I’m over in London on bidness, but bidness has taken so little time that mostly I’ve just been wandering around the city during the day going to museums and whatnot. I love London museums because they’re all free (or they have “suggested donations,” which is like asking me to pay taxes for their universal healthcare—screw you limeys! I'll pay exorbitant amounts for crappy coverage and trot around your museums as I damn well please!).
I feel very much like I’m in a sweeps episode of my own life, touring the birthplace of the Anglo-Saxon diaspora and subsequent world order, keeping an eye out for Kate Middleton, accidentally tipping baristas the equivalent of $8 because all these little coins are confusing as hell. Here, for your edification, is some shit I’ve done:
Natural History Museum: Like most Natural History Museums, the NHM in London is largely populated by 7,000 screaming little kids looking at dinosaur bones and blowing snot on their parents’ sleeves. These little kids were all British as f***, which is actually pretty funny, as evidenced by the “Ouch, Charlie!” YouTube video. For some reason little kids speaking in a British accent is just hilarious.
However, my real reason for going to the London NHM was not to laugh at little Brits but because it has a really exquisite collection of artifacts from Charles Darwin, the father of a revolution that to this day is still shaking the world to its core. Treasures include a first edition of “Origin of the Species,” with an inscription by the author, as well as some taxidermied birds. Darwin’s pigeons, as they’re called, were bred by the legendary naturalist to prove that select physical traits could accumulate over generations. This constituted important evidence in Darwin’s burgeoning theory of natural selection.
Also, the evolution display clearly came down on the side of early humans interbreeding with Neanderthals, which, much to their dismay, totally explains the House Republican caucus (zing).
Tate: Ah, art. The thing I love most about art museums is that every guy in every statue has a smaller penis than me. In fact, if I could make a quick point about all art prior to 1897: it was all either guys with small penises or ladies with enormous breasts. We think there’s too much sex in our media now? The entire artistic community of Europe was basically putting out stroke pics for 500 years. There was one particularly awesome statue of a naked guy fighting a python by Frederic Leighton called “Athlete Fighting a Python.” All I’m saying is that one of the premier art museums in the world acknowledges the greatness of a statue of naked man with a chiseled torso battling a python wrapped around his leg and waist.
Yeah, and I’m the guy obsessed with dick jokes. Sure, “Publish This Book” critics. Right. If I’d been born in 1750, y’all would be writing dissertations on me.
(Also, isn't it pathetic that I went to all these cool places and when it came time to add a picture, I just ran outside the Starbucks and took a picture of some double-decker busses with my phone? My photography will not be displayed in the Tate someday).
Museum of London: Having already been to the British Museum (the Big Kahuna of history museums) and the National Gallery, I decided to try the museum dedicated specifically to the city of London. It proved a truly excellent learning experience. For instance, did you know that the Romans founded London, and when their empire collapsed “Londinium” went to ruins with the exception of a bunch of Germanic strongman who came in and pillaged whatever was left? Weird! There were also Viking raids, a Black Death, a religious rebellion so a king could get a divorce that led to the Church of England, a Great Fire that burned the entire city to the ground, an industrial revolution, two—not one, two!—world wars that happened right on the city’s doorstep, a Blitz that leveled vast swaths of the city again, and this musical group called the “Beetles”, so-named because they all had haircuts that looked like big black beetles sitting on their skulls.
“How grand!” I marveled. “How fascinating and wonderful to be here in the city most responsible for proliferating all of Western culture, to see its vast and encompassing history, to understand that we are all just minor cogs in a grander story of progress and regress, triumph and spectacle and majesty! Oh, and look at that museum attendant—she’s hot!”
(But she couldn’t leave work to show me the way to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Also, she pointed out I had spinach in my teeth from the baguette I’d eaten two hours earlier.)
Stay tuned for part 2 of my tour tomorrow—or as the British say, “Part Two.”