Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Urban Landscape

Of course you are. Today's photo jaunt takes us back to the great city of Philadelphia. I think you can click on the photo and see it in full-screen mode, but it doesn't always seem to work.
My little walking tour starts at Logan Circle, where the sign points to The Franklin Institute science museum, which they have taken to calling "The Franklin," and I couldn't for the life of me tell you why. That's the big fountain in the center of Logan Circle. Usually, there are kids wading in it, but I caught it at an opportune moment. We're looking northeast toward City Hall.
Below, we're looking across the Circle toward the Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, built in 1846 and the Sheraton Hotel, built much later.
There were kids playing in the fountain at Love Park. Not peeing, I hope.

A real urban landscape. Looking south on 15th Street. That Applebee's in the background used to be a fine restaurant called Bookbinder's. Like so many other things, it disappeared in the name of a big chain. Who wants to go to the city and eat at an Applebee's? Tourists.
City Hall, through the trees on JFK Boulevard.

Some acronyms maybe should be avoided. This little joint is in the middle of the "Gayborhood" on Locust Street, so I guess it fits.
There's a strange sculpture garden (kind of) outside the Reading Terminal Market. It's a big stone ball and a metal cone behind it. Mostly, homeless people sleep there.

The Reading Terminal Market is the place to go for just about anything. A great cheese steak from Rick's, who invented the thing; flowers for $6 a bunch and just about every form of produce, fruit, seafood or fresh anything you can imagine. The place bustles from the time it opens until closing at 6pm.

I love this neon sign that's visible from the outside.

That's the spire atop Independence Hall. Working my way east toward the Delaware River.
Here's another urban landscape for ya. I'd like to be able to tell you where this is, but let's just say it's in Olde City and leave it at that. I don't take notes. I liked the look of the cobblestone and the church spire in the background.

There was a Doo-Wop music festival going on at Penn's Landing today. Among the fans was a guy with a really big boat. That's the Delaware River and the Ben Franklin Bridge in the background. The fisheye is for Kimmyk, because I know she loves the fisheye.
I did a lot of walking today. I could have stayed longer, but I usually stop once my feet start to hurt. I don't know how many miles I walked, but it's 3 miles from Logan Circle to Penn's Landing, and I didn't walk a straight line. I'd guess in the area of 5 or 6 miles.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Now what?

The blank page.
I used to stare at it when I was in college, wondering how I would fill it. At some point I'd venture to the local library and the words would flow faster than I could write them. Often I would finish a ten page paper in less than one evening. That's where I learned how to rearrange paragraphs and develop a thesis statement. Those were the days.
That was before the blog. Now I can pepper this commentary with a catchy photograph, clever YouTube reference or just sit here until something comes to mind that makes it all flow together like the river of nonsense that it often is. It's easier now because I'm not being graded.
This is more permanent, though. I find that the odd Google search still turns up junk I wrote two years ago, as though it was some sort of opinion-based time capsule. My college papers, while nicely thought out, were just that - papers. I couldn't express an opinion or say fuck as much as I'd like because those professors were funny that way.
If I spent as much time editing these things as I did my college papers I'd barely squeeze out two a week. As it is, I spew this crap out on an almost daily basis and often look back and wonder what in Hell I was talking about. Maybe you do too?
I do.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Because I know you miss me when I don't write.

The summer Olympics start later this week, I think. I’m wondering if the Olympics aren’t just as irrelevant as beauty pageants. After all, it isn’t like the athletes of the world never get together. Plus, the sham of the USA basketball team is so ridiculous that it has gone from “Dream Team” (remember them?) to just a bunch of guys. I find it difficult to summon up a lot of Olympic Pride for LeBron James and the other billionaires.

So it turns out that Morgan Freeman’s car crash companion was his girlfriend and now that the cat’s out of the bag (so to speak) he’s admitted that he and his wife are divorcing. Ain’t that always the way? You’re out gallivanting with one of your wife’s friends and you flip your car over a few times. Let that be a lesson to you: If you’re gonna cheat, use public transportation.

I got that Garmin nüvi thing in the mail yesterday. What an awesome little piece of technology this thing is. It comes pre-loaded with points of interest with everything from ATMs to hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. It harkens me back to the days when dad would round us up and we’d go for a ride. Anyplace, just get in the car and go. Sadly, neither my father or cheap gasoline is around anymore; and the days of the joy ride are approaching an end. At least now I know I’ll never waste gas by getting lost and driving in circles, so in the long run the thing may pay for itself.

I got a nifty gift in the mail on Tuesday. It was a small box from Comcast that contained a card. I figure they put the card in a box to insure my opening it. Generally, anything in an envelope from the cable company that isn’t a bill goes straight to the trash can. Shrewd marketing. Sometimes I even throw the bills in the trash.
The card contained “congratulations” for my being a loyal customer for 17 years – as though I had a choice – and said that as a reward I could have a year of free Showtime, Movie Channel or Starz. Skeptically, I read the fine print (which happened to be in a strange small, grey typeface) and before I glazed over, I didn’t see anything that would lead me to believe that it was a scam.
I called the number and sure enough, a friendly Comcast representative assured me that it was legit, and asked, “Which one do you want?”
“I would like Showtime, please.” I said ‘please’ because I know that they record those conversations for reasons only they know.
In a wink of an eye I had Showtime on my TV. They do that stuff remotely now, which is interesting. I figure they can tell what I’m watching all the time too, which is why I watch a lot of high-brow stuff and try to stay away from the shopping channels and the equally stupid TV stations that play music, as though I want $60 a month radio.
So let the record show that 12 months from now I will have completely forgotten that the Showtime I’m watching is reaching its expiration date and I will start paying for it and procrastinate long enough to make their clever marketing campaign profitable.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Big Kid.

Here in Philadelphia we have a catastrophe that eclipses anything that is going on with that guy named Brett Favre. We have an offensive lineman who has stayed away from training camp because he is depressed.
It's funny (in a strange way) to hear commentators and read journalists grasp at straws trying to explain his illness and how it affects him and the team. It's funny because they really have no idea what they're talking about, which doesn't stop them from talking about it.
Shawn Andrews would be better off in society's eyes if he was an alcoholic or battling drug abuse. As it is, he's battling something as severe yet not nearly as understood. Some people in the media think he is faking it in order to get out of the heat and stress of training camp. Others think maybe ... just maybe ... he really is depressed but by their tone you can tell that they have doubts and figure that there's just a little faking involved, mostly because they haven't a clue.
The big issue isn't whether or not Shawn is telling the truth. The big issue is that people don't understand or have much sympathy for someone who is depressed and feeling badly about their life. They figure (some of them) that he should just suck it up and report to camp because some of them have to go to work every day and why shouldn't he? Shawn is 6'-4" and weighs (at least) 325 pounds. Big football players aren't supposed to act like "regular people" and when they do, it casts a pall on their bigness and makes them look (egad) like the rest of us.
It's been decided that a man who is 25 years old, can bench press 425 pounds and makes millions of dollars isn't supposed to feel badly about his life. He makes enough money that he is supposed to get out and do his job no matter how he (supposedly) feels. If you want depressed, look around. People are struggling to pay their bills, raise their kids and feed themselves. He makes more money than them and he's a high-profile athlete. Surely he has the inner drive to overcome such a silly disease as depression.
That's what you hear and it only serves to show the ignorance of the general public. Whenever you need to show the ignorance of the general public, try telling them that you're lonely, sad or depressed and watch the stupid comments fly. They'll tell you the things that they think they're supposed to tell you and make you think that there is something wrong with you, instead of what they should be doing, which is being supportive and understanding. The reason they can't do that is because they have no idea what is going on, which never stops the ignorant general public from having an opinion.
They'll run out a lot of cliché’s and talk about how they think he's faking it or wonder how a guy with "so much going for him" can be so down. Shawn would be better off if he was holding out for more money. That, they could understand.
What goes on inside someone's mind is completely outside the realm of their understanding, because they aren't deep enough to understand. They make jokes, ridicule and doubt because that is what they know best. They can't see anything unless it's on the surface.
If it isn't obvious they're oblivious.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's always the little things.

Did you miss me? I didn't think so.
If anyone thinks that the Green Bay Packers are genuine in their attempt to open up the quarterback job to competition now that professional pain in the ass Brett Favre has returned, they've got another think coming. The job is Favre's to lose and the farce (favrce) that this has become now drags itself into training camp while the media (spelled E-S-P-N) thinks that the world hangs on the goings-on with the Packers (Pack-of-losers). If I was starter/backup/starter/backup Aaron Rodgers, I'd walk out of camp the minute I saw Favre walk in. Then, I'd announce my retirement and ask the Packers to release me. If I didn't get a release, I'd write a letter to the Commissioner and ask for reinstatement. If he didn't reinstate me, I'd sue the league for unequal treatment. That way, I could prove that they made a special case out of Favre and don't always treat people equally. Hey, what good is making all that money if you can't enjoy spending it?

What we have witnessed lately with the price of gasoline is a classic example of good old-fashioned American marketing. They (them) drove the price up to 4-dollars a gallon, when it got to the point that they realized we couldn't take it financially and we started making adjustments to our lifestyles to compensate. Now, suddenly the price has dropped to $3.80 a gallon and will likely settle in the $3.60-$3.75 range. Meanwhile, hordes of consumers (sheep) will say, "Wow, that's better!" and the people in charge of setting the price will allow the price to settle. We (sheep) will think we're getting a break and the people selling it to us will still be making money hand over (clenched) fist. It's a racket, wherein the price goes up to the breaking point and settles back to a "comfort level" where the sellers realize that the supply equals the demand. It's as old as dirt and we fall for it every time.

I finally broke down (figuratively) and bought one of those GPS devices. After getting crossed-up on my way to The Dark Knight IMAX experience the other night (knight) I finally gave in to the idea that these things are worth the expense. I bought a Garmin nuvi 260, which is the lowest cost device that says the names of the streets as well as the distances. I need the road name. I looked at the TomTom, and while it's comparatively priced, I found that tests showed that the Garmin device gave more reliable directions. Plus, they have downloadable scenic drives that should be fun to do with the camera in tow. I figure, if I can use it ten times a year to go places I haven't been, it will more than pay for itself. I got it from Amazon, who beat the retail price substantially. I'll have to wait a few days, but I ain't going nowhere.
Now, if I get lost I have technology to blame and that's always better than blaming myself.