Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Post-Apocolyptia and the Magic Kingdom

Penned upon the 12th of March, 2010

Thinking back over our travels, I come to realise… “oh, double shoot! I never finished posting that last batch of notes!” Well, if you’ve been holding out… or, for their benefit as a historical document… here is my account of our journey to the former Republic of Texas, and beyond!

Bidding Mexico farewell, we landed in Houston, and found our way to our lodgings – a charming old bed and breakfast, which looked right out of the days of the Republic itself – which, naturally, suited me fine. Our room was, for some reason, all done up in a nautical theme – ship’s wheel bedhead, anchor wallpaper in the bathroom, the lot. Unexpected, but rather fun! Also, there was a coffee machine on the ground floor, which made for fun nights, sneaking down in our pyjamas and robes to get a big cup of hot chocolate… heeheehee.

Now, at around this point, we needed to resupply, so we headed off into the city proper to do some shopping and get horribly lost. Well, that last part wasn’t exactly planned, but… yeah. It turns out that, while Houston’s CBD could pass for Melbourne on a sunny day, it can also be desperately deserted. We wandered and wandered before finding an open Tex-Mexery and, better yet, a helpful police officer, who advised us to head to the Tunnels. The Tunnels? Yes, it turns out that much of Houston is underground – businesses, shops, all in a network of underpasses. The whole thing sounded positively post-apocalyptic. “Head directly to the Tunnels, and descend. That’s Rat territory, so do not stop – do not talk to anyone. Don’t worry, they’re not real rats. We just call them that… since the Changes.”

Now, more than one person did ask why on Earth we were visiting Texas in the first place. It’s not that bad! Even though we weren’t quite in the rock’n’roll capital of the state, the people were generally friendly and it reminded me of home. The more rural parts of home, admittedly, where suburban footpaths might become scrub without warning, but home nonetheless. Our true motivation in visiting Houston, though, were the Rothko Chapel and the Menil Collection, both located on one of the local university campuses. Ms Merah is a longtime Rothko devotee and I’m certainly a fellow admirer, so we were certainly excited to visit the Chapel, but… nothing could have prepared us. It is an extraordinary space, even when set up for a future lecture as it was. It is a place for meditation, on art, on life, on the interconnectedness of mind, experience and creation. We emerged… quite renewed. The Collection, meanwhile, is a more conventional but exemplary display of art from ancient to modern. The ancient pieces, in particular, are quite thought-provoking – seeing such beautiful, technically-detailed pieces from so many thousands of years back in human history makes one realise how little human civilisation changes – makes one feel connected to those long gone. The modern gallery, too, includes an extensive and impressive collection of Surrealist art and artifacts – a rare treat.

The rest of our time in Texas was relatively mundane – catching up on laundry, what have you – and we soon packed up and returned to Los Angeles – this time, though, we took a shuttle to the town of Anaheim and settled in for a longer stay. We had time for a quick nap (so many airplanes!) before our welcoming party arrived – our dear friends Ben and Jack! So wonderful to meet them in person at last, all dressed up for a night of bohemian merriment. We ate, we laughed, Ben and Jack were kind enough to sing and play for us… their hospitality continued the next day, when they took us on a tour of their stomping grounds, including Disneyland itself. The Disney company has a fascinating history, and certainly, animation wouldn’t be the powerful discipline it is without them. Also, I wanted to go on the Haunted Mansion. Well, that we did, as well as pirate ships and barbershop quartets and dinosaurs, and some more of Ben and Jack’s art, too. Thanks so much, guys! I hope we can do the same for you someday very soon.

We were pretty shagged out by this point – we managed one more museum before The Fatigue claimed us. Specifically, the Treasures of Napoléon at the Muzeo, Anaheim. This was preceded, might I mention, by a rather interesting discussion with a Russian cabman over individual vs social forces in historical progress. The exhibit itself was rather a lot to take in at this point, though highlights include (as well as paintings and documents from the Egyptian campaigns) Napoléon’s velvet sleeve, separated from its coat – if memory serves – after it was be-souped by a clumsy waiter, and resultingly outliving its wearer considerably. There were very few werewolves or werewolf-related objects on display, but that’s all right. One can’t have everything, after all – where would one put it?

By this point, we’d run out of holiday, and it was time to stagger home and get ready for the next inadvisably spectacular endeavour. ’twas all a bloody good experience, though, and I wouldn’t have traded it – and, in particular, who I got to share it with – for this world or any other. We’ve now lived beyond our means across two continents – and you can’t beat a good adventure. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my chattering classes. Ciao!

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