New York City Art Museums and Art Galleries

Yesterday I made my 50th day trip to New York City. On this trip I managed to visit three art museums and six art galleries. Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad with strong wind and rain throughout the day. But I actually had this art museum itinerary prepared as an alternative itinerary for a rainy day. I only took 76 photos on this trip since the rain made me reluctant to take out my camera.

The Susquehanna Trailways bus that took me to New York City was advertising the Penn College Wildcats sports team. I took several photos of the bus with this design.  I arrived in New York City at 10:00 a.m. and immediately walked to the nearest Times Square 42nd Street subway entrance. The Times Square station is truly immense. I must have walked several blocks to find the 7 train. Unfortunately, the 7 train was not running over the weekend due to scheduled maintenance. My first goal was to go the MoMA PS1 art museum in Queens and I not know how to get there except by taking the 7 train. I had to take an N train to Queensboro Plaza in Queens instead. But that placed me one station beyond the Court Square Station and the 7 train was not running between these stations. I had to take a free shuttle bus to get to Court Square Station. This was the first time I’ve taken a MTA bus on these day trips. I did not have to swipe my MetroCard or provide any proof that I was transferring from the subway.

MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1

I arrived at MoMA PS1 around 11:00 a.m. but discovered they did not open until Noon. I also thought the ticket price was $25.00 and not $10.00. My confusion on this score was probably caused by the MoMA web site which shows you the opening time and ticket price for the main museum in Manhattan. I was also confused about where the front entrance is located. It is actually along Jackson Avenue in what appears to be a gift shop. After buying your ticket in the gift shop you walk outside through an open courtyard to  the actual entrance of the museum. It was all very confusing. I had to spend an hour in Queens in the rain waiting for the museum to open. Ordinarily I would have walked around a few blocks exploring the neighborhood but the fierce wind prevented that. I found my way to the nearby John F. Murray Playground and stood under some trees for about a half hour before returning to the museum which had a few tourists waiting for it to open.

The main exhibit at MoMA PS1 was Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts. Bruce Nauman is perhaps best known for his neon sign artwork “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths” in which that phrase appears in a spiral. I saw a copy of that in the exhibit. The rest of the exhibit was like a fun house of bad art and bizarre experiences. For example one room featured television sets playing videos of a clown screaming “No” repeatedly. That would be Bruce Nauman’s Clown Torture (1987) piece. I saw Learned Helplessness in Rats (Rock and Roll Drummer) (1988). Pacing Upside Down(1969) 60 minutes with his arms held over his head, hands crossed, Nauman is moving jerkily around a perimeter defined by a square drawn on the studio floor, filmed by a fixed camera, placed upside down. There seemed to be more recent versions of this work including one in 3D which you had to watch wearing 3D glasses. I also saw his Black Balls video which appeared to be Bruce Nauman massaging black makeup onto his testicles.  Gross! An audio piece Get Out of My Mind, Get Out of This Room 1968 was actually kind of creepy. So basically this exhibit was a lot of conceptual art which makes you wonder at what can pass for art.

I had lunch at the M. Wells Dinette within MoMA PS1 since I did not want to go back out into the elements. This cafeteria-style restaurant is designed like a school cafeteria since the museum is located within a deserted Romanesque Revival public school building. I entered the cafeteria and took a seat but it did not look as if a waiter was going to come take my order so I got up and took one of the clipboard menus and placed my order at the counter. I ordered the skirt steak and a cappuccino. The skirt steak came with scalloped potatoes (aka Potato Gratin) and some greens (Beurre Rouge). Beurre Rouge must have been the dressing on the greens. It was really good and definitely gourmet quality for under $25.00.

Before leaving the museum I visited the Artbook book store which is something separate from the gift shop at the entrance to the museum. They had a vast selection of art books with maybe too many on politics but after browsing I eventually settled on Goodbye World! Looking at Art in the Digital Age by Omar Kholeif. This book cost me $30.00 even though it is a small paperback book. The art world has been slowly embracing the Internet and digital technology. At this point it is really hard to deny that online culture is a big part of everyone’s life and our art can hardly fail to reflect that. I’ve been a bit too conservative in feeling that anything online isn’t real art but digital art now appears in art galleries.

I think I left MoMA PS1 at around 2:00 p.m. and my next goal was to return to Manhattan to visit the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Once again I could not follow my trip directions. I was going to take a F train from Court Square Station but this did not appear to even be an option. The F line does not go to the Court Square Station. I wound up taking an E train towards the World Trade Center. This train didn’t really take me anywhere near the New Museum of Contemporary Art so at the West 4th Street Station I got off and transferred to the F train to go to the Second Avenue Station. That was a pretty expect navigation of the subway system so I was mighty pleased with myself.

New Museum of Contemporary Art

New Museum of Contemporary Art

I arrived at the New Museum of Contemporary Art at around 2:30 p.m. They gave me a plastic bag for my umbrella. I tried to leave my umbrella at the coat check counter but they would not accept it. I did eventually talk them into accepting my book and hat. The major exhibit at the New Museum of Contemporary Art was Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Sarah Lucas is a controversial British artist, part of the generation of Young British Artists who emerged during the 1990s. Much of her work was obscene and angry but in a way that I liked since it was more outrageous than transgressive. I watched two of her videos. One video was Sarah Lucas reading some poetry and the other video was Sarah Lucas giving a nude man an egg massage. This video really bordered on being straight pornography.

The New Museum of Contemporary Art does not have any permanent exhibits so if you are not interested in the current exhibit then you should not go there. In the South Galleries I saw Marguerite Humeau’s “Birth Canal” which was a sculpture and sound installation. The sculptures where in the shapes of prehistoric Venus figurines that you encountered in a dark gallery. I also saw a bit of a film Marianna Simnett’s Blood In My Milk which was being shown on multiple walls of a gallery filled with people lounging on the floor. There were a lot of people sitting on the floor so I had to stand. I didn’t watch much of this film because it looked stupid and I felt a little uncomfortable. I would say my visit to the New Museum of Contemporary Art was a bit of a bust except for the opportunity to see the work of Sarah Lucas. I checked out the gift shop but I could not find a small, reasonably priced book.

After leaving the New Museum my goal was to visit some art galleries because there are actually many art galleries along the Bowery. First I entered the Soho Contemporary Art gallery which wasn’t even on my list. Since it was dark and stormy out every establishment had its light on and you could easily spot the art galleries and see people inside. After crossing Houston Street I visited the Hole gallery next. This is an art gallery which I must have walked past on my way to see the Blondie mural without even noticing it. The Hole gallery had some interesting geometric art and some rather crude but colorful art. Naturally I took another photo of the Blondie mural since it was just around the corner and I took a few photos of the Bowery Electric, a rock music venue.

The Hole Gallery

The Hole Gallery

The next art gallery I visited was Pop International Galleries which is south of the New Museum on the Bowery. Pop International Galleries had lots of interesting artwork including New York City street scenes done in a graphic arts design and art made out of pushpins with glittery heads. From Pop International Galleries I walked west on Spring Street even though I had intended on walking along Broome Street. Spring Street was probably better since I came across more interesting stores like Amazon 4-Star and the MoMA design store. My goal was to walk to the Drawing Center on Wooster Street.

The Drawing Center on Wooster Street was an art museum I attempted to visit of my last trip to NYC. Unfortunately they were closed for an installation back then but I found them to be open on this trip. Inside I saw an exhibit entitled For Opacity featuring the art work of Elijah Burgher, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Nathaniel Mary Quinn. I was expecting to see drawings arranged on tables but I saw large works of art hanging on the walls. I bought the book Drawing Papers 138 which was a publication featuring photos of the artwork in the exhibit.

AFA Gallery

AFA Gallery

The AFA Gallery is not far from the Drawing Center so I went there next. I saw fantasy paintings by Nicoletta Ceccoli and Bill Carman which looked very surreal. Bill Carman’s art in particular had a steam punk aesthetic and struck me as being very imaginative. While walking back towards Canal Street I came across yet another art galley, the Jeffrey Deitch gallery, which was not on my itinerary but I entered this art gallery as well. The Jeffrey Deitch gallery had a variety of art work in a large space which included a second level.

To get back uptown I walked to the Canal Street Station in the Tribeca neighborhood which I remembered from my previous trip. Only an E train was available to take me uptown so I got off at the 42nd Street Station but around the 44th West Street area. From there I walked to the Drama Book Shop. I wasn’t planning on going to the Drama Book Shop but it is on my list of secondary things to do on my itinerary. I didn’t really want to buy any more plays so I looked for books on playwriting which I might not have. I found Jon Klein’s Life as a Playwright: A Survival Guide which seemed right up my alley. I’m definitely interested in any book which covers the career side of playwriting. Most books only tell you how to write a play. This book was kind of expensive at $29.95 so I paid for it with my credit card. The truth is that I’m getting a little discouraged with playwriting since the theater is being invaded by social justice warriors. That is why I made art the focus of this trip.

The final art gallery I visited was Last Rites Gallery on West 38th Street. The Last Rites Gallery is my favorite art gallery in New York City and for a long time it was the only one I ever went to, but it is still the best. The Last Rites Gallery features morbid art that appeals to the Goth in me. You can always expect to see at least one corpse portrait at the Last Rites Gallery. They were preparing the 10th Annual 13th Hour show which appears to be some kind of competition. I saw a variety of work by various artists but everything seemed to be the artist’s strongest work so everything was amazing.

I left the Last Rites Gallery around 6:00 p.m. and still had two hours to kill before catching the bus home so I decided to look for a place to eat. Eventually I decided to give the Playwright Celtic Pub on 8th Avenue a try since I’ve walked past this place many times. I don’t think the Playwright Celtic Pub has anything to do with playwrights. It is more of an Irish bar kind of place but they do serve food like a restaurant. I ordered the Celtic Pub Burger and an Irish Coffee followed by raspberry sorbet for dessert. The Celtic Pub Burger was pretty large and I could not finish it. This meal cost me $40.00 with tip. I would have left a smaller tip if I had smaller bills but I only had two twenties.

For the rest of the evening I briefly walked around Times Square and took a few photos as the rain had died down a lot. On the ride home they played the Back To The Future movie which I ought to buy on DVD. I couldn’t really hear the movie well enough to watch it on the bus. We did make a comfort stop at McDonalds where I bought a small milk shake.

This was another inspiring trip to New York City even though theater was not part of this trip. I still found the art museums and art galleries inspiring. I managed to meet every objective on my itinerary and even squeezed in a little more. I’m not sure if there is anything left for me to see in New York City, except for art galleries in Chelsea. Maybe I just need to be more adventurous and consider going to establishments that I’ve never considered before like the Playwright Celtic Pub.

Posted in Art, General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pajama Factory Guided Open Studio Tour

Today I attended the first guided open studio tour at the Pajama Factory. I always keep my eye out for any opportunity to check out the Pajama Factory. So far I have seen a couple of plays there and I still remember a burlesque extravaganza which was really cool. But otherwise I have neglected to attend many of their public events. This open studio tour appears to be an attempt to get the community more involved in the arts community at the Pajama Factory. Unfortunately, less than ten people showed up for the tour so there does not seem to be much interest. But that did make for a reasonably sized tour group.

The Pajama Factory is a massive complex of brick buildings in a residential area which used to be involved in the manufacture of clothing like pajamas and underwear. The shop floors have been converted into various artist studios which have a creepy industrial aesthetic. The staircases in particular still seem haunted with their industrial decrepitude. This is a space that has been put to new uses and that complements the artwork which is also made of materials put to new uses.

Brian Spies did not show up to conduct the tour so we were shown around by artist Joanne Landis instead. First we saw her artwork  hanging on various hallway walls which served as her gallery. Then we saw her studio which had a view of the back alley. I especially liked her large, elaborate paintings based on The Odyssey. Three of her larger canvases were in a new gallery space, a darkened room we looked into through some hallway windows. This made an interestingly creepy impression because the vibrant images were sealed away in another room. Peering into an unfinished space to view art is like peering into the creative mind which hasn’t put its imagery out into the world yet.

I don’t remember if we visited the Factory Works Gallery first or after Joanne Landis’s studio, but this seems to be the place where the Pajama Factory has its exhibitions. The exhibits change every month and are open to the public so this might be my best opportunity to see art at the Pajama Factory more often. The current exhibition was collages by Ana Vizcarra Rankin, an artist based in Philadelphia. I picked up a catalog and a pamphlet entitled Williamsport PA Gallery Guide. I didn’t think Williamsport had enough art galleries to need a guide but there was one, Gallery 425, which I had never heard of and I guess I should finally visit the Gallery at Penn College some day.

Next we saw the Factory Works Clay Studio. This studio provides kilns, clay, and glazes for anyone wishing to work with clay or make pottery. I have not seen clay since kindergarten. This reminds me that we are often introduced to many forms of creativity during our education only to lose all sight of them after graduation. It is sad how your world narrows to encompass nothing besides your career and a few interests. One of the reasons I love travel is that is restores novelty to life but you also have to actively seek out novelty to avoid a stagnation of your imagination.

After that we visited the Bicycle Recycle studio where old bikes are restored and sold to the public at a discount. This was not particularly arts related but I suppose it represented creative re-use of old materials, but without transformation. There is an excellent bike path behind my house but I have not used it all summer.

Then there was a break for refreshments but there was nothing on offer except coffee at Way Cool Beans. I went back to my car to leave the catalog and brochure I was carrying there and then used the restroom before heading into Way Cool Beans. Way Cool Beans is a coffee shop located in the Pajama Factory. They did not seem to have anything except coffee and tea, no pastries or baked goods, but otherwise it looked like a nice place to chill. Way Cool Beans looks like a cool community space, like a lounge area, but not a full-fledged coffee shop.

When the tour resumed we visited the Factory Works Photo Lab which offers a public dark room. Photography is one of my major creative pursuits but I am exclusively into digital photography. Technically I don’t take photos as art, but to document my world as I explore it.  I’ve been taking a lot of photos of small towns in Pennsylvania. Since I photograph many buildings and establishments which nobody else notices or bothers to photograph you could say it is an expression of my capacity to find aesthetic pleasure in forlorn scenes. For example, I recently took some photos of the Station Gallery in Lock Haven, a former railroad station being used as an art gallery. I heard it mentioned many times during the tour. But has anyone ever bothered to take a photo of this refurbished railroad station? Apparently not because I could not find a single decent photo of the place online.

Next we went to the studio of Chris Hayward. Chris does freelance writing, tarot readings, Reiki healing, and fortune telling with runes. I was a bit surprised that she could afford to maintain a studio for her freelance writing since that does not strike me as being very lucrative, but she also does tarot readings. I recently bought a pack of tarot cards and a book for learning how to read the cards. I don’t take tarot reading too seriously but it does tie into my interest in symbolism and Jungian psychology. She showed us some runes used for rune casting as a form of divination. I don’t know much about these runes but I did recently buy some Wardruna CDs, a shamanic Norwegian music group dedicated to creating musical renditions of Norse cultural and esoteric traditions. Their albums are based on the runes of Norse mythology. Chris Hayward also mentioned having written a play which was performed at the Pajama Factory. This was news to me but I have missed many performances of plays at the Pajama Factory which are poorly advertised. It must have been Alice, an Immersive Wonderland produced by Studio 570, a new theater company based in the Pajama Factory. The fact that this theater company could escape my attention is a sign of how mysterious the Pajama Factory can be to the surrounding community. We just don’t know what is going on there.

The next artist we saw was Todd Rice. I really liked Todd Rice’s work which includes references to horror and science fiction movies. I saw his many paintings based on Mexican folk art, aka Day of the Dead, which included the silhouette of Godzilla on the horizon. I love Low-Brow Art and Pop Surrealism.

The final studio I saw was the Rita and Steve Bower studio. Rita Bower is a retired art teacher who still gives a few classes at the Pajama Factory and Steve Bower is a professional watercolor artist although much of his work seemed to be detailed drawings of trees. Apparently they like to travel and have done many paintings of Italian scenes which look very traditional.

In conclusion, the guided open studio tour was a fascinating glimpse of an art world which is hidden from me even though it exists right in my neighborhood. Unfortunately I was totally uncommunicative during the tour which is something I should work on. I didn’t reveal anything about myself. Recently I have been making some effort to combine my interest in art with my professional skills by learning how to make generative art using Processing. Processing is the main software tool in the creative coding community, artists using technology to create art. There are now art galleries devoted to technology based art like Bitforms Gallery on the Lower East Side and research groups like the School for Poetic Computation. I like Processing because it can run right in your browser using the JavaScript library version. Most modern browsers support WebGL and can perform sophisticated 2D and 3D graphics rendering.

Next week I am going on a two day Susquehanna Trailways bus trip to see Fallingwaters, the famous house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Posted in Art, General, Pennsylvania | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tribeca, SoHo, and the East Village

For my 49th trip to New York City I concentrated on exploring the Tribeca, SoHo, and East Village neighborhoods. My main goal was Tribeca since I’ve rarely ventured into that area. SoHo is just north of Tribeca so it made sense to see a few things there. I had recently finished reading St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street by Ada Calhoun so I was keen on going back to the East Village. I didn’t see any plays or shows on this trip because I could not find anything worthwhile to see.

The bus dropped us off at West 49th Street near the Eugene O’Neill Theatre which is still showing the musical “The Book of Mormon” and the Ambassador Theatre where “Chicago” is playing. Saint Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church is also on West 49th Street so I went in there and sat in a pew for a few minutes while waiting for bus to take us home that evening.

I tried to take a C train downtown to Canal Street but the weekend schedule changes meant the train did not stop at that station. Instead it seemed to follow the F train route. I finally realized the problem when it reached the York Street Station in Brooklyn. I got off the train there and took an A train to the Jay Street – MetroTech Station. Then I was able to get on a C train heading towards Manhattan which did stop at the Canal Street Station. I don’t have the A Line in my custom travel guide so I should add that. Even though we arrived in New York City early at 9:30 a.m. it took me a hour to get to Tribeca.

The first thing I saw in Tribeca was 56 Leonard Street, the so called Jenga Building because of its cantilevered balconies. It is the tallest structure in Tribeca and makes a good landmark for navigating the area. I exited the subway on the corner of the 32 Avenue of the Americas Art Deco building so I was able to immediately go down Walker Street to find the Soho Rep theater and the art galleries Bortolami Gallery and Alexander and Bonin. Both of the art galleries were closed. The nearby Postmasters Gallery was also closed so my trip was a bust as far as visiting art galleries went. I did see the small art gallery on the second floor of the Pearl River Mart.

I saw Casey Neistat’s 368 on Broadway. Casey Neistat is one of the most popular YouTubers and many of his vlogs concern his video production studio at 368 Broadway in Tribeca. I didn’t see anybody hanging around 368. My next goal was to check out the Flea Theater which had moved to a new space on Thomas Street. I could have seen a show at the Flea Theater but like most theaters these days they seem more concerned with virtue signaling their politics than with producing great theater.

Casey Neistat's 368

Casey Neistat’s 368

I had an early lunch at Odeon Cafeteria. This is a swanky restaurant but I did not have any problems getting a table at 11:20 a.m. I ordered an omelette with mushrooms, onions, and bacon plus some French fries. I immediately used the restroom before my food arrived. This meal only cost me $24.00 with tip so that was quite affordable. My secondary choice would have been the Square Diner which I photographed.

The Odeon

The Odeon

Next I walked back east to find the former location of the Mudd Club, a nightclub during the late days of New York Punk Rock when New Wave was replacing that music scene. Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Klaus Nomi, and Deborah Harry used to be seen at the Mudd Club. I recently bought a book on the Mudd Club by Richard Boch. There isn’t really anything to see there now except an empty storefront and a plaque honoring the Mudd Club.

After that I found the Ghostbusters Firehouse, aka Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8. From there I walked south many blocks to find  The Mysterious Bookshop on Warren Street. I’m not a big fan of mystery novels, but I did find a book to buy; The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher. This is a non-fiction book about Harry Houdini’s attempts to debunk a medium in Boston. I should have read this book before my trip to Boston. I don’t know why magicians feel the need to debunk mystics, psychics, and spiritualists but many of them seem to take offense at occult magic. After buying this book I found a nearby Barnes and Noble but I did not feel the need to buy more books just yet. Instead I found the campus of the Borough of Manhattan Community College and took some photos there. A security guard there made me a little nervous but college campuses are public spaces and I was making it obvious that I was a tourist just taking photos.

Federico Garcia Lorca Mural

Federico Garcia Lorca Mural

That was the last thing I wanted to see in Tribeca but I also photographed anything I came across on my way north to Canal Street. Walking east on Canal Street I quickly found Wooster Street which I  entered to find the Performing Garage and the Drawing Center. Unfortunately the Drawing Center was closed with police tape stretched across the entrance although a sign indicated they were only closed for an installation. The Performing Garage is the theater owned by the famous Wooster Group. There aren’t many photos of this theater because all there is to see is a black security gate. Also in the SoHo area is a huge mural of Federico García Lorca. I only discovered this while researching the Canal Street Station entrances for the 6 Line which I was going to take to Astor Place to visit the East Village. I’m not terribly familiar with the work of Federico García Lorca but I read The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Expression by Edward Hirsch which includes much about Federico García Lorca’s concept of duende. While planning my personal tours of New York City it is always great to find something obscure that is significant to me. These are the things that make a trip seem special and worthwhile.

As I mentioned my next step was to take a 6 train to Astor Place so I could walk around the East Village. I got there at around 1:15 p.m. so I had plenty of time to explore the East Village neighborhood. This wasn’t really necessary because I’ve made special trips to the East Village before. But after reading St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street by Ada Calhoun I was eager to walk that street once again. One of my goals was to take much better photos of the major landmarks. While doing some additional research on the neighborhood I found that many of my old photos were not particularly good and did not represent a thorough documentation of the streets and establishments. For example, I took photos of Cooper Union and the St. Mark’s Hotel which I did not bother to photograph on previous visits. I also made more of an effort to enter a few establishments like Gem Spa and McSorley’s Old Ale House. On the street St. Mark’s Place I was particularly eager to photograph Arlington Hall where Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground staged the Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the location of Club 57. After reaching Tompkins Square Park at the end of St. Mark’s Place I went up East 9th Street to find Enchantments Inc. Initially this was the only reason I was going to revisit the East Village. Enchantments Inc. is a retail store specializing in occult products for witches and tarot readers. I was hoping to find some books on shamanism but they don’t seem to be into that. They also did not have as many tarot decks for sale as I was expecting. But I did find an interesting book to buy; The Best of the Equinox, Dramatic Ritual: Volume II by Aleister Crowley. This book appears to be volume two of The Best of the Equinox so there isn’t another volume on dramatic ritual. This struck me as the perfect book to buy because I’m very interested in how ritual functions as a form of symbolic action which can be used in the theater.

Enchantments Inc

Enchantments Inc

I didn’t leave the East Village until 4:15 p.m. and I got there at 1:15 p.m so that was three whole hours which gave me plenty of time to photograph the entire neighborhood. I made sure to find Trash and Vaudeville’s new location and took photos of the exterior but I did not go inside since I’m not in market for rock musician clothing. I did go into East Village Books which has a nice selection of books for the intellectual. I bought Tactical Performance: The Theory and Practice of Serious Play by L. M. Bogad which seems to be a theoretical book on theater for social justice. Although I have soured on social justice warriors who are only interested in identity politics, I’m not necessarily opposed to all types of political theater. I took lots of photos of St. Mark’s Church, Tompkins Square Park, and the St. Mark’s Place intersections. I walked a few blocks west to find the Wild Project, a performance space used by some theater companies. As I mentioned previously, I entered McSorley’s Old Ale House but it was crowded and there was no place to sit so I went to Le Petit Parisien instead and ordered a cold brew. Later on I had some ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s on St. Mark’s Place.

East Village Books

East Village Books

After spending three hours in the East Village I finally ran out of things to photograph and was feeling utterly exhausted. I wasn’t planning on heading uptown until 6:00 p.m. but I felt like I had spent enough time in this neighborhood. But instead of returning to the Astor Place Station I walked up Broadway to the Strand Bookstore. I was hoping to find the book I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography by Richard Hell but I could not find this book anywhere at the Strand. After browsing for a long time I finally settled for Silent Screens: The Decline and Transformation of the American Movie Theater which is a photography book. I’ve taken a few photos of shabby movie theaters in Pennsylvania so I figured this was a book celebrating the sort of artistic work I do too. I don’t really consider myself to be a photographer but it is something I do. On this trip I even tried to capture more interesting people or scenes in my shots.

From the Strand Bookstore I walked to Union Square where I took  a train uptown to the 49th Street Station. I was going to get off at Times Square but the 49th Street Station was closer to where the bus would be picking us up. I went to Two Boots Pizza on 9th Street for a slice of cheese pizza and two cans of soda. Mostly I was just thirsty and didn’t want to deal with the complicated process of getting something to eat at a better restaurant. Since I still had almost two hours to kill before the bus arrived, I wandered around Times Square as usual and tried to take better photos. Eventually I walked further up Broadway to see the Broadway Theatre which was playing “King Kong” and the Ed Sullivan Theater, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I had to spend a lot of time on West 49th Street waiting for the bus to show up so I sat for awhile in the Saint Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church and took many photos of a limousine parked outside the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

Times Square

Times Square

On the way home the bus stopped at the Liberty Travel Plaza in Mifflinville which has a Burger King. This was the first time I’ve ever found them to make a comfort stop there. I liked it because I was able to select from a wide variety of beverages in the convenience store.

Unfortunately I did not find this trip as inspiring as previous trips. I think exploring several neighborhoods doing little besides taking photos was a little dull. I will have to go back to exploring Brooklyn on future trips to New York City. But my next bus trip will be a two day trip to Western Pennsylvania to see Falling Waters and the Flight 93 National Memorial. This will be a more expensive bus trip since it includes an overnight stay in a hotel but it will be more like a vacation.

 

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lower East Side Exploration

For my latest trip to New York City I decided to focus on exploring the Lower East Side. Although I have been in that vicinity before, I never realized how many art galleries and rock music venues are located in that neighborhood. Fortunately my exploration of New York City has gone beyond the major tourist sites phase and now I can dig below the surface and find unusual establishments to visit. Instead of getting to know the city in broad strokes I can now get into the details. Increasingly my trips to the city are tailored to my special interests and serve my broader goals.

While walking through Times Square I saw a strange sculpture featuring a figurehead of 19th century opera star Jenny Lind with whale ribs. Apparently it was put together by UNC Asheville engineering students and one art student to make a statement about climate change. I also saw the Naked Cowboy doing his thing in Times Square. I walked to Bryant Park to take a F train downtown to the Second Avenue Station. But before I could do that I had to put more value onto my MetroCard. I mailed my expired MetroCard to MTA and got a green card back with just 44 cents on it. I spent more than that on the postage! Out of frustration I insisted on putting more value on this card instead of getting a new one. Fortunately this operation went very smoothly.

The Second Avenue Station put me on West Houston Street, the northern boundary of the Lower East Side. I had a long list of art galleries to visit but ultimately I only ventured to enter one. Mostly I just located various establishments in my notes and took photos of the exteriors because I had found them poorly documented on the Internet. This is kind of lame but I wasn’t feeling too adventurous. Unfortunately I had not worked out a route to take me through the neighborhood so I proceeded in a very haphazard manner. The following is roughly the order in which I encountered my target establishments; The Box on Chrystie Street, Le Turtle, Russ & Daughters, Bitforms Gallery next to the Church of Grace to Fujianese, Tinkersphere (not on my list, but interesting), Bluestockings book store, Katz’s Delicatessen, Dirty French, Arlene’s Grocery, the Tenement Museum, Blue Moon Hotel, Castle Fitzjohns Gallery, Art d’Aurelle, Lesley Heller, Mama Spa, Rockwood Music Hall, the Mercury Lounge, Souvlaki GR, Clayton Gallery and Outlaw Art Museum, Parkside Lounge, Dixon Place (a theater), the New Museum, and Sperone Westwater. Finding all those establishments took a lot of time, from 10:53 a.m. to 12:36 p.m. and had me crisscrossing the neighborhood several times. The only place I actually visited was Bitforms Gallery which specializes in art created though technology. I watched quite a bit of a video at this gallery but there wasn’t much to see. I’m starting to develop a feel for art videos because they tend to be in the same style. This one used a vague narrative that seemed deliberately cryptic yet bland, the same tactic used by modern poetry.

Bitforms Gallery

Bitforms Gallery

At around 12:30 p.m. I made my way up the Bowery and crossed West Houston Street. I stopped to take some photos of the Blondie mural which was still up and turned left onto East 4th Street to reach Lafayette Street to walk past the Public Theater.  The play I was to see at the Public Theater did not start until 2:00 p.m. so I stopped in at Starbucks for an iced coffee. I was really stressed from the heat so I definitely needed something to drink. I also wanted some caffeine before seeing the play to prevent me from nodding off. Since I still had plenty of time I walked further up 4th Avenue until I came across Gothic Renaissance when I realized I must be close to the Strand Bookstore. I was tempted to stop in at the Strand but I didn’t want to miss the play so I walked back to the Public Theater. Outside the Public Theater I saw a tall, elderly man in a wheelchair. This gentleman looked a lot like Charles L. Mee, the famous playwright, but I didn’t speak to him so I can’t be sure. It would make sense for Charles L. Mee to be at the Public Theater. Across the street I noticed a banner for Playwrights Downtown which was a mystery to me. This is two floors of space at 440 Lafayette Street which is used for playwrights rehearsal studios.

The Public Theater

The Public Theater

The play I saw at the Public Theater was Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland. What a name! The play was all about Ireland. David Ireland is a Northern Irish-born playwright and actor. He is entitled to say “I am Ireland”. This play starred the Irish film and stage actor Stephen Rea. I’m familiar with him from the film Interview with the Vampire. Ironically this film is actually mentioned in the play which must seem weird to Stephen Rea. Cyprus Avenue was supposedly a shocking play that audiences could barely stomach but I thought it was really tame. The murders were not done very convincingly and the blood was nothing more than some carpet stains being spread by some curious devices. I guess this play was meant to be in the In-Yer-Face tradition but I was not impressed. I choose this play because I’ve been interested in Irish Theater for awhile. The Irish Repertory Theatre wasn’t doing anything I wanted to see.

After the play was over I walked back to the Lower East Side and took photos of more establishments until 5:00 p.m. when I had a reservation at Souvlaki GR. I took photos of Van Der Plas Gallery, Economy Candy, Benjamin’s Art Gallery, Remedy Diner, and the Angel Orensanz Center. One of the establishments I was unable to find was The Slipper Room, a burlesque club which I assumed had closed. Now I can see online that it was located next to the Pizza Beach restaurant but all there was to see was a door so naturally I missed it. At Souvlaki GR I ordered the Loukaniko Pita which is Greek sausage wrapped in a pita, and a lemonade soda which may have been a Greek product. This meal was very affordable and came to less than $20.00 even with a generous tip. After I was finished eating I went back to Economy Candy and bought some Edgar Allan Poe Candy and a tin of New York After Dark chocolate by Astor  Chocolate. I figured the tin would make a nice souvenir since it features a photo of Times Square. I also located and entered the Canada Gallery but they don’t appear to have anything on the walls so I only popped in for a brief minute.

Souvlaki GR

Souvlaki GR

After that I retraced my steps up the Bowery (which is the name of a street) and up Broadway until I reached the Strand bookstore. At the Strand I had my heart set on plays by Jean Racine because he is mentioned in a book on tragedy which I am reading. However there were not many books by Jean Racine so I settled for Shining City by Conor McPherson. I also looked for some fiction titles on my shopping list but I could only find The Imago Sequence and Other Stories by Laird Barron. From the Strand bookstore I walked to Union Square Park  where I took an N train to get to 42nd Street Times Square. For the rest of the evening I just wandered around Times Square checking out what was playing at the Broadway theaters. During this time I reflected that I should fulfill my responsibilities to my artistic vision and not stress over how the theater community is not meeting its responsibilities to artists. Inspiration creates a heavy responsibility because you are given visions of great beauty which will not come to be if you neglect your duty. The theater community in turn has a responsibility to visionary artists. However, if they fail to do their duty then that is on them, not you.

Strand Bookstore

Strand Bookstore

The bus was unable to leave New York City until 8:30 p.m. because an elderly woman failed to show up at the pick up spot. They contacted her via cell phone but they had a hell of a time directing her to 8th Avenue and 51st Street. Eventually she managed to get a cab. There was some talk of putting her on a Do Not Ride list which alarmed me because I didn’t know Susquehanna Trailways could refuse service. I’ll have to be more careful to show up at the pickup spot myself. On the long bus ride home I felt a real rush of inspiration which reminded me of what that feels like. I was reminded that nothing the theater community offers could compare to what I already possess. There is something peculiar in how the world inspires me which creates wonder for me but which cannot be invested into anything.

Posted in General, Theater, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Avoid Diversity Drama

I have been following all the drama over the efforts to make our culture more diverse because it could impact my literary ambitions. I don’t object to diversity in theory because diversity is variety and like most creative people I like variety. Creative people are easily bored and feel a need to explore other cultures. They tend to be very open to new experiences, the unfamiliar, and the novel. Like most creative people I would actually get upset if I was deprived of the opportunity to read stories from different perspectives due to some bullshit like bigotry.

But there is a right way and a wrong way to pursue diversity in the arts. A lot of the drama appears to be due to some terrible ideas on how to go about making our culture more diverse. One of the biggest mistakes is to think that you need to redefine something that is already cherished as an institution. People do not like it when you redefine any aspect of their culture. They will readily accept your additions to the culture but they won’t like you messing with what already exists. Some forms of art are more susceptible to redefining established works and thereby getting into trouble with the aficionados. For example the comic book community is currently being torn apart by controversies over diversity in comics. I think this is due to the fact that comic book writers like to re-imagine established characters. They are always creating alternative universes or timelines where superheroes exist with different attributes. This would seem to lend itself nicely to a desire to introduce more diversity but it is a radical redefinition of beloved characters. Fans get really upset if Batman reveals a desire to transition to a woman and becomes the Bat Tran! The Batman character has existed for decades and he can’t suddenly become a transsexual with no indication of such a proclivity over all those years. Unfortunately the comic book industry has felt free to change the gender, race, and sexual orientation of many of its classic characters. This has pissed off many fans and sets the content creators against the fans.

The film industry has done something similar with its film reboots. A notorious example was the Ghost Busters reboot which switched the gender of all the major characters to show that women can have STEM careers. Yeah, as mad scientists chasing supernatural entities. This was a fairly obvious attempt to signal the virtue of the screenwriters and the film producers at the expense of the original story and characters and the fans.

All this drama can be avoided by creating something entirely new. Nobody can object to the gender, race, or sexual orientation of a new character. You are free to establish all the attributes of a new character during the introduction of that character in your story. You can add new characters to existing stories or create an entirely new story with original characters. This avoids all the drama caused by messing with beloved characters. So why don’t content creators do this? Well often it is because they want to piggy back on the success of established stories and characters. They want to challenge the institution.

Fortunately the theater community avoids some of this drama because you cannot change a single word in a play without the playwright’s permission. For example, you cannot perform Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with a black man playing Nick and then introduce a lot of new dialogue to create the expected racial tension. But some directors do attempt to interpret the classic plays with unconventional casting. The theater community tolerates this because everyone tends to be very liberal and you are not actually redefining our culture when you are creative in your interpretation of a beloved play. But you will still see a little controversy when anyone threatens to seriously subvert Shakespeare with a highly unconventional production and suggests that this become the norm.

It is important to remember that our culture is our social definition. Our stories define us. Shared stories define our society. Nobody has permission to redefine our society over the objections of everyone else. You don’t get to play god. Anyone expecting to be welcome to do so will be met with a rude awakening because there will be fierce resistance. Culture can evolve but it does not change through force without a fight. The proper way to change the culture is to gradually introduce new material which can be accepted to fill the needs of the changing society. This is not a process that can be forced by fighting a divisive culture war.

Posted in General, Theater, Writing | Leave a comment

Philadelphia Bus Trip In June 2018

Yesterday I went on a rare bus trip to Philadelphia which including seeing a play in the afternoon. Although I make such trips frequently to New York City, it is rarely that I can do the same for Philadelphia. Susquehanna Trailways rarely offers trips to Philadelphia for a day on your own. And I was just lucky that there was show I could see as a Saturday Matinee.

The bus dropped up us off at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. I saw a few homeless people camping out there in the tunnel formed over 12th Street. I walked along Arch Street until I reached City Hall where I took photos of many of the statues in the area, including the statue of John Wanamaker, Citizen. Then I walked down South Broad Street which is also known as the Avenue of the Arts due to the many theaters along that street. My first goal was to take some photos of a new mural outside the Drake Hotel which now houses many performance spaces.  The signs read Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake and the Proscenium Theatre at the Drake. I really should try to see something at the Drake theaters but that would require an overnight trip.

Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake

Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake

My second goal was to visit an art gallery which I had overlooked on all previous trips, the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Located in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, this arts institution has an art gallery open to the public on its first floor. The front door would not open for me and I almost walked away but somebody came out of the building to invite me in. I guess the front door is just really hard to open. Unfortunately, there was practically nothing to see there. The Uniting Two Legacies exhibit did not feature any artifacts or artwork. All there was to see was information panels such as you find in museums. It would have been really lame but the material was kind of interesting. It just would have been better as a pamphlet.

Philadelphia Art Alliance

Philadelphia Art Alliance

Naturally I checked out Rittenhouse Square which resembles one of the smaller New York City parks. I was considering trying the Parc restaurant but all of the outside tables were full and the place looked really crowded. This kind of surprised me because it was not a nice day. It rained that morning and it was still very cloudy and gloomy. I carried my umbrella with me but it turned out that I never really needed it on this trip. It certainly did look like it might rain again, but it never did.

Next I went to Joseph Fox Bookshop which is not far from Rittenhouse Square. I could have gone to Barnes & Noble right on Rittenhouse Square but I decided to support this independent bookstore instead because they seem devoted to fine literature. I could not find any books on the theater or plays so I bought The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges. According to my reading database I actually read this book a long time ago but I remember nothing about it.

From there I quickly found the Macy’s department store which used to be the famous Wanamaker’s department store. Inside I saw the giant bronze eagle in the Grand Court which inspired the phrase “Meet You at The Eagle”. I also saw the “Wanamaker Organ”, the largest fully operational pipe organ in the world which was playing something. This was something I had read about in my travel guides but never bothered to see on previous trips. When I left Macy’s I encountered a parade which had begun. I didn’t know what this parade was for at the time but it was the Philadelphia Juneteenth Musicfest & Parade. Because of the parade some streets were blocked off by police cars or garbage trucks but this actually made it easier for me to cross some streets as a pedestrian.

I was getting nervous about missing my play so I located the Lantern Theater Company on 10th Street and Ludlow Street. I thought the theater was located within St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church but it is actually located towards the rear of the church and the entrance was on the side street beside the church. I had over an hour before the play began so I decided to go to the Reading Terminal Market to try to find something to eat. I had to cross the parade route to get there. Unfortunately the Reading Terminal Market was really crowded and I didn’t want to wait in line for my food or wait a long time to be served. I did use the restroom and got a cup of ice cream from Bassett’s Ice Cream. I returned to the Lantern Theater Company but it was still too early for the play so I walked down 10th Street to Walnut Street and took some photos of the Walnut Street Theater.

Lantern Theater Company

Lantern Theater Company

The play I saw at the Lantern Theater Company was called “Don’t Dress for Dinner”, a French farce. It resembled the sort of play you would see at a dinner theater or summer stock theater. Ordinarily I would prefer something a little more daring but I did appreciate that this play was unabashedly heterosexual. Unfortunately theater has become so overwhelmed by social justice warriors that you can hardly find a play that does not celebrate homosexuality or at least condemn traditional gender roles. Not that I hate homosexuals in the theater, but it gets a little old when every play has to be a didactic political statement promoting gender diversity. It has gotten so bad that watching a play where all the characters are straight and not making any apologies for it is a breath of fresh air. Maybe the Lantern Theater Company is more conservative in their play selection than other Philadelphia theaters. I enjoyed this play and found it to be very funny. The stage set required five doors to allow for all the entrances and exists into various rooms. A farce really needs a lot of doors. Towards the end of the play all the actors were dressed in pajamas or negligees which was a little racy. I was greeted with a Bonjour as I took my seat which I thought was a little pretentious until I remembered that this was a French farce. They played some interesting French pop songs from the 1960s before the play began. I noticed that my program had a crease down the middle so I swapped it with the program lying on a seat next to me. I like to keep theater programs as a souvenir.

Copabanana

Copabanana

After the play was over I walked to Washington Square and took a photo of the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier. Then I walked several blocks south to South Street. I was planning on doing a bit of shopping and eat at a restaurant along this street but I didn’t really have enough time to check everything out. I only managed to do a little browsing in the Eyes Gallery . Then I went to Copabanana where I ordered a cheeseburger and a margarita. I ate the cheeseburger as fast as possible, in like 20 minutes, because I was getting worried about missing my bus. It was a long walk back to Arch Street and 12th Street. I gave myself 40 minutes for the walk and left Copabanana at 5:20 p.m. While walking back to Arch Street I did take some photos of the Strange and Unusual store which I did not have time to enter, Repo Records which had moved, and the Philadelphia Bourse and Wyndham Hotel. I did not take many photos along Arch Street because I really had to hustle to make it to the bus pickup on time. As it was I got there 10 minutes before 6:00 p.m. but I was the last person on the bus.

Instead of heading directly for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the bus took us far into Northern Philadelphia for some strange reason. At first I thought the bus driver was trying to take us through the notorious Kensington neighborhood, maybe to scare the passengers into not putting him through this trip again, but I think we only rode through the Fishtown neighborhood which is rapidly gentrifying. It was a bleak area but I still saw some interesting architecture. We stopped at the Allentown Service Plaza on the way home where I got a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

The weather could have been better but this was a very successful trip. It had been two years since I had last visited Philadelphia. I spent two weeks before the trip updating my travel guide notes on the city. I only had seven hours in the city and two hours were taken up by the play so I was feeling very rushed to meet my goals, but I managed to see most of what I had planned to see.

 

Posted in General, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Theater, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Souring on Diversity

I have been a lifelong liberal and I have always accepted the tolerance promoted by the Left but recently I have begun to sour on the diversity agenda. It seems as though the Left has taken a turn towards getting nastier and nastier in its demands. I no longer feel that these people are being reasonable. There are several reasons for my disillusionment:

  1. White Privilege. While I understand the concept of enjoying certain privileges by virtue of being white, too many radicals are throwing this in the face of anyone who is white. This amounts to just another form of racism. It is an attempt to hold people responsible for their skin color and to imply that they are responsible for enjoying unfair advantages by virtue of their skin color. That is just being nasty and hateful. It also qualifies as a form of shaming, white shaming.
  2. Unconscious Bias. This is the argument that you are prejudiced even if you don’t think you are prejudiced. This is a nasty way of calling somebody a racist over their objections.
  3. Denial of Science. There is currently a huge war being waged between feminists and evolutionary psychologists. To understand this war you should read the book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker. The war is between radical feminists who think gender is just a social construct and evolutionary psychologists who think the mind evolved according to the biological necessities of mate selection and survival. It is intellectually dishonest to argue that everything about human society is just a subjective social construct. This denies the reality of human nature and the human condition.
  4. Representation. In the arts, representation, a form of tokenism, has become a form of mindless virtue signaling. Everyone is demanding that their voice be heard or that they appear on the stage to “represent” their tribe. No thought or consideration is given to what is going to be said. The only thing that matters is your skin color, gender, or sexual orientation which must be “represented” as often as possible. This reduces culture to nothing more than a scoreboard. This is particularly annoying in casting. The casting of a film or a play should not draw attention to itself. The cast should be chosen to meet the needs of the story. But now the casting of a film or play is used to show one’s virtue in selecting unrepresented minorities. This is particularly annoying when the casting makes no sense. My favorite example is the family comprised of a black mother, a white father, and an Asian daughter when the source material clearly requires biological offspring.
  5. Denial of Talent. The very concept of genius has been rejected because in the past only privileged white males have been recognized for their genius. The goal of social equality makes some liberals wary of merit, talent, and the concept of genius. Exceptional individuals cannot be recognized because merit has been used by conservatives as an excuse for social inequality. But as the evolutionary psychologists argue, to seek social status is just part of human nature. Human beings naturally seek to enjoy high social status in the social hierarchy. Personally I’ve always questioned status seeking because it is often based on arbitrary values, but evolutionary psychology has helped me to see how this is important. Eventually this will bite woman writers in the ass. They may be more likely to be published and have their voice heard, but nobody has anything to say about what they publish. Feminist ideology prohibits praising a woman for her genius since this would suggest talent played a role in her success instead of overcoming male oppression. So while more women are being published than ever before, nobody has anything to say about what has been published. The problem with “representation” is that there is nothing to be said about your work other than that it represents another triumph for a minority.
  6. Toxic masculinity. To suggest that there is something toxic or evil about a person’s race, gender, or sexual orientation is just hateful. Nothing about human nature should be seen as toxic. And unless you are a god with the power to change human nature, nothing can be done about it. Trying to rid men of toxic masculinity is a futile effort to change what cannot be changed and to shame people for what they cannot be held responsible for.
  7. Rejection of Femininity. The flip side of the rejection of masculinity is the rejection of femininity. This kind of blows my mind because radical feminists even oppose acceptance of their own nature and gender identity. Radical feminists are angered by standards of beauty, feminine fashion, and feminine roles. Oddly enough this causes them to embrace some aspects of toxic masculinity like craving the status of a war hero. Radical feminists want to  see women on the battlefield demonstrating the strength of women and their potential for heroism even if this often means becoming a warrior and war hero, something no woman has ever wanted in history.
  8. Minority Status. Some people do not understand the concept of being in the minority. If you are in the minority, you will not be well represented in popular culture. Commercial films and entertainment must appeal to the majority of the people. A film, novel, play, song, video game, comic, etc which is designed to appeal to a minority is only going to be consumed by that minority and that means it will not be a huge commercial success. Pointing to that lack of huge commercial success as an injustice is just stupid. A commercial film with minorities can be a huge success if it also appeals to the majority of people. But it does need to offer something more than the virtue of being geared towards a minority, otherwise most people will decide it is not for them.
Posted in General, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Springtime in the Poconos

Today I went on a bus trip to the Poconos. Susquehanna Trailways rarely offers tours to the Poconos so I jumped at the chance. I was fortunate that this trip was not canceled because there were only 14 passengers. They usually cancel tours when they cannot get enough passengers to make it worth while. The fact that this day trip was not on a weekend was probably a factor. I had to use a vacation day to make this trip.

I was exploring the Poconos extensively in 2014 but I didn’t do any of the things included on this tour. The Poconos area interests me because it is culturally similar to Central Pennsylvania with a low cost of living but it is much closer to New York City. If I had to move I would try to establish myself in the Poconos but the area has virtually no Information Technology industry.

The first stop on this tour was the Hawley Silk Mill. I had made a trip to Hawley in 2014 but I never visited the Hawley Silk Mill because it is not in the downtown area. The Ledges Hotel is right next to the Hawley Silk Mill. This hotel was in my notes but I would not consider staying there because its rooms are really expensive. I saw the Paupack High Falls which are waterfalls right behind the Hawley Silk Mill and visible from the Ledges Hotel. Apparently it is just this waterfall view which justifies the expensive rooms at the hotel. There were a few shops in the Hawley Silk Mill but they only sold naif artwork and country primitive style goods like you find in some antique malls. I also saw the massive boiler in the Boiler Room which is now an event space.

Paupack High Falls

Paupack High Falls

The second stop on the tour was The Waterfront at Silver Birches where we had lunch. This place looked familiar to me and it turned out to be Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort under a new name. I sat next to the tour escort and she remembered a previous trip to Steamtown National Park that included lunch and a show at Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort. She was also the escort for that previous trip and she remembered me. The Waterfront at Silver Birches looks out on Lake Wallenpaupack. We had slices of turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and even a small cup of tomato juice which I thought was an odd touch. For desert there was a small slice of cheesecake.

The Waterfront at Silver Birches

The Waterfront at Silver Birches

I should note that there were three tour buses from different bus companies and we seemed to be going to the same places all day so I’m not sure who put this tour together. There was a Catawese Coach Lines bus from Shamokin, PA.

The final stop on the tour was a train ride on the Stourbridge Line. This excursion line was not running back in 2014. Strangely enough, we got on the train in Hawley and got off in Honesdale where the tour buses met us. I didn’t even know that Hawley had a train station. Technically all of the days activities were centered around the same small area of Hawley.

Stourbridge Line in Honesdale

Stourbridge Line in Honesdale

We left Honesdale around 4:00 p.m. and I got home at around 7:00 p.m. so it wasn’t as late as a New York City trip. During the long bus ride I was mostly reading Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters on my Kindle. I’d been warned that this 1951 science fiction novel was horribly sexist and it did prove to be hilariously sexist. Robert A. Heinlein writes like a total horndog. It is so over-the-top sexist that it almost seems like a parody. However, it is still an remarkably good science fiction novel. It was responsible for the whole “brain slug” trope.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Trip Home From Boston

I wasn’t going to blog about my final day in Boston since it was just spent on the trip home, but there are a few details I should record for future reference.

Boston Skyline

Boston Skyline

I had breakfast as usual at Caffe Nero and then I walked around the Seaport District Harbor Walk to take some final photos of the Boston skyline. I waited until about 10:00 a.m. to check out of my hotel. I used the touch screen tablet to check myself out of the hotel and got a print out of my bill. Then I went to the Courthouse Station and used the SL1 Logan Airport bus to get to the airport instead of taking a taxi. I did have to wait for a second bus since the first one was too crowded for me to enter with my luggage. My plane would not depart until 5:00 p.m. so I had plenty of time. When I arrived at the airport the bus made stops at every terminal so I was able to get off at the American Airlines terminal. Fortunately my big piece of luggage which was my checked bag was not over-weight. I had bought a lot of books but I tried to limit myself to thin books. My carry on bag had to be examined when I went though security. Once I was through security I immediately went to a food court and ordered a Quarter Pounder, fries, and coke at a McDonald’s. After eating I found my gate B6 but I did not sit there since several flights would be leaving from there before mine. I sat near the restrooms and spent several hours reading a book on my Kindle. I was reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Logan Airport

Logan Airport

After what seemed like an eternity, it was time for my flight to depart for Philadelphia. I tried to use the in flight entertainment on my smart phone over WiFi but although I could connect, every movie I tried to see expired. This was annoying but it was a short flight so I could watch the music videos I had saved on my phone. I also read more of A Wizard of Earthsea on my Kindle. When we landed, our plane was kept on the runway for around three hours because there had been a thunderstorm which backed up the arriving flights. I think they also closed the gates due to some stray lightning. This really annoyed me because it grew dark by the time we finally arrived at our gate. We were kept so long on the runway that I was able to finish reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Fortunately I didn’t have any trouble finding my way home even though I had to drive in the dark. I managed to leave the Economy Parking lot and get on the correct highway using the very precise instructions I created after previous trips. Finding a shuttle bus to the Economy Parking lot was a little tricky. I had to ask a taxi stand attendant for directions.

Unfortunately, this trip to Boston was extremely expensive. It will probably be the last major vacation I will go on for a long while until I can pay down my credit card debt. My arthritic knee was troubling me during the entire two weeks so that may be something I will need to see my doctor about. When I can afford it, I am thinking of spending a week in New York City. I’ve seen everything there is to see in New York City but I could do things in the evenings which I have been unable to do on my day trips. I would also like to spend some quality time in New York City for a change, instead of these rushed day trips.

I think my trip to Boston was worth it. I made it a cultural trip and learned a great deal about the Boston theater community, its technology community, and the important universities Harvard and MIT. This was my very first visit to New England and the last major East Coast city I had yet to see.

 

Posted in General, Travel | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Fourteen

For my final full day in Boston I decided to explore two more squares in Cambridge. First I took the Red Line subway to Davis Square which is technically in Somerville, not Cambridge. At 9:54 a.m. I used an ATM in CVS at One Davis Square in Somerville to withdraw $80.00. There was not much to see at Davis Square because I did not research this area. I did see some realistic statues of people and the Somerville Theatre. The statues are entitled Ten Figures. They are life-sized cast masonry public sculpture, created by James Tyler.

Somerville Theatre

Somerville Theatre

After exploring the Davis Square area briefly I took the Red Line to Porter Square where I found Porter Square Books and bought a book in the Yale Drama Series, Utility by Emily Schwend. I noticed a sign that indicated the writer Philip Roth had died. They were promoting his books after his death.

Porter Square Books

Porter Square Books

I spent a little time exploring the Porter Square area and then walked down Massachusetts Avenue, past the Lesley University and the Lizard Lounge all the way to Harvard Square. I had lunch at Dado where I ordered an egg salad sandwich and bubble tea. Then I went to the In You Ear record store where I bought a CD of Bowie covers, Loving the Aliens: A Low Budget Tribute to David Bowie.

In You Ear

In You Ear

After returning to my hotel, I went to the North End and explored several streets. I bought a coffee gelato which quickly began melting and left my fingers all sticky. Fortunately I found a paper napkin lying on the sidewalk and shamelessly used it to clean my fingers.

At 4:58 p.m. I had dinner at Pellino’s Ristorante at 2 Prince Street for $54.80. I ordered the Veal special and a drink. This was probably the best meal I had in Boston.

Pellino's Ristorante

Pellino’s Ristorante

I returned to the hotel and at 7:00 p.m. I saw the film Solo at Showplace Icon Theatre for a whopping $22.00.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Thirteen

By Thursday I was truly at a loss as to how to spend my remaining time in Boston. But I did have the idea to go on a harbor cruise. I took the Silver Line to South Station, the Red Line to Downtown Crossing, the Orange Line to State Station, and the Blue Line to the Aquarium Station. I got there around 10:00 a.m. and bought a ticket for the Historic Harbor Cruise. I wandered around the area for about an hour until the 11:00 a.m. tour began.

The harbor cruise was a more relaxed experience and kept me off my feet. I saw the Seaport District, several islands, Logan Airport, and even the Boston Navy Yard before we returned to the New England Aquarium. It was a bit windy and chilly on the Boston Harbor and I was only wearing a dress shirt.

Historic Harbor Cruise

Historic Harbor Cruise

When I got back I had lunch at Dick’s Last Resort in the Quincy Market. I ordered a drink which I think was a Mango Peach Freeze, Yummy Mango Peach Puree with Cruzan Light Rum and Myers Dark Rum and the Ragin’ Cajun Chicky Pasta. I was then saddled with a souvenir glass wrapped in newspaper and no bag to carry it in.

Dick's Last Resort

Dick’s Last Resort

I proceeded to Government Center and took the Green Line to Arlington Station. At 3:00 p.m. I went on the Gibson House Museum tour with just one other tourist. The Gibson House is a well preserved Victorian rowhouse with most of its original furnishings. According to my notes it was used in the film The Bostonians but there was no mention of this by the tour guide. It reminded me of the Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe PA. I’m not really into touring historic houses but it does serve as a glimpse into another era. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum also served as a window on an old fashioned residence, only far more grand. After the house tour was over I went back to my hotel and did little else that day.

Gibson House Museum

Gibson House Museum

At 6:02 I went to CVS and withdrew $80.00 from their ATM. Then I went to Row 34 where I ordered Clam Chowder and a Cranberry Orange Berliner Weisse for $25.00. I also stopped in at Ben & Jerry’s for coffee ice cream.

Row 34

Row 34

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Twelve

By Wednesday I had truly run out of ideas on what to do in Boston so I decided to do something far down on my list which I had not even scheduled. I decided to visit the Forest Hills Cemetery which was mentioned in some of the travel guides I had read. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station where I transferred to the Red Line. I got off at Downtown Crossing where I transferred to the Orange Line. I rode the Orange Line all the way to the last stop in Forest Hills.

At 8:28 a.m. used an ATM at the Forest Hills Station to withdraw $100.00 from checking.
I had to walk around the Forest Hills Station to find Tower Street. I walked up Tower Street which is a quiet residential street to find the pedestrian entrance to the Forest Hills Cemetery at the end of Tower Street. I took the left hand path to reach the office and chapel at the main gate. At the office I picked up a large map and a color brochure. I accidentally walked to the main entrance and had to retrace my steps.

I managed to find the grave of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. Just before I found it, a lost driver asked me for directions. He did not know anything about Eugene O’Neill. I mentioned that he won the Nobel Prize.

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O’Neill

Next I attempted to locate the grave of poet E. E. Cummings but this proved to be extraordinarily difficult. I almost gave up on it. Eventually I found the right area by looking at a photo in the brochure. His gravestone was buried flat in the ground. There was a small collection of pens and pebbles on the flat marker so I was sure I had the right one.

E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings

Finally I located the grave of Anne Sexton which was located far to the south of the cemetery on a hill with concentric circles of graves. Along the way there I encountered a dead fish which was rather ominous. The dead fish looked half eaten, like something a bear had been chewing on. It was a fair-sized fish about the size of a trout. I took a photo of it. Anne Sexton had a flat marker but her name was also on the Sexton family monument. Unfortunately I did not bring any flowers or poems to leave on the graves. Anne Sexton is one of my favorite poets. I have a small collection of books on her poetry and I’ve read her biography. In preparation for my trip, I finally read The Fading Smile by Peter Davison, a book about her generation of Boston poets.

Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton

After leaving the Forest Hills Cemetery I stopped in at the Forest Hills Convenience store to buy something to drink to take my pills. I took the Orange Line back to Downtown Crossing and then the Red Line back to the hotel.

I only rested at the hotel for about half an hour before the maids showed up to clean rooms at around 1:38 p.m.

I took the Red Line to Kendall Square in Cambridge. First I went to the List Visual Arts Center where I saw a few large paintings and a huge art video. I took more photos of the MIT Dome in strong sunlight. Then I went to Miracle of Science where I ordered a cheeseburger and an IPA beer. At the nearby MIT Press book store  I bought the book Deep Learning by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville. I spent a lot of time searching for just the right book since they had a good selection that suited my many interests, but eventually I decided this book would be the most significant one I could buy at MIT. I may have been slightly drunk from the beer I drank. Finally I  located and photographed the Akamai building, one of the technology companies I had researched.

The MIT Press Bookstore

The MIT Press Bookstore

I then took the Red Line back to the Seaport District where I photographed the Institute of Contemporary Art in strong afternoon sunlight.

At 7:15 p.m. went to CVS and bought Arthriten, Harpo Happy Cola gummies, Monster Java, Callus Cushions, and Dr. Scholl’s Callus Cushions. All that walking had left many blisters on my feet. I really should have bought new padded socks for this trip. Only a constant intake of aspirin and Arthriten kept me on my feet.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Eleven

I had breakfast at Caffe Nero again and this time I got a new loyalty card. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and got out at South Station. I took photos of both sides of South Street which had a traffic jam. Lots of delivery trucks were blocking the establishments, making it difficult to get a good photo. I also took photos of the Chinatown Gate and then a few more Chinatown establishments. I walked all the way up Washington Street to the Park Street Station where I took a Green Line train to Boston University. I took photos of the Marsh Chapel, but the BU Castle was draped in red plastic for renovations. I wound up walking all the way down to Kenmore Square where I photographed the Citgo Sign and the Buckminster Hotel. As I was walking west on Commonwealth Avenue it began to rain but not too hard, just a light sprinkle. I found the Boston Playwright’s Theatre but my digital camera began to act up again and I could not zoom. Later on in my hotel room I think I figured out how to solve this problem. Hold down the shutter button as you turn the camera on. I took the Green Line train all the way back to the Park Street Station and transferred to the Red Line to return back to my hotel. They were cleaning the rooms so I quickly got my umbrella, took a few pills, and headed back out.

Boston Playwright's Theatre

Boston Playwright’s Theatre

I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and then transferred to a Red Line train heading towards Ashmont / Braintree and got off at the Broadway station. There was some new construction of condominiums going on there. I crossed the bridge over the train tracks and then the highway underpass. It looks like Quinzani’s Bakery was torn down and some more high rise residential tower may be built there. Anyway, I found Thayer Street and entered a few art galleries. Lanoue Gallery was the first gallery I visited where I saw artwork by Marc Harrold and Laura Schiff Bean. I also picked up a SOWA guide book. I visited Gallery Kayafas where I saw work by Christine Collins and Joe Johnson. At SOWA Artists’ Studios I just picked up some postcards. I also visited the M Fine Arts Galerie which was showing the work of Robert Baart. And I visited the International Poster Gallery.

Thayer Street

Thayer Street

I had lunch at Ali Baba Restaurant where I ordered the Kofte Kebab – char grilled Turkish meatballs, served with rice, salad, and homemade bread. Service was extremely bad in this restaurant and I had to get a bottle of coke myself after waiting forever for it. The food also took a long time to prepare but it was extremely good. I ate all three huge meatballs and a good bit of the rice. After lunch I returned to my hotel.

At 4:30 p.m. I went across the street and saw Deadpool 2 at the Showplace Icon Theatre. This was a superior movie experience. The seats were like padded armchairs or your living room recliner, and the audio system was true surround sound with deep bass.

Showplace Icon Theatre

Showplace Icon Theatre

At 8:00 p.m. went to Bastille Kitchen were I ordered a glass of Harpoon IPA beer and Parisian Gnocchi – morel mushrooms, fromage blanc, shaved black truffles. This proved to be a very small dish so I also had desert, passion fruit sorbet. That cost me $40.00 with tip and I paid by cash.

Bastille Kitchen

Bastille Kitchen

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Ten

On Monday I had run out of planned things to do but I decided to visit the Back Bay to take photos of some theaters located there. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and transferred to the Red Line, getting off at Downtown Crossing. I transferred to the Orange Line and got off at the Back Bay Station. I walked south on Clarendon Street to reach Tremont Street and photographed the Boston Center for the Arts. I then walked back up Clarendon Street to photograph the Lyric Stage Company. I took some more photos around Copley Square and then walked down Newbury Street. This time I managed to locate Newbury Comics and Trident Booksellers, but Newbury Comics was closed and Trident Booksellers had signs in its windows about a fire. Then I located several Berklee College of Music buildings.

Boston Center for the Arts

Boston Center for the Arts

I stopped in at L. P. Licks for some ice cream. I think I had the flavor sweet cream with M&M toppings.

I then walked to the Symphony Station and took the Green Line to Longwood Station to photograph the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (also known as MassArt) and the nearby Wentworth Institute of Technology.

MassArt

MassArt

I took the Green Line all the way to Haymarket Station and found my way into the North End. I came across Regina Pizzeria where I stopped in for a slice of cheese pizza and a coke. I spilled some soft drink on my pant leg. After that I found the Old North Church and followed the Freedom Trail to Charlestown. I stopped off at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground first and took photos of the tombstones. In Charlestown I saw the Bunker Hill Monument and visited the small museum but I decided not to climb the monument with my bad knee. I then went to the Boston Navy yard but the USS Constitution is closed on Mondays. I could only see the USS Constitution Museum with its corny exhibits. However the USS Cassin Young was open so I boarded that vessel and crawled around its decks and the open cabins. I also saw the dry dock.

Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

I made the long walk to the North End but I did not feel like eating there or exploring the neighborhood after that long, long hike in the hot sun. I went back to the Haymarket Station and eventually made it back to my hotel.

The Beehive

The Beehive

I made a reservation for The Beehive at 6:00 p.m. but I neglected to restore the SD card in my digital camera so none of the photos I took on that evening were preserved. At the Beehive I ordered a glass of their special beer and the Day Boat Scallops with Confit Cherry Tomato, artichoke, Spring Onion. Pea mash. This was only five scallops which cost me $50.00 or $10.00 per scallop so I only left a $1.00 tip.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Nine

On Sunday I had to buy a new  7-Day Link pass which is good until May 27, 2018 at 7:27 a.m. I went to CVS Pharmacy and bought some aspirin.

I took the Red Line to Park Street and then the Green Line to Science Park but I wound up getting on and off several trains to get closer to that final Green Line station. It was not immediately apparent how to reach the Museum of Science but I followed some other tourists. I saw the dinosaur statue outside the museum. I used the final ticket in my CityPass but I also bought a planetarium ticket for Moons at 1:30 p.m. As soon as I entered the first exhibition hall I began to experience problems with my digital camera. It would not zoom and none of the function or menu buttons would work. It wouldn’t focus or adjust for lighting unless I turned it back on while pointing at something. I tried changing the battery but nothing helped. Later in the day this problem mysteriously disappeared but it was quite upsetting for most of my time in the exhibits.

I found the Colby Room rather quickly but you could not go inside. I managed to take some good photos of Triceratops Cliff even though I could not zoom. I saw a special exhibit on crocodiles.

Triceratops Cliff

Triceratops Cliff

I saw 4D: The Martian in the Blue Wing, Level 2. 4D meant the seats vibrated, wind was blown at you, confetti rained down, and most annoyingly water splashed in your face.

At the Riverview Cafe I grabbed a Cranberry Turkey Sandwich, a Yogurt Parfait and bottle of orange juice. As I was eating I discovered that my digital camera was performing normally again.

I used the ATM in the Museum of Science to withdraw another $200.

I checked out the Mugar Omni Theater and the Charles Hayden Planetarium and walked through the Museum Store where they were selling the book Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. I tried to re-enter the Blue and Green Wings but the gate keeper would not let me pass. I was supposed to get a hand stamp and they tore the ticket out of my CityPass book so I had no proof of prior entry. This really pissed me off. I still had to kill over an hour before the planetarium show. I went outside briefly and bought a raspberry Popsicle and then a bottle of lemonade. Eventually I saw the Moons planetarium show which was pretty cool and informative.

I left the museum around 2:15 p.m. and it looked like a thunderstorm was coming when I got outside so I went directly back to my hotel to avoid any more disasters that day.

Chinatown Gate

Chinatown Gate

But around 5:00 p.m. I went out again with my umbrella and took the Silver Line to South Station. I got out at South Station and walked to Chinatown to photograph the Freedom Gate and various Chinese restaurants. I walked up Washington Street and photographed King’s Chapel, Marliave, and Emmet’s Irish Pub and Restaurant. I had made a reservation at Marliave for 6:30 p.m. I ordered escargot and a glass of sparkling white wine. The restaurant was very dark so I could not see what I was eating but the snails tasted like mushroom.

Marliave

Marliave

After eating I visited the Granary Burying Ground and then walked all the way to Faneuil Hall where I saw some kids playing stringed instruments and an Asian girl playing her violin. I then walked back to the hotel taking many photos in the dying light of late afternoon.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Eight

On Saturday my goal was to visit the New England Aquarium. To get there I took the Silver Line to South Station, the Red Line to Downtown Crossing, the Orange Line to State Station, and the Blue Line to the Aquarium Station. That was the most complicated route I ever took using public transportation in Boston. It would have been far less trouble to just walk there from my hotel.

With my CityPass I got a discount for an IMAX 3D movie so I saw Great White Shark 3D for only $5.00. This movie was the first thing I did at the aquarium because the show time was 10:00 a.m. and I got my aquarium ticket at 9:40 a.m.

The aquarium was very crowded and full of little children. I saw penguins and the Giant Ocean Tank which contained a few giant sea turtles and stingrays. A few divers could be seen in the tank. Various other galleries had small tanks showing various types of sea life including; octopus, electric eel, sea horses, a boa constrictor, and piranha. I saw the  harbor seal exhibit on the public plaza but the seals were not very active.

New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium

Upon leaving the aquarium I wandered around the financial district until I found the Bamboo Valley Spa, the Irish Famine Memorial, the Old City Hall, King’s Chapel, and finally the Boston Athenæum which I entered. I had to put my umbrella in a plastic bag to avoid dripping water over the floors. There was not much to see at the Boston Athenæum except for some statues, some paintings, and a few rare books on display. Next I visited the nearby Granary Burying Ground. It was raining a little harder by then.

Boston Athenaeum

Boston Athenaeum

I stopped in at Emmet’s Irish Pub and Restaurant where I ordered a Full Irish Breakfast; Irish Sausage, Irish Bacon, Black & White Pudding, Bachelor Beans, Home Fries, Grilled Tomato, Eggs cooked to order, Toast and a cup of coffee. There were a lot of old Irish photos and documents posted on the wall. It seemed like a very authentic Irish pub.

Emmet's Irish Pub and Restaurant

Emmet’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

It was raining for the rest of the day so I went back to the hotel where my room had not been cleaned.

I watched the new Fahrenheit 451 movie on HBO. I have not had cable TV for years so when I travel I cannot resist watching come cable TV in my hotel room. The high definition channels are new for me. It seems like I am always watching HBO’s Westworld while on vacation. I saw a few episodes in Los Angeles and I saw a few episodes on this trip. I also saw one episode of the new Silicon Valley season.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Seven

On Friday I explored the Back Bay. I left for the Prudential Center at 9:00 a.m. and got there at 9:30 a.m. I saw the Barnes & Noble store at The Shops at Prudential Center and then followed signs to find the Skywalk Observatory which was down some escalators to an elevator bank. The elevators were not working until 5 minutes after 10:00 a.m. Once I reached the observation deck I took lots of photos in all four directions. There was a hotel skyscraper being constructed right next to the Prudential Tower. When I was finished up there, getting back down to the correct floor was a little confusing since I was alone in the elevator. I had to press B for the basement.

Prudential Center

Prudential Center

I located the Bukowski Tavern which I walked pass on the way to the Mary Baker Eddy Library. I got there at 11:10 a.m. but the next tour was not until 12:00 p.m. so I bought a tour ticket and then walked to the Huntington Theatre Company and got my ticket to Top Girls. I did not get my ticket in the mail before I left for Boston. Come to think of it, it was not in the mail held for me by the post office. I returned to Mary Baker Eddy Library for the tour of the Mapparium. We were not allowed to take any photos inside the Mapparium. The Mother Church was being renovated so I could not take any good photos of the church and its dome. I don’t know much about Christian Science but it seems to be based on the healing power of Christian faith which makes it somewhat shamanistic. Spirituality is often linked to healing although the benefits may be mostly psychological.

After the tour was over I went to the Bukowski Tavern where I drank two bottles of Mangers (Irish apple cider) and ate a Chili Cheese Mad Dog, topped with 3 bean chili and shredded cheddar cheese on a buttered and toasted New England style bun. I’m not sure how Charles Bukowski is associated with Boston. It is not like he ever taught at Harvard.

Bukowski Tavern

Bukowski Tavern

After eating I walked down Newbury Street but I began one block past Newbury Comics and Trident Booksellers so I missed them. I did come across the Guild of Boston Artists gallery where I saw a lot of mediocre paintings on sale for thousands of dollars. It made me think about doing a little painting myself. I would like to get that kind of money for my creative work.

The Guild of Boston Artists

The Guild of Boston Artists

Eventually I came to Copley Square where I photographed the BoxTix booth, the Boston Public Library, the Trinity Church, and the John Hancock Tower. I entered the Boston Public Library and photographed the stone lions, the art work, and the Bates Hall. I got lunch at the library cafe and ate it in the court yard. I had an egg salad sandwich on black bread and walnut cake, plus a can of Sprite. I thought it was highly unusual for a public library to have a cafe, but the Boston Public Library is practically a museum and a tourist attraction.

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

After that I walked all the way to the Public Garden and photographed every statue I could find. I even got a few photos of a squirrel. That was more than enough walking for one day so I took the Red Line back to South Station, and then the Silver Line back to the Seaport District.

Public Garden

Public Garden

I went to the CVS Pharmacy at 5:18 p.m. and bought; Arthriten, Blister Cushions, Blister Care Cushions, Leg Cramp medicine, Coffee candy, and foam shoe inserts.

That evening I took the Green Line to the Symphony Station. I left around 6:50 p.m. and almost did not get to the Huntington Theatre Company in time to see the play Top Girls. I actually got there at 7:37 p.m. and had plenty of time because the show started at 8:00 p.m. Top Girls is a 1982 play by British playwright Caryl Churchill. I have read this play and was thrilled by the prospect of seeing it performed. This play featured an all female cast just like The Women Who Mapped The Stars. I was never entirely clear on the message of this play but the program notes explained how capitalism encourages women to become competitive and to do nothing for the stupid, weak, and helpless. The career girl Marlene has left her daughter Angie in the care of her sister Joyce. Angie is not very bright and probably does not have much of a future in Thatcher’s United Kingdom. So the play is pondering women’s adoption of the dominance hierarchy as if this were the masculine perspective.

Huntington Theatre Company

Huntington Theatre Company

I thought the production was marred by excessively non-traditional casting. The characters in the same family were all of different races which destroyed any illusion of a family. There was no explanation in the play for this. The actress playing Angie was overweight and seemed too old for the role, as well as not being the same race as her mother. This was yet another example of casting that is meant to draw attention to itself, to seem virtuous to the champions of diversity, at the expense of the play and its artistic needs. However the kitchen sink stage design at the end was very convincing and made me feel like I was spying on a real residence.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Six

On Thursday I returned to Cambridge to see the other Harvard museums, the Harvard Art Museums. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and transferred to the Red Line subway. I got off the subway at the Harvard Square Station around 9:13 a.m. The museum did not open until 10:00 a.m. so I walked around Brattle Square and down Mt. Auburn Street and Bow Street.

Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums

I entered the Harvard Art Museums when it opened at 10:00 a.m. There was some construction in front of the museum so there was yellow tape across the ramp but you could still use the side entrance. I saw the modern art first, including one Blue Picasso. I saw some Edgar Degas paintings including his ubiquitous dancer sculpture. And I saw a Max Beckman self portrait. Then I saw some Asian art followed by Medieval Christian art. On the second floor I saw the striking Apotheosis of Louis-Adolphe Thiers by Jehan Georges Vibert and Jacob and the Angel by Gustave Moreau. There was a portrait of Mary Elizabeth Robbins by William Morris Hunt. I don’t think I am related to her. I saw a couple of Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Beata Beatrix and The Blessed Damozel.

The museum had some ancient Greek and Roman art including more red-figure pottery and some Egyptian statuettes.

At the Lightbox Gallery on the 5th floor I saw the A.K. Burns: Survivor’s Remorse exhibit on the life and art of David Wojnarowicz. I was vaguely familiar with David Wojnarowicz because he was associated with the NYC underground film movement, Cinema of Transgression.

After leaving the Harvard Art Museums I visited the nearby Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts which had just opened at 12:00 p.m. They opened the doors when they saw me show up. I looked though their art journals and was tempted by a small paperback but I didn’t want to carry something around for the rest of the day. I went into one gallery of student thesis work. I then walked through Harvard Yard and saw the Widener Library.

Next I walked along Church Street and photographed some murals and then around Brattle Street again. I had coffee ice cream at J. P. Licks. Then I went to Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage and had pink lemonade and a BLT.

Inman Square

Inman Square

I walked down Massachusetts Avenue, taking photos of various establishments. Then I walked up Prospect Street to find Inman Square. I located The Druid, Bukowski Tavern, All Star Sandwich Bar, Punjabi Dhaba, 1369 Coffee House, Ryles Jazz Club, and City Girl Cafe but I didn’t actually do anything at Inman Square. I walked back to Massachusetts Avenue and took some photos of Central Square Theatre again. Then I walked all the way to MIT again but this time I found Lab Central. I tried to visit List Visual Arts Center but they were installing something so I only got to see one lame little gallery with nothing but geometric shapes. I walked to Kendall Square and saw the Kendall Hotel and The COOP at MIT. I rested a bit at the Galaxy: Earth Sphere Fountain.

Then I walked along the 101 Main Building where many technology companies have offices and found the Broad Canal Walk behind it. I managed to find First Street and stopped in at Toscanini’s Ice Cream where I had some coconut raisin ice cream. I was attracted to the River Court Condominiums which looked like an old , massive brick building but with some unusual architecture on the top terraces. The building seemed to have its own little neighborhood on its roof which caught my fancy.

I finally reached CambridgeSide Galleria where I used the restroom. I ordered an iced coffee at Starbucks to kill some time and take my pills. I found the Newbury Comics store at this mall and looked around but did not buy anything. I took a few photos of the Hubspot building because I had read a book about this technology company, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start Up Bubble by  former employee Daniel Lyons. I sat outside the Lechmere Canal Park behind the CambridgeSide Galleria and watched a few tour boats arrive and leave.

CambridgeSide Galleria

CambridgeSide Galleria

At around 5:40 p.m. I walked back to Kendall Square, passing through Broad Canal Walk. I took the subway back to Central Square and went to Cheapo Records were I bought a CD, Every Breath You Take: The Singles by The Police. Then I went to Caffe Nero across the street and ordered a coffee to kill more time before the play I was going to see at the Central Square Theater.

Central Square Theater

Central Square Theater

I saw the play The Women Who Mapped The Stars by Joyce Van Dyke at Central Square Theater. I enjoyed this show more than I expected. It was about female astronomers who made great discoveries even though they were often denied access to telescopes, credit for their discoveries, and the opportunity to do research work instead of mindless cataloging of stars.

When I got back to the Seaport District I took some photos of the Boston skyline at night.

Posted in General, Theater, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Five

On Wednesday I began my exploration of Cambridge, a separate city from Boston which is easy to reach using public transportation. At around 8:30 a.m. I took the Silver Line to South Station and transferred to the Red Line. I  got off at Harvard Square around 8:56 a.m. I wore my grey sweater because it is light enough to take off and tie around my waist when it starts to get too hot for a sweater.  And I took my small shoulder bag with my power bank for recharging my smartphone since I would be far from my hotel.

I emerged near the Church Street and Massachusetts Avenue intersection and walked down Brattle Street. I took photos of the Brattle Theater and walked all the way to Loeb Drama Center before heading back to Brattle Square. Next I walked down Mt. Auburn Street and located the record store, In Your Ear, and the Harvard Lampoon building. Then I located the Grolier Poetry Book Shop and the Harvard Book Store to take photos of those establishments.

Finally I entered Harvard Yard and found the statue of John Harvard which was surrounded by tour groups, mostly Asian tour groups. I found the Harvard Science Center and Sanders Theater north of Harvard Yard and went up Oxford Street to find the Harvard Museum of Natural History. This was my first use of my Boston CityPass. They tore out the ticket and gave me a little metal pin.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Harvard Museum of Natural History

At the Harvard Museum of Natural History I saw their famous glass flowers. I saw their dinosaur fossils and the only mounted Kronosaurus. There was an exhibition hall full of glass cases with stuffed animals. The skeletons of whales were hanging overhead. There was another room of horizontal glass cases filled with mineral samples. Harvard appears to have a very extensive collection of minerals.

After seeing everything at the Harvard Museum of Natural History I entered the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology which is connected to it. You don’t need to pay anything extra to see this other museum. The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology features an exhibit of weapons and armor. I saw their colorful Day of the Dead altar and the Aztec stone monoliths. On the forth floor I saw some Javanese puppets from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The All the World Is Here: Harvard’s Peabody Museum and the Invention of American Anthropology featured the the Harvard Adam and Eve, statues of a nude man and woman considered to be the average or typical male and female body. On the first floor I saw the Hall of the North American Indian which had some totem poles and models of canoes and lodges.

After leaving the museums I walked around Harvard Square some more and took photos of Raven Used Books, Club Passim and The Sinclair. I then went to Grolier Poetry Book Shop where I asked for Edward Hirsh but they had nothing by him. They actually seemed to have a very poor selection of poetry books. They mostly stocked slim volumes by poets you’d never heard of. Eventually I found Selected Poems by Stephen Spender which was the only name I vaguely recognized. But the sales clerk seemed to think this was an excellent choice, as if I had found the one real poet in the lot. Next I went to Harvard Book Store which actually had a better selection of poetry. I bought District and Circle by Seamus Heaney and the play Smokefall by Noah Haidle.

Grolier Poetry Book Shop

Grolier Poetry Book Shop

I had lunch at Daedalus where I was seated at the bar. I ordered the Grilled Spicy Steak Salad – marinated spicy steak with baby greens, tomato corn salsa, crumbled blue cheese with citrus vinaigrette. And for dessert I had the cobbler apple; peach and raisin cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream.

Daedalus

Daedalus

After lunch I walked a long ways down Massachusetts Avenue, taking photos of the establishments I encountered. Eventually I reached Central Square and stopped in at Pandemonium Books and Games where I bought the book Children of Lovecraft edited by Ellen Datlow. I’ve become more interested in weird fiction after reading The King In Yellow, tales about a mythical play which drives men mad or otherwise leads them to a supernatural doom. The idea that a published play could have such power is amusing to me. I took photos in the Graffiti Alley next to Central Kitchen where two artists were working. And I located Central Square Theater since I was going to see a play there tomorrow night.

Pandemonium Books and Games

Pandemonium Books and Games

Eventually I reached the MIT Museum which I decided to visit a day early since I was there. I paid $10.00 admission and climbed a set of stairs to the second floor. I saw the Robots & Beyond exhibit which featured MIT’s pioneering work in Artificial Intelligence. I also saw two special exhibits; The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramo´n y Cajal, György Kepes Photographs II, and Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson. At the museum book store I bought the small book Machine Learning by Ethem Alpaydin which is one of their MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series.

MIT Museum

MIT Museum

I walked around the MIT campus and found the Jaume Plensa’s Alchemist statue. I then saw the Great Dome and took photos of some more public art on the MIT campus. Then I located the List Visual Arts Center, the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. When I came across the Kendall Square Station I decided I was too tired to go on so I took the Red Line back to South Station.

I made a reservation at Blue Dragon for 6:30 p.m.  I ordered a pina colada which was mostly ice and Pork Belly Baos with Seasonal Kimchi which turned out to be two small pork sandwiches using some kind of gummy wrap. On the way back to the hotel I took a few photos of a distinctive Fort Point building with the Boston Wharf Company Industrial Real Estate sign on its roof.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Vacation Day Four

On the fourth day of my vacation in Boston I decided to concentrate on the Seaport District area which was where my hotel was located. At 10:00 a.m. I went to the Institute of Contemporary Art just as it opened. This museum only had one floor of galleries. I saw the exhibits of work by the artists Kevin Beasley and Caitlin Keogh. I also saw the Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today special exhibit which included a short film you watched through a virtual reality headset “View of Harbor”. The film was kind of creepy and my glasses steamed up under the virtual reality headset. One of the more amusing pieces of artwork I saw was a server cabinet turned into an art installation. I sat through a few art videos and even browsed through a few catalogs to extend my time in the museum. At the museum gift shop I bought The Hollow Woods Storytelling Card Game for $19.99 at 11:20 a.m. I figured this card game might help me to write some short stories.

Institute of Contemporary Art

Institute of Contemporary Art

I had lunch at the Shake Shack on Seaport Boulevard, right next to my hotel. I was planning on eating there more often but fortunately I proved to be more adventurous and never ate at the same place twice. I ordered a ShackBurger, Vanilla Shake, and Bacon Cheese Fries for $16.87 at 11:28 a.m. Fortunately this Shake Shack was never so crowded as the one in New York City.

I returned to my hotel room to drop off my purchase and then walked south into the Fort Point area. I came across the Blue Dragon restaurant which was not in my notes. Eventually I found the Midway Artist Studios but didn’t see any public art gallery in the building. There were no directions and nobody to ask.

Midway Artist Studios

Midway Artist Studios

I had a little trouble finding Summer Street because it is raised above A Street. But I managed to find the Fort Point Arts Community Gallery which is actually located in the Buco Trattoria restaurant, right behind its dining room so you need to go through the restaurant to reach the gallery. That was kind of unexpected. There was nobody in the art gallery so I felt free to take a few photos of the artwork on display.

Fort Point Arts Community Gallery

Fort Point Arts Community Gallery

From there I went to the Boston Tea Party Museum. I had to wait almost a half hour in the gift shop before the 1:45 p.m. tour started, when we gathered in the west meeting house. The tour was an interesting bit of live theater with actors in costume who remained in character for the entire tour. The actors were very talented and very funny with excellent improvisation skills. We got to climb abroad one of the boats and explore its hold. There were two portrait paintings that came to life, two projected actresses, and a short film on the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Boston Tea Party Museum

Boston Tea Party Museum

I walked back to my hotel. At around 3:15 p.m. I took public transportation to the Government Center Station on the Green Line and walked to the North End.
I waited an extremely long time for a Silver Line bus. The Red Line train was very crowded. I had some slight difficulty finding the Eastbound Green Line and
had to go back down the stairs to reach the platform on the other side of the tracks. Once I reached Government Center I walked down the street between the Boston Public Market and Bell In Hand Pub which is Hanover Street. On Hanover Street I saw the establishments; Improv Asylum, Thinking Cup, Fiore, Caffè Vittoria, and Mike’s Pastry. Eventually I found the Paul Revere Mall and saw the Paul Revere Statue. I entered the Old North Church and took some photos of the interior. Then I found my way to the Paul Revere House where I paid $5.00 for a self-guided tour of the period rooms.

Across the street from the Paul Revere House I saw a book store that was not in my notes, I Am Books, An Italian American Cultural Hub. There I bought the Penguin Classics edition of The Aeneid by Virgil for $15.00 at 4:37 p.m. I’m not particularly interested in reading this book but I’ve heard a lot about it since it is a classic. Then I went to Caffè Vittoria where I ordered a black coffee and vanilla gelato. I really liked the ambiance of this old Italian coffee shop. I was tempted to return to the hotel as it began to rain but I wanted to have dinner someplace in the North End so I found an unassuming little pizzeria, Ernesto’s Pizzeria where I ordered two slices of cheese pizza and a soda, choosing lemonade for the soda. The pizza was pretty good but I decided not to finish the crust.

I Am Books

I Am Books

Unfortunately I got caught in a fierce thunderstorm while crossing the City Hall Plaza. Even though I had my umbrella, the rain was being driven almost horizontally by the high wind so I got soaked. I practically had to use my umbrella as a shield to reach the Government Center Station where I arrived dripping wet.

When I got back to the hotel I noticed many fire engines gathered around Caffe Nero responding to some alarm. I’m not sure if there was an actual fire but there were quite a few fire engines.

Posted in General, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment