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Paris Has Bridges? BROOKLYN Has Bridges!

I didn’t think of the Caro Conundrum (much) when I was in New York.

Back in Hyde Park, though, the Caro Conundrum popped right back into first place in the Stuff I Brood About Behind the Scenes category.

The Caro Conundrum is difficult to put into words. It has to do with the relationship of family to tribalism, and the relationship of tribalism to fundamentalism. It also has to do with What goes around comes around.

Viz that last, y’all may be intrigued to hear that the public bush is back in style. Nobody who’s anybody shaves their little birdie nests anymore. Hey! It’s in Vogue. It must be true.

Somewhere, John Ruskin is turning slowly in his grave.


New York would best be summarized on Instagram since really it’s a slideshow. I generally turn off the processing part of my brain when I’m on the road. I am a camera! I have a saucy new porkpie hat!

But I don’t actually know how to do Instagram being o-l-d and slow in my tech-learning curve, so the photo dump is right here on LiveJournal!

1. Rasputin’s autograph. The high point of my visit to the Morgan library. The overhead lighting made it impossible to take the shot without the shadow of my hands and my iPhone, but that’s okay because they’re spooky and you know—Rasputin’s autograph.

2. The Morgan Library. A very creepy place. Ask yourself: Do impossibly rich old men become hoarders because they’re impossibly rich, or did they become impossibly rich because they’re hoarders?

3. Flocked wallpaper. Okay. The Victorians had really hideous taste. They were constantly combining colors like chartreuse green and pumpkin orange, and they had a particular soft spot for more lurid tints of red, which include the rather disturbing shade of magenta displayed here.

I’ve seen magenta wallpaper before. What I had not seen before is flocked wallpaper—which is textured. Very big among the Victorian noveau riche who probably did not realize it was invented to simulate wall tapestries. Highly reminiscent of Stroke the Furry Wall, a musical number from one of my all-time favorite movies, Get Him to the Greek.

4. Swatch irony. I’m always fascinated by subway ads. When did they decide that switching up the ads was out and barraging the captive audience with ads that are all from the same company is the most effective way to hypnotize prospective consumers? Anyway, I have no idea what “swatch irony” is. Swatches are cheap watches. But what the hell does “irony” have to do with cheap watches?

5. The House of Usher. I got on the wrong subway line. By the time I realized my mistake, I was at the exact stop that I used to use when I was six, seven, eight years old, and my mother disappeared for days or weeks on end, which meant I had to stay at my grandfather’s house in Brooklyn. Naturally, I had to see what my grandfather’s house looks like now.

They’ve remodeled! Done away with the basement dungeon; the front garden of carnivorous plants; the moat, which once was filled with the blood and tears of imaginative little girls. The house looks quite ordinary and normal now.

6. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places on the planet. I cannot tell you how many Saturdays I spent walking through it on my way to the magnificent library in Grand Army Plaza, which I was quite sure was the citadel of all human knowledge. The Gardens are less wonderful now, of course, but then, isn’t everything? Back then there was a parrot that flew around free in the greenhouse!

The Gardens still have giant hibiscuses, and dozens and dozens of water lily varietals.

7. Italian ices. They are making a comeback! They are delicious!

8. The Egyptian Book of the Dead. I developed my passion for Egyptology at the Brooklyn Museum. In fact, I developed a passion for many things at the Brooklyn Museum—and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, which was right up the street from P.S.87, my elementary school. For years and years, I used to dream obsessively about the Brooklyn Museum—although it never looked the same way in my dreams as it looks in real life. Interestingly, I stopped dreaming about it when I became a dues-paying member. Here’s a picture of the actual Book of the Dead scrolls.

9. My Grandfather in the Overlook Hotel. This is a mural in the Times Square subway. You see it when you wend your way toward the shuttle. The gentleman in the red tie looks exactly—and I mean exactly—like my grandfather, the late Alfred Lord Tennyson Vogel. He was a gentle, scholarly man, and I’m sorry now that I didn’t try to get to know him better, but his gentleness was passive acquiescence to such a hideous degree of dysfunction that I just raged against him after I became an adolescent.

I do remember the first time I got a modeling assignment in Paris, Grandpa took me out to a diner, hemmed and hawed a bit, and finally said, “Why do you want to go to Paris, Patty? Paris has museums? Brooklyn has museums. Paris has bridges? Brooklyn has bridges.”

My fantasy is that he loved New York so much that after he died, he incarnated within it as a subway mural, much the same way that Jack Torrance incarnates within that 1920s photograph of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

10. The Hall of Realized Dreams. This is part of another art installation in the Times Square subway. These—what would you call them? Dioramas?— always remind me of the E. Nesbit book, The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit wrote a lot about neglected children who stumble their way into magical adventures—small wonder she was my favorite author growing up, right?

In the last section of The Enchanted Castle, the children stumble into something that I can only describe as the Hall of Granted Wishes—a series of 3-D pictures in which every character in the book is granted the secret wish of his or her heart. The book has Golem creatures called the Ugly Wuglies who cause all sorts of mischief, but in the Hall of Granted Wishes, the children finally see that all the Ugly Wuglies ever really wanted was a first-rate, respectable hotel in which to spend the night.

I was going to expound upon the Caro Conundrum at greater length but I see that I’ve run out of time since I still must fold laundry, pack, and deal with five cups of basil leaves before I leave for the Finger Lakes.

By the time I get back, I will have forgotten all about it.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2018 07:40 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that you put your photos here and your memories.

Looks like you had an enjoyable few days in the city.
Aug. 5th, 2018 02:07 pm (UTC)
New York is always fun. :-)
Jul. 30th, 2018 01:03 am (UTC)

I’m glad you had so much fun! I’m going to have to visit that library and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. They sound wonderful. I’ve only ever been to the botanic gardens in the Bronx, moons and moons ago, as a college student. I feel a trip to Brooklyn coming on...

Aug. 5th, 2018 02:09 pm (UTC)
Do let me know if you're in town! Manhattan these days is kind of a drag. Brooklyn is where you go if you want interesting things to do and look at.
Jul. 30th, 2018 06:14 am (UTC)
Am I right in remembering that Ruskin was so shocked by his wife's mature woman's body that he could not approach her on their wedding night? Funny what you remember from college.

Your visit to NYC seems packed FULL of great experiences!
Aug. 5th, 2018 02:12 pm (UTC)
Good memory, yes! Ruskin was specifically shocked at Mrs. Ruskin's pubic hair! Apparently, Greek statues don't have any. :-)

Effie went on to divorce him and marry the pre-Raphaelite artist JE Millais who presumably had more appreciation for her charms.
Jul. 30th, 2018 07:14 am (UTC)
Oh wow, these really make me want to go to NYC now! And I love love love the mirror selfie!
Aug. 5th, 2018 02:14 pm (UTC)
NYC is one of the world's great cities, so it's worth a trip. You should let me know if you ever do come! I would love to help curate your trip! :-)
Jul. 30th, 2018 02:01 pm (UTC)
Where did your mother disappear off to while you were at the House of Horror?
Aug. 5th, 2018 02:15 pm (UTC)
Who knows?

My mother suffered from borderline personality disorder.

Also, she was waaaaaay too young when she had me.
Jul. 31st, 2018 01:30 am (UTC)
We have a bunch of hibiscuses of various colors. My wife loves them. I love the hydrangeas.
Aug. 5th, 2018 02:16 pm (UTC)
Not a big hydrangea fan myself.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )