Day Ten: Ol' Ironsides

The U.S.S. Constitution is on tap for today, and next the Museum of Fine Arts.

I was surprised when I typed 'Day Ten'. The days pass by more quickly once you get into a routine. I just realized I've been in Boston for five days now.

The plan is to get a digital camera before hitting the attractions.


I am now the very happy owner of a Samsung S730, in stylish red. The 1 GB memory card we bought turned out to be a 1 GB package containing a 2 GB card. After a ride where I became extremely carsick from staring into the camera's LCD display, I was dropped off at 1 Constitution Road in Charlestown.

The theme of the East Coast visit for me seems to be big. New York is big, my cousin's house is big, Boston is big, and the U.S.S. Constitution is big.

The museum separate from the ship itself is wonderful. I'm in their exhibit on the Barbary War, which is full of antique weapons, paintings, models, maps, and photographs. One excellent oddity is the mini-exhibit on the Tripoli Monument, which has statues of the female incarnations of Victory, Commerce, History, and America. The interesting bit is that America is represented as a Native American woman - imagery I've never heard of before.


I'm sitting on the deck of the dockside cafe, post-Constitution tour. I just finished a grilled Italian sausage that was more bellpeppers than sausage.

The Constitution is beautifully preserved, and probably looks better than it ever did when in service. It's the oldest commissioned seaworthy ship, and they'll be taking it out for a couple jaunts at the end of the month.

Our tourguide was Seaman Brooks, who was enthusiastic and retold stories of the ship with theatrical flair. Overhearing one of the other tourguides, we seemingly got lucky to have one who didn't recount ship history like he would recount a convoy's contents.

Every time I've been through a metal detector on this trip, I've made the mistake of wearing a belt (with a merchant ship on it, appropriately enough for today) on wide-waisted pants. I wonder if the metal detector was there by Navy regulation for a while, or if it's a post-9/11 addition. I assume the former, since the monument at Bunker Hill had only nominal security. If it's the latter, what role does the Constitution play in the war on terror?

There's a lone pigeon circling my table. If I don't leave the remains of the sausage bun for him, I fear he may kill me.

He braved my foot (getting an inch away) to capture half a piece of old French fry, which was promptly stolen from him by a sparrow.

The heel of my left Birkenstock is showing a bit of wear and tear. I'll have to fix that when I get home.

The museum gift shop is great, and I might give it another visit. I've already got a pin for my hat, amongst other sundries.

The double-As this camera came with are already giving out. I hope it doesn't go through others this quickly.

The U.S.S. Cassin Young is next door. It looks like it's open to the public too.


The Cassin Young is decommissioned and being restored by the National Park Service. The restoration process is going very well, and it gives me a chance to finish off the film in my disposable.

There's a closed off walkway on the foredeck that shifts back and forth with deep, ominous creaking.


I had some trouble getting the bus's fair machine to recognize my CharlieTicket (or CHAHLEETEEKET, as the bus driver says), and panicked for a second thinking the metal detector had fried its magnetic strip. Thankfully, it was just a stubborn machine.

The Duracels the camera came with are covered with abnormal amounts of Chinese. This seems to corroborate with the preferred theory that it's the batteries, not the camera, that are crap. After some shaking they seem willing to give me more pictures.

Now it's on to the Museum of Fine Art.


Sitting outside of what is billed by the building as the MVSVEM OF FINE ART, and it is a hell of a museum. Its exhibitions run the gamut, including European art ranging from 13th century sculpture to modern German photography, Oceanic art (including a memorial pillar like I saw and photographed at the Peabody), African, Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Islamic, Indian, Korean, Chinese (including a set of rooms entirely on furniture), Japanese, and American art, to name only the ones I can remember currently.

The Edward Hopper exhibit was entirely sold out, which seems to have forced the staff to let everyone in for free that evening lest they're forced to stack piles of money on the Ming dynasty couches.

As usual for me and the East Coast, the most impressive thing for me was the power of Huge. When you enter the museum you ascend steps flanked by 19th century reproductions of Greco-Roman statues, into a long hall and domed rotunda, with ceilings covered in murals of classical subject matter with a 1930s art deco edge to it. Flanking off from there is a gargantuan marble hall, walls stacked high with renaissance paintings, and a sprawling exhibition that spills out into two floors of Egyptian artifacts of every dynasty.

Alas, the gift store was severely lacking compared to the other museums I've been in. One highlight was a plain white ceramic mug, billed as a 'faithful reproduction of an American favorite'. Because of the Edward Hopper theme, I'm assuming it was some type of mug sold a quarter to the dozen to diners. No, MFA, I will not be spending eight dollars on your featureless, unremarkable, generic white mug. The store didn't even have post cards individually - only in packages of two dozen or more with accompanying envelopes. I don't have that many friends, MFA. In retrospect, I should've gone more hogwild at the Constitution museum store.

Highlights of the exhibits included the art of Takashi Murakami, a variety of pieces from the Harlem Renaissance, Diego Romero's pottery (which depicts scenes of modern life in the style of ancient Southwest Indian ceramics), an 18th century German imitation of Japanese or Chinese lacquer cabinets, and a German wood chest with exceedingly intricate inlays of variously hued wood to create landscapes.

Apparently photography was not quite as frowned upon as I had thought. Unfortunately, I left the camera in my bag when I checked it.

The Museum also has a very large and fancy in-house restaurant, with waited tables and all.

There was a great number of traveling European, East Asian, and Indian visitors to the museum. The Japanese exhibit was surprisingly popular with the Japanese visitors (thinking on it, this isn't that surprising at all - I'd want to see how a foreign museum displayed American art). The Japanese exhibit featured, among dozens of woodblock prints, a pair of naginata blades radiating an almost unnatural sharpness. They looked like they might slice their way out of the glass and stab into my throat if I wasn't careful. There were also three Japanese schoolgirls asleep on one of the museum's uncomfortable pleather couches, though in retrospect they probably weren't part of the exhibit.

I should start keeping track of what various WiFi networks are available from each location. Sitting on the MFA's lawn are such examples as 'pimplana' and 'fuck you'.


David saw Coco Crisp (the Red Sox centerfielder, not a cereal) just hanging out at a mall.


Back at the ranch.

Oh, cruel mistress that is television, why do you torment me by running MythBusters and Gorillaz Live In Harlem concurrently?

There is now a very personable calico cat here, abducted from Karen's house in her absence. She's happily making it very difficult for me to type.

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2 responses:

Can you post photos now?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 8:36:00 PM PDT  

How nice to hear from you again after such a long (over 24 hours!) hiatus. We need moe color. You have your fans to think of.
It is suddenly quite hot in Stumptown, the kind of hot that makes bus rides an ordeal and wearing too much perfume a criminal act.
Do me a favor and send a nice postcard to your Grandmother in Ohio.It's Verna Loftus
340 Eastern Ave #121
Newark Ohio 43055

Make her a happy old lady and give her something to crow about.

I was going to say she'd be tickled pink but we don't want to go there.

Nothing much going on here. We have the spineless Democrats to rail against, joining the heartless Republicans and the brainless President. The sunflowers are near knee high.
I miss you, laddie,


Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 8:55:00 PM PDT  

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