Update: I am in London, Camden specifically. I'm crashing at my friend Katie Wallner's flat, which was barely big enough to fit an air mattress. It was still a marked improvement over my last accommodation: a vinyl-bound chair in the waiting area of Newark Liberty Itnl. sitting in between two elderly homeless women who had wandered in off the street looking for a warm place. A cop woke me up when he ran them off, but told me I could stay since I was clearly waiting for a flight. I felt a little discriminated toward. I mean, I understand that the airport doesn't want to set a precedent of taking in every bum in New Jersey, but at the time it was like "really dude, they aren't hurting anyone."
I had a few hours to bum around in downtown NYC on Monday and completely on a lark I ended up at the Museum of Sex. The whole place is one giant proof of Rule 34: If you can dream it, there is porn of it somewhere. The exhibits were (IMHO) tastefully designed and incredibly informative, though I couldn't hold back the sophomoric giggles at points. As someone who adored Dr. Lindquist's animal behavior class, I found the exhibit on animal sexuality completely fascinating. The museum had an obvious sex-positive feminism philosophical slant to it, as one might expect, but it didn't seem to advocate for total libertarianism. It portrayed certain elements of the porn industry as perpetuating damaging stereotypes that hurt a lot of women. You couldn't help but think about societal sexual mores: i.e. where do we draw the line between allowing people freedom to make their own sexual choices and making the judgment that certain behaviors are in fact damaging, particularly towards women. That is the key conundrum of sex-pos feminism, and while this museum doesn't purport to answer that, they certainly provide their viewers with plenty of intellectual ammunition.
Incidentally, their gift shop contained glow in the dark rubbers. Yeah, how about no.
I saw chestnut trees in Madison Square Park. They might have been the original Asian species to bring chestnut blight over here, explaining why we almost never see mature specimens of C. americana anymore. Also highly prevalent in the park were handsome large, pale-trunked sycamores (Platanus occidentalis). I think I will miss the familiar flora of America, but I should hardly begrudge Europe it's native pride. After all, Quercus rober is as dear to the English as Quercus alba is to us in America.
On London: Unable to make a judgment as of yet since all I have seen is the inside of an airport, the inside of the subway, and a little section of Euston Rd. in front of King's Cross. There is a stark juxtaposition of the medieval and the modern, but it's the little things that I'm really noticing. The streetlights are different, the signage is all large and auspicious looking, and of course the buses are huge. There are also inordinate amounts of Indian people, proving that whole line about the colonized colonizing the colonizer (was it Bhabha who said this, I'm gonna pretend to be smart and say it was Bhabha).
More when I get to Ireland. Cheerio for now.