The Columbus 2010 Architecture Birthday Walkabout, Before Hollywood Came to Town

Eos!

“Eos” by Dessa Kirk, 2006.

Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. (Usually Indiana, anyway.) We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time on October 12, 2010, the two of us drove a quick hour south from Indianapolis to the city of Columbus. Though it’s much the same size as a lot of other Indiana cities we’ve visited statewide over the years, its visuals aren’t interchangeable. Thanks to a combination of factors — including significant funding from Cummins, the local engine manufacturer of considerable size — Columbus has become a haven for Modernist architecture, some of it overseen by big names in the field. It quite sincerely looks like no other town around.

Large Arch and Us!

What does this photo have to do with recent headline news? The answer might just surprise you!


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The Chicago 2018 Birthday Weekend, Part 2 of 4: Gray Friday, Windy City

Buckingham Fountain!

I’m told Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain is pretty when the waters are working and beautiful when lit up at night. We got neither.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: for Anne’s birthday celebration this year, we headed up to Chicago for yet another weekend — this time mostly to attend the inaugural Ace Comic Con Midwest at Navy Pier, and partly to see if downtown Chicago contained any sights we hadn’t already seen and/or shared. In past years we’ve shared pics of the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Magnificent Mile, and scenic Navy Pier, among other locales you can find with MCC’s “Chicago” tag alternating in between their frequent conventions.

Sooner or later we expect to run out of reasons to keep exploring the Mile and the Loop again and again, but we did what we could with the hours allotted and the ugly autumn weather against us. Temperatures were in the 40s all day Friday and light rain turned the early afternoon into a bit of a bummer. We walked around for a few miles anyway to spend time with each other and to kill time before the con began at 4 p.m.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 17: The Great Western Staircase

vertigo looking down...

Imagine a workplace where this is an everyday sight. And somehow this happened on government’s watch.

Presented tonight for your viewing pleasure are glimpses of my favorite part of our 2018 vacation: an ornate, creepy section inside the New York State Capitol that looks like the intersection of Hogwarts and Moria.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 15: The Actual New York State Capital

Egg!

Albany’s most distinctive performance venue, The Egg. They Might Be Giants once wrote a song about it.

Contrary to the popular opinion of Americans who forgot everything they learned in school within minutes of graduating or dropping out, New York City is not the capital of New York state. Yes, NYC has a larger population, more square footage, taller buildings, better restaurants, more celebrities, more movies and songs and books and general works of art about it, more airports, more zoos, more Broadway, more Chinatown, more money, and more nationally recognized politicians than the state capital. Brag, brag, brag.

But Albany is older. Disregarding the indigenous occupants and the occasional stray European explorers who came and went without putting down roots, both future cities had Dutch furriers show up around the 1610s, set up permanent shop, and pave the way for the eventual white takeover. Strictly and callously speaking, Albany’s precursors had their settlement up and running eleven years ahead of Team New York. Once state capitals became a thing after the Revolutionary War, Albany’s population was booming, its businesses were healthy, and its location was slightly closer to central NY and less standoffish than NYC’s. In looking at a state map, Utica looks closer to a true center than Albany does, but they took longer to settle.

So Albany won. It has accomplishments to its name and local attractions to show off, but it receives none of the accolades or love letters that NYC does. It’s NYC’s overlooked older brother. If the Big Apple is Bill Murray, Albany is Brian Doyle-Murray. There’s no shame in being Brian Doyle-Murray.

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Crane and Panes, Their Lines Entwined

Indianapolis crane

Crewman tinkering with a sign on the Capital Center in downtown Indianapolis this morning.

Today while on my weekly walk to and from my local comic shop, I paused for thought in front of this scene while waiting on the WALK signal to reappear and let me get back to work. I looked up, saw the crane stretching its arm across the building, itself a series of crisscrosses and crosshatching all over. I wondered how many total points of perspective a comic book artist would require to reproduce such a scene on their art board, how many lines would intersect how many times, whether or not artists still use T-squares or protractors to create or replicate precise angles, whether or not they even use rulers, whether there are young upstarts in the world who will one day draw comics without having owned or even touched any of those items, whether it would be easier to draw on a PC or a Cintiq or one of those newfangled Super-Etch-a-Sketch monitor-shaped computers ending in “-pad”, whether the artist would be ambitious enough to draw everything themselves or if they would sketch in a few diamonds and then email the colorist and beg them to do all the heavy lifting for them, how many of today’s colorists have been stuck in worse situations inserting more complicated linework for lower pay than the penciler receives, if this division of labor is harder to keep peaceful than it used to be back in the day when colorists only had Day-Glo dots in their toolkit and virtually nothing else, whether or not any colorists alive actually miss the dot system, if 22nd-century kids will have the foggiest clue what Roy Lichtenstein was up to, how far into the future Pop Art will still be a thing, whether this would make Warhol happy or sad, whether we should add the Andy Warhol Museum to our 2018 road trip itinerary since it looks like we’ll be passing through Pittsburgh for our third time, whether or not I have enough energy tonight to delve more into our vacation planning, and which is more important: writing lots of paragraphs or going to bed early so sleep deprivation doesn’t further damage my aging systems.

Eventually the WALK light did its one job and interrupted my reverie. I shuffled away from the web of lines that had caught my attention for that brief yet eternal moment, returned to my job, and tried not to spend the rest of my day exactly like I just did above, rambling and rambling and rambling like one of those great old Dead Milkmen album tracks like “Stuart”.

These are the kinds of thoughts I dwell on when I’m trying to be patient when a stoplight is holding me back during a week when I’ve slept very, very poorly.

Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 29: Looks at Books in a Tower of Power

Barnes & Noble!

This photo looks stolen from a tourism brochure, but I promise it’s ours.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Tourists love shopping in faraway places and bringing home exotic clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and more. That’s what I hear, I mean. Our shopping habits are narrower in scope and are rarely a primary factor in planning our vacation to-do lists. But if a store that caters to our interests just so happens to have a convenient location by other prominent attractions, we’re amenable to dropping in for some light browsing. If said store has its own unusual architectural features, so much the better.

Hence our short stop at the largest Barnes & Noble we’ve ever seen.

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Indy Zoo Revue Finale: Habitats & Handicraft

Orangutanorama!

This one’s for the orangutans. Just the orangutans.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In June my wife and I took my mom for a walk around the premises of our own Indianapolis Zoo to check out the current residents and the architectural upgrades on a sunny but not-so-sweltering Saturday. In this very special miniseries, we’ll take a look at the beasts and critters who welcomed us and hundreds of other families along the way.

We conclude these galleries with a look at the scenes behind the animals — the spacious, sometimes lavish enclosures provided for the various residents at our zoo. When I was a kid, the old zoo on the east side was all about stacks of metal cages, concrete floors, and tightly crowded wildlife as depressing sideshow. My family has seen a number of zoos around the country over the past dozen years and appreciate those that defy the obsolete paradigm. If they can tuck in a few works of art around the edges for value-added visual flair, so much the better.

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Our 2007 Road Trip, Part 4: Florida is for Explorers

Palm Tree!

Mandatory palm tree pic. Just getting it out of my system.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2007 we changed up our strategy a bit and designed an itinerary for what would prove our most kid-friendly outing ever. Granted, my son was now twelve years old and less kid-like than he used to be, but the idea was sound in principle.

Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Florida!

Florida! Every family wants to go there. A lot of families and college kids can’t get enough of it. Our first in-person looks at the glamorous Sunshine State reminded us of every movie and TV show ever filmed there. Beyond the beaches and the theme parks, closer looks revealed details that don’t make it into the Hollywood stories. In some cases that’s for the best.

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2016 NYC Trip Photos #17: Art Museum as Art Itself

Guggenheim!

The Guggenheim’s original design concept was “inverted ziggurat”. As a Midwesterner I look at it and think “fat tornado”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. With my son’s senior year in college imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here. In honor of one of our all-time favorite vacations to date, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City…

Two blocks south of the Cooper Hewitt, New York’s famed “Museum Mile” continues with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, one of the most distinctive-looking cultural centers around. Credit goes to architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who passed away six months before his last groundbreaking creation opened its doors in 1959. You’re supposed to look at the works of early Modernist masters when you enter, but the building itself is fascinating to the point of distraction.

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The Art of the Indiana State House

Indiana State House Dome!

The State House is shaped like a cross. The center is a rotunda with this magnificent glass ceiling four stories overhead.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

On October 15th, downtown Indianapolis hosted a very special convention of sorts. The “Hoosier Homecoming” was a celebration held at the Indiana State House in honor of Indiana’s 200th birthday, with a host of well-known local faces in attendance, an opportunity for self-guided tours of the State House, and the closing ceremonies to the Indiana Torch Relay, a 37-day event in which a specially lit torch — not unlike the Olympics’ own, but inspired by the torch on our state flag — traveled through all 92 Indiana counties by various transportation methods until its final stop in Marion County at the Homecoming.

We’ve seen the capitol domes of several states on the road trips we’ve taken throughout the years. Longtime MCC readers so far have seen examples we’ve shared from Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Someday we’ll get around to representing our capitol dome photo from West Virginia, as well as the capitol in Washington DC, to say nothing of capitol domes we might catch on future travels. Last weekend we added to the photo collection and got a closer look at Indiana’s own.

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Birthday 43: a Road Trip for Comics, Art, and History

Freimann Square Park!

Freimann Square Park, an eminently photogenic city block in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

It’s that time of year again! As of today I’m now 43 years old and trying not to obsess on the fact that I know at least three different guys who died at that exact age, including a near-forgotten high school acquaintance who popped up in last Thursday’s Obituaries section of the local paper.

…CUT. Forget that paragraph. Maybe we’ll set that aside for another, drearier time. Let’s start over.

For the last few years, my wife and I have spent our respective birthdays together finding some new place or attraction to visit as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on this most wondrous day, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2015 birthday destination of choice: the city of Fort Wayne, some 100+ miles northeast of here. It’s home to several manufacturing concerns, one major insurance company, a selection of buildings with historical importance to the locals, and a small comic book convention I’d never heard of before this year. We checked out the area, we found ways to enjoy ourselves, we got some much-needed exercise, and we took photos.

Right this way for the things I just said there would be!

2014 Road Trip Photos #15: Under the Dome

Minnesota Capitol Dome!

Day Four’s self-guided morning tour of the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol would continue inside. We’ve photographed domes in other capitals — Harrisburg, Charleston, Denver, Madison, Hartford (barely), our own in Indianapolis, et al. — but we usually admire them from a distance, on the assumption that the interiors might resemble ordinary cubicles or BMV offices. No one wants to risk seeing that and ruining the patriotic mystique.

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2014 Road Trip Photos #4: Scenes from the Milwaukee Riverwalk

Kayakers!

Cheaters getting it wrong. C’mon, people, it’s a RiverWALK, not a RiverKAYAK.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

The Milwaukee Riverwalk winds through the center of their downtown and runs adjacent to restaurants, nightclubs, residences, and blue- and white-collar businesses alike. Our last two chapters spotlighted the artwork along either riverbank that lends this tourist stop some honorary museum cred. We conclude our Milwaukee Riverwalk trilogy with a look at other assorted sights along the path, a mix of modern touches and industrial chic.

Right this way for Old Milwaukee, New Milwaukee, and In-Between Milwaukees!

Chicago Photo Tribute #9: Architecture Potpourri

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

[This coming] weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2″ thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.

That was written last April. To date we’ve visited Chicago for three C2E2s, five Wizard World Chicagos, one stopover on a previous family road trip, and one group outing with my employers. We’ve shared photos here from each of those trips in intermittent installments, either when they became relevant or when they popped into my head as a fun thing to revisit for an evening.

In this instance, my wife and I have another one-day Chicago trip planned for this weekend, so it’s at the forefront of my thoughts just now. Today’s presentation, then: parts of Chicago (and one related suburb) that were held back from previous installments for whatever reasons. The “architecture” category in the title covers the gamut well enough, including the realm of landscape architecture. Exhibit A: the flowers of Millennium Park. Look beyond them and you can see into the heart of the Loop, the Magnificent Mile’s significantly less glossy sibling.

Millennium Park flowers, Chicago

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Chicago Photo Tribute #8: Little Details off Michigan Avenue

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, as begun last April:

[This coming] weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2″ thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.

As luck would have it, my wife and I will be heading northwest once again in two weeks for this year’s Wizard World Chicago. What began last spring as a short-term miniseries, and then became slightly irrelevant as the event passed, is suddenly relevant once more. Call it the circle of geek-convention life.

With some of our past Chicago experiences, we’ve taken a time-out away from the cons for local sightseeing as a husband/wife quality-time thing. Today’s feature presentation is that shiny attractor of affluent tourists, the Magnificent Mile, the long line of upscale clothing stores and skyscraper-shaped malls dotting both sides of Michigan Avenue northward from Wacker Avenue.

Magnificent Mile sign, Chicago

We’ve strolled the Mile a couple of times, but we never buy anything. Any MCC readers with impeccable fashion tastes have surely discerned from our past photos that our clothing budget is far more modest than our convention budget. We have our priorities.

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Chicago Photo Tribute #1: Up and Up and Up

My wife and I find ourselves traveling to Chicago more and more each year as opportunities keep presenting themselves, and as we find fewer barriers and excuses to keep ourselves trapped at home. We’ve both lived in Indianapolis since birth and don’t anticipate dying anywhere else (Lord willing), but Chicago has numerous advantages over Indy. Entertainment conventions such as Wizard World Chicago and C2E2 have been our primary motivations, but those are just the first items on the brainstorming list.

Next weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2” thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.

I’ve had this miniseries in mind for a long time, but had trouble deciding where to begin. In an amazing bit of timing, the WordPress.com Daily Post finally sparked a moment of clarity for me on Friday with their latest Weekly Photo Challenge. Thus we start with the most blindingly obvious attribute you can’t possibly overlook when you arrive in downtown Chicago proper: everywhere you turn, it won’t stop reaching up to the heavens.

Exhibit A: the south end of the Magnificent Mile, their world-famous stretch of big-name upscale shops and shopping plazas, seen here from the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

Magnificent Mile

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