Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not Really Buried With A Donkey

This weekend, Mrs. Bartender, Isaac, Jr., and I celebrated Mother's Day by visiting the City of Brotherly (Motherly?) Love. As it is just over 2 hours from DC and conveniently located between Isaac, Jr., and his paternal grandparents, it has been a frequent meeting point for get togethers. This latest overnight visit was chock full of fun:

1. We started to Longwood Gardens in the Brandywine Valley, about 45 minutes south of Philly. Most of the Brandywine Valley is in Delaware but the Gardens are just over the state line in PA. They were created by Pierre DuPont, the former chairman of GM and, shockingly, DuPont. (He died in 1954, so this is not the same Pierre DuPont that ran for President in 1988; come on, you remember that campaign.) Mrs. Bartender and I were there last December, and she (understandably) wanted to go back when things were in bloom. The gardens, albeit not my cup of tea, are quite beautiful and among the most expansive in the US. Needless to say, Mrs. Bartender loved it and so did Isaac, Jr, particularly playing in the fountains.

2. For dinner, we went to Alma de Cuba, one of Stephen Starr's restaurants. Starr runs a number of Philadelphia's best restaurants (Budakon, Striped Bass, Morimoto, etc.), and we have thoroughly enjoyed our visits to several of them. We had a great meal, and the wait staff was terrific with Isaac, Jr. (who spent most of the night flirting with a woman at the table next to us). Mrs. Bartender commented about why DC couldn't get more restaurants like Starr's--hip, very good food and drinks, and each with an ethnic flair that neither becomes too showy or completely loses it roots. Don't get me wrong, DC has some top notch restaurants, but none with the same type of verve as Starr's. (I'm sure someone will try to prove me wrong.)

3. The next day, we went to see the latest Tutankhamen exhibition at the Franklin Institute. Both Mrs. Bartender and I went to see the famous show that was in the US between 1976 and 1979. I was 8 when I saw it in New York; Mrs. Bartender, 6 in New Orleans. I then saw it at its most impressive a few years later in Cairo. If I had been to the Egyptian Museum more recently than 1983, I would not have bothered to see only a small selection of what they have there, but considering how long ago it was, I was enthused to go.

The exhibit in Philly reminded me of why so many of us find Ancient Egypt so fascinating. The show has received some criticism--a number of the rooms have non-Tut artifacts and the famous mask that toured in the 1970s is not part of the show but the only one that struck home is the outrageously high ticket price--$32.5o on weekends. Even at that price, the work, which is over 3400 years old, is truly amazing from a chair that remains in near perfect condition to perhaps the show's highlight, a coffinette for Tut's liver. (The Egyptians removed and buried several of the internal organs but interestingly not the heart and brain which were discarded.) Yes, I've heard the story before--the boy king, restores the old religious order which his possible father had abolished, dies at 19 but how, the mummification process, and the discovery of the tomb by Howard Carter in 1922. But when you see the material that was found you understand why Tut, a somewhat minor Pharaoh, has fascinated the world for more than 80 years. (I note that when one is in Egypt, the more important Pharaohs, such as Cheops (the builder of the Great Pyramid, and Ramses II are understandably seen as much more important.)

4. Finally, we had lunch at the White Dog Cafe, another Philadelphia institution. Fine food with a focus on small farmers and local products. Just a great meal and a terrific weekend.

A belated happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.

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