With the open studio now done and ornately dusted, I was ready to embark on a glorious week of museum meandering. First stop, The Museum of Natural History. Wait. No erase that, let’s start before the beginning at the World Food Café in the Natural History Museum. For it’s possible that this place could and should be hermetically sealed as a diorama for future generations to study. Lets get some plexiglass and silicon and add it to the museum map. This claustrophobic sloppy beige capsule was heaving with organic humanesque matter. Packed around each tiny tin table, piled feet high with white, yellow and orange food stuffs were packs of families in matching puffer jackets with puffy ketchup smeared cheeks. Loud mouths, loud clothes and lukewarm food abounded. Some family flocks hunted for a free table, squawking and waving their sodas at the flocks who had forgotten to gather their garbage. The menu, devoid of curries, stir fries or burritos and plentiful in pizza, fries and mac ‘n’ cheese re-enforced the cliché that American culture has devoured the world resulting in the homogenisation of everything. And even though a cliché is only the truth we get tired of hearing, I have a hunch that there is still room for someone to look at this useless eco system and ask if perhaps its time to make just this one museum cafeteria extinct. Obviously a large anthropological study would have to be carried out but my guts (both the intestinal one and my intuitive one) feel that it would not be a loss if a meteor wiped out this particular location and all who inhabit it.
Staring at the museum map, soaked with my neighbours soda and soiled with my own fatty fingerprints, I longed romantically for the awesome sublime of outer space, the wowing wonder of science, the mind-blowing marvel of another kind of mankind and I laid all my hopes in the atrium called ‘The Origin of the Universe’ (please read with a 1960s echoing sci-fi voice over.) And now in the middle of this paragraph we are at the beginning. Not the “Once upon a time…” beginning of this story, but the beginning of, the beginning of the big BANG. Day One, where time and space begin. Oh, actually, no wait a minute. Firstly I got consumed by a coat check line half and hour long and 3 people deep. Not the space and time encounter I was searching for.
A moment of ungraspable amazement and perplexing wonder, did however emerge when I entered the ‘Universe’ atrium to look at the beginning of time time-line and saw that the target audience was 8 year old children. Which, before I continue, I would like to say I would’ve been super supportive of had even one single child looked interested in the display. But instead of doing that sponge soaking thing small brains are supposed to be capable of, they zoomed and skidded around me like pudgy insects, in groups that multiplied and expanded faster than the universe itself. Yes they have a right to be here but its hard to hold foggy big things in your mind, when small snotty masses occupy the perimeter of your personal space. I looked at them with disdain and wished evolution would speed up and give me a super power – the burning laser eye trick was what I wanted. I would’ve zapped them with one evil look. Pazzap! They’d be piles of ash and smoke and I would walk away wearing black leather. A win all round I say.
I must confess though that amidst my superhuman fantasy I had a little moment of longing for the little people that I do love and with the sentimentality that arose, came a phrase to berate me “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met”. I seriously contemplated the possibility that I would be more tolerant of these kids if I knew them. Hmmmm …. ?? ???? … Nope. This philosophy cannot be expanded to include the children of strangers. Evil eyes all around. PZAPP! PZAPP! PZAPP !PZAPP. Poof. Strut strut strut.
Walking away from miniature earthlings I sought refuge reclining amongst stardust light years away from earth. In order to reach the Planetarium I had to enter the chattering, oozing, sweaty, heaving corridors of humanity. Men women, children and waisted intelligent life forms, pulsed and bumbled lethargically like a sluggish river through the bowels of the museum. I imagined a graph at the museum entrance pictoralising the amount of visitors to the museum each day, by equating the number to the population of small lesser-known nation.
Sunday 17th February
Number of visitors to the museum = the population of Van Diemen’s Land.
It was 1:00 NYC time and the next Planetarium session was at 1:30.I queued to buy a ticket for the next session. There were 2 people in front of me. 20 mins later, still 2 people in front of me. I was stuck in a black whole, waiting, waiting, w a a a a i t i n g. Time s t o p p e d .
It’s fair to say I’m impatient. I confess this openly as a weakness of my DNA. This will of course eventually destroy my descendants or if Brittany graduates soon enough and finds a cure it will assist us in conquering the world! I tried to stand still. In a resting pose I withdrew my consciousness from the world around me and took it down deep into my body to rest in a padded cell where it could scream “What’s taking you so long???”
“One student ticket for the Planetarium, please.”
“No I want to buy one.”
“Do you have your museum admission ticket”
“Yes, but I didn’t pay for the planetarium, so I’d like to buy one now”
I show him.
“Where is the receipt for your admission ticket?”
“I don’t have it”
“Well how did you get this ticket?”
Note the tone of accusation
“My husband paid with his credit card”
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know. Somewhere in the museum”
You can see why the queue took so long.
“You need the receipt.”
“ For what?”
“To buy a ticket”
“I need a receipt for a ticket which I have in my hand in order to buy a different ticket?”
I look towards the queue for moral support but they are stuck in the black hole and look back at me blankly
“Yes that’s the system.”
“THAT IS NOT A SYSTEM!”
Rationality escaped me entirely now. Poof. Gone with one evil eye stare from the attendant. PZAPP!. It vaporised, drifted above everyone’s heads, floated over the balcony and swooped into the Universe atrium where it spied Jon. And then it yelled “JOOOOOOOOON!” Yes it did. In a big loud voice. “JOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNN. I NEEEEEEEDDDD THE RECIEPT” Um or maybe that was me. As I exited the planetarium I notice that the next session time is now 3:30 and I’m told by a women in the supersized line that she is actually queuing for the 4:00 show. What? Why? THIS PLACE SUCKS!!!!!
… and then oh oh oooooohhhhhh the sweet honey of memory. I’m in New York. I have membership to every major museum in the city and so when push came to shove, rather than fight, I took flight. Located the exit and ran across Central Park to the Guggenhiem.