My Take on the topic 'Homework'
By B Benham Feb 2015
Foreword: This is a case of writing as therapy, a gratuitous follow up of particular yearnings.
Acknowledgements: Conrad – who supplied the New Yorker magazines.
The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world. F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’m seated in the bar of a boutique hotel under a retractable glass ceiling with a stunningly gorgeous view of the Empire State Building, a fireplace, high tables and low couches, tiered plates of food and a menu of Bites, Flats, Crispies and Balls. The noisy young professionals are drinking sauvignon blanc. A waitress said that a jazz singer was about to perform: ‘She’s very soulful and she scats up a storm.”
Bar Tab has fast become a favourite column for a vicarious New York outing
Two scruffily elegant girls walk towards me on a bleached out African savannah while a giraffe gazes curiously from the background. They sling along large sumptuous Louis Vuitton handbags.
I love this treacherous advertising for the savvy readership. It’s followed up by abundant ads for financial planning, including philanthropy, art financing, estate planning and global insights. Hey, you need that kind of help to live successfully in New York. But what I’m really going to need is the ultimate shock absorbing footwear for full street cred on the sidewalks and pathways of Central Park. The gravity defier shoe. I’ll be there with the look as I merge into riffs with a djembe group, or reading my latest edition Kindle Paperwhite on a park bench as the golden Ginkgo leaves drift down.
Culture doesn’t finish there. I’m drawn to the next exhibition at ‘Aperture Gallery’ and the photographs of Richard Renaldi who asked complete strangers to make close contact for his creations. Oh, it’s sooo New York. There’s all that visual arts culture on one endless spiral. Suck it up buttercup! Off to the Met, scene of my favourite New York novel, The Goldfinch. Its Cubist exhibition is described, not so much as a show, but an institutional organ transplant. I don’t know what it means, but I’m loving the feeling! The Whitney has a new gift, priceless beyond belief, 78 works by Picasso, Braque, Gris and Leger 1906-1924. The Guggenheim has spinning mirrors, flashing lights and nail studded white canvases.
What is this cultural consciousness raising I find myself indulging in? It’s this month’s ‘Homework’. Just another form of grist for the mill, hipster class, permission to fantasize and pad my travel dreams. It’s a New York state of mind, a transcendental state brought on by a long meander through the pages of New Yorker magazine. A deep dive beyond the iconic covers of signature type- face and satirical artwork.
I’d waded through back copies of the London Review of Books, valiantly trying to get my fix…of what; I’m not quite sure. The articles are a tricky, academically demanding to read. They bore me to tears. I stall at the back pages ads. Great fantasy fodder. Oh yeah, I’ll take that writers’ retreat in a Florentine palazzo, then hire that cottage in Cornwall to finish of my novel.
The New Yorker Magazine has a brasher, more eclectic beat, a staccato rhythm. It reflects my fantasy of the New York pulse. Gets my juices and yearnings flowing for this minestrone of culture, layered movements, literary identities, and places to hangout. The projections of many a fantasist before me.
I always wanted to walk these streets, for the art and passion of it. Hear cool jazz on warm nights, hail a yellow cab from a street corner, and see the lights of Time’s Square reflected in a puddle at my feet clad in their gravity defier trainers.
New York! New York! … endless deep cultural indoctrination from a steady stream of novels, films, songs, TV, and friends’ eye witness reports. Absorbing the words of the prophets like Dylan and Paul Simon as they wrote them on the subway walls and tenement halls. Or over in the Factory, musing among the endless silk screenings of Marilynn Munroe, with Andy Warhol, the slightly creepy genius and all his hangers on. Craving their fifteen minutes of fame. Hitting up in the toilets to a half formed soundtrack by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.
I’d settle for a brownstone walk-up anytime complete with its shabby chic interior of collectables. Emerging around 10pm after a day of writing at my laptop to wobble down the sidewalk, this time in my Manlo Blahnik stillettoes and carefully thrown together funky outfit. Off for a discussion with Carrie and the posse, over a Cosmopolitan. The exciting freedom of sex and the city, but hey why are all our best mates single chicks and gay men?
Compulsory would be to drop into the New York yoga scene and take a class with an original brilliant yogi. David Life and Jivamukti Studio, here I come! I'm ripe for a role as your aging yoga groupie from Down Under. Sanskrit chants with Krishna Das, and immersion into the modern athletic yoga culture with side dishes of gluten free veganism and animal rights.
Back to the New Yorker magazines, I’ll just go get a strong coffee brewing, switch on the milk frother and heat up a bagel. The rest…well. I’ll do it all from my chair.