Day 3 – Monday, 2/1/2010
Since I’m now British (again), I was going to flip the date around (1/2/2010), but I still get confused by that so I won’t. This morning Lisa threw together this amazing egg toast combo that caused me to think my occasional banana for breakfast (if I remember) is just a bit lacking. I jumped on a bus with her to her office, which is in the diamond district. Her office….wow. To someone who resides in a grey cubicle, 6 feet high, and can go an entire day without seeing sunlight, or even leaving her desk, this place was amazing! It was a massive room with 10 rows with 6 people, 3 on either side facing each other, and there was no center wall. Only their giant monitors kept them from looking at each other all day. It looked so creative! I can only imagine how stifled someone used to this environment could be in a cubicle. There were massive windows, floor to ceiling overlooking the adorable buildings and shops. As I mentioned earlier, I can go an entire day without going near a window. The walls were white. Not that sad, office white, but somehow an exciting vibrant white (that could be because there was sun shining on it). To help you understand my shock and revere, imagine the movie Office Space before he gets hypnotized. As much as I try to accessorize my cubicle, it is dull like this. Now think of well….I got nothing. There is no office I can think of that seems as cool as this place was. Just realize I was like Dorothy as she entered Oz…everything may as well have been glittering green. Okay moving on. You’ve heard enough about an office I’m sure.
I had the whole day to myself to sightsee! This was fantastic! I headed back to St Paul’s as it has this huge spire and on a clear day, a great view of the city. The inside was beautiful, but no pictures allowed. L This was a Church of England cathedral, which really just means when good ole Henry the eighth was reigning he took all of the abbeys and churches (and there are many) and changed the last word from ‘catholic’ to ‘church of england’. Nothing else seemed to change. All of the artwork, stained glass, pews, alter, crucifix, and well everything looks exactly like a catholic cathedral. (But now Henry could be rid of boring ole Mary and not have to listen to that pesky pope).
Anyway, the church was beautiful! 500 steps later (no exaggeration), I was at the top of St Paul’s looking over all of London. I headed back to the Tate Modern and saw some really neat pieces. There was this one giant structure, probably 300 ft long and 50 ft wide, that was just black and empty. As you walked into it, you got this extremely unsettling feeling as the darkness enveloped you. Once you made it to the end (by running into a velvet wall), as soon as you turn around you can see everything, including the people walking slow and stilted in a really scared jerky way towards you. This just shows you how poor our fov is – less than 180 degrees…. The neatest part was the expression on everyone’s face. Most people had their eyes open, but a few just gave in and closed them. Everyone looked unhappy though. It was really really cool. I’m not big on surrealism or cubism or other modern art, but I kind of got it, just for a second, what modern art tries to do, to evoke an emotion. The rest of the tate was neat. There were some really weird pieces as expected, and a few funny ones – one room had a table and chairs to scale, that were 10 times the normal size. I felt like Alice in Wonderland! Also I got to see a few original Matisse, Picasso, and Degas. I really like the ‘Waterlilies’ painting. Again I could see the feeling. I even started to understand Picasso’s blue period as I felt sad just looking at one of those paintings. If we’re keeping a Britain to America tally, this one goes to Britain. The modern art museum in DC is crap. There wasn’t one piece there that moved me like so many of them did at the Tate.
Following this I wandered across London Bridge back to lisa’s work and met her for a Korean lunch. I’m starting to see why London’s food is so good – it’s primarily composed of a cuisine other than English! A quick walk to the British museum and a very frustrating couple of hours later, I have to add one to America’s column. This museum was shite (pardon my British)! The layout was awful, and there was a very odd organization, plus I didn’t learn anything! There were just a lot of neat pieces with little captions, but no one took the time to put the story together. I am now more confused about how civilization came together than before. Leaving that aside, I jumped on a double decker and saw Westminster, Big Ben, and got off near Victoria. I headed up to Buckingham Palace, took the required pictures, saw good ole Queen Vic staring down at me, and headed back to join Lisa and Sierra for some sushi before going to see ‘Cat on Hot Tin Roof’. My legs are nearly dead as I’ve fast walked at least 10 miles that day, and have yet to be run over by looking the wrong direction in traffic.
We got these fantastic tickets at a really great rate! 4th row for about $50. It’s more expensive than that in Phoenix let alone a huge hub like London! The best part of this was James Earl Jones and Phylicia Richard were the stars, and boy were they! If you need a reminder on who they are, James Earl Jones was Mufasa’s voice on the Lion King, but most people know him from Star Wars, the Color Purple, Coming to America, the Encyclopedia Britannica guy, and may other amazing things. Phylicia plays Claire Huxtable on the Cosby show, and I have to say I grew up with her as a mother figure. The play was great! It was very tense but heartfelt, and the acting was incredible. I’m not sure I’d see this without a truly great actor, as the delivery of lines was quite crucial. The lines themselves and plot weren’t that great and were even scary, but I was spellbound by the cast. The Earl (James Earl Jones) was nearly 80 but you’d never know it! I guessed high 60’s. Anyway it was a truly great independent kind of day with a really cool ending. I can’t believe I saw the Earl and Claire Huxtable acting together….and I was close enough (nearly) to touch them.
Transportation methods so far: Car, Plane, U, Bus
Cuisine sampled while in England: Pub food, Brazilian, Korean, Japanese
In summary: Saw all the touristy places in London and an American classic by Tennessee Williams with Mufasa and Clair Huxtable as the leads. Wow!