Posted by: nastypen | October 22, 2006

If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere…

…so goes the song which asserts how the big apple is a glittering dream land as well as a vortex of spent and abandoned dreams. 

Congratulate me.

I just came from my very first time to travel around New York all by myself.  I was not with a parent who insists that I smile as my picture was taken at the Statue of Liberty.  I had no sister with me who has to meet up with a classmate.  I was not with my tranny aunt who nudges me and points at two gruff men saying they’re undercover cops and she has had one of them.

I walked alone. 

Ok, I took the scary subway alone.  I memorized the different trains and stops I had to take.  I felt assured and ready.

Then, of course, my tranny aunt forgets to tell me that a particular train does not run the full route over the weekend.  So, I had to jump off to a platform with a bewilder look in my face.  I had to look for a map to figure out a detour.

So, I managed to arrive to my destination.

I walked up from the subway and climbed the filthy steps of the station to be greeted by the massive NY Public Library.  I was smiling broadly to be greeted by an institution that houses books.  I was teethering from the glee of doing this alone.

I walked to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  I brought my University of the Philippine Diliman ID to get a student discount.  that’s about eight dollars discount.  That’s a lot! I still prefer Washington DC’s National Gallery because it is for free and they have a massive collection.

But it is imperative that I visit MoMA.  I saw Vincent Van Gogh‘s StarryNight, which almost made me cry to see it in person.  I know.  It may be overly dramatic.  But this painting has special meaning to me.  It’s a memory with my father. 

I walked around and saw a Frida Kahlo.  I saw paintings I grew up with devouring from books like Monet, Seurat, Magritte, Hopper.  But I shuddered when I stood in front of the painting that many believe started modern art as we know it:  Pablo Picasso‘s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Picasso masterpiee

I had a smirk on from thinking that modernism in art was ushered in by a painting of whores waiting for a customer.  At the far left was supposed to be a sailor entering the room, but Picasso wisely junked that and focus on the women with trincated bodies and grotesque faces.  Of course, the collection of Moma is dominated by whte male artists.  There was a handful of women and fewer Asians.

I thought that Cezanne, who inspired Picasso, was inspired by Japanese artist Ando Hiroshige‘s wood cut prints.  Picasso was also inspired by African masks.  Well, the MoMA is a white man’s totem pole for their contributions to humanity.  I’m sorry but I cannot help being cynical amidst a comprehensive collection of stark art works.  Art history, as well as the Art World is dictated by the West, after all.

I also went, at the request of my mother, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  There was a wedding and the motif was black.  The bridesmaids were wearing slinky serpentina gowns with asymmetrical ruffles (the 80s are back!) with stems or irises.  It was a glitzy wedding with furs and jewelry.  The blushing bride is not blushing but grinning like a muppet with big hair.  Even tourists were taking photographs.  The Japanese tourists of the 80s and 90s are long gone.  It’s the mainland Chinese’s turn.  I know that look: the bed head (the just got out of bed without bathing hairdo), the leather jacket, the eager points with whispered “ni can le” (look over there)….yup the Chinese are rising again to remove New York from the center of the Universe.  Shaghai rising.  Hey, they were the only ons I saw leave the Guci shop with bags upon bags of goodies.  I can’t even afford the keychain.

Oh well.

I lit the most expensive votive candle on earth (TWO DOLLARS?!?!) at St. Anthony of Padua’s niche.  I like St. Anthony.  He’s the patron saint of lost things.  I lit a candle and asked him if I could find myself finally.  Hahahah.

Walking around New York is interesting.  I am drawn to the little corners with splattered stories.  It’s just like Manila only bigger and colder….and Manla is so much more poorer (I know grammatically incorrect….but I want to be hyperbolic of Manila’ poverty).

I did see a woman hunched over leaning onto two thin slats.  She was wearing a red cloth over her head.  Her face is of crumpled paper and dried tears as she lets out a ow dirge pleading for compassion to passersby to give her alms.

A man sitting outside a building with the sign “Help me.  I am homeless” covers his face with his gnarled and soiled hands.  He is erupting in sobs.  A litte white creek flowed from his side to in front of him as people step over this white puddle.  He is literally crying over spilled milk.

 A big black woman enters the subway car I am in and starts preaching.  Her words of hope and Jesus’ love I cannot completely gasp.  I’mthe only one trying to listen to her.

New York is just any other city with its derelicts ignored and reviled.  The only edge I can think of is that New York has Picassos.  MAnila does not.  Some will even hatch out a list of why New ork is the best city on earth.  I couldn’t care less.  I just buy postcards from theMoMA and a couple of books and I go home.

On the way home, I sat because my feet are killing me.  The guy in front of me drools.  Then he retches.  I curled my figers put the plastic in front of my face and stood up and ran to the other end of the coach.  I was whispering “eeeew” as I ran.  This is why I can never be a nurse.  I might barf at just the sound and sight of someone barfing.

i sat next to a big black man.  He leaned over and asked me, “Is this the train going to the Q?”  I tod him I’m a tourist and he smiled.  He and I spoke.  He is a New Yorker and he still gets lost.  He cannot understand why the Train F appeared instead of Train Q.

He said, “I’m not having a good day.  This is hellish.  It’s like a Stephen King novel.”

I tell him,”It’s ok.  There’s usually a survivor in King’s stories.”

He said, “I know.  But it’s always the black man that gets killed off early in the story.”

He and I laugh as we whizzed through tunnels of grafitti and mutant rats…maybe even mutant turtles?

It’s amazing how I end up in situations that can somehow comfort me in such a strange, huge and cold city.



  1. I wish you went to the NY Public Libary. In the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”, they showcased it and one of the survivors took the Gutenberg Bible. Ironically the person who took it was an atheist; but the reason he chose that book from the rare books collection was that it symbolized the advancement of society as that book was one of the first printed using the modern printing press. Hay…. someday I hope I will get to visit those places.

  2. Oh, and you are right about the thing that Manila lacks Picasos. Although I would think that we do have some. Or maybe I just wish….

  3. I went on a Saturday, im guesing the NY Public libray is closed ergo i didnt go there. Besides, i scheduld MoMA for Saturday. NY Library is Monday or Tuesday.

    Yup, saw that disaster flick. Only watched it for JAke Gyllenhaal. I hated that movie.

    Of course there are Picassos in Manila, but hanging from the walls of the rich whch the public has no acces to whatsoever. Whereas the MoMA, you can pay to get it and see it for yourself.

  4. Psssstt! What about New York street food? If you try some and they suck, we can at least say Manila has better street food, as well. Naku, Picasso ba? Give me some onion skin bond paper and I’ll trace my calendar which has those Blue Period-esque thingies. By the way, Daisy Siete is on it’s 13th darn season here.

  5. Hey, I love Stephen King novels. Alas, one has to be the requisite virgin in order to be saved.

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