7 of the Coolest Things I Have Ever Seen

These are in no particular order.

1. Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped cantilever bridge on the edge of a side canyon in the Grand Canyon West area. It’s owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. To get there you have to travel about 20 miles on the bumpiest non-paved road I have ever been on.

I’m one of those people who has a fear of heights and had some reservations about walking out onto the bridge. Mainly because the floor is glass. It’s made with four layers of Saint-Gobain Diamant low iron glass.

When I finally got the nerve to open my eyes and look down, it was awesome. Like some people, though, I couldn’t muster the nerve to lay on my stomach and look down.

2. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir

Le déjeuner des canotiers or "Luncheon of the Boating Party"

Renoir is one of my favorite artists and Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of my favorite paintings. When I went to Washington D.C. for my 50th birthday, I made sure that seeing it was at the top of my list of things to do. It is housed at the Phillips Collection.

I think the thing that surprised me the most about it was how big it was. You can’t really tell how big or small a painting is until you see it in person. When I walked into the room where it was housed I was amazed. I always pictured it as being much smaller.

I had studied the painting, so I knew who all of the people in it were. I tried to film it with my camcorder, but found out that was a big no-no. You could take pictures of it, but weren’t allowed to use flash photography.

Here are two of the best shots I got:

3. The House that Lincoln Died in

After Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater, he was taken across the street to the home of William Peterson. Boarder, Henry Safford, had been standing in the open doorway and gestured  for the doctors to bring the president inside.

When I saw it, aside from the guide, I was the only person in the house. It had very narrow hallways and the rooms were small. The guide stayed up front and let me walk around on my own. I kept waiting to see the ghost of Lincoln. I never did.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

This is the bed that Lincoln died on

 
4. Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever been to. I saw it for the first time when I was 13, and I’m pretty sure that it was the catalyst that sparked my interest in U.S. Presidents and presidential history.

You have to see it in person to understand how truly magnificent it is. It’s located near Keystone in South Dakota.

Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and later by his son Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level.

5. Tommy Lee peeing next to me

Tommy Lee was the drummer for Mötley Crüe. He was also married to Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson. One time when I was using the men’s room in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, I looked over and discovered that he was right next to me. I was like, “Hey, that’s Tommy Lee”.

I remember thinking to myself if I should look or not. I glanced down for about 2 seconds. No big deal.

I have also been in the men’s room with Sinbad and Richard Thomas, who played John Boy on The Waltons, but they weren’t peeing next to me.

That day that I glanced down at Tommy Lee’s business was the only time that I have ever broken one of the men’s public restroom rules.

6. Dizzy Gillespie playing his Trumpet

When I was 19, I went to a Jazz convention in Dallas. I was in college at the time, and played vibes in a jazz combo. During one of the recording studio seminars, they needed a vibes player, and I volunteered. Also at the seminar was Jazz Trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie. I was about 10 feet away from him as he recorded his part for the track. I was majorly starstruck.

On a semi-related side note, and NOT one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

Also, when I was 19, I went with 2 friends to see Buddy Rich in concert. We were sitting in the front row. My friend, Jack, started talking during one of the songs. Buddy Rich stopped playing and came down to the front of the stage to chew him out. I shrunk in my seat. You haven’t been chewed out until you’ve been chewed out by Buddy Rich.


7. Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

The famous Bonnie and Clyde car is a 1934 Ford Model 730 Deluxe Sedan. It’s on display
at the Primm Valley Resort and Casino, not too far from the Nevada-California border. The engine is a large eighty-five HP V8, and the transmission is manual 3 speed.

Also on display are:
* Certificate of authenticity for the Ford V8 as Bonnie and Clyde’s death car
* Original letter from Clyde Barrow to Henry Ford praising the merits of the Ford V8
* Clyde Barrow’s death shirt
* Certificate of authenticity for Clyde Barrow’s death shirt

I had originally gone to Primm to ride the Desperado, which, at the time, was listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the tallest roller coaster in the world. It features a 60-degree, 225-foot drop; a 209-foot lift hill; and top speeds around 80 mph.

That first drop is really scary. The first time that I rode it, the lighter that I had in my front pocket flew out and hit some guy in the head that was in the car behind me. All pockets were supposed to be empty for that very reason. Anyway, he was fine.

It was after I had ridden the Desperado that I discovered the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car.

Of course, the are more that 7 things on my ‘coolest things I have ever seen’ list, but these are just a few in my top 50.

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Art and Stuff

On Saturday, I spent most of the day helping my cousin Heather move. Actually, she’s my second cousin. She’s my cousin Lillian’s daughter. Heather is a kindergarten teacher and is just finishing up her first year.
Her dad, Terry, and I did most of the heavy lifting. During the loading of the truck, Heather walked by me as she was taking some of the smaller items to her car. She was holding a poster in her right hand and it was partially unrolled. I could see about 10% of it. All of a sudden, “That looks like The Kiss by Gustav Klimt”, popped out of my mouth. Heather unrolled the poster and sure enough it WAS Klimt’s painting. She looked at me like I was some kind of Rain Man or something.

I was surprised that I was able to identify the painting just by seeing the green at the bottom part of the poster. I didn’t think that I knew that much about art.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t even like that painting. I think it’s ugly. Aesthetically, it does nothing for me. Maybe that’s why I remember it. IDK.

There’s another piece that Klimt did called Judith and the Head of Holofernes that I find equally as hideous. Judith has a weird look on her face – kind of like she just died and had an orgasm at the same time. It’s creepy. Also, she looks like she has an afro.

Anyway, he’s not one of my favorite artists.

Sometimes I wonder why I like certain artists so much. Van Gogh, for instance. Do I really like van Gogh’s stuff because of the way it makes me feel? Or do I like it because he was a tortured artist who cut his ear off?
The official version regarding van Gogh’s ear is that he cut it off after having had a fight with Paul Gauguin in 1888. He then walked to a local brothel and presented it to a prostitute named Rachel. I’m sure she was thrilled.

Paul Gauguin

There are SOME art historians, however, who claim that it was Gauguin who cut off Vince’s ear. Apparently, Gauguin was a fencing ace and he cut it off with a sword during the fight. Supposedly, there is quite a bit of evidence to back up that claim.
I don’t know. I wasn’t there, so I can’t say what really happened. I do, however, find the ‘Gauguin slicing Vince’s ear off with a sword’ version a lot more romantic and intriguing.

Although I do like some of Gauguin’s artwork, I wouldn’t say that I am a big fan. I like van Gogh much better.

Another one of my favorite artists is Nam June Paik. He did a piece called Electronic Superhighway. It’s in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I saw it when I went to Washington D.C. a few years ago. It’s one of the coolest things that I have ever seen.

Click on the picure to make it bigger.

Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii is a big United States made out of steel, neon and televisions. It uses 49-channel closed circuit video. The tvs in each state show something that is relative to the state. ex. Kansas shows The Wizard of Oz.
It’s really strange listening to all of the tv audio at the same time. Kind of surreal. I think that I stood there and looked at it for an hour. It’s this kind of art that makes me wish that I lived in an art museum.

I like public art and strange architecture, too. Like that giant spoon and cherry in Minneapolis. I’ve never seen it in person, but it is on my to do list.

Also on my list is the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows. They made it for the ’64 World’s Fair.

I supposed that if you lived close to these places you would tire of them after a while. When I lived in Las Vegas and people would come to town they would want to see everything. I would be like, “Ugh, I’ve seen all of those places a gazillion times”. Everybody always wanted to see the volcano erupting at the Mirage or the Pirate Show at Treasure Island. I suppose if you’ve never seen them before they would be quite intriguing.

The thing about Las Vegas is that it’s all glitz. There’s really nothing cultural about it. It seems like every other week they are closing down and imploding one of the older hotels and casinos to make way for the newer stuff. All of the Vegas history is disappearing.