Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Week 1 - A Learning Curve
Well, we've been in the U.S. for a week now acclimatising, getting our bearings, negotiating public transport and learning how to be proper pedestrians. For some reason even when it says WALK cars still turn the corner into you, a little unnerving, but it does give you the opportunity to shout HEY! I'M WALKIN' HERE!.
Shopping & Customer Service:
There were huge grovelling apologies in Staples for a relatively short queue from staff who seemed to be employed entirely for that purpose...it was fine, we like queueing it's reassuring.
Also you can't abandon your wonky unsteerable shopping trolley while looking for things in the supermarket, your stuff gets put back. We enquired where our trolley had gone and the very helpful member of staff (who looked like he might be Jerry Springer's third cousin) got on the tannoy and bellowed 'Hey Carl! HOLD THAT CART!' but alas Carl had been swift, all but our bread had been put back on the shelves.
On the subway it's slightly different, we accidently bought the wrong ticket, easily done. Could we please have a refund so we can buy the right tickets? 'No.' Why not? 'You just can't, that only works on the Metro not the Path' Er we know that's why we need a refund. 'Sorry no.' Oh. But. 'No.' I was too much of a wuss to just jump the barrier, so we just meekly bought new tickets!
I like the different shapes of packaging; the milk cartons, sugar packets, mayo jars and fruit juice bottles, also cannot wait to have a takeaway chinese in those great little boxes. Things are familiar because of watching American films and sitcoms like a consumerist parallel universe! The signage is great too, so much competing for attention, the expensively designed corporate identities rubbing shoulders with Rick's Cabaret and Steakhouse for instance. I also like it that when you look up high on lots of buildings their old old signage is very weathered but still there. The very things that are being referenced in vintage trading identities now just hanging around. Jersey City where our studio is also has lots of great signs, lots of neon tube lighting and the remnants of old painted lettering.
I want to try, when blogging about this trip, to incorporate the environment we're in as much as the typical sights and sanctioned 'art' and design. Not so much to take artsy photos of pavements and 'random moments' as is very popular, but rather to put everything into context, the vast mix of visual stimuli. For instance, we were on our way to a diner on 51st for a never-ending cup of coffee and some chips, it's decor is dark and woody with a burgundy and white sign that looks diner-y, it's greasy and quite cheap, but a couple of doors down there's Jimmy Choo all swank and exclusive and it has a reception desk... It's the same the world over I suppose, this contrast, but somehow it seems all the more stark here. With everything so big and loud and bright, like Times Square, it's utterly ludicrous but spectacular at the same time. I want somehow to add these observations amongst my main interests, I don't think they're mutually exclusive because it all makes up the experience.