Friday, March 19, 2010

City of JOY

Thank god for hair dryers. As I began to blow-dry the crotch of my jeans, dampened by cheap beer and a faulty couch, in a room full of uber-hip lesbian artists smoking cigarettes and dancing to Lady Gaga, I couldn't help but think about the contrast to the night prior. In my final night in Aberdeen, Rowan, her boypal, sweet little Avery and I enjoyed an actually overwhelmingly competitive game of playdough chirades and an early bedtime. Both experiences definitely had there merits: While I enjoyed the spirits and dancing in London, a couple hours spent chasing buses at 1am made me long for the early bedtimes in Aberdeen. Not to mention the consistent dryness of my trousers.

So I am in London now staying on the couch of my girlfriend's best friends brother, Than, who is in art school at London and has slowly become one of my favorite people on earth. Mildly flamboyant, super intelligent, and utterly lovable, sigh… Inspired by the mighty Than I have decided to adopt his nomenclature in describing the laurels of this amazing city; things joy/things not joy. Beautiful.

Here we go:

Things that are London joy:

- A sneaky collusion of all of Chad's joys!

My first day, I decided to romp around Brick Lane in East End. Stepping out of the Tube, I was transported into this weird 18th century Bangladeshi neighborhood. South asian geekout. check

Further down the lane, South Asia gives way to Hipster Haven and I stumbled upon this huge and amazing vintage clothes weekend market. Hip clothes shopping. check.

Adjacent to the market was a custom bike frame shop where I spent an hour gabbing about bikes and Portland to a very friendly tech. Bike geek out. check.

THEN, I grabbed a beer and sat down on the footpath to watch the parade of beautiful hip people seething and sauntering through the crowded streets. Public drinking. check.

THEN, I wandered through Rough Trade East, one of the best record stores that I have been to since Amoeba in SF. Music geek out. check.

THEN, I had THE BEST cup of coffee in my life prepared by the 2009 Swedish Barista champion. World class coffee, check.

THEN, I rounded out my day with an amazing photographic exhibit of 150 years of South Asian exhibits. South Asian Art geekout. check.

A joy explosion in the very first day.

- Good Ol' British History.

Yesterday, we went to Than's dashing and debonair boyfriend's presentation at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Jordan whole presence oozes of academia, from the tweed jacket, dry wit, to his wide array of collared shirts and blazers and endless informative interjections. I absolutely love it. After the talk, which made the forty or so aristocratic housewives in attendance audibly swoon, Jordan took me on a walking tour of old London, the bits and pieces that I thought too pedestrian and tourist-y for my refined traveling palate. But checking out those spots with a very excited 18th century Art Historian made his kind of sightseeing actually really fun. I saw all the hits: St. Paul's Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, Buckinham Palace, St. James Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalger Square. You name it, a scholar told me the significance of it. Awesome.

Not London Joy:

- Lack of Grid System.

Damn those 10th century planners who did not have the foresight of a urban grid system. Any place I want to go to, I have to allot at least an hour and half of being hopelessly lost in these unintuitive, narrow roads. I bought a map yesterday and have found that it has only been of marginal help.

- That Chad Robertson doesn't live there. Oh how grand that would be!

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