Category Archives: places

When a College is Historically White, Then Black, Then White Again: Black History Month

The University of South Carolina was founded by a state charter in 1801 and was the 23rd college founded in the United States. It was only for white people. When South Carolina started the Civil War, the students went off to fight for the South and the school closed, then it was occupied by Northern forces. After the war (1865) it was reopened under South Carolina’s reconstruction government.library reading room

They, the reconstructionists, made the school open to Black people. And it wasn’t just the students. One of the new professors they hired after the war ended was Richard Theodore Greener, America’s first Black professor at any state run flagship university (he was also the first Black person to graduate from Harvard). By 1875 ninety percent of the student body were Black.

When reconstruction was abandoned and democrats retook the state government (1876), they quickly closed the school down. Then in 1880 they reopened the school, but only to White people. After the passing of Brown vs. the Board of Education, which outlawed segregation, USC became the nation’s first college to require an entrance exam. That was 1954. The school did not admit any Black students till 1963.museum

Mind you, Professor Greener (who left the school when the democrats closed it down) graduated Harvard back in 1870, almost 100 years earlier.

History is not a straight line ascending up and up eternally. It weaves a drunkards path, back and forth, forward and back. Forward progress is not, and has never been, natural or inevitable.

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Who Left This Guy in Charge?

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Occasionally I am the one who decides some of the things that happen on campus.palmsandarts

And on those occasions… I bring in a food truck.IMG_7623

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In the Studio: Philadelphia

I do not regret living without blizzards, but I do miss sledding down the Rocky Steps.IMG_8225

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The Alley

In recapping where I had gone for the weekend I once told someone “Olvera Street.” Their response was something along the lines of, “That’s for tourists. You need to go to the Alley.” So I did.IMG_0050

We went there not looking for anything in particular and consequentially found everything. We mostly bought nothing and ate something. All of that is what you do at the alley.IMG_0044

This is one of the only places in LA I have been too that really felt like it was in a city. The rest of this town is all parking lots and strip malls that make everywhere seem suburban. Not the alley. It has Rockefeller Center type crowds with Canal Street style merchants.IMG_0053

Plastic shoes, $50 suits, quinceanera dresses for days, and highly questionable electronics were everywhere. I, and I have never presented myself as an expert, have never before, had the urge to discourage the general public from specific sartorial choices, as much as I did in the alley.IMG_0077I also realize I am not a casting director for formulaic B grade movies about the Cartel. I mean, why go to Barcelona when you can WEAR Barcelona right?

But then again, if you like it and want to wear it, I think you should absolutely wear it. Joking aside- I mean that.IMG_0068

I will however, without reservation, make food recommendations. Eat It All!IMG_0067 (2)

Fruits, and otherwise boring vegetables, are given new life when sliced and drowned in chili powder. I don’t suggest eating any of this while wearing white gloves.

I was not wearing white gloves.IMG_0120

Not pictured is a giant pinata shaped like a Petron bottle. I’m told you can also get one made in your own likeness but I’m not sure what one should appropriately put inside either of these party favors if the children are under age. I am admittedly an outsider here but I always thought that pinatas were specifically for, those who are underage.

I have a lot to learn.IMG_0231

I am happy to get my upcoming lessons.IMG_0088

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Langer’s: just order #19

Los Angeles isn’t know for delis,but those in LA know about Langer’s.IMG_0135

As far as decor and location go it is just a regular diner, big menu, self seating. What sets Langer’s apart is thick cut pastrami and good bread. Never forget the bread. Norah Ephron called the #19 the best pastrami in the world.IMG_0121

The place has been around since 1947, been written up by everyone who writes about LA, and been on every food tour television show there is. It’s just Langer’s.IMG_0195

Norm Langer is still there hanging around chatting it up with everyone. It’s his place and he doesn’t mind mixing it up with the Hollywood types and the nobody’s alike. He mixed it up with us, and if you were wondering, we are the Hollywood types.IMG_0132

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Republique:when nerds on PBS are cooler than you

I am not Stephon from Saturday Night Live. I do not know the cool place in town that has everything. In fact I’m so much the un-Stephon that I am now taking my advice on spots to frequent from PBS.

Turns out nerds on PBS give great advice.image2If you need some sort of cool factor third party verification in order to form opinions than take some solace in the fact that GQ listed Republique as one of the best places in LA to eat, and then they went on to say LA is one of the best food cities in America.

Looks like the nerds and the cool kids will be sitting at the same lunch tableimage4You order your food at the front counter then go have a seat in your choice of high ceiling, naturally lit dining rooms. For a Saturday morning brunch at 9am we waited in line for about 40 minutes. There was no wait for a place to sit down and once we were inside it felt busy but in no way crowded.image5We grabbed a creme brulee filled pastry to tide the kids over till the food showed up. Then, the lightest, thickest, French toast I’ve ever dealt with, a breakfast sandwich, and a waffle with every California stereotype stacked on top.image3

Sometimes stereotypes turn out fantastic… when it comes to food.image7Did I mention they make their own ginger ale? And hazelnut hot chocolate. And their own bread. And on and on and at the end of it all the point is that sometimes tv and glossy magazines give good advice, and then in this case, when it comes to Republique, they give the best advice.image1

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Death Valley, the part that died: Ghost Town

The stretch between Baker California and the Nevada side of Death Valley is as barren as barren can be. some people still live there but mostly the area is scattered with places where people used to live. There you will find a town called Rhyolite.IMG_9338 (25)

It is really a town, but it used to be. Founded in 1905 the town grew thanks to a mining boom and within a year it had a population near 5,000. That is a lot of people when you consider that times lack of highways and its eternal isolation from anything else that could be considered remotely hospitable to human life.
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Now the place is a ghost town which is how its advertised and it probably sees more action now as a tourist destination than it ever did as an actual city.
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There are abandoned buildings of varying types, a quirky art installation that includes a 15 foot tall female nude made to look as if is made of Legos, and a residence built entirely out of bottles. It is your basic American ghost town.
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We poked around a little, took some pictures, then hopped in the car and headed back to civilization.
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It is hard to say where exactly civilization begins in this case. Beatty is near by, then Baker, but I think the population of people sitting in traffic on the I-15 numbers more than that 100 mile stretch of land has had over the past century.
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