A cup of questionable liquor.

Sinister Sangria

How long, exactly, does it take to get from Houston to 116th street on the number one?

I’m really trying to get my timing correct on these trains.

Let’ say that I got on the train at 9:17am. I’ll check at the end and see just the time it took. One thing’s for sure: The #1 is really the only way to Columbia. No amount of transferring to express trains is going to save time. It’s best to just sit on the damned #1 and go!

Otherwise, I can’t ruminate much this morning, as I still have to choose my mentors for the semester. We received a good overview of the program, yesterday.

Evening Train

I am usually in bed by this time, but I had much partying to do, tonight. Before that, though, I should recap what happened on my first Friday at Columbia

The orientation process has still not ended. In fact there are a few more certifications we are required to fulfill before we can fully begin.

Orientation Session
More Orientation Sessions…

For instance,we are required to take safety sessions for the wood, metal and digital shops. Two of the sessions are four hours long, and I’m not sure how long the digital lab shop is. In any case, we have many more administrative tasks ahead. I and the rest of the class will be glad when we can get the into the studios and start work in earnest.

At the day’s start we attended a session about our visiting artist lecture series. This is a special weekly session in which esteemed artists and art professionals are invited to talk about their practices or any topic on which they choose to expound. This seems like an incredible benefit to being part of the Columbia community.

I was impressed by the roster of  speakers to be featured this month alone, and through (yet another) lottery system, some lucky student will get the chance to engage in a short studios visit with the lecturer.

Another program to which we have access is the mentor program, in which active and successful artists volunteer their time and energy to mentoring students.  Two weeks of each semester are devoted to activities which the mentors and students determine.

There are tales of secret destinations and 25-hour road trips, along with soul-searching discussions and studio visits. The program seems like an incredible opportunity to get in-depth knowledge about our field with  seasoned and enthusiastic professionals.

After short voluntary one-on-one briefings with the department chair, we were free to take a break and attend to our administrative obligations.

Mid-afternoon found us in yet another introductory session; this one was for the wood, metal and digital labs in P****** hall. By this time I think that we first years had had enough. I in particular kept fading in and out of consciousness with boredom, although the head of the audio visual department was enthusiastic and engaging.

After those formalities, it was time for the Visual Arts department to cut loose. Round one was a pub  on Broadway. The spirits were high and alcoholic spirits flowed as the group networked and enjoyed each others’ company. The event would have been better served with a bit more food, but what was offered was palatable.

A pub party
Pub Crawlin’

As a consequence of the limited food portions, I needed more food, so I ate at a spartan Japanese Curry joint. Chicken Kara Age with curry rice and the pickled red vegetable called …. Fukin-something or other. I’ll have to get back on that name.

The after party was hosted in P****** Hall which is, by the way, a sprawling and byzantine structure that used to be a factory of some sort. It has numerous passageways

School Party
School Parties Rule!

The spacious room was festively decorated with lights, balloons and, strangely, miniature American currency, which was liberally strewn about the area. The refreshments were minimal: bottles and cans of beer and the “punch”: a strange concoction that the server poured which she claimed consisted of bourbon and red wine. It also happened to have pieces of some unidentified fruit floating around, which in total gave the impression of some kind of sinister sangria.

A second-year student student, served as DJ for the evening. She played a varied selection of songs around the theme of money, with which many students seem particularly occupied. It’s no surprise, as I am too.

At times I was annoyed by her playing Hip-Hop with the n-word, as I would always feel comfortable when this very inside-the-group term is propagated to the larger world, with a multitude of attendant misunderstandings and controversies.

Karaoke singer
Sang It, Girl!

Besides that, the party was lively, even raucous. Many people danced and sang along to the selection of Karaoke songs that were proffered. I sang a trio of tunes from the 1980s: “Jesse’s Girl,” by Rick Springfield, “This Charming Man,” by the Smiths and “Just Like Heaven,” by the Cure. Most of the audience found my choices inspired.

The night went on and got inevitably sloppier,  with awkward dance moves and spilled drinks from a set of strange parfait-like plastic glasses. I passed on drinking the Sinister Sangria and opted for a bottle of Coca-Cola that I got from the vending machine in the hall.

By eleven o-clock, I was ready to go home. I said my goodbyes and walked back to the number 1 station for the ride back downtown, happy and not too drunk.

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