London, soft, grey, damp and cold

My it’s grey here. I’m sure I’m the first person to have noticed this.

Thames panorama, Kate McKinnon, Nov 2013

You can see the naughty Jaguar-melting Walkie-Talkie building going up in the photo above.

Here is a closer shot. The press have taken to calling it the Walkie-Scorchie Building, which is amusing. It’s melted the plastic off of a car, roasted a couple of bicycle tires, and people have toasted bread and fried eggs in the hot spot on the street. The architect, Rafael Viñoly, said in September that he guessed that he knew that the building might reflect the sun to the street below but “didn’t realize it was going to be so hot”.

Naughty Walkie Talkie

From the September article: “I knew this was going to happen,” said Viñoly, speaking to the Guardian on Friday. “But there was a lack of tools or software that could be used to analyse the problem accurately.”

“When it was spotted on a second design iteration, we judged the temperature was going to be about 36 degrees,” he said. “But it’s turned out to be more like 72 degrees. They are calling it the ‘death ray’, because if you go there you might die. It is phenomenal, this thing.”

I admit that I find it a bit hard to believe that the calculations could not be made, but also admittedly I have not made them.

In a grey city, every splash of colour is worth extra. I dig the National Theater.

National Theater,  London

And what’s not to love about the excellent Blackfriars Solar Bridge, one of the largest solar bridges in the world?

It has red pylons, and provides half of the power for the large train and tube station. It also features rain harvesting (although it puzzles me that anyplace in England should need extra water) and sun-pipes for natural lighting. Right the fuck on London!

Blackfriars Solar Bridge London

I hit the Tate Modern today (free, and photos allowed!) but it was stuffed with people (possibly for related reasons) and so I decided to see the Klee exhibit on another day. Tomorrow, perhaps. I did check out the Second Floor collection, to say hey to Joseph Beuys. I adore photos of him; his persona is hugely compelling. His art, well, whatever. I have no opinion on it. But HIM, him I like, just the look of him I could write pages about.

He planned it that way. The little sign for this photograph says, “…his charismatic presence was integral to his work, and he communicated his expanded concept of art through performance, public discussion and political campaigning.”  You can tell this this man is a whole lot of trouble.

Joseph Beuys in the Tate Modern

As I said the other day (but possibly not here) I’ve gone out on a lot of ledges to get next to genius. It’s often wrapped in trouble of some sort. You never know if you are going to find yourself in a regrettable pile of hookers and blow or under a bridge doing a photoshoot or in a theater, in fancy dress, sipping the finest champagne.

I try to prioritize danger.

Seeing Dali paintings, for example; I cannot do this too often, or I would lose all sense of personal order. Today, I revisited his great Metamorphosis of Narcissus from 1937, which hangs, happily, in the Tate’s permanent collection, free to any and all who wish to view it from mere inches away.

Dali Narcissus

I apologize for my photo; it does not do justice to the painting, which is flawlessly superbly impeccably irreproachably great. Any square centimeter you might care to examine would yield surprises, delights, shocks.

I am always particularly enchanted to see in this painting a landscape that takes me immediately to one of many/any Arizona and Colorado canyon views. And I die for his Paint-By-Numbers sky in the upper left, his pointillism in the water…

Dali Detail, Narcissus

Although I tried to get a ticket, sadly I am missing Dylan at the Royal Albert tonight. I just couldn’t face paying hundreds of dollars for a ticket to see the grumpiest man in music. Unfortunately, Bobby is no longer competing hotly for that title with Lou Reed; now he’s only got Van Morrison and Morrissey to beat.

From a review of last night’s show:

…even a standing ovation couldn’t make him crack a smile, but Dylan did return for an encore featuring a stupendous All Along the Watchtower and last year’s Roll on John, a tender tribute to John Lennon.

It was a crowd-pleasing finale – and the Albert Hall was the perfect venue to witness this grumpy enigma and his musical longevity.

If I were a man, and therefore free to go out alone and do sketchy things at night, I would definitely have hung out outside the Hall to see if any scalped tickets went unsold. It is infuriating, but I must take more care.

I was thinking today that while I can be shockingly, stupidly bold about talking to strangers, I’m careful about some things that other people do not think too much about. The reason I never stop to check maps while walking around is that it makes me more vulnerable; it says to people, “Here is a tourist who does not know what she is doing.” I’d rather go forward confidently and get lost and have to loop back than reveal myself as a weak link. I think about this every time I see people standing around, looking at maps. I look at them and see targets, easy marks. I review my route before I go out, and hope for the best. Most of the people I have travelled with are map-checkers; I resign myself to it, as there is strength in numbers.

I dislike being suspicious. It is not my nature. I was a bit kicked out of my travel routine of Not Getting Fucked With when I came across this scene on the riverside.

No One In Sight 2

There isn’t much unusual about a sand sculptor, with change collected on a blanket. Except that the artist was nowhere to be seen. And there were three blankets littered with money. Look.

No One In Sight

Not a soul on the beach. Except, far away, see him over to the right? A little old man, with a camera on a tripod. I walked toward him for a closer look, as I suspected him of filming a social experiment. But he seemed to be an old man, photographing a pier. He remains my only working theory. I watched for a while; no one showed up to claim the site, and no one wandered down and started picking up money.

In addition to missing the Dylan show, tonight I am also somewhat maudlin (don’t tell anyone) about missing Thanksgiving dinner in the rotating restaurant overlooking the St. Louis Arch with Bill and the boys. My daughter is in Boston, guarding an antique battleship, she misses us too. I can’t be everywhere at once, sadly.

I wish Elon Musk would hurry up with his version of the Tube, so I can really get places quickly. It will kick ass over the London Underground, which can cost more than a taxi (I find this odd) and is heavily populated with pale, busy people looking fixedly at nothing. Such a change from the Barcelona trains, affordable, full of people very alive, engaged, wearing crazed colour, and the stations filled with music and chatter.

Shades of grey green and black

If you long to paint subtle beauty in grey, green, and brown, this is, hands-down, the city for you.

I’m sure it’s that I haven’t hit the correct zone(s) yet, but so far, I have seen literally zero street art. Lots of public art. Some tags. But even in gritty Southwark, nothing yet.

Luckily, once in a while, one sees an orange uniform.

A welcome spot of colour

Or I might walk by, and if I do, I will smile at you, and am likely to be wearing five colours.

Kate in Ollies Flat

10 thoughts on “London, soft, grey, damp and cold

  1. Yeah, Joseph Beuys. I live near the documenta-city Kassel, where Beuys planted his 7000 Oaks. I love them.
    Great earrings!
    I finished my Art Nouveau, and next week I have another winged piece. May I send you photos when you are back home?
    Have fun at Ferry’s show, I wish I could see him, too. Sigh…

  2. I’m not too fond of the walkie talkie building…usually I love Rafael Vinoly’s designs (my son was an architect in that firm until a few months ago) but if I could magically appear in London, I would head straight for The Shard…love it, love it!!!

  3. Imam like you, in that I will never consult a map n public. For me, it comes from my time visiting and living in New York. If it was really necessary to revisit the route, a bar or coffee shop stop to regroup was preferable. Here’s to smooth travel plans!

  4. heads up, Kate — the hotel in which the revolving restaurant resides (sorry, I can’t remember it’s current incarnation) is scheduled to close in January. Not sure what that means for the restaurant. I have memories of a New Year’s Eve dinner there with fireworks exploding at eye level. Travel safe!

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