because they secretly know everything.
my truest went to an idie film one day and one of the trailers was this one above.
one night we were trying to figure out what film to watch on netflix and she suggested “The Art of the Steal”.
i have a terrible psychological problem in that i think that i have to be the one who always brings her all the cool stuff. i have to turn her on to the great music and movies and tv shows. i have to be a step ahead of everything. i guess i feel that she brings everything else to the relationship, that if i cant deliver the other good stuff then im worthless.
its stupid and crazy, but hi thats me.
so i said fine, lets see this thing and then go to sleep. BEST DOC OF THE YEAR! (even though it came out in 2009). its the story of a $25 BILLION art collection where the dude who owned it had no heirs but put together a will that said this art cannot be sold, loaned out, moved, or f’ed with. and sure enough as soon as he died the Philly art world did their best to f with it, and it looks like by summer of next year they will successfully steal it away from the home that he built for it, The Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion.
as you know we are in NYC. but all along we decided that we would make a day trip to Philly to see this art in its natural habitat. the place where Dr. Barnes wanted it to be seen. he didnt want tourists like us to come see it, he wanted students to study it. he didnt want people to buy tickets online, like we did, he wanted artists and check it out and learn and be inspired.
we were doing pretty much what he didnt intend, and we realized that, but i think at this point he’s rolled around so much in his grave that he probably has conceded to the fact that the really bad people are about to win. and to have people like me and the truest journey to where it was meant to be would probably be ok to the old dude.
we took the Apex bus, which has gotten a wide variety of reviews on Yelp from the horrific to the sublime. its a $10 bus that picks you up in the smelliest part of NYC’s chinatown and drops you off in a sketchy part of Philly.
but it’s $10. (nowadays it’s $12, but people still call it the $10 bus.)
like the reviews say, theres no real reason to get your tickets online because once you find your way to the nondescript office on Allen Street it’s first-come-first-served. we got there a little early and noticed a small line-up. there was no sign on the bus so i asked someone in line where the bus was going and they said Philly. so we gave the driver our ticket and 15 minutes before it was supposed to leave we were on the road(!?). had we caught the previous bus or was the correct bus leaving early with only 8 people on board?
who knows, who cares, welcome to Apex.
the A/C was blasting and i had foolishly forgotten to bring a jacket and since it was 77 degrees and humid i didnt think i needed a wrap. so i held my true love in my arms and we shared her jacket and i fell asleep in her arms. 1 2 3 awwwwww. somewhere near philly the bus driver pulled over near a mcdonalds. he called out the street name. no one got off. apparently they can drop you off in 3 parts of the crappiest parts of the city of brotherly love.
the second stop the guy pulled over and yelled at someone sitting on a bench. didnt pick that person up, didnt drop anyone off. and in seconds we were rolling again. finally, under 2 hours after leaving chinatown, we were on Broad and Onley. last stop, everyone off, the man said. we got up and the bus kept rolling. we were being dropped off across the street from a greyhound station. apparently Apex doesn’t have an official terminal. but who cares ITS $12!!
soon as we got off the bus we were surrounded by my people. black folk. a dude approaches me and says “need a cab brotha?” i look around and there are no yellow cabs. so i say, “sure, we are going about 8 miles away, how much?” he says lemme hook you up. and we make our way to another brotha who walks us to an unmarked minivan.
shady $12 bus, shadier minivan… i know, i know, im 105 years old, i make a decent salary, i dont need to put my life on the line like this, let alone my beautiful bff, but when you get to my age its nice to see what the universe provides and roll with it. and the universe was giving us a gypsy cab and it was so great.
is Michael Vick gonna do it? i asked. the dude was all yeah but can he please just shut his mouff? we had a great conversation about sports, and how Kobe has turned his back on Lower Merion (where he’s from), and how Oprah turned her back on Baltimore (where shes from), and how traffic is always bad in Philly even at 1pm which is what time it was and why we were experiencing traffic. and we made it to the Barnes Foundation in 15 minutes, the guy said $20 and we gladly handed it over.
we said we’d call him for the ride back but im xbi, i cant let people pick me up after dropping me off. what if they figure out who i be? now that would be dangerous.
the barnes was having problems with their online ticketing. thats fine cuz even though we had gotten our tickets online ($15 each) i hadnt printed them out. which was fine because there was our name on the list. 1:30pm reservation. it was 1:15pm. close enough. step right in.
we got the headphones and little box. $7 each. and started. and people immediately, just in the first room, there was a George Seurat. one you had seen before. huge. and all around it a cezanne, a matiste, a monet, a few manets. and whats this, a van gogh youd never seen before.
and thats how it was in every room. density of beauty. a greatest hits of artists. a who’s who of brilliance. and because Dr. Barnes had owned this art for decades and because he was no sell out, this art had stayed in one place for 50-80 years. it hadnt ended up as a cheesy print poorly framed at Z Gallerie.
around each priceless painting were odd door hinges or door knockers or candle sticks. underneath them were antique dollhouses or wooden chairs. it was clearly one man’s vision of “omg check out how monet used red in this painting, it reminds me of how this guy used red or that guy, so lets put them all together on one small wall, and lets put some chairs under them and some hinges around them and have some crazy painting of a guy looking down over it so his eyes are looking at the entire collection.”
each wall was a collage of million dollar art cold chillin together in a way no museum would ever do. another thing a museum wouldnt do is have no description of the art next to each piece. all there was was a frame that had the artist’s last name. if you wanted to know the title and the year, there was a laminated sheet nearby. the wall is art. preserve the art.
room after room after room there was another picasso youve never seem, another van gogh you didnt ever see at the van gogh museum, another renior prettier than the one before, and a modigliani right next to a picasso – challenging it, holding its own.
it made me think about excellence. how i want to be excellent. how i want to have a Blue Period just as amazing as my Cubist period. how i want to do new things and great things. it made me wonder why people dont want to be the best ever and i am like that sometimes. it made me think that i dont spend my time crafting interesting tales on this blank canvas and tweak it and edit it and shape it so that its better than the first draft.
quality. excellence. beauty. marksmanship. preciousness.
there was a 100 year old pink picasso, there was a toulouse-latrecht that looked like michael jackson, and for no apparent reason here were all these great african sculptures surrounded by seemingly unrelated paintings.
and there, proudly displayed, was that punk rock master, the dude who thumbed his nose at The Academy, Gustave Courbet, and his Woman with White Stockings. dr. barnes keeping it real. dr barnes saying yes i hate the rules too. dr barnes saying i too want to say to the art world that they can kiss my ass (or in this case, kiss my taint). overheard, “hey harry, so is she putting on those stockings before or after? hehehe. or during?!?!”
it was really too much to absorb in one sitting. two-three hours isnt enough. to really be one with such a mass amount of high quality art. from baby sketches to medium sized paintings to freakin a picasso tapestry. its too much to figure out.
meanwhile the whole time youre in this building that was meant for this art and you had the horrible bittersweet taste in your mouth that this work was about to be yanked out and put in the last place that its visionary collector wanted it: in the philly museum of art.
it was like seeing the final year of the cubs playing in wrigley field before they would be moved to the south side to share Cellular Field with the hated white sox.
the cubs should only play at wrigley and the art collected by dr. barnes should only be seen at the barnes foundation. seeing The Art of the Steal convinces you, but viewing the art in person brings it home.
walked a few blocks, ate at a place called Cosi’s. called a cab but a white Lincoln Continental showed up and honked. dont honk at the xbi. dude got out of the car and said tony? did you call for a cab? all the cars were out, so the boss had me take his car to pick you up, where you going?
said a little prayer and told him. when it finally dawned on him that i was asking to be driven to the ghetto he called into the office “broad and Olney. yeah. OLNEY! i know.” very nice guy but white and clearly not into going where we were gonna go. he, however, knew everything about the Barnes and the film and philly and the bad politics, and so much. another good conversation. when we got to the place i asked how much as there was no meter. he calculated $18, i gave him $23 and we got out.
broad and olney is a subway stop, a busstop, and a greyhound station. its also kitty corner to a school for girls and a zillion other things. lots of people. lots of old dudes with canes waving their canes at people honking as they drive by. its black folk being black folk. if youre not into the culture its scary, if you can hang its entertaining and heartwarming and beautiful. we got there a little after 5. we realized the next Apex bus wasnt coming till 6 so we looked around for a bar, only found one that looked so shady we chose to chill at the dunkin donuts cuz my belly was sour.
finally a shuttle bus appeared around 6. it honked. we got on along with 10 others. i had tried to figure out how Apex made any money driving 8-10 people on a big bus from NYC to Philly – gas alone must cost more than the $80 that they were getting from us, so the shuttle bus made more sense. several miles later they picked up some jamacians. and then after a few more miles the driver said Get Out, Changing Busses.
confused, but prepared for anything, we all got out and stood in front of a chinese restaurant. others were waiting there too. i really had to empty the bowels so i went into the chinese restaurant and as soon as i was almost done i heard a knock at the door. the truest alerted me that the new bus was there. it was a huge bus like the one we arrived in philly in. but now more people were there. so many that i wasnt able to sit next to her. instead i drew the short straw and was forced to sit next to an 18 yr old college freshman girl with pretty long hair.
turned out she had a bf at nyu and they took turns visiting each other. he normally won out because manhattan was a tad more fun than philly. tried the bathroom about 90 minutes into the trip, noticed there was no tp and the stench was insane. and decided not to risk it.
got to chinatown safe and sound. really needed to go number two, but figured i could hold it till brooklyn. but we couldnt find where the subway was. asked a young man running a tea shop. he pointed. but his buddy said ok but buy drinks! i said if you let me use your bathroom i will buy a drink. they agreed. truest got a hot green tea, i got a ginger ale. i destroyed that bathroom. got out and the look on her face was amazing. she was drinking the finest green tea of her life she announced. he said his secret is he boils the tea first. whatever, she was in bliss. and i was more comfortable.
got on the subway. got back to brooklyn. had another deep, meaningful, bizarre, spiritual conversation with ms anna rose who was spending a few months in the basement of aj’s three story park slope flat and around 1am we decided that we would test out one of the all night diners.
truest and i strolled romantically down 5th ave, arm in arm. youd think we were newly weds or bf/gf but no, we’re exes. just extremely loving ones. we’ll duck into a corner and kiss. hold hands. say sweet things. but in a month or two she may be in india and i might be named the new manager of the flubs. who knows. who cares. we are soul mates and if more isnt on our dance cards for this incarnation, we will see each other in the next one. or maybe not. maybe we were together in the past and this is the bonus extra dvd directors cut encore.
it really does feel that easy and familiar. it really is that beautiful and carefree. there really is no tension to get “serious” or have kids or even be together tomorrow. but for right this minute theres no one who matches up with me better. theres no one who i feel more manly and smart and confident around. theres no one who knows me better. theres no one i feel safer around. despite the fact we may never see each other again.
and a lot how i feel while in new york city.