Charlotte Charms

This North Carolina city has big city attitude but a small city feel.  Everything looks either new or updated, and a relentless pursuit of youth culture is felt.

We stayed in Aloft, an Uptown hotel atop Epicenter, an incredibly popular entertainment venue with parking problems.  From my window on the 14th floor, I watched young people exiting cars far below after midnight.  The hotel provides ear plugs in all rooms.



Nation to Nation

img_2120The U.S Government ratified 374 treaties with Native American Nations and kept them in the National Archives.  Eight of them are on display in a thought-provoking display,  Nation to Nation, is my favorite Smithsonian venue, The American Indian Museum.

When William Penn offered to forgive a loan to the King of England, Charles II, he was granted lots of Lenape land.  The Lenape believed this land was created when a giant sea turtle came out of the ocean, water flowed off its back, and trees sprouted.  It was their land being treatified.  I doubt that Charles II knew about the sea turtle.




New in Washington DC

So far, Ruth & I have found several new attractions in our nation’s capital that are very different from each other.

The new, elegant Trump Hotel is now a sold-out success.  I was approached twice there and, the first time, was told not to take photos.  Outside, 2 men ordered me to put my camera away.  Inside, I was told I could only use my cell phone in the lobby, and it was strongly suggested that I leave and visit the new-old Post Office Tower instead.

This attraction, I was informed, quietly reopened about this time last year.  It’s run by The National Park Service.  After seeing a small museum in a corridor with lots of historic photos, visitors rise to the bell tower in an elevator, which provides a glimpse of the Trump lobby through glass, and, at the top, a spectacular, 4-sided view of the city.

The new Museum of African American History & Culture is also a considerable success.  Don’t expect to get inside without prearranged tickets.



Auctions and Private Sales at Christie’s

There’s another interesting free attraction in New York City besides the Staten Island Ferry.  Ruth & I had tickets to matinees at 2 pm so couldn’t go far.  I suggested we walk to the International Center for Photography on 6th Avenue.  It was on our Manhattan Midtown Edition map and close.  When we arrived there, we were informed that the museum moved to Lower Manhattan 2 years ago.  “Why is it still in this location on our map?” I asked a completely indifferent young woman.  We headed for Rockefeller Center and the Museum of Television and Radio, which was also on the map.  It’s now the Paley Center and was never a museum.  Wandering around Rockefeller Center, we unexpectedly spotted Christie’s.  I had read that it was opened to the public.  It was Wednesday.  The well-dressed couple who greeted us told us that public viewing began the next day at 10 am.

We went back and discovered what amounts to a free museum.  Christie’s was founded by James Christie in London in 1766.  It now has 350 auctions annually in 80 categories, like watches and wine.  It’s in 46 countries and has 10 sales rooms.  The one we visited was at 20 Rockefeller Plaza.  What was on view were photographs from 3 collections, each from a famous photographer like Ansel Adams.  There was detailed information next to all of them including what I assumed was either its estimated value or the range of expected bids.  In one room a couple was examining jewelry.

There was a great variety of subjects on view.   I found the photo of Andy Warhol showing the world a bullet hole in his torso a bit gruesome but still studied it for a long time.

After Ruth & I had wandered through every room, a sales person approached us and asked if he might help.  I said I was disappointed that the works of my favorite photographer were not among the ones on view.  He asked me the photographer’s name, and I came up with Garry Winogrand.  “There will be 25 of those available in November!” he enthused and gave me his card.  “We’re selling photographs from the Museum of Modern Art,” he added.   We had already seen several from MoMA and also impressive ones from the Spiegel and Lappé collections.  Expecting to hear “No”, I asked if I could take photographs of the photographs and he said “Of course!”

I checked Christie’s website just a few minutes ago to learn that the big guns up for auction this month include a Basquiat and a Giacometti.  There were lots of auction results posted and stuff about valuation days.  But if you’re in New York there are free viewings opened to the public from 10 to 5 pm before every auction.  Check Christie’s website to find out what can be seen.  Whatever was at the International Center of Photography could not have been as interesting as what we saw at Christie’s.


Boston Oddities

Before Ruth & I left for Boston, I found and made a copy of “20 Strange Attractions”.  This is becoming a common on-line phenomenon for big cities with lots of familiar attractions, like Beantown’s famous Freedom Walk.  Tracking down some of these lesser attractions can be fun.  Leigh Harrington created the list, and, without much effort, we saw about 5 of the 20.

Leigh updated her list in August, 2017.  Nevertheless, I showed it to a Bostonian who told me that the steaming kettle, #1, is gone.  I made no effort to verify this, and Ruth & I also didn’t see The Skin Book, Scarlett O’Hara’s house, the Hood Milk bottle, etc.

The main attraction on the list we had seen on a previous trip to Boston was The Mapparium.  This very colorful, stained-glass globe in the Mary Baker Eddy Library at Christian Science Plaza was assembled in 1935 and has never been updated.  It, therefore, shows the world frozen in time 5 years before World War II.  The entire Christian Science complex, including its huge reflecting pool is under reconstruction, but we relocated the map that 11 million people have reportedly seen.  However, when we got there, we learned that the only way to see it now is to take a paid tour.  We exited.  This is not to say that this quaint attraction isn’t worth seeing.

So are the Sacred Cod and the Golden Grasshopper Weather Vane.  Hanging in the old State House, the cod is a symbol of Massachusetts’ colonial success in the fishing industry.  Like the Mapparium, we had seen it before.  But we had been to Faneuil Hall, perhaps Boston’s most popular attraction, and not seen this grasshopper time capsule because we didn’t look up.  This time we did, thanks to Leigh, and saw this weather vane, a historic hoot.

So is Daniel Chester French’s John Harvard Statue at Harvard Yard.  It’s now a magnet for students with cell phones who touch his foot for good luck and take selfies with faux John in the background.  This memorial is known as the Statue of 3 Lies because Harvard died in 1638 and French didn’t know what he looked like when he crafted the statue about 250 years later.  He hired a student to pose for him. Harvard left his library to the new college but didn’t actually found the university that was named for him.

We made it to the Warren Anatomical Museum but not to #20 on Leigh’s list, another statue.  She notes that it shows Leif Erickson with “a little too much sass in his hip jut” as he stares at an exit ramp in Charlesgate East.