George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. Ted “Theodore” Roosevelt. Abraham Lincoln. You might remember them from such films as North by Northwest, Superman II, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It’s okay if you don’t remember that last one, but it’s not the last time we’ll mention it in this miniseries.
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. 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.
As a fan of comic books for nearly four decades and counting, I wish I could say we find comic-related tourist attractions everywhere we go, but that’s nearly never the case. Leave it to one of the most powerful men in the comics industry ever so kindly to place one in our Baltimore path. And not just comics — Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is a haven for collectible 20th-century pop culture in general.
Its founder and namesake is Steve Geppi, also the founder and owner of Diamond Comics Distributors, the near-monopolistic juggernaut through which the vast majority of American comic shops are required to receive their weekly comics and ancillary products. Geppi has been a leading figure in the industry since the 1970s, with Diamond rising to indispensable prominence when the tumultuous 1990s market saw the company either outliving or outright buying its competitors. In 2006 Geppi — himself a big fan of all those worlds — decided to try something different and opened his Entertainment Museum on the second floor of the former B&O Railroad Station, with its exhibits curated out of his own enormous personal collections.
As of June 3, 2018, those paragraphs became past tense.
Some MCC readers may be following this miniseries and thinking, “When did you get to Mount Rushmore? Are you to Mount Rushmore yet? Where’s Mount Rushmore? How much longer to Mount Rushmore? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
First of all, knock it off. Second of all, as of this chapter we’re seventeen miles away. We had someone else to see first. He’s taller, he’s wider, and he’s been funded with exactly $0.00 of your tax dollars, making one of the most independent art projects in American history. Show some respect and some patience. We’ll get to the white guys soon enough.
In the early years when my son tagged along on our travels, we made a point of including at least one amusement park or zoo on every road trip. That requirement faded as we got older, but we were happy to make time for animals if we found any interesting habitats along our paths.
In one South Dakota state park, it was the animals’ turn to come up and stare at us.
Camp. Kitsch. Hokum. Cheesiness. Roadside attractions are all about leaving an indelible impression, sometimes without regard for decorum, class, dignity, or societal aesthetic norms.
If you’ve ever been to South Dakota’s fabled Wall Drug, you know where this is going.
I said in our last chapter that I would probably save our remaining Badlands photos for the eventual outtakes section at the end of the miniseries. Ten minutes after clicking the “Publish” button, I wondered to myself: why wait? Let’s go wild with ’em!
See, this is the kind of arbitrary about-face that a writer can pull when his moods swing and he doesn’t have enough readers to question his choices or hold him accountable for his promises. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.