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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


When Jamie came home from school yesterday, he pointed to a cardboard box on our stoop and said, “hey Michael, what’s in there?” “I don’t know, Jamie,” I replied.  “I didn’t see it until just now.” Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found five copies of this!

“Jamie, check it out,” I said.  “People in Italy will read about you in Italian, and they will learn that you are un bambino speciale.” “Cool,” he said.  And it is cool, too.  Not to mention the fact that it’s the first time anything of mine has been translated into anything.

Jamie and I were gone five days for our Colorado/ New Mexico swing, but it was worth it: we have faked out the McCain campaign something terrible.  Apparently they are so upset at our claiming these two states as Obama-Bérubé territory that they are going to spend the next two weeks pretending they can take Pennsylvania away from us.  Win!!

We have a bunch of photos, of course. I’m particularly fond of this one:

We got away from the American Studies Association conference on Saturday and drove up to Santa Fe, which, for some reason, had tourists in it.  But we took the back roads, because that’s the only way to get to what I believe may be the world’s only turquoise mining museum and petting zoo.  I think this was the highlight of the trip for Jamie, even better than swimming in the hotel pools:

Jamie also met a very pleasant llama.  But it wasn’t just about feeding the animals.  For some reason, Jamie decided upon entering the “museum” that he wanted to get one of these as a present for his French teacher.  (You can see in the photo that they’re “priced as marked,” and actually the prices were pretty reasonable.  But I told Jamie there was just no way we’d ever be able to get such a thing back on the plane and home in one piece.) Anyway, here’s the museum and here’s its scenic view.

We got around a bit in Boulder, too.  We drove up around the Flatiron Mountains, so named because they look like giant pieces of shale sticking a few thousand feet into the air, as in the background of this picture.  First we looked east, and then we looked west.  Not that I’d expect you to know this, but I grew up in New York, mostly in Queens, and except for one plane trip to LA to visit a friend in 1983, never saw any part of the United States west of Blacksburg, VA until I got a job at the University of Illinois when I was 28.  So this Rocky Mountain and southwest-desert stuff is always thrilling to me.  And then we took a canyon road through those mountains: here I am in Nederland, Colorado, sixteen miles west of Boulder, getting dizzy at the altitude while Jamie takes a very competent picture.

Of course, when we travel, we listen to lots and lots of music.  Jamie brings his iPod, and I brought some tapes (yes, tapes!  I have a car with a tape deck) for the drive down to Harrisburg (we flew out of Harrisburg in order to save a bunch of $ on Jamie’s ticket).  And the rental car in Albuquerque came equipped with Sirius XM radio, so we listened to Fred (“the history of alternative rock”) all through the desert.  Two thoughts about our listening experiences:

One: time is accelerating with each passing year, proportionally to the square of its distance from my youth.  R.E.M.’s Murmur and the Replacements’ Hootenanny, two records about which everyone in my cohort was required to Have An Opinion, were released twenty-five years ago. Which means that if it were still 1983 today, those albums would have been released in 1958.  Whereas if the Beatles were just breaking up today, they would have made their Ed Sullivan debut sometime around July 2002.  The time-compression of the past 25-35 years can be calculated by means of Kid Rock’s single, “All Summer Long,” which made a pretty obvious (and annoyingly successful) bid to become this summer’s summer song all summer long, and which asks us to get all nostalgic about the summer of 1989, when we were apparently singing along all summer long to a song released in 1974.  OK, now my head hurts.

Two: I was listening to De La Soul’s Buhloone Mindstate, which is a mere fifteen years old, and I began to wonder: who killed “alternative” hip-hop?  Was it those nasty boys from the West Coast, with their chronic and their doggie style and their thug life?  Or was it an inside job, perpetrated by Arrested Development’s “Mr. Wendal” and PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”?  Not that this is an either/or kind of blog.

Posted by Michael on 10/21 at 10:28 AM
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