Saturday, June 09, 2012

the naked and the dead

My first real day in London began a little snoozy and pretty crabby. It's a dance of death, this jetlag, and I intend to win it. But it means fighting with myself; I just want to turn on soft music, close my curtains and sleep, but I know that's the worst possible thing to do. So I showered, dressed and went out. Just to keep my feet moving. And in no time I was feeling awake.

Awake enough, apparently to cut through the park and stumble across something called the WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE. You probably think people wouldn't like to take off all of their clothes and ride their bikes around the park, but you would be wrong! Dead wrong. There are hundreds of unattractive people who are willing to do this, all in the name of oil protestation and the protection of natural resources. Although if hard pressed (ew) I bet most of them have no idea what they are protesting, and couldn't tell refined oil from black beans. It's all about getting naked and having your picture taken with asian tourists. And attracting scores of people who giggle and take pictures of your special parts. Incredibly ugly special parts, I should add! Is this how all English people look naked? Not to be critical. I guess, like nude beaches, the type of people who like to roam around naked are generally not the people anyone wants to see naked. It's a sad rule of life. But I had some good laughs. Go planet Earth!

I took the tube up to the Barbican Centre, which is an arts complex in Central London. I've never really been here, but there was a Bauhaus exhibit happening and I was so impacted by the nudity in the park that I was really in the mood to see similarly nude furniture and kitchen products from the early twentieth century. On my way to the Barbican I walked down this really great tunnel. It would be the perfect place for a murder! Murder by color blocking.

I enjoyed the Bauhaus exhibit, even though I couldn't shake the feeling that it was essentially godless. You know that feeling? When something is so clean and so stark and so devoid of anything natural that it feels like it was created by that robot lady from Metropolis? That's how it felt to me. (Also, that's how I used to feel about the Teletubbies. Godless!) Bauhaus was basically an art school in Wiemar, Germany (read: Nazis) and it attracted artists like Kandinsky and Paul Klee and Hitler. It was basically devoted to clean design and functional living. I always thought I jived with Bauhaus design until I saw this exhibition, and then I realized that I like things that have a soul. Like people. I choose life! But it was still really a fascinating exhibit. Here are some art pieces that I liked:

Paul Citroen, Metropolis

Herbert Bayer, Design for Universal Lettering

Erich Comeriner, Mannequins

Kurt Kranz, Mouth Series

Tonight I went on a man date with Michael Nagro, who is Kate McPherson's husband. He flew in yesterday as well and Kate booked us tickets to see The Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic. If Michael is suffering from jetlag you would never know it. He stayed awake through the show (as far as I could tell) and made some very astute and thoughtful comments about the characters and the script. I could barely put two words together. I did manage to stay awake, however, every time Eve Best was on stage. She was pretty electric as the Duchess, and I felt a void whenever she wasn't on. She was fantastic. The Duchess of Malfi is a Jacobean tragedy, which is a nice way of saying that everyone dies in horrible, bloody ways. This production didn't have a lot of blood, but the Duchess got strangled by a double headed garrote, and it took about twenty seconds while she flopped around like a fish and rattled her stiff arms. Loved that! Also, some other characters were hung. Another character was sadly murdered via a poisoned bible.