Lame Adventure 345: Stiffed Again

Three days after I needed a tenth quarter to do my wash at my local Chinese laundromat, the 23 MacArthur Fellows for 2012 were announced.

Above at the Ansonia, below lies my laundromat.

Those selected in the arts included a flutist and arts entrepreneur in Brooklyn, a writer and professor at MIT, a mandolinist and composer in New York City, as well as a novelist and journalist in Washington. Recipients with singular talent also made the cut including my personal favorite a stringed instrument bow maker in Boston.  He must have appreciated the irony in receiving what the New York Times called “a no-strings-attached $100,000 a year for five years”.

I could not help but notice that many of the artistic recipients reside in the East, but once again no web writer, such as a blogger and numismatist on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, made the grade.  One would imagine that “blogger and numismatist” has enough of an esoteric ring to fit in with that elite crowd.

The MacArthur Foundation awards, also referred to as genius grants, cannot be applied for.  According to Wikipedia, “People are nominated anonymously by a body of nominators who submit recommendations to a small selection committee of about a dozen people, also anonymous.”  Therefore, nobody involved knows anyone, but then every year — poof — a select cluster receives half a million clams paid out in quarterly installments over five years.  Nice award if you can win it.  The chosen could afford air conditioning and an iPhone.  In fact they would not need to tear their hovel apart in search of that one elusive quarter.  They could afford to have their laundry done.   Unfortunately, once again, bloggers, the Rodney Dangerfields of the written word, were given no respect.

Three days earlier I had nine quarters when I needed ten to do my wash.  I looked through the quarters in my coin tray, but alas, every one of those eight dollars in quarters were either from the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful series or the 2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program.

Coin tray full of rare coinage.

There are six coins in that program but thus far, I have only collected five.  It infuriates me that I’m still missing American Samoa, not that I have a clue where to find that territory on a map.  I have four Puerto Rico’s and three D.C.’s, but not a single American Samoa.  I also have five Grand Canyons and five Yosemite’s; rather popular tourist destinations with shoppers in my neighborhood unlike Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve quarter.  I think I will sooner see dead people than that one.  Even though I have duplicates of several coins in the America the Beautiful series, I refuse to subject any of my rare change the indignity of being ingested by the quarter quaffing machines at my laundromat. Although it is likely that when my niece, Sweetpea, inherits this fine collection, she’ll forget its distinction and will feed each and every one into a parking meter.

When I arrive at the laundromat, lacking a common Washington quarter circa 1998, I give the clerk two dollars and in exchange she gives me eight quarters.  One happens to be a Chaco Culture National Historical Park quarter, a quarter I did not know I lacked for a place in New Mexico I never knew existed.  When I regain feeling in my mind I celebrate and toss that quarter in my coin tray.

If a time arrives when the MacArthur selection committee either collectively slips up or lowers the bar to floor level and lifts the ban on awarding their fellowship to web writers, possibly a blogger, maybe one that wears a second chapeau as a numismatist with a now $8.25 quarter collection, will be considered to share the wealth. Or maybe that blogger and numismatist will sooner gain the ability to see stiffs.

I see balloon people.

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116 responses to “Lame Adventure 345: Stiffed Again

  1. Fish Out of Water

    Teen still has her 50 states collection in her closet. Hawaii was a bitch to find.

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  2. No respect … and I was expecting at least one (if not all) the NYC bloggers I read would be on the list. Harrumph!!! Meanwhile, I wonder how many American Samoa quarters will come your way. ;)

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  3. V,
    Your mind works in such wonderful and mysterious ways. Your posts so often start somewhere and end up in an entirely different place, kind of like a Star Trek transporter. I love the adventure of it. I agree that bloggers and numismatists get ignored all too often. Also, Chaco Canyon is really amazing – ancient Anasazi ruins in Northwestern New Mexico, but there are probably also rattlesnakes…

    Cathy

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  4. The Bride signed me up for the Park series, as I like to call them, via QVC or HSN or some other vendor. I get them quarterly (pun only half intended). I do have the Denali coin. Actually you get 3 of them already mounted. You get one showing the face, one showing the obverse and another one that is colorized. I collected the original state coins over the years the old fashioned way and then bought this huge foldout map with holes for the coins. But for the next series the Bride made it easier and purchased them as a set. Probably at above face value. I appreciate it but not as much as having the joy of finding random coins to fill out the collection. But you get a neat set of binders and a write up about each site. So that’s good.

    I don’t know anyone on the MacArthur Foundation board. Sorry, you do deserve at least 7 votes.

    But I used to go see films at the MacArthur theater in NW Washington DC near Georgetown. Saw the 3rd Star Wars film (the one with Ewoks) there at midnight when it opened back in the 1980s. Also saw a 7 hour film called Our Hitler A Film from Germany by Hans-Jurgen Syberberg. if you ever have a rainy Sunday I implore you to watch it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076147/plotsummary

    Also back home in WMass, we have MacArthur’s Ball. Lt. General Arthur MacArthur (father of famous pipe smoking general in WWII and Korea) was born in Chicopee, MA. It’s not his testicle, rather It’s a large onyx orb as a statue commemorating him. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMD659_MacArthurs_Ball_Chicopee_MA.

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    • Never had post held for moderation. Is it because of embedded links?justwondering if I was on some sort of LA no fly list.

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    • Although I personally prefer coming across my coins randomly, those purchased in sets likely lack the wear and tear of those discovered in general circulation. That might dissuade Sweetpea from stuffing the likes of those into a parking meter.

      I recall that Hitler film, but never saw it partly due to the 7 hour slog I did not want to commit to der Führer.

      I was not aware that there was a General Arthur MacArthur. Impressive ball! You’re just a spewing fountain of facts this morning.

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      • As you’ve noted many times, LA is an educational forum. MacArthur’s Ball was one of my favorite sites as a young child. Adthur’s parents must have had a slight sense of humor. I mean ARTHUR MacArthur?

        The monument is adjacent to a singing bridge that spanned the Chicopee River. It was called a singing bridge by those in my family because instead of pavement its surface was grated metal that made a humming sound when your tires passed over it. Why we didn’t call it a humming bridge I don’t know as that would have been more accurate.

        I believe Chicopee is a Nipmuc word which refers to the waters of said river. Home of Spalding sports equipment and the Westover SAC base which flew B52s (planea not band) during Vietnam war. Maybe I had mentioned that in an earlier post about something. I don’t know. CRS.

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  5. unfetteredbs

    boy that would be a nifty grant to win… I could live on that for a very very long time. keeping my eyes out for an American Samoa now.

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  6. I was just about to write a post about how I was passed over yet again for a genius grant. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recover from the snub.

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  7. Bloggers are rarely considered writers.
    I started and gave up the coin collection several times, whenever I had a lot I would go and get them exchange for the good old green notes.

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  8. The photo of the Ansonia made me realize that it’s just possible that you or one of your fans might be able to help me out! :) At some point in the last few years I read a novel that spoke about a very old hotel or apartment building in NYC (lived in by some famous aging starlet?) that had the merit of an ENORMOUS amount of insulation between the floors (and maybe between the units as well?) The memory is that the “ENORMOUS” in all caps was well deserved because they were talking about three FEET of solid earth being used between each floor for some reason (which seems to make no sense in the practical world.)

    Anyone have any idea what building might have been described thusly?

    :?
    Michael

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    • There are a lot of grand old buildings here in New York, Michael, besides the Ansonia. On the Upper West Side the San Remo and the Dakota immediately come to mind, but I have no idea how much insulation is packed between floors. Does anyone else?

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  9. I charge everything! I will have to look in my change and see if I have an American Samoa! I thought that was a Girl Scout cookie…

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  10. I think you were robbed on the MacArthur grant, but let the disappointment fuel your art.
    I have a complete set of the American quarters collected by my Uncle Forky along with display board that was a wedding gift with a flat of Bush’s Baked Beans. He would bring the coins over the border in sets of 5 or 10, wrapped in foil, resembling small packages of hash. Border authorities never questioned him, but we already knew that because he always brings well above the legal amount of liquor and hasn’t had a valid driver’s license in some years.

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    • I’m glad that my disappointment is fueling your commenting Jen. This one’s priceless, pal! One of my buds is getting hitched next year. I will follow Uncle Forky’s gift giving lead. Between the quarters and the flat of Bush’s Baked Beans, she’ll never forget my gift!

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      • Everyone should follow Uncle Forky’s lead in life. I wish I could write more about him but he is still very much alive and literate enough to misinterpret anything I might say about him. I will say that he hit on me at my wedding too. So you could try that as well.

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        • Just curious, biological uncle,uncle by marriage, or just an old coot who’s a friend of your parents? Cuz at least 2 of them are kinda creepy if he really hit on you. Maybe all 3.

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          • He’s an uncle by marriage, but also my godfather. His occupation is drinking though if that helps explain anything.

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            • Yeah, I had the impression that he was the type that indulged plentifully in the liquid arts.

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            • That scenario is creepy #2. However, the added godfather twist suggests some interesting dynamics. Small town, huh. Married into a family with ties to your own. I grew up in a similar town names Feeding Hills, MA. I can empathize–to a degree.

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              • Although I did grow up in a small town with various genetic overlaps, Uncle Forky was the gem my aunt found when she ran away from home so there is no ties. And then my parents chose these responsible people to take care of me in the event of their untimely demise. Klassy.

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                • Gotcha. I had thought he was your uncle via your spouse. Not sure which is worse. But maybe you so damned hot in your wedding dress that mere mortals couldn’t resist a little illicit nookie. WTH. Different from WTF in that is connotes a certain laissez faire attitude reminiscent of San Francisco during 1967. (Remember those days LA woman?)

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                  • Yep. Sure do! We used to go out for Sunday dinner and during the summer of love my dad would cut through Haight Ashbury on the drive home. Even at the tender age of 8 I quietly knew, “I’m on board with this!” And that was before I even knew what “this” was. I had an inkling.

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                    • Similar sense up at Niagara Falls but not sure I understood too much. Also, now I understand why my dad accompanied me to public restrooms in P’Town on the Cape. Oh just a tad oblivious.

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                    • My disinterest in the opposite sex (except as pals; I’ve had guy pals forever) combined with looking like a cherub allowed me to get away with all kinds of horndog drooling in my long gone youth.

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        • I hope when he made a pass at you he was at least a few sheets to the wind so he had some excuse to cling to for behaving like a, let me choose my word carefully here, choad. Call me old fashioned, but hitting on brides at their weddings seems demented beyond belief. I just hope the food is good and I’m dressed appropriately.

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          • Uncle Forky sets the gold medal standard for drunkenness.
            On another note, I just heard an interview with a mandolin player who won a MacArthur fellowship and he was so shocked he had to go lay down under his sink in his dressing room for a while. That sounds unhygenic, so I think you probably are better off.

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            • I promise you I would never lie down under a sink if I received that coveted phone call, but I might be so overjoyed I could be compelled to have sex with everyone I come in contact with within a three block radius including pigeons and squirrels. I suppose we all have a little Uncle Forky in us at certain times.

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  11. writerwendyreid

    If I were on the committee, I would definitely nominate you for a grant cause you’re a friggin genius. Oh…and I have a coin collection that I’d one day like to get appraised. Do you collect other coins or just these quarters?

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    • Wendy, I appreciate the appreciation. In my coin tray, there happens to be about seven years or at least 35 cents worth of Jefferson nickels, some Lincoln log cabin pennies and a dollar coin of “Huh, Who Was That?” Easily enough small change for a sodium infused appetizer at the Olive Garden.

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  12. How wonderful it would be to have one’s laundry done and be an artistic type….your coin tray is quite an entity, isn’t it? So much diversity in such a small area.

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  13. My father in law gave each of my kids a U.S. Quarter Map and the quarters for each state. He passed on 4 years ago. I don’t know where those quarters. Virginia! Carpe launderium! Seize the laundry, quarters be damned!

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  14. I’m not one for secret societies or anything me, LA, but if I knew who to anonymously send an anonymous recommendation to, I’d anonymously refer your blog, secretly, but you’d never know it was me as I’d never say. I may have that coin you are missing in my collection if it was from or before 1993ish, only I have the problem of not knowing where that collection is nowadays. I bet you’ll complete your collection before I find mine!

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    • An actual thanks for the hypothetical use of anonymity and secrecy on my behalf Tom. My missing coin is actually from 2009, but I relate to well to losing things including a turtleneck that’s been missing from my humble abode almost all year now. Possibly it’s joined forces with the many socks that seem to have entered the ether through the years.

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  15. Oh, the numismatic opportunities of which I was ignorant. Who knew these quarters even existed–let alone were worthy of collection? Just think, I was even further from the MacArthur Fellowship than you! But then ignorance is bliss–or was, in this case.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

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    • So you’re probably been feeding rare American Samoa quarters by the fistful into the meter, or worse, buying those icing-less Pop Tarts that you love to chow so much with them. Now my head is spinning!

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  16. You are the greatest numismatist I have ever known. Granted I don’t know many or actually any, but you are hands down the greatest. And I would give you $50,000 worth of quarters if I had it.

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    • How humbling to be given this degree of honor from the most respected Recrap-o-logist on WP! That 9-quarter day at the laundromat as I tried to make my way from the washer to the drier, a substantial mound of a woman who usually practices laundromat etiquette, completely blocked my path, oblivious to anyone around her she was so absorbed in a book, she seemed in a trance. Yes, buddy, 50 Shades. And yes, I thought of you (and Hugo)!

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  17. I wasn’t nominated either. I didn’t even make the waiting list. As for numismatism, the only coins I’ve ever collected are bicentennial quarters and wheatie pennies. Otherwise I got nothing. So I live vicariously through your adventures, V.

    I wonder if the people at the Ansonia do their laundry at your laundromat. Probably not.

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  18. Sorry to hear that dear LA woman (cue Jim Morrison).. Pigeons are simply flying rats sans fur.

    But artists must suffer for their craft. I trust a Pulitzer is in your future if the MacArthur people don’t get a clue. Speaking of which a buddy of mine has win 2 Pulitzers. Maybe I could persuade him to part with one. He owes me.

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  19. That Ansonia building is magnificent. It looks like a leftover set piece from a Fritz Lang film.

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  20. Also, if a certain blogger were to receive the grant, you could just cash it out in quarters. I’m sure the American Samoa one would be in there somewhere.

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  21. You know, anyone who takes up the mandolin should get that $100K not for 5 years, but for life, just so they can prove to mom & dad that at least ONE mandolinist (my spell-check is telling me that’s not correct–mandolini? mandinar? manditti?–maybe spell-check doesn’t know what it’s talking about–I sure as hell don’t) lived a life worth living.

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    • Smak, I can see that this post also brought out the inspired thinker in you. You are onto something about this award illustrating to the folks at home the importance of staying the course with the mandolin.

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