Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maple Leaf Flag


So we blows thru the airport in Toronto and grab Alex, then make for Southampton, a town forgotten by time. Mostly. Since we were last here 4 years ago, they have built a big new Rexall drug store and a Tim Hortons.

Uncle Mike and Aunt Nikki look well and we walked the business district and still had 55 minutes left to the hour. Ate at the "Chips Ahoy" and did some beach time and went down to applaud the sunset. Note how the piper serenades the sun down.

On Thursday evenings, the classic car owners gather for people to gawk and there is a 50/50 raffle for the Saugeen Hospital. Imagine- constant fundraising for the hospital because people care for and support their health care providers. Such a contrast to the states where hospital marketing is big business. But I digress...

In fact, both of my children have been patients at that hospital. Miles still has the scars from the last trip.

The last night we were there, Uncle Mike decided to give Alex a lesson in knife throwing. Photos to come.

As this place in Ontario is really part of the Sterling legacy, I will ask Mark to expound on this segment of the trip.

Leave it to me me to go on about Finn Grand Fest, coming soon to a blog near you.

Doubling Back...


In the early 70's I visited a friend at Princeton, and I dragged him to 112 Mercer Street where Einstein spent the last years of his life failing to conceive a Unified Field Theory. (Died with notes at his bedside; or so the story goes...) Anyway, he was a hero of mine at the time, and I spent the better part of half an hour assuming various positions on the front porch, making sure that we had shared some spatial coordinates.
On our first night in NYC we were out exploring the neighborhood on foot, and I snapped this picture of the old women next to the mosaic street pole. In the course of our week in East Village I walked by and admired that pole a dozen times and went back on my way to get the car out of storage to fully document the tile work.

As I’m looking over this thing in my viewfinder (Allman Brothers, Janis, The Fugs…it says Bill Gramm Way on the other side), I’m hit with the Hot-Kiss-at-the-End-of-a-Wet-Fist: I am standing in front of what was the Fillmore East! I am walking where all my Axemen Heroes walked (or stumbled, or whatever, and I realize the stage door must have been around the corner)! But which building? The Bank. Perfect.





And I realized in a flash that I most like my History (or otherwise teachable moments) in one of 2 ways:

1. “Sharing Space” – being EXACTLY where others have been while trying to sense what of the physical environment remains the same. (There will be a follow-up post on Ellis Island relating to this.)
2. “Worshiping Before the Alter” – being in the “space created” by a great work of art. The MET comes to mind.

The problem with the Hall of Fame stuff (if you’ll allow me to beat THAT dead horse some more) is that the artifacts have been taken out of their context, and they are for the most part incidental: A scuffed ball in a plastic case, that just happened to be the one that got the ride off Hank Aaron’s bat, might be one of the worst objects to properly illuminate whatever momentous event we’re taking about. One doesn’t worship the ball, one gawks at it! Know what I mean?

I suppose I can come up with personal exceptions. The mountains of flea market junk often delivered a strong jolt of melancholy (and a kind of historical lesson), but I’m trying to make a general point.

And, of course, life is for learning.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Baseball Hall of Same

There is a glass case with a shirt and a ball and a bat. And over there is a glass case with a shirt and a ball and a base. And over there...You get the idea. What is interesting about baseball is the stories, not the stuff, thus I quickly realized that the HOF would be much more interesting on line.

Furthermore, most of the artifacts are from teams within a reasonable drive of the HOF. Trust me, if you root for the D-backs or the Rays or the Astros...hell, there wasn't even much from the Tigers!

The plaques. Wow, they are strange. I must research who writes these things. They are a hodge-podge lot, some crammed with factoids and anecdotes, other strangely devoid of any real content. But seriously, did they have to describe Jackie Robinson, in the first sentence, as "colorful?"







On the other hand, this just might be the cutest town in America. It is filled with quaint churches and charming Victorian homes with lush flower beds. The main drag has shops and shops dedicated to baseball and fudge that abound with cute, punful names.

I am on my netbook while Mark has the mass of fotos in the Mac. He will post for your viewing pleasure.
(Mark - Go Deep!)

OK, I've been struggling for far too long trying to get these pictures to post properly...as opposed to the graphic/aesthetic chaos you see here. I give up! But I've come to see that struggle as perfectly emblematic of the internal emotional/intellectual battle (skirmish?) I've been having in my heart/head since leaving the Hall. (The Random Mobile Post below was more or less an immediate reaction.)

Here is my (considered) take-away: Forget the fact that the Hall is Museum Science-challenged, it's all about the Plaques! Period. And having experienced the Hall, I now hold these opinions FIRMLY...

1. Craig Biggio should and will be a First Round inductee.
2. Jeff Bagwell is on the bubble at BEST, but he doesn't belong.
3. Lance Berkman who?
4. Pete Rose should get his Plaque!

Opinion #4 is a Sea Change for me, and speaks to some uber-dimensional Hall effect. So despite the general disappointment, there must be something spiritual about the place...

Sore-eee

That is how they apologize here in Canada. We are sorry to have not posted in so long, but what we are learning is that it is hard to get on line at the homes of friends and relations because they never remember how to get past their security. So it goes.

When time allows and I have downloaded enough pictures to tell some tales, I/we will get up to date.

Next Post - Baseball Hall of Same.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RANDOM MOBILE POST (Cooperstown)




When I bemoan the Designated Hitter, it is a sign that I have forgotten said rule was instrumental in Al Kaline's 1st ballot induction into Hall of Fame. He would not have gotten 3000 hits...maybe he would't have played the 1974 season if he had to take the field. On the other hand, under the circumstances, Al taking on the DH role spelled the end of the line for Gates Brown. A thought that brings me only sadness. Cooperstown is the epitome of cuteness on a sunny summer afternoon: crowds as thick as a NYC midtown street; just souvenirs, ice cream, and joyful kiddos! The HoF itself was a disappointment, perhaps due to expectations (there is just a small fading photograph to honor Ernie in the Broadcasters Wing). But we got to touch Al's plaque, and then there was the display that consisted of an endless loop video of Abbot & Costello's "Who's on First" routine...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One last overheard...

Sitting at a counter eating at the Whole Foods in the Bowery (And I am old enough to remember when the Bowery was The Bowery!)

Two pretty women in their 20s, one American, one Italian. They are discussing American TV shows.

The Italian woman says, with her chaming accent, "Oh, I like Chelsea. She is always making fun of people with her sarcasms."

Magical history tour



We didn't exactly take Manhattan but we didn't get taken, either. We loved our temporary home above the foot rub neon sign and thought it was a great location. Mark's navigation skills were in top form and we were never lost.

We ate well, saw some strange little performances and walked a million miles. Though it was not the plan, it truly was a history tour, from Isis and Osiris to Ellis Island, the Museum of the City of New York, wonderful old buildings, 500 years of musical instruments and a lot more.

On to Cooperstown, one day after the induction ceremony for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Birthday photos







Food, flea markets (inc. Brooklyn) and fringe theater.

overheard at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market

A woman vendor talking to a man who is too quiet to hear.

her - If Marcia is drowning, you have to save her. You have to save her.
him - ( )
her - But what I am saying is, if she is drowning you HAVE to save her. You do.
him - ( )
her - Not me. That's God.
him- ( )
her - All I'm saying is, if your Mother is drowning and Marcia is drowning, you have to save Marcia first. That's what The Bible says. You have to put your wife first. That isn't my opinion. That is what God says. Your wife comes first.
him - ( )
her- No. God is talking through me. You have to save Marcia. I'm just telling you what God thinks.

overheard in East Harlem

Two women at the bus stop at 103rd and 1st Ave. in front of the projects.

"I didn't grow up here. No. I moved here in '66. I lived at 429. Then we moved to 446 and then 419, where I am am now. You like it back where you're staying? "

"Oh yeah. Its real quiet back there. I don't hear no gunshots or nothing."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Clean Up Post #1





Some musings need to percolate (this relates to Monday morning at Union Square):

I watched the latter part of the Artist Power demonstration 4 floors up across 14th street while Sheila was looking around Filene’s Basement…after the media left, the ring of demonstrators around the 1st Amendment-in-sand loosened. No one showed any malicious intent toward the work, but a number of people passing through did not look down and walked through the sand, causing a little bit of damage with each crossing. Their body language was easy to read as the knowing crowd shouted out that they had just defaced a piece of political art; each looked like they were realizing that they had just stumbled across red hot coals! Embarrassment, defensiveness, some pain…

Went down to report this to The Artist as he was sweeping up: His work was the perfect symbol…the greatest threat the to 1st is probably obliviousness. He seemed to like that interpretation. As he packed up his recycled sand in a rolling carry-on bag for another day, he left me some rhetoric (that sounded like a sales pitch) and this: http://www.joemangrum.com/

When I tracked down the real issue for the protest, and little cynicism began to seep in, I began to imagine the shape of a Venn Diagram of Free Speech intersecting Free Enterprise...Joe is standing in the middle.

Nature, three stories up.

Yesterday's theme was green on high. We headed to the Met Museum to be there when it opened and take in Big Bambu on the roof before the crowds got to it.



T'was very cool. I want one in my back yard.

(Link to Big Bambu on MET Website.)







And as dusk fell, we hightailed it to the Highline; old el train tracks that have been converted to a park. The design is incredible, the landscaping, the seating, the lighting- every element simply brilliant in design and execution.

(Click here for link to High Line Website.)

In this case, photos simply cannot convey...

But Chelsea, where the park is, was not our kind of town. Packs of impossibly thin women with tiny dresses looking not all that confident strolling past the cool bars, all of them spilling into the street on this summer night. The land of the $12 drink and the wiff of anxiety.

Me and Mark? We are much much more comfortable with Lenny and John.

Lenny & John


Went around the block to stick a load of laundry in the washer (along with some Tide and 9 quarters) and then doubled back to the apartment to pick up Sheila, the Village Voice and the Times to wait out the drying cycle. In stark contrast to the mind-numbing scene at the Marriott a few days ago, here's what happened over the course of 30 minutes (5 more quarters) when we returned for our wash:

John (on the right) offered his chair out in front claiming he was about to leave anyway. Turns out he's The Mayor of this particular block, greeting EVERY passer-by with their first name. At some point the fact that we were in town from Texas came up, and from then on that greeting included "...and these folks are from Texas!" John's a high-rise carpenter/shop steward and started talking about jumpers...that gay couple with AIDS that held hands as they walked off their 24th floor balcony together a few years back. Lenny sighed. And then there was the guy who fell from 15 stories up, and did NOT, shall we say, take the direct route down. "They didn't call the coroner...they called the fire department to hose down the place!" But Lenny steered the conversation toward the more general topics of depression and desperation, and then we all noticed the cool breeze, and thankful for the break in the heat, moved on to lighter, if no less animated, conversation. We covered Vietnam, the Merchant Marine, retirement planning, rent control, public housing waiting lists, John’s homes in Cancun and upstate New York…

A real estate agent, with an NYU student and his dad in tow, walked by, "this is a great street, there's a police station right over there. (I thought I saw the look of pride on John's face as they passed.)

…the conversation briefly returned to John’s installation of Plexiglas barriers to keep distraught students from jumping into the atrium of a nearby NYU building.

A woman folding her clothes and overhearing our confab, stepped through the open door to tell us that we would "hate this filthy city...it smells like rotten food...it's not like London or Sao Paulo!" She ducked back inside. Lenny said, "She's OK, she just has her opinions..."

At this point we notice a somewhat frantic guy trying to catch what he claimed was an injured pigeon, crawling under cars and diving around trees and garbage cans. His bike, festooned with bulging plastic bags was double-parked. Lenny and John claimed they'd never seen that before, yet there was a calm acceptance of the situation. "I think he wants to eat it," says John. "Hey, waddaya gonna do with that bird if you catch it?" From the street: "I'm going to train it..."

A few minutes later the woman rolled her finished laundry out on to the sidewalk still ranting about the city’s stench. “The problem is men don’t see the garbage, they don’t smell the rot, they just walk by…they only have one thing on there mind!”

"Have you seen this guy trying to catch the pigeon?", someone asks.

She says, “Yeah, I told him there’s nothing wrong with that bird…they are just rats. Don’t worry, he’ll never catch it, the bird’s smarter than he is…” Off she went.

Moments later the guy had his bird, stuffed it into a grocery bag, fashioned a temporary shelf across his handlebars with a piece of styrofoam he found in the trash and rode off.

I was inside folding when talk turned to baseball. Never a subject that proceeds linearly, John eventually insisted we see a Yankee game, giving me the (Yankees T) shirt off his back for emphasis. Bare-chested, he wandered down the street and returned buttoning up a fresh shirt.

I think John would have kept talking if Lenny didn’t suggest that maybe we had other things to do. John gave us each a kiss goodbye on the cheek, and Lenny led him off in search of a late afternoon beer.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Remains of the Day

Since we were last at the Metropolitan Museum of Art just 7 months ago, we wandered through the things we didn't see last time. Today we saw armor and silver work and tapestries from the middle ages. There were guns- amazingly ornate guns from 500 years ago. And the size of the Egyptian collection is mind-boggling. And the instruments room was just astounding. For the Europeans of the 16 - 18 centuries, the instrument had to look as good as they sounded, maybe better. That so many cultures had so many artisans making such wonderful things by hand...well, we were given pause.

Today's question- what is there from the 21st century that will last a millennium or two? Half a millennium? Anything?




Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The truth? The heat is kicking our butts. This is not a city that has every corner air conditioned nor is it a city that even has ceiling fans.

Went to Central Park to see if we could get a seat for the Comedy Central free show at the Summer Stage. Ha! We would have had to arrive three hours early and stand in line. So it goes. This is is a city about standing in line. Or standing on line.

But there are things to amuse at every turn. Exhibit A. A piece of ginger root on top of a 4 x 4 on top of a skateboard. This work of art was entitled "On Ethics and Economics"

I heart art!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Today's lessons
1. If you are going to go to a popular attraction at the height of tourist season,
be prepared to wait in line.
2. People from all over the world are interested in Ellis Island.
3. Not all scout outings are wilderness related.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Golden Door



Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me.

(It is one of the poems I have memorized.)

I noted, as my fellow passengers eagerly snapped away, that one of the most photographed objects in America was a gift from the French; those folks without whose help we likely would have lost the Revolutionary War.

RANDOM MOBILE POST (or so they will come to be known) - It turns out that posts from the iPhone show up in the blog more or less randomly, so please excuse any apparent temporal dislocations.  Think of it as The Guild navigating by folding space/time.  Plus, by abandoning a strict timeline, it's OK to backtrack...like to the night in Winchester, VA at the Towne Suites - Marriott, packed to the gills with participants (and their parents, whining younger sibllings, and pets) of a high school girls' softball tournament.  As I waited for the end of my dryer cycle amid a gaggle of kvetching moms (and one strategy-challenged dad) and a mountain of dirty uniforms, I was forced to reassess my theory that baseball is a glorious game at ALL levels.  (Sent Monday morning.)  

RANDOM MOBILE POST

An hour from The Apple...[edit] This one was sent from a Whitehouse, NJ park that turned out to be more like TWO (2) hours from the city, given construction on the Jersey Turnpike bridge into Bayonne and a busy Holland Tunnel. ASIDE: Last time I drove into The City was probably in 1974 on one of those 17-hour "I dare you" runs from Kalamazoo. We seemed to always hit the Delaware Water Gap around 4 am, when crossing NJ on I-80 in the accumulating truck traffic (and gathering dawn) toward the George Washington Bridge made it feel like a Tractor Beam. This time it felt more like Captain Kirk had the Deflector Shields on full power.

ALSO: Have decided to think of mobile post randomness as a Pulp Fiction-ish narrative device. (Anyway, The Navigators Guild's focus was on folding space, not time, as I remember.)

technical difficulties


Mobile postings from the phone appear randomly, often 12-36 hours late, more than once or not at all, so if this blog seems to be bending the space/time continuum, it is simply Google's fault, but hey- whadda ya want for nuttin.

Mark's post, similar in tone sent hours go, may or may not show up.

This is a test. It is only a test. If we were really bending space and time, I would go back to 1969. But only for a visit.

I went down to the demonstration...

Monday morning, Union Square Farmers market. Came to score some produce and found a protest. Seems the Mayor wants to limit the number of artists who can sell their wares in the park.

But there was corn, tomatoes and cider to be had so we enjoyed both.




Sunday, July 18, 2010

RANDOM MOBILE POST - Four states in about 40 minutes-Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Is there any other interstate hiway where that happens? That is today's puzzler. [edit] Well, yesterday's puzzler, anyway...we believe the answer is: NO.

curry favor


Here on 6th Street between first and second, there are many restaurants; 8 are Indian, among them Gandhi and Calcutta and the Taj Mahal and the Raj Mahl and just plain Taj. Plus a Vietnamese veg joint and an Ethiopian.

It is dang hot here. With Texas arrogance we thought there could be no heat that would melt our ardor for the city, but my enthusiasm flagged just a bit, though my sweat glands stayed active.

That is me in the Pepto Bismol portal.

Hell of a town

Made it to NYC. Apt is superb, better than the photos, really, and there was a parking space right in front of the building -this was meant to be. Our landlord and lady are delightful young folks and we are ready to park the car for the week, get the Metro Pass and hit the streets. Photos to follow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Laundry and other musings

At a modern motel doing laundry in Winchester VA after 2 days in Asheville without wifi at Sister's. Visits with family frequently mixed...

Asheville-the Portland of the South with just enough scant-toothed smokers to remind you that you are indeed in the south.

Data- 403 miles traveled and 45 mpg, accomplished because the rain and the number of Smokies kept us moving at posted limits.

Tomorrow we take Manhattan.

Complete sidebar: I am a mid-range road warrior. At least a brown belt, but after 10 years and hundreds of hotels rooms, I have my hotel routine down to a fine art that wastes no motions and maximizes comfort. For the next 3+ weeks, I am traveling with Mr. Spreadmystuffout.

Sigh. ---S

While running a gauntlet of TN and VA state troopers (many in unmarked cars) up I-81, these  mesmerizing clouds became a torrent of driving rain just west of Roanoke.  Cops gone now, the shoulders crowded with those of faint heart or shallow tread...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Issues of Transperancy aside (and getting back to Shell stop):  Expecting only the smell of gasoline, we stepped out of the car and into an aroma & sounds-fest, greeted with relatively high fidelity (if one can justly use that modifier) country music blaring from the pump, anxious cattle making a racket from their trailer parked over by the Food Mart, and the air of a  stockyard.  The boys driving those cows to slaughter were having pizza for breakfest, except for the cowboy in the stall next to the "Health Mart" who serenaded me in his own way while I peed.
Oops...Texas plates. Did he think we were illegals?
just pulled over north of Atlanta by a cop who claimed our window tint was illegly dark. No ticket but we assume it was a fishin expedition. TexS

Somewhere east Talladega...some for ALL of the senses at a Shell pit stop.  More later.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Live at Leeds

Alabama, that is.

Where to stop? Bonnie and Clyde ambush site? Stan the Muffler man? Hitler's Typewriter? Alas, it was a head down and power through day on I-20 with kudzu sculpture along the sides of roads and 18 wheelers blowing tires in our path.

Today's tally- 711 miles.

Mark's lucky number was 642

Dawn in the Piney Woods...we've been here before.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Okay (huff puff) T minus 12 hours and the washing machine is going full tilt.

Stacks of things and no real understanding of what all can fit into the truncated trunk of a hybrid.

"Whadamy forgedding" the mantra of the day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

lists, list, lists

So this is how it begins - with a notion and a great conceit.

We are almost through raising kids and definitely through with the multi-decade job and close the figuring out what to do with rest of our days.

No home by the golf course, no active senior lifestyle, no settling in and waiting for ...what?

This trip is a preliminary venture, a fact finding mission, a test the waters (but see family on the way,) a respite from the lawn mowing and such and perhaps a chance to form a cogent plan.

Laugh not at the word plan, my friend. the exercise is an end in itself.