Thursday, April 12, 2007
Staten Island-Stange Things-Quan's Third Eye
I got on the third car of the L Train and made my way toward Staten Island. The L train is kind of like that dangerous friend from Junior High School. The one who’s friendly before first period, but doesn’t show up at lunch. I can love her while I have her. That’s it.
I arrived to swap trains at Union Square and dropped down the stairs to the NRWQ connection. The sounds of a Busker wafted through the air; someone near me banging on a bucket. For some reason I decided to walk toward the sound, even though I usually avoid the subway musicians; I feel guilty if I don’t have loose money to put in the hat.
A sign propped up in front of him told me that I was listening to the musical stylings of Quan and his Third Eye.
He had on a Bindi at the bridge of his nose and a University of North Carolina hat.
He was banging on a Benjamin Moore paint can.
I asked him what the answer was in three words, he said love and truth and some people might say peace.
I got on an R train headed south.
I arrived downtown, Lower Manhattan, the financial district. That place reminds me of 9/11 and a boy I used to know.Up an escalator and into a place that felt more like a Hospital waiting room than public transportation.
There was a triumvirate of pigeons flapping through the Staten Island Ferry station. Two little boys were chasing them, corralling them, pinning them in the nooks and crannies of the terminal, releasing and starting again.
As we were about to board the boat, we assembled in waiting- for- doors- to-open formation. Grouped tight at the loading dock, there were apparently people who had to get to their regular seat.
I walked on with a crowd of tourists from Minnesota. They all went to the starboard side of the boat to see the Statue of Liberty. I figured I really had nothing better to do. Twenty five minutes of sight seeing might do a body good.
Staring out across the water at Ellis Island, I thought about the fact that people came here some years ago with hope, and had their names changed. America was a place people heard a rumor about and got on a boat for. This guy behind me had a totally different thought.
“Ok, so, let’s get our troops out now, ok? Let’s face it we didn’t go there to give the Iraqi people Liberty, we went there to take their oil. So, let’s get out now, ok?”
He clapped a little. A couple of people agreed. A Latino mother of two, near me, tried to start a chant of agreement.
Then, one of the people from Minnesota spoke up.
“If you like them so much why don’t you move there?” said a man wearing a hat with ALASKA written on it.
“I didn’t like Saddam Hussein if that’s what you mean,” said the protester, who I noticed was wearing a button that read, War Is Terrorism.
“Well, go sell it some place else. We’ll get the troupes out when we’re done doing the job.”
“And what’s the job?”
“Getting their oil.” If I am not mistaken, ALASKA Hat’s eyes glittered at his own wit.
“Well, at least you’re honest.”
The mother of two reminded us that we were all Americans and to relax.
Slowly, the protester came to a halt with his pleas and disappeared. The man in the ALASKA hat went back to staring at the Statue of Liberty, perhaps thinking that he had won something.
We disembarked the Ferry and I decided to remain in Staten Island for a while. I got an idea that I needed a pocket dictionary and I went into the stationary store/pharmacy of the main drag in St. George. The merchant had dictionaries of the Spanish/English variety, but not what I was looking for. Nothing, all in English, which I could put in my pocket.
I asked the man behind the counter if he had any water I could purchase. He said he didn’t, as he spoke my eyes darted behind his counter to the very, very, very many pictures of Marilyn Manson that were cut out and pasted behind him.
“Who’s into Marilyn Manson?” I asked, putting my unused wallet away.
“He’s my God.”
“Really,” I asked/commented to the Italian Metal Head who couldn't sell me water or a dictionary, “What is it about him?”
“He doesn’t give a shit about what anybody thinks about him. He does his thing and if you don’t like it you don’t have to be around him.”
I walked out feeling like I had learned something about that man and his Stationary Store.
After consuming a sandwich of Mozzarella and Eggplant in a restaurant that was trying very hard to feel like Sicily, I stumbled upon The Staten Island Museum.
And, by the way, if you are looking for embalmed flying southern squirrels, stuffed ducks, florescent minerals, Security guards who really, really like their job, gems of any variety, morels, lesbian teenagers making out in awkward places, Agate from Brazil, Aquatic history, butterflies, dinosaurs, or beetles I know just the place.
I would like to focus in on one particular highlight of the museum that held me past the 3:30 ferry home.
The Strange Things Exhibition
From left to right in a curio-cabinet on the wall, here is what it offered the viewer:
1) Weathered wood
2) Tree Burl
3) Section of pear tree bored by larvae of Leopard Moth
4) Concretion shaped like a potato
5) Cow horn (from young cow actually killed by turkey buzzards when she was calving. I shot over 20 of them.) -Charles Roome Parmele. Author’s note: I’m assuming this man is the donor.
6) Growths on the white cedar
7) Ironstone concretion in the shape of a horn
8) Pine knot
9) Tusk from wild boar (which I shot in Louisiana swamps but not until he had killed my dog.) - Charles Roome Parmele Author’s note: Me again, Apparently, Mr. Parmele. has cornered the market on strange things in Staten Island.
10) Rabbit droppings (in a matchbook)
11) Section of rind from a four pound lemon
12) Shellac facts (This is too hard to explain.)
13) Four-legged chicken
14) Hair ball from the stomach of a Texas Steer
It is my belief that this is all on permanent collection at the museum so please make a trip anytime. Note: I learned that the 2 dollar entrance fee for the museum is waved on Tuesdays, for a lunch time special, from 12-2. All of this (including the ferry ride) can be yours for free.
On the way home I made the 3:50 Ferry by the skin of my teeth. There were these beetles at the end that wouldn't let me go.
The third beetle from the left was a Stag beetle from Ecuador.
Thank you to Franny and Sarah. Franny, it was a "3" day.
I would love more suggestions from you, the reading audience. Please feel free to keep them coming.