Monday, March 4, 2013

The Tate, The Tube and Afternoon Tea

I just got back from London, it was my first time there and it was incredible! Naturally, since it was my first time there, I had to do lots of touristy sightseeing and other "British things". The first full day I was there I walked so I could take a lot in. The next few days I decided I'd ride the tube, a daunting task for me. "It's underground!" "It goes so fast!" "There's so many people on it, what if they're mean?!" "Isn't that where Javier Bardem almost kills James Bond and a mess of other people?!" Turns out it wasn't too bad, for what I used it for, it was easy enough. Although I did make a few mistakes.

I wanted to seem like I was from there. Not look like a doofy tourist who needs help with everything. So I wanted to ride the tube with ease. The first day I fucked up immediately. Went to the wrong spot, thinking it was the station, but it was the construction site where the new edition of the station would be opening in like 4 years. The station was right across the street from my blind ass, and also mainly my blind eyes. My ass being blind is virtually irrelevant. Then, when I tried to get in I scanned my card incorrectly. An employee showed me the correct way, in front of PLENTY of people. Failure. The next day was a little better except for when I tried my card...in the correct spot mind you...I realized I was scanning it at a turnstyle that was clearly out of order. I did not realize it until it was brought to my attention by a Japanese tourist passing by who clearly spoke less English than me. Come on Steve! It's the same language as you speak just with a sweet accent! Out of order...still means out of order! No crazy chips - fries, crisps - chips, biscuits - cookies, confusing conversion there!



So, the third day, I was determined to use the tube without any mistakes. And you know what? I did! Rode it all the way to my destination, no fuck ups on the way. Didn't fall over or bounce around too much when it would stop and accelerate like I was the first two days. Rode it back to the hotel with ease, totally looked like a hardcore Brit who rides the tube every day. I know it! People around me must have been impressed with how sheerly awesome I was. Until I walked out of the station onto the crowded street, finally back above ground, and wouldn't you know it, a crazed pigeon flew up off of the ground and decided to flap within a 10 foot radius of me...well who wouldn't freak out like their life was about to end? Well, a hardcore Brit who rides the tube every day probably wouldn't...but I did. Shielding my face and my life from a bird that hardly came anywhere near me. Well, there goes that fantasy I had of looking cool.



Though another fantasy of mine seems like it still could come true. Becoming an artist. When I had ridden the tube earlier it was to the Tate, that was my destination. The Tate is a museum for those of you who don't know. And if you also don't know, like I didn't, the Tate Modern is not the only branch of it. There is the classic Tate (like classic Coke) with lots of classical art, then there's the Tate Modern (like a Coke promotion that lasts a week) with modern art...which was where I went. Now before we go any further, I would like to say, I feel I can appreciate many types of art and that I have an open mind. I may not be the most cultured person, but I get it. I get most symbolism. And I can also understand that many things are probably past my understanding and I'm OK with that. For instance, here's a 3D something-or-other in the Tate Modern that I may or may not have been allowed to take a picture of...





I really liked this, hence the picture, the only one I took inside the museum. I read up on it a little and I felt like I can appreciate this artist's creation. Don't ask me who, I for the life of me could never remember. That piece of art fell into 25% of the art in that museum, in my opinion. 25% of the Tate Modern is stuff that I am truly impressed by and I feel takes talent, takes time, and is beautiful. 50% falls into a category of either, "OK yeah this is pretty cool" or "Well, I guess I can appreciate what the artist is going for here, though this doesn't seem too difficult nor does it seem to take much insight, but OK, I appreciate the thought of this". And yes, the other 25% falls into the category of "Are you fucking kidding me?! Get out of here! This is shit!" and also usually "I can do this with ease, this is barely classified as Not Nothing". So much of it made me think I had walked into a wing of art created by a 3rd grade Special Needs Art Class...but then I realized all the art would have been better if that was the case. One thing was a white octagon, misshapen, cut out of paper. Literally just someone cut an octagon out of paper, not even with even sides, and it gets hung up on the wall for people to look at. He didn't even color it. It apparently symbolized something, I didn't read it, because unless it said that it represented Bullshit and People Believing That Anything Is Art, then I wasn't wasting my time. One piece of art was two rows of 10 bricks stacked side by side with the same exact thing on top. I know what you're thinking, "Haven't I seen that piece of art before?" Yeah you have, at a construction site! Not art! That's organizing your tools for late, idiots! Basically all the floor art was shit. Anything on the floor was just people saying they made art and saying some bricks or some rope they bought at the store represents something. You didn't even create anything! Half of this shit was already existent and you put it somewhere!

Woo! Glad I could get that off my chest. But really, if you ever go there, I recommend going to the Tate...Period. I wish I had gone, I'm sure I could have appreciated the paintings and what not there. I've heard it's great. There are some paintings and other things at the Tate Modern that are nice, but if you go, get ready to get seriously pissed off. Honestly, another thing was a "Self Portrait" and it's just a mirror hung up on the wall. And people stare at it and read the description so they can "get it". Hey dumbass, you look at that every morning when you brush your teeth! No need to stare at a mirror just because it's in a fucking museum and try to decipher symoblism. So as I was saying, apparently I can become an artist with ease. Oh here's some art I just made!



On the left, the bag I purchased at the grocery store represents "What anyone can do" and on the right the crisps I removed and placed just so represent "Fuck you people who think this is art!" Not art.

As you can tell that was a hard day on me. Bashing art and dodging pigeons. So I got back to my hotel just in time for some Afternoon Tea...which I'd never done...but is clearly very British. I sat alone in the sitting area, near a few other parties of people. 3 or more at each. I ordered from the menu what sounded like a great cup of tea and a few sandwiches and desserts I'd get to pick. It turned out to be a great POT of tea and sandwiches and desserts and scones for 3 or more people!



I did not realize until they brought it over that it was weird I was there alone...and ordering for 3. Look at this! A whole damn fancy tray of sorts filled with food for several people and a pot of tea also for several people...just for me! It became increasingly obvious all the people staring at me weren't admiring my hair. They were like, "What is that poor, stupid American doing?" I guess the price should have clued me in as well...but it did not. But I didn't care. I sat there and enjoyed my feast by myself, as I needed to relax and stuff my face until the stresses of the day melted away. Though I did get a little extra stressed knowing many people were very aware of my mistake and judging my fat American self eating a whole tray of food...and being alone.

But I suppose this is what happens when you try to do things on your own in London! You go to the wrong museum and plenty of painful-looking art punches your pupils to pulps. You try to take on the tube and look cool only to have that plan thwarted, not by a giant speeding hunk of steel, but rather by a moderately sized hunk of beak and feathers. And you just want to order the sensible thing and appear British, but you eat mass quantities of food alone on a couch and cement your Americanness around you. OK.....that one was all my fault.

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