Wednesday, 21 January 2009

*So Distantly, Insanely, Ludicrously Far Off the Record...*

This was the second W2TBL post that convinced me to start Life is Peachy. Things were getting so far off base on that blog. In a really awesome way, but in a very this-has-nothing-to-do-with-the-stated-purpose-of-this-blog sort of way. In any case. I've included the comments. If you are the author of a comment and you would like me to delete one or all of your comments for *any* reason, drop me a line.

I am pre-empting this post by saying that it has absolutely nothing to do with hockey. It has some semblance of a hint of a shred to do with the story, and that's a lot of qualifiers for a reason, mostly I'm posting this because I can...

(Ali & lauren, this is also, in HUGE part, for you...)

These by no means do the real thing ANY justice... but click on them to see something marginally closer.

Westminster Abbey, May 2007.
Hands down, one of the most beautiful things I have Ever seen.
Taken completely illegally (in my defence I didn't know until after I took this...)

The Tabernacle entrance to the Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María, August 2007.

how can you not pray?
(sorry it's so grainy, no flash allowed)

And now for something completely different...

My brother and I booted it down to New York one week in March a few years ago to see this exhibit at the Met that consisted of all of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks and drawings (we're kind of geeks like that). The night before we arrived, Bush went gave his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. Wicked timing eh?

The entire weekend was surreal. The city still had the whole red-yellow-red alert thing going on and it was red the whole time we were there. We stayed with a couple of his greek-society folks on the upper east side and ended up walking everywhere because the subways stations would still close randomly because of bomb threats and even when they were open, they were full of SWAT guys with semi-automatics.

The night Bush started bombing Iraq, there was a massive protest in Manhattan. If it had been Canada I'd have gone in a heartbeat, but most of my friends were tear gassed in Quebec City in 2001 and I wasn't willing to risk never being allowed back into the US ever again if I was arrested, so we skipped it and went to see Phantom of the Opera instead. We're both quite politically aware so it was this strange thing that hung over the evening, like 'how are we being so nonchalant about a WAR that is starting TONIGHT?' but in a strange way we both knew that nothing we could do would make much of a difference.

Then, the trippiest part of the night.

The Barnum & Bailey Circus was in town, only the trucks for the big animals don't fit through the tunnel from Jersey or something, so as we're walking up Fifth Ave from 42nd all the way up to the 90s, suddenly there's this fanfare and a couple dozen ELEPHANTS walking up the middle of Fifth Ave. I felt like I was hallucinating. Think about it. In New York. Machine Guns Everywhere. Political Protests. Iraq getting bombed on CNN. Red Alerts. And then elephants turn onto the street??? I thought I'd fallen through the looking glass.

The next day we wandered down to the Brooklyn Bridge and to a few other places and we saw this:

Avenue of the Americas, March 2003.

What bothers me is the middle tile. (If you can't read it click to enlarge it) I stood in front of it for a solid ten minutes, trying to figure out if I wanted to scream, cry, or break it. This devastated me more than I can accurately express in any language.

There's a line about about philosopher and poets and political scientists in Chapter 20; this is the evidence. (You'll understand when you read the chapter.)


Ali said...

Thanks for posting this -- the photos are incredible... and I'm sure being there in person is even more so... :)

KD said...

I need to dig up my pictures from Notre Dame. They don't do the place justice, by my God, they are so beautiful.

Lauren said...

This makes me want to make my parents ship me my photo albums from my trip to Europe :)

lauren said...

This really just fueled my desire to travel EVERYWHERE. =]

As for what you experienced in New York... I have no explanation or justification. War fever hit the US that year- I think most people have seen the error of their ways since then. While a lot of things about the US drive me nuts, I think what applies to our citizens applies to people everywhere- some people are incredible, some people are horrible, but most people are just people.

mer said...

lauren - Europe wasn't any better. I was in the UK in 2004 (a flew about month after the Madrid bombings...) and it was the same deal.

New York requires neither explanation nor justification, not from you in any case.

I don't blame people for being scared, they were told to be afraid, very afraid and they'd just been woken from a four decade-long dream wherein they were invincible.

I think I was more aware of how ridiculously irrational that fear was because I was an outsider, because I wasn't subjected to exclusively to Fox5 and CNN's fabricated paranoia for a few years straight.

Also, I've been following politics since I was six; I'm a hardened cynic when it comes to government.

The political culture in Canada is also just different; we don't really do the fear-mongering thing here, politicians know they can't get away with it so they don't really bother.

They're actually just sneaky bastards who try to quietly pass legislation under our noses until some clever journalist gets wind of it and makes idiots of them and they go running to the Governor General to suspend parliament so they don't get bitch-slapped with a no-confidence vote within 8 weeks of re-election... have I mentioned that my country's currently the laughingstock of the democratic West? Yeah, cause we are...

And go. Travel. EVERYWHERE. Then post photos. :)

lauren said...

@mer- it's okay, most people here in the US are totally oblivious to Canadian politics. They probably couldn't even tell you who Stephen Harper is. So I wouldn't be too worried about it.

If you ever get really bored, I have about eight facebook photo albums of pictures from Ukraine. :-)

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