Sunday, December 11, 2011


Yesterday I wanted a little escape and some museum time, so I made the jaunt to New Bedford and the Whaling Museum. The streets downtown were all blocked off, so finding parking was irksome, and once I finally had found some and was walking back toward the museum, a thousand people dressed as Santa ran by. Because, oh, why not.

Claudio and I went to the Whaling Museum about two years ago, and decided we had to eat chowder in town because of the wonderful "Try-Pots" chapter in Moby-Dick. We forgot that in the book the chowder is consumed on Nantucket, not in New Bedford, and perhaps that is why we were both struck down by terrible diarrhea. His hit on the way home, so we were desperately trying to find a place to stop when a song by Tilly and the Wall, the chorus of which is "sometimes you just can't hold back the river", came on, and I laughed so hard I almost ruptured something, while he said through gritted teeth, "That's not funny."

It was hysterically funny. Because I am, as previously established, twelve. 

I seem to have digressed. In any event, it is a wonderful museum, and they have a new exhibit called "Visualizing Melville", in which quotes (mostly from Moby-Dick, but some from other works) are printed on the wall next to objects or paintings which illustrate the topic or the theme of the quote. I cannot think of a room which would not be improved by having "Quakers with a vengeance" printed on the wall in giant letters. 

There was hardly anyone else in the museum (probably all out watching the Santa run), so I had most of it to myself. Some rooms were dark until I walked in and the motion sensors turned the lights on. It was rather lovely. 

I have never minded going to museums by myself. There is always the moment when you see something and wish that you could look around for a companion and hiss, "Come here; you have to see this," but there is also something to be said for going at your own pace, with your own thoughts. 

The Whaling Museum hosts, every January, a marathon reading of Moby-Dick. It lasts 25 hours and goes through the night (obviously). Every year I think about going and do not. This year I am determined to do so, because I have a book blog now, and am clearly obligated to blog about such an experience. It is probably too late to sign up for a reading slot, unless I am willing to do four a.m., but I will call anyway to find out. I established last month, when I decided to go to a show the night before getting on a six a.m. flight, that I can get through a 38-hour period with five non-consecutive hours of sleep, if I have enough coffee and motivation. (The good thing about having given up caffeine on a daily basis is that when you need it, a little goes a long way.) 

So I will do this. I will arrange dog care and I will do this. I would love to have company - get in touch if you think you might want to spend January 7-8 sitting in a museum listening to people read Moby-Dick for 25 hours (it's permissible to come and go, though if you go out for food I would avoid the chowder). 


  1. Scene in the car: amazing. I burst out laughing and scared the cat. Evidently I am also twelve.

    Please write a whole book of this stuff.

  2. Since there is no way I can make it to the reading this year, I also feel you are obligated to blog about it!

  3. A whole book of stories about diarrhea? Actually, between the two dogs, I could probably manage that.

  4. While I can't promise I won't nod off during the reading, I would love to attend. I'd have to bow out pre-epilogue because I have a meeting at 11 on Sunday, but I'm comfortable being totally loopy and melville saturated for it.

  5. There is nothing like a good diarrhea story to get me laughing! I have attended the Moby Dick reading and it is beyond description. The people when I went were as entertaining as the book. Truly, it was a fantastic time. I went alone (boo hoo!) but definitely recommend a companion to share commentary with. It's great, I wish I could be there, at least to dog sit...sigh. I really, really want to go. Next year maybe?

  6. Davy's Locker for chowder in New Bedford. It's where the Vineyard ferry used to leave from. The clam chowder is superior but the fish chowder will make you weep as you realize that all of life is nothing more than reflections of Platonic ideals and that chowder is as close as you will get.
    Seriously it's so good that of all the things I could have said about New Bedford, the museum or Moby Dick, I choose to discuss the chowder.