New York City Theater Trip

Yesterday I went on yet another bus trip to New York City. This trip went perfectly and I found it to be exceptionally inspiring and invigorating. As I’ve mentioned before, New York City makes a very powerful impression upon me. And I have to be there to experience this. I can scarcely remember this feeling when I am not there. It is an inexplicably impactful emotional response, like an expansion of consciousness. To a certain extent this can be attributed to New York City because the city is the hub of human achievement. New York City is where everyone goes to make a big impression upon the world so everything from the architecture to the art in the museums is top notch and designed to impress. But I’m not sure this fully accounts for its thrill. The topic of New York City can bore me at times so I think my imagination and expectations are also contributing something to the mix. I am always puzzled and maddened by what is intrinsic beauty and what is heightened by what I’m seeing into an object of contemplation. Suffice it to say, New York City is a world of wonders in my eyes.

We arrived in New York City at around 9:45 a.m. My first objective was to visit the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle. The bus literally left us off right in front of the subway station entrance I needed, the 50th Street Station for the C Line, although this particular entrance is on West 51st Street. I only had to go one stop uptown to reach Columbus Circle. The first thing I saw at Columbus Circle was the enormous silvery globe at the Trump International Hotel and Tower. I took some photos of that even though it might have made me look like a Trump fan. But Donald Trump has been a fixture on the New York scene for decades so he still represents some aspects of the city. At least there were no garbage trucks parked around Columbus Circle to protect his property, the real sign of just how much the public hates this man. I also took some photos of the Christopher Columbus statue, the Time Warner Center, and the Shops at Columbus Circle entrance. I’ve been to Columbus Circle before but that was years ago and I only have a few photos of its landmarks.

The Museum of Arts and Design is a pretty minor museum. I would call it a third rate art museum, or maybe a second rate museum, but definitely not second tier in a city with so many great museums. So I had never visited the Museum of Arts and Design. It isn’t necessarily a bad museum. There are just so many other NYC art museums you would put on your list before it. One of the pleasures of making so many trips to NYC is that I can explore the more obscure establishments and see things that the majority of tourists overlook. But the big attraction for me was a special exhibit currently running at the Museum of Arts and Design, Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976–1986. This art exhibit featured many Punk Rock posters that were quite familiar to me. You know you are getting old when your favorite music and youth culture shows up in a history museum as artifacts of a forgotten era. The Museum of Arts and Design is not exactly a history museum but you know what I mean. This exhibition was meant to look back on a cultural movement that has had its day. They had two record bins for the obsolete media known as the vinyl record. Visitors could browse through the records for that experience of record store nostalgia. Virtually every record I saw was one that I once owned, although I have most of them on CD now. In fact, my smartphone has most of that music stored on its microSD card. I saw a few Blondie posters and some rare Blondie memorabilia. It occurred to me that at least one piece of rare Blondie memorabilia could even be from my extensive collection which I sold off years ago.

Museum of Arts and Design

Seeing everything at the Museum of Arts and Design only took a half hour. The next item on my agenda was a Broadway play at 2:00 p.m. so I had hours to kill. First I went to the Shops at Columbus Circle and found the Amazon book store on the third floor. I just can’t resist book stores, even though Amazon is responsible for killing most of them off. I didn’t actually buy any books there. I just browsed the titles for books that I might want to buy later on Amazon. See what I did there?

There isn’t that much to see at Columbus Circle so I walked over to Central Park and took a long stroll through the park. It was a beautiful summer day and I took many iconic photos of Central Park. Several skinny skyscrapers are still being built to overlook the park so they kind of  ruin some of my photos. Even when completed, these skinny residential towers will be an eyesore. Central Park was downright idyllic but it occurred to me that I did not visit the big city to enjoy nature.

Central Park

Central Park

By Noon I was starting to worry about getting to Midtown in time to see the Broadway play so I walked back to the south end of Central Park and entered the first subway station entrance I found, which was the Fifth Avenue – 59th Street Station for the N Line. I took a N train downtown to 42nd Street Times Square. I almost made the mistake of retracing my steps and returning to the 50th Street Station, but the 42nd Street Times Square Station is actually closer to the Broadway theaters.

I arrived at 42nd Street – Times Square around 1:00 p.m. with plenty of time to spare but I was starving. I don’t think I was really hungry, but my doctor prescribed some medicine for my arthritis, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAI)  which may have given me a stomach ulcer. My stomach is frequently rumbling and I feel severe hunger pangs by the end of the day. I’ll probably have to see my doctor about that. Anyways, I had to visit a McDonald’s to grab a filet-o-fish and a cup of coffee. I hate McDonald’s but I didn’t have time for a long wait for my food. My coffee did not come with cream or sugar which annoyed me. I drank it black because I was hoping it would help to keep me awake during the show.

There was a surprisingly long line for the Broadhurst Theatre where the play I came to see was being performed. Several hundred people where lined up half way down the block. The line didn’t move at all until about a half hour before the show was to start. The play I saw was Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally. This is a play I read a long time ago, so I had some vague idea what it was about, but I didn’t really remember it. Most plays only run for two hours and you can read a script in less than a day so they don’t really stick in your memory. The big draw for this serious drama was the great actor, Michael Shannon. Michael Shannon has long been considered a major theater actor, is more or less a major movie star now, and also an established Broadway actor since this is the second time I’ve seen him on Broadway. I also saw Michael Shannon in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Days Journey Into Night. It is quite a thrill to see him in the flesh on stage. And by in the flesh, I mean buck naked because there was a lot of nudity in this play! In fact, the play began with both Michael Shannon and Audra McDonald stark naked in bed doing a simulated sex scene. I was pretty shocked. I’ve seen nudity on stage before but never actual sex. The lights were kept low and I assume they were only simulating sex. The audience started giggling so they were more amused than shocked. When the lights came on there was some effort made not to show full frontal nudity but it took a while for them to get decent. Other than that, this was a very serious play with plenty of humor to keep it from seeming too dark. Michael Shannon shambled around the stage in a strange manner which may have been his way of portraying a character who isn’t meant to appear very intelligent or sophisticated. Nevertheless, his character, Johnny, was fond of Shakespeare and prone to misquoting him. Personally, I’ve never heard anyone quote Shakespeare in real life, not even a professional or somebody involved in the theater, so quoting Shakespeare does seem awfully pretentious to me. Now that I think of it, maybe I should do that myself. If there is one thing you can do to introduce an element of the dramatic into mundane life, it is to shock people with an unexpected quote from Shakespeare.

Broadhurst Theatre

Broadhurst Theatre

I loved the stage design which was very realistic and drank in every detail of the theater itself. The back wall was a brink apartment building facade which didn’t really fit the design of an apartment interior. I didn’t really notice this until the end of the play when they unexpectedly drew back the back wall. It was slowly pulled back into the wings. Then I realized it didn’t really make sense as part of the set. There was also a fire escape that they never really used even though some publicity photos showed Frankie and Johnny on the fire escape in each other’s arms. What I want to remember was the sight of all the stage lights covering the entire space of the area over the stage with that background of a brick facade. This really seemed quintessentially theatrical to me, New York space made sacred in a theater space.

Sardi's Restaurant

Sardi’s Restaurant

I had a dinner reservation at Sardi’s after the show. Sardi’s is conveniently right across the street from the Broadhurst Theatre and the play ended just in time for me to make my reservation. Sardi’s is a bit more formal than I like. The waiters are all in uniform and the maître d’ is very smartly dressed and strikes you as a very serious and reserved sort of man. The service is also ridiculously attentive with a waiter rushing to refill your water glass only minutes after you’ve taken a sip. But Sardi’s Restaurant is an old Broadway mainstay and reeks of good old-fashioned theater tradition and history. The place was pretty empty at first but eventually it filled up with after-matinee theater goers like myself. I ordered a chicken club sandwich which arrived as a stack of food. The large pile of French fries made this a mountain of food. I wish I had just ordered an appetizer since I was not that hungry. I also had a single glass of Chardonnay which made me surprisingly tipsy. I really don’t like feeling woozy and sleepy when I am on an adventure.

After dinner, I had left plenty of time for shopping. First I went to BookOff on West 45th Street. This Japanese used media chain store sells used books, DVDs, CDs, and other media formats. I found two DVDs that were on my shopping list: As Good As It Gets and The Thirteenth Floor. After looking down every book shelf aisle I eventually found their meager selection of Drama and had to settle for a translation of Racine’s Phedre by the poet Ted Hughes. Next I went to the big Barnes & Noble book store on Fifth Avenue. I was surprised to find they did not have a book shelf devoted to Science or Non-Fiction. They did have a decent section on the performing arts where I found Stella Adler on America’s Master Playwrights. I’m becoming a bit more conservative in my tastes now that I no longer trust progressive theater artists to be sensible. I question their devotion to the arts so I would rather read something written long ago. I think I can trust Stella Adler to focus on what is really important to the human spirit. There is not a single female playwright on her list! That is being a little too conservative, but she was a product of her time. Although I did not browse the science fiction titles, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word For World Is Forest was prominently displayed and this book was on my shopping list so I snagged it.

After making those purchases I made my way back to the bus pick-up spot near the Times Square Church. I got there almost an hour early but I didn’t really try to wander off to take any more photos. I was pretty satisfied with what I had accomplished on this trip and quite frankly the entire Times Square area has become too familiar to me.

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Eagles Mere and Worlds End State Park

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day so I decided to get out of the house for the day. But I did not want to spend a lot of money so I relied on my previous experience to put together a cheap day trip. First, I drove to Eagles Mere which is a small village in Sullivan County. I often visit Eagles Mere on my way to Worlds End State Park. There is not much to do in Eagles Mere except to visit the book store and the sweets shop. Fortunately, the book store was open but the sweets shop was closed. At the Eagles Mere Bookstore I bought the paperback book Medea and Other Plays by Euripides, Penguin Classics. I selected this book because I’ve been reading multiple translations of Euripides’ The Bacchae and thought it would be useful to read some of his other plays. I was tempted by a large hardcover book Madame Sarah by Cornelia Otis Skinner, a biography of Sarah Bernhardt, but I was reluctant to commit to reading a long book. Now I kind of regret not buying that book so I may buy it later.

Since The Sweet Shop was closed I decided to spend a little time exploring Eagles Mere just to make stopping there worthwhile. I went into the park to photograph the gazebo and then walked down one side street, Jones Avenue, to takes photos of the Eagles Mere Post Office. I noticed a large blue house which was being remodeled. It was big enough to be a hotel. I don’t know if I’ve seen it on previous trips. It may have been obscured by more trees and landscaping. At the end of Jones Avenue I saw the Episcopal Church and two benches overlooking a field. There was a bit of a vista view there so I walked over to the benches. I saw a strange sight in the grassy field below, a vintage pickup truck stuck high on a pole. It looked like somebody’s idea of art work, a sculpture. The residents of Eagles Mere are very wealthy as evidenced by the splendor of their summer homes. This statue was down the hill from a particular large and fancy ranch house so it may have been artwork on the grounds of this country estate. Nobody was in sight so I walked down the hill to take a few closeup photos.

Eagles Mere Vintage Truck Sculpture

Eagles Mere Vintage Truck Sculpture

After that I proceeded to Worlds End State Park. I didn’t intend to do any serious hiking. First I stopped in a pull off near the Loyalsock Creek to take some photos of the boulder strewn creek. I saw a pure white piece of quartz rock which I took as a souvenir. Most of the rocks are unremarkable but this one looked like a chunk of ice, rough but with no blemishes. Then I pulled in at the parking lot for the Canyon Vista Trail trailhead and walked a short ways on the trail along the creek. This part of the trail is perfectly flat and goes through some thin woods. It was very tranquil and relaxing without required much physical effort. Next I drove to the main parking lot and used the restroom. Unfortunately the Snack Shop was closed, maybe because it was Mother’s Day. There were surprisingly few people in the park, probably because it was Mother’s Day. Ordinarily, the parking lot would have been full on such a nice day. I walked down to Loyalsock Creek and shot lots of photos of the cliffs and the boulders in the creek. This is the most picturesque place in Worlds End State Park. It is also the area with the most picnic tables and camping grounds. Before leaving the park I checked out the beach area and walked across the bridge to find a trailhead for the High Rock Trail which I did not know was there. The High Rock Trail is a very difficult trail according to the warning sign so I was not tempted to try it.

Worlds End State Park

Worlds End State Park

On the way home, driving south on Route 220 I made two further stops just to avoid ending my adventure too quickly. First I stopped in at D&D Brew Works. This is a restaurant and bar located in a large red building which I have not seen in operation on previous trips. I ordered a coke, a grilled cheese sandwich, and some French Fries. This meal cost less than $10.00. A but further along Route 220 I drove to the Overlook and checked out Wrights View. This vista overlook is nothing fancy and the view was not particularly fantastic but it is the sort of humdrum attraction that feels authentic.

D and D Brew Works

D and D Brew Works

My final stop on the return trip home was Walmart in Montoursville where I bought a new dress shirt and two inexpensive DVDs, Tomb Raider and Murder on the Orient Express. Both of these films are newer versions of the old classics. I bought a new dress shirt for my upcoming trip to New York City because I want to look presentable for dinner at a good restaurant where I have a reservation.

When I got home I dragged out my bike for a long ride along the bike path, aka the Lycoming Creek Bikeway. I rode all the way to the end of the bikeway in Hepburnville. This bike path can be found at the end of my street but I usually access it by going to the end of the gravel lane behind my house. The bikeway is somewhat scenic although I think it could be better since you mostly see nothing but grassy fields along a long stretch. The best part is the railroad bridge over Lycoming Creek. For me it is a very convenient recreational activity and it would probably add a lot of value to my property if I lived near a bigger and more prosperous city.

Lycoming Creek Bikeway

Lycoming Creek Bikeway

In conclusion, I enjoyed a perfect Spring day without spending a lot of money.

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Jetson Nano Developer Kit

I recently bought my first single board computer, the Jetson Nano Developer Kit. This single board computer is intended for artificial intelligence development. It is sort of like a Raspberry Pi for AI. The main reason I bought this device is because it has a Nvidia GPU with 128 CUDA cores. Many machine learning toolkits can use CUDA cores to speed up the processing. You need a high end Nvidia graphic card for that and they can be quite expensive. So at only $99.00 the Jetson Nano is a bargain.

Jetson Nano Developer Kit

Jetson Nano Developer Kit

I’ve been thinking of buying a Raspberry Pi and getting into the maker community but the Jetson Nano seemed a little sexier with its AI capabilities. Unfortunately it does not come with everything you will need. I had to buy a MicroSD card for the operating system. Then I had to buy a 5V 4A (4000mA) switching power supply from AdaFruit. I bought a Edimax EW-7811Un USB Wi-Fi wireless dongle to give my Jetson Nano wireless connectivity. But the biggest additional expense was a monitor with a HDMI connection. None of my flat panel monitors had that so I spent another $100 on a Spectre monitor. You also need a mouse and keyboard with USB connections but I did have those.

So far I have done absolutely nothing with my Jetson Nano because I’ve been busy. But I have been studying machine learning so I will put this device to its intended use. I will do something serious with it. At the very least it will allow me to run some demos that require CUDA cores. I might try to use it for natural language processing, computer vision, or computer graphics. Later on I may buy a Raspberry Pi since I have the equipment for using other single board computers.

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Chelsea Art Galleries

Yesterday I made my first trip to New York City in 2019. It is getting hard to find new things to do in New York City since I go there so often. But on this trip I decided to concentrate on the art galleries in Chelsea. Most of these art galleries are concentrated between West 24th Street and West 22nd Street to the west of the High Line. I must have visited between fifteen or twenty art galleries but I was not keeping track so it will be hard to document exactly which galleries I visited.

The bus left us off outside the Times Square Church just like they used to do. Maybe they will go back to using that as the drop off and pick up spot. I quickly found a subway entrance for the C and E lines 50 Street Station but this was in the direction for uptown, not downtown like I wanted. When I tried to use my MetroCard it read Insufficient Fare but before I could refill it somebody called me over and opened the gate for me. I should not have done that but I was thinking there may have been a malfunction or something. Although I was on the wrong platform for going downtown, I decided to go uptown and visit the Sony Plaza Public Arcade which has public restrooms. Unfortunately I found the Sony Plaza Public Arcade was closed because that building is being remodeled. I did take a photo of Paley Park as I walked past it on East 53rd Street. Actually it was not Paley Park, but some waterfalls on the side of the building that houses Burger Heaven. Anyways, I found a Fifth Avenue – 53rd Street Station entrance and took an E train downtown to the 23rd Street Station like I originally intended.

Reconstructing exactly which art galleries I visited is going to be difficult but I do have my photos as a rough record of where I went. For example, my first photo is of the Empire Diner which had a mural painted on the wall of the building behind it featuring the artists Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat. This seemed very appropriate for the Chelsea Art District. I remember that I tried to visit the Fremin Gallery but it was closed for a private event. I must have walked down to West 21st Street because my next photos are of the Gagosian Gallery entrance, Kravets Wehby Gallery, and Paula Cooper Gallery. The Gagosian Gallery was closed for installation. One of the art galleries I can confirm that I entered was Miles McEnery Gallery on West 21st Street which had the work of John Sonsini as its current exhibition.

Empire Diner Mural

Empire Diner Mural

I must have walked to West 22nd Street after that because I took a photo of the JoAnne Artman Gallery and the Danese/Corey Gallery at 511 West 22nd Street. Confusingly Miles McEnery Gallery is also on West 22nd Street. Several galleries are located at 535 West 22nd Street including DC Moore Gallery but I did not try to enter since there didn’t seem to be any lights on. But I’m pretty sure I went up the black stairs to visit this second location of the Miles McEnery Gallery. According to their web site I saw the work of Tomory Dodge. I know I entered the JoAnne Artman Gallery because I have their business card. I only collected two business cards. I definitely visited the Yancey Richardson gallery where I saw some huge photographs by Victoria Sambunaris. These high definition photos were taken in Utah according to the web site. I thought they were photos of some desolate region in the Middle East. I especially like the photos of railroad tanker cars in Utah. That photo had nice composition. I did not try to take any photos of the artwork in any of the galleries because I did not know if that would be allowed. I did see a few people take photos with their smartphones. Also on West 22nd Street is the Sikkema Jenkins & Co art gallery which had their door open. That was the gallery where I saw crude paintings by artist Louis Fratino. I found these paintings slightly distasteful since they were gay erotica featuring the male body, but I dutifully examined each one. Personally I find greater beauty in the female nude and this can be understood once you realize that beauty actually lies in what represents a wonderful possibility for us. The Dia Art Foundation also seems to have a gallery on this street but it did not appear to be open.

Miles McEnery Gallery

Miles McEnery Gallery

The High Line appears to have inspired a building boom in Chelsea. I saw various condominiums being built and many of them seemed to be in a competition for the most modern and sleek building design. So I took a few photos of the more striking examples. In particular, there was black building with rounded corners behind the Guardian Angel Church. I didn’t do too much research on the neighborhood but I did see the Highline Hotel and the Star On 18 Diner on my way to West 19th Street where I located and photographed The Kitchen, an Off-Broadway theater that has been on my list of places to photograph for quite some time. I never got around to it because I’ve rarely been in the vicinity. Two very large condominiums with a striking design are being built on this block so I had to walk around some construction. Since I was in the area, I crossed 11th Avenue to the Chelsea Piers and took many photos of the IAC Building and the 100 Eleventh Avenue residential tower. I got some really great photos of these two buildings because the sun was shining bright. I will replace the photos in my notes with these better photos.

IAC Building

IAC Building

At this point, I finally decided to visit a book store in the neighborhood, 192 Books on 10th Avenue. I found their small theater section and bought the book Stay Illusion! The Hamlet Doctrine by Simon Critchley and Jamison Webster because Hamlet is my favorite play. I can tell by my receipt that I bought this at 12:57 p.m. 192 Books is a fairly small book store with just one large room. You have to wonder how small stores stay open in New York City where the rent is so high. They did have an extensive selection of art books so they must get most of their traffic from the Chelsea art gallery crowd.

Next I visited three art galleries on 10th Avenue; Taglialatella Galleries, Chase Contemporary, and Jim Kempner Fine Art. I took a business card for Taglialatella Galleries and postcards for Chase Contemporary and Jim Kempner Fine Art. Chase Contemporary had some really cool art like a giant matchbox car model and portraits by Ole Aakjær of models with yellow noses to make them look like clowns, gorgeous clowns. Jim Kempner Fine Art is an impressive gallery with large windows just under the High Line on West 23rd Street. They were showing map design art by Paula Scher.

After that I went to West 24th Street which is the street with the most art galleries. I visited the following art galleries for sure based on my photos and recollection; Marianne Boesky Gallery, Pace Gallery, Gagosian, Bryce Wolkowitz, Metro Pictures Gallery, Lyons Wier Gallery, C24 Gallery, and Lehmann Maupin. At the Pace Gallery 537 West 24th Street I saw the most impressive artwork I saw that day, landscapes by Raqib Shaw. These landscapes where highly detailed and very exotic. They were landscapes of fantasy realms populated by mystics and people with bird heads. I had to spend several minutes with each painting just to take in all the detail. The Marianne Boesky Gallery was showing large sculptures of Frank Stella and I saw a tour group being shown around. I think it was a tour being run by an art institution since Frank Stella is a major artist.

Marianne Boesky Gallery

Marianne Boesky Gallery

At around 2:00 p.m. I began to walk east along West 23rd Street in order to make it to the Irish Repertory Theatre to see the play The Plough and the Stars by Sean O’Casey. I didn’t want to be late because this was the highlight of my trip. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the Chelsea art galleries to 7th Avenue. Along the way I passed the famous Chelsea Hotel. This place still has a little scaffolding on its facade but less than I’ve ever seen so I took several photos. It does look like they have cleaned and repainted the facade pretty well. Once I was near the theater I took photos of Champignon Restaurant and Zagara Wine Bar since I might want to eat dinner in this neighborhood after a show. I’ve been going to the Irish Repertory Theatre often enough to make this a concern.

Irish Repertory Theatre

Irish Repertory Theatre

The Irish Repertory Theatre has become my favorite theater in New York City. This was the third time I’ve seen a show there. The reason for this is their conservative approach to the fine arts. Every other theater in New York City seems to be too intent on showing how progressive they are with their casting and choice of material. Now, it is not that I seek a politically conservative theater, but I do want to see classic European dramas with sensible casting decisions. I feel I can trust the Irish Repertory Theatre to put sound artistic concerns over the prissy moral concerns of the political activists. Theater is the one art form which I prefer in its conservative form because drama works best when it observes all the rules. I would like to see some avant-garde theater but it has to be mystifying and strange, not merely politically radical. I suppose the Irish Repertory Theatre can get away with being so conservative because it is a theater devoted to an ethnic group. I don’t really get how the Irish are a downtrodden ethnic group. I think of the Irish as white Europeans just like the English, the French, or the Germans.

I had to use the restroom at the Irish Repertory Theatre because none of the art galleries had public restrooms. They only have two unisex restrooms, each just one room with only one toilet, so there is always quite a line before a show. Fortunately I only had to wait on two people before me. I had a seat in the balcony since that was the only seat left for this particular show.

Anyway, The Plough and the Stars by Sean O’Casey is a fine old play. I read it a long time ago in a collection of Sean O’Casey plays but I really remembered nothing about it. Just past the balcony was a small room which they made into a museum on Sean O’Casey. The exhibit consisted mostly of paper items like old playbills, books, and newspaper clippings. But they also had some large poster boards made up to show the history of Sean O’Casey and his work in the theater. There were two display dummies in costume. Overall it was an impressive little museum devoted to a playwright.

The production was very high quality with elaborate sets and period costumes. Most of the actors spoke with Irish accents. There were several set changes during the show and they even used a turntable to revolve the set from a tenement room to a bar. I thought that was quite impressive for such a small theater with a small stage. Unfortunately I did doze off briefly during the show because I have to get up too early for these bus trips to New York City. Then when I get into a quiet, darkened theater I just want to close my eyes for a minute. Fortunately I cannot sleep sitting up but I do nod off briefly.

When the play was over I went to the Champignon Restaurant because I was starving. I ordered the Steak and Frites. I ordered my steak well done but it was still a little stringy and a bit raw. Unfortunately the meat clogged my esophagus so I had to rush to the bathroom to vomit as I was gagging. This is a rare medical problem for me, but I have to be careful when eating very moist dough or stringy meat because it may clog my esophagus. This meal only cost me around $33.00. I only spent $17.37 for the book I bought so this was the cheapest trip I’ve ever made to New York City. I hardly spent any money while I was there.

Champignon Restaurant

Champignon Restaurant

Before leaving the Chelsea neighborhood I walked down to West 19th Street to take a photo of the New York Live Arts performance space. I thought I had taken a photo of this place on a previous trip but I guess I always forgot. This performance space appears to be more devoted to dance than theater. I even saw a ballerina in the window.

When I finally arrived back on 5oth Street, taking an E train from the 23rd Street Station to get back uptown, I walked down to West 47th Street to take a photo of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, probably the only theater in Hell’s Kitchen which I’ve overlooked. Then I located the Broadhurst Theatre. The Broadhurst Theatre was advertising Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune which I will see on my next trip to New York City. I already have my ticket. The Broadhurst Theatre is a legitimate Broadway theater so this will be a thrilling experience for me. The play stars the movie star Michael Shannon who I’ve already seen on Broadway in Long Days Journey Into Night. It is always a thrill to see a movie star in the flesh on stage, right in front of you. However, I don’t know what else I will do in New York City on that trip. I’m kind of all out of ideas.

I walked to the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue hoping to buy another book before going home but by the time I got there I was worrying about missing the bus so I didn’t take the time to make a purchase. I might have been able to squeeze this in but there would have been no time to browse. Fortunately I made it back to the Times Square Church with plenty of time to spare and managed to take a few photos along the way.

I have a few notes about the bus trip itself. I bought a new travel bag which is larger than the shoulder bag I’ve been using and this worked out well considering how many devices I take on a trip. I also managed to watch movies on my smartphone using a Leizhan USB OTG Flash Drive. I was able to watch Ironman and Ironman 2 on my smartphone which really helped to ease my boredom. Before this I was listening to music for four hours on end and that gets a little tedious. We stopped at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center at Delaware Water Gap for the comfort stop. I bought a chocolate bar from the vending machine but it turned out to be partially melted. That really pissed me off. I had to put it in the freezer when I got home to make it solid enough to eat. So note to self, do not buy chocolate from vending machines.

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James V. Brown Library Spring Book Sale Haul

Last evening I went to the Spring Book Sale held by the Friends of the James V. Brown Library. I found the following books:

  • Nocturne by Adam Rapp – a play by a playwright I am familiar with
  • Moon-Child by Derek Walcott – a play by a playwright I am familiar with
  • Theories of the Theatre by Marvin Carlson – seems to be more of a historical review of the theater than a book about theater theory
  • Watchers by Dean Koontz – you see lots of books by this author but this one in particular comes highly recommended and I can never seem to find it. This book was on my shopping list so I was pleased to find it at the book sale.
  • Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon by Pablo Neruda – I have not read much poetry by this poet
  • The Origin of Humankind by Richard Leakley – I have been reading more science books with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligence, evolutionary psychology, or evolution.
  • The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker – one of my favorite science authors. This book is about what language reveals about how the mind works. A good book for an aspiring writer.
  • Science Fiction Handbook, Revised by L. Sprangue de Camp – an old book on writing science fiction

That is only eight books. I only bought books I thought I might want to read. Since I already have stacks and stacks of books to read, I really didn’t want to commit to reading even more books. My house is already so full of books that it looks like a library. They are piled up everywhere since my bookcases are full.

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Oleanna – A Misunderstood Play

This evening I saw the David Mamet play Oleanna in Lewisburg, as performed by the RiverStage Community Theatre. I did not realize it, but I have seen this play before. I keep a list of all the plays I’ve seen and this play is number seven. I probably saw it years ago at the Community Theater League. As usual, I did not drive all the way to Lewisburg just to see this play. I took the opportunity to do a little shopping and dining just to make the long drive worthwhile. I stopped in at Barnes & Noble which is the Bucknell University Bookstore and bought a paperback book World Without Mind by Franklin Foer. This is another nonfiction book about the threat of Big Tech. I have been reading many books like this of late. I had something to eat at the bookstore cafe, a yogurt and a cup of coffee.

RiverStage Community Theatre seemed to think Oleanna was a timely play because it supports the #MeToo movement but I think they have misunderstood this play. I interpreted the play as a clever critique of social justice warriors. The playwright’s hostile intention is made clear by the ambiguity of the situation and the outrageous nature of the student’s behavior. If David Mamet had really wanted to argue in favor of social justice he would not have made the student’s actions so questionable. It amazes me that people can misread an author’s intentions so badly, but I have seen it before. What you have to understand is that a writer can play God. He will construct the story to support his viewpoint. Even a seemingly impartial story will be constructed according to the author’s secret intentions. This is an old play which I have not seen or read in many years, so I was surprised by much it predicts the current social justice warrior controversy. But I guess that nonsense has been going on for a very long time in academia.

One of my full length plays, Charcoal Sketches, is somewhat similar to Oleanna but my intention was very different. In my play a blameless college professor is accused of giving inappropriate attention to a female student, making her the teacher’s pet, but I was interested in the subconscious motivation in self-sabotage. My protagonist shoots himself in the foot to get himself out of a stagnant situation without being consciously aware of making such a decisive decision. Unconscious determination is a subject that interests me a great deal. But I suppose my play would also be misinterpreted as supporting a feminist narrative.

After the play was over I stopped in at Wendy’s for a Big Fish sandwich and a small vanilla shake. I don’t like most fast food, but fish sandwiches tend to be really good.

The next play I will see is The Plough & the Stars by Seán O’Casey at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City. This will be the third play I’ve seen at this theater. It has become my favorite theater in New York City because all the other theaters have abandoned artistic excellence in favor of demonstrating how politically correct they are in their casting and material. I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with that, but it has clearly replaced every other consideration so you get trivial plays attacking the basis of national holidays and other crap. When the theater gives up on art, artists must give up on the theater, or find some smaller theater that keeps up the tradition.

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Rabbit Hole – A Very Bunny Play

On Sunday evening I saw the play Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire at the Community Theatre League‘s Moyer Studio. This was the first play I saw this month. I shall see three plays this month after a long dry spell. This is one of the plays I have read. It is a serious drama, really heavy, and not all that bunny. There were not very many people in the audience so half the seats were empty. I really liked the set design which was very realistic. It included the kitchen for the classic “kitchen sink” drama and the living room. The television set was an old cathode ray tube display instead of a modern flat screen TV. The set design really made me feel like I was spying on people in their home. It would be a very typical middle class house so I felt this was the drama of everyday life as experienced by real people. The acting was pretty good with only some occasional excessive expression.

I was able to park in the parking garage across the street without getting a ticket or going through the toll gate. I guess there is free parking on Sundays.

The next play I shall see is Oleanna next Sunday in Lewisburg PA. Then on April 27th I am going on a bus trip to New York City where I will see The Plough and the Stars at the Irish Repertory Theatre. The Irish Repertory Theatre is now my favorite theater in New York City because I can trust them to make good artistic decisions. Every other theater seems to have become too morally prissy to do European plays with traditional casting.

My playwriting is kind of on hold but I did complete my forth full-length play this year to submit to the major playwriting competitions. My next play is going to be a completely new play on shamanism to replace my previous attempt. After that play is written I will concentrate on marketing since I will finally have enough literary property to implement my marketing strategy.

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The Painter 8 Wow! Book

At work I usually read a book during my lunch break after eating my packed lunch. I sometimes pick a book that I just want to finally get through. But often I read a technology book that will be seen as vaguely work related. Currently I am reading The Painter 8 Wow! Book by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis. I bought this book way back in October 29, 2003 on Amazon but I never got around to reading it. I decided to finally read this book due to my new interest in creative coding.

Although I had a few notes on how to do things with Painter 8, I have been adding even more pages to my notes while reading this book. I have added topics on aligning shapes, the color set tools, blending colors with pastels, cloning and tracing, color masks, feathering, liquid ink, masks, and sketch contrast.

Painter 8 offers limited options for scripting although you can record your actions. Gimp seems to have better scripting options using Python so I will learn how to script drawings using Gimp. This will give me the ability to do creative coding using natural-media brushes, something that Processing still lacks.

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YouTube Data Backup Tool Bug Fix

Today I fixed a bug in my YouTube Data Backup Tool. The problem was the view count for a video could be larger than the maximum size of an integer. The solution was to change the data type for the view count variable from integer to long. I also made this change to the like count and comment count. The current version of this program is

My YouTube Data Backup Tool is the only Windows application I have developed to sell. As a passive form of income it is only good for “beer money”, not that I drink beer. The problem with this form of passive income is that an application must be maintained. Any sort of paid work would pay better than working on this Windows application. I sell the YouTube Data Backup Tool for only $5.00 because it does not do anything except make back ups of your YouTube playlists. Eventually I will add more features.

I use Visual Studio 2013 for this project even though its Git support is buggy.
InstallShield Lite for Visual Studio 2017 is not supported for the Visual Studio Community Edition so I cannot migrate this project to Visual Studio 2017. I have a private GitHub repository for this project but I am distributing the software using Google Drive.

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Learning Fortran

Lately I have been learning the old programming language, Fortran. I don’t particularly like Fortran or plan to use it, but I have run out of things to learn about C++, Java, Python, or C#. So far I have learned how to work with numbers, loops, and arrays. Today I have learned how to work with strings. Formatting numeric output in Fortran is a little tricky so I will have to create a separate topic in my notes for that. I am running Fortran using GNU Fortran or GFortran which is part of my Cygwin installation.

I was using Visual Studio Code as my code editor but it does not integrate well with a Fortran compiler. I have discovered that the NetBeans IDE works a lot better. NetBeans will run my code by creating the necessary make file automatically. I had to create my own Fortran syntax highlighting file, shBrushFortran.js, to use with SyntaxHighlighter 3.0.83, the old JavaScript library developed by Alex Gorbatchev. This gives me Fortran syntax highlighting in my HTML notes.

The only mildly useful thing I have learned so far is that Fortran supports complex numbers. I have been working with complex numbers to reproduce some geometric designs which are based on the complex plane. I have been improving my math skills and learning Fortran may help with that since this programming language is mainly used for science.

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Creative Coding

I have almost finished reading “Processing for Visual Artists: How to Create Expressive Images and Interactive Art” by Andrew Glassner. And not a day goes by when I do not learn how to do something new in Processing.js. For example, today I learned the formula for finding points on a bézier curve given the anchor points and the control points. This will come in useful when I attempt to reproduce curves that must hit certain points.

Although Processing is somewhat limited to geometric art, I continue to find interesting projects within this limitation. Some of my recent projects in sacred geometry have included; Metatron’s Cube, the Seed of Life, the Flower of Life, and a shaman’s dreamcatcher. I plan to explore other possible projects in gem or crystal geometry, Art Deco geometry, Islamic tile geometry, and various signs or symbols. I share a few of my sketches at Open Processing.

Processing gives me a fun way to solve programming challenges that involve some math without getting bored. It is a great way to learn more about computer graphics without being overwhelmed by technical material. Sometimes I figure out how to do the same thing in Python using its Matplotlib plotting library.

I think this is the ideal way to express my creativity using my existing professional skills. I bought a lot of books on figure drawing but I never get around to reading them and it would take a lot of practice to improve my drawing skills. Drawing would also lack the problem solving that Processing requires. Messing around with Processing is almost as fun as playing a computer game because you are dealing with the same kinds of computer graphics, only with more creative control.

Some of my work is cutting edge even if it isn’t all that spectacular. I have figured out how to do some simple things in Processing that have never been done before. I am still in the process of exploring various ways to produce basic shapes.  Eventually I will seek to promote my work in the greater art community.


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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.



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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.



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.


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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.
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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.

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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.


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