Monday, June 1, 2009

Life's a Beach

"What are you dooooing? You're ruining it!"
"I'm not, I'm making it pretty."
"Get off. It's miiiine."
No, not more block greening, dear readers (although there was some hot mulching action over the weekend), but a little light sand play. The girl's standing, tiny fists balled into skinny hips, glowering at the little boy who's just started making windows without her say so. You can sort of see her point. The sandcastle is a communal effort that towers over both of them, but bearing in mind its probable defensive function, you can see why bay windows wouldn't be part of the master plan.
The argument's effectively solved by another bigger boy leaping onto the castle and squashing it out of shape. The female architect now has a new object of loathing, and is only appeased when she gets dubbed the queen of the trodden-down turrets.

We're in the new Water Taxi Beach at Manhattan's South Seaport. I squint and try to imagine it as a lively nite-spot, but on an overcast Sunday afternoon it looks like someone's tipped a load of sand into the space of a downtown studio apartment and poured in a load of fractious children and some fake palm trees. Who in hell needs the Hamptons?

The walk to the beach is even stranger. We follow shiny footprints through a Disneyfied arcade and shopping centre, stopping only to look at the carts of innovative lifestyle solutions en-route. Across from the table of springy laces (semi-sinister signs threaten you'll "never tie your shoes again!") is a 3D portrait booth. "Look you could even get your head as a keyring," the stallholder enthuses, "isn't that neat?" What she's holding up is a tiny cube of plastic, with a face carved into the middle of it, like a lo-tech hologram. What is eerie (or, I guess, "neat") is that you can turn it from a front-on face to a side profile, to... another front on view. Perfect for anyone who's ever felt the lack of eyes in the back of their heads, the 3D portrait has no room for boring hair and skull shots. The version of you encased in crystal will be always looking, never resting.

I suggest Chris gets one of me for his desk. He laughs, as if I wasn't being serious, and mimes a 3D version of my photo-face. Perhaps I could get a doubled-up back-of-head shot instead.

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