It began – as all great stories begin – with a phone call from my wife. “Hi, Darling! What are your plans for today? I hope you’re going out. You spend too much time in that apartment!”
“You know, Honey, it’s been a really tough week. I was thinking of taking it easy, maybe playing some video games, catching a nap…”
“A museum it is, then! Which one are you going to?”
Of course my wife was right. I need to get out more, lest I turn into a total pasty pudding. And I like museums, especially art museums. They’re temperature-controlled and mostly free of hordes of screaming children found at other public venues. And sometimes I even like the art.
So doing the standard level of research – typing “San Francisco museums” into Google maps and tapping on an entry at random, I decided to visit the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park. I hopped on the handy Powell streetcar, rumbled down to Market, and jumped off in search of adventure and coffee and the N train.
A quick note: If you’re coming to San Francisco, one of the top food cities in the world, be sure to eat at the Burger King at Powell and Market. I mean it’s not like there aren’t 200 fine restaurants within a quarter-mile of that establishment you cretins. What’s wrong with you people?
I got coffee and a cheese Danish and boarded the glorious N train. Then I cursed and exited at the next stop, because it was going in the wrong direction. Eventually I got on the right goddamned train and headed off toward the museum.
On the train I noticed a couple of young men sitting across from me engaging in what could only be called “spooning.” I wanted to go over to them and apologize for the fucking asshole homophobic Arizona legislature, but decided against it. Why ruin their day? After a couple of minutes one dude pulled out a liter bottle of Stolichnaya vodka, took a snort and offered one to his swain. He then yanked out a large bag of pot and both began rolling huge doobies. Or fatties. Or maybe they were reefers. I dunno. But they were clearly totally unconcerned that about 25 people were watching them. Presumably they had medical conditions – excessive tumescence, perhaps. Poor bastards.
Eventually I reached the designated stop in what I’m claiming is the “Inner Sunset” neighborhood and strode manfully north into Golden Gate Park. Passing the Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Tea Gardens (about both of which I have written elsewhere) I made it to the De Young Museum.
The De Young is a long, low steel-brown building with a vaguely rectangular protuberance atop it, designed (one assumes) by an architect hoping to build the world’s ugliest art museum. On the inside it’s a fine museum, with well-lit galleries and comfortable viewing spaces, but outside it looks like the kind of place where the Germans used slave labor to make tanks in World War II.
Because of my extensive non-preparation, I was surprised to see that the museum was featuring a big Georgia O’Keefe exhibit. Sharp questioning revealed that the exhibit cost 40 bucks to enter and there were no tickets available for an hour. Deciding that if I wanted to pay 40 bucks to see a bunch of vaginas I could always go to the Condor strip club on Broadway*, I declined the O’Keefe show and contented myself with the purchase of a general-entry ticket.
Let me just say for the record that I LOVE THIS MUSEUM. I can only assume that the curator has been secretly reading my mind on what I’d like to see in an art museum and put it into practice. The De Young is not too big, and not too small. It has an eclectic collection of collections, including Modern, Native American, photography, textiles and (Lord knows why) a ton of wonderful stuff from New Guinea.
I started off in a room filled with Inuit sculpture and scrimshaw, then hit a gallery of big, glowy weirdo glass art thingies, then stumbled into a collection of old Peruvian works, then into a horrid room filled with those awful modern things that all seem to consist of squares of grey paint labeled “Reflections on Mortality Number 38.” From there I found myself in an exhibit of sketches and photographs of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. After that it was upstairs into the wonderful New Guinea art, then into a surprise collection of American primitives and cool-ass old furniture and then out.
I spent maybe two hours in the De Young and was constantly educated, entertained and amused. Clearly the collector/curator has a wonderful sense of fun, and I would be proud to display most of the pieces in my home. (Except maybe for the many New Guinean carvings of dudes with enormous boners. They’d probably give me an inferiority complex.)
I took a bunch of pictures which I hope you like. Give me a yell the next time you’re in San Francisco. I’m itching to hook up the boner’d statues with O’Keefe’s vagina pictures. Yowsers.
* Just kidding, Honey! Ha, ha!