Downtown, Distanced

Social Distancing, Please!

Because we’re over three months into this catastrophe and some people still need practical advice.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: if your city’s like ours, and I know ours is, you had some protests and riots damaging your complacency back in May. Odds are you’re still seeing some combination of activity, activism, and/or action. Things seem quieter here in our own hometown of Indianapolis, though it could simply feel that way because local media have lost interest in encore performances and have moved on in their never-ending search for new hot topics to captivate audiences burned out on the old ones. In the daytime, at least, things have demonstrably calmed down.

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Lafayette Vignettes, Part 3: Drifting Around Downtown

Washington pediment!

A limestone pediment featuring George Rogers Clark, George Washington, and Tecumseh, three people who have never been in our kitchen.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife 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. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2019 Anne decide she wanted to celebrate her birthday with a jaunt around the city of Lafayette, an hour northwest of our Indiana home. She cobbled together a short to-do list of things she wanted to see, not lengthy but enough for a leisurely afternoon — a bit of Indiana history, a bit of downtown tourism, and a bit of healthy walking…

One of our favorite simple pleasures of any visit to a new town is the stroll around their downtown, Main Street, town square, or whatever they call the heart of community commerce, whether it’s a presently vibrant neighborhood or a nostalgic patchwork of quaint artisans and hollowed foreclosures. Located at a remove from the Purdue campus on the other side of the Wabash River (which factored into a Jeopardy! clue the other night), downtown Lafayette showed signs that everyday life persists, just…maybe with a quieter ambiance on Homecoming weekend.

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Lafayette Vignettes, Part 2: The Works on the Walls

Biggie & Cobain!

Scene from an alternate timeline where Biggie Smalls and Kurt Cobain lived to cover “Ebony and Ivory”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife 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. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2019 Anne decide she wanted to celebrate her birthday with a jaunt around the city of Lafayette, an hour northwest of our Indiana home. She cobbled together a short to-do list of things she wanted to see, not lengthy but enough for a leisurely afternoon — a bit of Indiana history, a bit of downtown tourism, and a bit of healthy walking…

Once we escaped Purdue’s Homecoming weekend crowds, we headed east across the Wabash River to downtown Lafayette, where we simply wanted to walk around and take in the scenery. While most locals and students busied themselves with the main event across the river, downtown was deserted except for a small farmers’ market that was wrapping up their morning shift by the time we walked up.

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 3: Welcome to Atlanta

Olympic Torch Tower!

The 123-foot-tall Olympic Torch Tower, is one of several reminders of that time Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics.

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. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

Interstate traffic in the major cities we visit tends toward one of two prevalent modes: perpetual gridlock or expert death race. I prefer the latter, but I can deal with either. Atlanta on a late Sunday afternoon was the latter. The drive from Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park on I-24 East to I-75 South was swift and painless in a good way, measured by my criteria. Anne kept herself distracted from the derby around us by taking a few shots of downtown as we headed toward our hotel.

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Yet Another Convention Epilogue Starring Chicago

Chicago Nighttime!

The early-evening view from our hotel room during Star Wars Celebration. That’s the north face of Two Prudential Plaza, with Michigan Avenue lit up and trailing back and to the left. Rather like Coruscant minus flying cars.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I attended our second Chicago entertainment convention of 2019, a scant three weeks after the last one. Before and after each day’s festivities we found a few opportunities to see more of the Windy City that we hadn’t checked out on our last several trips. Convention centers may capture our attention for most of our Chicago trips, but if we can sneak in better food and light art for extra credit, so much the better.

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48 Stories Over Indianapolis

Monument Circle!

Monument Circle, the center of Indianapolis. Don’t asl me why someone built a little house on one of those rooftops.

At 49 stories, Indianapolis’ Salesforce Tower is the tallest building in town. Once upon a time it was Chase Tower; the time before that, it was the Bank One Tower. I’m old enough to remember a time before it was added to our downtown skyline and made the formerly insultingly labeled “Naptown” feel all the smaller as we tried to catch up with fifteen or twenty other, larger cities nationwide. Measured by population we rank 16th; measured in skyscrapers, we earn a “Participant” ribbon. But we cherish our ribbon.

Longtime MCC readers may recall we’ve been in taller buildings — more famous ones such as One World Trade Center, Willis Tower, and 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which for some unsightly reason is now called the Comcast Building, which would be a terrible name for a sitcom. All of these pale before the magnificence of Pikes Peak, but that’s neither here nor there.

For Hoosiers, Salesforce Tower is as high as we can get without wings or catapults. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a work-related function on their 48th floor. Of course I took photos of my surroundings. Prominent features are labeled where visible and remembered.

Our skyline may not be an iconic fixture in pop culture, but to us it’s home.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 43: The Week in Hotel Windows

philly wallpaper!

A bit of Philadelphia at night. This one was my wallpaper on my work PC for a while.

On the road a curious idea for a side project struck me: take pictures of the views from each of our hotel rooms and see what the resulting montage looks like. It would’ve been a much cooler idea if we’d stayed only at the swankiest accommodations with the most breathtaking views outside — say, next to some giant national monuments or rolling New Zealand hills. We’re not affluent enough to stay anywhere we want, but I made our reservations at different price levels for variety and fun just to see what would happen. One of the hotels definitely didn’t disappoint.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 37: Streets of Philadelphia III

A Quest for Party.

Branly Cadet’s “A Quest for Parity”, September 2017.

Towns with a long and storied history tend to be big on statues and sculptures. Nothing brings great Americans to life more robustly than three-dimensional stone doppelgängers. We concluded Day Five with one last stroll through Center City Philadelphia, surrounded by art on all sides as the sun retreated into the west.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 36: Big Game Hunting

red Sorry piece!

In the shadow of Philadelphia’s Masonic Temple is a big red Sorry piece. (Some sites think it’s a Parcheesi piece. Not from any Parcheesi set I ever played.)

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have board game pieces that you could never, ever possibly lose? Philly has just the place for you.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 35: Streets of Philadelphia II

Keys to Community!

“Keys to Community”, a 2007 work by James Peniston, is a one-ton bronze Benjamin Franklin covered in casts of 1000 kids’ keys, funded by the local fire department and 1.8 million donated pennies.

Yep, we’re still in Philadelphia. While Anne had her own objectives to pursue on our second foray into the City of Brotherly Love — largely centered around American history — my own to-do list was simple: I just wanted to see Philly up close — roam the streets, feel the vibe, see downtown up close, and just plain experience it instead of merely driving through it with the doors locked…or as we’d done on our first go-around in 2010, when we rode a trolley past several highlights without the power to stop and appreciate at will.

So on Day Five we wandered a bit, we shopped a little, we took a plethora of photos. This set is the daytime half.

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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 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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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 1: The Chicago Prelude

Chicago Crown Fountain!

Welcome to Chicago. Big Sister is watching you.

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. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

2008 was by far our least favorite road trip to date, and still holds the ignominious title as of 2018. Driving out to Virginia Beach to see the ocean seemed like a good idea at the time. We weren’t prepared for the medical issues that plagued me all week long. We were disappointed with the beachfront tourist-trap economy. Worst of all, we learned the hard way that we’re simply not beach people. Our next vacation had to be better. Step one was plain enough: we looked at Anne’s brainstorming list of future road trips and chose the one that screamed “dream vacation”.

That’s what led to our long, long drive out to the farthest reaches of South Dakota and beyond. If you know anything about American tourism, you know some of the most iconic landmarks and attractions located way out there. South Dakota would be our most ambitious trip yet. At nine days it was the longest we’ve ever taken. The farthest point of 1,180 miles made it the longest drive of our lives. It would be the farthest west we’d ever been up to that time. It was also our first vacation using exclusively digital cameras to record the experience, leaving behind the 35mm film of our childhoods forever. They weren’t expensive cameras for their kind, certainly not the most advanced as of 2009, but we did what we could with the resources and the amateur skill sets available to us.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

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American Ninja Warrior Indianapolis II: Return to the Circle of Death

American Ninja Warrior!

Once again…it’s ninja time.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover in April 2016:

Fun event here in Indianapolis this week: the NBC reality series American Ninja Warrior is filming an episode on Monument Circle in the very heart of downtown. They’re filming the initial challenges in the wee hours of Wednesday night/Thursday morning from a crowd of thirty competitors, and it’s my understanding semifinalists will continue competing Thursday night/Friday morning. If you’re a local night owl who has no use for crowing roosters or morning-drive DJs, this event was made just for you.

The ninja are back in town! Once again the ANW crew took over Monument Circle with their trucks, their rigging, their tents, their boxes and boxes of electrical equipment, and their high-falutin’ obstacle courses meant to test the mettle of anyone who wants to go on TV, look Olympian, attempt a series of stunts, and subject themselves to a spectacular pratfalls when the gauntlet smacks them down. And once again they got in the way of my weekly walk to the local comic shop on my lunch break.

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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.

The Art of a Downtown Knoxville Walk

Kool-Aid Man!

Kool-Aid Man now comes in new Graffiti Punch flavor! OH, YEAH!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Earlier in October Anne and I drove down through Kentucky and down to Knoxville, Tennessee, to meet a few fabulous folks at Fanboy Expo’s Totally Awesome Weekend, a convention we’d never done before. After we’d had another round of geek fun, we capped off our weekend with quite a bit of sightseeing (including but not limited to a giant dragon)…

After the convention and an elevator ride into the Sunsphere, lunch was an immediate necessity. Other than a restaurant choice pegged through the magic of Google Maps, we didn’t have complicated plans for our downtown wandering — head from point A to B; eat food; marvel at incidental sights along the way. The area in general and one alley in particular caught our eyes and brightened our day.

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Happy Columbus Hour: Our CXC 2017 Intermission

McKinley statue II!

William McKinley, 25th President of the United States of America, born and raised in Ohio. It’s not the first McKinley monument we’ve seen this year.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last weekend my wife Anne and I attended the third annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, where I immersed myself in the wonderful world of comic book creators and the associated arts. In our typical entertainment “comic con” experiences we usually try to find a balance between the world of comics — totally my thing — and the experience of greeting actors from films and TV shows we’ve enjoyed, which has been her thing a bit longer than it’s been my thing, but now it’s our thing. Either of us gets self-conscious whenever a given event is lopsided more in favor of our interests than in the other’s. Given our eighteen-year road trip history together, comics and celebs aren’t our only interests when we’re away from home.

Partly as a cheerful concession to Anne, but mostly out of a shared mood to explore, after lunch we took a break from CXC and took a half-mile walk westward to see a bit more of that Ohio state capital.

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An Afternoon Walk for Art: Our Cincinnati Comic Expo 2017 Coda

Toy Heritage!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last Saturday Anne and I attended the eighth annual Cincinnati Comic Expo in the heart of their downtown. Once we finished up at the show, the urge for exploration hadn’t faded yet. Last year we’d checked out a few of the local tourist attractions but had to leave some possibilities behind for future years. Our time was short, but we wanted to cross at least one objective off the outtake list.

Hence our lead photo: “Toy Heritage”.

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Indy Food Trucks Turn the Whole World on with a Smile (Part 6 in a series)

Gigi's Cupcakes!

Got sugar? Gigi’s Cupcakes has some waiting for you.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: when MCC launched five years ago, one of our recurring habits was keeping tabs on the Indianapolis food truck experience whenever those mighty mobile merchants rocked my world and my lunchtime. (Past entries were here, here, here, here, and here, though a few of the older trucks are sadly no longer with us.) They’re not in my path as often as I’d like, but we see enough of them from time to time that the occasional gallery is warranted as our way of thanking these eminent entrepreneurs for outstanding achievement in the field of edible excellence.

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Cincinnati 2016 Overnighter Photos, Part 6 of 6

Cincinnati!

Our hotel room’s view of downtown Cincinnati high above the nightlife.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s convention time yet again! This weekend my wife Anne and I have driven two hours southeast of Indianapolis to attend a show we’ve never done before, the seventh annual Cincinnati Comic Expo. With her birthday coming up in a few weeks, which usually means a one-day road trip somewhere, we agreed this would count as her early celebration.

Growing up in Indiana, we Hoosiers rarely had reasons to visit next-door Ohio until and unless it was time for another one-day family road trip to Kings Island Amusement Park, a few miles north of Cincinnati. If you believe the movie Anomalisa, the only two reasons to visit Cincinnati itself are the Cincinnati Zoo and Skyline Chili. After we wrapped up our Cincinnati Comic Expo experience, we did none of those things and found a few reasons not to be bored anyway.

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