I am back on the road, this time heading to the Academy of Philosophy and Letters annual meeting not in Linthicum but Linthicum HEIGHTS, Maryland (outside Baltimore). This should be an intellectually stimulating time and also personally depressing (if you care about the local and traditional).
I have made a pit stop in Hancock, Maryland, just over the Pennsylvania and West Virginia borders. The only resemblance to Turkey is that cell phone coverage is spotty. I took a pleasant stroll along the Chesapeake & Ohio Rail Trail and tried to call the Mrs. but wireless antennae would not cooperate. The drive has provided time for a few reflections (beware: all about me).
Birthday cake deprivation: my parents would have celebrated their birthdays this week. Ellen Marie Hart was born on this day in 1923. Jay Glenn Hart came into the world on June 11, 1922. I miss weeks crammed with birthday cake. I miss the people who supplied the ingredients and baked the cakes more.
Ohio giveth and Ohio taketh away: I have made the drive between Hillsdale and the East Coast several times now and I give the rest stops on the Ohio Turnpike high marks (not to mention that the 70 mph speed limit gives ample joy). Compared to the virtuous commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s or Michigan’s, Ohio’s stops are attractive, spacious, and easy to use. Whether construction materials — they are all brand new — will age well is another matter. But what’s up with the miles of highway narrowed for road construction and workers only doing repairs in a fraction of the hazard area. Traffic has not been terrible so having lanes reduced from three to two has not been onerous. What is a pain is the reduction of speed to 50. I find this unusual and objectionable if only because on two-lane roads in America, outside city environments, the speed limit is always 55. One explanation might be that drivers need to slow down for workers. But why slow down for all seven miles when the workers are located in one tenth of that space? It makes me wonder if Ohio had an excess of 50 mph signs and needed to use them.
What are Jimmy and Bunk up to these days? Music is almost as evocative as smell. Today when I played Thom Yorke’s solo cd, one song in particular reminded me of The Wire. It must be that I bought the cd when Mrs. Hart and I were deeply embedded in our first viewing of the series. I miss those characters and am still reeling from the end of the series when we had to say so long to them.
Stephen Daldry rules: another disk I played was the soundtrack from Billy Eliot. This was Stephen Daldry’s first stab at motion-picture directing. It is a wonderful movie and chokes up this vinegary Calvinist in ways reminiscent of dad, Jay Hart, who was a genuine weeper. From Billy Eliot, Daldry went on to direct The Hours, The Reader, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. All of these are worthy of four stars and as many thumbs as you can find to put in the up position. The man knows how to pick good material and what to do with it.
Nothing could be finer: is there any prettier view than having the Appalachian Mountains on the horizon? (Having recently rewatched The Trip, I will grant that the Lake District gives the Blue Ridge region a real run for the money.) Granted, the East Coast’s mountain range would only count as hills in places like Turkey and Southern California. And they don’t have the grandeur of the Rockies, Alps, or Pontic Mountains. But the Appalachians possess a subtlety that should appeal to Reformed sensibilities shaped by the power of simplicity and order.
Of course, as our nemesis, PLM would remind us, all of this proves with utter certainty, epistemological and metaphysical, the truth of 2K.