Friday, July 20, 2018

Dark Clouds in the Queen City

I'm sitting in a Greyhound bus in Cincinnati in the pouring rain. And that's the good news… because the skies didn't open up until after I'd boarded.

I got up at 1:00 am this morning to start an all-day odyssey to southeastern Ohio to attend tomorrow's board meeting of the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions. 

After Susan dropped me off at the Duluth Holiday gas station at 27th Ave in the dead of night, I caught the Groome shuttle to Minneapolis. From there I took a pair of Southwest Airlines puddle jumpers: first to Chicago Midway and then to Cincinnati. From there I rode the TANK (Transportation Authority of Northern Kentucky), an hourly shuttle into downtown. I walked from there to the Greyhound station (before the rain) where I was lined up to take a 75-minute bus ride up I-75 to Dayton, where Kat Walter (AMICS Board President) is ready to collect me and whisk me off to Yellow Springs—where the board meeting will happen.

Kat's still waiting.

While I had been more or less running on time until I got to the bus depot (I'm typing this at 4:15 pm and we were scheduled to depart two hours ago), we're stalled out at the loading dock, with no end in sight. (Remember the movie, The Truman Show, with Jim Carrey and Ed Harris? Those buses never left either.)

The delay was precipitated by an argument between the dispatcher and driver. The dispatcher wanted the driver to make a special stop in Lima OH (package express?) and the driver (already 30 minutes behind because of a snafu in Louisville earlier in the day) refused. Now they’re pulling the driver off the bus (insubordination?) and we are awaiting the arrival of a replacement. 

I don't think I ever seen so many unhappy people on a bus, some of whom have already been en route for more than 24 hours and were plenty road weary before being victimized by this pissing contest between Greyhound employees.

Stepping back, I'm wondering, how much this is an echo of the tone set by the Donald. Civility appears to be in short supply in more places than Washington DC these days. What good comes from these assertions of power? About the only thing I can think of is that perhaps southeastern Ohio farmers need the rain.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Celebrating Without Sound

Yesterday Susan and I celebrated the third anniversary of our getting together. On a balmy day in Duluth, our Saturday began by heading over to Vanilla Bean, a restaurant in the Mount Royal neighborhood to catch the Argentina-France game—the opening match among the survivors of group play in the quadrennial madness known as World Cup soccer. We knew it might be Leo Messi's last World Cup game and we didn't want to miss him and his magic left foot.

We were the only ones in the restaurant interested in that particular form of entertainment to accompany breakfast—in my case, corned beef hash and a Bloody Mary (start the day off right, I say). I could tell right away that the poor bartender had no idea where to find World Cup amongst the plethora of cable TV options. He dutifully clicked through all the obscure music channels in the 1900s before finally finding the game on channel 11: Fox Sports. (Who knows why he didn't start with the low numbers?)

It was an exciting game with several goals and several lead changes. Although Messi didn't score he set up two of Argentina's three goals, and it was fun to watch. Not wanting to push any of the locals off their feed, we watched with the sound off, as often happens at bars and restaurants.

Next it was on to Home Depot, where we scored some light bulbs and a couple of foam paint brushes to apply polyurethane to the quarter round we're installing in the living room and dining room, accompanying our newly refinished hardwood floors. Although the house is still outgassing VOCs from the poly varnish, the odors are dispersing and we'll start moving everything back tomorrow.

For our evening entertainment we started by catching the 7:00 pm showing of Won't You Be My Neighbor at Zinema, Duluth's indie movie house. It was a biopic of Fred Rogers (Mr Roger's Neighborhood). It's hard to imagine anyone who lived their life in a less Trumpian manner, and it was a refreshing antidote to the incivility and boorish behavior of our President.

We had thought we might enjoy an anniversary dinner one block further down Superior St at Sound, a restaurant that was featured in the Taste Section of last Thursday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune. We were excited to try out the small plate specialties of their creative chef. Imagine our confusion, however, when we got to the restaurant and it didn't appear to be open. Instead, there was a sign indicating that would-be patrons might walk down a block and enter on Michigan St. 

Following the instructions, we found ourselves in the basement, where the Rathskeller operated as a bar and bistro, with well-upholstered chairs sitting comfortably underneath brick arches and low lighting. When we asked about Sound, the waitress told us it had recently closed. Oops! I guess the newspaper review was a little out of date (but at least it explained why we were having trouble making a reservation).

Now what? Well, the basement ambience was appealing on a muggy night so we decided to have a drink. The shelves lining the back wall were obviously well stocked and the gregarious bartender looked like he enjoyed a challenge so Susan requested a Canton (two parts bourbon, one part ginger liqueur, and the juice of half a lemon) and I asked for a Boulevardier. I earned a bit of street cred by pointing out where the bartender could find his bottle of ginger liqueur (two to the left of the Galliano), and then walking him through how to make my drink (a Negroni, substituting Woodford Reserve bourbon for Bombay Sapphire gin). When he garnished my drink with a maraschino cherry, I commented that it looked like he was using Luxardo cherries—at which point he queried, "Who are you?"

After a pause I said, "Someone who likes to drink"—to which everyone at the bar broke out in cheers. We knew were in the right place. 

Who needed Sound? We were making our own music in the catacombs of Duluth.