Tuesday, April 02, 2024

My Very Inspired Museum Idea

 Hi! Remember me? I'm Anne Johnson, by golly, and today I applied for Medicare!

Time to start posting in large print, so I'll be able to see what I've written.

Just kidding! I'm hale and hearty, as fine a specimen of crone as you'll find anywhere.

On April 1 I went into Philadelphia to meet my daughter The Fair at the Macy's department store that's right across the street from City Hall. This Macy's is located in the flagship store for the John Wanamaker chain, which I think was local to Philly before it went out of business.

The building dates to a time when going to the department store was an Event. There are hand-tiled mosaics in the entryways, and there's a central atrium with an eagle statue. Above the statue on the second and third floors are the enormous pipes of a huge organ. There are still two organ recitals per day, with a real live person playing the music. In the atrium you can see all five floors of the building. These days the top two floors are dark.

We got there during the organ recital, and it was so beautiful it took my breath away. Prettier than a church, for sure.

But quickly I noticed that the store was almost empty of people. There were a few advanced senior citizens listening to the music, but otherwise it wasn't crowded at all. When Fair and I went to the third floor to look at linens and such, we were the only people on the entire floor. Literally the only customers, and one employee wandered by after we had been there an hour. It felt spooky, like we had stayed inside somehow after closing time.

Truly sad.

I began reminiscing to Fair about how department stores were when I was a kid. How you would dress up to go there, and how each department had multiple employees ready to help you with anything. How bustling the stores were. They had tea rooms and restroom attendants and managers that strolled around in fancy suits. So swanky!

As we headed out of the palatial old building, I descended into gloom. Macy's won't keep that store open forever, if no one shops there. Then what happens to all the mosaics, the organ, the eagle, the marble columns?

That's when I had my brainstorm. The whole thing could be a National Museum of American Retail!

Can you imagine a re-created department store circa 1940, with vintage clothes and sundries and appliances and toys? Docents dressed up like salespeople? And of course the organ recitals would go right on, as well as the Christmas displays the store always does on the holiday. This could be such a fun museum! Interactive, you know? A floor where kids could play with Lincoln Logs and jacks and hug teddy bears and put their feet in those measuring things for shoes. A maze of clothing racks to run through. And I don't know about you, but I would completely froth at the mouth over a display of 1940s-era formal wear.

The building is already there. It's already a department store. It's nine freakin' blocks from Independence Hall!

See what happens when you attain geezerhood, as I have? You start pining for the good ol' days of epic department stores, and you realize those days are bygone. So then, as your own bones would fit into many a museum at this point, you start to think of fabulous museum ideas.

Ah, me.


How long has it been since I've written? No matter. I did a thing.

In New Jersey there are stray cats that live under the boardwalks along the shore. That is, until they come live with me! Behold my new feline, appropriately named Taffy!

Yes, she's goofy-looking, and yes, she climbs every level. She pushes stuff off on the floor and grabs whole chunks of food to drag away. And if we scold her, she says "Waddya mean I can't have spaghetti? Fuggedabbout it."

Taffy didn't look like this when we got her. She's put on a good pound, and her fur is fuller. She wants to know where I've stashed her surf board, and I don't have the heart to tell her she's now 55 miles from the beach.

Until we meet again, whenever that is, I remain,

Your correspondent from the cobwebbed corners,

Anne Johnson

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Don't Do the Magic If You Can't Face the Tragic

 Welcome to "The Gods Aren't Bored, At Least in My Classroom!" I'm Anne Johnson, and I have been teaching nothing but Greek literature since before the winter break. This means I have had to wrestle with the stories of the Greek pantheon through the lens of modernity. It's been interesting.

Today, however, I have a serious and stern lecture for those of you young striplings who are thinking of doing magic workings.

It's fashionable these days to think one can hex and spell and bane with impunity. I'm here to tell you, that's not the case. When you set out to do a hex on that person who is making your life a circle of Hell, be very careful how you word your spell. I mean, very careful. Also, choose your deity helper wisely. Some deities don't like to be "used," particularly by careless moderns who don't pay proper, culturally exact, respect.

There is a person who continues to make my life a circle of Hell. Last spring I started a bane spell on her, and I didn't set out the proper parameters for the outcome. Mistake.

After starting the spell, the following things happened to me:

1. Andy N. Condor died suddenly of unexplained causes. I flew all the way to Salt Lake City to meet him in 2019, and I promised to return in 2029. Now they're making a statue of him.

2. I met the closest neighbor to my sweet mountain property only after he drunkenly accosted me on a dark, deserted road, with a German shepherd in tow, taking particular umbrage with my New Jersey license plates. Not feeling so safe on Anneland anymore.

3. Brooks Robinson died. Okay, you had to be there, I suppose, to see little 10-year-old Anne idolize this particular saint of a human being. He was the favorite athlete of both Mr. J and myself, old, yes, but still. Losing two of my heroes in as many months was a blow.

4. The person I'm doing the bane work against had control of my schedule at work and gave me the worst students in the school. This has been one of the hardest years of my teaching career, and the loathed supervisor is still there.

5. Again completely unexpectedly, my cat Gamma developed severe weight loss and was diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma. We had to send him across the Rainbow Bridge.

6. Breast cancer scare. Forever more I will be on the mammogram fast track.

That's a heaping helping of bad juju there for just a five-month span. And yes, it might all be a coincidence. But dang. All that stuff at once?

This is where you would expect me to offer the free advice to quit the bane work. But I haven't done that. I have not wavered. The only critique I have to give myself is the wording I used when I initiated the spell. It was too strong. And if you haven't noticed, it's hard to re-word a spell once you've set it into motion. It's not like editing a blog post, let me tell you.

When we choose to work magic, we have to be prepared for blowback. The spell I chose to work didn't have any verbal instructions, just physical ones. Left to my own devices for the wording, I employed too much hyperbole. I took the work too lightly.

Don't take magic lightly. But do it all the same. It's a tool against the oppressor, a tool that is ancient and holy.

In lighter news, my Mummers club won the 2024 championship! Follow the link to see our routine. I appear onscreen at around the 3 minute mark briefly as the club frolics around the street cameraman.

Two Street Stompers 2024: West Side Shipping