Category Archives: travel

The News Is Different When You’re On Vacation

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Somewhere not too far from where the above photo was taken there is an organic olive oil farm for sale. Cheap, too, as these things go — under $1 million. In my dreams I win the lottery and say goodbye to Nashville and start my organic olive oil operation, all sustainable, off-grid, and solar-powered.

I know a lot of you will see this picture and think, “Ick. Too scorched.” This is the landscape I grew up with, though, and to me it’s the prettiest place on earth. And if the nation is going to get embroiled in another military adventure in the Middle East, what better place to hole up than an organic, sustainable, off-grid, solar-powered olive oil ranch? Y’all come. Harvest is in November. Democommie, you can even bring Buddy.

So, I don’t confess to be any genius about Syria, or what Russia and China have to do with it, or any of the larger issues involved. I don’t have a private Joint Chiefs to advise me. I am reflexively anti-war, but I trust President Obama in a way that I didn’t trust President Bush, in part because of the massive Neocon-War-Machine-Halliburton-Blackwater-Big Oil rip-off behind the Bush-Cheney-Rummy cabal. That said, I remain reflexively anti-war, always.

As I sip my chardonnay from a vacation la-la land, I have to say: watching the war dialogue this time — a tad more than 10 years after the Iraq invasion — is an amazing thing to see. Remember when the media lost its collective mind? Remember when we were told, ad nauseum, that Saddam Hussein “gassed his own people”, and so an invasion was justified? Remember when not supporting/trusting the president’s war judgement was tantamount to treason? My, what some distance from 9/11 brings.

I heard today that Britain’s Parliament has voted against military involvement in Syria. Are we going to dump English breakfast tea in the gutters? Will English muffins be renamed “Freedom Muffins” in the Congressional cafeteria? No? Why not?

Just curious: is this reticence to rush to war because we’ve learned some lessons after the Iraq debacle? Or is this just more reflexive If-Obama-Wants-It-We’re-Against-It stuff from the GOP?

These are interesting times, indeed. The United States is now a major oil producer, for the first time in decades. It’s safe to say, oil embargoes are not the threat they once were. Surely that plays into the mix, yes?

I am reflexively anti-war, always. I’m also on vacation and haven’t been watching the news 24/7 as I usually do. From the snippets I’ve received, I’m not hearing “let’s invade/occupy” from the President. I’m hearing, “let’s take action.” I’d like to know more what that means.

I’m also hearing more questioning than I heard in the run-up to Iraq. I’m seeing a news media behave a tad more responsibly. I observe these things and am glad that we’re not so gung-ho for war, but really questioning the motives behind all of it.

I probably shouldn’t look these gift horses in the mouth. I probably should retire to my olive ranch and just breathe deep and go about my business.

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Filed under peace, travel, war economy, War On Terror

Every Photo Is A Metaphor

Saw this yesterday on our way back from our day on Santa Cruz Island:

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Infowars is that loon Alex Jones’ group. Like the Ron Paulites, Jones’ followers are nothing if not energetic. I see these bumper stickers plastered over utility poles and road signs all over Nashville. How interesting that way out here in Southern California you have the same loons with way too much time on their hands and a love of public rights-of-way. Then again, “tinfoil hate” is a national disease.

I’m not sure that this particular utility pole with all of the “DON’T” signage was the best place to spread their message, however. The message I get is, If you’re tempted to explore any of Alex Jones’ bizarre-o world ideas, don’t.

You know this conspiracy disease has jumped the shark when Donald Trump, that purveyor of the ludicrous, becomes the brand’s most visible spokesloon. This morning we’re enjoying our morning coffee, watching the news, when along comes Donald Trump, newly charged with fraud by the New York Attorney General. It’s all a big conspiracy, see! A “mini-IRS,” he says, pointing to the fact that AG Eric Schneiderman had lunch with President Obama and later that same day the charges are filed! Sure, ’cause we all know fraud cases are put together in a matter of minutes.

/sarcasm.

Darrell Issa’s House hearings start in 5… 4… 3…

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Filed under conspiracies, conspiracy theory, Donald Trump, travel

Where In The World Is Southern Beale?

It took a plane, a car, a boat and a pair of hiking boots to end up at a place this isolated, with water this clear and a sky this blue:

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Did you ever imagine a place this beautiful could be part of the United States? I’m still dazzled by all the different shades of blue I saw today.

Well, I’m off to find a margarita, maybe some fish tacos … How did you spend your weekend?

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Filed under travel

Maybe Dude Needs To Chill Out Just A Bit

People, is there any show on NPR more insufferable than “Marketplace”? I think not.

Every time it comes on the radio I want to cringe. Last night on the way to dinner we heard this report about a possible change in FAA rules regulating use of electronic devices on airplanes. Let me begin by saying, I don’t think anyone buys the BS that turning your iPad or laptop on will interfere with a plane’s electronics. If that were the case, the FAA would ban all electronics in the cabin and Al Qaeda wouldn’t have used guys with box cutters on 9/11.

But regardless, there’s word that the FAA may change the rules and allow you to keep your electronic devices on during takeoff and landing. To which this special snowflake responded:

The news brings a smile to Henry Feintuch, who really doesn’t like getting on airplanes right now. “It makes me feel out of control, insignificant, and frustrated and angry, frankly,” he says.

Feintuch runs a New York public relations firm. But with clients all over, he flies two or three times a month. He says staying plugged in during taxing, takeoffs and landings, could mean salvaging a business meeting with a quick text.

“Tell them the answer is yes,” he says. “Or ‘no problem, we’ll go that way.’” But by not being able to communicate that, I’m out of the loop,” he says.

Oh, my. Dude, if you feel “out of control, insignificant, frustrated and angry” because you can’t send a text for 15 minutes maybe you need to take a pill. Or a vacation. And if your business is so precarious that not sending a text scuttles a deal, please rethink your business model.

I swear to God, the overarching sense of self-importance in our business class is truly painful to endure. Get over your damn selves, please.

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Filed under Media, NPR, travel

The Fall Of France

Sorry I’ve been neglecting the blog lately; I’m really busy this week and don’t know when I’ll be able to get my head back in the game. So in the meantime, here’s an old photo I found from my last trip to France. It was in 2000, and I’d gone to Paris and the south of France with my sister. One of our stops was Grasse, a town known as France’s perfume capital. Of course we visited a few perfumeries, including the famous Parfumerie Fragonard. Along the way I took this picture:

Grasse, France002

Ah, American culture. We are inescapable. At least you can order wine at a French McDonald’s! But seriously, anyone eating at a McDonald’s in France should relinquish their passport immediately.

I’ve been to the south of France many times. Forget the glitzy reputation, the area is filled with lovely little villages carved into the hills overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s picturesque and peaceful; no wonder artists like Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse were drawn to the area. I remember eating lunch at a restaurant in Vence and the walls were decorated with actual Matisse paintings; it was like dining in a museum.

Anyway, don’t know when I’ll be able to travel this year, but I’d love to go back to France. It’s been too long.

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Filed under travel

Travel Blogging v.2

Another image of subway graffiti:

NYC Subway Graffiti, 53rd & Lex

NYC Subway Graffiti, 53rd & Lex

I remember back in the ’80s when the New York City subways were covered in graffiti. The cars in particular were like works of art, covered from stem to stern with brightly colored tags and graffiti art. You don’t see that anymore.

We’re home now. Air travel remains the usual exercise in dehumanization and authoritarian oppression. I still eagerly await the day when I can walk to my gate without taking my fucking shoes off.

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Filed under graffiti, travel

Travel Blogging

Subway graffiti, New York City, 103rd Street Station:

The Time Is Now

The Time Is Now

I love this. “The time is now,” but that message could have been scrawled months, even years ago. The writer could have been a Tea Partier or socialist, we don’t know. But it doesn’t matter. The time is always now to march on D.C.

LOL.

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Filed under graffiti, travel

Last Time I Was In Portland

It was the summer of 1980 and I was visiting a college friend who was working on John Anderson’s campaign. All I remember about Portland, Oregon was that the place was covered with ash because Mount St. Helen’s had just errupted. That, and the rose garden. That’s it.

Okay, so here I am back in Portland 30+ years later and let me say, it’s a weird place. A very odd rendezvous of hipster-cool and professional homelessness. Everyone in this city seems to be under 30, and they’re either annoyingly hip or lying in a bedroll in the bushes. There is very little in between.

Tonight at dinner I watched a “homeless” couple arrive at their street corner, unroll the bedroll, put out the dog like a prop, then unfurl a sign which read: “Hoping For A Cheeseburger.” After about an hour and a half, the lady in the party disappeared, only to return with a bag of sandwiches. They then picked up the dog and the bedroll and repaired to a shady spot beneath a tree, where they enjoyed their dinner break. There was something so perfunctory about the whole business, as if this was their job, which I guess in a manner of speaking it was. It was a complete 180 from the previous evening, where we enjoyed cocktails at a rooftop bar so hopelessly hip and cool, there was an actual stampede of black-clad 20-somethings trying to grab a seat when the doors opened at 4 pm.

I’m sorry if you live here and I’ve offended you. I just find this city incredibly strange. I don’t think I’d want to live here. But I will say this: we’ve had gorgeous weather, enjoyed the art museum, and ate a lot of really excellent meals. The city is clean and the public transit is efficient. So there’s a lot going for it.

A booth at the Saturday Market:

Hipster Hats For Sale

A homeless camp at the entrance to Chinatown:

A Fence Of Doors

At the Japanese Garden:

Peace In The City

How uncool of me to act the tourist and take pictures from Portland’s hippest rooftop bar! Oh well, sue me:

A River Runs Through It

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Filed under travel

Another Metaphor

Clatsop County, OR, Republican Party Headquarters

Yeah, that’s a flat Mitt Romney in the window. Mr. Cellophane himself.

[UPDATE]:

Today’s required reading.

Discuss in comments. Off to be a tourist for our last day of vacation. Be good.

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Filed under 2012 presidential election, travel

This Land

Our ribbon of highway hit a few bumps ….

… so we roamed and rambled a road less traveled …

… from the Redwood Forest …

… to the Gulf Stream Waters … (well … almost! I’m still boycotting Florida!)

… the sun was shining …

.. and a voice came chanting …

This land was made for you and me!

And the final verse of that song which we didn’t sing in summer camp:

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.

I always thought that Woody Guthrie wrote that song during the height of the Great Depression, but wikipedia tells me no, the lyrics were written in 1940 and the song recorded in 1944. That’s at the height of the World War II, a time when we’re all trained to believe the entire nation was uniformly pro-war, pro-America, the “greatest generation” of patriots sacrificing for the cause of freedom, etc. That Guthrie would record such a cynical message in 1944 (or be allowed to record it, I should say) is amazing to me.

It’s also interesting that the song went on to become such an iconic American tune, though I concede it’s primarily the first two politically correct verses which have been seared into the national consciousness and I suspect that all came later during the ’60s folk revival, anyway.

Still, this reminds me of the distorted view of history we all have.

More travels tomorrow ….

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Filed under music, music and politics, travel