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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 21: Visionary Mementos

Zoltar!

Hi, I’m Zoltar! You might remember me from such films as Big and…well, sadly, that’s it. A shame no studio would greenlight Big 2: The Embiggening starring Ted McGinley.

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…

Sure, the American Visionary Art Museum had art like we’d never seen before from a variety of self-taught, non-professional, iconoclastic, inimitable artists from all walks of life working in every conceivable medium plus a few no one thought to conceive till they came along. Sure, it was three buildings and a garden full of whimsy and wonder and imagination and intimidating bewilderment. Sure, one-third of it was free and the rest was worth the admission price.

But my absolute favorite part? The gift shop.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 20: Everything’s Visionary

Bra Ball!

Remember on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse when Pee-Wee kept a collection of either foil or rubber bands mashed together into a ball, depending on which season it was? This is Emily Duffy’s 1800-pound “Bra Ball“.

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…

Whenever someone asks us about our Baltimore vacation and lets us speak for more than fifteen seconds, if they’re patient we’ll tell them the part where we went beyond the Inner Harbor and spent two hours wandering the grounds of the American Visionary Art Museum. We’ll try to describe the captivating fun of roaming a trio of facilities dedicated to self-taught art, to imaginations and handicraft that eschew folks traditions or identifiable art movements, about the outlandish and the whimsy, about the inherent coolness of DIY ethos writ large and embraced to the fullest. Then their eyes will glaze over and they’ll change the subject because trying to describe unique art they’ve never seen is a bit like reviewing a Taylor Swift album for an audience that’s never owned a radio.

I guess you just had to be there. Or scroll through the photos from someone who has.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 19: Visionary Edibles

Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne!

“Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne” by Derek Lawson, Julianne and Matt Lutz, and Coyne himself, lead singer of the Flaming Lips and the only artist’s name I recognized in the entire AVAM complex.

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…

Our wonderstruck tour of the American Visionary Art Museum continued beyond the shiny free exterior and into the admission-paying part. The Museum welcomes numerous guest curators on a regular basis to assemble temporary exhibits on assorted themes — again, populated entirely by the works of amateurs, aspiring part-timers, and self-confessed non-artists who just need to see an idea in their head come to full visual fruition.

When we visited in July, the main exhibit was “YUMMM! The History, Fantasy and Future of Food”. Nearly three dozen food scientists, farmers, nutritionists, multimedia practitioners, and more contributed a variety of sculptures, paintings, collages, and other displays of educational and/or nostalgic value. Not everything from the following photo gallery was officially part of that exhibit, but food is a subject matter that’s bound to be on everyone’s minds sooner or later.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 18: Visionary on the Outside

Cosmic Galaxy Egg!

Two sculptures join forces: Andrew Logan’s “Cosmic Galaxy Egg” and David Hess’ “Bird’s Nest Balcony” welcome you to the birth of a new reality.

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…

DAY FOUR: Tuesday, July 11th.

We’d spent all of Monday waltzing around the Inner Harbor, diving into local U.S. history but without straying too far the waterside scenery. Tuesday was time to go a little deeper into the surrounding environs and see what else Baltimore had to offer. Our only water taxi ride of the day — after a long wait in the morning sun — carried us to the south end and in the direction of something completely different.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 17: Mornings with Miss Shirley

coconut creme stuffed French toast!

My best breakfast of the week: coconut creme stuffed French toast. As Seen on TV!

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…

In our early road-tripping years, we couldn’t afford food-based tourism. We ate whatever we could find within range of the sights or near the hotel, whatever wouldn’t destroy our budget. I used to plan our hotel reservations around which chains offered free breakfast. It didn’t take long to get tired of weeks-old, shrink-wrapped, itty-bitty pastries. We’re used to having at least one McDonald’s stop per year — usually as our last meal before we arrive back home — but can’t handle seven straight days of it. Longtime MCC readers may recall we ate Subway so many times that I eventually declared it my mortal enemy.

Now that we’re older and in a somewhat stabler position, occasionally we can stretch our legs and try places we don’t have in Indiana, and dabble in pricing above fast-food levels. On the morning of Day 3 we decided to take a deep dive into Google Maps and see what breakfast we could find in the immediate Baltimore area besides the Hyatt buffet. That trail led us a few blocks northeast to the comfort of Miss Shirley’s Cafe.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 16: The View from Another World Trade Center

Inner Harbor Wallpaper!

One great perk of vacation photography: creating your own PC wallpaper.

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…

You may have noticed our next stop as an Easter egg in photos from previous chapters. The tallest building along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is their 31-story World Trade Center. It’s one of 53 American members of the World Trade Center Association, which in all numbers 317 worldwide in 91 countries. The Baltimore version opened in 1977. Other than intense basement flooding from Hurricane Isabel in 2003, it’s been a relatively fortunate place.

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