A quick note of thanks to Aidil, Barry, Chuck, Melissa and Michael for holding down the fort while I've been away. I'm back in town now, fighting off jet lag and the drive back through the maze of sprawl that separates the Bull City from Washington Dulles. Nothing like the "I-85 - Atlanta - Durham" sign south of Richmond to tell you you're coming home.
It was an interesting return flight to the states -- no less so for the rather absurd 'welcoming' experience one now encounters when making it through immigration and customs at the airport. It was my first time traveling overseas since 9/11, and at Dulles at least, the gummint's gone out of its way with a splashy video meant to display just about every possible ethnicity and region of the U.S., with shiny happy citizens telling you, "Welcome to America!"
They're followed in this looping production by two fake newscasters, grinning ear-to-ear, telling you that getting into the US is as easy as 1-2-3. Of course, it then turns out that each of these steps is a byzantine stream of regulations and checkpoints that include, for many foreign visitors, being fingerprinted and photographed. And don't screw up your declarations, the ridiculously happy actors remind you, or you could be banned from entering the US for several years. It was a scene out of a Neal Stephenson novel, only far less funny.
Always nice to see what's changed around the Bull City, though, even in just a week. The train overpass at Gregson St., amusingly, has a new, bolder "OVERSIZE TRUCK WARNING" flasher, that I'm sure will deter trucks from bopping it for another year or so, when the bridge is due for another collision anyway. West Village has new marketing posted, a sign of the imminent lease-up due the facility.
And, of course, the trees in urban neighborhoods like Trinity Park continue to increasingly look like extras in a Tim Burton flick -- though neither this nor the housing crisis seem to be slowing the pace of renovation and new construction in our neighborhood, where the new houses on Norton St. and the south TP renovations are busily continuing apace with full-on work crews.
A note of thanks to the commenter who suggested Khan's as a place for curry in London -- a fantastic suggestion. Still digesting the other thoughts that have happened here and in the funny papers while I've been away; regular coverage here at BCR starts back up tomorrow.