Some things are worth seeing, some aren’t

Posted on Wednesday June 06, 2012

The summer weather here in NYC over the weekend was stunning. We’d gone from a very hot start to the week, to light showers on Friday, but this just helped cool things down a little for Saturday and Sunday, making it perfect weather for mingling on the Manhattan pavements with the other five million locals and tourists.

Who could possibly come to New York and not see the remains of the Twin Towers and the growth of its replacements? Oh, you, you and you, and you over there? That’s pretty much how I felt about The Absolutely Worst Disaster Ever To Strike Anywhere In The World, Ever, but it was such a nice day, that my feet kept going up and down and taking me southward, through Greenwich Village and Soho.

Against my better judgment, I stopped at a Starbucks in Soho for a coffee. Across the road from me, a knot of security men was gathered in front of a building. (Yes, Gladys, security men always gather in knots. I think it’s because they can’t see anything through those dark glasses, so they crash into each other and their limbs get inextricably intertwined.) Black limousines kept arriving and leaving, and one of the security men extracted himself from his brothers for long enough to shoo away an ordinary yellow cab. Ooh, too common!

Then a chappie with a long tele lens arrived, and soon after, more of the Paparazzi Brothers turned up, so obviously Something Was Going On. I looked at the name on the building – Trump Soho. Perhaps the Big Man himself was arriving, avec bouffant. I couldn’t resist taking a peek, and crossed the road. But it turned out to be just a bride and groom, whose famousnessosity was totally lost on me.

Image

The Twin Towers site and rebuilding had more effect on me. It wasn’t possible to forget all those pictures of the towers exploding then imploding, and of the people throwing themselves down, and the stunned reactions to the impossibility of it all. The surrounding streets still feel grimy, as if all those dust clouds that rolled out from the collapsing buildings have never been cleaned away fully. The dust clouds didn’t stop there, of course; they rolled out over the seas, to Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan, who knows where else, polluting the lives of millions. They roll still.

Image

In a square nearby, not far from Wall Street, I came across Jeff Koons’ sculpture Balloon Flower (red). It too looked grimy, and smaller than I’d imagined from pictures, as if it was fighting a losing battle with the sadness of the whole financial district. It reminded me of a child’s balloon left over from a party the day before, unwanted, slowly going flat.

Image

By contrast, Isamu Noguchi’s Red Cube looked strong and confident. The whole area feels so forlorn that it needs more works with similar power.

Image