old gm building
Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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holland and grand rapids
Sarah had this weekend off, so we went on a very brief vacation to the west side of the state. We drove out to Holland and Lake Michigan on Saturday morning, spent the night in Grand Rapids, and drove home Sunday evening.

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A big part of vacationing to me is seeking out restaurants that accommodate vegans well in new locations. In Holland, we had black bean burgers at the New Holland Brewery. Afterward we wandered their downtown.

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We wanted to see Lake Michigan, but cars were backed up just getting to Ottawa Beach. We tried Tunnel Beach instead, which wasn't too crowded.

I didn't realize this until actually stepping onto the wet sand, but I have somehow not been to a beach since I was a small child. Most of my memories are of digging in the sand and building sand castles--not so much interacting with others. The image of beaches I formed as an adult was that they are hot, noisy, crowded and dirty, but this beach was actually very pleasant. Walking in the water and then sitting in the sand was relaxing, and I got excited about this "new concept" called "going to the beach". I actually regretting not bringing a bathing suit or towel. Or a hat. Or sunscreen. Hey, did you know that you can get burned by sitting on the beach in the sun for an hour in August?

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Sarah booked us a room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, with a great view from the 25th floor:

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Grand Rapids felt like what I imagine Salt Lake City to be--clean, quiet and prosperous, but with a creepy cult vibe to it. Salt Lake City has Joseph Smith, Grand Rapids has Dick DeVos. In fact, the night stand in our hotel room contained not one, but two books:

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And of course, the bathroom contained friggin Away soap.

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That night we went to San Chez, a "tapas" restaurant, which is apparently a popular category of food that I didn't even know existed until that night. It's basically a small plates / Spanish foods combination. They had a separate vegan menu and even a special vegan s'mores dessert (a chocolate-covered graham cracker with marshmallow non-dairy ice cream).

The next morning we wandered downtown Grand Rapids.

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This is a mini version of the orange abstract sculpture behind Sarah.

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Close to the hotel was a park that contained the final resting place of President Gerald Ford, as well as a museum that bears his name. The city seems proud to be the home of the only president from Michigan, but it's not an association I would show off. Ford was actually born in Omaha, Nebraska, and he was never elected vice president--Nixon appointed him after Spiro Agnew resigned. He became president when Nixon resigned in disgrace, and then Ford preemptively pardoned that sleezebag. Here is something else that upsets me--the Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol contains statues of two individuals from each state, and Michigan's two statues were of Lewis Cass and Zachariah Chandler, a radical abolitionist. In 2011, Chandler's statue was removed so that a statue of Ford could stand in its place. What a disgrace.

Anyway...

We had brunch at Bartertown Diner, an almost-vegan restaurant apparently run by Communists.



It was a little shocking to come out of a hotel that was a sort of tribute to a right-wing Christian free enterprise (which in reality is government-subsidized system designed to exploit the working poor) and step into a shrine of fair-trade 20th century Communism (which in reality is a bloodthirsty totalitarianism designed to exploit the working poor). I got the pancakes!

Maybe I should found my own vegan restaurant, but avoiding the extreme shams of capitalism and communism, adopt the theme of cynicism, and on the back wall of my business I will paint this quote from George Carlin:
"If you read something in this book that sounds like advocacy of a particular political point of view, please reject the notion. My interest in 'issues' is merely to point out how badly we're doing, not to suggest a way we might do better. Don't confuse me with those who cling to hope. I enjoy describing how things are, I have no interest in how they 'ought to be'. And I certainly have no interest in fixing them. I sincerely believe that if you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem. My motto: Fuck Hope!"

Anyway, it took 45 minutes to get our food because someone in the kitchen dropped our order ticket and it took way too long for our waiter to realize that the kitchen never produced our order. The food was great, but I wonder if this place is another microcosm of why Marxism doesn't work.

After brunch we continued wandering downtown.

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Part of the row of stores that contained the Bartertown Diner

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The Grand Rapids Public Library

In the afternoon we spent a good part of the day exploring the Grand Rapids Public Museum, a weird but interesting mixture of local history, scientific artifacts, and other uncategorizable odds and ends.

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I loved the "streets of old Grand Rapids", but I wonder if they
are copying the same idea from the Detroit Historical museum.

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This man in period costume was operating a lathe.

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Finally we had dinner at the Brick Road Pizza Company, which had an entire page of vegan options and was excellent. I think Grand Rapids might be more vegan-friendly than metro Detroit. Even *if* I can get the same number of options in either location, Grand Rapids is more compact and they are much more explicit in wooing and communicating with vegans.

The last photo I took before departing for Detroit was this beautiful green house next door to the pizza place:

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