Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The Reincarnation of the Junk Forward . . .
Uh oh. When did this happen? When did the "blogosphere" become the latest hit-and-run target of the people who spent most of the late 90s and early 00s trying to get Bill Gates to send them to Disney World or actually baking Mrs. Field's "secret" chocolate chip cookie recipe and/or trying to help an African dignitary get his millions of dollars in to the United States (with a small stipend to them for the trouble)?
WHEN? More over . . . WHY?
Regardless . . . I have been victimized, dear reader. I'm horrified to tell you that I was selected to share my "10 Favorite Places in the World" with you AND to force five other bloggers to do the same in the next 24 hours or a small village in rural Appalachia will be destroyed or the sun will stop shining or something. I wish Jack Bauer was around (and sober) when you really needed him!
Anywho - for the sake of the Appalachians (and those that enjoy the sun) I give you a list of my 10 favorite places. Lest any one think that I'm a sheltered person - please rest assured that I have traveled quite a bit in my day and seen thousands of beautiful and amazing things on those trips. These places just happen to be my favorites . . . perhaps because they are familiar and something I am used to. Anywho . . . enjoy!
10 - Lebanese Taverna - I am no stranger to food (insert sheepish grin here) and I've eaten in thousands of places in my life. In my eight years in DC, I had plenty of "favorite" places - Lucky Bar, Levante, Biddy Mulligans, Buffalo Billiards, Capitol Lounge, Tomato's, 1331, Red Sage, Fuddrucker's, etc. but I only really miss eating at one place in the DC area - Lebanese Taverna. From the first time I ate there (I rented a Lincoln Towncar shortly after 9/11 and we rocked it all the way out to the suburbs for lunch) to the last time (the last time I was in DC - when Ava was about 6 weeks old) it has never let me down. Get the Chicken Shawarma and tell 'em "Sean" sent you. They won't know what that means but . . . I will.
9 - Mackenzie-Childs, Aurora, NY - When I was in high school, we had our prom at Well's College. My friend Melissa's grandparents lived on "the" lake in Aurora and we would frequently drive through Aurora to get to and from the Thruway. In college, Melissa started to buy Mackenzie-Childs pottery (not for the faint of heart or the sticker shockish) and I would go with her to do some shopping. We'd drive by it on the way to and from Geneseo and/or the Rochester area to see Kim. Joy and I fell in love with Aurora and we even wanted to get married on the grounds of Mackenzie-Childs (not for the faint of heart or the sticker shockish). I like the pottery (Ava's "Brown fund" is in a Mackenzie-Childs piggy bank we bought there) but I really just love the grounds. It is just beautiful. If you ever find yourself with an hour to kill on the east side of Cayuga Lake . . . check it out. And eat at the cafe or one of the restaurants on main street in town. You won't regret it!
8 - Raquette Lake, NY - For Raquette Lake, the home of Mrs. Ballou, to really "work" - you have to arrive at the lake at about 11:00 PM on a night when there are no clouds and a full moon. You have to park at Dotty and Bill's. You have to get on the boat to cross the lake (Mrs. Ballou's home is on the far side of the lake with no road access) and you have to be patient. When you get to the middle of the lake yell out "I looovvveeeee the lake" and enjoy the echo of it. Once you've done that . . . you'll know why Raquette Lake is truly special. If I didn't have a career that required me to work in a somewhat urban environment and if Joy didn't have her pelvis crushed in a car accident that lead to arthritic hips that loathe winter . . . I really think I'd try to get a place, on the back side of the lake, to call "home". Amazing!
7 - JC Penney - I am not even going to mince words here. I love the store Mr. Penney built. I go there almost weekly. I just walk around. I don't buy things often (anymore - stupid family budget (smile)) but I can look at stuff and try stuff on and get more comfortable with my body in the process. The new spring stuff is out. The heart wants what the heart wants. This heart wants a new wardrobe!
6 - North Haven, CT - Specifically Liuzzi Cheese! I was going to put Quinnipiac on this list (the greatest four years of my life (to that point) and all) but - truth be told - the reason I love Quinnipiac is because of the friendships I formed there and the people I shared the space with and the things that happened there. To that end - Liuzzi Cheese might be as impactful to my college memories as any residence hall, keg party, girl chasing, all-night studying (ahem), class attending moment might be. Go to Liuzzi. Take Brooooosey! You must take Bruce for this to work. Wait in line. Hear him bark out "Yeah, uh, is Nick (a co-owner) here?" Laugh. Grab a Gasssssooosa from the cooler! Order a sam-ich. Watch Delenick torment himself on buying a t-shirt or a hat or not. Watch Tom Kelly spend 20 minutes "thinking it over" only to order his regular when it is all said and done. Get in the car. Head down the road to Father Lou's. Have him remind you it's "all fresh stuff". Have Bruce do his best Father Lou asking for "briefs" impression. Laugh. Enjoy your sandwich. Finish off your Gasosa. Get back in the car. Head back to campus. Sleep like a baby. If you can't do all that - just get yourself some delicious Italian food and thank me later!
5 - Montmartre, Paris, France - I went to France in high school. French Club, yo! We spent 10 days covering the entire country, a brief drive through Italy and a final night in Geneva that had to violate at least one convention rule. We landed in Paris and spent our first two days there. I largely hated Paris. It is beautiful, etc. Don't get me wrong. But I'm a kid from a small town in Upstate, New York and Paris is huge. And overwhelming. And rude. And I was jetlagged. My favorite part of Paris was not the super-hurried trip through the Louvre (ONLY look at the most famous three pieces of art in the city and then leave again? Sounds guhhhhreat!) and it was not the Eiffel Tower (I volunteered to stay below with a girl who was afraid of heights and then, once sent up by the folks who came back down early, I could not find my travelmates and wound out getting sorta' mugged and actually running from the middle deck to the lower deck on the steel stairs that were fenced in but that you could look down through (they were just slats). The only thing I liked about Paris was Montmarte. I loved Sacre Couer. I loved the cafe where we got our $10 crepe and our $8 Coke. I enjoyed - unsuccessfully (I could not relax) - trying to use the "toilet" in the cafe that was really just a hole in the floor in the middle of the room that you stood/squatted over. I liked looking at all the art that was for sale. I liked the vibe of the market and the square. It was amazing. I want to go back.
4 - The Corcoran - Specifically the bench in front of Niagara. I started going to The Corcoran when I was in graduate school. The woman who worked on Saturdays convinced me to buy a membership when she noticed I was coming in - and paying admission - every single Saturday morning. I really enjoyed the Corcoran because it was not just a museum of amazing pieces from dead artists but it was also a gallery of student work. 18 year old "kids" who might someday be those really impressive dead artists but, for the moment, they were younger than me and profoundly more talented than I might ever be. I liked the old and the new. The traditional and the modern. The touristy and the residential. I also loved Niagara. I would just sit and gaze at it. For hours some days. If you ever stop in to see it - look very closely. The detail is absolutely amazing (plants under the water above the falls, individual leaves on the trees on the river bank, prisms painted in to the mist from the falls, etc.) and - much like Niagara Falls themselves - it makes you feel very small and temporary. In a good way.
3 - New Orleans, LA - Specifically the French Quarter. I want to be clear. I don't care about Bourbon Street. Yeah. Great. I get it. Plastic beads = boobs. Woo-who. I have boobs to look at inside my own shirt (sadly). There is real art and culture and beauty in New Orleans. I've had three business trips to Nahlins and Joy and I honeymooned there too. I've enjoyed all the French Quarter has to offer. I enjoy the tall, frozen cocktails and I enjoy the debacle of it all but I much prefer breakfast at Cafe du Monde or lunch in one of the restaurants on St. Louis. Browse the antique shops and art galleries on Royal. THAT is what the French Quarter is all about for me. I miss New Orleans. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button made me miss it all the more. We want to get back. We will get back.
2 - Groton, NY - Specifically my parent's house. There IS no place like home. I spent nine blessed years as a resident of Groton and it is still and always will be home. I worked at the bank on Main Street. I graduated from the high school. I have nothing but happy memories of my youth there and there is a magic that still hangs over the place when I go home. I don't know if it is a tourist destination or if I could really tell everyone they "have" to go check it out but - if you are from there or have reason to be there. Enjoy it. Life is simple and pure there.
and, finally . . .
1 - Wichita, KS - I know. Cheesy. Trite. I chose where I live to be my favorite place in the world but - let's take stock in the place. I met my in-laws here. I got called "son" by someone other than my parents and a man in his 60s or older in Wichita. I found out I could be an Uncle here. I saw my daughter born here. I watched my daughter scrap out the first 10 days of her life here. I took my daughter for her first car ride here. I moved my family here. I have a great home here. I found balance here. I found my life here. I have a great job here. I have friends here. I have family here. I have a nice movie theater here (I love movies). I have plenty of great (and some chain) restaurants here. I have good shopping here. I have a wife and daughter here. I have a dog here. What's not to love? What's not to be fond of? What's not to enjoy?