I really do miss my old days of travelling, when I used to do something cultural every day; it was the centrepiece around which the naughty things radiated. Nowadays I just relentlessly focus on the drinking & the porn & the whoring & whatever. My trips have lost something because of this. I have no desire to go back to Cine Paris today and see the same films again; no desire to go back up & along Rue d’Aerschot again, as stunningly beautiful & sexy as the girls are. No desire to go back to Fifth Avenue (no money either). So perfect opportunity to do something cultural—except my old beloved Museum of Modern Art (modern in the sense of 1789-1939 sort of range) was broken up, scandalously, years ago and replaced by a Magritte Museum instead—wall to wall nothing but Magritte for room after room is too much. The 6 or 8 or 10 Magrittes on show in the old Modern Art Museum was perfect. No doubt putting a Magritte Museum in the halls that used to house the Modern Art collection has been a massive cash cow for them, with the token Fin de Siècle Museum tagged on underneath it like an afterthought, with its ridiculously low ceilings & APPALLING lighting, but it has deprived us of so many of the great treasures of the Modern Art that I loved so much, the Paul Delvauxs uppermost amongst them. He does not fit into the FDS timeframe so that is it, hidden away in storage! It crosses my mind to finally go to —— and visit the Delvaux Museum, or Namur and finally visit the Rops Museum, but I cannot be bothered and I can scarcely afford the train fare or museum admission charges. I could go back to the Wiertz Museum after many many years. We will see.
There is the incredible situation in Brussels now where the Brussels City Government want to build a brand new space for their superb collection of modern art (modern in this sense meaning roughly 1789 to 1939) but the Belgian Government which officially owns the art says no way, it must go back in the old building where it always was. Brussels had a wonderful Museum of Modern Art, containing its entire collection from those 1789 to 1939 years, but then they decided to break the space up into two new Museums, the Magritte Museum containing nothing but Magrittes and the Fin De Siecle Museum containing nothing but art from the 1890s, and everything that did not fit into these two narrow bands disappeared back into storage never it seemed to be seen again! Some of my absolutely favourite pieces, David’s Death of Marat, Geef’s Genie du Mal, Dali’s Temptation of St Anthony, the entire room of Paul Delvaux’s, all therefore vanished. They have been planning to open another Museum, the Modern Museum, to put back on display everything pushed out by the Magritte and the FDS but that meant finding a brand new space for it: for a while they were going to put it in a building by the Grand Place, now they say they are buying the old Art Deco Citroen showrooms by the canal (opposite Fifth Avenue hooker bar, an interesting idea); but the Belgian government has said no, over their dead body, they will not countenance the sublime modern art collection going on display anywhere except in its original location, under the same roof as the Magritte and FDS, and Old Masters. So essentially Belgium wants their entire collection of modern art, Magrittes and 1890s included, all in one building—why, just like the original Museum of Modern Art! Why on earth they destroyed and split up the original Museum of Modern Art I will never know. It was a desecration. And now the Belgian Government is insisting it all goes back under one roof again. Well there is no space for any new rooms, so does this mean the Magrittes, 1890s and everything else is going to have to be mixed again? We are STILL waiting to find out. And meanwhile all those incredible treasures from 1789 to 1939 remain in storage and we are left with the desperately boring, samey, Magritte after Magritte after Magritte (a little Magritte goes an awfully long way with me; too much of him becomes boring incredibly quickly) and the scandalously awful anaemic, appallingly lit Fin de Siecle display (how on earth they can make the Fin de Siecle seem boring is quite a wonder in itself). Give us back our original Museum of Modern Art please, with the 6 or 7 Magrittes that it always had, yes, with its wonderful 1890s treasures, yes, but all mixed into the one collection that it used to be. You had a wonderful Museum of Modern Art about 5 years ago; why on earth did you fuck it up? Oh yes because you wanted to milk the Magritte cow for all it was worth, and in the meantime killed the goose that laid the golden egg to make room for it. Disgusting!
After my first visit to the new Fin de Siecle Museum I declared it “a triumph”; and yet even at the time I felt troubled by my words, and felt in fact it was NOT. This second visit confirmed my doubts. There was no sign of Le Genie du Mal, Alfred Stevens’s Salome, Death of Marat or ANY Paul Delvauxs! (Because I now realise they nearly all fall outside of the Fin de Siecle’s 1890s time frame). All my favourites from the old Modern Art Museum missing from the new collection. Le Tresors de Satan is there but stuck all on its own in a corner against a white wall; a totally unsympathetic and undramatic setting. Similarly, La Figure Tombale seems plonked down in the middle of nowhere like an afterthought. In the old Modern Art Museum there was a fantastic nexus where you could see the Figure Tombale, Le Genie du Mal, Tresors de Satan and Alfred Stevens’s Salome all from one spot. The pieces had a relation to each other—now what is left is spaced out and sits forlornly all on its own. Their exhibits need repositioning; otherwise the FDS is an underwhelming and unaffecting experience—how can the art of the Fin de Siecle be unaffecting! The FDS is not a triumph; it is a failure. It needs to be rethought and relaid out. It is a BORING museum; which is incredible when the art is so fantastic. The Old Masters, too, did not affect me like it did the first time. My general low mood no doubt partly responsible for that. Peak Brussels has truly passed. The only good thing was the discovery of how much bustier the girls of Le Coin are compared to 5th. The environment is smaller, cheaper looking; like a greasy spoon café rather than art nouveau bar. A very down to earth knocking shop, and all the sexier for that. And the girls are really busty. I will return. Indeed the events of these 4 days make me think it is time I started staying in the Ibis opposite the Gare du Midi again. From there I can walk to Le Coin.
After a lovely Irish breakfast I finally did what I’ve been promising to do for months: get the 71 bus to the Old Masters and Fin de Siecle Museums. Then the 95 bus back to Bourse and walked down from there to Le Coin. My first impression was confirmed: the girls here are of a sexier quality than their 5th Avenue counterparts. All the girls in Le Coin seem busty and voluptuous, their bosoms spilling out of their dresses. I would like to come here when I’m in the mood for it and try one of them. For now, though, my mood low I just had 3 bottles of Jupiler, ogled them for a while, then came back to the hotel to pick up my bag.
It is as if my sub-conscious knew Peak Brussels had passed before I did. Still, despite everything, I just feel happy to be in Brussels; drinking my can of Jupiler beer in the hotel lounge, before perhaps heading down to O’Reilly’s for an Irish Breakfast, and perhaps now, finally, Old Masters and Fin de Siecle. Ha! I promise myself every day I am going to go to the Old Masters and FDS but in the end just stay drinking instead and then decide oh it’s too late now.
Now all I can think about is: I want to STUFF myself with food. Well, I am sick of Cine Paris and I am sick of 5th Avenue, so finally tomorrow let me go to Old Masters and Fin de Siecle Museums. Then I can finish in Le Coin or O’Reilly’s. There’s whores all around me: in the Rue des Commercants, in 5th Avenue, in Gare du Nord—but all I can think of is eating then getting back to my lovely hotel room bed; to my internet and then to sleep. So now I am drinking myself into absolute oblivion in the Dome, and I enjoy this so much more than yesterday’s visits to Cine Paris or Rue des Commercants or Fifth Avenue. It rules out me going on to Gare du Nord later today, unfortunately.
A pleasant first day in Brussels. Everything held up by not being able to check in till just before 2, but after that, two good films in Cine Paris, and then, after all, I did return to Fifth Avenue—after having vowed never again after my last humiliating visit last month. I can wash humiliation off very easily; it doesn’t bother me. Andrea again the most fanciable girl there; yet too scared to go with her again in case I am overwhelmed by ennui again. One voluptuous new girl caught my eye too but when I could drink no more I just came back via McDonald’s and that was that. Unfortunately I woke up too late this morning to seriously consider going to the Fin de Siecle or Old Masters. I will save that for my next visit, when I will come and spend four solid days here.