Saturday, June 30, 2012

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

About vacation.

From the top of The Liberty Memorial. Or as I like to call it, Loser's Leap
So we went to Kansas City. They had an exhibit on the Titanic, and since my son spent a fair amount of time learning about the topic, we thought it would be an enjoyable experience.

What it did was promote my son to Mr. Know-it-all, presenting facts before we had a chance to actually read the fact card of whatever artifact we were looking at. You’ll drop close to a Hundy on seeing this shit, so make sure you’re interest goes beyond the James Cameron movie. Even the boy exclaimed at the ticket counter that he was surprised at the cost. This and my response of “Yeah, so you’re gonna like it” caused the workers behind the counter to laugh.

Iceberg...Right ahead! Wallet...Empty!
You get a fake boarding pass when you enter, and on the pass is a name. At the very end of the exhibit, you check a list to see if you survived. Everyone died except Callista. I liked my wife’s the best: She was the wealthy spouse who spent her time in first class with her husband. When the ship started to sink, the woman was placed on a lifeboat, but became agitated when they wouldn’t allow her husband on board.

Women and children first, just like Van Halen said.

She immediately demanded to be let off the lifeboat, so that she could die as she had lived: next to her husband.

They both croaked.

We stayed at the Hotel Phillips, an old hotel from the 1930’s that has been nicely restored while retaining a bit of swingin’ Art Deco vibe. They played jazz in the restaurant downstairs every night and we swilled a bit of free wine and cheese during their 5:00pm shindig social hour.

What sucked, at least for the kids, is no pool. I took a gamble on Priceline and ended up with the only four star choice that didn’t have a pool. Luckily, there was a Marriott across the street so we hustled our way into their indoor pool so the kids didn’t think it would be an entirely worthless vacation. Because every parent knows, that shit has to have a pool, otherwise, it ain’t vacation.

Never mind that we have a family pass to our city’s municipal pools and the kids will be wallowing in chlorinated water all summer long.

Callista got to hang out in Legoland, and she did a stunning rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin’” on some karaoke machine. There was a play area and most of the staff at Legoland spends most of their time picking up loose Lego pieces that the fucking monsters just leave all over the floor when they’re done rather than putting them back in the huge buckets they have everywhere, filled with various pieces.

The World War I National Museum is pretty bad assed, and the downtown area seems pretty cool.

The shitty parts were the food and the city’s most notable musician, Charlie Parker.

First, the food.

Kansas City is supposed to be known for its barbecue, and I remember my old man using a Kansas City barbecue whenever we did chicken or pork chops on the grill. So we went to what the hotel guide said was “The best bbq” award or something, and we located one of their joints while cruising around.

They scream, “How can I help you?” when you come in while letting you try to decipher their ordering system and menu items. For example, when I ordered a large potato salad, thinking it would be enough for a family of four, a huge bucket of the stuff arrived, leaving plenty of it to come back to the hotel with me so that I could smell it rotting.

The lady, who offered up a required greeting so aggressively when we came in to order, suddenly seemed put out when I changed my potato salad selection to a small.

The Gem Theatre...What a jewel,
I don’t pretend to know BBQ, but I will confess to attending a few of my hometown’s yearly barbecue festivals and know what kind of BBQ I like. The barbecue in Kansas City was not something I like.

Perhaps I’m generalizing and need to taste a few other K.C. offerings before I can place a wide net on their tangy sauce capabilities, but I started to recall that I never really liked it all that much when the old man smothered our grilling shit in Mauls sauce.

And I’m from Iowa, where we know the difference between a shitty cut of meat versus one laden in fat and gristle. For reals, I can get better cuts from my freakin’ grocer than the stuff they were serving up a their prices (“Two forks!” according to my wife’s cost analysis, which must mean that the “One Fork” selections featured nothing but tendons and digestive organs). The ham and turkey offerings just seemed like thicker cuts of lunchmeat with salty barbecue sauce, and what they considered as “hot sauce” was just the same as the original with more vinegar and pepper, Weak sauce, is more like it.

Sidewalk view of The Blue Room
We found the neighborhood where Charlie Parker used to work from, and the appropriate sections had been nicely restored. The sun was to our west at this point in the day, so the shots of my kids messing around with Charlie Parker’s huge head are a little dark.

Bring me the head of Charlie Parker
I noticed a bus full of tourists leaving what appeared to be the centerpiece of the neighborhood, a nice building with a gift show, some other touristy things including a museum for the old Negro League. I’d love to tell you about this place, but I can’t since nobody of any capacity seemed to approach us to welcome us, point out the various things that their welcome center had for us, or even gave two-shits that our white asses were even roaming around the facility like dumb Iowa hicks that we were.
But isn’t this the type of people you’re trying to get admission from? Christ, we dropped nearly a hundred dollars to see crap from an old shipwreck. We’d drop a few more if we made it to another museum that was actually staffed. My wife did notice one gentleman chatting in the food court area with a younger woman that appeared to be wearing museum attire. He must have been bushed from the previous bus tour and entranced with the young woman’s charm to assist us on our simple request for a cold beverage.

Overall, I’d visit Kansas City again as I’m sure there’s a bunch of other stuff that we missed, and we didn’t really hear a note of jazz. Not that I’m that much of a fan-I’ve spoken before about my reluctance to jump too deep into a new genre of music with so much history to it when I’m still struggling with the ever widening landscape of rock and roll-but I have a firm appreciation of it.

I don’t know if I’d brave the idea of Kansas City cuisine, staying close to more kitschy favorites like Waffle House, which this photo documents as our kids first experience with this chain.

Like Killdozer, our kids now know the awesomeness of Waffle House
I used to avoid Waffle House, thinking that Denny’s was the shit. That is until I read a recommendation by Killdozer’s Michael Gerald in the band’s tour diary from 1990 found in Your Flesh (#19): “A day that starts at Denny’s is always a better day than one that starts at Perkins. Of course, a day that starts at Waffle House is the best day of all. It is absolutely true, especially considering the shitty order I got at the Cedar Rapids’ IHOP once that has cooled me on the entire experience.

We were back into Iowa just in time for the weekend and we immediately headed to the pool after our kid’s obligatory gathering with the neighbor kids to tell them of the experience.

This leaves Chicago as our last remaining Midwestern Cities tour and, once the kids get older, maybe a trip to Memphis to see Graceland, Sun Studios, and maybe a taste of some decent barbecue.

1 comment:

Your Humble Proprietor said...

I don't know what the Waffle House does to their sausage patties and I'm not sure I want to know, but God bless them for it.