In 2006, the United Nations launched a website where nerds, real estate agents, the press, and U.N. employees can keep track of a long-long-long overdue renovation of their New York City headquarters.
My roommate works there. She tells me: the move is on! The historic Secretariat building, constructed and furnished in 1950-1952 (and apparently still stuck there) and its stouter no-name friend will be gutted! You must, she tells me, come and stage scenes from Mad Men with me in every single lounge! We must pass papers around ineffectually in all the important auditoriums, like the hall of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Trusteeship Council! Soon I will work in some ugly Madison building (Avenue, not Wisconsin) and we will have lost our chance to role-play Men in Black in the Formica-armored breakrooms!
So I grabbed the nearest Tommy and a camera and we had us a Bring Your Roommate and His Gay Companion to Work Day at the United Nations, y’all. Not since Nicole Kidman starred in The Interpreter has the General Assembly seen this much pouty-face. We were the life of the party, a party of three, roaming an incredibly boring and expansive office complex rotten with asbestos and Empire deco.
But, in fact, it was not boring at all. The coherence of design made it feel more transporting than outdated. It wasn’t too grand nor too somber. It was unbelievably tidy and sunny. You could smoke almost anywhere, even when they asked you not to. It was quiet. It was, to put it plainly, a dentist’s waiting room the size of the World’s Fair.
So below you will find not a sharp-toothed investigative report into the United Nations’ day-to-day nonworkings, nor a reflective or historically-braced account of our nerdy ramble amid some of the most bizarre artwork ever gifted from one world power to a conglomerate of world powers (I found all the ivory, guys!), nor very much political commentary on the U.N.’s internal representation of itself to itself–I was only there a minute and all I could think about were the chili con carne tacos and single-serving bottle of white zinfandel waiting for me in the Cafeteria of the World. What you will find are photos of Tommy and me mugging idiotically in various Very Important Venues before getting chased off by security guards. Oh, sorry: Security Guards.
I have organized them not chronologically, but in movements. These movements will move so fast you’ll think it was only 22 pictures. And indeed it is only 22 pictures, organized as follows: Security Depends on Us Passing Paper to Each Other, We Think and Negotiate on Furniture That Is Very Low to the Ground, Fashion, Lunch, Stop and Let the Roses Smell You–The English Roses of World Peace, Where’s Tommy? and finally, The Saddest Souvenir Mug
in of the World.
I. Security Depends on Us Passing Paper to Each Other
In which we hand paper to each other in the Security Council hall. Also features the hall of the Trusteeship, the hall of the General Assembly, the funky curtains upon which Whoopi remarked when she moderated the Battlestar Galactica symposium on March 19, 2009, and an intern.
II. We Think and Negotiate on Furniture That Is Very Low to the Ground
(I think Tommy had some orzo.)
(Tommy, this photo was #1492 on my camera. HA HA HA.)
V. Stop and Let the Roses Smell You–The English Roses of World Peace
(We slipped right past those guys.)
VI. Where’s Tommy?
(Just kidding, he’s not in that last one.)
VII. The Saddest Souvenir Mug
in of the World
Featuring a detail of an exhibit on disarmament, an abstract brass bust on the theme of difference and violence, and strong words from a former Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient (he said “hell”!).