1a) As this was an exhibition about fashion, I did choose the Insane Tibetan Dentist tunic, since it would be highly unlikely anyone else would have it on!
2) Spontaneity turned out to be a theme for the day. A textstorm yielded the delightful bonus of a companion, Darke, who I know through that madcap set in Provincetown who dress up for everything. I had not really picked up that he lived in New York in the first place!
3) Another fast omelette at the Red Flame while reading Daily Ritual, and off into the Arctic to MoMA. "Caution: Falling Ice" signs cordoned off part of the sidewalk on Sixth Avenue - and I could see the ice falling! I didn't linger to take a photo, but gallumphed down the stairs into the subway PDQ.
4) Emerging at 53rd, I was, unsurprisingly, quite early. I ducked into St. Thomas, which was right there, and learned about their new pipe organ. Then imagine my surprise at spotting a random MIT colleague at the intersection! I walked a block to catch up with him, then drifted back and was one of the first people into Uni*lo when it opened. And I found myself some long underwear there.
5) Early to MoMA just to get out of the cold. Thank goodness the lobby was open. I paced the (empty) labyrinth of cordons to get to the coat check, thinking of Shrek (go to 00:38.) They cleverly incorporated the pickup line into the labyrinth, too! I got my ticket and absorbed myself in Daily Rituals until Darke arrived, and then we blazed upstairs to view Items.
6) It took over an hour, but this exhibition really made me think about why we wear clothes the way we do, and how designers can sometimes impact our body image. And how wonderful to see ordinary garments - a pair of Calvin Klein briefs, a leather jacket, a balaclava, a T-shirt, a pair of chinos - treated as art, as incomparable design. So compelled was I that I ended up buying the catalogue.
7) Darke had to race off to continue his day, leaving me just enough time to race through bits of the permanent collection to find some old favorites (I love the work of modern artists who've been dead about 75-100 years - Vuilliard comes to mind) and trivialize some others.
7a) Monochromes are nothing but enlarged paint chips. Discuss.
8) Off to luncheon with Jonathan, who I hadn't seen since a) his marriage and b) his move to New York. I emerged at West 4th Street, blinded by the sun and by the dazzling mirrored display of glass pipes at a smoke shop. I rather bungled the directions, but eventually got where I was going by asking a nice man running a newsstand.
9) Jonathan had chosen A.O.C. at Bleecker and Grove, a charming and practically empty French restaurant. We got to catch up on married life (his), professional life (mine), travel, creativity, and our beloved Gibson House Museum (which is how we met in the first place). I enjoyed coffee and one of the best club sandwiches I've ever had. I think the secret ingredient was the warm guacamole.
10) The afternoon was quite advanced by this point, and I had to get back to Museum Mile to the Guggenheim. This time I got to West 4th Street with no difficulty, and the pleasant young lady behind the subway counter was able to advise me with only a moment's hesitation, something like "Take an [insert correct train here] to Lexington, and then transfer to the 6]."
11) As I've aged, I've become less anxious (rumors to the contrary!) about transportation delays over which I have no control. As the subway lumbered uptown, I completely absorbed myself in Dailyt Rituals and not on the diminishing time I'd have to see the Guggenheim.
12) Why might this be important? Because at my age, I'm ashamed to say that this was my first visit to the Guggenheim. Yes, I made it to the one in Venice in 2013, but then I was really motivated by its location in the Palazzo dei Leoni, the former Venice home of that deranged madcap the Marchesa Casati. I'd never been to the Guggenheim. And I don't know why I didn't expect this, but I was disconcerted on struggling through the front door to see the place thronged with people. And it was already 3:30, and I was meeting my friend Saverio at 4ish, and I had to be back at the Algonk to meet another friend at 5!
12a) Anxious about the time, I recklessly ignored the signs that all bags must be checked and kept myself away from the coat room. I was relieved to escape later without having been chastised by a guard.
13) As it happened, the Guggenheim helped me out by not having a lot to compel my attention. Saverio has alerted me in advance to see the Albers exhibition, and I enjoyed going through it, witnessing this artist's celebration of color combinations and geometry. But then what was on display in the famous spiral rotunda was some bizarre postwar Chinese protest art or something, including a gigantic intestine spewing bicycles hung inside the rotunda. It was definitely one of those exhibitions that make me ask in high dudgeon "WHY is this Art?!"
14) Saverio and I were to meet in the café, which was really more a cafeteria, and small at that. A timely text led me to the counter by the windows, and there was Saverio, who I hadn't seen in many years!
15) And he quickly took me in hand, whisking me off to point out architectural elements of the interior and highlights of the permanent collection, all while we were talking and talking, catching up.
16) Then he ordered me to get into my coat, and we sallied forth on an impromptu tour of nearby Upper East Side landmarks. First, exterior elements of the Guggenheim.
16a) Then the Church of the Heavenly Rest. I was thrilled to discover this, since in the novel Auntie Mame this is the church Gloria tells Patrick where her mother has always imagined her wedding taking place. (Only I would care about something like this. I admit it!) I always thought the church would've been in Mountebank-oh-it's-just-above-Darien-you'll-love-it.
16b) And then he took me on a lightning-fast tour of the Cooper-Hewitt to show off the meticulous restoration of the interiors. This was once Carnegie's house, and it's true - the restoration work is magnificent. Saverio even pointed out the former solarium, which is now part of the gift shop.
17) Then it was time for me to get into a taxi and hope I wouldn't be late. About 20 minutes later I bolted into the hotel and up to my room, dropped my coat, changed my shoes, and got settled in the lounge. And right about that time I got the text from my friend that he was cancelling.
17a) The time to have sent that text would have been one hour earlier.
18) So I consoled myself with a boulevardier cocktail, caught up on the news in the lobby, and then retreated to my room.
19) The rest of the evening passed in both annoyance and writing. As Hugh Grant once said in Four Weddings and a Funeral, "I think I should be where other people are not." But a good night's sleep did me a world of good.