Military Police Vehicles in the M&T Bank Stadium Parking Lot

Military Police Vehicles in the M&T Bank Stadium Parking Lot

This Saturday feels remarkably similar to most of my Saturdays. I woke up earlier than I wanted to wake up, alternated between reading and staring at my phone, took a couple of pictures of my cat snoozing hard on my wife who was also snoozing hard, and then finally got up and made coffee and breakfast. She usually makes coffee on Saturdays–sign one that things are different.

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Blue Angels Plane Between Buildings at Park & Centre

wpid-20140913_154555.jpgThis weekend was the Star Spangled Celebration, Baltimore’s party in honor of the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore near the end of the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner that night (or inspired by that night), and even though it didn’t become the national anthem until 1931, you’d think the way we’ve been acting these days that the country was founded that very night by this very song. I’ve been super interested in how we remember this unmemorable war since I started biking out to Chalmette National Battlefield, where they act like the war was the birth of a happy multiracial country just because Creole folks fought alongside Jean Lafitte (not just a pirate–a slave trader, but they always leave that part out) at the Battle of Orleans. Then I got to Baltimore, where the Battle of Orleans is a footnote and the whole war is about this one battle and the flag and the song. Continue reading

Brompty Checking Out the View at Chalmette National Battlefield

Brompty Checking Out the View at Chalmette National BattlefieldMonday was my last day in New Orleans, and I used it to bike as many places as possible. When I first moved to NOLA in 2007, there were no bike lanes. Then the St. Claude bike lane went in, and then there was one on Broad Street, and that tiny stretch of Magazine in front of the WWII Museum, and the protected bike lane out in Gentilly, and now they are all over the place, and I wanted to ride them all. I wanted to take that favorite ride out through City Park and to Lake Pontchartrain to see the bayou and look for pelicans. I wanted to get lost out in Gentilly and do laps around Audubon Park and ride the Mississippi River Trail out to the end to see what they’ve done to that riverfront park in Kenner and if that abandoned suitcase is still there. Continue reading

Hells Angels Headquarters at 21st & Hargrove Alley

Hells Angels Headquarters at 21st & Hargrove AlleyI spent Saturday walking to the bus to the museum with N., followed up with a reverse route to home by way of fried pickles and wings at Harborplace at the Inner Harbor. N. was driving back the way we came for A.’s annual Ladies Harvest Party, but she suggested I ride my bike instead. Good call. I layered up with my fall/early winterwear, strapped on my reflective safety belt, flipped on my front light, and I was zipping down the hill. Continue reading

View of Canton From Fort McHenry

View of Canton From Fort McHenryIt was the last day of this much-needed vacation weekend, and oh, it was lovely weekend. I finished it up with a coast down the hill to pick up R. for a ride out to Fort McHenry on the promise of froyo at the end. I snapped this picture looking out toward Canton across the bay. Fort McHenry was behind us, all nostalgia for the great days of the War of 1812, that mostly-forgotten second revolutionary war. Continue reading

The Stonewall Jackson National Shrine in Guinea Station, Virginia

The Chandler Out House Where Stonewall Jackson Died at the Stonewall Jackson National Shrine in Guinea Station, VirginiaOk, I didn’t see it from my bike today. I saw it from N.’s car. She drove me back to Virginia to pick up my car after it broke down there last week. How nice is that? People are awesome. Anyway, I didn’t see it from my bike, but it’s why I have a car, and it’s something I’ll come back and see by bike someday, because the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park has a bike map! Sometimes cars are really helpful. Anyway, this is the house where Stonewall Jackson died after one of the battles at Fredericksburg over the course of 18 months during the Civil War, halfway between the two capitals. Continue reading

Oil and Navy Ships From Canton Waterfront Park

I’m off on a walking and hiking vacation next week, so this Saturday found me busy as a bee, tying up loose ends before heading west. After writing a little of this and a little of that it was time to run Brompty down to the bike shoppe for her much-overdue one month check up. Continue reading

Military Ships Docked Across From Fort McHenry

Oh, it was a beautiful day–warm enough for a tank top and skirt, not a single cloud in the sky, blue everywhere. I worked from home for too long, but it was finally time to take the bike out for a ride. I headed down to the library to return one video and pick up another (yay socialism!) and then just pedaled along until I found myself headed to Fort McHenry. Why not cram in a little history while I’m at it, right? Continue reading

Display of the Armada at the National World War Two Museum


In all the hubbub of Mardi Gras, I almost forgot that I was on spring break. Huzzah! That means there is still more fun to be had, so after getting a little of this and a little of that done this morning, I hopped on the bike and headed toward the WWII museum to drop $23 on the exhibits and the Tom Hanks-narrated 4D (?) film, Beyond All Boundaries. I have ridden by this place literally hundreds of times, but B. is in town and wanted to go (he’s the kind of guy who always wants to go to whatever–I deeply appreciate that), so there we found ourselves, ready to learn how they wanted us to learn about the war. The displays themselves were an endless retelling of battle after battle with the persistent overtone of American Heroism, as is to be expected at a place like this. The film, dubbing itself an account of “the most important event of the 20th century,” tried, I think, to get us some of the embodied experience of the war: flashes of light signifying gunshots, a guard tower shining its spotlight on us, attempting to recall the guard tower of a concentration camp, a powerful flare that left a haze in the shape of a mushroom cloud in your eyes, and even fake snow–the Russians had it tough. I snapped this picture of a display of the armada, which I think was meant to overwhelm with its suggested size. The whole place is meant to overwhelm with America and pride and heroes, but there was a serious disconnect between that theme and the words of soldiers written out on displays, sounding in oral history booths, and narrating that truly odd film. Those words–about the brutality of war, the inhumanity of it, the way it required soldiers to break with their own souls in order to survive, the stories of the smell of death emanating up through the stratosphere and into the noses of pilots, the words of the man who refused to be called a hero for being one of the less than ten percent of his battalion to survive–that’s just chance, he said, those words undid the attempts of the museum to tell a story of American triumphalism. As one voiceover in the movie said, the quickest way to make a man a pacifist is to send him to war. The museum tries to recreate the war in some way for visitors, but it fails because it just isn’t an experience you can drop in and out of. And why would you want to? War is not a video game, and that’s how the museum seemed to represent it far too much. After that I needed a quiet ride in the cool evening air, and that’s what I got. I am immeasurably lucky to be here now as I am, and I know it.

Plantation Keys For Sale at James H. Cohen & Sons on Royal Street

I got on my bike after 9:30pm on a school night–whoa–and headed down to the venue to meet S. for a show. It was a little bit cool when I left, but a block and a half on the bike and I was plenty warm as I flew down St. Charles. Turns out when you aren’t packing any gear, the bike feels lighter. It felt so good to be on the bike, and I got where I was going much too quickly. Continue reading