Thursday, October 21, 2010

Week Four October 21, 2010

Boston, Mass
Boston and San Francisco have a lot in common; San Francisco has bay boat tours, Boston has harbor boat tours - San Francisco has cable car tours, Boston has Bean Town trolley tours -  San Francisco has Fisherman’s Wharf seafood restaurants, Boston has Boston Harbor seafood restaurants - San Francisco has an Italian section, North Beach, Boston has an Italian section, the North End - San Francisco has an elite section, Nob Hill, Boston has an elite section, Beacon Hill.  We visited them all. And like those Boston tourists who come to San Francisco, we did in Boston what they do in San Francisco… we stood on street corners, with  map in hand., looking like the confused tourists we were.

I brought my body to Boston but I left my heart in San Francisco.

In 1995 the Les Blank documentary about me was screened at Harvard.  Consequently the Harvard Crimson printed a very nice review of the film by Sarah Dry. Since I was in the area I thought I would drop off a DVD of the film at the Crimson office.  The DVD has the second film that Les made about me titled, "The Maestro Rides Again" and I thought perhaps someone at the Crimson may have remembered the first film and wondered what ever became of The Maestro.  Unfortunately we were there in the morning when most of the staff was still in class.  However a very nice young lady named Cici was kind enough to greet me and promised to pass it along to the art/film department.

We spent the rest of the morning walking around the campus.  It is a beautiful campus full of bright, young, healthy looking people.  It was reassuring to see America’s future in the hands of such intelligent looking people.

While we were in the neighborhood we stopped by MIT to see the Frank Gehry Stata Center building. Pretty impressive. I understand Bill Gates helped fund the building. Thanks Bill.

Old Cape Cod
“If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air
Quaint little villages here and there
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

If you spend an evening you'll want to stay
Watching the transvestites on Cape Cod Bay
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod”

Newport, Rhode Island
The Newport Jazz Festival.  That’s it, that’s all I knew about Newport.  So naturally when we got here I thought  I would find a jazzy town full of jazz clubs with a cool, super hip populous.  Man, did I have that wrong.  First of all there is nothing special about Newport’s population that I could see, and as far as jazz clubs go I didn’t see a one.  I found a gambling casino, a Walmart and a dozen or so Dunkin' Doughnut shops easy enough, but jazz clubs?  Nothing.  

So much for the Newport Jazz town image. That left us with nothing to do but tourist up - so we took a harbor tour.  The tour boat went by some big old  fort in front of which, our tour guide told me, is where the Jazz festival is held.  But there wasn’t a trace of anything remotely jazz-like there that I could see.  Seems like a strange place to hold a jazz festival anyway, in front of a fort? Who is the headliner, Cannonball Adderley?.  

Later we found out what Newport is really known for; its “Gilded Age” mansions with their overly done, overly ornate French and Italian interiors, which were fabricated in France and Italy then shipped to the U.S.   The stuff is typical for that period with all kinds of bric-a-brac trimmings with  marble and gold leaf cherubs holding this or that lamp, mirror, table, ceiling and what have you.  Oh yes, and lion statues all around the exterior entrance way.  These pompous conspicuous consumptioners imported European culture by the boatload.  That’s because they spent more time in Paris and Rome than they did in America,  - of course after they made their tax free money off the backs of the unwashed.  No wonder America never developed a culture of its own, these moneyed elitist set a “European style” table and we have all been eating off it ever since….but I digress…. 

They have tours of five of these gilded mansions that you can take for a mere $31.00.  The Vanderbilt mansion is probably the most gilded of them all.  We took the tour and started there. It was either that or go play the slots at the casino. 

If you haven’t seen enough European influenced buildings, art, sculpture, around your town, come to Newport and you will get your fill.

…Oh by the way, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis spent much of her early years here in Newport…the house where she lived is on the boat tour.

Rhode Island School of Design

We went to the Rhode Island School of Design. I was hoping to see something interesting in the world of art and design. I should have known better. What I saw was the same old boring stuff cranked out by art students everywhere. Total crap. It is obvious to me that art students across this country are being taught that art is just adult playtime. They’re not learning anything about the seriousness of art or what is involved in being an true artist. Its too bad. These art students are throwing their lives away thinking they are producing art when in fact they are only producing garbage that will just end up being hauled off to the dump. What a waste of time and energy - spending your life making landfill - landfill art. But what can one expect when people think art can be taught.

Fall Colors
Yes, I know you want to know if I saw any fall colors and what I thought of the eastern landscape. Well, like Picasso said one time when some friends showed him the beautiful landscape on their estate and asked him what he thought; Picasso looked over at it and said, “It makes me wish I was a painter.“

..speaking of fall colors and art....
I had some time to kill while Cousin Doug was adjusting his tripod to take yet another landscape I did a little Leaf Art.

To Sum Up

The longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer said that the health of a country could be judged by the emphases it puts on maintenance. A country that maintains its buildings, its factories, its machines, its bridges and roads is a healthy country. A country that no longer sees the importance of maintenance is in decline. I found that in the east there is a marked lack of maintenance. The motels where we stayed, the roads we drove on, the bridges we crossed, the restaurants, shopping centers, the houses, almost everywhere we looked there was a lack of maintenance, a lack of maintenance that in some cases was appalling. Some of the freeway overpasses in the east are so bad it frightened me to pass under them.

The People
I found the people in the east to be courteous and friendly. Doors were held open, questions were answered politely, and a young African American even gave up his seat on the rapid transit for Alice. That impressed me. I can’t see that happening on BART.

Generally people looked groomed and reasonably well dressed, but the overweight problem is as prevalent here as it is across the country. They are obviously eating too much back here too. The restaurants are full every night with people eating and drinking.

However, when we went into several stores, and even some big chain stores, they were empty. Its kind of eerie in a way, a lot of people out and about but nobody is buying anything but food. When people perceive financial and political uncertainty looming they first get depressed then frightened, then they turn to food for comfort. That might explain why the restaurants, bakeries, and fast food joints are full while the shops and stores are not.

At many of the shops and stores I went into I sensed a certain desperation in the eyes of the sales clerks, the desperation of an orphan in an overcrowded third world adoption agency where the kids are lined up to be looked over by a rich foreign client. They are each silently thinking, please choose me, please choose me! They say nothing but it shows in their eyes. These people know that sales are down and they have a sense, regardless of the government and Wall Street spin, that they are about to be hit by a real depression with real life changing consequences.

I might be wrong, and I hope I am, but the political climate in this country has already taken a turn for the worse and if the populous doesn’t start feeling better about their future we are in for more than a few miles of bad road ahead.

The Captain Snappy Show
Captain Snappy and Dopey are hand puppets I made to put on puppet shows for my grandkids, on Skype. I brought them along hoping I could Skype a road show from Boston. In Vermont I gathered up some leaves and fashioned another puppet I called Queen LaLeafa, she was going to be Captain Snappy’s special guest. I made an elaborate backdrop with leaves and was all set to put on the show but my computer had trouble getting online. So the Captain Snappy road show had to be canceled. Too bad. I had e-mailed my daughter ahead and the kids were all waiting for the Captain Snappy show. It was a disappointment all around.

1 comment:

  1. Maestro and Alice, Great trip with lots of interesting pictures and observations! You visited some of our old stomping grounds, and many places we haven't been. You must be home by now............ Ron and Monica