Disaffected Prep

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Somewhere, in the Act

Once young professional adults have enough discretionary coin to play around with, their instinctual desire to spend that money kicks in and, more often than not, deposits that money into a budgetary well they call “travel.” More than just a repository for monies left after rent and food, this category of travel becomes some sort of upperwardly-mobile badge of self identity. People “love to travel,” they “enjoy traveling” or taking it up a self-actualization notch, “work to live and live to travel.”

There are few things I object with in the above, namely the nomadic impulse that I really don’t understand, but also the common usage of the word travel. It’s a verb, definition-wise, employed to explain the process of getting from expensive city A to expensive city B, but people more commonly use it as a substitute definition for the destination experience rather than the journey itself.

Let me explain. How often have you heard people complaining about airports or the traffic experienced on your way “out east”? (1). What about the common suggestion to take a Klonopin and carafe of Cotes-du-Rhone in your upper-class seat to pass out and consequently, cut down on the conscious time you have in the air? If people REALLY loved to travel they’d be basking in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-95 or pleading with the pilot to do a couple more circles around SFO before they go wheels down.

I recently wrapped up a multi-pronged vacation that included a few nights in Cold Spring, NY. More on this town I’ve come to love in a separate post.

Thinking about the trip in advance I decided to purposely concentrate on and document the journey itself, rather than the destination.

I can’t tell you - seriously, I can’t - how many times I’ve stood on the train platforms at my hometown station. The trip to high school started here; besuited I’ve made way way to New York as, what the pointy-headed economists call, a knowledge worker. But toting a camera forces you to reexamine your staid points-of-view as you search for inspiration. It’s hard to do this in a place where function, usually, trumps form, but I was struck by the absolute abundance of straight lines, so many that I lost count. Also, the kid peeking his head around the support pole is pretty precious.

No pictures of Penn Station as I was hoofing it, double-time, to make my connection in Grand Central. But I did take a few shots while in my cab over to 42nd street (had to make a stop in the West Village). I call cabs “urban chariots,” even though the people I’m with when I say the phrase give me a real great jaw-dropping gape that gives me a wicked case of the howling fantods. How amazing is it that usually within 15 seconds after raising your hand you’re in someone else’s car who has to take you WHEREVER you want to go and will usually violate several traffic laws to do so tute-de-suite while you watch TELEVISION in a seat with air-conditioning? Absolutely mind-blowing, the urban chariots are.

It’s a tough get a good shot when you’re going several miles above the city speed limit, but this one, taken in the flower district, interested me in its ability to capture the reflection of the moving cab in which I was currently sitting.

Judging by the abundance of iPhones and DSLRs pressed to people’s faces, it’s pretty clear Grand Central is a popular spot for photography. Most people (and hey - myself included) are fascinated by the constant movement of the terminal as well as its Beaux-Arts Main Concourse. That said, I wanted to find a person - not a thing - in stasis to be a counterweight to all the motion around me. I’m not sure why he was getting a portrait done, but the moment still fascinated me nonetheless.

Take Metro North just an hour north along the Hudson and you’re deposited in Cold Spring, NY - a pulchritudinous country hamlet that retains a warm country town feel with a healthy dose sophisticated restaurants and cultural opportunities nearby (I saw a REALLY good regional theater troupe put on Romeo & Juliet my last night there).

Like I said, it’s a small town.

The main drag is - wait for it - Main Street. Practically a 1:1 antique shop to regular business shop ratio. If this was in Maine, it’d probably be a setting for a Stephen King novel (in a good way!)

Before I even checked into the Pig Hill Inn, the only B&B in town worth visiting, I made two very important purchases: a few trail maps from Hudson Valley Outfitters and Red Velvet ice cream from The Scoop. Vacation priorities.

Lastly, my lovely accommodations for the week. Pig Hill Inn.

In a later post I’ll have some photos of mansion ruins I took in the woods/mountains surrounding the area and - more interestingly - photos of the mansions back in the 1920s, which I’m pretty sure is an online exclusive.

(1) The expression usually is employed when referring to Westhampton, Bridgehampton, Amagansett, etc. It’s a phrase that tries to shield the speaker from a self-conscious awareness of the perceived sense of ladder-climbing embedded in the speaker’s reference to those towns through a shield of false modesty by declining to name the towns, though this false modesty is only recognized by those who understand the phrase, which results in an ever-tightening circle within which those who know, know - completely subverting the perceived intentions of using the phrase “out east.” I fucking despise the phrase.

(2) I, myself, don’t fly much because I can’t comprehend the very concept of flight. If you think about it for a good hot second, the airplane was invented maybe a good decade after the invention of the modern bicycle. You know those massive big-wheel penny farthings? People were still riding those freakish things like fifteen years before we started flying. How the hell did this happen? A basic rule in my life is that if I can’t wrap my head around something, I don’t want to engage in it. Consequently my American Express membership rewards points go to Brooks Brothers gift certificates and not airplane trips.


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