Thursday, July 31, 2014

What To Do in Baltimore

Animal: Gopher – So Lisa pointed out a rather large groundhog and Chuck said, “No it’s a Gopher.” “That's the same thing.” “No it Goddamned well isn’t.” Lisa and I said he was full of shit, which made him really mad. Woodchucks were brought into it. Chuck’s pedigree as a mammalian expert was discussed. (Chuck and Tommy Gillis won the Ohio State mammal identification contest two years in a row in high school – beating out the college kids) So I’d say it was a successful conversation.

Quotes: Hillbilly Hit Parade – If we ever have a greatest hits.

SIARPC: Leo Crotch Cheese

It’s Sunday and pretty much a day off, as we only it's only a three-hour drive to Charlotte, where we were spending another night fouling the nest of a generous friend. We started out the day over-staying our welcome at what is frankly a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood somewhere around Baltimore. One of the benefits of house shows is that we usually get to stay at the house, eat real food, and have our own beds. Sitting in some comfy Adirondack chairs the night before we were informed that the neighborhood had been designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, or at the very least someone in his firm. Olmsted is somewhat arguably considered the father of modern landscape architecture, with his most famous achievements being Central Park and Prospect Park, as well as Elm Park in Worcester MA ,and the Emerald Necklace parks in Boston. The coolest part was that all the houses, at least in this particular section of the neighborhood, all backed up against, and thus enclosed an oval shaped common area, almost like a miniature town green. Each house had it’s own small backyard with steps leading down to the common. I have no idea if Olmsted had anything to do with the houses but they were gorgeous, mostly a fine stucco in lots of muted browns. One house, at the far end of the common was actually curved. I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if looking down upon the neighborhood from the air, that the streets were organized in a vaguely concentric circular pattern like a very easy maze. Either way, the streets feel like they were designed to somehow slow down time, giving it the feeling of quiet and peacefulness as opposed to most modern subdivisions where everything sucks.*

Anyway, my morning walk didn’t kill enough time for everybody, by which I mean Lisa, to be ready so I’d say it was around two before we left. Our destination was a band favorite. For Chuck, Lisa, and I, it was our third tour visit to the American Visionary Museum. It’s a place dedicated to outsider art and every time I go back it gets better and better. There’s a whole room devoted to repetitive pattern art by people with OCD. It’s mostly temporary exhibits with a small permanent collection. My clear favorite this time was a room that was completely converted into another world – a  weird Christmasy world with an enormous pink spaceship that had a constantly rotating turret with children’s plastic horses on top. The whole spaceship was sitting upon a row of pink skulls. On either side were bizarre snowmen, including one that was a Cyclops holding a deer leg with hoof intact. On the other side of the room was an enormous Santa with what looked like an exposed brain being pulled by all white reindeer with toilet bodies. There were weird nutcrackers with clear plastic skulls for heads, and some stockings where the artist had presumably taken latex gloves, filled them with resin and things like plastic eyeballs or cicadas.

The gift shop is not ridiculously expensive and has some decent, affordable art from lots of folk artists. I love pretty much all museums but I walk out of this one actually inspired and ready to get to work.

We ate a fancyish dinner in Little Italy where they wisely put us all by ourselves in a back room. After that we drove to Charlotte where we met Jessie, the black lab for whom immediate and true love is not only possible but inevitable. But more about him tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Chapel Hill.

* Also, there is a huge amount of silica in the soil and rocks. I don’t know if this is typical for the region, but it made the ground all sparkly. Like maybe in ancient times a huge armada of fairies were attacked, killed, their heads put on little toothpick sized pikes, and their wings ground into dust. Presumably by Republicans.

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