Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tacos to typewriters

Yesterday's rambles took us from commerce to culture. We caught the 'Dillo, a handy free bus service in reproduction trolley cars, and alighted opposite the Texas State History Museum, where we dodged flocks of school children to get to the excellent gift shop, stocking up on postcards and a few portable Texas flavoured knick-knacks.

By the time we got to Guadalupe on the other side of campus, it was high noon and we had to rustle up some grub. One of the travel forums had mentioned the Chipotle Grill, which was crowded with grateful students eating their incredibly good tacos and burritos for around $5. Thus fortified, we carried out a gruelling investigation of every clothing store in the area - and there are many, all of them apparently catering to twenty-something anorexics - after which we found our way to the Harry Ransom Center to see the Technologies of Writing exhibition.

Its many wonders included a note written to Arthur Miller in lipstick by one of his wives (not, apparently, Marilyn); and a sequence of 8 radiograms written by Ernest Hemingway, reporting from Madrid in 1935. One of them described "gastric remorse from excellent pre-battle celebration." A letter from Tennessee Williams described how his Jaguar had crashed into a tree in Italy, after he'd taken two or three medicinal swigs from his thermos to counteract his nervousness, and he was struck on the head by his portable typewriter, which was damaged worse than he was. There was a page of manuscript from The Green Dwarf, by Charlotte Bronte, in such microscopic print the curators explained it must have been written with a sparrow feather quill. We saw Anne Sexton's typing manual, and her Quiet De Luxe Portable Typewriter. Also one of Edgar Allen Poe's writing desks, and a splendid "writing chair" created for one Compton Mackenzie.

We also visited a gallery on South Congress, Yard Dog Folk Art, where we saw some pieces by Tom Russell. Not *that* Tom Russell, we wondered? But yes, the writer of Navajo Rug (and my personal favourite, Road to Bayamon) is also a painter. Not my cup of tea, glass of beer, sip of water, but good on him just the same.

Disappointingly, Chipotle Grill was to be the culinary highlight of our day. We had a spectacularly average supper at Guero's Taco Bar. The place - a cavernous silver room - was heaving with diners even at 9pm on a Tuesday night, so in my most charitable mood I can speculate that perhaps there are more reliable choices on the menu than the red snapper and vegetarian dishes we ordered. And nicer wait staff. Say no more.

Our momentum slowed by an incipient cold for one and a resurging migraine for the other, we decided to pass on the poetry open mic at Ruta Maya and ended the evening watching The Philadelphia Story and hoping for more stamina in the morning. We're expecting a high around 30c today after which it should cool to the mid-twenties again...



Blogger Tracy Hamon said...

Thanks Rhona. Tasty posts. I'm enjoying how nearly everywhere you go there is a link.

The Technologies of Writing looks amazing.

6:27 p.m.  

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