It was the summer of Wonder Woman. I mean, I know she was in the theaters this last summer, and I certainly enjoyed the movie, but that’s not what I’m talking about. She was in our car. Wonder woman, I mean. She was in our car.
We were wondering what that strange sound was coming from the back. We didn’t hear it often, at first anyway, but it was just an odd sound. Were the Jarritos bouncing up against the Mexi-cokes? Maybe something was falling out of the luggage? No, not that over and over like that, and it doesn’t sound like bottles. Neither Moni nor I could quite place it. And then an impression started to form, but it just couldn’t be right. I thought perhaps all those years of role-playing geeketry were playing havoc with my ears, because I couldn’t possibly be hearing it right. Still, the more I listened, the more convinced I became.
“Is that a sword?”
“It does sound like a sword, yes.”
Hearing Moni confirm my seemingly-impossible impression was a little reassuring. It was also a little disturbing. Why in the hell would the sounds of sword fighting be coming from the back of our vehicle? And then Moni remembered the costume. I had bought her a Wonder Woman costume for super-hero day at her gym. It came with a plastic sword and that sword made sounds whenever you moved it around. We meant to give it to one of of her nieces or nephews, but I guess we never got around to it. Instead, the noisy blade was buried somewhere in the back beneath a pile of luggage, snacketry, random shoes, and countless things we probably didn’t need. Evidently, the sword had room to juggle. So, Wonder Woman had room to fight in the back of our vehicle.
No matter! We would dig her out soon enough.
I think we first noticed the sound on a trip to Sequoia National Park. We could still hear Wonder Woman doing battle after a diversion to Monterey, another trip to Sacramento and San Francisco, several small trips around Los Angeles, a road trip to SantaFe by way of the Navajo Nation, at least three trips back to to Taos Pueblo through Espaniola, one to Bandelier, one to Kasha Katuwe, and one each to Santa Ana Pueblo and Cochiti. We never did find her, or if we did, we missed the chance to find her a new home. Hell, she was still fighting her foes when we made it finally back to California at the end of the summer.
We actually did make an effort to find Wonder, but we were thwarted by the piles of unnecessary baggage. So, Wonder Woman spent the summer with us. She protected us from evils all across the southwest, and even scolded us when we did wrong. She could be kinda bossy that way, but otherwise, I must admit the living weapon herself was actually pretty good company.
Presumably, her sword is in storage now.
It’s been a little over six months now, so I guess it’s time to share some pics from our road trip, the one Moni and I took with Wonder Woman.
I’ve already blogged about a few of these things, but I do plan to produce at least one more post about the street art in San Francisco. I’ve posted about the Institute of American Indian Arts before, and about Santa Fe. These are definitely favorite stops of mine. Here are a few pics (click to embiggen)!
Moni’s Nephews in the Kiva at Old Pecos
Little Sister isn’t impressed with the Quinceañera pics
Institute of American Indian Arts
We need one of these trucks here in Barrow before the next 30 days of night
Restaurant in Taos
Just south of Taos
Church at Taos Pueblo
Institute of American Indian Arts
Old Pecos Pueblo
Whaling Wall in San Francisco
Old Pecos Pueblo
Tragedy at La Brea Tar Pits
Muckrock Mural at Taos
Somewhere in Northern California
Window Rock, AZ (I used to work a short stroll from here)
Fat Man replica at Los Alamos
Kiva at Old Pecos Pueblo
The Institute of American Indian Arts
Somewhere in Los Angeles
Madrid, New Mexico
Getting some shade near Horseshoe Bend
This guy was bathing in a fountain at Window Rock, Navajo Nation
Note the building from another pic
Women’s Building in the Mission District in San Francisco
Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River
Moni and Annie at Harvey Milk’s old haunt
Seems to be a car show in town (San Dimas)
Coastline near Monterey
Stump in Sequoia
I think Moni wanted to drop me off here, not sure why
San Juan, Fiesta
Thai Restaurant in San Francisco (I think this was our waiter)
My title may seem like an oddly partisan blessing, but it’s more of a partisan curse. It’s not the worst form of damnation you could wish upon a person, but for some folks it oughtta be bad enough.
The curse is real though.
Civil Rights activists must have felt the sting of this curse this last weekend as right wing America did its best to distinguish Colin Kaepernick from Martin Luther King, Jr. It seems, their efforts had been necessitated by publican of an image linking Kaepernick, Michael Bennett and Martin Luther King, all kneeling together. Outraged to see Kaepernick and MLK connected, plenty of folks took to the net to tell us Bennet and Kaepernick shouldn’t be put on the same level as MLK. Beyond that, cultural conservatives assured us that MLK was selfless and that Kaepernick is simply out for himself, that King was a patriot whereas Kaepernick hates America, and that MLK preached unity whereas Kaepernick is being deliberately divisive.
Heard that last one a lot this weekend.
I’m not old enough to remember MLK’s activism in its day, but I am old enough to remember cultural conservatives attitudes towards him before he became a national holiday, before you could find roads named after him all over America, before admiration or MLK became a forgone conclusion. And of course before conservatives began to claim him as one of their own. We heard many of the same things about Martin Luther King back then that are said of Colin Kaepernick today. Lots of folks were not so impressed with his patriotism. As to divisiveness? Hell, he could be so lucky as to be described as merely divisive! I grew up hearing stories about how MLK and other civil rights leaders were just trying to cause trouble, simply drawing attention to themselves. Things were getting better, plenty of people assured me. Those activists were simply making things so much worse. Divisive? Hell, MLK that would have been an improvement over the things said of him at some of the dinner tables I’ve attended.
It’s a poetic injustice, really, seeing Martin Luther King transformed into a means of silencing black activists. He’s been held over the heads of the Black Lives Matter movement for some time now, and thrown in the face of just about any African-American deemed a little too disruptive by conservatives, especially by those conservatives moderate enough to think of they’ve learned the lessons of the civil rights movement. Gone are the days when cultural conservatives would spit ‘commie’ after hearing the name of Martin Luther King. Now, being more comfortable with his legacy, they spit his name at any black activists they find more threatening today.
That’s gotta be a special kind of Hell, to be used against those who carry on your legacy? If so, it’s a special Hell reserved for people who’ve earned a lot better.
What I think a lot of moderate conservatives and a good deal of middle-of-the-road America likes about MLK is the notion that we should be color blind. Some folks may even mean it. Others just like the prospects of using this principle against social justice warriors, affirmative action programs, and any number of left wing causes that ask us to take difference into account. Yet, the message of equality changes a great deal when it’s employed in this manner. When King delivered his “I have a dream” message, equality was message flying in the face of white privilege. If you’ll pardon the cliche, it really was a way of speaking truth to power. Today that message is used to speak power to truth. It is a call to ignore real differences in opportunity, to silence those in need of help, and to preemptively dismiss any political agenda aimed at helping the underprivileged. There is something genuinely vicious about the way cultural conservatives have turned King’s message on its head and turned him into a weapon well-suited to re-enforcing comfort and privilege.
It’s enough to make you lose your lunch.
Sadly, this isn’t an uncommon thing. It seems that those leaning to the right have a general tendency to remember some lefty figures fondly, but only after forgetting the lefty part. How many people have complained about the politics in Roger Waters concerts over the years? Some folks may have specific complaints about aspects of Waters’ politics, but a fair number seem genuinely shocked to find political content in Animals or The Wall.
Maybe they were just too stoned to listen the first time.
I know. Pink Floyd lyrics may not warrant the same admiration as the life of Martin Luther King, but in a sense that impression too illustrates the point. Just as with Kaepernick and questions about whether he should be on the same par as MLK, the veneration of MLK here misses the mark. When someone advocates on behalf of those in need, or confronts those who abuse power, should we really be all that concerned about how they compare to other heroes? Or should we be more concerned about how their politics contributes to something of value?
Yes, that was a rhetorical question.
And then of course, there were those people shocked and outraged to find Coretta Scott King. As George W. Bush attended her funeral, some thought it inappropriate for those honoring her legacy to speak out against the Iraq. And thus his decision to honor her, became her limitation, or rather the limitation on what could be said in her honor while he was present. I get it. It’s a little rude to criticize the President when he’s sitting right there, especially knowing that he doesn’t have to be. But you know what’s more rude? Expecting the funeral of an activist with a life-long commitment to non-violence to pass by without any comments on the greatest war of the day.
In America, even our conservatives are happy to celebrate liberal activists.
Once they and their own learn to be quiet about it.
Compliments of a late night layover, my girlfriend and I were recently treated to a little lesson on the history of Anchorage. We were looking for a quiet place to grab a nap before an early morning flight back up to the ice-box when I noticed this series of posters on the history and geography of Anchorage.
These can be found on the second floor of the Ted Stevens International Airport, which seems to be an area reserved for office space. There really isn’t a lot of foot traffic along that area, which is part of why Moni and I were there to begin with. Anyway, I’m guessing the public doesn’t see these all that much. If they are published elsewhere, I’m not aware of it.
The logo on the lower-right hand corner suggests that these were prepared for the Anchorage Centennial in 2015. I don’t have anything in particular to add to these visuals. A lot of information has been crammed into each of the posters, but the context is pretty sparse. Still, it’s kind of an interesting glimpse into the city and its past. So, I’ll just leave these pics here.
You may click to embiggen, which is particularly helpful if you want to read them. I tried to at least ensure that the main text was legible here on the blog, but if you want to read some of the small text, you might try downloading it so you can magnify it.
I told Danielito, his name is ‘Bob’ for the balance of our visit. I was Daniel first.
I could easily wish the crowds away, but that would be foolish. They are a big part of the experience here at Meow Wolf. Mere moments after entering the fun house, our party is already separated into at least 3 separate groups. Moni is nearby, but I’m not sure where. Her sister and I are together. She is nervous and worried the place will be scary. I’m not entirely re-assuring. We catch a glimpse of her two kids. They rush on by as their mother tries to call them back.
It’s no use going after them. Did they go up into the tree house, or over to the musical mastodon? Perhaps into the fish-tank? We’ll find them eventually, but not by looking. No matter. One is old enough. The other has been here before. They will take care of each other. So, we let them have their fun.
I’m recovering from a bad flu, so I tire easily. Luckily, there are places to sit and watch the people. This is my second time at Meow Wolf, so I am happy to take my time; happier still to rest when I can. A woman walks by urging her child to stay nearby. A few minutes later she walks by again, alone.
“Baby, where are you?”
I get up to help her look for the child and instead find myself helping a couple women trying to connect a completely different child with his parents. They are on it; I’m just trying to see if I can help, but it’s difficult. You’re never more than one room away from getting completely lost in this place. Give yourself time and you’ll find your way back to the main entrance. But how to search more than one room without losing these two and their momentary ward?
A solution takes the form of a stumbling old man in mad scientist garb. I’ve seen him before. He gets lost in corners and regularly stands motionless for odd periods of time. Soon after meeting the women, our shambling scientist becomes a competent staff member with an intercom and a clear set of procedures. Unfortunately, the first step (getting the kid’s name and that of his parents) doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. The kid is just too disoriented to answer even these questions. Another child is screaming in my ear. It’s disconcerting, but this child is already in her own mother’s arms, so that’s probably a good sign. Still those are blood-curdling screams for such a little girl. What has her so scared?
“I don’t want to leave!”
Ah, …got it!
The girl keeps screaming that she doesn’t want to leave. She screams this as though her life depended on it. Nearby, the once-shambling scientist calls three names into his head set. He is well on his way to solving the problem. I wander off to find something new. I’m told there have been some changes to a few rooms, and the people scrambling about me add a whole other layer of new things to see.
A young woman opens up a closet, then stands in awe as people behind wait for the moment to pass. Others charge into rooms and devour them. An elderly woman has trouble navigating a narrow staircase. The crowds wait patiently. There is plenty to see. Just about every where you look, there is something odd to see, something weird to wonder about. Kids open the drawers and study their contents. A middle aged man yanks out a drawer a little too far and spends the next few minutes putting its spilled contents back. Some tap on shiny mushrooms, hoping to know what sound they will make. You can play a piano, an odd piano, or even a lazer-lyre.
I found myself in the entrance to the place, a large area resembling a classic suburban home. It is two stories tall, filled with all the usual features of a middle-class home; a kitchen, a living room, a study, several bedrooms, a nice bathroom, and so on. There are also a few things you don’t find in most middle class homes. A few inter-dimensional portholes, lots of odd scenes. You can find the beginnings of a narrative here in this home. Notes and booklets scattered throughout the rooms allude to scientific experiments gone wrong, perhaps a bit of a cult gone wronger.
I sit here and watch the crowd. Within minutes a little girl asks if she can sit on my lap. She is adorable, but her mother isn’t having any of it. That’s understandable, of course, but I have to wonder. I’m no Santa Clause. Is there something about this place that softens my resting-bastard-face? The next little girl seems to want my attention to. Her parents shuffle the family by without any event.
Perhaps they just want to sit down?
I free up the chair.
Standing on a narrow bridge a woman turns towards me saying; “that’s just the weirdest thing I…” It’s at that point, she realizes I’m not the person she thought she was talking to. It’s understandable. At one point, I mistake a woman for a manikin. In my defense, she wasn’t moving. I find another mad scientist repairing a refrigerator door. That may seem an odd job for a scientist, but in his defense, not every fridge serves as a porthole into another dimension. The condiment rack on the door of this porthole is loose, and there is no telling what that could mean!
I bump into Moni and her family a couple times. All are happy. The kids are positively glowing.
Just like some of the exhibits.
Other things, you may hear in this place?
“This is the most ridiculous thing.”
“Don’t go in there!”
“Oh, oh, oh!”
“that’s how we came in”
“we came in through the fireplace?”
“How do you suppose that kid got stuck in the toilet?”
“What’s the big deal about this place? …Oh, I see.”
Meow Wolf is the brain-child of George R.R. Martin. Yes that George R.R. Martin! It’s an artist collective and a non-profit located on the south-side of Santa Fe, New Mexico. What they’ve created here could be described as a fun house, but that doesn’t even begin to do the place justice. Suffice to say that a lot of very creative people have invested a lot of brilliant thought into this project, and the results are spectacular. I reckon it can be a little stressful for the parents, but they will live through the experience, and so will their kids (who will no doubt keep the memories well into their own grey years). For the rest of us, I expect the key to this experience is opening ourselves to its disorienting qualities. You may think for a moment that you are beginning to figure something out, or that you know what’s around the corner to the left, but don’t be surprised if you are wrong. No matter! If you can make sense of this place, you are probably doing it wrong.
Thanks to Moni and her family who have contributed pics and suggestions. As usual, you may click to embiggen.
Moni and her Mom, at home in any kitchen
A surplus of doorknops
A performance artist and her pet dragon
Belongs with the musical mastadon
Fish Tank (mirrors a normal-sized tank in the front room)
Lots to read
Wonder what kind of sermon you could hear in this place?
Life in the fish tank
An oddly normal corner
…among other things
A cool family
Do not climb on the spider!
When aspen have eyes
The head of the musical mastodon
Most kids just take a bath
Teenagers room, …a teenager with a bit more angst than usual