Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Report of the Chuck Berry Geographical Society

When I started doing this blog I started to realize that I wasn't alone-- that there were others who suffered from Chuck Berry Syndrome.  It's not dangerous, and it's not in the DSM-IV, but it might be someday.  When I learned about Doug, Carmelo, Ida May, Jan, Stefano, Manuel, Ira, Jean, Judy, Karen, Peter K., Dominic and Enrique, I realized we were long lost brothers and sisters all touched and changed by the experience like the people in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."  That's why it was easy to book a long road trip to Memphis with someone I'd never met.  It's probably also the reason that Peter K., Dominic and I all are star gazers.  (When I theorized 12 year old Chuck Berry was looking at an eclipse through his telescope, Peter K. found the eclipse that passed through St. Louis that year.)

Well, yesterday he did it again.

One of my favorite website's is Andrew Sullivan's blog The Dish.  I like it for the politics and the point of view, but I also sort of like the feature "The View From Your Window," which is usually just a snapshot, but sometimes a contest.  In the contest they show a picture and let readers try to figure out where it is.

I never do the contest, but the day before yesterday I did.  It took about half an hour.  Here's my letter to some family members describing my weird efforts to identify the picture.

I never bother much with the “View from your window” contest on Andrew Sullivan’s website, but for some reason I was drawn into this picture.  It seemed like an easy one.

I felt like I could find a building you drive through.  First I googled things like “mansard roof drive through,” but that gets you lots of mansard roofs without drive throughs and, of all things, McDonald's (which, I’d never realized, had mansard roofs.)
Then I had a feeling.  I saw the skyscrapers and spire.  I typed “Budapest.”  I’d never been to Budapest, but it seemed worth a try.  But Budapest looks more like Florence, a low city by a river with one large dome.  Still, I felt I was on the right track.  If not Chicago, it had to be Eastern Europe.  So I typed “warsaw skyline” and got this.

You’ll admit now, I’m good-- that it is no accident I terrorized GM as a nameless paralegal.  But it couldn’t be this easy.  I decided to check what details were available and googled “warsaw parking sign.”  Here is the result.  If I’m not mistaken, one like it is in the original picture.

So I figured I was right.  (I’d also found a color we can label “Polish Yellow.)  I even sent in my entry.  But I decided it wasn’t enough.  I figured the building itself, the mansard roof with a drive through, was within a mile of that old spire.  So I found the spire on google maps.  It might be hard to see, but look for the shadow of the spire at the middle of the image.  

First I tried moving east and west and north of this spire, but I didn’t get anywhere.  Then I decided to find the thin skyscraper visible to the spire’s right in the original photo.  If you look to the upper left of this shot you’ll see just such a building, near the intersection of Emili Plater and SwOIUGHJBKJegeuybieic streets.  So the mansard drive through had to be to the east, or right, of the spire.
The next part was more painstaking, (but from beginning to end no more than 30 minutes-- maybe five for this part.)  And there it was.  A mansard with drive through, connecting to a flat topped rectangle.

You’ll note small details-- the patch of grass, the iron posts that line the sidewalk, The shot must have been taken from the building further east.
So-- if I don’t win for accuracy, surely I win for ingenuity.  Because if this isn’t the spot, I’ve found its twin.
And I’ve never been to Warsaw. 
Well, so much for my boasting.  Then I got an e-mail from Peter K. in Sweden.  So I sent him a link to the Sullivan blog and a challenge to find it within 24 hours, the deadline for the contest.  Peter is an internet sleuth of the first order.  If I were still practicing law I would hire him as my investigator.  I knew he could match me, or beat me.

30 MINUTES LATER he sent the answer, and unlike me, got down on the ground to prove it absolutely.  You can find his amazing result HERE!

What this tells, again, me is that there is some deeper genetic or spiritual kink that sends us down the Chuck Berry path.  We share more than a love for 'Go Johnny, Go!"

Sadly, neither Peter K. nor Peter O. were given the prize.  Others figured it out.  But our work on committee didn't stop.  The two of us put our bizarre skills to more important use, finding the spot where Chuck and friends were standing back in 1965.  That was easier-- more clues!  We sent e-mails back and forth, zeroing in in a matter of seconds.

Bet we see Peter and Family filling that spot soon.

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