Friday, May 3, 2024

New York: The Tenement Museum

On our second full day in New York, we visited the New York Tenement Museum. It was a short walk from our hotel in Chinatown. On the way there, we stopped to get a couple of slices of Pizza. After that, we were ready to go. 

It was very interesting, and we had basically a private tour.  The Lower East Side tenement was originally built in 1888; it’s what’s called a prewar walk-up.  You see these tenements all the time in the movies and on television; it was fun to actually go inside and see them personally. 

The tour included profiles of two different families that lived here.  In this one Apartment: a Jewish Polish Holocaust survivor family and a Puerto Rican family who eventually moved in after them.  They both came to America for the promise of opportunity and Freedom.  It was an immigration story and a story of an ever-changing neighborhood.  

The first couple met in a refugee camp, married, then immigrated from eastern Germany.  They were the only surviving members of their entire families who were killed in the Holocaust.  They were from the same area of Prussia as my great-grandfather Skrofronic was from.  This area is now Poland.  It is such a small world.  In New York, they lived near their sponsor in the European Jewish Lower East Side building. 

This area of the Lower East Side eventually became a Spanish district. The inhabitants, mostly from Puerto Rico, worked in the garment industry. They worked in small, little factories that sewed together clothes. It was a hard, scrabble life. They raised families and chased the American dream. The children and Grandchildren of these two families now support the Museum.

The museum guide was very knowledgeable.  She described a lot of intimate details about the families,   We started the tour in the first-floor bookshop, then went outside to the tenement entrance and walked the stairs up to the Apartments.  At one time, the apartments did not have their own bathrooms. The four apartments on the floor shared a common bathroom. Eventually, by the time the Spanish family moved in, the apartments were renovated to include a bathroom. 

It was refreshing to hear the story of immigration. The struggles in life that make life worth living. The streets of New York were   the community thrived.  The Museum provide a picture of the American dream being played out. It reminds us how lucky we all have it in America. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The New York Museum of Modern Art

We are in New York getting ready to get on the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic crossing.  I have always wanted to go to the MoMA.  The Museum of Modern Art 

When I saw that they had a Picasso special exhibit, I had to go.  The Museum of Modern Art is one of the world's great museums.  It has a fantastic impressionist and surrealist collection, including Picasso, Dali, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Fredia, and many others.

Then, fast-forward six weeks.  I went to a lecture about the artist Salvador Dali on the Queen Mary 2. Dali, better known as Dali, pioneered the Surrealist movement.  

He once said that the only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.  He was a very flamboyant individual who thought he was the reincarnation of his dead older brother, Salvador, who died before he was born.  He was a big fan of Sigmund Freud and was fascinated with what dreams meant to the psyche.  His paintings, to some extent, documented hallucinations and interpreted dreams. 

His major contribution to surrealism is the "paranoiac-critical method, a surrealist technique developed by Salvador DalĂ­ in the early 1930s.  He employed it in producing paintings and other artworks, especially those involving optical illusions and multiple images.  The technique consists of the artist invoking a paranoid state (fear that the self is being manipulated, targeted, or controlled by others).  The result is a deconstruction of the psychological concept of identity, such that subjectivity becomes the primary aspect of the artwork."

He met Pablo Picasso when he was young in the 1920s and was influenced by cubism.  He is commonly labeled a member of the lost generation.  At the lecture, we were all asked if anyone had seen his painting, The Persistence of Memory, at the MoMA.  We had just been to the Museum of Modern Art before we departed New York.  Included is a picture I took of it at the MoMA.

Our trip to the MoMA was an incredible experience.  It ranked up there with trips to the Louvre and the Prado.  If you are in New York for any length of time, it is well worth a visit.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Southampton: Departing on the World Cruise.

After our transatlantic crossing, we were surprised to learn we would be part of the 2024 Queen Mary 2 world tour.  When I booked the cruise from New York to Perth, I had no idea this cruise was part of any world tour.  Cunard Oceanliner world tours are linked directly to world tours made by English royalty in the past. 

The world tour celebrates the phrase " the sun never sets on the British Empire. " It is now a homage to the United Kingdom and the Common Wealth of Nations. Which are former British Colonies and territories. 

"The Commonwealth of Nations, often simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is an international association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire from which it developed."

Our world tour departure from Southhampton was a major event that made the BBC news in Great Britain.  The British are all about pomp and circumstance. This was a send-off for two ships on their world tours: the Queen Victoria and our ship, The Queen Mary 2.  Queen Victoria is sailing on a western route towards South America, and Queen Mary 2 is sailing on an eastern route around the Horn of Africa. Both ships will sail to the other side of the world and then meet back in Southampton in five months. 

First, the Royal Imperial Military Band performed in the Queen's Room, a grand hall on the Queen Mary. Then, fireworks were displayed as each ship left the harbor.  First, Queen Victoria passed our stern with a volley of fireworks.  Then, as we passed through the harbor, another round of Fireworks finalized the celebration.

It's hard to believe that this was 26 days ago and that we are 11 days from Perth, Australia.  We have had a lot of adventures since we got on this ship in New York.  We endured a Force 10 Gale in the Atlantic and learned about this wonderful country called South Africa. In South Africa, we went on Safari and saw all manner of beasts in the wild.  The world has been our Oyster on the Queen Mary 2.