Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fun in a Different Suburb

About a month ago I received a brochure from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem advertising their new exhibits...

They had an exhibit on Indian modern art that I wanted to check out to use as fodder for discussion with a family friend that sort of collects and deals it. There were a couple other exhibits that looked interesting, but really I'm just a little obsessed with all things India.
Since it was the beginning of October and before this cold streak hit, we decided to make a day of it, kind of forgetting that the town of the original witch hunts might be a little busy even four weeks before Halloween.

So we drove for an hour, following signs in from 95- they've done a really good job marking the roads until the last major turn onto 1A, which is completely unmarked- and followed the signs in for museum/mall parking. We didn't really bother looking for street parking on the way in because really, how bad could it be? Well, the only garage in town was charging $20, cash only, to park for any amount of time. $20! In freaking Salem! It's cheaper than that to park downtown Boston on the weekend! And we hadn't gone to the bank yet... So we drove back out around on to Rte 1A and found street parking about 6 blocks from the museum for free. So much better.

Toby the cat wishes to add: 87 yu66vcm

All over town the tourist attractions had awnings set up for a block in each direction leading off their entrances heralding the crowds to come. Trolleys packed to bursting plied up and down the streets as we hurried to the museum. Fortunately, however, for the most part the crowds hadn't yet arrived, and none of those that had were headed to the art museum. There was no line to get in, and for most of our visit we had the place virtually to ourselves, which was pretty cool.

The Gateway to India exhibit I had been looking forward to was a little disappointing. There were a couple pieces- like a great MF Hussein piece that was an interpretation of a Bollywood poster- that I liked because they reflected something very specific to India, but most of the rather small collection looked like lots of other modern art that could have come from any city in the world, except possibly for a greater than usual use of the color saffron. I admit, though, that I'm not a huge fan of modern art.

There were two other exhibits- the Maori tattoo photographs and "All My Life" which was a collection of contemporary pieces by Native American artists- that were really very good. The latter particularly surprised my with its breadth of sources, and the sharp wit with which the artists depicted the contradictory plight of Native Americans in America today. Definitely worth the drive over and the price of admission.

After the museum closed we decided to wander down to the water front to look at the boats.
The East Indiaman Friendship was also closed for the day, but Haris (who is a sailor as well as a bit of a history buff) enjoyed gazing at the rigging for awhile.

When it began to get dark we headed back up toward town to grab an early dinner before driving back home. I had seen on the town website that there was going to be live Irish Music at O'Neill's Irish Pub from 4- 7:00, so we asked directions ("Excuse me, do you know where O'... umm... O', or McSomebody's... hang on I wrote it down... it's an Irish pub with live music...") and a helpful local pointed the way. O'Neill's turned out to be one of those quintessential Boston Irish pubs with lots of heavy woodwork and red paint, fantastic local beers on tap, a roaring fire and- as promised- a trio of fiddles and flutes roaring away in the corner.

I would love to find a place like that a little closer to my house- there used to be a nice one on Rte 9 in Framingham called Desmond O'Malleys (the bar, not the restaurant) that had live music four nights a week, and I LOVED going and hanging out there in the evening where everyone was playing games and singing along with the drinking tunes (and occasional U2 cover,) but it burned down.

The food (at O'Neill's) was if not good then at least perfectly adequate (I had fish and chips, Haris had a burger), the pint was Guiness, and the atmosphere cheery. A very nice end to a fun day out.

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