Visiting Philadelphia during a government shutdown was a strange thing. The National Parks at the heart of the city – Independence Hall and the Benjamin Franklin Museum – were closed, and the surroundings areas looked all but abandoned. Fences were placed around many of the buildings, so you couldn’t even press your nose against the window to see what you were missing. Guards monitored the entrances to make sure no one made a mad dash for the front doors of the Liberty Bell.
If you happen to have the chance to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art (which is wonderful), here is a bit of advice: run up the steps to the museum.
Just like Rocky Balboa did.
I know, I know – it’s silly and cliche. Doing so may earn you a few eye rolls from locals and museum members. Someone might quietly shake their head. You may spot someone else running up the stairs, then proceed to shadowbox when they reach the top, and you will think, Goodness, they look ridiculous.
If there was anything I could tell my younger self (besides to maybe consider getting an MRI on your head sometime before the age of 30), it would be this: don’t fall for artistic types.
I would finally learned my lesson when I was 20 or so. No more musicians, no more painters. Even graphic designers and guys who played guitar on weekends were on notice. (more…)
The other day I was jogging.
Through a cemetery.
It was awful. The jogging, I mean. The cemetery was lovely.
I find them kind of peaceful. I suppose my mom instilled that in me, which is weird, because she’s reared me to be terrified of so many other things (like thong underwear and undercooked chicken).
The thing that I love about humanity, besides Thai food and the tendency to dress our young up as animals, is our commitment to the arts. That as a species, as soon as our basic needs are met (and even if they aren’t) we all hellbent on writing and composing and painting and sculpting and carving and decoupaging and etching and crocheting and just making things.
We are the species responsible for the Bedazzler and the Eiffel Tower, which is just kind of wonderful to think about.
I have a persistent and haunting memory from my childhood.
I must have been 8 or 9 years old, and I was at the county fair in Florida. County fairs in the south are a big deal: they’re fun but also sort of creepy and disturbing. The structures are temporary, there’s extension cords everywhere, and you feel like the entire place could go up in flames or collapse. I wonder if that’s part of the appeal – that you might die at any moment.
So you eat lots of funnel cake and try to live in the now.
I’m starting to realize I visit a lot of old prisons. Well, maybe not a lot, but certainly more than the average person. Enough to where I can roam around one and find myself thinking something like, “This old prison reminds me of that other old prison!”
Can I tell you something? When you realize you’ve visited so many prisons that you can compare one to the other, it becomes sort of disconcerting. And you start to wonder why you can’t have a normal, healthy hobby, like tennis or mahjong or whatever it is that functional, healthy people spend their time doing.