Road trip with the boys!

October 25, 2012 • 1:48 pm

It’s fall in New England!

And what would be nicer than a ROAD TRIP across Massachusetts? Three bad boys, all heathens, took off from Cambridge, Massachusetts bound for the Moving Naturalism Forward conference in Stockbridge.  Sadly, unlike “Sweet Baby James,” the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston was covered not with snow, but with leaves. (Click to enlarge all photos.)

The picture above could be called “2.3 Horsemen” or, alternatively, “Two Horsemen and a Pony Boy.”

The boys lunched at Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou, a Cajun restaurant in Springfield, Mass.  Dan and I started off with fried oysters, which Richard, who has a delicate palate, eschewed:

Dan and I both had the specialty of the house, seafood and meat jambalaya:

My plate. It was very good, but not superb:

Richard opted for the pulled pork plate. We all had iced tea (Dan and I sweetened, Richard sans sucre):

Sated, we headed for our venue, the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. In front were two very large pumpkins:

The big tourist draw in Stockbridge is the Norman Rockwell Museum, so we headed there (the conference doesn’t start till tomorrow). Rockwell, whom you will remember if you’re of a certain age, was a painter of Americana, famous for his Saturday Evening Post covers. Here are photos I took of two of his more famous oil paintings, both turned into magazine covers.

Rockwell did not shy away from delicate subjects, including racial integration:

Rockwell’s most famous paintings are the series of “Four Freedoms” pictures he did in 1943. They went on tour later and helped sell Liberty Bonds during the war. The subjects are freedom from want, freedom of expression, freedom of worship, and freedom from fear (these are the freedoms President Franklin Roosevelt mentioned in his 1941 State of the Union Address as liberties everyone in the world should enjoy).

Both Dan and Richard wanted their pictures taken in front of (naturally) “Freedom of Expression,” depicting an average American guy speaking up at a New England town hall meeting, a bedrock symbol of American democracy.

Being a contrarian, I posed in front of “Freedom of Worship”:

To continue my series of self-portraits in art galleries, here’s mine in Rockwell’s studio, where he painted for the last years of his life (excuse my solipsism):

The conference, which goes through Sunday, starts tomorrow a.m. I’ll file interim reports and photos as time (and the organizer) allows.

95 thoughts on “Road trip with the boys!

  1. A cajun restaurant in Massachusetts? The horrors! Down here in LA, what I see in that picture would never pass for jambalaya. that looks like some very nice seafood served on top of rice. Jambalaya is a one pot dish, seasoned and cooked together, usually in a cast iron pot, often outdoors over an open flame.

  2. This would be a great reality show. Just saying.

    Although I’m kinda surprised you went for cajun cuisine rather than classic New England seafood (lobster/chowder etc.)

      1. Sure. I grew up just outside of Ipswich/Gloucester so I was pretty spoiled in that regard. Western Mass obviously wouldn’t have the same amount of quality seafood joints (which is like everywhere in the North Shore area) but it’s still just down the road from the source. Close enough that I would think restaurants could still get insanely fresh and delicious fish.

    1. Ohmygod! Brilliant! A reality show! If only there were some channel devoted to learning (a learning channel, if you will), or to arts and entertainment, where we could go to get erudite entertainment like that. “Next week on ‘The Three Wise Men,’ Dan, Richard, and JC head to Salem, and cause a stir.”

      I agree with Stooshie and others that the conversations would have been something to hear.

      Or was it Punch Buggy and State License Plates? 😉

  3. Mundify the epigastrium indeed. Fried oysters, done properly, are top shelf. Professor Dawkins looks skeptical. Can’t say that I blame him. Though it may just be the lighting, his plate looks like it warrants a little skepticism.

    My favorite way to eat oysters, very lightly steamed or grilled, on the half shell, a splash of vodka, a dollop of sour cream, then caviar, and topped with finely minced onion or shallot. Many places do something similar and call it “dirty oysters.” But they always leave out the vodka and that is what really sets it off.

    I hope you all have a wonderful time and I look forward to hearing more about this meeting.

    1. I think Oysters Rockwell would have been more appropriate…

      Er, sorry, I meant Oysters Rockefeller. Deeee-lish!!!

      Thoroughly enjoyable post, Professor Coyne. And dammit, now I’m hungry.

      1. I had an oyster party last week-end. We all came to the conclusion that the best way to eat oysters is to open them and eat them right away.

  4. Dear Dr. Coyne,   Any chance I can treat the three of you to dinner while you are in the Boston area? I would like to tell you about our atheist film project as well as pick your brains for input. I am a huge admirer of all of your work and in fact you all inspired me on my creative path. Plus, I am local so I know the best restaurants around.

      Fiction and film are an important medium for conveying science and ideas. Think about it, outside of the scientific community, how many people would you estimate know what a seismograph is? Just about everyone. Now how many of those people have actually been in a geologists lab? That is the power I am talking about and film has the power to convey and “stick” in a way like no other medium. We have exactly ZERO films that show atheism in a positive light and I aim to change that.   While there are numerous educational and doc style films portraying science and atheism in positive light, these do not resonate like fictional movie characters. Our goal is to make the first “Resonate Atheist” a kind of character that becomes a part of pop culture.   If you can squeeze me in to your schedule, please let me know.   Best regards, Dan Harkins   cell: 978-302-7078

  5. I think Jerry is a great replacement for Hitch in the Four Horsemen lineup! Looking forward to reports and videos from your meet-up! Say hello to Daniel and tell him that we miss him.

  6. Here’s part of Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech:

    Rockwell originally tried to have his works published by the government, but it had already employed other artists to portray the freedoms. — That’s when he went to the Saturday Evening Post, which accepted them straight away.

    The “Four Freedoms” had a profound impact when they first ran. Hibbs (editor) employed several writers including Will Durant and Stephen Vincent Benet to produce essays accompanying the freedom illustrations. The response to the pictures was overwhelming – over 25,000 people ordered sets of the color reproductions. More than 60,000 letters were directed towards Rocwkwell. Among them was one from Roosevelt:

    “They tell me that you made use of your neighbors at Arlington, Vermont as models of the intensly humand and very American people in the paintings. The roots of democracy run deep in Vermont, and in drawing upon the life about you, you have tapped those roots. This is the first pictorial representation I have seen of the staunchly American values contained in the rights of free speech and free worship, and our goals of freedom from fear and want.” – FDR

    The “Four Freedoms” also went on a tour around America in a traveling show called “The Second War Loan Drive” in hopes of encouraging people to buy war bonds (over $130 million was raised).

    I spent 8 months in high school specifically reaching the “Four Freedoms” for a documentary I was making. I certainly enjoy the “Four Freedoms”, but the thousands of other paintings I came across during my library stacks days left many indelible images in my mind.

    Here’s one of my favorites:

    Thanks for sharing Jerry.

    1. On a side note, Four Freedoms is also the title of an excellent novel by John Crowley about the liberating effect of wartime factory work on women, minorities, and the disabled.

  7. Now we’ve seen everything:
    JAC at worship, celebrating Mass!
    (Western Mass, at that.)

    About the giant pumpkin: would that be a Cucurbita maxima? (Not my fault if it translates as Massimo Pumpkin.)

  8. You poor atheists! I can only guess at the effort it took to pretend you were having an extremely enjoyable time, all the while knowing that life is just a series of random collisions of atoms; a completely meaningless, purposeless set of phenomena. To be able to “pull off” APPEARING to enjoy a nice plate of pulled pork while knowing that soon you will be nothing more than worm dirt, as there is no hope whatsoever for an afterlife, is an incredible act of will- I salute you! Excuse me now; I’m tearing up…

    1. Queue the Xtian fundies… Please, jeffrey, tell us about Pascal’s Wager! We never tire of hearing about that!

          1. The point of Poe’s Law is that without an emoticon (or some similar indication) it is impossible to tell. So someone who picks one way or the other has a 50% chance of being right. I’ll wager that if you took a poll of this particular incident about half of us will have “gotten it” and the other had not. It says a lot less about anyone’s sense of humor than it does about the nature of communication on the Internet.

    2. To be able to “pull off” APPEARING to enjoy a nice plate of pulled pork while knowing that soon you will be nothing more than worm dirt, as there is no hope whatsoever for an afterlife, is an incredible act of will- I salute you!

      Poe? Just in case:

      Yes, jeffrey, and I’m sure they appreciate your honest compliment. These are indeed strong-willed, energetic, and vastly intelligent men.

      Something you may not have encountered yet in your lazy, deluded circle of religious jerk-chickens and pork-pullers.

    3. Are you making a joke? I don’t think so, in which case I think you should frequent some other website.

        1. It is your responsibility as the author of the comment to express yourself so that your audience can understand your intended meaning.

          Jokes are fine but it is you that needs to figure out how to present them. Remember, that in real life there are a lot of physical clues that help express meaning that are not available to a reader of your comment on a website.

          1. I made the mistake of taking for granted that the utter absurdity of the “premise” in my comment (that of people bothering to pretend to be happy, when the photos show unmistakeably happy people) would be clue enough for the reader that it was a spoof. I’ll try to be more obvious in the future and I realize now that some fundies are so crazy that Jerry has probably received equally absurd messages that were sent in all sincerity. I apologize for any confusion.

      1. I certainly read it as a joke, though admittedly I’m something of an anti-Sheldon in that I tend to think everything is sarcasm/irony.

        I mean, surely it can’t have been written by an Xtian as there are no grammatical or typographical errors?

        1. Me too. I was surprised then to come to all the posts that took it seriously. Seemed to me the last sentence was at least the equivalent of a winky emoticon…

    4. Given that soon we will all be nothing more than worm dirt – I say that is a good reason to enjoy the pulled pork while you can

    5. What is so bad about worm dirt anyway? I already am worm dirt – as Richard D points out in his Channel 4 series, the cells wich made you are constantly dying & being replenished so each time that you shed skin or evacuate your bowels you send more of yourself to be ‘worm dirt’. We are transient beings in transient shells WITHOUT souls. Why is that anything but good?

        1. Oh, yes, I do remember seeing that one, but am more than happy to be reminded of it. It shows up a lot less often than the Freedoms do!

          If ever a picture were worth a thousand words . . .

  9. Ha! You lucky duck. Looks like the three of you had a pretty good time (although Richard seems like he’s looking a little askance at his lunch!)

    Thanks for sharing those pictures!

  10. . . . I suggest the FIVE horsemen: Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Coyne, and Lawrence Krauss! Who’s with me on this?

      1. Well as far as the outspoken atheist who gets under the skin of the faithful, I think PZ deserves at least one horse. Though Krauss is great too.

        1. I thought of PZ as well. I didn’t want the group too big is one reason I didn’t go further. So I had to make a choice. I like Krauss’s red sneakers! 🙂

  11. Those of us who have Dennett’s confessional essay Where Am I? know that’s not Dennett’s original body. His original body died in the late seventies. You were dining with “Fortinbras”, his replacement body. Dan’s brain, Which he calls “Yorrick”, is in a vat at the Johnson Space Center and has a 50% chance of being in remote control of that body, the other half of the time it might be controlled by a computer called “Hubert”.

    Does this sound bizarre? Dennett himself said this is all true.

  12. Came for the religion and science posts, stayed for the food!

    A turn of phrase, of course, as there wasn’t going to be a way I was leaving, but seriously Jerry, your food posts are spot on. Very enjoyable for an amateur chef/bartender/cocktail and wine enthusiast such as myself. I love to see someone have a good time with the comestibles.
    Thanks for updating us!

  13. How do you get a pumpkin to grow SO massive??? Also-
    What is the wild pumpkin like?
    Is it tastier?
    Where does it originate?

    OK I suppose I should look it up!

  14. If you get to the Berkshires you MUST check out Fiori. The Federal in Agawam is quite good and Helmund in Cambrige is the best dining experience I ever had.

  15. Jerry,

    OK, so the latest boy band is on the the road. What I want to know is do you get recognised and asked for autographs in restaurants and other public places away from your destination venues?

  16. Why don’t you stop by Sudbury on your way back to Boston?
    Red Lion Inn is very nice and I loved the Rockwell Museum. Nice pics!

  17. Dan who?
    [Follows links.]
    Ah, Dennett. Philosopher. Which would explain why I don’t recognise him. Not someone I’m likelyt to bump into in my normal round of peregrinations.

    1. Dan Dennett. Author of Consciousness Explained, Darwins Dangerous Idea, Breaking the Spell to name but a few good books. Probably founder of the Clergy Project — at least he was involved in the original research.

      Philosopher is correct but doesn’t quite cover his range of interests.


      1. He’s awesomely smart and articulate about nearly everything, and a really nice guy (although a formidable foe). It was a real pleasure driving with him and Richard to Stockbridge; they both gave me lots of good advice about my book.

        Tomorrow I’ll have to cross swords with Dan about free will (he’s a compatibilist; I’m not), and of course I’m a bit apprehensive!

  18. “Freedom of Worship.” Jerry really gets it. The open hands have to touch and press against one another. More intense supplications involve intertwined fingers and mutual squeezing. Oh Please Sir. How well I recall.

  19. Ok, now. The really important question. Which one of you bad boys picked up the check? Enquiring minds want to know.

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