Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nothing to See

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I'd love to tell you all about the Vent Haven Museum, the one and only true shrine of ventriloquism, but it would be a little lacking because of the place's strict policy forbidding the distribution of photographs. And, really, the visuals are critical. I have a bunch of alarming shots that I can show to myself, but you, my friend, are SOL—unless you go there yourself, which, really, I think you should.

So instead let's do a nonexhaustive recap of our tour of the Midwest last month, with a goodly number of legit pictures, just (barely) in advance of our trans-Appalachian epic.

After an Atlas Obscura–fueled tour of Chicago (hello, Shit Fountain!) and half of a very wet Cubs game, we headed south in the midst of a monsoon. We hit a railroad junction said to be Tehachapi-esque, in that a train could technically cross over itself while going through it, but since there are more ways in which a train could go through it without crossing over itself, color me underwhelmed.

Typical parking on the narrow streets of Marktown. By Nyttend - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19361175
We visited Marktown, a partially built (and now partially abandoned) workers' community in the very shadow of—indeed, surrounded by—the massive industrial behemoths of East Chicago, Indiana. It's not Treece, Kansas, by any means, but living there seems like an excellent way to court a disease. From there it was on to the Houses of Tomorrow, looking snazzier than ever at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, and an abortive visit to the House of David compound (i.e., we couldn't really get into it). Buy the truth and sell it not, people. We had better luck at Skellville...

Come for the skeleton kitsch, stay for the witch lurking in the weeds.
...where an affectless giant chicken has... eaten?... Sam Spade, among other oddities.

America, people, America.
Baseball? Was there baseball? Oh yes, we caught about two-thirds of a soggy game on Star Wars night in South Bend. Once the deluge began, we did get to watch about forty minutes of a Star Wars movie on the Jumbotron. It was one that I didn't recognize and couldn't really follow—which I guess means it could be any of them.

Something stayed dry here, but it wasn't us, nor the eyes of this guy's batting coach.
Tex and Jolene paid good money for those seats and ain't goin' nowhere for no one, y'understand? You can pull that tarp up as high as you want but it won't make no nevermind!
The next day, after a good but unexpectedly existentialist breakfast at the Fashion Farm ("Is this all there is to life?" wondered our waitress, mother of three), we caught a day game in Fort Wayne with the nephews, who have graced these pages before

Man, Lyle and Clyde have really gotten huge. It seems like only 17 years ago that they didn't exist.
Later, after the young-uns headed back to the moral confines of Ohio, Rob and I went off to sample the full array of Junk Ditch brews—arguably the best meal I've ever had in Fort Wayne over many years of passing through, though the competition is not robust.

The next day was a long meander down to Lexington, Kentucky, on which we saw, among other sights, Miss Liberty in the weeds,

This is a metaphor for something, right?
a decapitated ice cream cone,

an Indian out of time,

Montpelier, Indiana
a whole lot of Mrs. Wick's pie,

While it's not depicted here, we have it on some sort of authority that Mrs. Wick's sugar cream pie is the official unofficial pie of Indiana. As best as I can tell, sugar cream pie in the generic is the state pie, but Mrs. Wick's is widely held to be the archetypal version.
that thing that was on the cover of that Beck album,

Actually, it's a Nancy Holt installation on the campus of Miami University.
and Kentucky's Ptolemaic and affecting Vietnam Veterans memorial.

This really gives you no sense of the place, sorry. Better you just go yourself.
Finally, the sun went down on a Kentucky curveball:

That brought us to the day of the ventriloquism museum. (How come you never hear much about Señor Wences these days?) Anyway, that day also saw the world's lamest Bible mini-golf. C'mon, guys, a place celebrating a carpenter who walked on water should be in good repair generally, but especially the water features. 

Later, unsurprisingly, there was baseball, and we could finally check off Cincinnati. Rob now has only Toronto, San Francisco, and Oakland to see among the major-league teams, while I have Toronto, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Like seeing a lousy thirty teams is any big whoop.

Joey Votto (not shown) looks kind of like Liev Schreiber, doesn't he?
The rain hit us hard the next day, both at a day game in Toledo, where a wardrobe malfunction didn't make things any easier

It turned into a banner day for sales of Turface, though.
and in Lansing, where, well, see for yourself:

Jackson, Tennessee, is that you?

They actually got in eight innings like this before giving up. We made it through seven of them.
In between, however, we fetched Watson from the Detroit airport, had some fine barbecue at Slow's, and got a good look at what remains of the Hamtramck Negro Leagues Stadium—

That is to say, not much.
—and had a swell time with some of Watson's relatives.

The next, last day was a madcap race around the middle of the Mitten, which was about as dull as you might think. But amid the driving we caught a day game in Midland, joined for a few innings by our old pal, the ex-mayor of Flint,

The children associated with all this crap were either raptured or on line at the Dippin' Dots stand, I'm not sure which.
then peeked into an abandoned mosaic house,

At least we think it's been abandoned.
took a look at a quasi-brutalist fish ladder in Grand Rapids,

This provoked many questions I could not answer with confidence, among them, "Are the fish going up the ladder or down?"
and climbed an earthwork by Robert Morris that was probably a lot more impressive when it was first constructed:

If you knew what was there before, you wouldn't be so goddamn critical.
We wrapped it up with a West Michigan Whitecaps game and a long, dark drive back to Chicago.

A band, a net, a canal, Dnaba.
In the words of the great man, "'S okay?" "'S-ALL RIGHT!"

Via http://www.vs-uc.com/2016/09/senor-wences-deefeecult-for-you-easy.html.

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