Urban (mis)Advantures

A Beautiful Wedding Moment. — July 28, 2012

A Beautiful Wedding Moment.

I recently traveled to a wedding in Pittsburgh.  It was a lovely Catholic service in a gorgeous church.  Nine children took part in this wedding, including my nephew’s four-year old boy, who was a ring barer.  After performing his duty, he fell asleep on the front row pew, next to his daddy.

After the service, we all gathered around for pictures.  All dressed up in a miniature black tuxedo with a spring green vest and a rose bud tucked into his tux pocket, he looked up at my son.  My son simply donned a silver tie over a long-sleeved white blouse.  My baby nephew continued to study my son and asked:

“Why aren’t you in a costume?”

“A costume.”  How cute.

A Beautiful Moment in Evans City. — July 26, 2012

A Beautiful Moment in Evans City.

My most recent Urban Adventure took me to about thirty-five miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a quaint town called Evans City.  I was in Pittsburgh for a wedding and wanted to do some sight-seeing.  Now, I know there’s plenty to see in Pittsburgh the Andy Warhol Museum, the Toonseum, and the double decker bus tours.  But I was more interested in spending time with family and being the colossal dork that I am, I wanted to visit a certain cemetery.

My nephew, his family, and my son made the short yet lovely drive North to visit this famous graveyard.  It is not Arlington, nor does it hold any famous people.  But Evans City Cemetery is the spot where the first cinematic flesh-eating zombie stumbled down the peaceful graveyard and terrorized a brother and sister.  It is the place where these eerie words were uttered:

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

Yes, Evans City Cemetery is where the opening scene to Night of the Living Dead was filmed.

Upon reaching Franklin Road, my nephew calls and states he’s pretty sure we are on the right track.  And we both see the wooden sign.  I squealed like a girl at a Justin Beiber concert, “Omigosh, we’re here!”  With this exclamation, I awakened my son, who napped in the passenger seat.  I eased the rented car up the dirt road and immediately stopped at the famed chapel, which is the first recognizable image from the movie.  Barbara and her brother, Johnny, parked their car in front it.  The groundskeeper is parked near there an I asked him, completely knowing the answer, if this is the “old chapel.”  He did not seem to mind me holding a camera and wanting to walk calmly around the cemetery.

The chapel has aged quite a bit over the past forty-plus years, and is actually in danger of being torn down, as it is falling down as one can see in this picture.

Don’t want to see this historic chapel destroyed?
Visit FixtheChapel.com and donate!

Our stroll around the cemetery on this hot day took us by other spots used in the film.  The tall monument with the ball on top is clearly visible in the scene where the first ghoul stumbles towards Johnny and Barbara.

Here is the approximate spot where Johnny meets his demise after struggling with the zombie.

We also stood by the famed “Blair” tombstone, where Johnny teased his sister by telling her they were coming to get her.  This tombstone is just down the dirt road across from the chapel.   This last pic was shot in the area where Barbara fell and lost her shoe.  Yet there is a grave on the exact spot, so if you visit, show some respect and don’t go stomping all over the final resting place.

Evans City Cemetery is a peaceful and beautifully well-kept place of burial.  There are no signs pointing out that it is where an entire genre took its first steps.  And that is a huge part of what made this experience so wonderfully enjoyable and personal.

I’d like to thank Tom G. for his article on Dark Destinations, which specifically points out areas in the cemetery that are featured in Living Dead.  And I hope to hear that Evans City received enough money to renovate the chapel by October!

Skateboarders-Where Do You Belong? — July 15, 2012

Skateboarders-Where Do You Belong?

My little family of three holds great respect for skateboarding.  We see it as a sport where the athletes have amazing talent and guts of steel.  Would you plummet down a straight vertical surface and pull off some massive tricks?  Would you dare grind a metal railing with nothing but a wooden board between you and your jewels?  We love the X-Games and have been to a Boom Boom Huck Jam.  Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, and Rob Dyrdek are common names in our household.  Yeah, I’m showing my age.  The Mister and I were very proud when our son began mastering the “ollie.”

And now long-boarding has become popular again.  These boards are often shaped like surf boards, have wider wheels, and are obviously longer than their skateboard brothers.  It’s a smooth and fast ride.  Some people impressively modify long boards to fit their style of riding and their comfort.

I do not mind sharing my roads with modes of transportation other than cars.  I ride my bike through town almost every weekend and obey traffic laws, meaning I stop at stop signs and ride on the right side of the road.  But where exactly do skate/long boarders belong on these roads?  Sidewalks?  Possible, if they are not crowded.  Streets?

I can tell you some places you DO NOT belong.

You have NO RIGHT to run red lights and zoom in front of moving cars.  In fact, that is beyond arrogant to just plain stupid.  If you ride the road, follow the rules.  The ‘red’ color of a stop light does not mean it is optional.  What makes it even more stupid, is that you sometimes do this without wearing a helmet.  Sure, your curly ‘fro looks great blowing back in the wind as you cut off cars who have the right away.  But that ‘fro won’t look good when it smashes into my windshield or splatters against the concrete just because you made a moronic decision.

You DO NOT BELONG riding in the middle of the street.  Be like bicycles and get over to the right.  Those of us that have to commute in boring automobiles do not want you as a hood ornament.  Get out of the way.

And, if you are going to travel the WRONG WAY down a ONE WAY street, then get on the sidewalk.  Be respectful of us pedestrians, as we have the right of way on sidewalks.

Skater boys and girls, you do have a place on the city streets and neighborhood roads.  But lose the entitled attitude.  Lose the stupidity.  Live to skate another day.

There’s No July 4th Celebration Like a New England July 4th Celebration. — July 5, 2012

There’s No July 4th Celebration Like a New England July 4th Celebration.

Image from ABCnews.com

These beautiful moments are brought to you by New England communities, fireworks, and our founding fathers.

I do not travel anywhere for vacation during the July 4th Holiday.  Why should I, since I live in the best place to celebrate our nation’s birthday:  Massachusetts.  In the past few years, we’ve watched fireworks in the darkly historic Salem and the big show itself, Boston, which is pictured above.  We went the year Neil Diamond performed (woo-hoo!).  But, we’ve discovered that we can just stay in our backyard of Chelmsford.

This year, my Independence Day holiday began on July 3rd, by strolling around Chelmsford town center at the fair.  Local vendors set up booths with games, raffles, and great food, including chocolate covered bacon (though I could not muster up the stomach to try this).  The newly renovated arts center displayed local artist’s drawings, sculptures and paintings, where a few people I know took home some ribbons for anime type drawing and a painting.  To end the evening, I lounged with many other townies in the cool grass and listened to the community band play patriotic anthems.

Independence Day began with the 45th Annual Chelmsford July 4th Parade.  I awoke to heavy rain that morning, and was nervous the parade would be cancelled.  Yet the rain stopped pouring, yet a few clouds remained, providing relief for those of us that forgot our sunscreen.  Ahem.  I love a good parade, from home-grown Christmas and Mardi Gras, to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day, and especially this ID-4 spectacle.  Veterans, senate and congress hopefuls, and Boy Scout Troops march down the streets along with area high school and cultural bands.  This year, a few characters joined in on the fun:

Charlie Chaplin
Darth Vader

Yoda and Vader caused quite the gap in the parade, as people ran out in the street to get pictures taken with them.  One of the bands of Minute Men had to scatter around Vader at the last minute.  Other characters included Spider-Man, whom had too many excited kids around him for me to snap a picture.  I was upset when the pic I took of B.A. Baracus from the A-Team did not come out.  He was pretty awesome.

As I mentioned earlier, what makes a New England July 4th parade so awesome is the Minute Men.  At least three groups of these heroes walked down the street with muskets and drums, all the while the crowd hoping they would stop and fire their guns.

I shot a great video of these guys firing the muskets, but the video does not show up when I go to select it. Shrug.  Moving on.  Later in the parade, when the crowd spotted a squadron of Redcoats heading our way, we could not help but shout:

“The British are coming! The British are coming!”

I’m sure these men heard this yelled throughout their five kilometer trek.

An Independence Day jubilee would not be complete without fireworks.  This year, we did not commute to the Charles River for the gigantic Boston show.  The affluent people in our Heart (Hart?) Pond community blast some really impressive fireworks over the pond.  So for the past couple of years, my little family has spiked mosquito-repelling torches in the ground and lounged in lawn chairs to watch the Heart Pond boat parade, followed by fireworks at around 9:00.  I’m not talking about Roman Candles and sparklers here.  Thousands of dollars of screaming sky flowers are shot in our backyard.  In the distance, the town of Littleton’s display blooms over the treeline, and the distant thunder from each boom boom mixed with our own fireworks.  Also, Mother Nature lit up our sky with lightening last night, threatening to dump another round of rain.  But Heart Pond was spared from a down pour.  But, lightening and the possibility of violent storms caused an evacuation of the Boston Esplanade during the Pops performance, yet the firework spectacular went ahead as scheduled.

I greatly look forward to a few more Massachusetts July 4th celebrations before the Mister and I decide where to settle down.

A Beautiful Living Dead Moment…. — July 2, 2012

A Beautiful Living Dead Moment….

For a time which quantity I cannot remember, I’ve rummaged through bargain bins of DVD’s in search of a certain 40 + year-old movie.  These hunts always ended with empty hands.  Every holiday, again I search the DVD’s on sale.  Every Halloween, I think “there has to be copies of it on display now!”  Nope.  Finally last year, I went to For Your Entertainment and asked if they sold copies of it because they have everything in stock.
“We have it on Blu-Ray.”
I have not made that technological jump yet.
It’s not that I don’t believe this masterpiece deserves me paying a full price.  It’s that I simply cannot afford it right now.

I’m talking about George A. Romero’s classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead, independently filmed and released in 1968 on 35 mm black and white film.
My appreciation for this movie began when viewing Night on cable television as a teen-ager.  During this time, the cable networks thought it was a great idea to colorize the classics.  Well, this does NOT work for horror films.  The shadows, drear, and dread disappear when fake colors are added.  So I patiently waited a few days until a network aired it in black and white around Halloween time.
That night, I lay on my bed, gripping my pillow and refusing to take my wide-eyed gaze off the screen.  Barbara watched in helpless terror when her brother was attacked by a walking corpse in a cemetery.  Strangers sealed themselves in a farmhouse, hoping to ward off flesh-eating zombies.  And *gasp* sweet little Karen (portrayed by an eleven year old) dined on her own father and killed her mother with a masonry spade.  To me, this whole idea was terrifying:  the dead coming back to life as soul-less beings, with no purpose but to consume the living; walling oneself in a house and with few options for survival; a child falling prey to the monsters and then killing her parents.  Mr. Romero appeared to spare nothing when it came to scaring the living daylights out of people.
And these concepts have survived near four and a half decades, spanned generations, and crossed into many medias: movies, video games, television, books, graphic novels, and music.  With no pun intended, the zombie genre is alive now more than ever.

So, back to my beautiful moment.
This weekend, I took the Boy and a couple of friends to the mall so we can get some air-conditioning.  We parted ways for a bit and agreed to meet back in Target.  But they were not there.  Hmmmmm, where would three video game playing, music loving, graphic novel/comic book reading teen-aged boys go?
Newbury Comics.  Right beside Target.  Of course.

The boys spot me immediately, and two of them head my way.  Upon turning to call for the third one, I see it standing on a low shelf, the cover printed over a gravestone background.  Could it be?  Is this finally happeneing?  Everything vanished out of view as I honed in on it.

Millennium Edition
George A. Romero’s
The Original Classic

After years of searching for them, The Living Dead found me at a completely unexpected moment.  I love you, Newbury Comics.

“Wait!  I’ll be just a few minutes!” I call to the boys as I scoop the DVD from its place, leaving a blank spot.  Ah, the last copy, at least on this shelf.   My son’s friends arch eyebrows in confusion when seeing someone my age dash into Newbury Comics.  But I did not care.  In addition to getting hard-to-find movie, music, and TV show memorabilia, I’ve discovered great bargains at the comic store in the past.
Instead of blabbing about how I’ve been searching for this DVD like a long-lost relative, I made small talk with the Newbury employee at the register, typically dressed in punk gear and her hair dyed orange and yellow.
On they way home, with three boys gawking over a Batman book, I realized this will be my second “staycation” within a year that I’m spending time with Mr. Romero and zombies.