Tuesday, February 10, 2009

London Calling: Day 2

I spent most of the day yesterday colder and wetter than a Cocker Spaniel's nose but that didn't stop me from covering several sections of the map. I kicked off the day with a breakfast pastry that involved cheese and sausage baked into it and had to resist the urge to make out with it before I ate it. There were several line closures on the Tube--every train was overstuffed, damp and squirming with other impatient people wearing wet overcoats--so it took forever to get to the Tate Modern. I caved to my claustrophobia a couple of stops too early and decided to walk across the Millenium Bridge despite the weather. I realized that was a bad idea about the time my jeans got soaked past my kneecaps.

Anyway, I spent several hours wandering through the Tate Modern, feeling both insignificant--for escaping my twenties without creating anything that will ever be studied by a group of fidgeting schoolchildren--and borderline doofus for not recognizing several of the -isms on display. Regardless, the collection was enjoyably overwhelming. I'm no art critic--most of the stuff on my walls had to have the clearance stickers scraped off before I could hang it--but my only complaint was that sometimes the transitions from room to room were jarring. You went from the whimsy (OH YES, I SAID WHIMSY) of Matisse's "Snail" to something splattery by Jackson Pollack to the unsettling works of Paul McCarthy and Hermann Nitsch, including a video installation of Mister McCarthy's that haunted me for the rest of the day and also ensured that I'll never eat ketchup again*.

I wiped the culture off my clothes, grabbed a sandwich from Tesco and switched gears to visit the Natural History Museum, which I'm pleased to say never made me feel stupid because I didn't have to figure out what the artist's intention was when he placed a pygmy deer in a glass case. It's a dead animal. Done. Also, I probably took more pictures of the animatronic Tyrannosaurus than I did of St. Paul's cathedral. My love for all things Dinosaur would only make sense if I were an 8 year old boy.

Finally, I spent the rest of my daily allowance on a ticket to see James "I Swear I Have More Than One Facial Expression" McAvoy in Three Days of Rain, a play that was unintentionally hilarious because of the actors' collective struggles to do two acts worth of American accents. The show hasn't officially opened yet and the critic sitting in front of me stood up and said loudly "Right, couldn't we just have gotten this play on DVD then?" which probably explains why he nodded off several times, only to be jarred awake by the sound of thunder rumbling through the speakers.

* There were several projectors showing overlapping movies of several condiment covered dudes doing unspeakable things with a roll of sausages, a jar of mayonnaise, and a boxing glove. I wish I were kidding.

And now, pictures:

St. Paul's. I stepped in a puddle when I turned around to take this so I felt obligated to upload it. This was also my only pic of Paulie that didn't show the scaffolding surrounding it. Apparently he's in the middle of a facelift which is totally acceptable if you're 330 years old. I expect Larry King to undergo a similar procedure later this year.


This is where K.I.T.T. works during the day. I tried to get someone to take my picture beside the marker but no one understood my failing hand gestures, even when accompanied by the shouted phrase "DAVID HASSELHOFF".



Helping the dinosaurs eat. I'm pleased to report that during my three attempts to self-snap this pic, I made a child cry.


In my head, we were singing "Somewhere Out There" to each other.

BALLER. I sacrificed my dinner money for you James McAvoy. The least you could've done was step off the stage to mash faces with me.

23 comments:

Xenia said...

The t-rex was my favorite part of the NH museum too.

Are you going to see the British Museum? That's a fun one too. Have a great day!

Sez said...

Tate Brittan is better... I found walking the streets of London photographing what I later learnt at the Tate B to be Banksy's works more entertaining than the Tate Modern.

Then again, if ever in Paris, go to the Muse D 'Orsay, impressive building, layout and collection.

Writers Block said...

Welcome to my city. At least it's not raining today!

Quick tour:
If you go to hyde park, be sure to take a look at the west edge near Notting hill gate - herebe bright green wild parakeets flying around the place - very surreal in winter - no one knows where they came from either.
If you're still in London on Sunday, go to Spitalfields market (near Liverpool street tube). One of the best in London.
If you're near the Thames, take a river taxi. About a tenth of the price of a river cruise - and you get a third off if you've got a tube day ticket.
Go to Soho and do the following - drink at Amuse Bouche (nice and ever so slightly cheaper), eat at Inamo at night (geeky cool), and shop at Jakes (David Beckham does so why not everyone else).

And the most important thing to remember is - if you're on the escalator in the tube - STAND ON THE RIGHT!

Robbie said...

I can't stand the Modern. I much prefer the Tate Britain and the National Art Gallery is even better.

If you want ideas of where to go, track down Speakers Corner. If you havent heard of it, people go there to rant. About anything. And everything. It's great.

nwgdc said...

Your swipe at Larry King was exactly why I read this blog. Well played.

The pictures remind me of my trip there last summer...I need to go back :(

Miss Kate said...

I think the Hasselhoff reference only works in Germany.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

Yeah, the Larry King swipe was hilarious! And now I'll find myself staring at James McAvoy intently. I had no idea he only has one!

Writers Block said...

Oh, and almost forgot...

I have it on reasonable authority that there will be a 500 strong zombie flashmob on Friday 13th at 7pm exactly at London Bridge mainline rail station.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Brilliant as always. Today my adoptive city of Toronto is grey and miserable, presumably deliberately being a suitable backdrop for this post.

lacochran said...

"In my head, we were singing "Somewhere Out There" to each other."

Ha! Fantastic!

Have a blast across the pond. :)

Julie_Gong said...

they were doing construction on st paul when i was there in 2004.

my affinity was for london bridge. i have 2 whole rolls of film of that thing. a bridge? i have no idea what is wrong with me.

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

And upon google imaging Matisse's Snail I quickly remember why I think Art can be extremely overrated.

Lindsay said...

I have an irrational aversion to mayonnaise. I have a feeling this video installation would have sent me over the edge.

the frog princess said...

I love the Tate... but was also scarred by a similar video installation. Next time, I'm totally heeding the little sign outside the door that says "You might not want to go in here..." or words to that effect.

Also, I recommend hanging your jeans over the radiator when you get home. They'll be stiff enough to walk by themselves come morning, but at least they'll be dry.

Amanda said...

I love the Tate, both for it's fun whimsy and the disturbing parts. I went into an installation while I was there that was a room filled with wood chippers that appeared to be spitting out tiny cut-outs of people from magazines that were then being swept up by creepy mannequins. Amazing.

And, I would definitely sit through bad american accents and a McDonald's dinner to see James McAvoy in person. *Drool*

Scottsdale Girl said...

@Julie_Gong
I have the same affliction, although my heart belongs to Tower Bridge. So pretty!

Julie_Gong said...

@Scottsdale Girl I'm an asshole because I actually meant Tower Bridge.

p.huong said...

In response to Sez's comment.. I would go crazy if I ever got to see one of Banksy's pieces in person.

Loved the dinosaur pictures! Wish I could take a trip. Okay I'm getting kicked out of the lab...

chris said...

When I ordered a McFlurry when I was in London last summer, I somehow received two.

Lora said...

london schmondon

you have the best eyebrows i've ever seen.

emmysuh said...

First of all, some sort of internet monster keeps eating my comments and I haaate it.

The Tate Modern is...weird. When I was there, there was a dead bird fixed to the wall with an arrow, and then a cityscape sketched on the wall. Yeah. Art. Where the slides aka art that functioned as giant slides there when you went? Those slides/art are the SHIT.

I loved the Natural History musuem too, and also St. Paul's. Go up to the top of the dome -- even if you're scared of heights like I am!

Michael said...

What I want to know is...what's a Chicken Bacon Melt and can I have one?

sween said...

I just tried to star the picture of you and the bat. [Face-palm.]