windsor weekend: an-tea establishment

Ditch all the stuffy royal hoopla and embrace London’s punk rock history instead at the Metropolitan London. Through the beginning of May the Met Bar will be offering an “An-Tea Establishment” afternoon tea just in time to save you from monarchy overload – a quintessential British tea with a funky Metropolitan twist. Cheeky dishes include the “Quiche a la Fergie” along with reimagined classics like no-bread cucumber sandwiches. Rhubarb and custard cupcakes are topped with iconic slogans and images to capture the feeling of the era and if tea isn’t quite strong enough, try the Sex Pistol-inspired cocktail “God Save The Queen,” and do a little head banging to the punk rock playlist drifting from the speakers.  If you can spend the night, however, even better. The clean, modern design and Zen-like atmosphere at The Met are a distinctly new take on the classic British hotel experience – and there’s the bonus of everything you’d expect in a five-star hotel without any of the unnecessary fuss and pomp.  It’s an antidote to the city, overlooking Hyde Park.  Plus, I love a hotel where everything is monogrammed with my initials.


the metropolitan

I love a hotel where everything is monogrammed with my initials.  Especially when my room overlooks Hyde Park.  I think I can safely say The Metropolitan is my new favorite home away from home in London:  the clean design and tranquil atmosphere  are an antidote to the city – plus there’s the added bonus of everything you’d expect in a five star hotel without any of the unnecessary fuss and pomp.  Oh and there’s Nobu, too, natch.


we are all passengers


Doug Aitken’s photograph, Passenger – currently showing as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s contemporary photography review – made me wistful and wishful all at once this weekend.

I know I am not the only one who stares out of plane windows at 30,000 feet hoping for some interruption to the endless horizon, some sign that we are not alone.  Aitken makes that connection here, and yet the disconnect is that it’s rendered so antiseptic. We are all passengers, he seems to say, hurtling through the air with seatbelts securely fastened and noses sufficiently pressed to the glass, content in our technology-driven existence.

Recovering from surgery, I won’t be staring out of any plane windows for a while. My wings, so to speak, have been clipped.  Yet the interregnum also gives me an interesting chance to ponder what it means to travel.  And be a passenger.


in mourning at the met

The Mourners are the most famous elements of the tombs of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy,  and his wife Margaret of Bavaria.  Constructed in the 15th century at the monastery of Champmol, they are now preserved at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon.  Lucky for us the museum is undergoing an extensive renovation and the 39 alabaster mourners have been removed from their cloistered tomb and are briefly on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through May 23, before touring a number of museums across the country.

In Dijon, reclining statues of the duke and his wife lie atop the tombs, encircled by angles, as the statues – each approximately 16 inches tall – unfold like an eternal funeral procession underneath the finely carved base.  What’s so fantastic about The Mourners here is that they have been stripped of their regal surroundings.  There is no tomb, no portico, no immediate context:  just two lines of mourners dramatically lit in front of the great choir screen in the Medieval Sculpture Hall.  You could touch them if you wanted to – though I would not recommend trying that – there is so little distance between the figures and the public.  You can get up into their faces and see that they are characterized, but not individual portraits – each figure shows sadness, whether through an expression, a gesture to a neighbor, or the folds of their magnificent drapery.   What this exhibition makes so exquisitely clear is that the emotion these medieval figures carry is common to all men and to all times, and it still touches us today: following the funeral procession, crying, praying, singing, gathering together, letting ourselves be overrun by sadness, consoling our neighbors – grief is a collective experience.


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