Sunday, February 02, 2014

A return to Charm City

working backwards...

The idea came to me on a thursday.  I was in the supermarket shopping for my Grandfather, when the idea hit me that I could make an escape from suburbia up to Baltimore for the weekend.  It was an easy enough idea to implement, and I was off the following day.

After a wonderful gastrodiplomacy Peruvian lunch at Las Canteras with the PD Div of the Peru Embassy, I headed over to Union Station and was just in time to catch the MARC (not Acela!) train to Baltimore.  We sped out of the city and across white frozen Marylandia tundra.  We arrived shortly in Charm City, and it was nice to be back.

I meandered down to the hostel and checked in.  I hit the happy hour at favorite old speakeasy watering hole of The Owl Bar. After happy hour, I wandered out looking for a good Pakistani restaurant I had found prior, but no such luck.  I opted for cheap fair of a veggie delite at Subway.  The proprietor of the place was Moroccan, and between wonderful reminiscing over the Maghreb, I chided him for knowing what real food is (couscous, tajine) yet serve me Subway.

I grabbed a pint at the favorite catacomb bar The Brewer's Art, but it was busy in the underground so I made my way over to an Irish pub close to the hostel called Mick O'Shea's.  I ended up chatting with the fellow next to me, also named Paul.  Pauls are always good peeps.  Poor fellow had a water main break in his condo, and everything had been flooded.  He was living at a nearby hotel.  I bought him a Yuengling in sympathy,

I wandered back to the hotel, and ended up chatting with another pipe-smoking Paul.  Two Pauls, always auspicious.

On Saturday, I awoke to fresh waffles that I appreciate at the Baltimore hostel.

I traversed across the frozen grey Baltimore like a snow bedouin.  My face wrapped in Kyrgyz wool, with my eyes peering out the wool slits that was like a winter niqab.  I peered out like a desert dweller in a hamseen of snow flurry fury.  I sat out on a frozen grey-black harbor as grey-black and white birds sat on the frozen ice granite surface.  

And I made my way to the oasis of ideas that had been the beacon of my journey: the American Visionary Art Museum.  I entered the building of spirals of blue glass and mirrors, past a bus of the same visage.  In the reflections, I saw a glass-mirrored starry night of blue glass spin-wheel swirls.

All of a sudden we've lost control.  We can't turn off the internet; we can't turn off our smart phones; we can't turn off our computers.  You used to ask a smart person a question.  Now who do you ask?  It starts with G-O, and it's not god."
-Steve Wozniak

And with that, the most eloquent welcome:

Welcome Earthlings, techies and Luddites!

And some pearls of wisdom from Uncle Albert:

"If you can't explain it to a six-year old, you don't understand it yourself."

And some thought on Singularity: the point of which all the change in the last million years will be superseded by the change in the next five minutes.
-Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired Magazine

Others would term this point an Aleph.

The museum was filled with both beauty and wisdom.  Some more thoughts that resonated:

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
-R. Buckminster Fuller

"The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people."
-Karl Marx

But the real beauty of the American Visionary Art Museum is that I can barely describe either its beauty or its brilliance.  My words fail me to describe this precious gem.  It is unique and wonderful, and I can simply exhort on to visit it yourself.

Quo Vadis?

The afternoon meandered on with having drinks with a friend I had met on a previous trip to Baltimore.  A fellow named Jefferson, who has a background in military history.  We drank wine and Belgian beer as we spoke of the wars of the Old World.

Sunday was spent visiting the Walters Museum, which continues to astound me with its immaculate collection.  I took the advice of a guide, and started from the top and worked my way down.  I passed through halls of romantic landscapes, incredibly intricate crafts, stellar pocket watches and stunning armor.  The collection is really without compare.  In the Collector's Study, I could have spent months peering at all the intricate objects.

Genius lives on, all else is mortal.

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