Monday, April 14, 2008

Florida Pictures III

These are more pictures from Busch Gardens. Apparently we didn't take too many more after that day, and those that we did didn't come out too good. In the first picture the baby is in a hippo's mouth. Needless to say, the Busch Gardens vision of Africa is pretty old-school, as in colonial-era, white and more Teutonic than Anglo-Saxon in flavor at that. This jeep stimulated distrubing feelings of Francis Macomber-identification in me that I had not realized I had. African-set Euro-American literature is a pretty good, but brutal genre; where there is usually a sense in books set on the home turf that inferior men have to be tolerated somewhat in the name of humanity, once set down in the rawness of Africa all decorum is thrown out the window and people manage or are dealt with as their quality merits, which cannot help but present an unsettling picture to weaklings, though a delicious one to the naturally strong, who are so often constrained beyond patience in overcivilized societies.
It is worth noting that they still give out free samples of beer (Anheuser-Busch products, but if you are really above that level, you won't be going to amusement parks in the first place) in the canteen near the exotic bird area. There is supposed to be a limit of two drinks per person, but unless you really overdo it no one seems to be paying attention.
Another day we went to Myakka River State Park, which was a more natural Florida experience, though the park being very well-organized and maintained it was a managed naturalness, which is the kind I like best. The place was supposedly full of alligators, but we didn't see any. While I am not terrified of these primitive-appearing breasts, I can't say that my heart was broken at not encountering any of them on the hiking trail either.

I had actually, at the risk of completely forfeiting any current or future readership I might have, tried to put up a picture of myself with this group, but it didn't take for some reason (and I tried it twice). I will take this as an omen that the time is not right for such a revelation. It was taken in a restaurant that had some aspirations that I went to one night, which sorts of places I don't frequent much any more. The energetic, well put together waiter had great sport with me, the lumbering, uncultivated, harried husband/father/tourist, at every step of the presentation, the recitation of the specials, the serving of the wine, etc, which performances were clearly beyond my capacity for appreciation. In recent years whenever I go somewhere where it is obvious that everyone expects me to be stupid or otherwise uncouth I have, if not exactly taken to playing along, given up trying to protest that my nature is quite otherwise; in the most important articles, first of all, it is not anyway, and in the others therefore no one cares.

At the end of the trip we went to Miami for a couple of days, as my sister-in-law, who is on the faculty at the University there, lives in that town. I had never been there before, and to be honest, I did not see much of it on this occasion. I had expected the atmosphere to be overwhelmingly Latin, but at least in the areas where we were, mostly Coral Gables and Palmetto Bay (or Palmetto Springs; I can't remember) this was not the case. We took a tour of the University, which was actually full of regular looking, harmless college students--the rampaging football players, supermodel lookalikes and Lamberghini-driving frat boys I had imagined as constituting the student body at this college apparently hang out elsewhere than on the campus. I have never consciously set out to visit every college campus in America, but when I started to make a mental list of ones I have visited, I was surprised at how many there were. Miami makes 3 that I have now been to in the ACC (Boston College and Virginia being the other 2; I have also driven past the University of Maryland on several occasions, though I never stopped in there), a conference whose schools for the most part lie well out of my way. I've been to all the Ivy League schools except Cornell and Brown. I've done half the America East Conference (Maine, New Hampshire, Boston University, Northeastern). There are at least thirty more too--Notre Dame, Florida, Navy, Indiana, West Virginia, the Big 5 in Philadelphia--and that isn't even counting the sub-division I schools. I suppose most people would have been to as many schools--it just seems like a lot when you never considered it before.

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