The Biltmore Estate

Road Trip to Asheville, North Carolina

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My trip to Asheville, North Carolina would not be complete without a visit to the Biltmore estate. I was a little hesitant at first to fork over $75.00 for the price of admission but once on the grounds and into the house I soon discovered the tour was worth every penny. Buy the ticket, take the ride as Hunter would say.

The first ride was on a bus from the remote parking area to the mansion proper.

George Vanderbilt opened the Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895, after six years of construction. He created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life for his family and friends. The 8,000 estate was home to George, his wife Edith, and their daughter Cornelia. In 1924 Cornelia married John Francis Amherst Cecil. They lived and entertained at Biltmore. The Cecils opened Biltmore to the public in 1930 to promote tourism in the area during the depression and to generate income to maintain the property.

Vanderbilt decided to construct Biltmore in 1888. He acquired 125,000 acres of woodland in North Carolina. He hired architect Morris Hunt to design a limestone house to be modeled on the Chateau de Blois of the Loire Valley in France. It is said to be the largest domestic home ever built in the United States encompassing four acres of floor space.

Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, George’s father, made the family fortune in the shipping and railroad business. At one time he had a monopoly on all rail service in and out of New York City. As legend has it, he started his ferry business as a young man with a $100 loan from his mother, worked hard, and became one of the wealthiest men in America during the so-called Gilded Age.

Today, Biltmore remains a family business employing over 2000 employees who continue Biltmore’s mission to preserve what has been described a national treasure.

The house is beautiful and handsomely furnished, as the pictures will attest, but one is slightly turned off by the ostentaciousness of the luxurious surroundings.

One wonders about all the concentration of wealth in the hands of so few while America continues to be run by oligarchs and income disparity strangles the middle class and starves the poor.

George Orwell said it best I think: A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within the sound of the guns.”

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Comments are welcome.

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Front Lawn of the Biltmore Estate

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Exterior Shot

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Winter Garden Room

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Breakfast Room

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Portico

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View From a Broad

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Back Porch

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View From the Terrace

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Library

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Library

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George Vanderbilt’s Bed

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George Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

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Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bed

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Underground Tunnel Below the Manse

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Bowling Alley

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Swimming Pool

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Main Kitchen

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Banquet Hall

 

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Pool Room

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Gun Room

Jimmy Can’t Dance

Jimmy Can’t Dance is a Jazz and Blues club located in beautiful downtown Louisville, Kentucky on 7th street.

My young friend Victoria and I Ubered our way down there to drink with the grown-ups  and listened to the jazz. Nate Lopez and his Eight String were playing for our listening enjoyment and I must say they exceeded our expectations.

Jimmy Cant dance

So when I ordered our drinks I asked the girl back of the bar would it be OK to teach Jimmy to Dance? She said no, I didn’t say Jimmy didn’t know how to dance, I said Jimmy can’t dance. There’s a difference. That got me to thinking, why can’t Jimmy dance? Maybe Jimmy got no legs. Maybe Jimmy dead. Maybe Jimmy just don’t exist. That’s what I said. But one thing’s for sure. Jimmy can’t dance. But he sure plays a mean eight sting guitar!

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Nate Lopez and Nioshi Jackson

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Nate Lopez

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Honey Grace

 

 

Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art

Museum Exhibition

On a recent trip to Houston, Texas my step daughter Kim and I had occasion to visit the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. This is something I always do when in Houston as the museum here is world class and they always have great exhibitions. This time was no exception. On exhibit, much to our delight, were the paintings of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).

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Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait

This exhibit highlights the artist’s early years in the Netherlands; his luminous period in Paris; his search for light and color in the South of France; and his exploration of nature as a source of enduring inspiration in Saint-Rémy and Auvers.

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Street Scene in Montmartre Le Mpulin a Poivre, Feb.-March 1887

The exhibition showcases portraits, landscapes, and still lifes drawn primarily from the collections of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands.

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In the Cafe: Agostina Segatori in Le Tambourin, January-March 1887

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Basket of Lemons and Bottle, May 1888

The color yellow held a particular fascination for Vincent van Gogh. Experiencing the intense sunlight of the South he once wrote his brother Theo, in Paris, “Sunshine, a light which, for want of a better word I can only call yellow – pale sulfur yellow, pale lemon, gold.”

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Portrait of a Prostitute, December 1885

Van Gogh, who lived with a former prostitute for years in the Hague, was particularly sympathetic to these women cast out by society.

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The Langlois Bridge at Arles, 1888

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Still Life with a Plate of Onions, January 1889

This picture was painted the day after Van Gogh was released from the hospital where he was being treated  for the self inflicted injury to his ear. The book in the painting is a handbook of homeopathic medicine and the envelope belongs to a letter he had received from  from his bother Theo.

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Tarascon Stagecoach (La Diligence de Tarascon), October 1888

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The Sheaf Binder (after Millet), September 1889

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Peasant Woman Binding Sheaves (after Millet), September 1889

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The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), May 1890

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Portrait of a Peasant Woman in a Straw Hat, June 1890

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Women Crossing the Fields, 1890

Van Gogh had seen these women walking and described them in a letter to his brother Theo just a month before he died. It was in one of these Auvers wheat fields that he shot himself with a revolver on July 27, 1890.

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Farmhouse with Two Figures, 1890

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Irises, May 1980

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A Pair of Leather Clogs, autumn 1889

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Tree Trunks with Ivy, July 1889

Feeling to weak to live Van Gogh checked himself into The Saint-Paul-de-Mausole mental hospital at St. Remy. in May 1889. He was allowed to paint out of doors, but was confined to the garden of the hospital where he painted several versions of this sous-bois of tree trunks and undergrowth.

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The Garden of the Asylum at Saint-Remy, May 1889

There is little doubt that Vincent was a talented genius and a tortured soul. These  magnificent master works are on display for all to see at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts through June 27.

 

First Car

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I am a great believer of synchronicity and love to connect the dots. My first car was a 1954 Buick Century with a Dyna-Flo transmission, which I purchased for $300 from a salesman by the name of Grundy Hayes in 1965 at Broadway Chevrolet, in Louisville, Kentucky when I was seventeen years old. I will never forget that day or that purchase. Grundy wore a pale green suit and a brown straw fedora hat. He had a smiling face and a gravelly voice.

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Fast forward 50 years. I’m reading a book of short stories called Sad Stories of the Death  the Death of Kings. It is a book of vignettes written by Barry Gifford about a boy growing up in Chicago in the 1950s and 60s. I’m pretty sure the boy Roy is a stand in for the author himself.

In the story, “Roy’s First Car,” Barry details a 1955 Buick Century with a Dyna-Flo transmission which the boy Roy purchases for $300. Boom!

How’s that for a coincidence?  When I read that passage it about blew my mind! But wait, it gets weirder.

In 2015, I’m standing in a car dealership shooting the shit with a “lot boy” named Joe. Joe was actually was about 70 years old. He was an old colored gentleman with white cottony hair. I was a car salesman at the time. We were both standing there gazing out the show room windows surrounded by new cars. I was reminiscing about the past.

“Yep, my first car was a 1954 Buick. I bought it off a guy name of Grundy Hayes back in the 60s at Broadway Chevrolet.”

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“Yeah, I know Grundy.” Says old Joe.

“What? Really? You do? Is Grundy still alive?”

“Yeah, I believe he is….”

As usual, fate took a hand.

Bad Motherfucker

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Winter: You are a bad motherfucker, Benn, unless I am totally mistaken.

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Benn: Well, that’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a while…. Reach down in that bag and get my wallet would you?

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Winter: Which one is it?

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Benn: It’s the one that says: BAD MOTHER FUCKER

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Cards Against Humanity

Used panties….

 

Cards against humanity

 

Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people.

Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.

The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a Black Card, and everyone else answers with their funniest White Card.

Here are the players:

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Elle Noir, Lingerie Model

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Downtown Abbey, Stripper

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Victoria Secret, Ninja Turtle

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Ghost Dog

Now,  I guess you are wondering how this old dog got mixed up with this bunch of 20 year old somethings playing a wild game of Cards Against Humanity. I dunno….just lucky I guess.

 

Blue-Wig

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 “Get up Angel. You look like a Pekingese.”

 

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“Let’s get out of this rotten little town.”

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This is the way love feels….

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 On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and had a couple of double scotches. They didn’t do me any good. All they did was make me think of Blue-Wig, and I never saw her again.

Caught Out in the Rain

So I went to the bus station to pick up my young friend Victoria who was travelling from Nashville back to Louisville. It was about  8:00  in the evening on a cool spring night. It wasn’t quite dark yet.

Since we were downtown we thought it would be a good idea to have drinks at the 21C Hotel bar.

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I drove the six blocks or so to the the hotel and parked out on the street. 21C was a favorite of ours. We really weren’t dressed for the place but in Louisville that didn’t really matter.

We entered through the restaurant and made our way to the bar and sat on a couch on the rear wall.

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“Just like being in our own living room,” I remarked.

“Yeah, but better because of the people watching,” she said.

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I ordered a Jack and soda and she had a Rum Coco. Something she had started drinking since she came back from Cuba a couple of months ago.

We had our drinks and some nice conversation about her latest trip to Missouri. She went there with her mother and grandmother to visit her uncle who was doing eleven years in the federal penitentiary in Springfield.

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We looked the menu over but we didn’t see anything we wanted to eat so we decide  to go the the Tavern in old Louisville to round out the night and get a late night snack.

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We finished our drinks and walked out through the bar to the restaurant exit out onto  the street. To our surprise it had started raining. It was really coming down and it was a cold rain. We ran the two blocks to car and got soaked. Once we were safely ensconced inside I was huffing and puffing from the exertion.

Victoria ventured, “I’ve never seen you run before.” And she let out a little laugh. 

“Well it is is pretty unusual,” I said. “It doesn’t happen very often.” And I laughed too.

I caught my breath and drove to the Tavern where we had more drinks and shared an order of wings.

On the way there I was put in mind of a song I like by Beth Hart: Caught Out in the Rain.

Here it is. Hope you enjoy it.

Isn’t Life Ironic?

Once upon a time, not long ago, I took my young friend Victoria to see Bonnie Rait at the Louisville Palace. While waiting in line to get in we stood outside next to a picture of Tony Bennett who had been a featured performer at the Palace in the past.  I remarked to Victoria that I had seen Tony Bennett at the Palace back before she was even born.

She looked up at me with her smiling eyes and said, “Isn’t life ironic?”

 

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The Palace Theater

Bonnie Rait

Bonnie Rait

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Victoria Meadows

 

 

Tony 2

Tony Bennett

Confederate Monument Vandalized

John Breckinridge Castleman

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This monument represents John Breckinridge Castleman, a confederate officer (1841-1918). It stands in the Cherokee Triangle, in Louisville, Kentucky. It was privately commissioned in 1913. The monument was vandalized and subsequently conserved on multiple occasion notably in 1996, and in 2017, and most recently on February 7, 2018. The City of Louisville is currently holding meetings to garner public sentiment for guidance as to the final fate of this monument.

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House the Homeless

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No Borders