This weekend I went to San Francisco with my friend Tim to see the Titanic exhibit at the Metreon. I've been wanting to see it for a while now, ever since I first heard the advertisement on the radio. It was really cool.
The tickets are a bit pricey ($22 for adult admission). Before patrons enter the exhibit hall, each of them is given a White Star Line "boarding pass" that contains the name and biographical info of a real passenger on Titanic. The idea is for you to imagine that you are a passenger, and as you view the exhibit you move through a timeline, ultimately ending with that unfortunate encounter with an iceberg. Just before exiting the exhibit hall, you get to find out if you survived or died.
I was The Reverend John Harper, from Surrey, England. I was on my way to Chicago to begin a series of revival meetings. I was traveling with my daughter Nina and my cousin Jessie. We were billeted in Second Class. (Second class??? Why not first??? Ah, well, at least I wasn't in steerage!)
All throughout the exhibit hall hung pictures of Titanic's passengers and crew, and short descriptions of who they were. They had pictures and biographies of both famous people - like John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim - and anonymous ones like crew members and steerage passengers.
They had a lot of artifacts from Titanic. There were pieces of the ship's equipment, like searchlights, porthole frames, cooking utensils, and even the telegraph that relayed commands from the bridge to the boiler room. They also had dishes, some of which were amazingly pristine. I couldn't help but wonder how much a dish from Titanic would fetch on ebay. LOL. One thing that I thought was really cool was the collection of wine and champagne bottles recovered from the wreck. Some of them still had their (now-decaying) corks on, with the bottles' orginal contents still inside! Wow!
Some of the most mundane things made for the most poignant displays - ladies' purses, gentleman's spectacles, a child's comb, pieces of jewelry, and even a bowler hat. I couldn't help but wonder what went on in the minds of the people who owned those things as the ship went down.
Other stuff that was very interesting to see included different paper currencies of the time - banknotes from the US, Canada, Ireland, and England. They also had sample menus from each of the three service classes. My friend Tim commented that even the steerage dinner menu would put airline business class food to shame. There were reproductions of first class suites, second class staterooms, and steerage bunks. Patrons also got to walk through a reproduction of a second class hallway. It was amazingly realistic, and it almost made you feel as if you were really there. I think part of the trick was the subdued lighting and the classical violin music playing softly throughout the exhibit hall.
The highlights included a reproduction of the grand staircase (made famous by Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslett), including the ornate Tiffany glass skylight and crystal chandelier. Alas, patrons weren't allowed to walk down the stairs and pretend they were decked out in their white ties and tails for dinner at the grand salon. They also had a 30,000-pound piece of the ship's hull, complete with rivets and portholes. It was huge - probably over 12 feet tall and 25 feet wide. And you got an idea of just how big Titanic was because they had a picture of the entire ship that had a tiny red square in the middle, indicating where the piece on display came from.
The very end of the exhibit had four enormous plates, one for each of the service classes and one for the crew. The plates contained the names of all the survivors and all of those who died. It was an interesting study in class differences of Edwardian society. In first class, more people survived than died. In second class, it was roughly equal. In third class and the crew, far more people died than survived.
I, the Reverend James Harper of Surrey, England, died in the frigid North Atlantic on that fateful night. boohoo.
Afterwards we went to Vino Venue to taste some wine. I didn't like any of the reds I tasted this time, but I did really like a gewurtzraminer and a muscat-and-grenache blend. After wine tasting I stopped at Teuscher to get some truffles. I also wanted to check out Richart chocolates, but by the time I got to their boutique they were closed. It's probably just as well - French chocolates are insanely expensive to begin with, and Richart makes La Maison du Chocolat look cheap. I went home after buying my chocolates.
If you ever get a chance to buy some Teuscher chocolates - get the cocoa truffles! Yum yum yum orgasmatron yum!
So that was my weekend. I took today off from work to use up one of my floating holidays, and so that I could drive up north to meet with my friend Joe (private jet dude - see one of my previous posts about jobhunting). On the way home I stopped at my neighborhood PetSmart, and I noticed something that made me really happy.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is now open! Yippee!!!! I got some BBQ short ribs and some kahlua pig. Now I'm so full that I can't breathe.