Well, here we are the new year and I don’t have anything to rage about yet. The jury is currently out on whether that is because 2015 is actually doing okay so far (five days whooooooo! two cops got murdered in the Bronx so nevermind) or because I was sick and stupid on the ‘quil most of last week and then drove to Santa Barbara and Solvang on a whim on Sunday and completely ignored all the news because depression. In that I have it and I’d like to keep it at bay as long as possible this year and know what’s going on in the world is the guaranteed number one way to want to die because everyone and everything is terrible forever.
The good news that going to Santa Barbara was on my list of things to do in 2015 so fuck it! I’m out for the next 299 days because I WIN AT LIFE.
Santa Barbara is a beautiful place, full of beach vistas, twee shops, and delicious eateries. It’s also known nationally as the birthplace of the bro: many a popped collar got its start on State Street, and where would we be as a nation if the frat guys from UCSB stopped buying our most noble national product, the impeccable aviator sunglass. We would be broke and in hell, that’s where, and we’d all have cataracts.
One of the overlooked wonders of the little city by the sea is the manuscript museum. Started by some fucking rich someone in some fucking place, it’s part of a network of manuscript museums to show off the private collection of some fucking dude, all over the country. We went because it was one, open, and two, free. Fun fact: manuscript museums are solely staffed by weeeeeeeeird people. Lovely people, but weird. Working in the arts as I do (she said, preening loftily and douchily), you meet all kinds of people, but manuscript people are a whole ‘nother set. They either talk a lot or not at all, and the lovely woman manning the desk yesterday was very interested in reading off the signs for exhibits closest to her.
(Fun fact: there’s a manuscript museum in my hometown that I visited as a young and broke teenage nerd. Their display was focused on A. A. Milne of Winnie-the-Pooh.)
(Funner fact: they has a little room with a display of ancient Egyptian artifacts. The quiet person who was in charge that day was apparently so excited there were visitors that HE TOOK AN ARTIFACT OUT OF THE CASE AND PASSED IT AROUND TO US. We held a several centuries old object without gloves and without washing our hands. We actively contributed the deterioration of a valuable piece of history. I may have been a young, broke nerd but I was also a danger to society. YEAH I SAID IT.)
Santa Barbara had no such desecration of history, but there was a display of Eva Peron papers. Did you know that even rich and powerful people can have bad teeth? They can! I saw her dental records. There were comments and markings in Spanish that could neither comprehend nor understand (much like Madonna’s turn as Evita on screen!) I also saw lessons she wrote for her propaganda high school. Let’s be clear–if you want a decent grasp of world events, don’t go to a propaganda high school. With that in mind, most high school curriculum is the product of lobbyists anyway, so just skip school. It’s useless. (No, but really stay in school and then read some radical historians in college and you’ll be just fine.)
Other fun features: detailed models of warships through the ages with photocopied letters from their commanders…in glass display cases. (Why put a photocopied 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper in a display case? The world may never know. Also! A 300-year old Torah written on deer hide…in a glass display case that was not fully sealed against the elements. (Literally the glass top to the display case had the corners trimmed off, for easier transport, maybe? Strange and unknowable are the ways of the manuscript museum.) There were Egyptian artifacts without dates or a discernable theme! (Unless “Egypt is cool” is a theme, in which case, you can get it, manuscript museum!)
But strangest and coolest of all, in the same weird room as the Egyptian displays, were Soviet space shuttle pieces. You’ve never seen an old-timey shuttle control board until you’ve seen buttons with Cyrillic notation! Why was it where it was? Not a clue. But it was there and there i shall remain until Stalin rises from the dead to resurrect his space program! I know it can happen because I learned it in high school! (Drop out of school, children.)
It took me and my man about twenty minutes to go through the museum, which was blessedly free and well-worth driving an hour because we got to listen to podcasts. Then we went and tried to find a reasonable meal in a tourist trap on a Sunday afternoon, and things got weird, so there I will leave you, with the joy of manuscripts.