Thursday, April 13, 2006

All by myself

Sorry if that title gets an unbearably sick-making song stuck in your head.

(I guess that apology is insincere since if the title didn't get the song in your head, this reminder will...)

So Lisa's off to beautiful Akron for a week, to visit with friends and family over Easter. Myself, I've never been partial to Easter. I just don't like pastels ...

I find that most people look at me funny when I call Akron "beautiful". Lord knows that I used to be the same way: most people, if they see Akron at all, it's from the interstate, and the view ain't pretty.

Akron, or "Rubber City," is of course is famous for once having been the major centre of the tire industry (yes, I chose to spell "center" the British way and "tyre" the American way) in North America. It went through major economic decline as did the rest of "rust belt" America. I used to tease Lisa with calling her home town "Akrid" and saying things like "ah, yes: the best of both worlds: in the middle of nowhere and urban blight!"

It wasn't until I visited in 2001 (Lisa's mother was diagnosed with lung cancer on 9/11/2001 and we went there for her [successful] surgery) that I realized how unfairly maligned the city was. Akron first of all lives up to its Greek name: it is definitely built on a "high" place, with sweeping vistas in all directions, affording views of heavily-wooded hilly countryside in all directions. The streets are lined with big, gnarled, old-growth oaks and maples and other trees, and the city is filled with huge rambling old Victorian houses with turrets and wraparound porches looking out on cobbled streets. The rubber industry was very kind to the city for many years and made a lot of people very wealthy in their time. So although most of the work has by now been outsourced to Mexico and elsewhere, and although Downtown Akron is still half boarded-up and could easily stand in as the location of a post-apocalyptic film where the neutron bomb has hit and left all the buildings standing but killed all living things, yet nonetheless there is still enough of a thriving economy to support some great restaurants and coffee houses and even some really great organic food markets.

Plus, the city is surrounded by greenery: there is ample state parkland around the area, where we could take our dogs (we drove to Akron with Argus, and Lisa's sister Gina of course has her own menagerie) for hikes up and down hills and trails and past waterfalls and streams. And Akron is stunning in the autumn.

Akron is of course also the home-town of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and of Devo.

I was tempted to come along this time, not only because Akron is pretty, but because I really do want to try to make it to the Cleveland Museum of Art because they have my personal favourite pictorial representation of Medea (or, more pedantically, Medeia) in their collection on a Lucanian Calyx-Krater (Krater: the Greek word for a bowl used for mixing wine with water: the ancients never drank their wine neat). This is one of the two most famous ancient images of Medea; the other is in Munich (Munich 3296). (A third was a fresco on the walls of Pompeii.)

It shows the witch Medea (wiki) escaping from the Corinthians (she has just killed their king and his daughter, who was about to marry her husband, Jason of Argonauts fame, and according to Euripides, she has also just killed her two children by Jason in order to punish him for divorcing her and leaving her and the kids in the lurch). She is in a chariot drawn by dragons; the chariot has rays coming out of it because it was provided by her grandfather: the sun-god Helios (wiki). (Her father, Aeetes, was also the brother of the witch Circe (or, more pedantically, Kirke) of Odyssey (Odusseia) fame, whom my female Siberian Husky is named after, not without cause, the bitch!) Another page on Medeia here.

Alas, the museum happens to be closed for renovations at the moment, so I'll wait until the next time Lisa has a nostalgic moment.

Well, that's that. Until Lisa comes back, it's just the dogs and the cats and me; and I promised Lisa I won't just duct-tape and cork the cats 'til she gets back. I'll even actually feed them, the bastards! *HEAVY sigh*.

νῦν δ' ἐχθρὰ πάντα, καὶ νοσεῖ τὰ φίλτατα...

Now I just have to get that song out of my head ...

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