Sunday, March 23, 2008


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday we went to Charles Towne Landing, a famous Charleston attraction, where they used to have a lot of alligators in a kind of fetid pond with a walkway with plexiglass walls over them. This is where, notably, small A, about 3, stopped dead in the middle of the walkway and shrieked at the top of her lungs "ADDIGATOR! ADDIGATOR! ADDIGATOR EAT ME!" which is one of those parenting moments you never, somehow, forget. I hadn't been to Charles Towne Landing since, really, although I think I did maybe make one visit when young M was very small as well.

I used to go there a lot when A was little, for obvious reasons, and then I used to go there a lot as a teenager for less obvious ones, most notably that there were lots of private wooded areas where teenagers could indulge in recreational herbalism and then, herbalism indulged, there was a lot of really fucking weird ass shit to look at. Even then, Charles Towne Landing always struck me as one of those parks where the intentions were good but the money ran out much faster than any of the planners had anticipated. In those days they had a strange underground pavilion with state of the art broken technology in the shape of weird tubes that you were supposed to stand in and somehow learn about the founding of Our Holy City. They were excellent for standing in and yelling to your friends across the sunken, half lit, freakishly inexplicable space. There was a rotting boat and a palisade of pilings and then, best of all, the animal village, where you walked through exhibits of animals native to South Carolina in 1670. The exhibits, kindly, tried so hard to give the animals natural habitat in limited space that you never saw half of them. To this day I have yet to see the puma. I think they're lying about the puma, actually, and also, unless that's a miniature elk, hidden under a leaf, it's still missing too. And sometimes, desperate for money, they would show movies in their sad cafe. I went to see Gone With the Wind there once with my friend H.

Charles Towne Landing has changed in some ways - they have a really nice visitor center now, all wood and smoky glass and a gifte shoppe with plastic bears and wooden muskets and blue glasses with the SC state flag on them in gold. But the animal village is still pretty much the same - except for the alligators. Apparently Hurricane Hugo played havoc with the animal village and the alligators got loose. Still lacking money or just not caring, whatever, the decision was apparently made to just let the alligators roam. Which they are doing in fine style. I can just imagine a beleaguered, underpaid curator throwing up his hands and saying, "Fuck it. Let the alligators go free!"

It's pretty cool, actually, to be walking along the History Path, which has helpful signs and nifty exhibits of archaeological digs and a replica settlers cabin complete with squirrel pelts and drying sage and come across an alligator sunning himself by the edge of the marsh. I'm sort of surprised, given the number of tourists with small dogs and children, that there hasn't yet been a tragic encounter, but, so far so good. M says that alligators won't attack humans because they think we're bigger than we actually are, since we're tall, compared to alligators, and, apparently, alligators are, ya know, ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, so they think we have back legs. Either that, or, what I think is much more likely , being as they are a very old lifeform, in the depths of their vestigial genetic memory, they look at us, return to the Golden Age and think, centaur.

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