Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bubbles and Byways

Screen grab from The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, via
In late August 2001, Red and I were stuck in a bus on the tarmac at Logan Airport with about ten other people, waiting for quite a long time to board a tiny plane to Halifax. One middle-aged New Yorker became decidedly agitated about the delay. "When," he barked at one point, "will the passengers take precedence??" It was clear that this was a man who was used to taking precedence—though he mispronounced "precedence" as "pre-CEE-dence." While we waited, he regaled us with details about the economic and labor situation in Nova Scotia. Was he some sort of government minister? A high-flying analyst or researcher?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beneath the Tile Floor, the Swamp

Yours for the purchasing at BB&T Park, Charlotte and, doubtless, elsewhere
Following on yesterday's visit to Pearl Fryer's purposeful and semi-visionary topiary garden—about which my only remaining question is, Where are the peacocks?—today we spent some time at the purposeful and semi-visionary village of Oyotunji, near Beaufort, South Carolina. This swampy, perplexing, but intriguing "sovereign land" is mildly like Arcosanti, in that it has been constructed and populated since 1970 by true believers trying to develop a way to live outside most conventional social, political, and cultural structures. The biggest difference between the two is that while Arcosanti is essentially populated by hippies with power tools, Oyotunji is suffused with a Yoruban (or perhaps we should say neo- or quasi-Yoruban) worldview that shapes the beliefs and actions of its perhaps 25 inhabitants. They can explain better than I can, though that's not saying much.

What this place is doing on former plantation land in South Carolina is only one of the many questions that were raised today.

Raison D'être (short form)

Now that you have, with Melvin's help, mastered Hawaiian language, certainly you can handle a phrase borrowed from the French. Seeing the Savannah Sand Gnats is the raison d'ĂȘtre—back of the throat—of this trip.

syntactically incorrect

Between the Charleston RiverDogs and the Daytona Cubs,we planned last year to see the the Savannah Sand Gnats at historic Grayson Stadium. Instead, we watched the Royals shut-out the Twins on Melvin's laptop while it monsooned outside.

So we have driven hours—or in my case hours and hours and hours—to see the Low-A affiliate of the Mets before the team departs next year for Columbia, South Carolina. Like most stadiums from early in the previous century, the grandstand is a delight but that is only worthy feature.

The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden

We also ate poorly for the second day in a row and stopped to see formal garden elements in an informal built setting. Donut World for breakfast, passable barbecue for lunch and dollar hot dogs at Grayson for dinner. The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden is certainly worth the detour,

Sunday, July 19, 2015

We Begin Again

Hey, isn't this a baseball blog?
This day, the sixth anniversary of this blog (though the idea stretches back fourteen or perhaps eighteen years, depending on how you count), we're back on the road, once again in North Carolina. This is our second time here—the first was in 2007 to see the Carolina Mudcats, Asheville Tourists, and Durham Bulls—and it won't be the last. But I hope to hell those trips will be earlier in the year. We're told that what fearmongering weathermen call the "heat index" will reach 106 along our route tomorrow. In other news, colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Anyway, this first day hit several of our buttons: a doubleheader, an intentional built environment, curious urban developments, and even the ghost of a downtown pedestrian mall. So, hunch over, put your chin in your lap, and let's begin:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Back to the Beginning

For many years, my ex-wife's family met annually in the "Triple Cities" of Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott, New York to wish her maternal grandmother a happy birthday. Our generation often griped afterwards about the poor ratio of travel to socializing.

A not so happy 91st birthday.

After several years of complaint, I proposed that we stay overnight together in a cabin in Chenango Valley State Park. Challenged to name something to do in the evening, I suggested we go see a Binghamton Mets game. That was the first of the now many minor league games I  have attended.

I recently returned to Binghamton to learn about the game we saw, watch the B-Mets again for the first time in almost two decades, and see the Elmira Pioneers—a collegiate summer league team—at historic Dunn Field.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fister? Wisler. Wisler? Fister.

The pitching match-up at the Thursday, June 25 game between the Nationals and Braves reminded me of David Letterman's odd opening joke at the 1995 Oscars ceremony. "Oprah? Uma. Uma? Oprah.," the host introduced the two before adding, "I feel much better." Me too.

Melvin and I met for the game, checked off the new stadium for him, worked out some August roadtrip details (now updated), and generally enjoyed each other's company. He was in town for a conference and compared to my life recently, driving nine hours round-trip for a baseball game with Melvin sounded like heaven.