Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   bang bang bang
Monday, August 24 2015

location: 22nd Floor, Hotel Palomar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It turned out there was actually a dog park not too far from our hotel, down near the Schuylkill River less than a mile away on foot. As we walked there, we got the impression that perhaps Ramona wasn't feeling too good. Gretchen had managed to get her to piss at 5:00am this morning in Rittenhouse Square, but perhaps her continued constipation was distracting her from the proper enjoyment of the city. We arrived at the Schuylkill River Dog Run to find, as expected, a dozen or so dogs energetically playing. What was less expected was the ethnic makeup of the dogs. To our delight, most of them were either mutts or various flavors of Pit Bull. This particular dog park was built around a lawn of astroturf, which was a little weird, but this didn't seem to affect the behavior of the visitors. It was also child-free, something public spaces rarely are. As usual, Gretchen and I enjoyed the park considerably more than Ramona and Eleanor did. Our dogs tended to stand around near us, interacting only perfunctorily with other dogs as they came along. Our favorites included a well-shampooed Pit Bull named Hey Jude and another Pit with long ears and bad skin. As always, Gretchen struck up conversations with several people, including a thin man who proved to be something of a fountain of dog walking ideas. Later when Gretchen asked about places to get coffee, he suggested a nearby Argentine café. It was nice to have a cup of coffee for the walk back to the hotel. Somewhere along the way there, a jam seemed to break open in Ramona's ass and she dropped a pile of fecal logs on the sidewalk. Gretchen scooped it all up in a bag, something we don't normally have to do.
For lunch, Gretchen and I went to another vegan restaurant called HipCityVeg. Like V-Street, it had a clean industrial thing going on inside, but it was much smaller and more casual, and the food was more towards the fast-food end of the spectrum. HipCity Veg is riotously popular, with a long line snaking out the door. But the staff have a system in place to feed large crowds quickly. For example, they take orders some distance out in the line using an iPad, and these orders are often ready for pickup by the time the customer makes it to the counter. While Gretchen advanced fifteen or twenty places in line, I was next door at an old-school greasy breakfast place just trying to get a cup of coffee, and I only advanced one place in a two-person-long line during that same amount of time. There aren't many places to sit down and eat in HipCityVeg, but Gretchen is like her father when it comes to securing such things, so of course we had a place there in the tiny dining room to eat our sandwiches, which were as amazing as the stuff we'd had the other day at BlackBird Pizza. As a bonus, they were also somewhat healthier. I especially recommend the Crispy HipCity Ranch with Buffalo sauce.
After lunch, we went to nearby Rittenhouse Square to sit on a bench doglessly and digest our food. We happened to be next to a pair of youthful adults tasked with accosting random pedestrians and asking if they wanted to be interviewed on camera about their knowledge of watershed runoff issues. Overhearing their approach, Gretchen had some ideas for improvements, and before long she was giving them ideas about how to better their rate of getting people to agree to be interviewed. An important thing, Gretchen thought, was for the accosters not to ask random pedestrians in a way that offered "no" as an easy way out. With this new approach, the accosters had a sudden burst of success and there was actually a queue forming at the camera. The conversation soon turned to veganism and how it indirectly helps watersheds, of course, and Gretchen went on to enthusiastically recommend HipCityVeg to the blonde woman who had probably been added to this team for her sex appeal. It's easier to get random gentlemen to say yes when the person asking is a pretty young blond woman.
Back at the hotel, I took Eleanor out for her own walk, since at this point she was the one who been the longest without peeing or pooping. As I passed a RiteAid, I wondered if perhaps they sold beer in Pennsylvania. It would have been nice to have some back in the room. So I went in with Eleanor, who was delighted to enter a big air-conditioned space. As I did so, I heard a kid incredulously asking someone, "You can take a dog into RiteAid?" But nobody in there seemed to care. I looked around, saw that there was no beer, and left. I would continue to look for some store, any store, that sold beer or liquor of any kind in the neighborhood around the hotel, but I would come up empty. [Tomorrow, however, I would find a discrete little beer and wine store only about fifty feet from the heavy front doors of the Palomar.]
In a nice hotel room, it's fun just to lie around half-dressed or completely naked, maybe watching crappy teevee or taking advantage of the WiFi. I took a bath and did just that. I think I even fell asleep for awhile.
As 5:00pm approached, we took the dogs to Rittenhouse Square yet again, past the guy loudly selling small cups of ice water for $1, and were, as always, impressed with our dogs' output. They hung out with us in the lobby of the Palomar while we took advantage of their happy hour, the one where they give away free wine between the hours of five and six. Today the happy hour possibilities included sangria, which delighted Gretchen. I went with the white wine, assuming it would taste less like battery acid than the red wine. (I remember the free wine being terrible at the West LA Palomar.) But this Philadelphia Palomar is better in every way, and the both the white wine and sangria were great.
Our Pitty dogs stretched out on the floor were something of a conversation starter, and we (or, more accurately, Gretchen) were soon chatting with a woman named Gina who looked like bored a rich housewife. She said she was here as part of a tour with her husband and son of east coast colleges. It wasn't long before Gretchen introduced the subject of veganism and how the many problems it solves. It turned out that Gina has a mild case of multiple sclerosis (MS), had abandoned the prescribed medications, and is now on a mostly-vegetarian diet, so there was mostly agreement all around. When given the opportunity, Gina talked at some length about her son's hobby of flying scale model planes. I wondered if the slight slur I could hear in her voice was from the wine or the MS.
We took the dogs for a walk around the block, and at some point Eleanor erupted from her ass right there on the sidewalk, and as I scooped up the yellowish brown balls with my shit bag I counted as so, "One potato, two potato, three potato..."
For dinner, Gretchen and I walked to yet another vegan tapas restaurant called Charlie Was A Sinner. We sat outside and our order was taken by a waitress who seemed to be trying a bit too hard, emphatically enunciating and locking onto our pupils with unrelenting eye contact. Gretchen thought maybe she was an actress, so maybe she was overdoing the "role." The beer options didn't look good, so I ordered a cocktail containing lots of scotch. The food, when it came out, was surprisingly mediocre. So after only a few small dishes (not enough to make a full meal), Gretchen decided we should go somewhere else. That somewhere else turned out to be unimaginatively-named Vedge, supposedly the best vegan restaurant on the East Coast. All our vegan friends are always talking about how great it is. This time we didn't have a reservation, so we sat at the bar and ordered a number of dishes. These were definitely better than what we'd just had at Charlie Was A Sinner, but it wasn't quite as delicious as V-Street (which is owned by the same people as Vedge). In thinking about why perhaps we preferred V-Street to Vedge, we eventually decided that Vedge caters to more of a mainstream American palate, while we've allowed ours to become more international, craving the bolder, spicier food that V-Street specializes in.
Having decided that V-Street is the best vegan restaurant in Philadelphia, now Gretchen wanted to go there just for a final course of Peruvian fries. In reference to a Louis C. K. skit, we began to refer to what we were doing as a "bang bang bang." Unfortunately, though, when we arrived at V-Street, we found that it is closed on Mondays, so we didn't actually consummate that final bang.
We returned to our room to find a big wet spot on the carpet just inside the door. Gretchen acted like it was a mystery which dog was responsible, but it was clearly Ramona. She was even doing her whole guilty-faced cower on the bed. Fortunately, the urine was fairly easy to clean up. We soaked it up in towels, rinsed the carpet with water, soaked that up in towels, and then used the room's hair dryer to erase all lingering traces.
We ended the evening watching most of Hot Tub Time Machine II from a file on my laptop (but displayed on the room's big flatscreen teevee). Despite its many gratuitous attempts to be over-the-top, it's a decidedly dull movie in comparison to the first in the franchise.

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