Monday, September 21, 2009

RE: NYC + History Lesson = Island Fever!

Yes, after an unbelievably long post, there is more yet!

As you might have already noticed (if you've been paying attention), friendly reader Dick Lutz, editor and publisher of The Main Street WIRE, left a comment on my previous post regarding Roosevelt Island this past Sunday.

Apparently, there is indeed a tour for the Renwick Ruins, which you can schedule by calling 212-826-9056. Mr. Lutz invited me to check out the WIRE, which is the island's community newspaper, for updates on events and even an historical timeline! (Which has, by the way, some of the most amazing photos of the ruins itself, and all the historical fodder a fanatic loves to feast upon.)

Thanks to Mr. Lutz and the WIRE for my next great NYC adventure!

Speaking of adventures, I also visited Governor's Island this passed Sunday on a whim, and found myself in the middle of two festivals. Instead of my plan of leisurely exploring the island's abandoned nooks and crannies on my own, Ryan and I were exploring a mess of commandeered admiral's quarters crawling with yuppies and arty Dutch people.

One the one hand, it was amazing to get to see the interiors of these aged homes in all their peeling, crumbling, vintage-kitchen, sunbathed-window-paned glory. There was practically a fireplace in every room, and beautiful built in shelves and bookcases. They were like life-size dollhouses, with so many rooms to explore and hidden alcoves to peak our curiosity.

However, this was only a pleasant discovery when these valued pieces of history weren't being commandeered by self-important Dutch crazies, who went so far as to tape up the walls with multicolored tape and scraps of paper, scatter mounds of dirt and feathers on the hardwood floors, and basically turn the entire house into a Jodorowski film without recognition of its own ridiculous cliched decadence. It was as if every modern artist on the planet had vomited their psychedelic, Bohemian nightmares into every room.

I know what you're thinking.....I just don't get it! I don't appreciate what it means! Well, if you can tell me what a conglomeration of giant yarn in the middle of the floor truly signifies, then by all means, please enlighten me. Anybody that can justify the purpose of constructing a tassel manipulated by an expensive motorized robot to recreate a live human tickle session would earn my respect.

All things considered, I did find some of these exhibits interesting....some of them perhaps even meant something. Most of the gems were found in the Governor's Art Fair, which was held in a large abandoned apartment complex on the shore. While some lacked any inspirational or thought value, there were others that were amazing due to sheer atmospheric value. For instance:
  • A bare room: in the center, a lone upholstered chair sitting on a rumpled rug, facing a vintage television, flickering with images of an 8mm film.
  • Droning music filling a white and red stripe curtained off room, which creates an eerie pink glow; crumples of white paper are scattered around a small Japanese nurse who is leaning over the severed styrofoam head of a deer, its gelatinous pink tongue hanging out. She is hot gluing beads on its surface, and asks quietly if I would like to feed her from the baby milk bottle beside her. (Needless to say, I did. She was fasting.....who could say no?)
We then made our way to the free mini golf, which consisted of many handmade contraptions of pipes, wood and netting, reminiscent of the good ol' puts of yesteryear. Despite the fact that many were in disrepair due to the constant influx of destructive children, it still brought back those giddy thrills.

Nora wanted us to visit "The Dig," an excavation site that supposedly held the remnants of another abanadoned town from the 1950s. I'm always up for hidden history, so we paid the $5, donned a hard hat and orange vest, and ventured out into the sand filled wasteland. However, what struck us as odd was that all the "artifacts" had an odd manufactured look to them....

Once we reached the "water tower/pump" we realized that this not historical at all, but a hoax. A very, intitially convincing art installation hoax. This was more obvious when the young Dutch man working the grounds began to explain the story of the bird plague and snowglobe factory. While sitting in a wooden tower, set up inside to look like a more complicated version of mouse trap, he instructed us to push the disc below the floor with our feet to get the gears moving. "The ball is coming," he warned, and we, giggling at the bizarreness of the whole situation, cocked our eyes to hear its metal clink circling around the tin can.

The day ended at 6pm in the center of the admiral's row, where the New Island festival was still in full swing. There was an annoying chef duo making noise on their pot-and-pan instruments, beer flowing from every tap, lots of delicious looking food (which we now, thanks to the hoax, had no money to spend on), and a cow walking the grounds. We decided our fill of hijinks had been had for the day.

In Manhattan, a city of islands, there is never a dull moment.

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