Busy day and a trip to Oakland

Lots of work today, got my car washed, then took BART over to the Oakland museum to hang out with my mom & sister & nephew for a couple of hours. It was great.

Bus ride to BART, I have to note that a guy yelled sarcastically when I got on “Great job driver make sure everyone gets a seat now” as he was asked to move back, I guess. He kept talking to himself loudly about it but I was only going like 10 blocks, and there were a lot of people between us so I didn’t pay attention. Then when i got off he yelled “GOOD RIDDANCE KICK IT OFF THE BUS. GET OUT OF HERE” and I looked back at him, furious. “I was just talking about MYSELF” he said, with all the quick wit of a badly lying 3 year old. The bus driver and I exchanged kind glances and we wished each other a good afternoon, wearily.

Oh… well….. At least the rest of my transit journeys were peaceful, quiet even, and pleasant. I got some stickers and a BART hat at Lake Merritt station! and… They still have some socks! The guy in line before me bought like, 5 pairs. Lake Merritt station should totally build a little gift shop with mugs and tshirts and junk. It would be so popular.

The tile in this station is a funky irregular hexagon pattern, dark red, and it has a very cool and beautiful glass elevator from the platform to the concourse.

On the train, I thought of some more good stuff for my game and took notes.

At the museum I loved pretty much everything. I need to spend several days there. I especially liked the giant trippy mural in the museum cafe, Ode to California by kozyndan. I took this pic of one of my favorite bits but I had so many favorite parts of it. This one has tiny naked people riding segways and a guy reading a book under a tree in the background while giant fish float around nearby and a kelp stipe and holdfast are wrapped around a rock.

Detail of mural with segways

Here’s an image of the full mural from a site that sells prints of it:

ode to california mural.

Fizzing with energy

The day stretches before me! The 3 day weekend, even! I’m coffeed up, everything I think of wants to become a zine, I have dozens of ideas, when I look at something I holographically see a multi-step process to make it better, ways to describe the BART station at 24th and Mission are jostling each other to become part of my interactive fic, language is fizzing & sparking inside me, infinite possibilities are buzzing around in my head, and I only need to drink this nice cup of yerba maté & settle in with my computer to become the magical maxwell’s demon who lets one of them out into the world.

Satirical fake newspapers

I just pre-ordered my copy of The Ventriloquists, a novel that tells the story of Faux Soir, a Belgian satirical newspaper slamming the occupying Nazis.

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

From reading the Wikipedia entry on Faux Soir it’s amazing and beautiful how satire can be such a strong point of resistance.

Seems relevant given the satirical Washington Post put out today by “trickster activist collective” the Yes Men & their previous New York Times special edition.

24th St Mission BART station report

Starting my BART station report series with my home station, 24th St Mission. Sometimes the St is spelled out so it’s 24th Street Mission, and sometimes it’s abbreviated in station signs. You can get some overview of the neighborhood on the Calle 24 Historic District site in English and Spanish. Get ready to ramble! I’m going to just write everything that comes into my mind from my notes, memories, and researches. I hope that you will enjoy reading it and then will see this (or some other train station or place in your city) with a new perspective.

Though I can go the half mile from my house to the station under my own power, this time I got there on the bus, debouching directly in front of a bench where a guy with a 49ers jacket was sitting holding a bug-eyed chihuahua on his lap, passing by him to scoot into Taqueria El Farolito since the line was very short.

El Farolito has a narrow corridor along the kitchen where you order and wait, and small picnic tables along the wall. I can make it in there in my powerchair to order, turn around by the jukebox after I order, and make it back out, but there is nowhere my wheelchair can fit for me to sit and eat inside. No big deal. As is usual in SF taquerias you get a number and lurk around the counter listening for your number. Bonus if you understand numbers in Spanish. I got a carnitas super burrito with everything and a mexican coke to go, which comes with a little bag of chips and some napkins, in a plastic bag with handles. The handles are so useful and important for hanging the bag on the arm of my wheelchair. Mexican coke is nicer and tastier than US coke because it uses cane syrup instead of corn syrup and it comes in a pretty glass bottle.

If you can see over the counter as you wait (I cannot in this particular location) then please admire the efficiency of the burrito-makers and study their workflow. It is instructive to compare the workflow of different taquerias, for stunning speed, La Taqueria; for complexity (sometimes as many as 14 people behind the narrow counter) Pancho Villa. Keep in mind that THESE BURRITOS ARE LOVE. You are going to be nurtured by your delicious and amazing burrito. Appreciate it properly.

At some point over the years I wondered what possible connection there was between burritos and lighthouses (Faro = lighthouse in Spanish and in many romance languages from the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria on the island of Pharos). I think it is from the “home of the Mission burrito” being Febronio Ontiveros‘ El Faro taqueria. So maybe El Farolito is an offshoot of the original El Faro at 20th and Folsom.

As I was waiting two mariachis came in, one with accordion, another with guitar and an amp on a hand truck. They set up and started playing in the back of the tiny narrow restaurant. I got my own salsa in containers and headed out to eat in the BART plaza. I shared one of the square cement bench blocks with a friendly tamale lady and a couple who were discussing their plans for the day in Spanish; staying in my comfy powerchair but using the bench corner for my coke bottle and bag of chips and also putting my feet up on there from time to time. One bench over, I noticed the Raccoon Guy (a white haired and bearded grizzled older man who has hung out in this plaza for years but recently achieved viral fame for bringing a dead raccoon into the nearby McDonald‘s.) From this we can deduce that 24th and Mission is a pretty good raccoon habitat, barring accidents.

orquestra de 24

OK so this plaza, the one on the Northeast corner. I am pretty familiar with it and it is one of my favorite hangouts, sort of refreshing and beautiful to me in a special way. Yes I realize sometimes it smells like pee. Try to bear with me. When it doesn’t smell too much like pee, it’s so nice! Lively, full of action, so much to look at, excellent food for the flaneur’s soul! On weekends there are often loud preachers or a band of old dudes playing mostly Cuban music. If I get there for the music then I hang out for a few songs and put some money in their donation bin. It is a lovely scene on a sunny day with families stopping to watch, people dancing, the tall washingtonia palms far overhead against a blue sky. Even without those very organized musicians, there are frequently other musicians playing in the plaza or coming up from the BART stairwell, and music coming from someone’s portable speaker or cars or the market in the southwest plaza that’s catty-corner across the street. The buses fwoosh and beep, the distinctive train car sound swells up from underground, Norteño or salsa music comes and goes, lots of Spanish and Chinese spoken all around. It is a lively soundscape that I absolutely love.

Facing north from this plaza, you’ll see a mural on the wall of El Farolito. This is by Michael V. Rios and shows a geometric cityscape, and some determined, rather grim people shouldering train rails with a shining metal BART train riding on top. It has a nice socialist realist feel to it, as it honors the workers who built and maintain the city’s infrastructure. The gleaming futuristic train is carried on the backs of the people! Maybe the people who built it or the people who paid for it with their taxes!

Facing west, past the stairwell, there is a giant mural on the side of the Silverstone cafe in addition to the super funky and cool coffee and tea sign of Silverstone. Sorry I don’t know much about the mural and forgot to take pictures but it says something like “SOCKS” on it. More later if I go investigate, or find info about this mural online. The Silverstone Cafe itself is quite nice, and has wifi and – I didn’t know till this week’s exploration – A pretty nice patio in back! And good, low priced, (large) pastries and breakfast and sandwich type of food. The interior is beautiful with a giant wooden… bar back or mantelpiece sort of thing. Because of the TV I didn’t try to work from this cafe, though I might in future. (Instead I ended up a few blocks down 24th, at Haus, which also has a lovely patio and an accessible bathroom.) If you go that direction you could also stop by Precita Eyes and learn more about the neighborhood’s murals.

I didn’t hang out today at the southwest plaza but can say it has a pleasant street market with booth selling jewelry, souvenirs, shopping bags, belts, phone cases and chargers, headphones, shirts (often ones embroidered huipil style) and ponchos (wool). There are also sometimes flower sellers and a booth for vitamin type of things, phone plan sales. Sometimes events in the far corner under the Coffee & Mission mural like, breakdancers or rappers. This mural is on Osage St. and is by Mark Bode, Mel Waters, Dino, Nite Owl, Dagon, and Free. You may notice Mel Waters‘ distinctive style in like, a zillion other murals all over the Misson and the rest of the Bay Area. There is a big metal ventilation tower here that, in Ingress and Pokémon, is a portal named Lipstick Tube after the shape of the tower. The way the plaza is shaped in the back by the stairwell entrance makes a pretty good stage for any sort of street events. There is also a dark green kiosk-style public bathroom in this plaza. I have never used it, opting to buy a coffee or something instead to use a bathroom!

Did you ever notice the “two totemic posts” of this plaza? I hadn’t. Hang onto your hats as I want to paste in a hefty quote from the designers.

The two totemic posts in the foreground were placed to formalize a stage area already used as such by the community. Otherwise, most vertical elements were removed to open up the plaza.

The plaza was originally designed along with the underground station in 1970. The basic configuration is an open plaza paved in a concentric brick pattern that radiates out from a large circular opening in the center. The opening comprises the main station entrance, containing a stair and escalator column with recessed semicircular planters on either side.

The circular opening offered the design team a powerful theme. The circle form not only ties together design elements throughout the plaza but attempt to also communicate universal notions. The circle is an ancient form used by many civilizations. It was universal and almost always represented the sun and thence fecundity, society and important values.

Eliminating the security fencing revealed the existing great circle—being able to enter and emerge from such a shape is an unusual experience even in a famous city. The cylindrical tower (necessary to protect the existing spiral stair) acts as a beacon for the station and recalls an ancient Maya astronomical observatory. It has a south-facing skylight through which the sun illuminates colored portholes. Emerging from the circle passengers will catch a glimpse of colored sunlight—but the light will not again appear in the same spot for an entire year. Of identical shape to the tower are shiny bollards (necessary to prevent vehicle intrusion from the alley) that are positioned in various angles to reflect sunlight at different strengths when seen from a distance. Throughout the plaza can be found variations on the theme of circles, light and totems.

Nifty! (What spiral stair?! Is that what the Lipstick Tube is?! I assumed it was for ventilation!)

Back to our BART station. I did not get even halfway through the burrito. I can live off a burrito for like, three meals at LEAST. While I was sitting there a mad-eyed disheveled dude asked me and everyone nearby for change. He eventually settled down elsewhere in the plaza. Being accosted for money is likely but just take it in stride. If you like to help people you might keep some dollar bills in a pocket ready to dole out (that’s what I do) and know how to set limits on the interaction, and how to say no. It may make you uncomfortable though especially at night. Personally I feel perfectly comfortable here day and night as it is very public and well lit with tons of people around. Anyway, I sat through many buses pulling up, people walking by, tamale lady calling out her wares (tamales de pollo, de carne!) and selling some from her ice chest on wheels. She’s super nice, I see her there a lot.

I waited for the elevator with a sweet family who had been shopping (grandma, mom, and teenage daughter with her backpack worn frontways across her stomach). Three dudes were just nearby playing very loud Cuban music (excellent taste) and cat calling us (Ay mamacita!!! que estás bonitaaaaaaaa!!!!) But not like hostile cat calling, basically a . . . non-hostile routine social interaction. I looked over at them and nodded, breaking all the rules of such things, being a sucker for good music and since their piropos weren’t gross or anything. But me and the older women also side-eyed each other in mixed annoyance and amusement and then when we got in the elevator kind of burst out laughing.

The elevator had the horrible smell of pee and industrial cleaning fluid. I always kind of long to tackle the gross walls of this elevator where someone tried to write, or paint, and then it was ineptly and incompletely sprayed with cleaner, so there are horrible drips going down the wall and it looks filthier than if they had just left the graffiti alone. There are also times when there’s… food smeared on the wall? I dunno! The thing with the smell is, the pee must run down through the mechanism of the door to the elevator well below, and just fester there for years. There need to be more bathrooms, open all hours, though, I think the Pit Stop bathrooms do help and in recent years the stench has been ameliorated to some extent.

The elevator from the northeast plaza lets you out in a sketchy feeling nook in the north corner of the concourse. The stairwell there (and, same on the other side) has 2 stairways and an escalator, with abstract concrete bas reliefs by the English sculptor William George Mitchell. If you get up close to the walls you can feel the rough (even sharp) corrugations which are the background to the broad smooth planes of the cement geometric shapes. I wonder if they give the Mission stairwells some of their nice acoustic properties. There are often musicians in them, and while I explored on this day there was an excellent guitarist, Ángel Rodriguez from Banda Sin Nombre, in one stairwell and then later in the day, a saxophonist in the other.

The concourse has a beautiful arched design that makes me think of 70s futuristic things, or maybe particular airports, with the concrete arches overhead soaring like an airplane hangar, and more interesting corrugation in between creating a fairly beautiful line. If you don’t look up, or look at the shape of the buttresses of the arches, you are missing out. The lighting is also really not bad for an underground area. If you do have a look at the ceilings you may also notice a lot of anti-pigeon spikes. (Ow!) Speaking of ow, as a small accessibility note I would say there is an archway pillar between the north stairwell and the entry ticket points where, the slope of it as you might be coming out of the ticket area is such that for a blind cane user, it would be easy to run your head right into the underhang of the arch. Same goes for the pillar by the southwest stairwell as you come out of the ticket area there and turn right – headbonking opportunity. That could be prevented by a small guard rail in both areas.

There’s a ticket entrance by the elevator and the northeast stairwell, and another on the south side of the station, by the agent booth. This south entrance is where the wheelchair and stroller accessible entry and exit point is. In some other stations, the elevator to the platform is outside the pay entry cage so you have to specially remember to reach over the barrier to tag yourself out (even though you’re already out!) Once you’re in the paid area, there are 3 stairwells from south to north; the first is an escalator coming up from the platform, and some bike racks. At the far north end of the paid area you’ll find the elevator to the platform (call button on the left). Like most elevators in the system this one has buttons marked C for Concourse and P for platform.

Platform 1 has the northbound trains, Platform 2 has the southbound. If you traverse the length of the platform you will see the 3 stairwells; the furthest one from the elevator is the escalator going up. In between the escalator and the middle stairwell are some big block style cement benches, and between the second stairwell and the 3rd, there’s a big map and schedule. The median walls (on the stairwells) are tiled with brown, orange, gold, yellow tiles with an occasional black one, which I think of as a kind of nice Painted Desert effect or like the backgrounds for Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. There are mysterious little rooms in these areas too with numbered doors (as there also are on the concourse). I expect these will factor into my BART text adventure game in some way. On the walls to either side of the platform tunnel you can see the same buttress looking cement things as you see above in the concourse. Between those, there’s plain beige tiles and a space for ads.

So, I’m going to return to my game-writing now! This isn’t an exhaustive Guide To Things To Do near 24th and Mission station, though, I do recommend you get a great burrito and admire the murals while you’re here. There is also excellent grocery shopping at many small latin american stores, a middle eastern grocery around 26th, bookstores nearby down 24th and on Valencia and 20th, and several import stores with a standard selection of things like cheap suitcases, backpacks, socks, SF souvenirs, jeans, trinkets, and I don’t know what all else as it’s been a while since I was able to fit through their aisles!

By the way…. tomorrow is the 18th Annual No-Pants Bart Ride Day! Are leggings cheating? I get cold!

Wine tasting

I have a vague memory of once being at a winery tour and maybe seeing some barrels and being in a big room drinking a glass of wine with a group of people but this may be completely imaginary. My sister took me today to Quixote Winery where we had an appointment for a wine tasting. I had no idea what to expect, maybe a tour of a cellar where I would not want to go down a million steps so would sit and read on my phone while a tour guide took other people around?

Instead it was just a very quirky interestingly built house and garden. As we went up the flagstone path to the weird looking house on top of a small hill we noticed & were commenting on the patterns of the paving stones which were set in rivery random looking designs, brick, stones, and I think maybe also tile. The building had a lot of tile mosaic bits – outside and inside – and a gold leaf covered tower like a minaret. I kept muttering “quirky Alhambra” to myself….

We sat in front of a fireplace and this lady explained about 5 or 6 kinds of wine to us as we tasted them. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah. We were there basically because my sister has a book about the architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. I gathered the building has no right angles. Even the bathroom was really beautiful and had a sort of tile path across the walls, over the doorways, hard to describe. And, fat, chunky, bulbous columns in somewhat Minoan colors, orange and turquoise and gold and purple. Tiles or other elements were cracked and re-assembled or seem like they are flowing into one another. I like this guy’s aesthetic. The building fit the hillside, it fit the idea of California, it fit “Quixote” in a particular way, and it made me feel happy, dynamic, sort of mind-explody in a good way, comfortable (the movement and chaos feeling very homey, like how I think). Laura talked about how even when you have a strong vision (like this) of how you want something to be it is very hard to get it across to others and to get them to actually do it or to accept your vision to the degree that it takes to overcome the various tendencies to do it the way you (the other people) want (like the clients) or how it is easiest or most convenient (for you the workers digging holes and laying tiles and cement and so on) and about the ways sexism plays into that dynamic.

hall and column of winery

We sat in the patio for a while for Laura to sketch. I was taking notes for my text adventure game and then just gazing around to appreciate things, looking at the gold and green hillsides and the distant cliffs (Stag’s Leap… part of the terroir or the viticultural district. I had just been reading in my Roadside Geology book about how dark volcanic soils and oceanic crust soil makes for good and complicated red wines. Pretty cool! While I’m not sure I really know one kind of wine from another, everything we had there tasted interesting, complex, and delicious. 15 minutes and Laura had made a super cute sketch. She will probably do more from photos later.

laura sketching

watercolor sketch

Somehow all day she was asking me phrases in Spanish which will help her communicate with her landscape crew (she is a landscape designer/architect) so it was stuff like I’m not ready to plant these yet, Put them over here, No, over there, I’m still thinking about it, The tall ones go here, the short ones in front, How are you, How is your family, I’m sorry, Excuse me, I had a nice weekend how about you, and a lot of variations on Fuck these fucking fucked up plants, because everyone needs to be able to swear to express their personality properly.

liz in front of mosaic wall

A Catte

I spent the day puttering around the house and reading. I’m on book 3 of an endless series of historical fiction by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, who has an amazing-sounding name and a love of describing angst and drama that spans many generations. Book 1 started out in the 14th century during the Wars of the Roses. Book 2 was mostly Henry VIII. And Book 3 is mostly Queen Elizabeth, well, not mostly about her but the family the books are about, the fictional Morlands from … somewhere near York, I think, are sometimes at court. So it’s against a backdrop of Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots and so on.

This has led me to lots of Wikipedia reading – like I wanted to know all about the guy who married Mary Queen of Scots and his unhappy ending (syphillis maybe but also murdered and THEN blown up as well by some barrels of gunpowder) and then the unhappy ending of the other guy who married her (maybe abducted and raped her, then married her?) (thrown in prison but I’ve forgotten the exact events – but he was chained to a column in a Dutch prison for 10 years and died there.)

These gruesome deaths led me, though, to strike gold:
Mary Queen of Scots’ embroidered badge of a ginger cat wearing a crown playing with a mouse, embellished with her initials MA intertwined to look like a rune. Maybe the cat was her cousin Elizabeth and she was the mouse!

a-catte

Whatever it may have meant, it’s delightful!!! I think it would make a really neat replica embroidered badge! Someone should get it manufactured and sell them on Etsy!

The books can be a little traumatic (I was squicked by the amount of 14 year olds who marry old guys) and there is like, constant weird incest and trauma, and children who are super charming and beloved and then DIE DIE DIE or maybe everyone dies, and I got really sad about Anne Boleyn, but they aren’t like “The Kingdom of Little Wounds” level of trauma and that has got to be the #1 gross book ever for its multiple times we get a syphilitic Queen’s very public ob/gyn exams described; keep in mind I absolutely love that book but I have to warn people when I recommend it that it goes deep.) I continue reading them since I am very curious how Harrod-Eagles is going to sustain this strange family all the way into World War II. I’m also admiring the volume of her output, I mean, from her Wikipedia page it sounds like she works full time and writes these doorstop epic novels on the weekend and there are like, 30 of them. So impressive. Anyway, I am getting just slightly INTO the vibe of these books. Is there someone sympathetic? Is there someone they absolutely shouldn’t shack up with, like, their secret half brother or their actual uncle or their husband’s brother or a hoydenish Scottish girl who rides into battle and hates men, or, their paralyzed and sickly first cousin, or like, a travelling homosexual actor or a bloodthirsty Earl who may have murdered his first and second wives? In Morland logic this is like catnip to a catte. The more inappropriate the match the faster they freaking leap into bed, get INSTA-PREGNANT and then their children and grandchildren accidentally do it all over again.

Meanwhile, a list of things I have glued today: my thumb to danny’s glasses frame; the glasses frame to itself; a large flowerpot in 6 pieces; a small bone china horse. I had to soak my thumb and the glasses in nail polish remover for several minutes before I was able to scrape my thumb free of the glasses with a knife.

Work from home looks

I really enjoyed these cartoons today:

There are 4 pages of work from home outfits of uncanny accuracy to how I normally dress at least, until noon or so. Some details vary, but I totally put my hair (short as it is) into a top of the head ponytail and I tuck my tattered pajamas into my (too big, mens’) socks. The t-shirt boob tuck is also just TOO REAL. I did wear actual pants today. My t-shirt is one that I got in 1988 at the Guinness factory in Dublin which has miraculously survived all this time with no holes and amazing softness.

The artist has an adorable etsy shop!

Layers of history

Came across this excellent article today on U.S. museums that add information about slavery and enslaved people to their exhibits.

Can Art Museums Help Illuminate Early American Connections To Slavery?

Silly but clear headline (the answer is “yes, of course”).

For these particular portraits of people from 1700s Massachusetts, there is presumably whatever info was there before on a placard next to the painting, and there is a new placard outlining the person’s connection to slavery, including the names of the enslaved people whose labor enriched themselves and their family.

I like this approach to history. Who is missing? Who is not seen, heard from? Who has disappeared from the picture and why?

Add in another layer, of the indigenous people of that part of Massachusetts, and their lives at the time of these portraits.

An interesting book is mentioned in the article, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave in the Building of a Nation by Daina Ramey Berry. I may give that a read.

The Future Is Fluid

Enjoying my visit to New York a lot already. This morning I had breakfast in our super nice hotel (Townhouse Inn). Tonight will be busy and I get tired easily, so I didn’t want to try to do anything big. I set off towards the nearest museum, which I knew nothing about – The Rubin Museum of Art, a few blocks away, picked out from Google Maps. It’s a museum dedicated to Himalayan arts and culture.

Along the way I browsed in a vintage jewelry store which had a lot of little wooden drawers full of stuff (like, a drawer for the 5 dollar tie pins, and 10, 15, and 20+ pins) There were drawers for brooches with people on them, animals, leaves, circle pins, birds…. I got a tie clip that is a very cute enameled bus from the 50s and something called a scarf clip that has morpho butterfly wings in the design that said it was from 1944. Anyway, I needed a clip because, all the way to the museum, I had to keep feeling at my neck to make sure my nice silk scarf didn’t fall off. Now the clip can make sure (or, I will lose a scarf AND a clip!)

At the museum I enjoyed the wrathful deities who represent wisdom and the small gold statues from the 13th-14th centuries especially the one of a historian and translator, Zhonnu Pel.

But I especially loved the the animations by Chitra Ganesh (The Scorpion Gesture), and The Road to Sanchi by Ghiora Aharoni. Of Ganesh’s animations I super loved the large glowing panel called Metropolis (must be in reference to the movie with Maria the robot) I watched it twice – get ready for the somewhat inaccurate/incomplete description from memory. It started out in sort of cosmic space/time in the stars with a Buddha and a writing (woman’s?) hand, some scrolls/books and a giant glowing flower and buildings which looked old (a monastery I think). More buildings arise in a mountain backdrop and then giant black feet stomp on everything so that the land and mountains fracture (I suppose many disasters including colonialism and invasions or diasporas) It is all a gorgeous technicolor neon collage. The giant feet are like Kali trampling and I also thought of the Monty Python foot. Felt that there were a lot of inter-references to stuff I missed but that didn’t lessen the impact – clearly more depth, but accessible to the ignorant. There is a rainbow, more buildings, an airplane, tall buildings and urban life appearing over and along with the older buildings and temples, then I think the 2nd buddha appears in a golden statue form, its face changes to a woman’s face (but I don’t know who specifically) and her body is like a cyborg goddess body which raises an arm and some sort of energy (weapon?) appears in her hand. It was gorgeous and apocalyptic and many-layered, with a relentless quality to the action. Loved it so much!!! Science fiction feminist visions are the best. My head exploded! I could have watched it 10 times! Thank you future historians of the (im)possible!

The other exhibit that really struck me was The Road to Sanchi by Ghiora Aharoni. It is a curving array of battered taxi meters in glass bell jars. The meter has a small strip of video screen playing and if you go around the back of each one there is a digital camera attached to the meter, playing the same video, full screen. Each one is a journey through busy crowded city streets (though in at least one, a more rural road) to a sacred place of various religions, in India and I think maybe Nepal.

I was pretty tired by this time so did not watch each of the 12 or so videos of the journey. I spent a fair amount of time with it though. My mind had already been floating through my own journey to new york from san francisco & through the street this morning on my scooter mingling with the crowds and enjoying the many layers of time of this city where on every block there are buildings in stages of dereliction and renewal built on geologic-feeling accretions of cement and tunnels and asphalt and pipes. Purple glass “light tunnel” windows inset into older bits of sidewalk. You can feel the infrastructure just seething.

Then, just before I got to the Road exhibit, I had sat at a desk by the elevator, where you can write a letter to a future museum visitor. On seeing that I realized that someone had handed me a letter from another visitor on my way in (I took it with thanks but assumed it was a sort of “please donate” brochure) So, I sat at the desk, got out the letter, and read it. Very sweet: “Dear Visitor, Don’t leave the museum without taking an idea that can impact how you live your life! Enjoy the wisdom of an ancient culture, whether you believe in religion or not. – Batya” Nice, as I am in fact not religious – only a poet. Maybe someone will enjoy the letter I left in the box.

So the idea in “The Road to Sanchi” of someone centering the pilgrimage (rather than a destination), through these multiple cameras/videos of specific places and times, but all playing at once, where I could wheel around their graceful arc (of time and space) made me very happy, feeling even more pleasantly catapulted in my awareness out of linear time and connected to many times and places. (Thinking of the artist’s, and by extension, everyone else’s, experiences of their lives). The somewhat chaotic street scenes, sense of not being in control (as a passenger not the driver) but in control as the viewer of art. And the battered, gritty, homey feeling of the iron taxi meters, of a place I have never been so they are not familiar to me, but from their being more or less the same made me feel they were familiar to others who are not me, another sensation/thought that is beautiful.

In a small library exhibit there were shelves of books on culture and history, travel journals, and science fiction, especially noticed the heavy amount of Octavia Butler’s books and then the book Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler (edited by Rebecca J. Holden & Nisi Shawl) just leaped out at me. I may have pulled it off the shelf to put it on top of the book stand display!

Notes on access: The museum is spread out through several floors with a small wheelchair lift to the main lobby and then a separate bank of elevators to 6 other floors. It was pretty accessible but larger powerchairs may have trouble with the somewhat narrow hallway to the bathroom (i.e. you could not turn around, and would have to back out of the bathroom and hall). There were a lot of free headsets with audio descriptions for some of the separate exhibits. The front doors were heavy but well balanced enough that I could (barely) open them but there were people in the lobby standing by to help. So all around, very accessible.

Now getting ready to meet friends for dinner and go out to the performance of Descent which I’m looking forward to quite a lot.