Suffolk, VA — Back on the East Coast and back in the South. It feels good to be in Flair Country. I still haven’t quite outrun the cold weather, but it appears as if snow is a thing of the past, and not a moment to soon.
I must give Pittsburgh its due. That is one happening little town with a vibrant arts community right smack dab in the middle of blue collar America. I enjoyed myself at the Andy Warhol Museum. I’ve always been a big Warhol fan and have wanted to see the place for years. Almost every aspect of his career and life was covred (painting, silk screening, film, music, writing, publishing, family, friends, shootings). My only complaint would be the repitition. Look, I know the guy liked Marilyn Monroe, but do we need to see the same piece over and over again. C’mon Warhol museum, a little variety wouldn’t hurt you.
Upon leaving Pittsburgh I had a traveling plan. I would drive across New York, find a nice little place near Cooperstown, check out the Hall in the morning and then hit New England (all the while taking more of the Drunken Mardi Gras conversations that had started about 10:00 AM EST). However, I lost yet another battle to Mother Nature (that bitch has got my number). Somewhere in central New York (I think between Rochester and Syracuse) snow started falling. I thought this was no big deal, seeing as how I was only a few exits away from where I had planned to spend the night. Here arised one of the first of several problems I would encounter on this particular evening. Apparently, the state of New York hasn’t gotten down with that whole name the exits after the mileage thing. So, even though I was only two or three exits away, I had no idea how far that would actually be (mileage wise). The snow not only continued to fall, but greatly intinsified. My visibility did not extend much past my windshield wipers. For much of this portion of the journey, I had no idea what, if any, lane I was in, or if I was even on the road. I decided it would be in my best interest to take the next avliable lodging opportuity and deal with this in the AM. But, because of the visibility issues, I completely missed not one, but two exits. When I saw the next one, I sslloooowwllyy veared down the ramp and through the toll booth. The only hotel avliable was what could generously be called a throw back. This placed used actual keys. With a “fuck it, this will do” attitude, I drove to the front of my room. I stepped out of my no longer slip sliding car and found myslef standing in snow that reached my mid calf. Whatever, all I wanted was four walls, a ceiling, a floor and a toilet. And that’s about all I got. Once in the room, I cranked the heat up to a Florida retirement community level, bundled up, and settled in for a long winter’s nap. After a reasonable amount of time, I noticed the room had not gotten any warmer. Sure enough, the heating system was not working. Once again the “fuck it, this will do” attitude came into play.
The next morning, a quick check of the weather let me know that the New England leg of this journey wasn’t happening. No biggie, just means I spend an extra day in New York. I hit Cooperstown to bask in the greatness. The Hall of Fame building is not the grand catherdral I expected. Just a modest looking brick structure in the middle of a small town. It was all I hoped it could be and nothing close to my dreams. There is just no way to squeeze the entire history of baseball and all those that have played it into one place. However, I did find that it was a good thing Mordeci Brown was not deaf. I marveled, I gawked, I smiled, I frowned. And I walked out mentally counting down the seconds to opening day.
I was off to the city and could already feel myself getting energized. I hadn’t been to New York in over five years, and I forgot how fucking much I fucking love that fucking place. Once settled into my hotel, I set out to see some stuff I hadn’t seen before. I walked around Time Square and Broadway (both were right out my door) because I had never seen them all lit up at night. With that mission accomplished, I found a nice pub to spend the next few hours in. The next morning brought snow, and a desire to stay under a blanket for a while longer. Then I headed downtown to go to Battery Park. Not an ideal day for such an envedour. I stopped by Ground Zero (this was my first time in NYC post 9/11). I have heard all of the comparisons between this area and New Orleans post-Katrina. With all due respect, there is no comparison. The reasons these two events happened are completely different, the feelings afterwords were completely different and the size and scope of the affected area is completely different. The only similarities I saw between the two is that they brought death and destruction to a major American city.
That night I was able to smile plenty as I got to hang out with Samantha in Union Square. She looked even better than I felt. We caught up on our loves, heartbreaks, conquests and careers. The next night my personal joy continued as I spent some quality time with Mandy. I got a super cool tour of her place of employment. We saw a quality show with some amazing talent. This leg of the journey reminded me that even though I have seen some amazing sights on this trip, seeing those I care about and don’t get to see often enough has been the true highlight.
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