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And on to D.C.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 by Jeff

Northeastern Maryland, from my view, is a vast expanse of horse ranches and deciduous trees - fields and forests. Judy and Larry, aunt and uncle, live in that far corner of the state, walking distance from both Delaware and Pennsylvania. Much of the local land was owned by William DuPont - a name that should ring a bell with anyone even slightly aware of the New England aristocracy. The lands that he preserved for hunting and killing foxes is now state-protected park land for the enjoyment of equestrians and conservationists. We spent an afternoon walking the riverbanks of this property, tip-toeing around poison ivy, spying a 19th century one-room school house, and spotting the distinctively east coast flora and fauna. [Photos 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 ] Two days and a trip to Baltimore later, I was taken by my old college pal Eric to Washington, DC where I now rest after a long night of drinking and catching up. Eric lives in a narrow little rowhouse in central DC only walking distance from The Black Cat, a club where we paid twelve bucks to see a little known indie band named Rainer Maria. The band paled in comparison to our fascinating conversation about Latin American politics and the Neoconservative fascism of Washington, and both were a mere shadow in light of the fantastic late-night Ethiopian meal we stumbled upon on our way back to Eric's house. In that restaurant we found good conversation with the owner (and aquaintance of Eric's) and the best vegan munchies I've had at 2am in years. What, you may ask, am I still doing up at this hour? Honestly, I have no idea. Good night.

Philadelphia from the 6th floor

Monday, August 15, 2005 by Jeff

Ben Franklin is buried next door. Betsy Ross's house is around the corner. The U.S. mint and the Liberty Bell are spitting distance from here. It's almost enough to make me want to buy an embossed copper postcard of Independence Hall, located just down the street. The Boss, Bruce Springstein, sang about this place but I don't recall any references to these definitive landmarks. Day 2 of this year's meetings of the American Sociological Association is winding down with four underpaid graduate students squeezed into two undersized beds in the Holiday Inn "Historic District" (it's cozy and a great way to get to know someone in a hurry). I left downtown for the first time today just long enough to see my pal Richard's old high school, bus stop, and neighborhood. The colonial trimmings I saw along the way are an odd sight in this 21st century city - a throwback to the wealth, handiwork, and idealism of a bygone time. Once again I am a tourist, but this time I'm the one marveling at the riches of others - it's an expensive place, I'm finding. With no research in hand this year, I find myself looking ahead to next year and a year's worth of dissertation research to talk up. I can't help but to try to conceptually place myself and my ideas somewhere in the inch-thick convention program guide, teeming as it is with esoteric academic specializations. There is no perfect fit - perhaps as it should be - indicative of the professional and theoretical work that awaits me. In the slower moments of some presentations I'm left to wonder, maybe I should give it all up for a life of democratic idealism and a small printing press to produce Founding Fathers trading cards?

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Jeff A. Larson
Sociologist, Arizona.


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