Monday, July 11, 2011

magic lantern show

Since I'm not the most social of creatures, and don't want to bore my real-life friends, here's what we do instead of slideshows nowadays.

Half my photos are on the Battery-Eating-Baby-Camera, but thanks to the recommendations of one of my friends who drives semis along the eastern seaboard, I exited the gridlock of I-90 for an epic jaunt through Erie, PA, past such fine establishments as the Hard Rock Motel (no pictures, sadly, as I was trying to not crash into other people's cars) and a detour to a record store stuck in an alternate 1988 where punk and thrash never happened, and there were rows and rows of still-cellophaned cassettes of Motley Crue, 12-inches of forgotten and the "alternative" section was mostly 80's new wave that even I hadn't heard of.

There were also a surprising amount of fundie churches through here, or at least the ones that said "Fundamental" and advertised it. Have I finally stumbled across the Real America? I'm not sure, because when I think of Erie, I think of the hardcore youth crew kids that used to come and fight with the Cleveland kids in the mosh pits I used to frequent. The rust belt ennui is in full evidence in a way strangely familiar and comforting, that the pain of hard economic times seems to be geographically universal.

I crossed the border into Chautaqua County, New York, which is full of vineyards and blue mountains in the distance. It was cool and breezy and I had good music in the car. Despite seeing signs for I-90 beckoning me so gorgeous that I stayed on there because it was so peaceful and love with the breeze, the greenery, the signage of gun shops and the paint jobs of stately Victorians, and the stack of good tuneage... the Clash and Stiffed, Kristin Hersh and Jerry Cantrell.

My mom had friends from college who never take an interstate anywhere and I see why they don't... when you're not in a mad hurry and give yourself time to soak in the scenery, when it exists, it changes the whole mentality of traveling. My legs got cramped from being in the same position for hours, so I'd stop in small towns to stretch my legs in forgotten cemeteries, call my lovely hosts to tell them I was running late.

Dinner was improvised and delicious, especially with the addition of Birthday Bash ice cream, which sounds like the worst idea ever but was actually kind of awesome in a Zero Zest kind of way.

Walked on the river breakwall walkway as the sun set, underneath the Peace Bridge ringed with barbed wire, ignoring the green piles of goose doo because it's not every day I get up close and personal with great blue herons.

Night drive and wanderings...

Late night conversations, oversleeping the next morning, diner food, a morning walk through the neighborhoods, being turned loose to wander through the city while my hosts were at work.

Maybe it was the weather, the sun, the new frontier of places never seen, but everything felt so bright and vibrant, there was just so much color, with the flowers, and the houses painted so brightly, murals on seemingly every other building, the people out walking resplendent.

City Hall is pretty damn amazing, with its stained-glass windows, epic murals and general art-deco swankiness.

I walked up the street, got completely lost, but somehow found my way into an old cathedral on the way to the cemetery. My inner goth kid was totally in heaven there, even if the humidity made me sleepy as anything. But not enough to fall asleep on this:

Leftist coffee is pricy.

Murals are lovely

So are old churches like St. Ann's and the people that love these places. To think about the love and care that went into this, carving every intricate piece by hand, building it brick by brick, it just astounds me.

Rooftop gardens on top of the Broadway Market... Polish flags, Stone Temple Pilots reference, made me feel right at home.

And, of course, my wonderful tour guides

The art show in the terminal was wonderful and I came out all inspired to try new colors and techniques with my work, and I love spaces like that, places that are art in themselves.

drive by photo-ing

Niagara Falls

There were other things... seeing Sharon Jones live again, sounding even better than the last time, worshiping with fellow brothers and sisters, and loving being able to sing in Kiswahili again, even if I've lost a lot of what I once knew, driving home into the sun, thankful for a change of scene, the chance to be around wonderful souls, and have my world opened up even a little bit more...


Anonymous said...

thanks for the pics, outside of the big metros, all two of them, rural PA is a cultural extension of the South complete with fundies and rattlesnake roundups and yes the then inevitable snake-handling fundies.

Randal Graves said...

You're right, those colors simply cannot boost Clevelandia the way a Space Casino can.

Anonymous said...

Ryan said...

I could never figure out whether or not you're supposed to sit on those sofa-like headstones. Feels kinda wrong, you know? Maybe they should post some written instructions...