Art Miami/Art Basel Weekend; Miami FL

A yearly gallery ‘convention (?)’ where the rich and famous can come together to buy art for their copious homes and offices. To my shock, it was $45 to enter for 1 day …. but once I saw what was actually going on inside I understood (actual ‘collectors’ were all comped VIP tickets, obviously).

Source:  Dec

I came to Miami primarily in order to get some legal paperwork done at a consulate here. I had tried to do it back in Chicago but they had a month and a 1/2 wait for a reservation with no first come first serve option, while in Miami I could get reservations a few days in advance. The appointment I got was for 10:30 am (which is super early for me). After I completed my visit, and had FedEx’ed out the documents, I stopped at a random restaurant that looked cute (and had decent Yelp reviews) for lunch. When I asked for suggestions of what I should do, now that I was ‘in town’, the chef at the restaurant STRONGLY suggested that I come to this event (he had initially assumed it’s why I was in town). Also, according to my Airbnb host (although incorrectly) one his other guests was in town to show his own work at this thing (turns out he wasn’t, he just worked for a German gallery that whose art was available for sale) … so I came.



I have to say that for the most part I was highly impressed. All the art on show were the “best of” pieces each of the individual galleries had for sale, and ranged from modern work, to pieces by famous artists whose style I could recognize from across a room (I was an art history minor as an undergrad)

One stall had a Calder, some Chagalls, a Picasso…. etc, as did the next, and the next (the galleries that were selling pieces from the ‘masters’ seemed to have been bunched together) and then after seeing a bunch of modern works that were clearly odes to Andy Warhol, I started seeing a bunch that looked suspiciously like the real thing… and sure enough they were…. there were also a bunch by Miró & Dali, etc., for sale… as well as no shortage of modern works that homages to classic ones:


There is one piece that consisted of a Asian guy sitting in the hot tub, as an actual hot tub with an actual guy in it, and I was wondering, since the premise of the show was supposed to be art that people can buy…  “if you buy the piece do you get the guy?”


You’ve got to love the fact that oriental carpets have gotten so cheap that artists are now willing to use them as canvas — I say this with a touch of sarcasm as I inherited 16 of these things (hand-made Persian carpets) from my dad when he died. To put this in perspective, one of his best rugs (which my brother called dibs on) had been appraised or about $10,000 back in the 1970’s, but was only worth about $1,500 after he died.

After having walked through two of the buildings (the ones in displayed in the image at the beginning of this post) I began to take issue with choices of the galleries… Now, granted, they had not coordinated this amongst themselves, but ultimately, there was a predominance of images that glorified violence against women, as well as the objectification of naked women.

Now I have nothing against the naked human form, but I had not seen even one penis so far to offer some balance…. At best I saw ONE solitary scrotum … Honestly, I THOUGHT we were past this! I’d have expected in this day an age at least parity of exploitation.

There were in fact a lot of “high tech” art pieces that had me fascinated as to how they were accomplished… I’ve clearly been out of the art scene a bit too long.

This one I could have seen having in my own home… its just pretty.

And then there were a whole mass of 2D & 3D sculptures utilizing alternative media that I found fascinating, including one artist who used only bullets in order to create almost life size images of wild animals (wrap your brain around that one).


And then this artist’s work, where the shadow of the images is as if not more important than the images themselves…


After seeing the two exhibitions located downtown I took the free shuttle to the exhibition that was supposed to be happening in Miami Beach (for those who don’t know, it’s effectively an Island along side Miami linked only by man made roadways) only to discover that it’s not open to the public today, just the VIPs (so my $45 ticket which was supposed to be good for all three shows was only good for two… BOO!!!)

Louiseville Slugger Museum, KY

What the name suggests: it’s very touristy, but interesting; and worth driving by, if only to see the worlds largest baseball bat (but made of carbon steel, not wood). It is an oversized replica of the bat the Louisville Slugger company made for Babe Ruth (aka, ‘The Bambino’ or ‘The Sultan of Swat’in the 1920s.


Among the sources I used when planning my trips, there’s a web-page/iPhone app resource that I use, called where you can load in your destinations, and the application/web site will pop up a list of all the various things you might want to consider stopping at along the way (in its “oddities” category, which I love). You chose the ones you want, and then on your iPhone you load the list… HOWEVER, I have also found that the addresses appended to those locations are NOT always correct, so it’s best to then double check them with google. (For instance, on this day I was TRYING to get to the Louisville Slugger museum which is in downtown Louisville, and got misdirected to a residential neighborhood in what seemed to be the worst part of Louisville (really run down). But there were factories there so I thought MAYBE this right… till I ended up on a residential street. That said, it wasn’t a complete waste, as I learned from the myriad of signs (advertising the fact), that this was the neighborhood where Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, had been born.)

I then (thank the lord for the iPhone and cellphone data plans — folks not old enough to remember a time before such things don’t appreciate just how magical it is) googled the attraction and found the correct address, which was a good thing because an old friend of mine was actually driving in from her small town in Indiana (two hours away) to meet up with me there.

As I waited for her (she was, thankfully, running late as well) I discovered that Louisville has done something very smart, they’re historic downtown is full of these amazingly beautiful historic buildings. When the area got run down and the businesses for the most part left for safer neighborhoods, they ‘restored’ most of them, by leaving the amazing facades and ripping out everything behind it. Most of these buildings they then filled up with museums and other touristy attractions. So there’s now a ‘historic’ museum row / tourist mecca that is centrally located with most of what you’d  (as a tourist) want to see when visiting Louisville.


Just out front of the Museum was a fairly in-congruent statue of Captain America… I have no idea WHY it was there, but it was pretty cool… and purely coincidentally, it matched my shirt.


But it may have been reflective of the large number of street pieces along Museum row, of which I only photographed a few.


And then lining the sides of the museum were these highly inconspicuous, to the point of one almost tripped me…  little memorials to various famous players who had preferred the Louisville slugger bat.


The first (and last thing) you see upon entering the building is the gift shop, which impressive in it’s own right, with everything from key chains and bumper stickers to collectors items, like baseballs signed by some of the greats, which you can buy.


The one things that I found “tempting” was walking sticks made out of mini baseball bats. As I’ve discussed previously I’ve been suffering from periodic bouts of benign positional vertigo now for about 15 years, so for me walking sticks are useful, AND these could double as a self-defense weapon.

that said, the Baseball Bat Museum is reasonably priced (see below); but that said, my friend and I were actually able to get in for FREE!! (can’t beat free). It was an off-season weekday, and the tour, which was just about to begin, was far from sold out; as such they were just handing out the tickets. (This made me think that the store is far more profitable than the museum itself, while the latter draws new customers to the former.)


In the waiting area before the factory tour there’s a museum devoted to Louisville Slugger bats, and baseball in general.


In it, there’s a batting cage area where you can put on gloves, and get to hold and test the weights of various bats that were ACTUALLY used by some the greats.


In addition to an extensive collection of memorabilia, and explanations about the history of baseball, there are also Madame Tussauds type wax figures of some of the greats that you can can go right up to, take your picture with — and I saw some people touching them.


At a certain time, an announcement is made, and all the people wandering through the museum file into a loading area, and watch a movie loaded with facts and figures regarding the production and sale of Louisville slugger bats.


After the movie, we walked through the factory area, with demonstrations of bats being made by hand (solely for the purpose of the tour), and then there are explanations of how they are made now. There are low tech systems, which are used to make bats for sale to the general public, or little league teams. One interesting factoid she shared was that, if you’re a baseball player in the minor leagues, odds are you’ll use a custom made bat to your preferred configurations, however, you have to pay for your own bats, the teams don’t pay for them for you — while they DO pay for the major league players‘ bats.


But, on the seemly unrelated topic of “why the jobs are not coming back” — a conversation I had had a few weeks before with a progressive liberal friend who was sure Bernie Sanders would be able to do this (I spent a few hours trying, but failing, to convince him otherwise…. I now offer the case of the Louisville Slugger:

According to our tour guide, it used to be that the bats were all turned by hand on the lave, each one taking about four hours of very careful shaving, smoothing and measuring to produce. Then, the industrial revolution reached baseball, and the bats were, and (for the most part) continue to be produced by a factory mechanized system which, while nowhere near as precise, allowed them to make bats that were much cheaper and therefore able to reach a broader market; and as I said, these are the ones that are today sold to the home market, Little League’s, and customers like that.  Then they showed us a brand new very expensive computerized machine that, in just one hour can produce the entire needs of a major-league team … THREE times over. They spoke of it with great pride, noting that at that moment it was making special order bats for the Chicago Cubs that were painted blue and said “World Series champions” — having just broken their 108 year losing streak by beating the Cleveland Indians, who were the 2nd most losing team in the country. And everyone in the group was all happy and impressed until I chirped up…

Question: “You said that untill the computerized system arrived professional bats, for minor league and National league players, were made by hand… correct?”
“Then, could you tell me HOW many workers this one machine put out of work?”

Suffice it to say the girl leading the tour didn’t look happy, and the people in my tour group looked at me annoyed (how dare I point out the obvious)… She didn’t know but promised to get the answer by the end of the tour, which was that this one computerized machine has replaced/made redundant 50 highly skilled workers.

Jobs that be done cheaper aboard, enough so that the added shipping still results in a cheaper product than what can be produced at home will be produced abroad. At a certain point, labors who previously were happy with 10 cents an hour are now asking for $1.50, and that becomes no longer true. AT THAT POINT, it then becomes cheaper to invest in a computerized production system that can do a job as well as any skilled laborer, only much quicker…. And THAT ladies and gentleman is why the jobs aren’t coming back.

After the tour was over we were taken into a final room, and were allowed to choose our only miniature baseball bats out of the bin in this picture, to take home as a souveigner.


And then towards the back of the building there is an actual batters cage where you can try out your skills against an automated pitcher, using different types and weights of bats produced by the company.


On one side of the building that houses the factory tour, they also have a small Ripleys believe it or not subsection (believe it or not… seriously WHAT is this doing here?). Most of what’s there is less the “believe it or not” sort of stuff that would show up in a circus side show, and more art in utilizing “unusual” mediums, so like duct tape, chewing gum or nuts, but some of it is the more exotic stuff — at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.



After we finished with the museum, and walking around the downtown area we headed back to the neighborhood I had been to the day before, where Zachary Taylor’s grave yard is. We HAD wanted to have dinner downtown, but a staff member in the museum had STRONGLY warned us against it, saying that once the businesses had closed up it would quickly become an unsafe neighborhood. As such, I suggested that we go to the same restaurant I had gone to the night before, a place with AMAZING food in a neighborhood full of what looked to be multi-million dollar homes.


Anoosh Bistro was a restaurant I had found the day before using Yelp. The first time I came I was deeply impressed with how Anoosh and his wait staff were HIGHLY accommodating to my medical dietary needs.  The first time I had the Cioppino (Fresh Fish, Shrimp, King Crab, Mussels, Clams, Tomato Saffron Clam Broth — all of which was incredibly fresh, and there was so much fish that I ended up taking home half) & the poached pear salad, which was incredibly tasty — I ate the salad before the meal and saved the pear for my desert (there was SO much alcohol in the pear that it left me tipsy).


As I was leaving, the first time, I discovered that this place is actually halal (the owner is Lebanese — considered by many to have the best pallet in the middle east) — which is a good thing.

This time, with my old friend from University … I had the red snapper special with black rice and vegetables (they had modified it to meet my dietary needs) while she had the chicken curry which smelled amazing… and both of us were doing the ‘happy food dance’… Although Andie ate my carrots for me cause I hate cooked carrots (and they’re not good for me either, too much sugar) while I ate her asparagus for her…. She said my carrots were also amazing.


Then, for dessert — something I generally skip unless they have fresh berries… she ordered the white chocolate bread pudding with their home made pistachio ice cream in place of vanilla. I had a tiny taste of both and they were amazing… especially the ice cream which we were sure was made in house… (we tasted a tiny undercurrent of rose water in it).

My Dad would’ve approved (and he always really liked Andie, and he loved bread pudding). As she ate it (I did have a small taste) we were remembering the one time my dad made her dinner, and it was mind-blowingly amazing…  but it was one of these things where he just kind of improvised with whatever happened to be in the house, so that afterwards he could never duplicate it because he could never remember how he got there.

Jeffersonville, IN

Louisville Kentucky is one of the myriad of US towns situated on a river that is a state border, so that her ‘suburbs’ effectually spread over multiple states; historic Jeffersonville Indiana is just such a suburb.


Originally the location of a fort named after Baron Von Steuben (the Gay military genius without whom we would have most likely lost the Revolutionary war), Jeffersonville was most likely named as such the same year Thomas Jefferson became president of the united states, and the settlers of the town used the same grid layout that he had promoted as a way for distributing land.

To the town’s credit, they have embraced the historic nature of their town, and as you walk around it you’ll see numerous historic buildings, and signs attached to walls, that offer you a window into the towns past.


Ironically, however, when I scanned the QR codes attached to those signs into my phone I was taken to a web page saying that the campaign had been disabled — not sure why they would go to all the effort to produce the signs if the city leaders weren’t committed to at least keep the associated web pages active.


The town however is full of architecturally interesting buildings that have been, for the most part, well maintained, and was full of cute little restaurants, cafes, etc., including a two different cigar lounges (all leather armchairs and sipping bourbon), and a Cafeteria resturant, which is sort of a dying institution.

img_7068Truth be told, I hadn’t come to Jeffersonville in order to see the town, even though having seen it I would happily categorize it as a destination in and of itself, but rather U had come here because of Schimpff’s Candies, which is historic enough to have been covered by the history channel (it was, ironically, featured in the show, Modern Marvels on an episode devoted to candy production).img_7065

Having celebrated it’s 125th anniversary, Schimpff’s, which was originally opened on April 11, 1891,  is one of the oldest continuously operated, family owned candy companies in the US to still be located in it’s original location. And in case one were to forget the perils of being in a town located adjacent to a river, I found the way that the owners had proudly notated its various floods on the exterior wall of the shop to be interesting.

Schimpff’s Candies is a cute place, a combination store, ice cream and lunch counter, with a museum of the Candy industry located in the back.
img_6847I came here because I thought there was going to be a factory tour but there is not — they just do demonstrations of what they’re making that day.
img_7063They’re famous for their red hots, but today they were making Christmas candy.

While the store itself was worthy of a stop, I think that the it’s more the high point of a cute little historic town visit, rather than a full destination in and of itself.

The day I went was by sheer coincidence veterans day… and I saw this:img_6867

Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville KY

Located just at the edge of Louisville Kentucky, in a residential neighborhood, this national military cemetery dedicated to the son, and 12th President of the United states, sits on part of what had originally been his father’s, Richard Taylor, 400 acre estate, Springfield; according to some sources — but not others, this land had been gifted to the President’s father by the government in thanks for his service as an officer of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, other sources claim he had purchased the land.


Originally the family plot for the Taylor Family, after Zachary Taylor had ascended to the office of President of the United States, a Washington outsider and popular war hero with limited political experience — and was soon thereafter buried after having only served 16 months — probably from a horrible case of the shits (Dysentery), although from what I’ve read they tried to cover it up by saying he had Cholera, which was endemic at the time.

Much later, in the 1920’s, the family initiated an act of Congress to transfer the title to the government, at which time it was converted to also be a local military graveyard. Because of a legal technicality, members of the Taylor family can still be buried there in the family plot section; even though that bit is surrounded by the National Cemetery, it does actually not belong to the government, even though it is tended by government. This was despite the best efforts of the family, because the Army judge advocate general decided against federal possession, even though to the average it appears to be the same cemetery. Originally only a half acre in size, two donations from the state of Kentucky increased the size to its current 16 acres.


The Taylor home, which is not far from the cemetery, is a private home hidden in an upscale residential neighborhood, and while it IS a National Historic Landmark it is NOT a designated national park, because the local neighbors have fought against it. All things considered, you sort of got to feel sorry for Zachary Taylor, it’s like the man quickly died an ignominious death and ultimately got no respect  … but in lieu of this years presidential election results…..

Anyway, it was a pretty graveyard



Zachary Taylor and his wife were moved from their original resting place in the the family plot (see below) — a very plain almost ignominious subterranean mausoleum, which is NOT technically part of the cemetery, to this fancier mausoleum next to his monument (see above), which I’m assuming is…



A Grave in the middle of the Road, Franklin IN

This is one of those historic oddities that make for a nice pit stop during a long drive. It is quite literally a grave that is located in the middle of a side road that led off to some very pretty farm land.


Among the sources I used when planning my trips, there’s a web-page/iPhone app resource that I use, called where you can load in your destinations, and the application/web site will pop up a list of all the various things you might want to consider stopping at along the way (in its “oddities” category, which I love). You chose the ones you want, and then on your iPhone you load the list… HOWEVER, I have also found that the addresses appended to those locations are NOT always correct, so it’s best to then double check them with google. (For instance, the next day I went to the Louisville Slugger museum, and got misdirected to a residential neighborhood in seemed to be the worst part of Louisville, although based on the myriad of signs it was also the neighborhood where Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, had been born.) This time however the address was true, and my GPS device in my car led me to it no problems, only the whole look of the place had changed.

Previously, as evidenced by some of the videos and photos I found, there had been an actual grave that stood above the road level

                         —– (borrowed Image by: Tony FramptonTumblrfound on Urban Ghosts)

And above the grave there was a fancy marker sign that had read:

Nancy Kerlin Barnett
Born May 14, 1793 – Died Dec. 1, 1831
Married to William Barnett. Feb. 29, 1808 [I did the math, she was 14]
He was born Sept. 27, 1786 [he was 22]
[He?] Drowned in the Ohio River Sept. 24, 1854
William was the great, great, great grandson of Pocahontas and John Rolfe.
Daniel G. Doty, 1846-1934, protected his grandmother’s grave by staying here with his gun, while the county relocated this cemetery in order to build the road. A concrete slab was placed over the grave to protect the marker, Aug. 8, 1912.

[and then in much smaller type]
Erected in 1982, by Kenneth F. Blackwell
Great, great grandson [of Doty?], and his son
Richard Blackwell

However, as evidenced by my photos, by the time I got there this had all been bull dozed flat (including the marker), and replaced by a far less interesting grave-marker embedded into a concrete lane divider — which granted, is arguably far more practical for the locals who drive by the place daily:


To my pleasure, however, I also discovered that the grave-site was a pokestop (I’m currently obsessed with Pokémon go), and it was the photo for that (another reason I love this game) that first allowed me to see the now missing sign and learn a bit more about how the surrounding cemetery had been moved.

NONE of this information was now available at the site!!!!!!


While I was sitting there, playing the game on my smartphone, figuring out where and wanted to go next, and reserving myself a hotel room for the night — God BLESS smartphones, anyone remember the hassle of tripdix from AAA back when they were printouts? —  a local guy in a pickup truck drove by me, stopped, and said he was concerned that maybe I needed help. He seemed highly amused that ANYONE would be interested enough in the site to actually drive here intentionally — I honestly don’t think the county really considered the tourism possibilities when they restructured the area… there weren’t even any signs out on the main road leading to this location.

Later that night, when I had stopped for the night and started to write this blog post I was able to pull up more information about the site, such as how the site had been restored to meet current traffic needs

To some disturbing things they discovered when the archeologists from the local University had finished investigating it (they got WAY more than they were bargaining for … literally).

In fact, keeping in mind the story that the Daniel G. Doty had protected the grave with a shot gun, and refused to allow them to move it, you have got to wonder if maybe the family had previously committed some murders, and hidden the bodies in grandma’s grave… and he knew that, and THAT was why he was so crazy adamant about not allowing the body to moved.

Located @ 6844 E 400 S, Franklin, IN 46131