I laid on the piers early this afternoon with Jacob and soaked up some of the sun's rays while trying to read this Sam Lipsyte book I recently purchased and failing to do so. Failing to do so because I was distracted by physical discomfort from a stomachache/headache combo. Letters just letters, their combination not forming words meant to evoke objects or feelings, just marks on a page. I couldn't focus. There were also a lot of shirtless boys nearby. I was also thinking about other things. And the sun's brightness was actually hurting my eyes too much. So we now have a few causes for why I was unable to read this book, though I'm not sure there was ever actually the intention to. The desire, yes; the intention, no. The book was always a prop, a thing to hold and occasionally glance at, something to make my staring into space, staring at the men around me, less weird, more acceptable.
After an hour or two of non-reading, day-dreaming, and boy-scoping, we left the pier, Jacob off to work, and myself off to the Met to see the Alexander McQueen show that opened last week. I rode the C train up the West Side, got off on 81st Street and walked across the park toward my destination, the one of the moment at least.
I found myself walking through the Rambles unintentionally, if there ever is such a thing. That I was walking through this section of the park surely intended somewhere by some little neuron in my brain when my feet chose to walk x way as opposed to y way. Several years ago, I got a blowjob in this section of the park, near the pond, hidden by trees, a stranger I had earlier walked past. There have been other moments, encountering people, a drunk man asking to see my dick, me showing it. These were all years ago. I don't know what exactly happened, at one point this turned into the safe, welcoming section it is now. They paved some of the dirt paths, have put up short fencing along most of the paths to prevent excursions through the woods, and there are streetlamps where there used to not be. It is still a beautiful section of the park, my favorite section for reasons both aesthetic and nostalgic, but the seediness was totally absent today. There were countless families and groups of twentysomething females with their New York travel guides in hand. I only saw one clearly identifiable gay man, looking lost, old and cruisey eyes, probably wondering the same thing I was, wondering what the fuck happened and where the other gays were. It was already an holdover from another era when I first moved to New York, public cruising existing less and less with Craigslist, Manhunt, and now Grindr. Even then most of the men were older and probably still hanging on to this sex ritual they had known. I think even all those old deer have now been spooked out of the woods by the German tourists with strollers.
After walking through this area, I walked past the toy boat pond, gorgeous. I contemplated how nice it would be to be one of these people who lived nearby and can come sit here just to contemplate the passing of miniature sailboats across a shallow pond. Finally nearing the other side of the park, I was walking toward the exit, lost in thought, when I heard the person ahead of me say hello to someone she had just run into. I stopped in my tracks when I saw who it was, turned my head quickly away, and walked in the other direction. I scurried out of sight and then turned back in that direction to see her from afar, to see if it actually was her. And it certainly was and I was so glad that I did not run into her, Niki, my old roommate who kicked me out of the apartment we shared several years ago, and which moment marked the beginning of a couple years of wandering and feeling kind of low. I did not want to see her, did not want any drama or sadness.
Crisis narrowly averted, I finally made it into the Met. I paid a dollar for admission, the cashier giving me the stink eye there the way all the cashiers at that museum do when you pay less than the suggested admission, and headed toward the exhibition, which I was told had a half hour wait. Once inside the exhibit, I was immediately taken in. That, and also feeling pushed out. The place was surely against fire code regulations with the amount of people crammed into all these rooms. You had to push and weave in and out of people to see any of the garments or read any of the text. Despite this, the exhibition is gorgeous, with beautiful staging, lighting, and sound. The entire presentation is so theatrical in a way that I have never really seen an exhibit at this museum do. A couple of the rooms reminded me of Disney's Haunted Mansion.
It's a really great show that I would like to go see again on a day when the crowds aren't as huge and you can actually look closely at all of the objects. Many of the dresses in the show are insanely beautiful. The videos of his runway shows are amazing. I only wish that the curators would have situated his work in a more historical context. The works are presented on their own with no relation to either fashion history or the global moment the garments were made in. The curators try to tie McQueen to the Romantic movement and position him as a 21st-century Romantic. This view allows them to present the clothes the way they have, as a retrospective of artworks by a singular artist. And the show is something really special. The lighting of the gothic room and the way the dresses are presented is so beautiful. I use that word a lot, but it was, and there are certainly worse words to use a lot.