Last week I was in New York City visiting friends. Here are a few snippets of my vacation.
I'm on the A Train heading to downtown Manhattan. The doors on the car open. Two mariachis enter. One has a guitar and the other an accordion. They wear big, black cowboy hats, black cowboy shirts and black boots. They sing in a high-pitch, in Spanish. I'm the only person who even looks up to notice them.
Inside the American Museum of Natural History is an exhibit called "The Search for Earth's Age." It includes a chronology of what was thought at various times to be the best scientific guess on how old our planet is. The first entry summarizes the 17th century writings of James Ussher, the primate of Ireland.
Ussher concluded the Earth was formed on Oct. 22, 4004 B.C. He relied heavily on the Bible, counting the "begats" in the Hebrew Scriptures. Scientists today figure he was off by a mere 4.5 billion years.
For some reason this makes me think of GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who says his party is in danger of turning its back on science when it tries to debunk the theory of evolution.
I wonder: Will Ussher's 400-year-old "begat" research find its way into the GOP platform?
Hung along a hallway in the New York Times are framed summaries of the paper's 106 winning Pulitzer Prize entries. The first was in 1918 for "complete and accurate" coverage of World War I.
The paper won two more in 2011, one for coverage of abuse of power in Russia and one for David Leonhardt's weekly economics column.
On display outside the publisher's office are the actual documents the paper used to bring down the corruption of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall.
I find it difficult to tell my friend from college, an editor at the Times who is providing the tour, about my recent column about dog poop in Collinsville.
On Friday afternoon the Museum of Modern Art is packed. At 4 p.m. admission dropped from $25 to free.
Visitors routinely violate the rule to not take flash photos of the art. Time and again someone stands in front of a great work, such as Van Gogh's "The Starry Night," while a friend snaps a picture.
Why? To prove to their art professor they were here?
Thousands of flashes must bombard the paintings daily. Yet the young men in coats — Security Lite — seem to be more absorbed by the cavalcade of beautiful women.
A white wall has these words at the top: A WALL PITTED BY A SINGLE AIR RIFLE SHOT.
It is considered conceptual art.
I look for the pit in the wall and can't find it because there is none. The brief description/explanation says something like this: The image of the pit in the wall is simply a concept that I, the viewer, instantly created when I read the words on the wall and therefore there really doesn't have to be a pit in the wall from a single air rifle shot although there could be one if the artist had chosen to do so but it really doesn't matter if there is or isn't one.
With that in mind, I toyed with the idea of using a "conceptual" headline to juice up this story: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Open Nude Coffee Shop on Main Street St. Charles.
I discover great news at the American Museum of Natural History for those crunched for time! The length of the day increases 16 seconds every 9 million years.
Protest is in the air in a small park near Wall Street. The enemy is "corporate greed." People have camped here for a week. There are hundreds of signs such as "Fox News Lies." There are speeches. There is pulsing music. There are free bananas and granola bars. New York City police later swoop in and make arrests.
Inside the 9-11 museum next to the new memorial are hundreds of pictures of people who died 10 years ago when the towers fell. Attached to the photos are golf tees, baseballs, running trophies. I read a son's last note. He tells his mother he did all the dishes. He loves her. He will see her later. XOXOXO