APRIL 3-12, 2001 Philadelphia is an interesting city. It's an ideal stop for those least organized travelers because it's connected to several other cities along the East Coast, allowing for unplanned visits. In addition, it is the founding home of our current government and the old pre-revolutionary war buildings lie smack in the middle of downtown. Very walkable. I lucked out and toured the old city during a time when the sky was painted the color of copper beebees, giving the sepia feeling of historic photographs I was looking for. The weather, and lack of tourists, made it easy for me to imagine what it may have been like during that time when the nation began. It also made me have intense thoughts about our current state-of-government and newly court- appointed-president Bush. This, plus the general drabbiness and other things about Philly, made me feel sad alot of the time. It seems (at once) like an important place in this country's history yet it is also trashed to the point of bleakness. There are some very nice, friendly places to dine and drink and I found it easy to strike up conversations with people sitting next to me. That's funny 'cause I almost NEVER do that sort of thing but I found it easy to do it here. The most exciting part of visiting Independence Hall was seeing the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It looked just like it did in my history book! Except all of the tables were covered with a green cloth which seemed to symbolize how money has blanketed democracy with all its paper-thin ugliness. A few days later, some guy would take a hammer to the Liberty Bell. The media naturally made him out to be a loony, but I got his drift. I think he may have been a performance artist trying to strike a chord (no pun intended) on the state of this so-called democracy in America. My only advice to him would have been to make sure and cover the hammer in $1 dollar bills before doing the deed.
Visited my friend Belinda at Princeton. Princeton is THE oldest institution in the United States and it shows. The buildings retain an "Old World" flavor and one notices the lack of signage anywhere on the campus. If you are an undergrad, you must follow the traditions and one of those traditions is figuring how to get around campus without signs. The vibe is certainly one of "higher-education" as opposed to "college-atmosphere". People are there to study and learn and, seemingly, nothing else. I went to UC San Diego where studying went hand in hand with surfing, partying and more partying. It was not unusual in my school to talk about derivatives over a keg of beer. I think one would have to be "driven" at a very young age in preparation for a place like Princeton, or have very wealthy, influential parents who can buy a way in. Belinda now works on the campus doing, among other things, writing speeches for the Vice President (not Cheney), and enjoys it very much. I certainly received the A-1 tour and saw the primo super-secret-don't-tell-your-mama spots on campus. I did get the feeling that tradition (and secrecy) is a sacred function here and had the opportunity to sit in one of those over-blown, Look-at-me-I'm-a-great-white-Christian-guy type of chair in THE Princeton meeting room, usually reserved for discussions on how to take over the world, held by the suspicious sounding Princeton "Eating Clubs". For a moment, I could actually imagine I was Woodrow Wilson!! What a Thrill!! No, really it was! I'm serious!!
OK. So I get emails about my coy references to "fundraising" in my journal entries. Basically, if you've ever written grants for any non-profit you would get my meaning. For instance, I headed to Atlantic City for a little "fundraising" wink, wink, nudge, nudge. This fundraising helps determine if I will be camping out or staying in a nice hotel for the next few weeks. I find this method currently works for me. However it probably won't work forever so don't get any ideas that I'm gambling my way around the world!! In the case of Atlantic City, it's nice to walk on the boardwalk eating a greasy pizza while figuing out which numbers to play at the roulette table. Sometimes a hotdog will conjure up the right numbers. While in Philly, I met with one of my online distributors, Nora Barry CEO of Thebitscreen.com. She was the person who arranged to have my work shown at the Pompideu in France. Anyway, we shared some information over a very nice lunch at the 1521 Cafe in downtown Philly. I showed her some of my recent stuff and I'm encouraged to continue to create Cin(E)-poems for the rest of the year. Many times, its only in talking with people like Nora where I feel some kind of solidarity in that unknown void known (perhaps) as the "Art/Intenet/Multimedia" arena. As it would happen, someone was banging on the Liberty Bell with a hammer just a few blocks away. Most of my fondest memories of Philly and New Jersey were of the cabbies who were all too happy to tell me about how lithium and electro-shock therapy screwed up their lives for good. Sometimes I would get the friendly, yet burly and bombastic, former Vietnam Vet who says he gets "really upset" when someone brings up gun control. And I would say, "Well, lets not go there, man. Tell me, what was the weather like in "Nam?" I must say, I'm really glad I know how to talk to people one on one. It's all about listening, isn't it? After awhile, I was fuckin glad to bolt out of New Jersey, which smells and feels like it is the center of toxic hell or the devil's outhouse. It makes no difference! I don't know which is scarier; getting blood sucked out of you by a vampire in New Orleans over a period of seven days OR spending 15 minutes in a New Jersey taxi. Certainly, the people who live there must be some kind of mutants. Don't get me wrong, they seem friendly enough. It just seems like there is something terribly, terribly wrong with that place.
APRIL 13-15 Took the New Jersey Transit to Penn Station, NY. I'm staying in an apartment in Brooklyn for the weekend. The area I'm staying in is near Carroll Park and offers all sorts of restaurants, martini bars and funky shops. The weather was unusually nice I am told. It was like So. Calif weather all weekend and I was happy to wear shorts when going out day or night. Of course, it is incredibly easy to get around on the subway and Manhattan was about 15 minutes away. So we ate at several good places; everything from Tapas in Brooklyn, to a breakfast diner under the shadow of the World Trade Center, to dinner in Little Italy only a few blocks where "Frankie!" used to croon. I'd already been to the Empire State building and other sites a few years ago so I wanted to do more New Yawkish stuff like walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and visit the Metropolitan Museum near Central Park. The MET is a great place to relax and take in a variety of wonderful, diverse artworks. However, the best thing at the MET isn't necessarily the artwork but the courtyards which come complete with fountains, flowers, trees and benches. Belinda told me she would go to the MET all of the time just to sit in these areas all day. They just don't have this kind of atmosphere in the Bay Area museums which, in comparison, kind of suck. I all started to pick up a bit of the NY vernacular which, by the way, began to annoy my gracious host. I couldn't help but refer to numerical street names as, "Toidy, Toid and a Toid" or "Let's go to Pawk Avenue and Foity Foyth for a bagel" and then "Badda Bim, Badda Boom" we wuz dair. Naturally, everytime a taxi came to close to my body, I would say, "I'm walkin here, I'm walkin here, Gumba!" What's wrong? You lookin at me? Ah, you lookin at me? OK I'll stop. I'm dying here! You're heartless! All in all, this was a fantastic weekend and a whole helluva lot of fun playing the Shmo from Brooklyn! Bring back dem Dodgers!
APRIL 16-17 Took the Amtrak from Penn Station to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A 29 hour train ride! However I would still prefer a 29 hour train ride to even a 4 hour flight. On a train there is more room to spread out and you get to see so much more. That and the chance to catch up on technology things so I can spend more time checking out other sites. This morning, the sun rose, and I could see the lush beauty of the Carolinas and Georgia zoom past me. Every now and then a lake or stream would pop up so invitingly. A small boat filled with fishermen of varying ages would appear in a blink of an eye, then vanish. Lonely roads, old houses, silent, glassy ponds create such a serene setting. I can imagine sitting in a rocking chair, staring at nothing in particular, for hours with my dog at my feet and an Uzi submachine gun on my lap. It's fun to sit in this here chair, staring out at the country side streaming by, wondering about these places, and thinking there is so much more to see! Now in Florida, I can feel the hot weather through the train window and a few palm trees conjure up the familiar. I think I'm going to like it here for the next few weeks before heading up to Minnesota for a week long presentation and workshop. I lucked out, Southwest Airlines was having an online special for one way travel to ANY cities it serves for only $99! Limited time only but it works out so I can fly between Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale for a little over $200.