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August 1st, 2010

Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear

From Ithaca, I headed to New York City, using a technique learnt back a cheap-arse backpacker days: if able to find sleep on a bus or train, to utilise overnight travel, thus saving the waste of a day in transit and spending money on accommodation.

I only had a day and a half in Manhattan, and so after a few hours spent walking through the park and through the streets, picking up items not easily available in Mexico, I headed for the Metropolitan Gallery of Art, one of my favourite places. I haven't been to the Guggenheim (that is for next trip), but I find that The Met has a far lower bs-factor than MoMA, and I only found one scribble on lined note-pad paper, framed as though it was High Art. In order to patent a product, you must demonstrate that the average person with average skills could not come up with it. My attitude to art is that the same standard should be applied.

In the three years since I've been, The Met have rotated their exhibits, and my tastes and interests have grown in my travels (well, that sounded smug. Hey, from me to you ), and so things I didn't see previously or things I didn't care for before made for a good visit. They have added a Greco-Roman exhibition, and expanded their American marbles. They have shuffled what modern art is on show, and they have borrowed one of those sharks in a tank, with festy shark bits forming a layer of scum at the top of the preserving fluid.

I also this time took note of the pre-colonisation American sections; they don't have the larger Mesoamerican items you can see in Mexico, but they do have some nice small sculptures, but most interestingly they have a room full of some of the few Aztec gold pieces not melted down by the Spanish. They also had some nice western Canadian pieces, which complimented what I had seen in Vancouver.

The Asian section was another I found more appreciation for this time. They feature a faux version of a scholar's garden which I breezed past last time, but this time, having the understanding from the one in Vancouver, I had more interest. Also, after watching bulk samurai films (a topic I will revisit in the post after next), and having visited Tokyo, I really enjoyed the Japanese section (which I can't even remember from last time).

Often I have wondered about the appeal people find in travelling around the world just to see what they see at home. For example, travelling to Bali to spend time at the “Aussie Bar”, and getting arrested if possible so you can lord over the locals that you should be treated better because you are an Australian citizen. But, in The Met, I got another piece of this puzzle: everyone does it. There were mainly Japanese in the Japanese art section, Chinese in the Chinese art section, and Indians in the Indian art section (leaving coins for the statues of the gods).

For those not keen on art, those who think it's not for them, I have another angle for you to appreciate a day at the gallery. Art, my friends, is all about the boobs.

All cultures through history have liked the boobs. You might encounter two boring, bleak, chiaroscuro Flemish paintings features the bleak heads of boring Flemish dead guys, but the third will be some Flemish strumpet with her jugs about to burst fourth. In some cases they have burst forth and are squeezing out milk, which is slightly disturbing. Then, you might head to the Eastern art section, and for every evil, fanged god from Cambodia or India, there is a top-heavy goddess showing off her wears (and it turns out ancient Cambodians liked bubble shaped boobs). Go to the American section, and every propaganda piece featuring the anthropomorphosised Liberty is a chick with a bear chest.

If, however, you are into doodles, you are not so much in luck. Unless it is doodle in the sense of unfinished drawing in marker on note-pad paper. Then, much art is for you.

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