…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 46)

Last, but definitely not least, here’s Rosie the Robot!  She is the last remaining member of the family to visit us here at Sun City Peachtree.  Rosie was busy vacuuming up the mess Elroy made while eating snacks in the back seat of the Jetson’s aerocar, so it took her a while to catch up.

Rosie is the Jetson’s family robot, maid, and housekeeper.  Although she is an older model (an XB-500), she does a good job getting the work done.  Besides, Jane couldn’t afford a newer model, and this was the only one U-Rent A Maid could offer at the right price.

The robot is mostly made of blue metal, and she rolls around on wheels.  I’m thinking Rosie may need some WD-40 on her wheels, though, because she makes loud grinding and clicking sounds as she moves around.  That’s how I knew she was here!

Rosie’s other features include claw-like arms that can extend to play sports.  Cool!  That would have come in handy when my brother and I were growing up!  Her cylindrical head features lips that look like small doors and eyes that resemble dials and sometimes light up.  Although her eyes mostly point upwards, they can move slightly to show different emotions.  If they are pointed towards each other, that means Rosie is sad.  Watch out if they are pointed outward and horizontally, because that means she is mad!

Since Rosie is a maid, her uniform includes a maid’s hat, a dress, and an apron.  To complete the look, she has antennae on the sides of her head.

According to Rosie, her XB-500 model is wired for tape analysis, which means she is compatible to read magnetic tape that computers used.  When she is home by herself, she functions as a security system and house sitter.  Otherwise, she is a traditional maid that cleans the house with a feather duster, vacuum, and other conventional cleaning tools.  In addition, she operates the other household appliances.

When Rosie speaks, she has a Brooklyn accent, which evidently appeals to her boyfriend, Mac.  He is also a robot and Henry Orbit’s helper.  Rosie loves him dearly, but he isn’t very smart.  She is definitely the more intelligent robot.

I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t mind having Rosie come by our place once in a while.  She can do the vacuuming while I write about her!  (I’m wondering if I could reprogram her accent to a British one, though…)

The interesting thing about Rosie and so many other things happening in the The Jetsons world is just how much of their futuristic lives became a reality decades later.  Hyundai and other companies are making their own versions of Rosie, robotic vacuums now roam around people’s homes, we video chat on Zoom and other platforms, and homes are outfitted with all sorts of smart technology that people can control with their smart phones.  Aerocars may not be in existence quite yet, but self-driving cars are currently being tested by Tesla, Google, and several others.  Meanwhile, Branson and Bezos are preparing to fly into space in their private spaceships.  How long will it be before everybody is living in the Jetson’s futuristic world?

…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 21)

An adorably curious owl flew in last week and took a rest here at Sun City Peachtree; and, today, it’s Tweety Bird!  I could have sworn I heard him say, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat!”  Sylvester was nowhere to be found, though.

Tweety (aka Tweety Pie), has been fluttering about for quite a long time.  The yellow canary with the big head was born five years before Sylvester came around.  He first appeared in A Tale of Two Kitties, in 1942.  Five years later, he joined his nemisis, Sylvester, in Tweety Pie, which won an Academy Award.  A star was born!

Now, about that big head of his.  Tweety’s design was based on a baby picture of Bob Clampett, the director of the canary’s first movie.  (Evidently, baby Bobby had a fat head!)

Tweety has mellowed over the years.  At first, he was an angry little bird with a short temper, but he has chilled.  Don’t let those long eye lashes and his sweet charm fool you, though.  When it comes to his rival, he’ll find a way to humiliate the cat in the end.  Besides, the pint-sized canary has Granny to protect him, when he lives at her house.  She keeps him in a cage and away from Sylvester who is always trying to eat the little fellow. 

Sylvester is just jealous.  He thinks Granny likes Tweety better and gives the bird more attention.

When he’s not (easily) escaping Sylvester’s claws, the star canary is off making appearances in other movies, such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam, and Looney Tunes:  Back in Action.

Recently, it appeared as if being a star had gone to Tweety’s (big!) head, and he turned a bit aggressive and angry again in Looney Tunes Cartoons

The star will be making some appearances in the near future, beginning with Tweety Mysteries, a live-action/animated hybrid.  Instead of living with Granny, he will be living with Sydney, a pre-teen girl.  He will also be appearing in the preschool series, Bugs Bunny Builders.  (I wonder if Bugs Bunny will try to eat the yellow-feathered canary, too!)

ST. PETERSBURG’S IMAGINE MUSEUM

St. Petersburg is such a fantastic city for so many reasons, but it’s especially fantastic if you enjoy seeing fabulous glass art works.  Between the Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center, and Duncan McClellan Gallery, which I previously wrote about; they exhibit (and/or sell) more top-quality art glass than most American cities.  There is still, however, one more glass museum I haven’t yet shared, which is the Imagine Museum.

Wow!  The Imagine Museum is another feast for the eyes that is well worth the visit.  Founded in 2016 by glass artist Trish Duggan, “her goal was to put together a collection of artworks and promote an experience that would inspire, uplift, and educate,” according to their website.  We definitely think she has accomplished that goal!

Imagine Museum features top glass artists from around the world, including America, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Australia, and others.  There are 1,500 glass art works on display from the Studio Glass Movement, which started in the 1960’s and continues to the present.

One of the things I greatly appreciated about Imagine Museum and the other museums and galleries we visited was that they openly encourage visitors to photograph their art works!  All they asked was to tag them on social media.  Done!

We were also pleased to learn the museum offered free tours with admission.  The tour we selected was, “Introduction to American Studio Glass.”  There were only six of us on the tour, and the guide did an excellent job keeping our attention with interesting stories about the artists and their works.  It was fascinating!

Following the tour, we roamed around the remaining exhibits that weren’t covered on the tour, including the entire second floor of the museum. 

Glass is often really difficult to photograph, so the pictures I took of many of the art works ended up in the recycle bin—especially since I wasn’t shooting with my best camera, which I left at home, due to a malfunctioning zoom mechanism.  These were all shot (without flash) with my inexpensive waterproof Fuji XP, which Bruce uses for shooting underwater video of my swimming for stroke technique feedback.

The pictures don’t do the art work justice, so you will just have to visit St. Petersburg and see it all for yourself!

Dale Chihuly
Toots Zynsky, a former student of Dale Chihuly
Toots Zynsky
“Nirvana,” 1000 Buddahs, by Imagine Museum founder, Trish Dugan. She was inspired by this quote by Buddah: “Though you can conquer a 1,000 men in battle 1,000 times, the one who conquers himself is the noblest victor of all.”
Martin Blank
It’s difficult to imagine from this picture, but I was actually looking through a very long tunnel of glass! This sculpture was approximately 12+ feet long! This photo was shot from one end.
This is just a small portion of a large glass sculpture by Anthony James.
This glass cube is balancing on its stand. The tour guide took one corner, gave it a spin! It was mesmerizing to watch, and this photo can’t possibly capture what we really saw.
This one was a trip! It looked different from every angle!
This life-size chair was on display in the front window of the museum. Don’t sit on it!

ST. PETERSBURG’S DUNCAN MCCLELLAN GALLERY: A FEAST FOR THE EYES

Trip Advisor has been a very useful travel-planning tool over the years, and this time was no different.  Checking out the site’s “Things to Do” category for St. Petersburg landed me here to read the reviews on the top-ranked Duncan McClellan Gallery.  Just knowing it was an art glass gallery was convincing enough; we knew we had to see it!  The fabulous reviews, however, sealed it!  Better yet was following the link to the gallery’s website to see the gorgeous photos of their exhibited glass sculptures.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the personable and friendly Danyell Bauer, the gallery’s manager.  She has worked at the gallery for ten years, and she is also a glass and multi-media artist.  We really enjoyed talking with her!

As we feasted our eyes on all of the beautiful works of art, we felt right at home in the relaxed environment—especially when we saw the food and water bowls on the floor for what turned out to be three cats that had free run of the gallery. (I guess they don’t make a habit of knocking over the art work!)

The 3,000-square-foot gallery opened up to a casual courtyard and deck in one direction, where two of the cats were taking a siesta; and, on the other side of the gallery, it opened up to a beautiful sculpture garden full of mango trees, plants, orchids, sculptures, art glass, a boardwalk path, and casual sitting areas where you could relax and enjoy the environment.  We were amazed that gorgeous blown glass pieces were on display out in the elements.  They were created by Duncan himself, and they were spectacular!

Duncan McClellan

We got talking with Duncan McClellan, and learned that he also loves to garden and grow orchids.  He created that 5,000-square-foot sculpture garden from what was once an empty dirt space behind the former fish and tomato packing plant.  Now, he is learning how to grow several varieties of mushrooms and showed us a bucket that had mushrooms growing on the side.

Duncan was as personable and friendly as Danyell, and he really made us feel at home.  Behind the gallery and sculpture garden is a huge glass blowing studio, so he led us back and showed us around.  Glass blowing demonstrations are open to the public; however, we were there on a Sunday afternoon, so there wasn’t much action going on. 

Since Bruce works in fused glass, we were interested in seeing his kilns, and we were amazed at the quantity and variety he had available there for himself, staff, the artists, and classes they teach.  One of them was the largest we had ever seen!  This huge piece was annealed in this approximately 5’ x 5’ kiln.

We look forward to returning to the gallery next time we visit St. Petersburg.  Since the rotating exhibitions feature national and internationally recognized glass artists, I am sure there will be many more amazing works of art; a feast for the eyes!

VACCINATION CELEBRATION! ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA

April 27, 2021.  I was so looking forward to that glorious day:  Full vaccination!  The countdown started after my second jab, on April 13.  Bruce was already fully vaccinated, and we decided to take a celebration road trip the moment I qualified.

On April 27th, we hit the road to St. Petersburg, a Florida city we hadn’t yet visited.  The draw?  The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Art Center.

Glass blowing demonstration at the Morean Arts Center.

Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor, is one of the world’s most famous artists of blown glass.  We had enjoyed his temporary exhibits at the Mingei Museum, in San Diego, as well as the Atlanta and Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens.  In addition, we were in awe of his permanent installations at the San Antonio library, San Antonio Museum of Art, Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel, and Maker’s Mark Distillery, in Kentucky.

We decided to make our celebration a one-week vacation, so we could also enjoy the other art glass galleries, museums, and so much more that St. Petersburg has to offer.

Notice how Flipper is masked to keep us all safe!

Whenever I travel, I also look for a pool facility, so I can start off at least some of my days with a good swim training session.  I found it in St. Pete, at the North Shore Aquatics Complex, located right on the downtown waterfront at Vinoy Park.  I was in swimming heaven! The 50-meter pool was run short course the days I swam, so I always had my own lane in the perfect 80-degree water.  (The facility also has a 25-meter pool and kids water park. 

While I swam, Bruce walked along the waterfront park watching the dolphins and birds as he enjoyed views of the St. Petersburg skyline and marina.  One of his walks took him along Vinoy Park, past the marina, and to the end of St. Pete Pier and back, for a 75-minute roundtrip.  Nice!

Bruce was really impressed with the uniqueness of this pier—unlike anything he had ever seen; so, I had to see it for myself.

The new version of this pier on Tampa Bay opened in July, 2020 at a cost of $92 million dollars.  It includes five restaurants, a playground, an environmental education center, artwork, and sculptures, including this life-size pelican. 

Next time we visit St. Pete, we are going to make sure to return to the pier at night to see the “Bending Arc,” a net sculpture that lights up in bright colors.

We really enjoyed the downtown area of St. Petersburg.  It’s an easy city to navigate by car or on foot; however, if neither of those options sound appealing to you (or, you just want to relax and leave the work to somebody else), you can ride the Looper.  The ride is free, and there are twenty stops along the route where you can get off to enjoy one of the many restaurants with outdoor dining, visit a gallery, or shop ‘til you drop.  It even stops at the local hospitals, but I’m hopeful you will never need to do that!

St. Pete has an artsy vibe, and there is plenty of arts and culture to take in while you’re there.  My next two posts will give you a taste of it with visits to the Duncan McClellan Gallery and Imagine Museum.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite crafts from Florida Craft Art:

iFLY: I FLEW AGAIN

If you haven’t read my first post on iFly, this won’t make a whole lot of sense, so you might want to check that out if you are curious.

This time at iFly, Sani was my instructor; and, after quickly assessing my skills, he wasted no time in teaching me new ones.  I was taught how to move forward by bringing my forearms in towards my shoulders, and then moving backward by bending my legs and straightening my arms.

I was also taught how to move up, which entailed pushing down on my arms.  To go back down, I had to lift my arms and legs.

Turning involved a slight shift of my hands, turning the back of my hands towards the left to go counterclockwise, and right to go clockwise.  To stop, I had to flatten them back out and keep my palms facing the floor.

All of these maneuvers require subtle moves to keep from going out of control.  When I lifted my arms too far up, I landed on the floor of the tunnel.  And, when I pushed down too far, Sani had to grab me to keep me from heading to the top of the tunnel.

Throughout my flights, another instructor was in the booth outside of the tunnel flashing me signals.  At one point, he motioned to turn all the way in a circle, and then stop in front of him.  I managed to nail my 360’s a lot better than my ups and downs!  He flashed this on the computer screen:  I’M PROUD OF YOU.  That made me laugh!  I was having such a great time!

Here is one of the videos Bruce shot of my flights.

For my last flight, Sani took me for spins up and down the tunnel that were a lot faster than last time.  I screamed the entire time!  Although it was exhilarating, I was glad he stopped when he did, because I was starting to lose my sense of direction, thanks to having Meniere’s, an inner ear disorder.  My ears had reached their limit.  Next time, I’ll have to ask him to stop in one place periodically, so I can regain my sense of where I am in the tunnel.

Next time?  Yes, I’m going back!

 

FESTIVE HOLIDAYS IN NAPLES, LONG BEACH

P1320411-1

Although I was raised Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, the highlight of every holiday season was going out with my family to see Christmas lights.  In Long Beach, California, where I grew up, the most beautiful light displays were always in the community of Naples, named after Naples, Italy.  The community is built on three islands divided by canals which open into Alamitos Bay.

Naples is an affluent community with large homes and accompanying private boat docks that line the canals.  Each Christmas, the community sponsors a themed competition for the best house decorations and light display.  This year, the theme was, “Under the Sea.”

Until I returned home to SoCal last holiday season to see family and friends, it had been several years since I had visited Naples.  I had forgotten just how beautiful it was, and I was in awe of the beauty of all the colorful lights reflected in the still water of the canal.  It was early in December on a weeknight, so it was uncrowded—perfect for doing photography with my brother and sister.  We had fun experimenting with our cameras and trying out different creative techniques to capture the colorful lights.

09

10

13

18

17

17-2

Amazed at how completely over-the-top some of the light and decoration displays were, we gawked and laughed as we hunted for the next photo opportunity.  That time with my siblings was special; a lot of fun, much laughter, and some fun photos to remember it by.

03-Naples

07

22.jpg

This year, we returned on Sunday, just a couple of days before Christmas.  As it gets closer to the big day, the crowds get larger, and the atmosphere gets more festive.  None of my pictures could possibly convey the joyous mood and energy that flowed all around me.  I found myself spending more time with my camera by my side rather than in front of my eye, so I could soak it all in.

P1320461

P1320484.jpg

P1320437.jpg

“Under the Sea” Sweepstakes Winner

P1320451.jpg

P1320424.jpg

P1320439.jpg

This was just a small section of the display by the winner of the Humor Award

P1320455.jpg

This swimming pig was one of many displayed by the owner of the Naples Rib Company, a local restaurant.

P1320483.jpg

There is nothing I had ever experienced during the holiday season that ever compared to the scene I was immersed in with my brother and sister that evening.  Although the crowds grew as we meandered through the canals, everybody was laughing, gawking, and so pleasant to each other.  Joy was in the air!  Musicians were playing Christmas carols, a youth group sang, some kids were selling hot chocolate, and a man passed out candy canes to all who passed by.  Meanwhile as decorated Long Beach Transit trolleys filled with spectators passed over the canal bridges, singing gondoliers below navigated through the canals as their passengers enjoyed the views up above.  There were SUP paddlers with lit up hats, decorated Duffy boats full of partiers, and all sorts of other watercraft passing under the bridges as we looked on at the spectacle.  My brother and I just stood and stared, remarking how beautiful the reflection of the lights was on the rippled water below.

P1320464

-1.jpg

During this most divisive time in our country I have ever experienced, it was such a delightful reprieve from the anger and hostility that has permeated our lives all around us.  Joy to you all, dear readers!

P1320430

 

CHATTANOOGA: BLUFF VIEW ARTS DISTRICT AND THE NORTH SHORE

P1290110.JPG

While you are in Chattanooga, make sure to visit the Bluff View Arts District.  Why?  For starters, click on the link and check out the aerial shot, so you can get a feel for the location and views.  There are some nice views from the bluff, so the district was aptly named.  In the lower right corner of the photo in the link, there is a small park with sculptures.  It was really nice strolling around the park, enjoying the sculptures and views.  These are some of the things you may see while you are there:

P1290084.JPG

P1290090.JPG

P1290096.JPG

P1290104.JPG

For details on the galleries, museum, restaurants, and shops; the website describes it quite well, so have a poke around the site.  I can tell you that when we were there, there was plenty of free parking, and it was a wonderful place to see on foot.

P1290115.JPG

Hunter Museum of American Arts (also located in the modern building to the left)

P1290162

P1290117.JPG

This sculpture by Deborah Butterfield stands in front of the museum.  It looks like driftwood, right?  We thought so and actually had to touch it to believe that it was cast bronze, as was stated in the plaque.  Amazing!

We were also pleased to see that just beyond the Hunter Museum of American Art, we were able to access the beautiful Walnut Street Bridge, one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world.  Built in 1891, it has such style and was quite photogenic!  Accessible only to pedestrians (and their dogs!) as well as cyclists, it was a safe and enjoyable way to get in some exercise while taking in the views of downtown Chattanooga and the North Shore while crossing over the Tennessee River.

P1290118

A view of Walnut Street Bridge from the Hunter Museum of American Art.

P1290159.JPG

We took this bridge that crossed over the street to access the Walnut Street Bridge.

P1290125.JPG

The view from the street bridge of both the modern building of the Hunter Museum and the Walnut Street Bridge.

P1290119

P1290128

P1290127.JPG

After crossing the street bridge, we came across this handsome fella.  High paw!

P1290129-1

A view of the Hunter Museum from the Walnut Street Bridge.  I loved this walkway they built to take pedestrians all the way down to the river!

P1290155

P1290131.JPG

Bruce, checking out the view form the Walnut Street Bridge.

P1290134

A view of the North Shore from the bridge.

P1290153.JPG

The city did a fantastic job developing the area where the bridge begins, as you can see in these photos.  It is very pedestrian friendly!

Across the river on the other end of the bridge is the North Shore.  You will get a nice view of Coolidge Park.  Make sure you spend some time checking out the fountain and the Coolidge Park Antique Carousel before you head into town.  I’m willing to bet you have never seen such an interesting variety of animal and reptile species represented on one carousel!  Bring your cameras; it’s a hoot!

P1290136.JPG

P1290210.JPG

Cynthia.JPG

KingFrog-NorthShore.JPG

P1290227.JPG

P1290232.JPG

P1290216

P1290219.JPG

P1290215.JPG

P1290228.JPG

The North Shore has a very hip, cool, and artsy vibe, so allow some time to poke around the shops and grab some lunch at one of the restaurants.  Although I am known in our household as the “Aqua Dog,” we passed on the hot dogs at Good Dog and opted instead for some unusual tacos at Taco Mamacita.  The various taco combinations offered on the menu were so tempting, but we ordered just two different tacos a la carte for a light lunch.  Delicious!

P1290207.JPG

P1290145.JPG

P1290234.JPG

P1290139.JPG

P1290146.JPG

Want to dance off your lunch or learn a new dance step?  If you don’t mind learning in the middle of the sidewalk as pedestrians pass by, there are instructions on five different dance steps located right in front of the shops and restaurants in the main part of town!

P1290235.JPG

Our time spent in Chattanooga was so enjoyable that we are planning to return in May when “Nightfall” (described in my previous post) starts up again.  It was a great getaway spot!

CHATTANOOGA: ALL ABOARD!

P1290179

Hearing the name, “Chattanooga,” always puts a smile on my face, because it sounds so funny to me as many Indian names do.  “Chattanooga,” comes from the Creek Indian word for “rock coming to a point.”  This refers to Lookout Mountain, one of the city’s major attractions.  Although we fully intended to take in the views from Lookout Mountain, the haze over the region during our visit kept us from even getting out of our car.  We took a quick drive around, and then headed back down to the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

P1290083.JPG

The first thing that comes to mind for many people when they think of Chattanooga is the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the former train station that became a hotel in the 1970’s.  Terminal Station, as the train station was originally called, was a large and modern station for its time.  It became especially famous when Mack Gordon (lyrics) and Harry Warren (music) wrote about it in 1941 in their tune that Glenn Miller recorded, “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”  The song describes the journey of a train traveling from New York City along the Eastern Seaboard until its end at Terminal Station.

Unfortunately, during the 1950’s and 1960’s, rail traffic decreased and the station was ultimately closed.  Then, in 1972, a group of businessmen bought the station and surrounding property.  They renamed it “Chattanooga Choo Choo” after the Glen Miller song, and they opened up a hotel. 

We didn’t stay at the ‘Choo Choo, because the reviews on Trip Advisor were a mediocre 3-1/2 out of 5.  Anything less than a “4” rating on Trip advisor is an indication to me to give a place a miss for overnight stays.

The ‘Choo Choo, however, did serve as an excellent base for our daily visits to the city during our three-days in town.  Adjacent to the hotel, there is a large covered public parking structure with reasonable parking rates that are less expensive than in the heart of downtown.  In addition, CARTA’s free downtown electric shuttle departed from there, so we ditched our car in the lot each day and hopped on the shuttle for our trips to downtown and the North Shore across the river.  It was a great way to get around, and we were impressed with Chattanooga for offering this green option that keeps a lot of cars off the downtown streets.

P1290201

Before heading out on the shuttle, we first had a look around the ‘Choo Choo, so we could get a feel for what Terminal Station must have been like in its glory days.

P1290189

P1290190

P1290184

Domed ceiling skylight

P1290200

P1290237.JPG

P1290172.JPG

P1290180.JPG

Downtown Chattanooga was a nice place to walk around, especially in the Riverfront district where the Tennessee Aquarium is located.  The city did a wonderful job developing the riverfront with plenty of walking and biking paths, public art, and park space.

P1290236.JPG

P1290081

This clever brick work was in the Tennessee Aquarium plaza.

P1290065.JPG

Tennessee Aquarium

P1290068.JPG

P1290073.JPG

P1290069.JPG

P1290070

P1290080.JPG

P1290066.JPG

P1290075.JPG

43

If you visit Chattanooga between early May and late August, try to plan your visit around “Nightfall,” the free downtown concert series that is held in Miller Plaza each Friday, between the first Friday in May and the last Friday in August.  The opening act starts at 7 PM followed by a nationally touring headliner at 8 PM.  It’s kid friendly and pet friendly, so grab your dog’s leash and bring your lawn chairs (unless you get there early enough to snag a provided chair), and spend the evening.  There are food trucks and beer available, or you can bring your own picnic.

We opted instead to have pizza right next door at Community Pie, where they offer New York style, Detroit Style, and Neapolitan style pizzas you can watch them make behind the big glass kitchen window.

P1290195-CommunityPie.JPG

Actually, to be honest, we didn’t even know about the concert series.  We had planned on eating at Community Pie, and the concert was a happy surprise.  When we left the restaurant, we heard a live band warming up, so we wandered over to see what was going on.  Cool!  A free concert!  While we waited for the music to start, we grabbed ourselves front-row seats and people-watched.  I also headed over to the grass area to see the craft booths that were set up for the event.  There was also a motorcycle show in the blocked off street near where the food trucks were parked, so I grabbed my camera and went to explore.

P1290256.JPG

P1290263.JPG

The entire scene of the well-planned event was just so perfect!  What started as a nice surprise turned out to be a very enjoyable way to spend a summer evening.  Watching the people happily listen or dance to the music, seeing the children and dogs having a good time, and observing a wide mix of people peacefully congregated to have fun was just a really pleasant, happy feeling.

P1290248

P1290250.JPG

P1290244.JPG

Good on Nightfall and its sponsors for making that happen.  Wrapping up its 32nd season, over the years, Nightfall has brought in a diverse line-up of artists representing many genres of music, and they have developed it into a great series for the entire community.

In my next post, we’ll visit the Bluff View Arts District and the North Shore.

CHATTANOOGA: SONGBIRDS GUITAR MUSEUM

P1290060

To celebrate Bruce’s birthday, we hit the road to Chattanooga for a three-day visit.  Located less than three hours away, it was a very doable drive for a short get-away.  The draw?  Songbirds Guitar Museum, located in the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo complex.

As a former drummer, harmonica player, and singer with Anthem, a 1970’s-era San Diego-based rock band, Songbirds pulled on Bruce’s heart strings.  This was the perfect opportunity for Bruce to be in his happy place on his birthday.

As the Songbirds website states, “The Songbirds Guitar Museum not only brings our unparalleled collection of guitars to life through audio accompaniments, but the exhibits also embed these fretted instruments in pop culture vignettes with period-specific items of historical significance and relevance to the development of the guitar.  Guitars are grouped by brand, time frame, and linear progression.  Acoustic, electric, jazz, bass, mandolin, banjo and mandocello models- their stories are here for you.  Songbirds Guitar Museum is historically accurate, educational and fun for both guitar enthusiasts and those new to guitars.”

P1280983

The exhibits cover fretted instrument history from the 1920s to the 1970s, with a heavy focus on collector favorites like custom color models and other rarities from Fender, Gibson and Gretsch.  At any given time, there are over 300 instruments on display.  In all, the museum owns a collection of over 1,700 instruments, and the exhibits rotate on a regular basis.

P1280988.jpg

P1290047

P1290045.jpg

P1280990

P1290052

The combined value of the collection is worth over $200 million, with the value of individual pieces ranging from $10,000 USD to $1 million.

This incredible American-made collection is owned by the Songbirds Investment Group, a group that includes David Davidson, a partner with We Buy Guitars in New York City.  He worked for years to build the collection and find it a home.

Guitar aficionados consider the collection to be the premier private collection of rare guitars in the world.  Some of the crown jewels of the collection include 34 Gibson Les Paul “Bursts” from 1958 to 1960 (about 2% of all the “Bursts” in existence), around 300 custom color Fenders and 75 custom color Gibson Firebirds, rare early Gibson Flying V and Explorer specimens, a 1941 Martin D-45 and a set of instruments all made on the same day by legendary luthier Lloyd Loar.

P1290025

This 1958 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst was displayed in a glass case in the Vault, a highly secured room only accessible while on a guided “All Access Tour.”  This is where the museum’s most valuable guitars are displayed in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment.  This particular model guitar sold for a few hundred dollars when it was new and is now valued in the mid-six figures.  Read more about these vintage guitars here.

The best way to see and enjoy the museum is to spring for a guided “All Access Tour” ($38) that includes the Green Room and Vault.  On the day we visited, there were just two other people on our tour that lasted almost two hours.  (Normally, the tour lasts about 90 minutes; however, our guide was happy to answer all the questions we threw at him!)

P1290005.jpg

This is the Green Room, only accessible on the guided All Access Tour.  The highly-secured Vault is in the back of the room.

P1290008

P1290011.jpg

P1290014

The Vault had the most elaborate (and expensive!) security I had ever seen outside of a bank.  The most valuable guitars in this room were worth up to one million dollars!  Since only 300 instruments are displayed at any given time in the museum, the remaining 1,400+ instruments are stored somewhere off-site.  The location is a highly guarded secret.

The stories behind the guitars in the Green Room and Vault were fascinating, even for the two of us non-guitar players.

P1290038.jpg

P1290044

These are prototypes.

P1290030.jpg