridian beach house…property is important to me.)
I was a bit disappointed to see that the grounds of the museum are going through a refurbishment, so I didn’t get to admire the building properly. The iconic front is still the same as ever, so the disappointment wasn’t too great and I was happy to get inside out of a chilly breeze that had popped up.
To my annoyance, the entrance fee was not a fixed number, but rather a donation. You could give anything — you could probably give nothing at all — but the recommended donation was $25, which seemed rather high for me. The British Museum doesn’t guilt you into paying and the Louvre is much more reasonably priced. I won’t complain too much, though, since I fully planned on spending my day here.
I didn’t enter from the main entrance so I found myself immediately in the wings of Grecian sculpture, which was absolutely gorgeous. We just started reading Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief at work in reading class, so it was fun to see the place described in the book — I’m liking that book so far, much more than that snooze-fest, The Hunger Games. I can’t deal with that dystopian nonsense. I can’t understand why that was so well received, but I couldn’t get into the Twilight crap, either — don’t even get me started on my myriad issues with that drivel.
I had come to explore the Egyptian collection in depth, though, so I scurried across to see the displays. It was easily the nicest assemblage of ancient Egyptian artifacts I’ve ever wandered through. Nicer than the British Museum, even, which has a renowned collection. I’ve been to so many museums in my life that they kind of blend from one to the other in my mind, but I was deeply impressed.
I had the most marvelous time looking at the hieroglyphics — they’re my favorite thing, you know? When I finally go to school to be an Egyptologist, I’m sure that I will specialize in philology. I’ve always been a lover of language and I am rather fond of this ancient one. I am far from understanding it perfectly, but I can pick out bits and pieces. So, I was very annoyed when I was trying to transliterate a cartouche when a loud group on a guided tour came in. They were not at all appreciative of the history — THEY WERE TAKING PICTURES WITH STATUES. I couldn’t handle it. It was too much for me. I had to move rooms.
I found myself in a rather cramped room full of sarcophagi and the famed anthropomorphic coffins. Some of the gilded things glared back to me with malice and others had their lips upturned in a smile. It was a strange room and I was unsettled by it, which is strange to me. This is not something that happens to me. I’m a firm believer in exploring the past through whatever means possible, and I’ve never taken issue with exploring tombs and putting mummies on display — but, in that little room I began to have a moral struggle that is still confusing me. I don’t believe for a moment that the dead pharaohs and nobles minded much that their grave goods had been shipped halfway across the world. But I was concerned that maybe they weren’t treated with dignity. Is it right for them to be stared at and photographed by the disinterested masses? Of course it is, but it troubled me.
I wasn’t nearly as perturbed by the temple remains and massive statues that were presented — especially those of Hatshepsut, which were absolutely beautiful.
[These were originally massive statues — probably ten feet tall — of a kneeling Hatshepsut inside a temple to Amun. Later, the body features (the boobs) were removed and the cartouches were altered to show the name of her successor, her nephew, Tuthmosis III.]
I was delighted by the Temple of Dendur — an actual temple that sits inside the museum.
If the Egyptian government had not gifted it to America, it would be soon forgotten on the bottom of Lake Nasser. (In the 60s, there was a massive dam constructed in Sudan that created the world’s largest manmade lake. It would have swallowed up many of the treasures of ancient Upper Egypt, so there was a frenzy at this time to save what could be saved. Abu Simbel, that massive temple that is so well known would have been under Lake Nasser, too, if it hadn’t been cut apart and moved.) The temple was lovely, but not too terribly important to the historic record. In fact, it was built after the Greeks conquered Egypt and the hieroglyphics say that it was built by PHARAOH — the Greeks didn’t write down the actual name of their ruler. Hysterical, at least to me, then again, not everybody seems to know ancient Egyptian.
[It seems that even Victorian and even Edwardian visitors to Egypt wanted to scribble on the temple walls. Graffiti is nothing new — even ancient Egyptian graffiti is housed inside the Great Pyramid.]
I was charmed totally by a little gallery that was stuffed full of art created during the Amarna Period — when the heretic ruler Akhenaten attempted to change nearly everything about Egypt’s artistic and religious history. The works that were created at this time were masterpieces and it’s terrible how many were lost upon his death and return to the old ways. History is brutal. It’s overwhelming to think of all the things that have been lost to time.
[These are all bits of gold foil that have been found in tombs and temples. Over the millennia, they simply fall off — but their form often remains — something that wasn’t clearly understood when these scraps were discovered and preserved. You’ll notice they’re mostly all flat.]
I had the most fun of all in a busy hallway that was filled with papyrus fragments. I stared intently and kept pointing at one of the symbols while mumbling, “Amen…amen…patience is a virtue…AMENOPHUS!” But, nobody laughed. I guess that most of the public was not reared on The Mummy. Educate yourself.
As I finished here, I was absolutely starving, so I wound my way through a strange display of what appeared to be rooms in a mansion — fully furnished rooms — to the Petrie Café (I was a tad disappointed to discover it wasn’t named after Flanders Petrie), one of the nicer restaurants at the museum. It took me a while to find it, since the place is huge, but I was soon seated with a wonderful view of Central Park out the window and of Cleopatra’s Needle.
I forgot to mention this obelisk. It is finally being restored this year by the museum — something that needs done quite badly. I’ve been to all of the donated obelisks — in London on the bank of the River Thames, in Paris at the Place de la Concorde, and here in New York’s Central Park. Of them all, this one is the worst. Its history isn’t all that splendid, so we can’t blame the city entirely. For centuries it lay collapsed in salty water in Egypt and many inscriptions were completely effaced from the surface of the monument. Of course pollution and acid rain have added to its rather poorly state. Anyway, it’s undergoing a thorough cleaning and I hope that it will soon look glorious, like it once did in the ancient world.
Back to the restaurant. It was absolutely lovely. I had a mushroom tart and a salad and a martini — I’m on Fifth Avenue, of course I had a martini. I wanted nothing more than to be Karen Walker for the entirety of my trip — she’s my spirit animal, one of several. I have more of a spirit flock. The food was very nice, nothing astounding, but completely satisfying and the view was exceptional. The martini was excellent, though. Probably the best alcoholic beverage I had on my trip.
After I was sated and relaxed, it was time to go exploring ever more. I set off too many alarms in the area dedicated to the art of the Pacific, so I left that section. I’m not sure why this was happening, I guess I got too close to them? It was annoying.
I really enjoyed perusing the ancient Greek and Roman galleries — I’m rather obsessed with their busts. I want a bust made of myself. I also wonder how close to truth these busts are — because some of those emperors were hottiees. Lucius Verus was an absolute babe. Evidence:
Also, all of the Greek emperors and conquerers and gods and war heroes had great asses. They all had better asses than me.
All I want out of life is a nicer one. What do I have to do? I’ve squatted, I’ve done yoga programs dedicated to developing a bootylicious badonkydonk, what more can I do? It was very upsetting.
I realized that I wouldn’t have time to explore all of the museum, so I went on one of the highlights tour, which was barely interesting. The guide had a fondness for modern art, which I absolutely do not share. I think modern art is a monumental pile of steaming shit. We started off looking at some horrible Greek statue of a young man that was supposed to be one of the first examples of movement in artistic history. It looked like an amateur sculptor had done it. Then, we went to look at the art of some horrible woman in the 1920s who painted something he called “cathedrals,” where each painting was a social commentary on Wall Street or the Circus or something. The art was clumsy and tragic. I was over it, but it would have been rude to leave the tour in the middle of it. I should have, though, and I would have had I known what was coming up.
From this horrible spot, we went upstairs to the modern art galleries, which I was fully willing to give a shot, but from the moment we got there, I knew it was too much for me. TOO MUCH, READER! To get to the display of Jackson Pollack, we had to go through some nightmarish art installation called “The Refusal of Time.” This was, and I say this with all the honesty in the world, the most awful and monumentally stupid thing I’ve ever experienced in the entirety of my life. In a darkened gallery, meaningless black and white vignettes played — all of them poorly acted — as very, very, intensely loud “music” played. It was not music in my mind, rather disharmonic clatter. I HATED IT. Finally we were out of it and I thought that it couldn’t get any worse. WRONG. (I just looked up a review of this horrible exhibit which said it “reveals a great artist working at the peak of his powers.” VOMITING. I don’t want to be alive in these horrible times, reader, where that is considered fine art.)
Our guide took us over to that famous Pollack painting which is a bunch of splatters on canvas. I openly scoffed at this and only grew more enraged when he explained the “artist’s” creative process. It appears that he simply poked holes in a can of paint and walked over the surface of the canvas not giving a damn about what he was doing or creating — he was simply interested in the act of painting. That’s all fine and good. I love to write, but I don’t shove crap into people’s faces and call it art. I suppose I admire him that he became famous for creating shit. That’s always intrigued me, but I cannot respect him or his terrible creations.
Finally, we left the modern art and looked at some of the old masters, which was very soothing to me. It was then time for the tour to be over and I couldn’t have been more relieved to get away from those boring trolls and back into the exhibits. I had a nice time wandering through the Renaissance art and all that, but that galleries that I loved the most were dedicated to the Impressionists. Being inches away from a Van Gogh was magical and being near to a Seurat was inspiring, but what delighted me the most was the entire room of Pissaro masterpieces. I was largely unfamiliar with him before today, and I am forever changed. He was a great artist, as was Van Gogh. NOT JACKSON POLLACK OR ANDY WARHOL. I literally ran through the Andy Warhol exhibit, moaning. He irritates me soooooooooo much.
I went back to examine Van Gogh’s self portrait in detail, but was absolutely horrified to find a line of people to take selfies with it. THEY WERE TAKING SELFIES WITH A TREASURED MASTERPIECE. I wanted to scream and run away.
I basically huffed loudly and hurried out and happily into an exhibit of photographs from Paris before it was reconstructed to the grand and beautiful city we know it as today. There used to be a road called the Rue du Chat qui Pêche (the road of the fishing cat), and that made me squeal with delight.
It was closing time at the museum, so I grabbed my coat from the entrance and went out to see the needle up close. It is in rather sad shape, so I hope the restoration makes it look nicer. Here are some other pieces at the museum that I was fond of:
I went off down Fifth Avenue from here to see the last two homes of Joan Crawford, neither far from the other.
It was strange to stand outside the building where she died and I paid my respects as I should have.
From there, I wandered down Madison Avenue and stopped at an Eli Zabar deli, as he’s such a good friend of my dear Ina Garten. I was hoping to lure her out of the Hampton’s, but no luck. Then I stopped by Ladurée, which has its charms, but is so terribly overrated. The line was endless and my $21 dollar box for six macarons didn’t seem quite so unreasonable when the woman ahead of me paid. Her bill was $656. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY SIX DOLLARS. She paid in hundred dollar bills. I LOVED HER.
I took a long walk from here down to the Flatiron building which is right next to Eataly, Mario Batalli’s well-known Italian emporium. The place was very busy but lovely — because it seems to be staffed exclusively by hot native Italian men. I enjoyed that tremendously and took myself to the vegetarian restaurant, La Verdure. I had a glass of Umbrian wine and a dish of polenta with marinated mushrooms. It was absolutely delicious, but the polenta was the star of the dish. It’s so creamy and cheesy — and I think I might have liked it more than mashed potatoes. Don’t judge me, reader! They were so ridiculously good! The mushrooms were great, too, but I thought the dish could have used the addition of some wilted bitter greens. No matter, it was still very nice and I was pleased. I enjoyed listening to the women beside me, too: “OH MY GOD, I HATED NEW ORLEANS, IT WAS LIKE GOING TO SODDOM AND GOMORRAH!” She was an idiot.
I walked back and had a lovely time walking. I LOVE TO WALK IN BIG CITIES. Especially at night when they become different cities completely. It took me absolute ages, so when I got back to my room, I think I rightfully deserved a second dinner, so I ate the caprese salad I bought at the Eli Zabar deli and found it boring and ovverrated. The macarons weren’t amazing, either, but I should know better. I’ve been around Ladurée for most of my adult life. They’re a bunch of well publicized crap. They’re overly maturated and lamely flavored. The only good one is the green apple. I’m kind of crazy about it. I’ve been looking for a recipe for that one for ages, but haven’t ever found one. I’ll have to work on that.
I’m off to bed. My body aches.