Thursday, July 4, 2019


I did not see the Obituary.  As soon as I open the daily paper, I go to the Obits page(s) and see who died.  Sometime it's a teacher or a school official, sometimes former co-workers or just a person who was known in the area. But I missed Her's.

She was none of the above.  We met in Siena College, junior year for me (age 21, and she was a sophomore.  I did some humor pieces for the college student newspaper called the Indian (it is now called, well, some politically correct name).  It was that and the days in class that started her and I talking in the main hallway in the main building one day. Then we said our goodbyes. She went left. I went right, but stopped for and looked back.

For the first time in my life I said, "God, she's got a great ass." I still assume no one heard me.  Off I go to Latin class.

Things are a little sketchy at this point as my brain had been devoted itself to handling my father's deterioration after an accident at work that send him into fast senility and death.  I became his main caretaker at night when my mother would go to bingo, not to win but be away from us. (OK, that's enough of that.  There's stuff in the other stories here if you need it).

In the summer of 1977 we started going to shows local shows such as the Hullabaloo and J.B.Scott's, Albany Palace, and venues in Hartford, CT, and Philadelphia, and the RPI Fieldhouse in Troy, no doubt other spots as well.  I saw Springsteen with her in November 1977 at he Fieldhouse.  I had never seen anything like him and his band.  While the others in our small band of Siena brothers and sisters would opt out now and then, we'd be there sipping rum and cokes and see Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Rachel Sweet, David Johansen and/or the New York Dolls, Lena Lovich, the Scientific Americans (if you remember DEVO, the ones who had the plant pot hats, like that. Just Horrible. The Worst Band in 1977 to play at J.B. Scott's.

All of those places are gone now, except for the Fieldhouse, and I'm fairly certain no concerts are done there now.  And there were drives.  Springsteen in Hartford, CT.  She would drive, always in the her Le Car...

OK, here's was black actually, the inside as well.

Now I had Lansingburg's mighty machine - my father's 1974 AMC Matador....and yes, his car was dark blue really...

All I heard was "No way am I riding in that. I will drive my own. Let's go."

So we did.  For Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.  For Springsteen, and then for Springsteen, and again Elvis Costello....  All she wanted was Elvis' autograph and since I was the more mobile of the two of us (yes, I thought something seemed odd with that "great ass") so after she dropped me off at home and yelled I'll pick you up at 5:30!)  What?  So I did what good American guys do.  I shaved, changed my shirt, went and sat on my porch until I saw a the Le Car approaching the house.  My father opened our front door.

"Hey, what are you doing out here?" he asked, as he stepped out in his underwear on the porch.  The Le Car waited.

"I'm going to an early breakfast," I said. "You go back inside, please."

"What was that?" she asked as I flopped into the passenger sheet, rock and roll on the radio to steady.  I just shook my head.  My father seemed out of  it.

We drove to the hotel where we knew (she knew) Elvis and his band. "We're gonna have breakfast with Elvis C."

If you want to get in a rock star's groupie, sit in a chair in a casual way with some bad fitting t shirts, and grungy jeans. So we did, and we were first into the dining room.  When Elvis and his "friend" sat down a table away from, she told me to go ask for an autograph.

"Nope," I said. "he's having his breakfast. Not me.  Feel free to pop on over and say"

So much for that.  We can claim to have had breakfast with one of the great English rock and roll stars in the same room.

Coming back from a New Jersey (Bruce again) concert, we went to Asbury Park and I checked out every pinball place on the Boardwalk, looking for Bruce or Miami Steve Nope.  Slept well that night knowing where Bruce wasn't.  She had to be helped from her seat by a security guard.  I followed behind with her crutches.

The last time was an overnight in Philadelphia, Bruce times two! From what I can recall we had good seats and no problems.  The next day we did the tour of Philadelphia, but She was tired of walking, and made the stupid move to change what line we were in and ended up further away from Independence Hall.  The final concert  had us on the floor sixth rows from the stage! We could smell Bruce's cologne, I swear! This was gonna beat all the other shows!

Yep.  Red alert

She could see nothing but  as everyone around us were standing on their chairs, cheering saying "Bruce!"  I held her up as well as I could, even a kind guy asked to help and together we lifted her, but that tired all of us. I asked security for a chair any chair, wheeled or whatever so She could see. They said "No". So she sat down on the only chair She had and cried.

The show ended, we got out of there, and the ride home was quiet.  She dropped me off at my car, and I drove home alone.  I felt something change.  My time with her was the best of all.

There were other times, of course, that were just us or our gang all and we loved being young, free, and singing along with the music on Q104 radio.

Its nice to carry those memories. They sort of allow me to think of couldas and wouldas, especially since I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (just like my father was [underwear guy?]. The diseases have many similarities, the outlook not great. But we fight, we fight for the life were given.  And I know you did, ma belle. You would.

Michelle, ma belle.
These are words that go together well
My Michelle.
Michelle, ma belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble
Très bien ensemble.
I love you, I love you, I love you,
That's all I want to say.
Until I find a way
I will say the only words I know that you'll understand
My MIchelle
Michelle, ma belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble
Très bien ensemble.
I need to, I need to, I need to,
I need to make you see
Oh, what you mean to me.
Until I do I'm hoping you will
Know what I mean.
I love you...
I want you, I want you, I want you,
I think you know by now

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Tour between the States - Jefferson and our Appomattox

I gave up trying to get to sleep around four a.m. and went into the bathroom with my book.  As I was the only one awake, and having muscle spasms, I took the King's seat, and dove back into my cowboy story, which gave me about fifteen minutes until the spasms began again, so then I used the spasms to ready myself to continue reading.....

And on it went until Jackie woke up and made her way into the bathroom while I gazed out the window and studied the rain, keeping out of her way.  We both decided that since there were no clothes washers available here (or for that matter all the places we stayed),  we'd pop some undies and t-shirt in the bathroom sink, toss in one of those little soaps that is are always around hotel bathrooms, like this:

and then scrub like your grandma did on washing day.  With the completion of scrubbing of the undies, we now had the problem of drying them. Jackie's dryer had all the power of a wheezing '76 Chevette trying not to loose too many parts as it tries to get the driver (yes obviously that's me) home before more parts fell off, wheezing up the driveway.  RIP Chevette 1976.  RIP Jackie's hair dryer.   Desperate times call for desperate measures so I pulled the room's hair dryer off the wall,and, steering it as well as I could a Sherman tank, moving it in a 1-2-3-4 step ,over left part of each of piece of clothing, then to right top, and right bottom.  I'd flip the clothes over and take a look check of the back. and if it was 90%  not wet, that worked.  Tom 1, smell 0

Jackie had finished her shower so then I stepped in for handicapped people.  What I saw was two extra "grab" bars on the tubs wall to catch when me if I fell,   The motel must have the idea that we disabled clean from, as we are shown the tub bars signs, that if true we (that is, fall (and we do) we fall to the left.  Alas, I fall to the right and therefore may not able to grab any bar, let alone if the shower curtain would help as I went down which past events not documented here.  I mean, it didn't help Janet Leigh in "Psycho".  Grab for it and all pull

Anyway, we put on our clothes, dried and still lightly wet and found where breakfast was being served.  The coffee was amazingly good, but otherwise we all opted for cereal and juice.

I made my apologies to our tour guide and Doug the bus driver for my lunacy the previous night, was immediately assured that they'd seen worse over the years, and to not give it another thought.  I just figured I now was on the No-Bus list and, after two years on the No-fly list (2001-2002), might never leave Clifton Park again noted as a terrorist once again.  And if in Clifton Park, NY I must stay, I have my wife, our condo, movies and library, medical help nearby.  Florida? I'll Uber somebody.

I looked about as we drove away from the Burger King and Motel Hell, Jr., I wondered why both  sides of the road are heaps of slate (Plug for the Slate Museum in Granville, NY).  Was it always slate?  Are there still buildings under those piles? People?  Have the people degenerated in being slate people?  Were we the menu for the Slate People?  Maybe the Slate People captured these poor folks and made them pawns as they offer food and shelter to those who dare and if you come outside on the wrong night, you might as say bye-bye to your life.  You'll flip the burgers, and "clean"  alll the rooms until you too.  No one is there to notice as most folks dash out of both business, that the guy last seen smoking  a cigar who was standing in front of the is now scrubbing the Burger King floors forever, his cigar comprised now and forever the flavor Whopper wrapping, the toilets, and spoiled milk from unclaimed chocolate shakes.  People go toward the bathrooms, turn left and are never seen again.  Slate people.

But I digress.

It was a Neil Sedaka rain ("Ooo, I love sleeping on the bus, trying not to drool on the one I love") as we headed northwest toward The Place. I was shaking awake as we approached our target, but we had to avoid a few traffic accidents.  I was taken again by the luscious greenery, the majestic homes of the wealthy, the quiet decomposition of those failed ideas and if any humans remain in these homes, they are there still puzzled why things appear the same but it all looks so strange, warped in the same way a plastic chair doesn't dissolve on hot way.  These things are more Stephen King territory.

We continued in the slight rain to our next and, for yours truly, the only and best thing on the trip...

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

As an American history buff/student/freak, this was the best place (or one of the best - I'm not done yet- I hope) to study the brilliance of this man, his thoughts on every subject, how he built Monticello (and rebuilt and rebuilt again) He wrote (with a little help from Ben Franklin and John Adams) the Declaration of Independence in 1776. His words remain embedded in our national soul, although there are many people, such as Washington politicians, who seems to have never been read it.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.


Me again. Please feel free to associate Mr. J's words with present day politicians, if you feel that way.  Lincoln used the Declaration as the reason for keeping the Union together.  You can change the Constitution anytime as long as a majority of the states go along.  Try that with the Declaration. and you have chaos and civil war. Hey, he was right, too.

The mist cannot deter the beauty.

Now that's a stroll I'd take no matter how much my legs ached after .

We took the tour of the house, any good American should if they can, and see how a brilliant man in the right place at the right time could still support slavery and, of course, this:

This is a weird idea, but not uncommon even today, that a person would use what he considers his property (a pencil, or a shovel, Sally Hemings) and use that property for his own vices, like the President and Sally, or the President and Monica, or the President and Stormy Daniels.  But at least the last two made a few bucks on it.  Sally got a nice room.

Finest dirt floors that money could buy.

I've read that slavery/liberty question was not only Jefferson, but also Presidents Washington, Madison, and Monroe. The Father of our Country even had one slave that Mr. Washington had to order the execution of, which deeply disturbed him for the rest of his days.  I'm not sure if Andrew Jackson gave a hoot one way or the other, as long as dinner was served, both in the White House and Jackson's home The Hermitage back in Tennessee.  For the best read on Jefferson and the slavery issue, I must recommend The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed, a book that won both Pulitzer and the National Book Award.  Despite any feelings you may have about former Vice President Dick Cheney and any book he may write or movie be made about him starring Christian Bale, The Vice's wife Dr. Lynne Cheney wrote a fantastic bio of James Madison who was merely the man who was the Force of the Constitution,  Jefferson's Secretary of State, and served two terms as President. And had slaves.  Mr. Madison did, not the Cheney's. I don't think, anyway.

Mr. Jefferson lived his final days in this bedroom.  Just look it up, you'll be amazed. For us, the bus was waiting.  The drizzling rain kept the mood quiet as we climbed back on our transport, my soul slightly restored by this day, and the lack of pills was ignored.  We had to do head to a different hotel, AGAIN, but the place was quite nice, as it was filled with members of our military (Annapolis).

We arrived at the Baltimore harbor for an evening cruise on a huge ship (The Spirit of Baltimore), and we shared the food with not one but two graduation parties for, I am guessing, the young people of the Charm City's colleges, and what happened was, following the buffet, the old white people ended on the low deck outside bundled up in coats, while the folks inside boogied all night long.  The Inner Harbor is a lovely place to visit in the day time, a number of new additions since we last stopped in town back in the 2000's. But it can switch to Chill City when you're outside stuck in that same drizzle and 50 degree top temperature.  We tried to be the first off the ship, but were easily out numbered and mostly feeble by this time. Back to the Hotel.  Time to go home.

The last day was lovely, sunny and 70 degrees. We spent some time at Fort McHenry where the Star Spangled Banner poem was penned by Francis Scott Key,  a young Baltimore attorney stuck on a British warship as it and the other Juggernauts of the British Navy pummeled the fort. Well, you know the song, you got the story.  Mr. Key also did marvelous work in court cases dealing with slavery and freedom.  The Fort has been restored to early 19th century style and we watched a group of Boy Scouts learning the rules or raising and lowering Old Glory on a flag pole, and the need to respect those stars and stripes.  Maybe it'll work.

Fort McHenry

We took a quick zip around The Nation's Capitol, Our tour guide for this trip was also with us for the 2016 Washington trip, so we vets of that tour de force could not help teasing Judy about the time we were stuck in a loop of traffic that had us constantly ending up back at the Washington Monument.  You may find more info in one of these 180 entries.

We were grateful to visit the National Urinal Museum, and then, aside from Thruway stops, straight home to East Greenbush and the Yankee Trails parking lot.  I grabbed our stuff and dashed to our SUV, leaving Jackie for the hugs (Appomattox reference). Remember I'm not back on my drugs still.

Jackie's laptop arrived back at home before we did, thanks TSA.  Today is the first anniversary of our trip to the Old Confederacy, and it seems the whole thing has floated away or is in the process of being sucked into the Earth (Yes, I know its a bad time and I wish them all the best.  I always liked the Charlie Daniels Band and that song "The South's Gonna Do It Again." Get on it, y'all!)

Actually today I had a colonoscopy, and I'm fine but to do the procedure, I had to get off my  pills.  So I'm sitting in the den, at 2:30 in the morning writing this.  Maybe I'll just make this a yearly tradition, Dallas Book Depository tour or colonoscopy? 

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Tour Between The States - My Own Petersburg

Atlanta was a fading glimmering sentinel of soon to be Super Bowl boredom as we headed out of the ATL and back on the road heading northwest. This was pretty much road time, but I did like the fact that as we drove on we touched in both North and South Carolina so we only missed Tennessee and Arkansas of the old Confederacy.  Oh, well.  All those new states west of Texas got off to fast start because, first there was no destruction from any wars (except wiping out Indian tribes)  at least had a bunch of movies made there, and western stories, and there is only one - stranger comes to town, handsome, strong, wearing old jeans and a work shirt.  He stops at the local bar to cool down, sees a pretty lady distributing food to customers, and she holds a some what weary look upon her face she returns to the kitchen.  Bartender tells HERO that the girl is concerned about (relative/friend/property) and their imminent of any or all of what's in the parentheses.  Enter BadGuy with various cronies, all  of whom have useless gun skills.  Girl comes, sees BadGuy, and before any ruckus, or minimal ruckus begins, HERO confronts BadGuy, the usual threats are made, BadGuy leaves, somewhat sore from falls and accidents that he had just happened, courtesy of our man HERO! More Threats! Cronies leave, also with new sores and boo-boos. Girl tells HERO the Terrible Thing that has befallen her/business/family caused by BadGuy.  HERO finds a spot in what always seems to be a National Park for a perfect place to ambush or be ambushed by anyone, and of course he does,but eventually he kills all the nasty people,with a long wordy final showdown with BadGuy making the same explanation about everything but he's the villian and the story ends with HERO's arm around pretty lady.  She now has to spend the rest of his days knowing he had killed anywhere 8 to 12 people the night before.  But they never do.

I'm not sure why I just sketched out a western thing, but if anyone wants to be the next Louis L'amour or Bob Johnstone/Will Johnstone, I hope there's something there for you.  Or get Riders of the Purple Sage (the book, not the records from the 70's country/rock band - well, they are good anyway - Panama Red!).  You can order from  The author of "Riders of the Purple Sage" is Zane Grey.

We climbed slowly on the more mountainous roads but lots of green and horses and old mansions and historical markers that Doug zipped by before I could read anything was it.  As I've said before, I have no pills remaining and Primary Progressive MS with a side of bipolar.  Guess which wins?

You're right, but let's all watch my decline and fall anyway.

I became even slower than I had been, comprehension low, even though my reading material was light weight for me, I was hanging on to the book and trying to understand what Holmes and Watson were doing in a lower level rock formation at the Reichenbach Falls. But my head would dip, then my hands
 would let go of the book, so it would tumble either onto the bus floor, or any empty spot between our
seats, which was so jammed full of bags and what not that anything that came close to the lower area was sucked into the black hole of The Bus (used as extra fuel if there hasn't been a Love's stop). So would try the iPod to listen to stories and it just made the snoozefest even bigger. Then spasm! Sometimes, if I'm really unlucky, i'd spasm my left arm just as Jackie is reaching for her drink.  Who will win? Not me. If my head spasms to the right, knock myself into the bus window with a loud thud.  If I spasm left, watch out, Jackie! Her iPod, book, any treat she is having will pop over to the seat across from us which I hope is not being used at the time. Sometimes no, sometimes yes.

When the seat was occupied, we apologized to the rider immediately. "Don't worry," he or she would say, "we all do it."  By the time we got home, the response was a heavy sigh.

We rode a meandering trail up in to the beginnings of the Shenandoah Mountains, more history there to take in. Our tour guide regaled us with how nice and new accomodations would be, just finished, brand new, majestic views. We were also informed that the hotel did not have a dining area yet, but a bunch of old people are sure to find something at the new Cracker Barrel just across the street.

There was just one problem, small, but there. They had no rooms. Sorry, filled up.  As we had run into now and then on the trip, it being the middle of May, and in college towns, they have these called graduations.  Families arrive, go see their kids be given a piece of paper that's says the kid is as smart, and after pictures, go out to dinner, and then go to the hotel.

No motel. No food. Spasms in my arms and head.  The passengers said the guide was taking wayyyyyy to long, and when she called Doug the bus driver to go into the lobby with her.  Trouble is brewing.  And my arms were folded in front of my chest to hold back my smoldering anger.

The bus drove up a slate type mountain, and the Guide said we we're lucky to get the rooms at all.  It was a three floor motel, not well constructed, and and to me it looked as if the motel had been just been dropped there by a black government helicopter.  Welcome to Guantanamo, I mumbled, receiving a thump on my arm from Jackie.  When the guide came back, she had the room IDs We all gathered around her to find some kind shelter from the storm (thanks for that, Mr. Dylan).

We received our keys, and  then the Guide said "You're on the third floor."

Before me was motel room, not twenty feet away, that had the disabled notice on it (the person in wheel chair) and I asked if we could stay there.  "No, that's taken.  Third floor." and she pointed towards the stairs, a rusting mess of both metal and concrete. 20 steps, twice. Bring your luggage with you.  I could already hear the ka-thunk, ka-thunk of the luggage being pulled by elderly tired people. Well, I'd had it!  Enough!  Loss of drugs, too much walking, I hurt, and after a short while, and some makeover, from Jackie's  I ran back to the Guide looking just like Spencer Tracy:

"I want that Room!

Some fellow passenger said to his wife:  "Hey, look at him!  That's Spencer Tracy,  from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  We saw it at Troy Movie palace."

The wife just said "No, we saw the Federic March one at Proctor's. I'm going to Burger King and getting nuggets.  You want nuggets? Come on."

After letting off the steam to the Yankee Trials guide and driver, the guide worked out a switch with another couple, and we could get the first floor.  We dropped our luggage (or most of it - naturally mine was lost by the kind ineptitude of the staff).

Since there was only one other building in SlateWorld, and the teeming rain made it an Olympic run for the League of Senior Avengers, and we all arrived inside shaking coats and hats which was a waste of time because even if you stayed in for an hour with a burger and fries, you'd be just as wet when you went back to the motel.  We ordered and went back to the motel, clutching hamburgers and fries, and sodas. We plopped on the beds and consumed while watching a ball game.

I was wondering, though about the people who work there.  They can go on break, go outside, and see nothing.  I hope the moon and stars and sun actually visit here sometimes, or is it always just rain?

And so then a long night began.....a very long night.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The tour between the States "Atlanta is held,sir, with few casualties"

After the tour of the huge hotels, sports stadiums, and everything that had to do with peach tree(s) in all shapes and we arrived at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and headed right to the front door, figuring that the magnificent edifice had a rule of opening exactly 9:00 am every day.  So we stood there and waited, 9:00, 9:06, 9:10 (tour guides on the phone) 9:15 and then finally at 9:20 the doors opened, with no explanation, and so we dashed up the historic steps:

For about eighty years, the King family preached and serve their community from the pulpit of this edifice.  When you enter, eventually, you will hear the booming voice of MLKjr. preaching the gospel and his message of love.  This eternal treasure also had its sorrow as Mrs. Alberta (Mama [MLK's mother]) King and others were shot by a gunman in the sanctuary of the church in 1974.

With Dr. King's voice still singing in our ears, we crossed the street Auburn Avenue to take in the Peace Plaza , a tribute to Coretta Scott King's love of flowers.

We toured the National Park Visitor Center which followed King's career during the Jim Crow area, and to his greater involvement in civil rights from Birmingham jail to that night in Memphis.  For me, it's Doctor King's final speech in April 1968.  Its just a personal thing, telling me that my work, my tasks in life, my time (our) here is limited......

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I'm happy, tonight.
I'm not worried about anything.
I'm not fearing any man.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 3rd 1968, Memphis, Tenn.
Dr. King and Mrs. King are united still in death as in life. And the spirit of their lives remain, just that right now (January 2019) its a little harder to hear it.  But it is there.

The bus was waiting, as we took too long actually reading and sharing our interest in the King exhibits, so a few mea culpas as we plopped into our seats.
After a light banter about we two, the youngest couple (60 and 61) being the last on board.  The tour guide grabbed the mike and announced its was time to head to lunch and tour of ....
This is.......

If you've got a good James Earl Jones impression, you'll know what to do here.
Anyway, we looked for a spot that would give 25 seniors a chance to get the building that where in  dwelt  the mighty                                                                            
And we stepped right into a food court that any medium sized shopping mall would have - 

Inside CNN Studio Tour check-in
The CNN Center also houses an Omni Hotel and features a large atrium food court frequented by local business employees, tourists, event goers from State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and conference attendees from the Georgia World Congress Center. CNN's multi-channel output to the world is broadcast on large screens around the center. Studio tours are available and include demonstrations of the technologies such as Chroma key and teleprompters, as well as visits to viewing galleries overlooking the newsrooms and anchors of CNN InternationalHLN, and CNN en Español.
The atrium escalator that is used to transport visitors on the CNN tour has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest freestanding (supported only at the ends) escalator in the world at 196 feet (60 m) long.[10] It was built for the theme park that once occupied the building, and it is part of the building's structure and could not be removed. MARTA rail service is provided to the CNN Center at the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center station.

List of stores and restaurants[edited]

What, that's a food court? I searched around and there was not one place selling cheeseburger hot dogs. So our delicacies were Burger KIng and Starbucks.

The atrium escalator that is used to transport visitors on the CNN tour has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest freestanding (supported only at the ends) escalator in the world at 196 feet (60 m) long.[10] It was built for the theme park that once occupied the building, and it is part of the building's structure and could not be removed. Well, I' m sure Ted Turner and Co. made a few bucks on it.

I normally talk about the guided tour and do the oooohs and aaaahs but pretty much take the Johnson Space Center tour one, and remove anything interesting about TV news.  It's one of the tours that ends up in the souvenir shop.   I'd have rather gone back to Burger King.

There were a group of junior high students very excited about something and a CNN representative came down from on high, along with five people walking with him, and all their lanyards clicking together brought the celebrity person.  Consensus amongst the bus group was that 1.  We did not know this man of designer suits, perfect white teeth, and shoes that Trump must have donated to him.  2. The students were giddy as the CNN personality and the walking lanyards approached.  3.The students made an entry point for the celebrity and the walking lanyards told us to please make room, even though we were at least 40 ft away and mostly heading to the door and the bus.  I stopped at the Atlanta Braves shop, and picked up a Boston Braves cap.  They did not have any Milwaukee Braves or even 1974 Hank Aaron 715 homer caps.  That Braves cap was the first baseball cap I ever.  Fear not, as a Mets cap came soon after, and you could spot either caps anytime with yours truly underneath it. Also 
Atlanta, your team had one of the greatest all time baseball, and you don't have any baseball of except cheap t-shirts of the gaudy uniform of the early 1970s Braves:

This gentleman in the Braves #25 is, I believe, a pitcher named Danny Frisella who pitched for the Mets until 1972 when he was traded to the Braves for 2nd baseman Felix Millan and pitcher George Stone. He wore a few other uniforms in the big leagues later before, alas, suddenly hanging up his spikes and glove  when he was killed in a dune buggy accident on Jan 1 1977.  Danny, we hardly knew ye.

All right, the bus is full again and we're going to Coca~Cola! I've been looking forward to this stop because Jackie and I always hit the Coke store at EPCOT at Disney World, and sample a few flavors, because in EPCOT, there is about 10 versions of foreign Coke available to try.The same ones every year. Atlanta has a wider offering of Coke tastes, not only in drink but in the massive store where you can buy anything legal as long as the purchase has the Coke trademark.  But I digress...

In the Atlanta area Coke has two headquarters:

                   Corporate                                                                          Fun Place!

Upon arrival at the fun place, you are whisked up a set of 50 stair steps, leaving most of our tour at the bottom of the  steps until some employee cranks open an elevator.  Once up the stairs we all were welcomed to the plant by a Mr. Happy Employee telling us what fun we will have looking for the original Coca Cola recipe (which legend says is actually in a bank vault somewhere in Atlanta or its environs) in the displays that will get you involved in the search for the recipe, which the employee (Mr. Happy) has already told you is not there and you won't find it so soothe yourself by having your picture taken with a standing polar bear with a long neck and scarf:

or hit the Coketown samples:

Here was my reason for going.  In the vast history of this bus tour, I have made mention that I am out of drugs and the two lattes from the Starbucks at CNN are long gone and powerless.  But before me are nozzles full of caffeine, caffeine, caffeine, and I dive into the throng of tasters who enjoy free small paper glasses of soda in semi ecstasy. Carnage would have raged about me (The battle of Peachtree in my head! "Save the stimulants, boys! No Yankee is going to take the secret from whatever bank is, uh, still around")

And then I am on the bus, eyes closed, head lolling, my Jackie having pulled me from overdosing on Krest the drink of Outer Mongolia.  And the bus was moving back to the hotel.  I closed my eyes for a few hours months until my left  arm spasmed, and we trudged to our rooms for prepare for dinner.

And even on my Coke high (not all that high), I still wanted to visit the Santa room ("the pause that refreshes"). I still remember those ads as a kid. I had a failed Coke high, how was this new restaurant going to help me keep it together.  It would if Judy (tour guide) and Doug (bus driver extrodinaire) were arguing about which direction the restaraunt was from the hotel.  I voted go north and not stop  until we hit route 84 in Binghamton.  We could roll into Albany a few hours later and hit Cracker Barrel right away.  But no one heard my mumbling, if I was even doing that.  Sometimes with MS you don't know.

Next on the list:     Stay tuned. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Tour Between The States. " Come on, everyone, lots to do!"

My pills are now officially gone.  I even was licking the inside of the holder of where lithium used to be.

No more pills. The spasms have returned, slightly but consistently there. A finger for no reason will flick, and, normally when I am holding something edible and attempting to place said food into my mouth for the sustenance I need, but just a flick of an index finger sends my cereal to my lap, a white drool of milk appears in my chin and is wiped away by me (hand) or Jackie (napkin).

Time to saddle up and hightail it around Atlanta.  But before we head to Georgia's capital, a word about the bus driver Doug.  If you can recall cigarette TV commercials from say, oh, the 1960s to the 1990s you might remember this fella on the right:

Actor Richard Farnsworth on the left, Mr. Marlboro on the right. Take the weary lined face of Richard (minus the hat) and place it on Mr. Cowboy in the other picture.  Old weary cowboy, got his gear and is waiting on someone.  That was our driver Doug, a slim cowboy, who rode a tour bus instead of a red roan, would patiently lean back on the side of whatever side of the bus was cooler when we tourists were touristing  and Doug could relax by leaning on his back on the cooler side of the bus away from the sun.  Wrap around sunglasses, blue jeans.  He didn't say much, but when he did it was loud, and mostly funny.  He had a great relationship with our tour guide Judy.  During the long wait due to the accidents I mentioned earlier, Doug would, if possible, find a Georgia State Trooper and get the info.  He'd bring back what he found out and then hash out the next move with Judy.  He was patient with we mere passengers, even asking the more seasoned travelers for advice on side roads, since many of the couples aboard had kids living in South and having learned the back roads long ago.  We all got where we needed to go,  and we did reach Atlanta while the sun remained percolating in the sky.

After a nice breakfast at the hotel (Thursday Morning,  May 17), we were joined by an Atlanta based tour guide and she presented the history of the "The Big Peach". Here's where you'll not find a large amount of Civil War battlefield remnants.  It's only in recent years that Atlanta has begun to honor the  soldiers of both sides and the battle in depth.  The map below shows the three major scuffles and you can see that the city was in danger of Union occupation.  Union General William T. Sherman put Atlanta under siege until September 2nd, 1864 when the city surrounded Union soldiers and artillery.

But Atlanta got a bit of a head start in the Reconstruction Era as General Sherman had decreed Atlanta was to be used as a military base, and instructed citizens to "hightail" it north or south.  Once the war was over, the citizens could return to a formerly occupied city to rebuild with some basics in place such as hospital.  General Hood of the retreating Confederate Army blew up his military works to give the Union soldiers a fireworks show of magnificent proportions.

And somehow in all this Rhett found Scarlett. All he needed was to yell "Scarlett" and poof! there she was!

Atlanta rose again the in post war years (note the nickname "the ATL"), and we're gonna see it all right after lunch.  But first we have a visit to make.

                                                   Battle of Atlanta, by Kurz and Allison (1888)

and the real thing..

So off we go to tour the city. We're brought around see the mighty mighty new stadiums...

What you see here is Mercedes Benz Stadium, which is a small hint on who the Falcons want at their games.  What those folks got was a 7 wins -9 losses for the just completed 2018 season.

The cost to build and complete the edifice was 1.6 Billion dollars. The following teams/events are annual events.They even gotta"peach" something in there, though it must be a mess after the game for the grounds group to gather up the pulp, skins, and the pits off the floor, hoping to get done before the Chick-fil-A game.

Atlanta Falcons (2017 - present)
Atlanta United FC (MLS) (2017–present)
Peach Bowl (NCAA) (2018–present)
Celebration Bowl (NCAA) (2017–present)
SEC Championship Game (NCAA) (2017–present)
Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (NCAA) 2017–present

But there is one thing that there was unanimous admiration for. The Falcon descends:

Magnificent! The stadium opened in 2017, with the roof (that resembles a flower opening and closing its petals, probably peach tree). They're still working on it, had it working the last time I checked.  

Super Bowl 53 (LIII) will be at the stadium in February 2019.  The Falcons will not be there, alas.

The soccer team (Atlanta United FC) won the professional soccer/North American version of foot ball in December 2018.  I'm not sure if any Falcon players attended this game, but there were more fans in the stadium for Atlanta United championship win (73,019) than any Falcons game.  

All we had time for was a slow drive by for pictures, but fear not, for Atlanta has more Stadiums that you can count with either hand, such as:

This is Georgia State Stadium, also known as Centennial Olympic Park (1996), then as Turner Field 1997) as the home field for the Atlanta Braves baseball team (or, if you are NY Mets fan like me - Hell on Earth) and now home to the Georgia State Panthers.  The Braves now play in the poshy Sun Trust Park, which for which I remain grateful.

All I could think was I don't want to see Centennial/Turner/Georgia field ever again.  

Doug made the twist and turns of the Atlanta's small streets and arrived at a stop with a Catholic church on one side of the street a Baptist church, old but still mighty for when we walked into the voice that welcomed us was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s. And just as in Dallas, the call for a nation's return to its values and creed was silenced, left us just another body to bury.

Still, like the Eternal Flame in Arlington National Cemetery, we are reminded of Edward Kennedy's words in 2008: "the work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."[

More soon!