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The Electric Smack Shack

If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.

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Belated observations from Londinium #1
dog says hello
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Note #1. We're back in Texas. Sturdy Helpmeet™ and I are both suffering from what I've decided to call the BBC Flu, though technically it's just a cold. Unless it's pneumonia. Or consumption. It goes to show that no matter how much you enjoy London and the Underground, you shouldn't lick the handrails. 

Note #2. I've updated the picspam photo gallery. If your life is so full of joy and contentment that you can afford to fritter away a few minutes on another person's rather pedestrian tourism, go have a look.

Saturday, 10/22. Slept in. Tate Modern. Giraffe. We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Note to self: jaffa cakes, jelly babies, and champagne do not make for a wholesome evening meal, even if you're watching Holy Flying Circus at the time. Beware the next morning! (UPDATE. I think I've picked the wrong night for the champagne and jaffa-cake fest. My ability to reconstruct events is not what it ought to be. But I know it happened somewhere in the mix.)

On Saturday we slept in and nursed our hangovers, and then we visited Victoria Station, where I bought a train ticket to be used on Monday.

Then we visited the Tate Modern. Sturdy Helpmeet felt it was time to check out the modern art and see if it infuriates her. (Some of it did, some of it didn't.) I had a hard time focusing because there's just too much stuff to see. If a piece of art is worth paying attention to, then you should probably spend some time with it. Trying to see as much art as possible in a set amount of time, by contrast, is a bit like trying to quaff a few hundred pints in an afternoon and then remember something edifying about the taste and bouquet of pint #327. It's just pointless. It's better to focus on one piece of art, or one exhibit if it's not too large, and try to learn something.

But even that's hard if you're fighting huge crowds of tourists and families out for the weekend. So after a while I gave up and just started watching the crowd as I walked around. That said, three things from the Tate Modern stand out in hindsight.
  • photo by Diane Arbus of a (mentally handicapped?) little boy holding a grenade and a rock in either hand. I have days when I feel the way this kid looks.
  • An exhibit about John Heartfield, a German artist who took an English name as he criticized and lampooned the rising fascist movement before WWII and the global capitalist elite in general. His work seemed Relevant To My Interests™.
  • A nifty negative-space staircase sculpture-thingy by Korean artist Do Ho Suh. It filled me with pleasure just by being what it was.
After the art, Sturdy Helpmeet announced that she really wanted to see a movie, so we picked We Need to Talk About Kevin at the Renoir Cinema just north of Russel Square station. Based on the novel of the same name, it's about a mother trying to cope with sacrificing her career and her life of the mind for her family, on the one hand, and raising a psychopathic son on the other. Good movie, but all I could think at the end was That poor woman, at least now she knows she wasn't crazy all those years thinking her kid was fucked up. (Actually, I had more thoughts but this probably isn't the place for them.) The commercials before the film were fun, in that "Hey, foreign commercials are fun!" kind of way.

Before the movie we ate at Giraffe, a chain that delivers a kind of "global" or "ethnic" fusion comfort-food menu, which was delicious. Actually, the decor is more "global" or "ethnic" than the menu, in a public-TV morning kid's show kind of way. But the food's good. (Then again, I don't think we ate anything that wasn't good the whole trip.)

I find I really like the open-air, pedestrian-friendly shopping centers that house the Renoir and the Giraffe where we ate. American malls are either claustrophobic by comparison or automotive deathtraps.

Next time: laundry and postmodernism!
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