Electric Lady Land (Nathan)
Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
59Trip End Oct 27, 2010
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So, it was pouring constantly that day, on and off. I don't even remember what we did for breakfast, but we took the long route to Electric Lady Land, wandering around town and checking the map maybe once every 45 minutes. We stumbled across an awesome store not in the guidebook called A Space Oddity, which was absolutely crammed full of 80s action figures and playsets- there were Kenner Star Wars figures, a huge collection of Real Ghostbusters toys that brought back so many memories I was left in a daze as a result, Gremlins and E.T
After that we finally found Electric Lady Land... at first we thought that it was the building being gutted and renovated and that it had probably closed down a month before we arrived, but I asked someone in a nearby shop and luckily it turned out we were just one block over from it- when we actually got there, we rang the bell like the sign on the door said to but nobody answered
"Where are you from in Colorado?"
"DON'T SAY BOULDER!!!"
"Uh, I... we're-"
And then he told me that he and his wife had visited Boulder and thought it was a beautiful place. Whew. For a second I was afraid he just had an irrational hatred of Boulderites, but I guess he was just a little excited. Glennica and I found a nice restaurant nearby and shared a plate of venison stew, then headed back to Electric Lady Land, and this time they answered the door and showed us in.
The top floor wasn't really the museum part, but was instead filled with fluorescent art; lots of colorful crackly patterns on discs and some cave sculptures that were like surreal dreamscapes
We had to take off our shoes and put on slippers before going down to the basement, since part of the exhibit was meant to be walked on and would be damaged by rubber treads. Taking the very shallow, steep stairs down, we saw... well, it was a tiny little basement, smaller than yours, most likely. But amazingly, the tour lasted for over an hour, and in my opinion, managed to be interesting for the whole time. This was a unique experience for me- most museums have signs and maybe an audio guide, but leave you on your own. She stayed with us the entire time and gave us in-depth explanations of every single thing in the room, making it more like an intimate, private school lesson with just the three of us. As for what we saw, some of it was easy to describe, some was pretty difficult
We started with an art display... it was like a giant-sized version of one of the cave-like sculptures on the main floor, large enough to walk around in. It had kind of a dome that she told us to look into... there were windows of various shapes and sizes all around it, and inside was a fluorescent blue mineral held by a bunch of glowing orange tendrils. There was a mirror we were supposed to kneel in front of in order to see... ourselves, I guess, from three different angles? There was a tiny statue in a tiny hole in the wall, which was symbolic of something, and something that looked like a little space station, and a sort of cavern that had a bunch of fluorescent rocks, a lot of crystal, and other unidentifiable little trinkets and thingamabobs, some of which glowed in the dark, some of which glowed under UV light, and in front there were about ten switches that turned little lights on and off, played music, and occasionally didn't seem to do anything. If I sound a bit confused, it's because I was- she had a very thick accent that made it a little hard to tell what she was saying sometimes, and a lot of it was about the artist's vision of what everything was supposed to be... plus it was just a little bewildering no matter what- I was expecting a typical museum experience, and suddenly she's all "Come over here, and look in this dome. This thing represents the oneness of the universe through fluorescent time
She gave us a sort of brief description of how fluorescence worked, told us the fluorescent mineral capital of the world is Franklin, New Jersey (which I already knew, actually- I read a book on the subject. When I told her this she became very interested in knowing what book it was, but since the title was just "Fluorescent Minerals", I wasn't able to help her much), and gave us an overview of the history of fluorescent mineral discovery and use. The rest was mostly her showing us cool things and telling us all about them, which was pretty fun- especially cool was seeing my own passport under UV light, as it had different markings and colors for shortwave and longwave UV light, all of which were invisible under regular light. She showed us beautiful glowing rocks of all colors, paintings made in UV-reactive pigments, naturally fluorescent seashells and man-made fluorescent objects, advertisements that used UV light to change the image, and then told us about fireflies, Alba, the genetically-modified glowing rabbit, and similarly modified glowing cats and pigs
So, as I was writing this Glennica handed me an information sheet from Electric Lady Land that I didn't even know existed. Now that art display makes a whole lot more sense. Well, okay, a little more sense. It's still depicting stuff like "Sadhu-Orange energies" and "The center of the Universe where time does not exist, inside the form of an Extraterrestrial Biological Entity". There's also a lot more info on the old UV lamps and diagrams labeling every single rock, so if you're curious about any of the ones in the photos, post a comment and I'll look it up for you. :)
Overall, it was a great experience, and it was very sweet of them to give us such a thorough, enthusiastic tour. I could tell they were really proud of their art and of their collection, and they wanted their visitors to experience that same appreciation and excitement
The rest of the night was spent wandering lost in search of an Ethiopian restaurant that Glennica saw in the guidebook as the rain got worse and worse. We spent literally hours looking for it- after that night, Glennica swore off using the maps and let me do the navigating, though she did set me straight quite a few times, even if she didn't realize it. When we finally found the place, it was closed for months for renovations, but as we were heading off to find whatever we could, we saw another, different Ethiopian place less than a block away, and just went there instead. They were pretty good, but not as good as Ras Kassa's back in Boulder. They did have some interesting mead, though- it was the first mead I've tasted that didn't taste like alcohol at all- it was really like liquid, drinkable honey. Glennica hated it.
We took a shortcut to the hostel through Vondelpark, and I saw a frog and took its picture. Otherwise it was all rain and cold and sleepiness until we got back. We must have gotten a good rest, though, because we were very busy the next day...