An Egyptologist in America – Part 2

Sometimes I have profound things to share with you, like my thoughts on terrorism or ancient Egyptian discoveries, but at other times my profound thoughts aren’t quite so riveting. But I have got to tell you something I learned how to do last night. I was on Tumblr for an hour or so, scrolling through all the Harry Styles gifs that I have seen a million times, and yet I still liked and reblogged them all. Whatever, stop judging! Then one popped up with his hair wrapped in a towel.

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Oh Harry, I chuckled to myself, but when I saw him put his hair into the towel, reader, I have to tell you, I was gobsmacked. I, a grown ass adult with long hair that flows beyond my shoulders, never knew how to twist a towel around my hair. I had no idea you tucked it in! So, I ran to the shower after dinner and put my hair up like Harry taught me…and it changed my life.

Pondering the secrets of the Universe and the meaning of life.

Pondering the secrets of the Universe and the meaning of life.

My hair turned out wavy and voluminous. I’m still in a state of shock. But onto the narrative…

The day was warm, balmy even, and it felt rather like a beautiful spring day in Greenwich Village. I beamed at the vitamin D soaking into my 100% black ensemble and walked along the Hudson River with a spring in my step. Why was I so thrilled? What was it that was making me overjoyed? Was it my curls? Was it the weather? NOPE! It was the fact that after all these years, I finally had a legitimate reason to go to the Martha Stewart offices and GO INSIDE without looking like a stalker. Oh yes, reader, today was an IMPORTANT day!

My heart was pumping at twice its normal rate as I stood, horrified with excitement in front of the revolving doors of the Starrett-Lehigh Building. Mustering my courage, I stepped inside. Squeaking with joy, I went to the MARTHA STEWART CAFÉ.



Okay, so that’s all I was there for. I didn’t have a meetings with the MSLO team. Thomas Joseph and I weren’t going to bake cakes in the test kitchen, Sarah Carey and I weren’t going to work on crafts for next year’s Halloween magazine. Lucinda Scala Quinn and I weren’t going to make pasta and then write about how evocative the experience was. Alexis, Jude, and Truman weren’t meeting me for brunch. Martha and I weren’t going to sip cappuccinos and consider her editorial for the next issue of Living before calling Pierre to plan a party at Skylands… None of that was going to happen. Not this time anyway. But that didn’t kill my buzz as I ordered a latté and croissant because MARTHA HAD BEEN HERE. This was her goddamn shop! I looked at her cups and her napkins and the trash bins that she had labeled “RUBBISH.” I whispered, “Queen!” as I tossed my sugar wrappers into the bin and hurried to find a bench looking on river. It was a gorgeous time and I have never felt closer to Martha…then I found out she was in Nassau…but…WHATEVER.


Perfect day for relaxing along the Hudson.

I grabbed a train — why do we say that? — and made my way uptown. I had the most beautiful walk through Central Park. It reminds me intensely of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, my third favorite Paris park, except without hills. I stood on a bridge for some time and watched the rowers go by and all the squirrels and glared at people taking selfies. I really do not have any problem with a selfie, y’all know I take enough of them, but I take umbrage with selfie sticks. They’re cheating and hideous and they make you look like such a fool. I’m sure the people that use them are entirely oblivious to this, either that or they don’t care, but my newfound love for humanity doesn’t seem to expand to selfie sticks. So, it was with great joy and a lightness of heart that I heard a woman yell, “Oh shit!” I watched, with unrestrained delight as she dropped her selfie stick, phone and all, directly into the lake. I hope she had insurance.


Taken a breath after one of the most delicious moments of my life.

Feeling on top of the world, I made way to the Obelisk. I’ve seen it a number of times now, and I’m always shocked at how shitty our Egyptian obelisk is. Champollion was right to request the one he did for Paris!


Ancient Egypt, the second greatest love of my life, is everywhere.

This one has suffered a lot of damage from being under salt water for hundreds of years and then being subjected to the weather of New York City. The hieroglyphs are still clear at the top on two of the sides, but the rest of it is a massive blur. Rather sad, but still a lovely place to sit.


The crowds at the Metropolitan weren’t bad at all, and it took no more than a few minutes to get my coat checked and a ticket bought. I wish I had known about student prices sooner. Everything is much more affordable. It’d be free in most European museums, but I shan’t complain too much more about a discount.

The Egyptian galleries were exactly as I remembered them. The presentation here is the finest of all the museums I’ve been to with major Egyptian collections. Well, perhaps the Luxor Museum was better, but it doesn’t have the scope of the Met. A great deal of Egypt’s treasures aren’t in Egypt anymore. I enjoyed the coffins and hieroglyphs and reliefs and had a marvelous time as I always do. Here are some pieces I enjoyed:


Predynastic pottery with gorgeous flamingoes? Nobody really knows what these are for sure.


These gorgeous tiles come from Djoser’s funerary complex in Saqqara. I want something similar for my kitchen backsplash.


Gorgeous coffins.


Pharaoh Hatshepsut looking on fleek.


Hatshepsut statues reworked to resemble her nephew, Tuthmosis III.


A wonderful assemblage of flotsam and jetsam.

But I wasn’t at the Met to see these objects again, I made this trip to see a special show called Ancient Egypt Transformed. It is a major exhibition that has pieces from the Middle Kingdom on loan from fine museums from all over North America and Europe. So, I darted up to the second level and sadly passed through the Japanese galleries that I’ve never had time for, yet. I’m sure I’ll be back. I had to stop to look at these statues for a second before hurrying on:


The exhibition was not at all crowded and truly stunning. I can’t say that it was anything exceptional because I have seen a lot of the pieces before (which I’d never realized) but I wasn’t complaining. I mean, how often do you get the chance to legitimately say, “Hey! I know that ancient Egyptian penis!” It was from the Petrie Museum in London where I had been a few years earlier and had the same giggle. Good to be reunited.


The best part of the exhibit, though, I felt, was just the overall quality of the pieces on display. When you go through most museums, you are overwhelmed by the breadth and the sometimes dismal condition of the pieces. All of these were in the most incredible condition, and I can’t deny that it fired my imagination.


Just imagine living in a culture where you would be surrounded by all those gorgeous things! I was rather overwhelmed with desire for one of the inlaid boxes, but there weren’t any recreations for sale in the gift shop, a real shame. I’ll have to look online for that.

Starving to death, which is my usual mode, I made my way to the Petrie Café to have overpriced fancy food and look at the Obelisk in the twilight. It’s worth it for the view, truly. I had a scrumptious mushroom pasta and a salad that was absolutely impossible to eat. Seriously, I wonder why the chef insisted on such enormous greens? There is no way to look elegant when you have half of a head of lettuce sticking out of your mouth. I proceeded to have the worst latté of my life. It was literally warm milk. I was unimpressed, but the pasta more than made up for it.

There was only a half hour before the museum closed, so I decided to walk along Fifth Avenue and soak up some culture. I’m thirsty for culture at all times. I hadn’t been out for more than a minute when I exclaimed, “Hey, it’s Adele!” to nobody. The Neue Galerie was literally across the street from the Met, so I decided I’d go in and have a peek at the Woman in Gold (Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I). I really liked the movie, and Helen Mirren is a goddess, after all. And I’ve always been a Klimt fan — I’m a fan of anything gold, actually. So, I went inside, paid my way, and wound upstairs.


The museum was much more than I expected it to be, which wasn’t much of anything at all. I knew that I’d surely see some Klimt art, but I had no idea that much of the space was a celebration of the Weimar Republic. This is a period of time that isn’t talked about in many classes. You jump straight from World War I to World War II without any consideration of the time period between. I only recently learned the vaguest bit about it in one of my college courses, but that depiction had been rather dismal, with people burning their currency as a heat source. Clearly, Germany went into a decline that led to the rise of Hitler and Nazism, but there seems to have been a brief, beautiful period where Berlin flourished as a vibrant and exciting capital of the world. It is a true shame that this is ignored, and that the misconception that Germany was stuffed to bursting with loathsome monsters in the early 20th Century perpetuates to this day. But I suppose it’s up to each of us to discover the truth.

The art and architecture is stunning. Photographs taken of various buildings were put on display, and I was utterly amazed by one of the theaters I saw. It was modern, yes, but not the hideous stark modernity that overwhelms the art scene. This theater was full of simple lines and beautifully designed accents. It seems to really continue European artistic tradition rather than snap it in half and ignore it utterly as is seen in so many of the vile structures that pollute our cities. I’m no fan of modernity, but I would have been a fan of these gorgeous places. Sadly, they were bombed, burned, destroyed, and utterly forgotten. I hope that someday, somebody out there restores this school of architecture because it would have made such a beautiful world. I wish that I had the chance to see Berlin at this time, but I wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of my ancestors back then. Alas, history is cruel. War kills more than lives.

The Portrait of Adele was stunning in person, and I tried to capture a quality image, but there was no way to show off the gold glittering in the lights with my camera.


So, I sat there and stared at it for quite some time. There wasn’t much of a crowd, so I didn’t have any distractions as we eyed each other. This is one of those famous paintings that I actually like and understand the allure, unlike the nonsensical adoration from everybody over Mona Lisa. Mona makes me yawn, but Adele sparks my curiosity. She was oddly framed.

I continued through the galleries, looking at fashion and photographs and finding myself utterly in love with this museum. I highly recommend it. I sat in a little theater room with an old woman wrapped in a fur coat watching a surrealist film about who-know’s-what. There were roller coasters and newspaper printers and running. Made more sense than anything Dalí ever did, so I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it even more when she turned to me and said, “What is this?”

“Same,” I replied, but I don’t think she understood my trendy and youthful language.

Finished with the gallery and overwhelmed with a newfound passion for 1930s Berlin — I have to get there and see what’s left — I walked down Fifth Avenue, thinking about the world. It’s a good place. There are awful people all over, but there are plenty of good ones. And one good person out there needs to start fundraising for a plaque or a statue or something to put in front of Joan Rivers’s apartment building. I finally stopped by and stared at the entryway for just long enough to be creepy but not long enough to have security called. I miss that woman every day; she inspired me so much.

As I passed by the Apple Store where that lunatic with the samurai sword went crazy a few days ago, I decided to head in and look at different bands for my Apple Watch. I really want a black alligator leather one, but that doesn’t exist from them. And every time I find one by some knockoff producer, the accents are silver. I HAVE A GOLD WATCH, and yet Apple doesn’t sell any accessories that are targeted at the gold version. WHY? That doesn’t make any sense. Steve Jobs would have never let this happen. I was annoyed, so I went over to look at the iPad Pro, which I’ll probably get. I’m kind of over laptops, but I need something for home, and this is talking to me. It was gorgeous. I loved it. It was a great battle to not pick it up that second. I resisted.

Suddenly, dozens of Apple employees in red t-shirts began rushing up the stairs, and sensing something was about to go down, I followed them. What I managed to do was walk onto the live set of a commercial being filmed. The Apple Store employees were holding up candles and singing Christmas carols to Windows employees about peace on earth. So, when you see that commercial, I’m the confused looking gentleman in the leopard print shirt in the background. It was weird.

There were bunches of roses and signs and candles outside the French consulate, so I took a few moments to reflect and read the memorials. It was very touching.


I continued my walk down Fifth Avenue, saw Alfredo’s, and decided that I had to stop for a second dinner. It’s a tradition, after all. I’ve been to the Alfredo restaurants all around the world and the other restaurant in Los Angeles that serves the original recipe. I would have kicked myself if I didn’t have some pasta. My waiter loved me, kept asking if I was some writer, and gave me free coffee and an appetizer. I enjoyed that. And like I tell you, always scribble in a Moleskine when you’re dining alone; you get way better service. I stuffed myself with whipped feta crostini, alfredo with perfectly sautéed mushrooms, grapefruit margaritas, and espresso.

Picking myself up with the forty pounds I had lost the day before, I bumped into another commercial being filmed. Now I’m looking confused in the background as a bunch of elves stream out of a Windows store. I was this: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Maybe I should have walked along the left side of Fifth Avenue?

I had already eaten far too much, so I made sure to stop at 30 Rock, pretend I was Liz Lemon, and eat two Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies. They are the absolute best.

And then I waddled back down to the Jane and crashed because I was absolutely exhausted. And quite full.

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