I have spent the past week in Louisville for work. While I am generally cranky about travel that takes me away from home and family for extended periods (in fact, I am cranky right now!), I have to say that I have found Louisville to be totally captivating. We in the Northeast tend to be a little arrogant about our cosmopolitan lifestyles. But really, we should get over ourselves. Louisville has everything Boston has, and then some.
To start with, these people know how to deploy plastic wildlife. A few years back in my inner Boston 'burb of Newton, there was a rash of lawn flamingos -- they popped up all over town, in intimate groupings, or occasionally in large flocks. We were very proud of our sense of civic whimsy.
Fine. But check out these red penguins, lined up on the roof of a hotel in the Main Street historic district:
Louisville has hipper-than-hip coffee shops with impossibly cool signage:
They have a BIG damn river -- puts our own River Chuck to shame:
And it's brown, just like ours!
I have eaten astonishingly well here, some absolutely fabulous food. Louisville is way into the farm-to-table thing. One place served me a salad of fresh limas, asparagus and arugula which may be the best thing I've eaten in my life.
It is also possible to eat quite badly here. Discount sushi doesn't seem to me to be a particularly good idea:
The local specialty is something called a "Hot Brown." As I understand it, a Hot Brown is turkey, topped with bacon, drenched in gravy, and smothered in melted cheese. "A heart attack on a plate," one colleague called it. But is that really so much worse for you than my own state's cream-loaded clam chowder? After all, turkey is a very lean meat.
Louisville has a five-story baseball bat:
There is a porn palace conveniently located around the corner from my midtown hotel:
All week they have been advertising a Buy-2, Get-1-Free DVD sale. Sadly, I have not had a chance to stock up.
They have this guy:
Him, they can keep.
Hands down, the best thing I stumbled on in Louisville was this man, out for a walk with his 250-pound pet tortoise:
I took this photo on a narrow grassy strip at the edge of a McDonald's parking lot. How, exactly, do you take your pet tortoise out for a walk to McDonald's? He's not going to hop into the back seat of your car. And the curb where I saw them was quite a few blocks from the nearest residential area. It must have taken hours for this tortoise, who moves at the pace of -- well, a tortoise -- to walk from his home to this tiny patch of lawn in the most urban imaginable part of town.
No Bostonian would ever have the patience to wait for his tortoise to stroll to McDonald's. Up north, we are pure hare.