Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Literary Road Trip

Midweek of "Staycation 2011" found us, curiously enough, “not staying” but instead opting for a brief road trip up north to the land of revolution, enlightenment…and the bar where everyone knows your name.

That’s right, the great “Commonwealth” of Massachusetts, which I dare you to spell without using spell check. 

Notice that I said “Commonwealth” of Massachusetts, which is basically a hoity toity way of saying state. But what else would you expect from a place that burned women for entertainment, essentially because they were suffering severe symptoms of extreme PMS.  But in all fairness, that was a while ago, and when you think about it…..

Massachusetts is also the home of the once, long suffering Red Sox fan, who up until 2004, had not seen their team win the World Series since about 1776, when there was only one other team in the league, who happened to be British and found it difficult to run the bases without losing their powdered wigs.

We decided to take a quick trip to old Sturbridge Village to essentially go back in time to the early 19th century, but with a stop over in Concord, home of the famous grape jelly. It’s also the town where the “shot heard round the world” occurred at the old north bridge marking the first official battle of the American Revolution, which you may have heard about.

Concord also boasts having been the onetime home to several of the most notable American authors of their time, or any time….all at one time.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson, of whom Thoreau was attributed to have said, "He's a pretty cool dude, for an old guy...," was noted for advancing the Transcendentalism movement, which I believe had something to do with molar replacement....


The aforementioned Henry David Thoreau the famed naturalist who also wrote:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not New Jersey." 

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had a thing for big red letters and houses with funky roof lines. He was generally considered to be an old stick in the mud, and is said to have written the now famous axiom:

"I like suits me...."

And last but not least, Louisa May Alcott, noted abolitionist, best known for her novel “Little Women”.

Ms. Alcott cherished her role as an independent woman and wrote:

..."though not an easy life, it is a free one, and I enjoy it. I can't do much with my hands; so I will make a battering-ram of my head and make a way through this rough-and-tumble world...without coupons."

Unfortunately our GPS guide, Michelle, who to be honest, because of her pushiness, was not the most personable of travel companions, mixed up the coordinates and initially sent us to Concord’s lesser known sister town, Skippy, MA… home of the popular peanut butter, the old south bridge, famous for nothing, other than it hasn’t collapsed in the last several months and an assemblage of some of 19th Century America's dimmer intellectual lights.

Where's Waldo Emerson, Ralph's 2nd cousin, best known for his garish, striped shirts, silly wool hat, and  his propensity for hiding in large crowds.  

Herman Thoreau, said to be, but never verified, Henry’s 3rd cousin, twice removed, once by the authorities and once by his wife, who, instead of going to the woods to live, went to the sea, where he subsequently drowned in the first few minutes and therefore never wrote anything of consequence.  

Daniel Hawthorne, no relation to Nathaniel, who was sent to prison for spray painting graffiti on women’s chests, and Louie Alcott, Louise’s deranged Uncle from Philadelphia who began a novel called “Little Thumbs and Toes” but never finished it once he heard that another author in New York had beat him to the punch by publishing a similarly themed book entitled” Little Pinkies and Knees”.

Eventually, we were able to convince Michelle that she had led us to the wrong “destination” as she likes to say, and after a series of snide “recalculating routes” we soon found ourselves at the Concord museum, although she stubbornly refused to admit making a mistake.

It was actually kind of cool walking through all the exhibits, seeing Thoreau’s old furniture....

 ...and Emerson’s study; imagining myself, hanging out in there with all of them, shooting the breeze...

…despite the scarcity of indoor plumbing. 

In a way, they were all just early day bloggers…with bad hair.

They wrote essays on unique topics, sharing distinctive insights such as man’s relationship with nature as a way of connecting to the whole; all the mysteries of the universe and beyond answered in a single drop of rain falling in a pond. 

Emerson declared "literary independence" in the United States and urged Americans to create a writing style all their own, free from European influences, paving the way for a revolution in writing that unveiled the true face and voice of America, a country endlessly in transition.

And Thoreau with his urge to simplify, perceiving the world through an army of ant’s battling it out on his window sill, on a lazy afternoon.
Or professing the futility of labor at the expense of the soul…and making you smile about it all, to boot.
Of Thoreau, Emerson wrote:
My good Henry Thoreau made this else solitary afternoon sunny with his simplicity & clear perception. How comic is simplicity in this double-dealing quacking world. Everything that boy says makes merry with society though nothing can be graver than his meaning”.

Hmmmmm…kind of makes me look at this whole blogging thing in a whole new light.


  1. Well this one just made my heart rise up! Eerie you with your crossed arms and then that charcoal..!

  2. Down with Henry James and his ilk.


Retort to the Retort -

“Is there anybody alive out there…”