Gonna Fly Now

We ended our vacation where we started, back with family in Philadelphia.

The drive from Lancaster was pretty fast. We stopped for breakfast in a Waffle House on Highway 30. I had heard of Waffle House from so many people, and I love a good greasy spoon breakfast joint, so this was not to be missed. We walked in and were greeted by a very large and sweaty man in a slightly stained apron sitting on a stool in the front area. He had a voice like Wolfman Jack, with a vague South or something accent. He was friendly as hell, and while others were waiting, noted that there were three spaces at the counter. We love the counter. I was certain that this man would die of a heart attack before we were done eating, but I loved the guy. Not enough to give him mouth-to-mouth when he inevitably collapsed, but I was trained for the new CPR that didn’t do that so I felt better about it.

We sat at the counter and the menu was a two-sided laminated placemat. We all ordered Eggs with various sides. Sasha got some OJ and Yulia and I got coffee. I had Bacon, Sausage, and Grits with my eggs. From the counter we could watch the cooks and waitresses in their full action mode. There wasn’t so much of a kitchen, as a cooking and serving area in the middle of the diner. And this wasn’t a restaurant, it was a true diner. I was loving it right away. Our coffee was simple and plain, and very good. It never stopped coming. Our food came quick and wasn’t served in any particular order, when it was ready, we got it. All of the staff took their jobs seriously, but smiled all the time. It was a great breakfast and a great experience. I chatted with our large host on the way out, and he didn’t die in my arms so I was glad. Waffle House gets my approval.

Feeling good and caffeinated, we headed down the main highway and back into Philadelphia. We stopped in downtown by the art museum. We had the whole day, and most of the next to relax. Our flight was at 5:30pm the next day, so we took our time. The Philly art museum was right behind the Water Works restaurant that we ate at at the beginning of our trip, and looked like the Acropolis. It deserved another visit. We parked the car at the riverfront park beneath the museum, and walked through the heat up the steps in the back. Once inside, we asked at the desk where to get in. We thought Sundays were supposed to be free, but apparently that was just the first Sunday of the month. We didn’t have time to take advantage of the full main museum, but the smaller gallery across the street was doing an exhibit on Fashion. Both Yulia and Sasha are fashion hounds, so this sounded like something that was both cool and something that we had time to enjoy.

We walked down the block and across the street. The novelty of the heat had worn off long ago. We were happy to duck into the museum, up a red carpet on the front steps to remind us that the exhibit was about high fashion. How clever.

WP_20140713_12_33_59_ProThe main exhibit was about Patrick Kelly. I know nothing about fashion, but I was fascinated about the man. Patrick was a Black, Gay designer in the ‘80s who moved from America to Paris to pursue fashion design. That was interesting. I liked his designs, they had a bold, brash ‘80’s vibe to them, and were fun. however, I loved the fact that everything had a deep social undercurrent. Patrick had a huge collection of really racist art and sculpture. Stuff that was pretty typical in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Aunt Jemima statues, black minstrel dolls, and so on. And he used these images in his own designs. His personal clothes were based on sharecroppers coveralls, topped with a modern PARIS cyclists’ cap. It was wild stuff.

If you are a fan of Lenny Bruce, then you might remember his “Nigger” sketch. Lenny Bruce was a comedian in the ‘60s who said, among other things, that the word Nigger shouldn’t be whispered. Whispering it only gave the word power that it didn’t deserve. He suggested that Nigger be said loudly, and dismissively. The hatred lived not in the word, but the hateful people who used it to hurt. And that you could take the word, and its power away from them.

Apparently Patrick Kelly had similar thoughts.

Patrick used an Aunt Jemima caricature as the symbol for his brand. it wasn’t shown in America as it was “too controversial”  Many of the Minstrel faces and logos appeared in his work, and his designs had sharecropper influence. It was bold, beautiful work. from both a fashion and political sense.  other exhibits showed the influence that his designs had on modern designers, and their work.

Patrick Kelly died at the age of 35 from AIDS.

On the way out of the museum, we got Sasha a notebook in the gift shop. It was a Moleskine style book, made for fashion design with silhouettes of models and examples of how to design outfits. She has already used it to outline a few ideas. She is a good artist. Thank you Patrick.

WP_20140713_13_17_48_ProWe walked out and headed around the museum. We stopped at the statue of Rocky Balboa. it probably seems silly to have a statue in a city to a fictional character, but fiction is inspirational too. Fiction can be built out of a composite of a group, or a community, or an entire city. I think Rocky is that for Philadelphia. With the rise and fall and recovery. Everyone cheers for Rocky. Everyone wants to take a part of that success for themselves. maybe a statue make sense for just that reason.

We left and finished walking around the museum and back to the car. That was it for us, We headed back to Wynnwood, my aunt and uncle’s house. We stopped on the way to get some groceries, wine, and a bit of shopping, but eventually pulled into the drive and headed in.  Their dog was ecstatic to see us. They were out in Gettysburg, and had a dog sitter, but the dog knew and loved family. Yulia swam a bit, Sasha rested and I wrote. Later that evening my cousin came by with her son, and we hung out.

In the morning Sue and John returned, and we spent the morning telling them the story of our trip. It was good to rest and talk with family.

Every year, we go on vacation to rest and spend time with our immediate family. Sometimes, we get a chance to spend time with more distant family that we see less often. It is great when you can bring them all together. We didn’t relax much this vacation. We were always busy. But our time together was of good quality, and was good times. We connected as a family together, and to our family across the continent.

You can’t ask for much more than that.