Monday, November 27, 2006

The Houses of Benefit Street in Providence

This morning I caught the 8:30 a.m. double decker commuter rail to Providence, Rhode Island. The Roger Williams National Memorial visitor's center is just a ten minute walk from the train station. A very helpful ranger suggested that I take a self-guided tour of nearby Benefit Street. The $3 guide book was extremely helpful and rich with architectural information. There were so many houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries. One handsome brightly painted house next to another with a few Italianate brownstones intermingled.

There were so many gems that I only admired a small section of Benefit Street and I have decided to return soon. In the Old State House I was allowed to look at the room where the Rhode Island constitution was ratified. Walked by the first Baptist Church on North Main Street. Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams on the principle of true religious freedom for many faiths. Providence had the first Baptist Church in the United States. The Truro Synagogue in Newport was founded in the mid 18th century, and is still holding services.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beethoven's Fourth Symphony

At Faneuil Hall the Boston Classical Orchestra performed their first ever all Beethoven concert. It was sold out at both performances. My generous friend treated a good friend of his and me to the concert and a lobster dinner afterwards. I was not familiar with Beethoven's Fourth Symphony and I really enjoyed it. It had some of the predictability and pleasant sound that pervades much of Haydn's compositions. The BCO also performed the Triple Concerto with the Boston Trio.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

The JFK Library and Museum only tells part of the story of JFK's life. A good place to start is at the JFK Birthplace in Brookline, MA, which is run by the national park system. The birthplace is full of interesting information about his family and childhood. Unfortunately it is only open seasonally. The JFK Library and Museum has a twenty minute video about his life up until the point where he was nominated to be the democratic party's candidate for president. The Museum has interesting footage of his nomination acceptance speech and part of his first debate with Richard Nixon as well as period memorabilia.

Much of the JFK Library and Museum consists of noisy original footage of his speeches. After a few hours I began to get a headache from the competing videos. But the sections including Jackie speaking Spanish and her visit to India were great. Early photos of her are charming as are her grammar school essays. Her nationally televised video introducing the White House to the American Public is a definite highlight of the Museum. Both she and Jack were so photogenic and charming. This comes across in the video clips and the still photographs. I wish that they could have included pictures and writing samples from Jack when he was a boy. Jackie comes across in much more depth because of the long timespan that the exhibits cover.