Took a first look at my springtime yard today, since it was so nice out. Last fall I deliberately didn’t rake any leaves, and the resulting piles acted as natural mulch on the lilies and other flora that are starting their primavera growth. The thorny rose stalks are even beginning to bud. I picked up a few bags of top soil and some grass seed to fill in a depression along my treeless tree-lawn and covered that with some leaf mould to hopefully keep birds from eating it all. I did a lot of raking and sweeping and bagging; some picking up of litter from my ex-neighboors who were fond of throwing bags of trash from their balcony directly to the tree-lawn. Burst bags and blowing rubbish resultant. The folks across the street came out and started doing the same.
Then I helped clean out Debbie’s car and more rubbish-tossing. I’m ready for a big yard sale in May. Probably too late to get the whole street in on it. All those ants that have been hibernating in my pants woke up. I’m over-ready to be working on my digs.
Debbie and I spent three days in Pennsylvania for a last gasp at coupled freedom before the Kid arrives. I planned out our itinerary well in advance and we had a great time; plenty of stuff to do and plenty of time to do nothing. We left Monday morning and went to Pittsburgh where our first stop was the Strip District. The Strip is basically Penn Avenue and is a bit like Cleveland’s West Side Market area, except longer in distance and less corrupted by expensively uncomfortable townhomes. We ate at the Smallman Street Deli right after we arrived, basically a shot in the dark choice, but an excellent one. They cure all of their deli meat in-house, buy their bread from a local bakery and make their sides fresh. Debbie got a roast beef sandwich with mozzarella and tomatoes as her side, and I went with pastrami on rye and macaroni salad [pic].
After lunch we strolled down Penn Avenue and window shopped. I ended up buying some tart pans from a kitchen supply store, an item I’ve been unable to find in Cleveland. We also went to this place called Fudgie Wudgie which has the smoothest fudge [pic] I’ve ever tasted. Then we drove around downtown Pittsburgh, gawking at how much livelier and less run-down it appears than Cleveland and went to the Pittsburgh Zoo, which isn’t nearly as nice as the Cleveland Zoo, although it does have a much nicer aquarium. Debbie bought a stuffed octopus . While getting lost downtown I got a glance at the PPG Wintergarden, which I thought was a great idea and certainly something that Cleveland could benefit from having. Throughout our Pittsburgh stay I couldn’t help but compare Pittsburgh and Cleveland; after a few days of reflection I think the main difference between the cities is that Pittsburghers seem to have a greater sense of solidarity and pride in their city than Clevelanders. I’m not sure what the reasons are for this, but I heard no one say anything bad about the city the entire time we were there, something which it seems even people who claim to take pride in Cleveland [like myself] can’t help but be down on the town quite often [something I try not to do.]
We left Pittsburgh and headed southeast, toward a little bed and breakfast called the Glades Pike Inn. We got one of their package deals to go see the Frank Lloyd Wright constructions, Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. I’d been to both houses years previously on a trip with my mom. It was such a good time that I decided to go back. The Inn was built in 1842 as an inn, and was perfectly suited to be a bed and breakfast. Our room had a fireplace, which was very very nice. The innkeeper, Janet L. Jones, was very hospitable and eager to direct us to other local restaurants and places to visit. She’s definitely interested in building up the tourism for her neck of the woods and is a go-getter. She recommended that we have dinner at the Pine Grill which was delicious. Debbie and I got the same thing, pesto-topped orange roughy with herbed rice and steamed vegetables [pic]. I also had a Penn Dark, which tasted a bit like alcoholic Coke, without the sweetness.
The next day we went to both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Debbie and I both agreed that Kentuck Knob was our favorite, which was my opinion so many years past when I went with my mom. Kentuck Knob is owned by Lord Palumbo who opened it for public tours in 1996, which was probably right around the time I first visited. The panorama at the top is the view from Kentuck Knob, and the farm pictured is where Lord Palumbo and his family stay when they are visiting. They only use Kentuck Knob for entertaining visitors. On the far hillside are some huge wind turbines producing electricity for the area. If someplace that rural can make it happen, I sure hope Cleveland can do the same. In transit from Fallingwater to Kentuck Knob, we stopped at Ohiopyle and ate lunch by the waterfall.
The sculpture garden at Kentuck Knob is something that I think was added after my first trip there. Some of the sculptures were of the boring various-bits-of-rusted-metal-welded-together-nonrepresentationally type, but there was a Claes Oldenberg applecore and some man-madeponds that were beautiful under the pines. Pictured to the left is Ray Smith’s Red Army. They also have two pieces of the Berlin Wall, I think they only had one when I was there last. Somehow I liked it better when they only had one. After the tour, we had a nice walk down the hillside and back to the car. All that we purchased from the gift shops were post cards and a reusable grocery bag, $4.67 total.
We got lost on the way back, but ended up in Somerset for dinner, and another relaxing night at the Glades Pike Inn. The next day I was starting to get sniffly, and I’m full blown congested [again!] now, but on our way back through Pittsburgh we stopped at the Andy Warhol Museum. It only took about an hour to get through the whole museum, the only things I really liked in there were a couple of Jasper Johns paintings, mostly we went because I thought Debbie would like it. Warhol has never done it for me. Since we had so much of the day unexpectedly available to us, we went to the sales-tax-free Prime Outlets in Grove City and blew a few hours clothes shopping. We got home around 7 on Wednesday night, made dinner, and zonked out. It was a good vacation.
I just finished reading A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. Since I’ve been cultivating a gestalt knowledge of the science fiction canon for nearly two decades, I was able to notice nods and reflections of past works. The book owes an obvious and huge debt to James Blish’s Cities in Flight, but there are also Tolkien references, Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity nods and more.
The most surprising aspect of the book was its not-so-nuanced championing of free market capitalism. I’m used to science fiction that puts forth some sort of commentary on contemporary life or a specific philosophical or political position, but I’m also used to these aspects being just one or two of the story’s many supports. In A Deepness in the Sky the triumph of the free market is the story.
The mutliple POV story-telling conceit keeps the pace lively, and the well placed plot twists maintain engagement, but I think the story could have benefited greatly from significant editorial culling. It is a good choice for lovers of hard science fiction and thick volumes.
Not only did my crazy yelling neighbor get evicted, but the dude that lives upstairs, a relaxed and friendly guy, just got taken away by the cops on suspicion of gun possession. Based on what his distraught girlfriend was yelling from the balcony, someone gave a false report about it and she blamed the folks who live across the street. Debbie and I have been holding a theory that drug dealing has been going on in front of our house for awhile, lots of quick traffic stops and visits. The distraught girlfriend supported this in her yelling about how “people just don’t want people dealing drugs in front of they house.” I’m not sure if she was actually saying that her or her baby daddy were selling drugs, or just that folks were selling drugs in front of their house, much like folks are selling drugs in front of my house. Since we live next door to each other, I’m inclined to agree with the second theory, especially since it would be the height of foolishness for her to admit to selling drugs when there are three cars full of cops in front of the house.
One of the cops was being unnecessarily rude to her, telling her she had a potty mouth in a mocking tone and saying he was going to throw a snowball at her if she didn’t calm down. I’m not condoning Distraught Girlfriend’s behavior, but I’d expect a bit more maturity from Cleveland’s Finest.
I wasn’t out rubbernecking initially, I went out to shovel the sidewalk and Debbie’s car, I was about 30% done before I even noticed the cops. So much for my observational skills. Everywhere I’ve lived in the GCA, I’ve had drug dealing occurring outside my residence. I’m rather inured to it now.
I’m looking forward to upcoming shows in the Cleveland area by O’Death, and Cadence Weapon [and the chance to pick up his newest release, Afterparty Babies. He was on my 2007Best ofCD]. I’m also eagerly awaiting the Lottery League show at the Beachland this April.
In music lust land, I’m really wanting to dish out some serious bucks for the special packages offered at the STOPSMILING store; most notably the Music Lovers Package, the Jazz Lovers Care Package and the Hip Hop Package. I’m also lusting after their Two Superfan Subscription BOGO offer they’ve got going; I just don’t know who to get to split the ticket with me. It is such a great magazine. I’ve already ordered The Scarring Party’s newest release Come Into the Light; they might be coming to Cleveland in June so I hope they aren’t playing the night Debbie goes into labor. I missed the Division of Planes show last June because I was in Canada.
I talked with Rafeeq ages ago about starting a music site for Cleveland musicians, and I’m getting eager to put something like that together. I haven’t talked to him about it in so long, and it was his idea in the first place, so I don’t want to take off and give it a shot without his blessing. I have about n + 1 ideas for it, but I’d really need his networking and persuasion abilities to get other contributors going for it.
As I passed the House of Blues today on the way to my bus stop I saw a high school emo boy throwing a tantrum at his girlfriend. She caught it and threw it right back, but was certainly the more “mature” of the two. He was almost high-step stomping his way toward me with a giant poutywhine face half visible under his dirty combed-over-one-eye hairstyle and he tore something out of his pocket and slammed it to the ground as he stomped along. His girlfriend was behind him yelling for him to come back. He took out his concert tickets and threw them to the ground as well before continuing his stomp around to East 4th toward Lola.
The girlfriend yelled “I’m tired of your shit!”, picked up one of the tickets and went into the HoB. I picked up the other ticket before it blew into a puddle and dropped it back at the ticket booth in case emo boy’s tantrum wore off and he decided he actually wanted his $21 ticket to see “Hot Topic Presents The Sub City Take Action Tour featuring Every Time I Die, From First To Last, The Bled, August Burns Red, The Human Abstract”
By the way, From First to Last has an album called Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count. I suppose, technically, that makes Tantrum-thrower emocore, but I don’t really care.
I was at the County Coroner’s Office yesterday for a meeting about redoing their website, currently one of the oldest in the County. After the meeting we were given a tour of the facilities, which are impressive. I learned a lot about their procedures, saw where the autopsies are performed [on the top floor, with plenty of windows], saw the safe where all of the weapons that result in a death by accident or suicide are kept, and even saw a bit of a training autopsy. Those few seconds, being a few feet away from hollowed corpse were much different than watching the Stan Brakhage film on the subject and my subsequent poem about it. The actual event is much more fraught, I left with the feeling that working at the Coroner’s office must demand a very specific mettle for all parts of the job. I don’t know if I could work with unknown corpses, knowing that infectious disease transmission like Hepatitis B is a very real possibility. Even transcribing the autopsy reports must be a relatively surreal act.
Their forensic photography and video departments are very very capable and manage some extremely interesting tricks with their equipment.
At the other end of the spectrum, today Debbie and I went to our one-shot lamaze class. Six hours long, it ate up our Saturday, but was quite informative. When we were doing one of the various breathing techniques, I had to count on my fingers at Debbie, and accidentally flipped her off. Of course, she cracked up and everyone thought she was the crazy one, not me.