Thursday, July 30, 2009

North Dakota, South Dakota, Marilyn Monroe

Mitchell, South Dakota

  • We had our first bad weather day as it rained most of the morning and early afternoon. Classic South Dakotan rainy summers.
  • We visited Mitchell’s “Corn Palace,” a tremendous building first constructed at the turn of last century and the brainchild of two men with awesome mustaches designed to serve as the centerpiece to an annual corn exposition that would promote South Dakotas’ corn production. A huge sign when we walked in declared it to be the “world’s only corn palace.” We were shocked to learn that there weren’t many other corn palaces scattered across the globe.
  • The palace was littered with puns everywhere we turned. Snacks were sold at “Corncessions,” an event was described as “a-maize-ing,” and our guide referred to a “cornparison’ between two murals.
  • The exterior of the building has murals from previous years depicting incredible pictures and scenery. The murals are made entirely out of corn. Other murals hang in the auditorium inside, which is also used to host basketball games and concerts.

Kimball, South Dakota

  • En route to the Badlands, we stopped when we saw a sign for a tractor museum on the side of the road. The museum was made up of 3-4 buildings, which mostly contained old John Deere tractors.
  • Our tour guide asked Butch and Ushi if they were twins.
  • The highlight of the museum was a small, one room schoolhouse. They had two old gradebooks from the 1940s still intact with names and grades. I love the potential of being able to confront someone with the knowledge that they got a C in math in 3rd grade.
  • Ushi asked our tour guide if he could buy a book from the schoolhouse because he likes “vintage stuff.” They negotiated a price of $5. Classic New Yorkers it starts with a $5 book. By this time next year, we’ll own half the real estate in South Dakota.
  • She asked us where we went to college. When she didn’t know what Yeshiva was and we explained that it was a Jewish college in New York, she made a quizzical look that implied she had never heard the word “Jewish” before. And I supposed we all look the same, too, right?

The remainder of this post was authored by Butch. It is presented to you in its full, unedited form with several “Av’s notes” where indicated.

The Badlands

As always I prefer to number than to bullet. And not just to be different.

  1. Like most days of my life I was automatically reminded of The West Wing today because of Mount Rushmore. Let me say this in very definite, certain terms. There is no competition between North Dakota and South Dakota. It is not merely a relative temperature or geographical discrepancy that favors the southern state. Nor is it because the word South inspires more fun. South Dakota is the only Dakota that matters because of the vastly entertaining nature of its landscape and the good humor of its people. (Av’s note: Of course we haven’t been to North Dakota, but we rightfully assume that it sucks.)
  2. Imagine a mini version of the Grand Canyon that possesses tall sweeping crags that rise seemingly into the clouds, and also has the dramatic, beautiful chasms. Now also imagine Av's face when we passed one of many "Beware- Rattlesnakes" as we ambled up to a small peak. (Av’s note: It is still extremely unclear to me why nobody else was taking these warning signs seriously.) Imagine also that a duo of New Yorkers that had driven to the Badlands in 33 hours straight asked us for ways to enhance their trip. Of course we knew they were Jewish because they were from New York. The Chai necklace also helped. But the best part is that the US Government was good enough to build a highway that loops through this wonderland of the Dakota prairie which has glorious viewpoints every few thousand feet and offers spectacular views in all different varieties of elevation, and easy access to many walking/hiking trails. Woe was us that we didn't have time to camp and hike more.
  3. The first hundred or so signs for Wall Drug on I-90, beginning way back in Mitchell, were ignored. The next hundred or so got us curious. By the third hundred we had no choice but to research the early drug store whose claim to fame was that it offered Mt. Rushmore visitors free ice water. The small drug store from a town of 231 in a town "in the middle of nowhere" (as quoted by Mr. Hustead, the owner, and most genius marketer in the history of the world) became popular enough to spawn a restaurant and second coffee chop. Then the restaurants and coffee shops got together and had little souvenir shop babies and adopted all manner of cowboy themed shops, banks, art museums, hotels, an 80 foot dinosaur replica, and a chapel. I think Wal- mart stole its business plan from Wall Drug. They sell everything and they have an entire town of stores. Needless to say we created a photo album of the fourth hundred Wall Drug signs. And the coffee was only a nickel. A Nickel!

    Mount Rushmore

  1. With just minutes of daylight left we first glimpsed the perfect blend of natural wonder and man made art for the first time. You don't really need to keep reading because there are no words. But then you'd still be bored at work, so I'll just throw some up here, you know, for the kids. With time to burn before the lighting ceremony at 9 we visited the museum. All museums would be more fun if they had displays that allowed you to mimic blowing up parts of mountains by pushing old school dynamite plungers. We learned many fun facts. For example, the mountain was named after Charles Rushmore, some lawyer from NY that visited the site in the Black Hills Mountains some time in 1885 (Av’s note: more national monuments should be named after lawyers from NY.) Apparently he just asked for it to be named after him. It seems that nobody until then had thought such a dumb move could work. It took 14 years to build and cost $1,000,000. Which back then was still a lot of money. The actual work only took about six years due to constant funding problems and political battles. Washington's head was completed in 1930, but Lincoln's was completed in 1937.
  2. Classiest Park I have ever been to. A park ranger spoke to us about her experiences in Africa during her time in the Peace Corps. Having to speak about America every day to try and explain American life to the natives helped her gain a deeper love for the vast differences all Americans bring together to weave the beautiful tapestry of our country.
  3. Next there was a video giving an overview of American history, stressing the importance to the nation of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt- because the 4 Presidents chosen were meant to personify the growth of our nation from Revolution and infancy, to vast western expansion, to renewed strength and unity, and finally to a national will exerted on the global stage. (Av’s note: We learned that at 21 inches, Washington’s nose is 1 inch longer than the other 3 presidents. Perhaps a certain incident involving a certain cherry tree caused George’s nose to grow slightly longer than Honest Abe, Tom, and Teddy.)
  4. A Boy Scout troop ceremonially took down our star spangled banner and folded it up so that all the military servicemen present could place his or her hand on it and tell us in which department of the armed forces they served. After the video we sang the National Anthem as the lights gradually illuminated the sculptures atop the mountain. It was touching and felt patriotic. Since I'll clearly not have to opportunity to defend Freedom my next best option was to practice the capitalism so dear to our hearts. So I bought a T-shirt at the gift store with a big eagle on it.
  5. Before the ceremony began we had a nice round of presidential trivia with a park ranger. Some were obvious. Taft was the biggest, Lincoln the tallest, Madison the smallest. Adams and Jefferson died on the same day... Some were interesting. Clinton never met his dad, Teddy Roosevelt, not Kennedy, was the youngest president. But the best question was indeed the trickiest. Who becomes president if the Vice President passes away? Most, but definitely not all, of the people in the amphitheatre shouted out "The Speaker of the House.” They were all wrong. The president would still be the president. He wasn't dead in the example. Better Shtick could not have been had.

Av's note: We departed Mount Rushmore and drove southbound. We stopped for the night to spend Tisha B'av in a small town 2 hours north of Cheyenne called Douglas, WY. Next year in Jerusalem...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From Non-Heaven to Somewhere in Middle America


Dubuque, IA
  • We spent the night in Dubuque, IA, which rests on the Mississippi River. At breakfast, the news was on and Nancy Pelosi was speaking on TV. The woman sitting at the table next to me called her a "maniacal woman" who claims to know what Americans wants but clearly doesn't because "you don't live in my house!" Glad to be in red-state America.
  • We found a local attraction called the Fenelon Place Elevator. It is a mini-tram that you can ride about a hundred feet up and down a mountain, at the top of which you can see a stunning view of the Mississippi River and into Wisconsin and Illinois. (The elevator was originally built to accommodate a local state senator who didn't want to have to climb up.) The address we had for the place was at the top, though, and since we already had access to the view, we didn't see any point to pay them $1 to go down the mountain, where there is nothing. We think someone in their marketing department should change the official address of the attraction to the bottom of the mountain, so that people have a reason to use their service.
Dyersville, IA
  • On Monday afternoon, I was somewhat down on baseball. As one of our commenters alluded to, it was a confusing and embarrassing day to be a Mets fan, with the debacle that was the Minaya press conference still fresh in our minds. I needed to be inspired. First, I got word of a dramatic Mets win on a huge Tatis grand slam, a win so eloquently described by Faith and Fear in Flushing: "The intrinsic beauty and joy of the game of baseball is asked to redeem a lot about the sorry and ugly business of baseball. Sometimes the asking seems like too much. But incredibly and improbably, baseball often manages to pull it off. Nothing about the Mets' team coming back to beat the Rockies makes the Mets' organization less of a mess. But for three hours, somehow, the Mets made me forget about the Mets. And for that I'm grateful." (hattip Binny.) This feeling was amplified by watching in person as the Cubs won on a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 13th and a near full crowd poured out onto Waveland Avenue singing "Go Cubs Go" in unison. The icing on the cake, however, was the Field of Dreams.
  • The Field of Dreams is located on a farm in Dyersville, IA, and was constructed in the summer of 1988 for the filming of the legendary Kevin Costner movie of the same name. It is wondrous to see in person.
  • We spent the next hour or two running around the field like little kids: playing catch, taking batting practice, watching families take the field and run the bases. For that short time, I was brought back to a place in my life that was pristine and pure and untainted by the havoc of real life, a time and a place where "Field of Dreams" was the defining piece of culture in my life and baseball was the only thing in the world that I truly cared about. (To those who might claim not much has changed, I would respond that now I also care about Pearl Jam.) For two hours yesterday, I was a child again.
  • In the words of the great Terrance Mann: "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."
  • They built it, we came. You should too.
Des Moines, IA
  • Des Moines was a decent looking city and definitely much better than we expected (sometimes your impression of a city has much more to do with your expectations than with its actual qualities - see below), but there wasn't too much going on.
  • We found a central monument area that contained the Iowa State Capitol (a beautiful building) as well as monuments to those Iowans lost in Vietnam, Korea, and at Pearl Harbor.
  • We found a local bar to try to get a sense of the life there. The bartender was holding a one year old baby behind the bar. They don't have that in bars in New York.
Omaha, Nebraska
  • The image I have of Omaha, Nebraska and of any person that is from there was radically altered by the 2 hours or so that we spent there. A locale that I envisioned as a tiny, farm town is, in fact, a stunning city with parks, arenas, and stunning architecture. We were shocked.
  • We walked across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which is the only purely pedestrian bridge in the US that connects two states. It was opened to the public on Sept. 28, 2008. One day, I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I walked across the BKPB (that's what they'll call it then) during its inaugural year.
  • The bridge spans the Missouri River, which we were surprised to learn, at 2,341 miles, is the longest river in the country. We had just assumed it was the Mississippi, which it meets in St. Louis. It must be a crazy party when the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers get together.
  • There were signs on the bridge that identified the Missouri River as "a river of hope", "a river of change", and "a river of the people." Hmmm, hope and change...where have I heard that before? And once we thought about it, the words "Obama" and "Omaha" kind of look and sound the same. There's definitely something going on here. From now on, both will be referred to as "Obamaha."
  • Butch: "This is a bridge to nowhere. Why doesn't everyone get all up in arms on Nebraska's case."
  • We then visited Heartland of America Park, which is adjacent to the Old Market, a lovely part of town filled with bars, shops, and ice cream parlors. It might sound crazy, but Obamaha would not be a terrible place to live. Just saying...
  • Obamaha may have the highest graffiti per capita of any state in the US. Unsure how to verify this.
We had planned to drive up to Sioux Falls, SD to spend the night, but when we called to book a motel room, we learned that literally every room in the city and nearby area was booked for the night because of some massive softball tournament going on there today. We had to venture an hour deeper into South Dakota, where we found a gorgeous, affordable motel in Mitchell, San Diego. We passed the Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of the "Little House on the Prairie" series) home about 20 minutes outside Mitchell on the way here, but assumed it would be closes at 3am. Today we will find out what else South Dakota has to offer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Fell In Love Again, All Things Go..

...Drove to Chicago...
  • We got into Chicago on Sunday night and having not eaten any real food all day, found the only kosher place known to be open late at night. We saw it in the distance and parked in front, only to find that the door was locked. There were people inside who all motioned that they were closed. We were too hungry to give in, so we called the number on the door and after some pleading and relaying our sob story, we were allowed in. We then proceeded to gorge ourselves with pizza, fries, and nachos, and in Butch's case, pea soup and tuna.
  • Monday morning, Butch and I went for a jog along the shore of Lake Michigan. They have a "dog beach" there. Humans are permitted provided they are kept on a leash.
  • We spent the afternoon in downtown Chicago, which is a positively beautiful city. I immediately noticed the very different and what I thought was very cool architecture of many of the buildings downtown. Ushi later informed us that Chicago is known for its modern classical architecture. I was very impressed with myself for noticing this on my own.
  • We visited Millenium Park, which is host to a bunch of various large tsatskes, including an awesome inverted reflecting metal statue thingie that turns into an amazing fun house mirror when you get close to it. Butch and I thought it was insanely cool. Ushi deemed it to be trite and artistically insignificant.
  • We then visited the adjacent Grant Park, where we celebrated Obama's election victory. (We repeatedly yelled "Obama!" and "change!" while pumping our fists in the air.) It was awesome. I asked a park employee if Obama was there now and he said "No, but he was there yesterday." Unclear if he was actually there or if this guy was so high on crack that he thought it was still the day after Election Day.
  • On our way out of the park, we saw a group of people playing what appeared to be softball, only they were playing with a ball double the size and much softer than a softball and none of the fielders were wearing gloves. It looked incredibly fun. I inquired about it and was told that this was "Chicago-style" softball. I would love to organize a game of this as soon as I get back...who's in?
  • If you are interested in hearing the plot to a movie Ushi and Butch devised in which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the lone loyal secret service agent amongst a corrupted agency intent on framing him for an assassination attempt against Barack Obama that in fact is being planned from inside the secret service, please consult one of them. It didn't make any sense to me. (Also, he may be from the future. Butch and Ushi disagree on this point.)

Wrigley Field- Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros

  • We got 3 bleachers seats but weren't able to find 3 seats in close proximity until the 3rd inning. I brought a sandwich and ate it once I was seated. I heard the people next to me whispering and snickering, saying something to the effect of "is he here for dinner or
    for a ballgame?" They had a similar reaction when I checked my blackberry. Ok, fine, so they are real elitist baseball purists, I get it (although I think eating is a normal activity at a baseball game, but that's just me.) This is what I assumed until 2 innings later when the
    cheesy Cubs photographer came around and they posed for a picture together. That could have been excusable if not for the fact that an inning after that, I heard one of them politely explain the strategy of intentionally walking the 8th hitter with the pitcher on deck and 1st base open to his confused friend. WTF?
  • In the 4th inning, Derek Lee hit a solo HR to left field. By standing on my seat in the last row of the lf bleachers, i was able to see the ball clear the fence and land on Waveland Avenue, where it was retrieved a young child. This child has already led a more exciting life than most human beings.
  • In the top of the 8th inning, Aaron Heilman entered the game as a relief pitcher for the Cubs. I booed loudly for most of the first at bat he pitched. Nobody else seemed to join in. I assume that some time this fall, Heilman will ruin the Cubs' season and those fans near me will say "ah, that's why that guy was booing 2 months ago."
  • In the bottom of the 8th inning, Astros' pitcher Latroy Hawkins was tossed for arguing balls and strikes. As he exited the field, the crowd chanted "you suck" as Astros' leftfielder Carlos Lee danced along to the beat.
  • At some point, the left field bleachers started chanting "right field sucks," ostensibly taunting their fellow Cubs fans who were seated in the opposite bleachers. I don't think I have ever seen anything like this at a sporting event in my life.
  • In the bottom of the 9th, the Cubs had the bases loaded with 1 out and Mike Fontenot at the plate. Piniella called for the suicide squeeze, Fontenot waived at it, and the runner coming home was a dead duck. Fontenot then hit a deep fly to center that would have easily won the game, but it was caught to end the inning. Same 'ol Cubs, but free
    baseball for us.
  • If the Cubs ever build a new stadium (and they will one day, traditionalists
    be damned), they should incorporate the adjoining rooftops into the
    structure of the new park.
  • Speaking of those rooftops, one of the roofs in right field has a sign that reads "eamus catuli" and below it "AC0063100." Through a little research, we learned that the former is Latin for "go little bear" or more simply, "go cubs." The latter stands for "after championship" and the subsequent numbers recount the number of years since the Cubs last won a division (0), pennant (63), and world series (100), respectively. Will we see "AC000000" in our lifetime?
  • In the bottom of the 11th inning, Alfonso Soriano hit a weak grounder down the 3rd base line and thinking it was foul (he said later that it hit his foot), did not run. He was easily thrown out and was booed loudly for his lack of hustle. So we see that Cubs fans know how to boo, just not how to boo Aaron Heilman.
  • Soriano got a quick chance to redeem himself, however, as in the bottom of the 13th he blasted a walk-off grand slam to give the Cubs a dramatic 5-1 victory...Hey Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are gonna win today!!! Go Cubs go!!
The only downside of the free baseball we had been awarded, is that it resulted in us arriving at our next destination -- Dubuque, Iowa -- very late at night. We crossed the Mississippi River at 3am, reminiscing about the days of yore, a time in this land's history when doing so was genuinely a historic accomplishment, yet still being thoroughly satisfied with ourselves for making it this far.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

We have experienced our first act of spontaneity and with it, our first change in schedule to our road trip itinerary. As you may have inferred from the end of the previous post, we were supposed to go to Detroit on Sunday, where we planned to attend a Tigers game and perhaps buy some real estate. However, over the course of our Shabbat in Beachwood, we were informed that there would be a Nascar race taking place in Indianapolis on Sunday, a mere 5 hours away. We quickly agreed to ditch Detroit in favor of what we anticipated would be a once in a lifetime, real American experience.
  • We spent the night in a small motel in Richmond, Indiana, about an hour away from Indianapolis. We were warned on the phone that it was going to be very loud there because a baseball team was staying there for the night. We were a little excited for this for about half a second until we remembered that this was a $70 a night motel in the middle of nowhere Indiana. The baseball team staying there was probably not going to be the Cubs.
  • We awoke to a continental breakfast of cereal, coffee, and not much else. The following conversation actually occured...
    Ushi: What type of milk do I normally use?
    Me: How should I know? What color is the carton usually?
    Ushi: I think red.
    Me: Well that is typically whole milk, but that surprises me...
    Ushi: Oh, well I think it might be some type of organic brand, but I'm not sure
    Butch: Are you serious? How can you not know what type of milk you drink at home?
    Ushi: Oh, well I'm sorry I'm not some sort of milk expert like you guys.

    Apparently Butch and I would be wise to switch career paths and tap into our vast milk expertise and take that show on the road. More importantly, we learned that Ushi has never purchased a carton of milk in his entire life.

The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

  • I am sometimes jealous (at least in theory, but not really) of the people that live in smaller cities. They have one or two sports teams and when they host events, the entire city gets taken over by it. In New York, if a local team is a contender, half the city is probably rooting against them, and a good portion of the city is too preocuppied with other activities to care. Yesterday was probably one of the 3 biggest days of the year in Indianapolis and the race's presence was felt in every square inch of the city that we passed through.
  • There was limited parking in the actual Speedway, so the people who lived nearby, starting 2 or 3 miles away in both directions, converted their front lawns into parking lots. The prices ranged from $50 right across from the Speedway to $10 a few miles away. We opted for a convenient, but not too pricey $20 lawn.
  • Perhaps the best aspect of this experience that puts these races way ahead of other events in this regard, is that they let you bring in your own food and drinks, and as much of it as you want. People wheeled in giant coolers filled with beer, sandwiches, and who knows what else. We entered with bags of chips and cheese curls and a 12-pack of PBR.
  • The first thing you notice as soon you walk in is the sheer vastness of the Speedway (we had to take a tram to get from the entrance to our seats because it was too far to walk) and the incredible volume of people that are there. Officially, the capacity of the venue is 400,000 people. Attendance was evidently way down from last year (apparently even Nascar races aren't recession proof), but still, there is something about 200,000 or so people joining together in a common purpose that gives even things you might think are dumb tremendous cultural significance. This is what we were there to witness.
  • We made it to our seats moments after the green flag was dropped by Indiana Pacers' rookie Tyler Hansborough. As the cars came around the corner, they seemed to be moving pretty slowly and nobody seemed that excited. I asked the guy next to me if this was some sort of practice lap. He told me that they do 3 warm-up laps before they start the actual race. "Don't worry," he said. "You'll know when they're going for real."
  • And we did. There are two basic words in the English language that you can't fully comprehend until you have been to one of these races.
  • The first word is "fast." When they kicked into gear and came around that first corner, those cars were moving faster than anything I have ever seen moving in my entire life. The official gun in the center of the track clocked them ranging from 130-150 MPH, but our quick math (average of about 50 seconds a lap on a 2.5 mile track) yield a speed upwards of 170 MPH. The official qualifying speeds corroborate our version.
  • The second word is "loud." I have been to loud football games, rock concerts, airports, on 96th street at night, you name it. But when those cars pass by it gets so loud, not only can't you talk, you can't think. Initially this wasn't a big deal because of the 50 seconds that comprise a lap, the cars zoom by for about 15-20 seconds from the leading car to last place and then you have about a 30 second break before they come around to you again. However, as the race goes on and the pack spreads out, this break is eliminated. There is a constant loudness as literally every 2 seconds another car zips by.
  • Laps 30-130 (of 160 in total) are pretty boring. We moved into a grass area in the center of the track, where you could lay out about 15 feet from the track. We wanted to fit in, so we removed our shirts for a little bit. For Butch, this was normal procedure for outdoor events.
  • When the race was nearing its end, we decided to move to the stretch of the track near the finish line so that we could watch the exciting conclusion live and in person. I was a little surprised that we were able to do this so easily, as there were plenty of open seats. I was more surprised that nobody else was trying to do this. Evidently, people in Indiana don't know about "moving to better seats."
  • Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, winner of the 16th annual Allstate 400 at the Brockyard, and the 1st racer to win it in back to back years. We learned in the parking lot on the way out that he is also a very prominent child molester. We have no way of knowing if this is true.
  • If you ever find yourself in a position to attend one of these races, do not pass it up. It is an extremely fun and cool experience that is worth doing once in your life. I don't plan on ever attending another one in my life but making it to one was very worthwhile and was an experience I don't think I will soon forget.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cleveland Easy Listens

Yes, that's right. See, Cleveland does not rock. That expression is a misrepresentation. Now, it's not terrible, but "rocks" is a stretch. We thought "Easy Listening" was a more accurate musical metaphor.

Our main stop in Cleveland was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Among the 1st things we saw when we walked was a newly furbished memorial/tribute to the late Michael Jackson. And here I thought one of the primary purposes of this trip was to get away and avoid all things Michael Jackson for at least one day.
  • Part of the tribute was the following quote from Usher, who like Jackson also sings musical songs: "I would not be the artist, performer, and philanthropist I am today without the influence of Michael." First of all, fuck you Michael Jackson. Secondly, philanthropist? Michael Jackson's influenced Usher to become a big philanthropist? Are you sure you meant "philanthropist"? Are you sure you didn't mean "child molester."
  • We wondered where the term "rolling stone" originated. We were able to identify 4 uses off the top of our heads: 1. The Rolling Stones 2. Rolling Stone magazine 3. "Like a Rolling Stone," by Bob Dylan 4. "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," by The Temptations. So, where did it start? Are any or all of these referencing each other or are they each referencing something else entirely or are none of them referencing anything?
  • Featured in an exhibit about the decrying response to the rock movement and its counterculture was the following quote, attributed to a San Antonio councilman: "The 1st Amendment should not apply to rock and roll." Which is weird because rock songs are probably the main things shouted in crowded theaters. The craziest thing about this quote is when it was said. You would probably guess the 60s, right? You would be wrong. 1985! Way before Nirvana! Hadn't people given in and accepted this whole "crazy kids with their loud music" by 1985? Apparently everyone but one San Antonio councilman had.
  • One of the exhibits had juxtaposed pictures of Chris Brown and Rhianna performing in concert. Problem #1: Chris Brown and Rhianna= rock stars? I think not. Problem #2: Seems the R&R HOF missed the whole Chris Brown beating the shit out of Rhianna extravaganza.
  • I liked this Bob Marley quote: "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." Now, Chris Brown, on the other hand...
  • We watched a 40 minute movie that had excerpts from Woodstock. This movie was terrible and made the festival seem very bad. Every other movie or feature I have ever seen about Woodstock has made it seem like the most amazing 3 days in the hisotry of the world. I can only conclude that the title of this movie was "Woodstock: The Worst 40 Minutes."

After the Hall of Fame, we did everything else fun there was to do in downtown Cleveland. This took 0.08 seconds. Actually, that's an exaggeration. Those extra 0.08 seconds were totally fabricated. Hence, the whole "Cleveland does not rock" declaration above. We walked around aimlessly looking for something cool to do or look at. We even asked a local "is there anything fun to do in Cleveland?" She responded without any words, but rather merely with a bemused facial expression that implied she had never heard the words "fun" and "Cleveland" used so close to each other. Turns out we are not the first people to realize that Cleveland is lame. These guys filmed an elaborate documentary on the subject. Then, they filmed a sequel. "Cleveland: we're not Detroit!" Can't wait to visit Detroit on Sunday!

Update on our battle with law enforcement: we visited the Beachwood municipal court to see if we could expedite the process and find a way to take care of the ticket without appearing before a judge. We left a message with the magistrate judge, asking for leniency. We got back word that the judge was so horrified and offended when he heard that we had been speeding 30 miles over the limit, that he could not accept a plea that didn't include the following terms: Butch would have to pay $300 and accept a suspended jail sentence of 2 days that would be enforced against him if he is caught speeding any time in the next 6 months. Butch did not accept this deal. We will keep you updated as events continue to unfold.

Argument of the Day

What makes a game a "perfect game"? Should it count as a perfect game if a pitcher throws 9 perfect innings but is then pulled when the game goes into extra innings? Is pitching 9 perfect innings a perfect game or do you have to finish the whole game? If so, what if a pitcher comes in at the beginning of the 2nd inning and then pitches 9 perfect innings? How about if someone pitcher 5 perfect innings in a rain-shortened game?


  • I am always amazed at how despite planning for hours, days, or months leading up to a trip, it seems like we always find ourselves running late and scrambling at the last minute. We were planning to take a 3:00pm bus out of Port Authority to Scranton, PA (more on that later.) The bus company advised being there 30 minutes before and we still had to buy tickets, so I figured it made sense to leave no later than 2:00pm. At 1:50pm, Butch was in my apartment, saying he was going to just “run back home and take a quick shower” and then he would be ready to go. Wonderful. At 2:02pm, I received a text from Ushi, saying “running a little late, can we do 2:10 instead?” More wonderful. We ended up getting a ride to the bus station with Ushi’s lovely wife and made it to our bus with minutes to spare, Butch running through the streets of Manhattan with a cooler propped up on top of his rolling suitcase and Ushi laughing like a drunken hyena, for the home stretch.
  • The area where tracks 1-50 in the Port Authority Bus Terminal is located looks less like New York than any other part of New York
  • Butch brought a “deck” of cards for the trip. It was missing 3 cards.
  • Right before we departed, I noticed that we were on bus # 815. All I’ll say is that if we disappear for 3 months and they claim they found us at the bottom of a trench in the ocean, don’t believe it for a second.
  • Butch ended up seated right behind me next to a girl from Stroudsburg, who engaged him in a long conversation as soon as she sat down. I only heard bits and pieces of what they were discussion but to me, she seemed extremely dumb. (Butch later confirmed her dumbness.) 43 minutes into the trip (how do I know it was exactly 43 minutes? You’ll find out soon…) a man a few rows behind us begins shouting at Butch and his lady friend that he was trying to sleep and that he didn’t “care where you went on vacation or when you went to Papa John’s.” (For the record, I also didn’t care about these things, I’m not just not mentally unstable.) He said that he had been up since 5 in the morning and that the last thing he needed was to hear her “yakkity yak for 43 minutes.” When the girl replied that she had been up since 3am and was just fine, the man suggested that perhaps this was because of her cocaine use. Many profanities were exchanged back and forth, much to the enjoyment of the rest of the bus passengers.
  • Several minutes later, the emergency exit window that spanned the rows Butch and I (and the girl) were sitting in, flung open as we made a wide turn. We suspect the involvement of the crazy man from the previous bullet point.
  • Oh ya, why were we on a bus instead of driving? For some reason, renting a car from Scranton is about $600 cheaper than renting one from NY.
  • When we got to the car rental place, Ushi tried to pay for it unsuccessfully with two different credit cards, both of which were declined. We can expect many jokes over the next couple of weeks about Ushi being poor and unable to pay for things.
  • In Scranton, we visited a couple landmarks from the hit TV show, The Office. One of these was the “Scranton Welcomes You” sign that is seen in the opening credits. Surprisingly, this sign is located not on the side of the road but in a mall. Apparently, this is because too many people were getting into accidents as they attempted to take pictures of the sign as they drove by, so the town moved the sign to a mall. Apparently, Scrantonians are idiots. I really hope when I get back to NY, the Empire State Building hasn’t been moved to inside a mall.
  • Last road trip, it was not until a few days in that we got pulled over by law enforcement. This time, it took the better part of the day. The worst part of it is that we were about a mile from our final destination, about to exit the highway, when it happened. The asshole cop even took the time to point out the irony of this situation. Were we speeding? Probably. Did the officer have to be a total douchebag about it, though? Certainly not. The worser part of it, is that after giving us a citation, he made it seem like if we had merely owned up to speeding and shown some contrition, he would have let us go, but since we made excuses and said we didn’t realize how fast we were going, he had no choice. In my opinion, this man was an asshole. (Butch’s note: This was in fact my first ticket ever. The one other time I had been pulled over for speeding I acted real dumb and pretended to be lost and the guy felt bad and let me off with a warning. Tickets were the one exception to me extreme disbelief in superstitions, I never ever mentioned the fact that I had not yet gotten a ticket because I was sure that if I did I would get one that very day.)

Argument of the Day
This is the 1st in what I hope will be a recurring series on this trip, entitled “argument of the day,” in which we will share the best argument that occurred that day on the trip. As road trips naturally lend themselves to lively debate and discussion, we expect to have much material to include in this segment. We would love this opportunity to take our arguments to the web and let our readers weigh in.

Was Elaine a slut?

Points to consider: She is not as bad as Jerry, but she does seem to have a revolving door of men in her life. How long, on average, are we supposed to assume she has been “dating” these men that we are introduced to? On a larger scale, how long of a period of time is the show purporting to represent? Is she in relationships with most of these men or are any of these “flings?” Does the facts that she “yada yadas” sex tell us anything about her attitude towards it? To what extent can we assume sex is taking place off screen when we don’t see it or are told about it? What should we make of Jerry’s offhanded remark about her, when he says “who are any of her guys?” to George? What about her co-worker’s labeling of her as a “floozy?” (Just so you know, this argument lasted close to two hours and who knows how much longer it would have lasted had we not been pulled over.)