Archive for the ‘A New Chapter’ Category

CHAPTER 9: Alabama

January 6, 2010

The blogging medium really doesn’t lend itself to earnestness, to stories of cultural exchange in its most basic form.  Alexi and I arrived in Cecil, AL (a small town just outside of Montgomery) after a 12 hour, nearly-nonstop drive from Miami.  That night, we were staying with the Terrell’s.   They welcomed us into their home and cooked us so many meat-filled feasts. Lamb one night, deer the next, and ham, eggs, grits and biscuits for breakfast.  They questioned us about Greek culture, about New York, about Jews.  We asked them about confederate flags on state houses and hunting.  Our evenings spent with the Terrell’s remind me of those Greek myths where travelers are hosted by strangers, given food and bed, and exchange tales.  It’s a kind of travel lost in our day because, you know, we’re scared of psychokillers.  Odd that the internet should bring it back.  At this point I must give a ringing endorsement.

We spent a day exploring Montgomery with Shawn, the Terrell son.  The civil rights monument stands a couple of blocks from the original White House of the Confederacy, where Jefferson Davis lived for the beginning of his presidency.  In front of the contemporary state house stands a statue of Davis and a statue of “the father of modern gynecology.”   We ate BBQ for lunch.  We walked on the waterfront, by the mighty Alabama river, we drove through the rich neighborhoods, we drove through the poor neighborhoods.
But honestly, compared with venison feasts and good conversation, touring the town got nothing.

CHAPTER 8: Miami and Ft. Lauderdale

December 6, 2009

I’ve made it to Miami, where I’ll probably stay for the rest of December.  Can’t go wrong with 80 degree weather.

I’m staying with my grandparents in Ft. Lauderdale, which is 30 mins to an hour (depending on traffic) outside of Miami.  I commute in for work.

The Art Basel festival is on this week in Miami.  It’s an international art festival that hosts a week long event each year in France, New York, and Miami.  My favorite piece is The Grand Finale. For this piece the artist, Karmelo Bermejo, lit the word “Recession” on fire.  I mostly like it for the description that accompanies it.  I quote: “By constructing the word ‘Recession’, the work introduces an anomaly in the ostentation of the fireworks, intended by the artist to act as a cathartic moment in the current situation created by the world-wide economic crisis.”  Basically, I think the artist is saying that this recession is bull shit.

CHAPTER 7: Savannah

December 6, 2009

Went to Savannah.  Sofie, the Tunisian fellow who partook in our Hostel Thanksgiving, joined me for the trip.  We spent most of the four-hour car ride talking US politics.  Tunisia is an African country with tremendous European influence.  Like every non-American I’ve talked to recently, he was pro-universal healthcare.

Savannah is a gorgeous city.  Google image search it or go there.

We stayed with a fellow named Al, who we connected with through  Al is an IT guy and, as he puts it on his couchsurfing profile, “a victim of the new economy.”  Despite his unemployment struggles, he was very hospitable.  The political talk continued with him. He is embarrassed by George Bush and supports a single-payer health care system.  But he is also a big fan of Ayn Rand.  And he asked me if I’m one of those people who are offended by the sight of guns.  I said I didn’t think so.  He said great, and pulled the handgun that had been digging into his hip out of his pants.

CHAPTER 6: Atlanta

November 28, 2009

I’m falling behind in this whole blogging thing.  I’m not in South Carolina anymore, and I haven’t been for a week.  So, once again fair readers, I’m sorry.  Judging by the stats on my page views, you’ve sufficiently punished me for my silence.

Anyhow, I’m in Atlanta.  My time here began typically enough: I befriended a couple of Danes and chased Rockettes at the bar next to the Fox Theater.  “Chased” is probably too strong a word.  “Discussed the differences between American and Danish culture while Rockettes danced next door” might be more accurate.

CHAPTER 5: Columbia, SC

November 22, 2009
Definitely not in New York anymore…

Columbia State House. Low Library?



Strom Thurmond

CHAPTER 4: Nashville

November 20, 2009

In many ways one way Nashville is like New York because everyone is trying to be somebody, but who they are trying to be is a country musician.

If you have suicidal tendencies and you are in Nashville, go to Monell’s.  There, dinner is served family style, but it’s more like a Jonestown-Kool-Aid family than any family I have ever been a part of.  The singular warning we had was “go easy on the salads.”  I did my best, but even after going easy on the salads, and on everything else they put in front of me, I still packed down a pound of food within 5 minutes of my arrival.  I continued at this rate for another 15 minutes, forming deep bonds with everyone at the table because, after all, this was The Last Supper.  Finally, I came to my senses: my death was imminent and I had to stop.  Then I realized I hadn’t tried the banana pudding…

No wonder people are fat.

New York friends: if I told you the cost of this meal, you’d be the ones having the heart attack.

After dinner we were actually high on food.  Unless there was drugs in the food which is extremely likely.  Then we were high on the drugs in the food.  The point is: we were high.

So naturally we went to the “Carnegie Hall of Country Music,” as some travel guide I read described the Bluebird Cafe.  We saw Robbie Fulks, who made sitting in silence (silence is Bluebird Cafe audience policy) entirely bearable because he was hilarious.  Some Fulks-ian wisdom: “The world is full of pretty girls, and pretty girls are full of themselves, too.”

The next day I went to the Parthenon.  There’s a Parthenon in Nashville which is more Parthenon than the Parthenon because it houses a giant statue of Athena which is a recreation of a statue supposed to have once existed in the actual Parthenon.  Photos below.

PS Good to eat and die with you Kris, and good to meet your coworkers.  Say hi to NYC for me.

CHAPTER 3: Driving to Nashville

November 16, 2009

10 hour drive from DC to Nashville through a change of time zones and Virginia.  Longest solo drive of my life.  Stopped at a gas station where a Roanoke lady pointed out my thick hair and then told me that her grandad on the Connor side kept his hair all his life, but not the one on the Smith side.  I have left New York.

CHAPTER 2: Washington DC

November 16, 2009

So I spent a week in Washington.  There, I bounced from a hostel bed, to a couch at the place where MaryAlice was herself crashing, to Melissa’s floor.  I know, in real life, when you introduce or mention people you are supposed to contextualize them, but I’m not quite sure how it works on the internet (maybe I should hyperlink their Facebook pages?) so I’ll do nothing.

There, I worked for the Human Rights Campaign, the nations largest GLBT civil rights group.  Have you ever raised a grand by standing on the street for 5 hours?  Until Friday the 13th of November 2009, I hadn’t either.

Which reminds me, I’m the most homeless person that I know: I don’t have a home and I stand on the street and ask people for money.

DC was very DC in that I went out with MaryAlice’s DoJ coworkers and felt like I was participating in the American project.

CHAPTER 1: Philadelphia

November 16, 2009

My phirst day in Philadelphia I was told that “city of brotherly love” is meant sarcastically.

Phor me, Philalelphia was dominated by work, the Phillies, and Monopoly©.

Work was good.  I was phundraising for PennEnvironment.  The office directors are brand new, so I was more or less the most senior employee while I was there.  The office is a bit of a mess because the new-ness of the directors and the lack of other staff, so to help out, I stayed a week longer than I planned.  This was good for the campaign, but bad for me because that week was disrupted by rain, sickness, and a transit strike.  What I learned while working in Philly:  Philadelphians are more trusting than New Yorkers, but less rich.

The evenings when there was a baseball game were spent, naturally, watching that game.  Phillies v. Yankees World Series.  It wasn’t until this summer that I actually embraced and admitted that I am a Yankees phan.  Poor timing.  Part of me wanted the Phillies to win so I could help the riots and knock over a bus like they did last year.  But, of course, I was rooting for the Yankees and so I had to keep my mouth shut and phear phor my liphe.   Here is a message to you Philadelphia: your citizens would be more attractive iph they occasionally wore something other than a sports jersey.

When I wasn’t watching baseball or working, I was usually playing Monopoly©.  Now that I think about it, what a good way to start an American journey: baseball, work, and capitalism.

PS:  Steve and Aidan who hosted me for the vast majority of my time in Philly are beautiphul