Magic Simulacra

Despite being educated about the evils of the Disney corporation in my post-adolescent years, the family and I had a memorable day at Magic Kingdom yesterday thanks to AM’s Papa and Nana (no way could we afford such fun on GA or contingent faculty $). We were there briefly in May, but we packed in a whole lot more yesterday: photos with characters, three parades, several rides (i.e. Small World, Mad Tea Party, Tomorrowland Speedway, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight Swiss, and Jungle Cruise) and and handful of shows and evening fireworks.

Fam with Mickey and Minnie

Having been to Disney World a few times as a kid (4th grade was thee trip I remember most) I think what I found most remarkable about visiting the park as an adult and with my 2-y.o., is how classic everything is. Many of the attractions — Small World, the Tea Party, Dumbo, Peter Pan, the Treehouse, Jungle Cruise — haven’t changed at all (or perhaps more honestly, I don’t remember them differently). I still have an LP of music from the park from the early 80s (so used and scratched up it barely plays) and the music for the Electrical Parade and the Tiki Room were instantly recognizable (the wiki for the Electrical Parade sketches its history in more detail than you can possibly imagine). It’s not that there haven’t been upgrades: the fireworks were preceded by a mega-tech, dizzying program of mashed up photos and animations that were projected on the castle. And they’re developing an entirely new Fantasyland for 2012. And while I imagine my impressions have more to do with desire, nostalgia, and my daughter than anything actual or material, many of the rides looked and felt as new as they did before 1987: a powerful display of simulacra upon simulacra.

Emily and AM on Dumbo

Aside from all this wow, I have to say that the staff and services were impressive. Unlike Seaworld, where you could feel yourself being shaken down at the turn of every park corner, one could imagine that bacon bringers might feel like they actually got something for their money: a clean park, happy children, and accommodating, professional staff everywhere. Since my dad shattered his heal in September, he had to use an ECV all day; surprisingly, we found most attractions accessible and the employees accommodating (designated HC spaces for parades, separate lines for rides, etc.). The only problem were the fellow tourists who would rarely give way or acknowledge his scooter (which closed in on their ankles).

Disney is obviously abominable in a number of ways (in fact, my students and I will look at the company’s ugly, aggressive, hypocritical stance toward intellectual property in WRT 205 this spring), and the park is unfortunately prohibitively expensive for most, but I was fortunate to have a great day with my family, and for that I am thankful.

Finally in FL


Still have a pile of student work to read and half the fam is sick (srsly, pink eye now?), but we made it out of NY this morning. Looking forward to spending time with everyone after a mega stressful end to the semester. Will try to keep things current on here and make better use of the WP mobile app.

Ithaca Weekend

We traveled to Ithaca this weekend to spend some rare time with our good friends Haley and Kevin. The four of us are always super busy so we actually set time aside (i.e. put it on the calendar) to hang for not one, but two nights. We could not have picked a better weekend weather wise and we managed to fit a bunch of outdoor time in, including a long walk up to the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell (which I had never been to before). If you haven’t been, I recommend a visit soon since one of their current exhibitions, Bursts of Light and Rifts of Darkness, features a few choice selections from the founding artists of Abstract Expressionism, namely Still, De Kooning, Rothko, Gottlieb, and Gorky (sorry, no Pollock). The exhibition only features five, mostly small selections from a minor collection (Cornell alum Peter Meinig), but AE generally holds a special place in my heart since it was the first phenomenon I genuinely felt worth studying in school. In fact, my first advanced composition (that I did well on, anyway) was a research paper on the movement for an English elective I took senior year of high school (printed on dot matrix, mind you). Mark Rothko in particular still remains my favorite painter of all time (tough his piece in this collection is a surrealist sketch from 1945 — before his color field paintings, which I particularly love).

It’s probably a stretch to say if it wasn’t for AE, I woud not be where I am now, but I certainly felt something in viewing these five pieces — a feeling I usually only feel at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo. Though I didn’t get to enjoy it too much since I had to be mindful of a certain hyperactive 2yo who somehow managed to escape me long enough to climb up the leg of a Giacometti sculpture. Thankfully the security at Johnson was friendly, even warning us about some of the more creepy video installations on the 3rd floor. Once we went through the three to four floors of art, we hit the elevator to the 5th floor which features a panoramic view of Ithaca set next to various pieces of Asian art.

After our trip to the gallery, Haley made some amazing bim bam bap and I helped Kevin and the band Why the Wires load in at the new “Space at GreenStar” venue by the Cayuga Lake inlet. Normally I wouldn’t be too jazzed about a 4-band show, but I had already peeped the internets for samples of the two local openers, Time Being and BEES///, and was particularly excited to see the headliner, Pterodactyl, since I had heard some of their stuff of Jagjaguwar, including their outstanding single, “Nerds,” from the about-to-be released record, Spills Out. All the bands were great, but this was Why the Wires’s best show yet. They played all new stuff and sounded tighter than ever. If you live in upstate NY, you have ample opportunity to check them out. [I got to take a bunch of shots with my SLR, too, which you can see more of on my Flickr site.] After a Shortstop sub and some clock turning, we hit the hay late on Saturday.

We left early on Sunday; the ladies made a shitload of Concord grape jam, which I plan to enjoy thoroughly through next fall. All in all it was one of those necessary weekends where we were able to get recharged and reinspired, even though it demands an uphill climb with the workload this week.

Glacier NP

After spending three great days in Billings, Nick and I took off for St Mary, on the eastern side of Glacier National Park. We took our time getting there, hitting Bozeman to catch the World Cup championship and then Helena to fill a growler with their single malt IPA at the Blackfoot River Brewing (one of the best breweries I’ve ever been to). We got to St Mary around 8:30, stunned by the scene of glacial mountains thrusting from prairie hills.

We got a good tip from Nick’s friends about a decent place to camp right on the border between the Blackfeet Reservation and the park, between the Upper and Lower St Mary Lakes. Turned out to be a sweet but not completely private spot (see second pic); local kids found it to be a favorite ATV spot and a safe point to shoot late-night fireworks (the latter was pretty sweet, actually). Once the the sun finally set around 10:30, the stars began to poke the sky and a nearly full moon emerged from the northeast after midnight. We stayed up until 3, which made it the latest night of the trip.

On Monday we drove the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Due to record snowfall (200%), the pass only opened the previous week; construction crews were still cleaning up flood damage from the rapidly melting snow. Although this held us up at times, the weather was perfect and visibility was incredible. At Logan’s Pass we saw mountain goats sliding down the snowy side of a mountain and a herd of big horn sheep prancing in the melt.

We drove all the way to Lake McDonald, hiking to Avalanche Lake in between (last pic). Nick, who has traveled extensively out west, thought it was the prettiest view he’s ever seen. After a great grilled cheese, hobo pie style, and a refreshing swim in McDonald, we hauled back to the campsite. Needless to say, we didn’t make much past midnight the second night.






Having a great time hanging with my buddy, Nick, in Billings. Yesterday we played an insane disc golf course outside of town on a 300 ft bluff, then took off for Red Lodge which is near the northeast corner of Yellowstone. Had a great drive to the summit. We didn’t see any mountain goats or bear, but lots of gushing water, snowpack, and wild flowers. We then turned around and headed to Bearcreek to check out the pig races and eat the best steak ever. We finished the evening with a trip to Red Lodge Brewery, a really great spot to sip their Bent Nail IPA or Czechmate Pilsner.





Buffalo Fireworks

After reading my pals’ inspired x-country bike blog this week (check it), I’m itching to hit the road again. I’ll be off to Montana a week from Tuesday, but before I do that all three of us are heading to Buffalo this weekend for my Aunt Barb’s annual Fourth Of July party. It’ll be a bit of a reunion: my parents flew in from FL last night, my cousin and her partner are driving from the ADKs, and of course we’ll catch up with some resident friends. For being only 2-3 hours away, we just don’t make it to my hometown enough and so a trip to Buffalo almost feels like a trip to Canada or FL.

Excited to see people, for sure, but also for live music. Friday night the ‘rents are watching AM so E and I can catch Centro-matic (the new album absolutely rules), Sarah Jaffe, and Roger Bryan and the Orphans at the Mohawk. I’m pumped about all three of these bands and a rare night out — and in Buffalo to boot. While on the road, I’m going to practice mobile (micro?) blogging with WordPress’s iOS app so bear with me.