To paraphrase the foppish Victorian poet and critic Matthew Arnold, and quote the gay African-American science-fiction writer and critic Samuel R. Delaney, “We in some strange power’s employ, move on a rigorous line.”
Given that there are as many ways to interpret the reasons for any of us arriving at any given point as there are individuals who have become conscious that they have arrived at any such point, our articulation of why we have arrived is not as important as that fact that we have, indeed, arrived.
As the above rumination was percolating through the Culture Vulture cerebellum, I was standing in line for an event that a few months, weeks, or even days previous, I would never have imagined having the opportunity to stand in line for. It was opening day of the new DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park, and self along with the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie and her folks—the Western Wrangler and Enid Allrap—was standing in line with about a jillion other citizens to take advantage of a devastatingly gorgeous San Francisco morning as well as free admission to the aforementioned museum.
We joined this concourse of humanity at slightly past noon on one of the most beautiful Saturdays I’ve ever experienced in the City, and I have a well-established reputation as a harbinger of fair weather to that locale. The Panhandle eucalypti filled the air with their aromatic effusions; the tree ferns glistened with primeval splendor, and, just around a bend in the road, the wedge-shaped copper-clad tower of the new museum beckoned through the trees.
Once we’d passed the gateway to the museum grounds proper, Nubian stilt-walkers in Egyptian regalia strode up and down the line much to the delight of children and chagrin of ill-prepared photographers. In the sonic background a brass band blatted out some stereotypical Souza.
The line inched forward. Within half an hour we had a clear view of the museum’s stippled exterior, the copper sheathing already beginning to dull with the oxidation that will eventually cover the building with a greenish-blue layer of verdigris—the color of technological decay.
But on this day it wasn’t the philosophical or scientific implications of the exterior of the building that concerned us; it was the contents of the interior that drew us and bestowed upon us the fortitude to stand in line for two hours to get in there. And at last the pay-off came. We entered the vasty halls of historical preservation. And it was worth the wait. The collective energy of all those artists and holy men who had pursued and successfully transcribed their affiliation with a muse manifested itself in the graceful geometry of the building and the gloriously lucid presentation of the individual works.
The trip to the museum—a deliberate confrontation with the benevolent impulses that justify the continued existence of the human race—only happened because of a seemingly unrelated event.
Our real reason for being in the City was to attend a celebration dinner in honor of the formal announcement of an upcoming wedding.
There’s no better reason to be anywhere.
Way to go, Al & Adriane.