Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Things I learned on
my summer vacation

Asphalt “paves the way.”

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At the age of four, Marilyn Horne of Bradford, Pennsylvania, was paid one lime soda for singing.

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“There’s a trend for headless beds right now.”

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Looking at a display of handbags in a department store: ugly is the new beauty.

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“HENRY LIVES HERE”: an enormous banner on a New York apartment building. But surely it’s not that Henry.

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The New York City AIDS Memorial stands at the intersection of Twelfth Street, Greenwich Avenue, and Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village. A slatted canopy shades the space, and a fountain screens out noise. To step into the space is like stepping away from the city. Words by Walt Whitman, inscribed in a spiral and ending in a small corner.

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Wireless transmission of electricity works well across short distances only, because the energy required to send electricity through the air must increase by the square of the distance. Or something like that.

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The word canoodle is a good word to look up.

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Cynthia Ann’s Cookies are delicious.

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Under the eye of their teacher, schoolkids riding the subway on a field trip will give up their seats for grown-up types. A boy stood and offered me his seat. Me: “I’m not old enough!” But I sat and said, “Thank you, sir.”

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Stevdan Pen & Stationers has a bathroom for customers. The nearby Starbucks (6th and Waverly), no. The Dunkin’ Donuts a little further up 6th: you don’t want to know.

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The Cafe Cluny is a lovely Greenwich Village restaurant. Julianne Moore is a regular there, as Twitter will confirm. We pretended not to notice.

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The Emily Dickinson exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum is a disappointment. Mostly manuscripts, which should be a thrill, but they’re often beyond deciphering, and the museum cards do not provide transcriptions. (Is copyright the issue?) A docent giving a tour: “Emily . . . , Emily. . . .” I wanted to yell: “Dickinson!”

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A Toynbee tile sits close to the curb at the northwest corner of 32nd and Madison. This website lists it as authentic.


[The northwest corner. “Toynbee Idea / Movie 2001 / Resurrect Dead / Planet Jupiter.” And so on.]

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It’s possible to be friends with people for so long that it seems there was never a time when you weren’t already friends.

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“Happiness is the answer.”

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A tire thumper is a bat-like tool used to check the air pressure in truck tires.

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The Great Race begins in Jacksonville, Florida, and ends in Traverse City, Michigan. It’s a road race for pre-1973 vehicles, with detailed rules. Analog wristwatches only.

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“Biscuits are spoons you can eat.”

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The Pennsylvania Welcome Center (two miles in on I-90) is an excellent rest stop with a semi-surreal view of Lake Erie. There are very few excellent rest stops.

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Julie’s Diner in North Syracuse is a great choice for breakfast or lunch. You know the kind of place where you’re treated well even if it’s obvious that you’re only passing through? This diner is that kind of place.

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“Wahtter.” “Cahfee.”

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The structure that sits above turnpike lanes tracking cars for tolls is called a gantry. Elaine thinks it should called an Elmer.

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Rush Limbaugh seems to have shrunk: he now sounds like a peevish little old man. Has he metamorphosed into Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace? His sponsors, during the few minutes of airtime to which we exposed ourselves: discount tires, pest control, a video-transfer service.

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A commencement address that we heard last year is now the stuff of a book: James Ryan’s Wait, What? But the book is not the commencement address, one sentence per page; it’s a book.

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At least two well-known independent bookstores shelve Sir Thomas Browne under Literary Criticism. (Wait, what?)

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The Harvard Art Museums are a wonderful experience, three small museums in one. The exhibition The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820 was our first stop.

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[Stephen Sewall, Copy of Inscription on Dighton Rock (detail), 1768. Black ink on paper. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University. On view in The Philosophy Chamber. From the Harvard Art Museums website.]

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128, 129, 144, 168, 269, 276 (room numbers).

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Ben and Mari really, really planned their wedding. There’s an online calculator for ice? Apparently, yes.

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Lolly’s Bakery is an excellent bakery in East Boston. Chilean cake: a layer of pineapple inside.

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Seth is a mensch. (But I knew that already.)

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Rachel and Seth’s baby is full of kicks.

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Andrew is a great wedding officiant. He is miles ahead of the “celebrated” justice of the peace that Elaine and I had.

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Antonio Gutierres y El Super Poder Tipico are a rocking band.

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Celso is an incredible dancer.

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I am not an incredible dancer. (But I knew that already.) But I also know that nobody is judging.

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Julie’s Diner is just as good when approaching from the other direction.

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Do localites really pronounce the name of the Ohio city Mentor as “menner”? Yes. Learn by listening, not by asking.

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Mile markers on the road to oblivion can be pretty sweet.

More things I learned on my summer vacation
2016 : 2015 : 2014 : 2013 : 2012 : 2011 : 2010 : 2009 : 2008 : 2007 : 2006

comments: 7

Elaine Fine said...

I should point out that my reason the name for the gantries to be called "Elmers" is sort of related to the use of the "Charlie card" on the T. Not that the Sinclair Lewis book has anything to do with the turnpike, but I knew Elmer Gantry the character before I ever know what a gantry actually was.

Berit said...

I just love these summer vacation posts! They are basically too lovely and perfect to comment upon, truly a tough act to follow--but I must say thank you for making them.

Michael Leddy said...

I’m glad you like them. For me, looking back at an old one is like opening a time capsule.

Ben said...

There's a calculator for everything these days!

-Ben

Michael Leddy said...

Only if you know enough to look for it. :)

Elaine said...

The earlt coverage of NASA launches always used the term 'gantry' so that was my introduction to the word. Now, however, it seems an unlikely surname. Hmm.

Michael Leddy said...

I just found a photograph of NASA’s gantry. So big! It makes the structure over the turnpike look like a child’s toy.