Monday, July 21, 2008

A Terrib(ly Perplexing) Experience: Museum of Jurassic Technology

In early May, I found a dead bird on my back porch.

Naturally, I Googled the circumstance to see if it portended terrible things to come. All interweb forums pointed to "yes." And if the subsequent three months of my life were submitted as evidence they, too, would support this verdict.

But fear not, dear readers. I think I've found a way to reverse my ill fortune:

All I need to do is find a baby. And spit on it.

This, according to the superstitions exhibit at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a place full of dioramas, optical illusions and broken Rube Goldberg contraptions. Where I also learned:

  • Mouse pie will cure stammering.
  • A baby's caul (you know, the fetal membrane covering the head at birth) will give you second sight. Especially if it's your own, and you carry it with you in a small box til the day you die.
  • If one of the groom's shoes is untied at the wedding ceremony, he will have the power to loosen the "virgin zone."
Imagine yourself among all this and then add a soundtrack of elegiac classical music, operatic singing, thunder, lightning, and tortured screams, wafting from various exhibits and mingling together into a sonic cocktail of foreboding and unease. It's like a children's museum commissioned by the Dharma Initiative.

Other intriguing, if unsettling exhibits include:

  • Painted portraits of all of the dogs that have died in space.
  • Failed dice.
  • Cat's Cradle how-to holograms (Accompanied by recordings of women speaking in tongues.)
And, of great personal interest:
  • Dioramas of history's most notable Trailer Homes (complete with the requisite car-on-blocks)
Thankfully, the staff is humane enough to offer complimentary tea and cookies on the top floor. All of that befuddlement will wreak havoc on your blood sugar.


Sunday, July 13, 2008


Electron blue Fender Stratocaster with a rosewood fretboard, two single-coil pick ups and a humbucker. Hecho en Mexico.

(Photo by Jed Johnson)

New posts coming soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spontaneously in Seattle (Part 2)

After Saturday's chance encounter with culinary arts blogger Carina Ziegler, I added Issaquah's Tiger Mountain to my Sunday itinerary. I was committed to checking out Snoqualmie Falls for Emilio's sake, but since Issaquah was on the way (and, admittedly, I kind of wanted to check it out anyhow), I rallied around 9:30 a.m. and headed east on I-90 with hope of making it to both. I did, and I was not prepared for what awaited me.

The Tiger Mountain hike was unreal.



In a secret garden, enchanted magical forest sort of way. (THANK YOU, CARINA!)

Surely, if only I'd ingested the slightest amount of hallucinogens, secrets of the ancient forest would have spilled forth from the woods.

I think these characters, in particular, would have had a lot to share:




Unfortunately, I only had a granola bar, and my id did not burst forth from my messenger bag.

Drugs would have been redundant, though, at the top of the mountain, where the scene was effectively psychedelic. Submerged in cloud, the summit was silent save for eerie, other-worldly birdsong, the soft patter of rain, and the squelch of my shoes in the mud.


The trail at the summit.

View from the top: Cloudy, with a chance of trees.

Oh -- the mud.

For some reason, I thought my Chucks would suffice:


And the only thing worse than climbing up a muddy mountain in Chucks? Climbing down a muddy mountain in Chucks.


I hastened my descent after the fall, begging a group of lovely ladies for some band-aids along the way ("We don't have any, sorry," they replied. "Which is pretty pathetic for three doctors and a nurse.")

But I did stop to befriend a snail:


Out of the woods, my first order of business was tending to my wounds, so I stopped at a Shell and bought some band-aids from Dave, who suggested I check out the Rollin' Log Tavern across the street. Note taken.

But first: food.

I walked my bandaged hands over to the Issaquah Brewhouse and ordered the Kobe Blue Balls sandwich, a blue-cheese stuffed Kobe meatball sandwich on a marina-smothered hoagie bun. With potato chips and a pickle spear. Ohhh, it was Epic.

I met a man at the bar named G, a cuddly tattooed fellow who had just initiated a divorce from his wife of 5 years. He confessed that I was the first person he'd told; better to start with me, a total stranger, than with family and friends. We bonded over the difficulties of ending long term relationships over some Rogue Dead Guy Ale (very tasty).

Time for Snoqualmie Falls, another 20 minutes east of Issaquah. The falls were truly awe-inspiring:



My recommenders had warned that the Falls would be crowded, but they neglected to mention that it's also the site of a power plant (!)


Glorious nature.


Tranquil countryside.

Machinery aside, I did manage to capture this tender moment:

How. Adorable.

There were no discernable trails at Snoqualmie Falls, save for a super jam-packed .5 mile hike to the river. (Which made me all the more grateful for Carina's stellar recommendation.)


Frustrated, I asked the cashier at the gift shop if she knew of any good hikes nearby, and she gave me four slips of paper with cryptic directions to surrounding trailheads. I settled on Twin Falls, off I-90 exit 34.


Tiger Mountain had plenty of tranquil forest, but no fresh water. Snoqualmie Falls had plenty of fresh water, but no tranquil forest.

Twin Falls, though, was just right.

And I finally had that moment I was looking for.

Some pictures:


Water source.


Bottom half of the falls.


Top half of the falls.


Another friendly slug.



The sun was setting by the time I left Twin Falls, and I was wet, muddy, stinky, and still bleeding from my morning tumble. So what to do? Why, head back to Issaquah for a beer at the Rollin' Log Tavern.

I enjoyed a Rogue American Amber and a basket of transcendently greasy fish and chips at the Rollin' Log, where I was tended to by a lovely mother-daughter team (Dixie and Heather, respectively).
When Shell station Dave had recommended the place earlier in the day, he said the Rollin' Log Tavern was " pretty much as good as it gets." I have to concur. The place is the holiest of dives: a nice arcade selection (bowling, Golden Tee, off-road racing), two pool tables, darts, a shuffle board, loud TVs, fried food, a hot nut bar, free popcorn, chewing gum and pork rinds and single-serving aspirin for sale behind the bar. Hospitable, close-knit, local clientele. I was tired, really tired, and I knew I should've gotten back on the road after the first beer. But I couldn't leave. In fact, I sort of wanted to die there.

Dixie recommended the Hefewiezen, and after Heather gave me a free sample, I relented, and stayed for one last beer and a conversation with Issaquah native Sharon and LA-bred Dave. I promised I'd look them up the next time I was in Issaquah (Soon, I hope. It's truly a gorgeous place).

Relunctantly, I walked back to the Sebring, passing another great looking bar along the way (H&H saloon, where several folks were singing along to one patron's acoustic rendition of a country-western song), and headed north for the final stop of the trip: Walgreen's, to replace a toothbrush I'd managed to knock into the Holiday Inn toilet (yup).

Outside the pharmacy, I was apologetically approached by a young man who had just gotten out of the emergency room for a kidney infection and "didn't want to be a bum," but just needed five more dollars to get his meds. So I bought the toothbrush, and gave him 5 of my $20 cash-back. He hugged me, and assured, "you've got great karma coming to you."

I hope so, and if it's true, I'd like to pass it along to Emilio, Debbie, the novelty store guys, Rachel and Eric, Denny, Carina and Sean, Shell Station Dave, G, Dixie and Heather, and Sharon and Dave for their help in shaping an extraordinary Memorial Day adventure. GOD BLESS YOU, CITIZENS OF AMERICA!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spontaneously in Seattle (Part 1)

As 2008 unraveled and I imagined what lay ahead, I forsaw myself spending Memorial Day weekend in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, as May approached, a vacation didn't seem to be in the proverbial cards. Until my employer's tech team announced plans to"to upgrade the network" and give our Internet-less staff Friday off. And Wells Fargo blessed my Visa with 2% APR till 2009. And Priceline hooked it up, hard style. So, two days before the holiday weekend, I booked a vacation package to Seattle.

Out of respect for this auspicious turn of events, I decided to leave the particulars of my journey up to chance and let the recommendations of strangers guide what I'd eat, drink, see and do over the weekend.

After checking into the Seatac Holiday Inn, I began my journey at Sharp's Roaster & Alehouse, a Chotchkie's-esque BBQ joint with a fine selection of draft beer and a gigantic, cocktail-emblazoned carnival wheel, spun by the bartenders every half hour to determine the drink special for the next 30 minutes. I sat at the bar between Debbie, a real estate agent from San Juan Island, and Emilio, a cruise ship staffer from Seattle, who recommended -- over hot, gooey cornbread, barbeque chicken and Mac & Jack's African Amber -- that I start Saturday off at the Pike Place Market and head out to Snoqualmie Falls on Sunday.

Several others had recommended Pike Place Market (Carrie's screenwriter friend, Anthony Bourdain) so I decided to make it my first stop in the city. But first, I had to fulfill a childhood dream: a visit to the location of Kurt Cobain's final moments.

Saturday morning was gorgeous, and the lady working the Avis counter just happened to hook me up with a Chrysler Sebring Convertible:


So I got dressed in the most obnoxiously alt rock outfit I could muster-


-and set out to Viretta Park, off of Lake Washington Boulevard, with the convertible top down and Modest Mouse on the stereo.

I found the house:


And the park:


And one of several memorial benchs:



Of course, I had to add a note of my own:


And smoke a parliament next to the tree.

Egregious badassery.

Apparently, the house has been purchased and occupied by somebody else because every now and then I'd see some shirtless dude or bikini-topped babe bounce into view above the gate as if on a trampoline. Oh -- and for a good ten minutes or so, somebody was screaming, murderously. Nice.

After paying my respects, I drove west through downtown and meandered toward Pike Place Market. I emerged from the parking garage into an indoor boardwalk full of boutiques hawking antiques, jewelery, art, vitamins, and assorted novelties. The sight of slime lured me into one of the novelty shops, and I wandered in to find a twenty-something stoner and a bearded old hippie lounging idly behind the counter. Clearly these two knew where to drink.

I asked, and they suggested, without hesitation, Nite Lite on Second and Stewart ("Opens at 3:30. $1 PBR's, 4 finger beers"), as well as the Whiskey Bar ("but I don't know if you have enough tattoos") and the Pike Pub and Brewery ("if you like fancy beer").

I noted their recommendations, thanked them and left, and proceeded down the boardwalk to a Palm and Tarot Card Reader. Unfortunately, she had already left for the day. So I continued onward through the market, shuffling my way through the thick crowd past gorgeous displays of fresh seafood, flowers, jams, chocolates, soap, jewelry and art. I bought a $6 mermaid sculpture made of ash from the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption (it came with an informative card about the volcano; I couldn't resist).

The smell of fried seafood was overwhelming and, at that late afternoon hour, irresistable, so I stopped by Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar for a Hale Mongoose I.P.A. and a basket of fried oysters & chips. It was one of the best meals I've ever had. The oysters were so scrumptiously succulent the taste of them will follow me to the grave.

Next: the Pike Pub, where I had the pleasure of meeting Burbank residents Rachel and Eric over a sampler of the Pub's finest (recommended: Double and Tripel Ale. Not recommended: everything else). We chatted about Belgian beer, midwestern work ethics and the myth of the Bridezilla (Rachel's a wedding photographer: check her out), and Rachel recommended some spots worth visiting back in LA (Masa for bread pudding, Lucky Baldwin's for Belgian brews.)

After the pub, I called Jimmy whilst lounging on the pier, observing this totem pole:


I then headed to the Bourdain-approved Piroshky Piroshky for a decidedly unnecessary but nevertheless delicious apple cinnamon pastry. Mmm.

After dessert, I went on a quest to find a marquee I'd spotted while looking for a place to park the Sebring:


(No further comment necessary.)

Conveniently, this was near the Nite Lite, and so the evening began.

The Nite Lite's decor alone warrants a stellar recommendation: faux-rock walls adorned with lime green and birds-egg blue vinyl headboards, glittery green foil under the glass bar, fake icicles on the top shelf, $1 PBR special before 7 p.m.


It was large, quirky and sleazy.

But there was nobody in there. So I moved on to the Whiskey Bar.

The Whiskey Bar was a nice little hang for the "discerning biker" (clean and tidy rockabilly chic). But hands down, the best thing about the Whiskey Bar was Denny, a 63 yr old Tulsa-born oil refinery salesman (who didn't look a day over 50), who schooled me on Canadian Club Reserve and coke, the perils of New Orleans, and life, love and new beginnings. During the early days of his sales career, Denny had traveled through and fallen in love with Seattle and resolved to move there if he ever needed a place to start over. Unfortunately, that time came in the 90's when his beloved wife, a singer, passed away. We shared several tall whiskey and cokes together, and then, after revealing that he had arrived by motorcycle, Denny abruptly left. It was probably for the best. At that point, I was ready to climb on back and ride off with him into the sunset. Instead, I moved north, to Five Point Cafe.

Outside the bar is a lovely view of the Space Needle:


Inside the bar is cheap beer, a great jukebox, and colorful clientele. Around the time I realized the top shelf was adorned with softcore porno polariods, a robust tattooed woman in a pink tank top sat down to my right and ordered an Adios Motherfucker. She asked me if there were any tattoo parlors around and I apologized, "I don't know, I'm not from around here." She then pointed to a name tattooed on her back and explained, "I've got to get this name changed to Reyes."

"You might want to wipe that out altogether," I retorted.

"Huh. Hadn't thought about that."

She told me about Mr. Reyes, and what an asshole he was, and asked me about my notebook.
She said she wrote in her journal sometimes, after her weekly meetings. She had been addicted to crack, and was celebrating her second clean month.

We talked for quite awhile and she told me her name; regrettably, I cannot remember it, and I failed to record it, having tucked away my notebook out of respect for our conversation. I tried to convince her that she didn't need Mr. Reyes, she didn't need anyone, except for "what's in here" (Mel pounds her chest), and "you've got it. You've got that fire in you. I can see it."

I hope she believed me. After she left, a couple walked in and took her place at the bar: lovely, sweet Carina (a fellow blogger) and her friend Sean.

Carina graciously shared a Djarum with me, and I mentioned my plan to visit Snoqualmie Falls. She recommended Issaquah's Tiger Mountain instead. And so begins day two...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This is Your Brain on NYC

Allegedly, exposure to the unfamiliar strengthens the brain.

When confronted with stimuli, the brain's neurons branch out and connect with one another to exchange information. If you do something repeatedly (drive the same way to work everyday, or eat the same daily lunch, for example), information travels down pre-worn pathways, and there's no need for the brain to forge new neural circuits. But when you do something you've never done before, your neurons must reach out to new, unfamiliar neurons and forge additional connections, thus increasing the processing capacity of the brain.

That said, NYC gave my brain quite a workout.

From the moment I boarded the plane to JFK, my gray matter was forced to contend with the new, strange and unfamiliar. Here are the highlights (conveniently categorized into headings and sub-headings for your browsing pleasure):


The American Museum of Natural History

Let's start this off with a bang, shall we? And by bang I mean a 4.5 billion year old meteorite!

This is the Cape York meteorite, discovered in Greenland in 1894. At 34 tons, it’s the heaviest meteorite in captivity (yes, this was the term used on the accompanying text). According to earth and space explainer David Teich (a kind and patient man), it formed 4.5 BILLION years ago, when the stray bits of our solar system that failed to coalesce into planets and moons fused into meteorites. The molten material cooled at a rate of 1 degree Celsius every MILLION YEARS! At that rate, it would have taken a few billion years for this meteorite to settle into its present state.


How awesome is it to touch something 4.5 billion years old? Totally awesome. Of course, the ground we walk on (i.e. Earth) is also 4.5 billion years old; actually, all of that inorganic matter is 13 billion years old, it's just been morphing into different forms since the Big Bang (or whatever force birthed the Universe into existence). But to touch something that reached its present form 4.5 billion years ago? Yeah. Totally.Fucking.Sweet.

Other highlights:

The Spitzer Room of Human Origins

Did you know that the Khoisan people in South Africa carry the most ancient human DNA mutations? Or that modern humans are tolerant of non-human dairy products because our goat milk-drinking ancestors were the ones who survived famine? Neither did I. Till I came here.

Dinosaur Hall

Q. Is it an Apatosaurus or a Brontosaurus? A. An Apatosaurus, says the explanatory sign. Both names were used to describe the same species of fossilized dinosaur in the 1870s. Since Apatosaurus was used first, it's the name preferred by scientists.


Museum of Modern Art

My knowledge of modern art borders on the Philistine, but I do enjoy it. Proof: a montage of blurry photographs of my favorite pieces, obnoxiously taken to serve my faulty short-term memory.


Mark Rothko, No. 16

This is the kind of thing I'd skip over in a textbook, but in person, I found it quite striking. According to MOMA, the "forms and colors are meant to arrest the viewer in a state of reflection," and I have to say – it worked. I couldn’t stop looking at it and went back to it several times. I took several pictures, but none of them captured the beauty of the colors. They elude digitization.

Ad Reinhart, Abstract Painting

Oh, Ad Reinhart. Your nihilism is hilarious.


Jackson Pollack, Full Fathom Five

Loved this for its color scheme, but mostly for its texture. Bottle caps, keys and cigarettes are buried beneath the paint, giving the piece a rollicking, “tumultuous” feel.

Jasper Johns, Flag

This is another piece I'll skip over in a textbook, but the encaustic paint (pigment mixed with wax) over newspaper created a pretty cool effect. Apparently, he was a fan of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Yay for him.

Robert Rauschenberg’s “combines” were sweet. Love me some collage.


Rauchenberg, Factum I & II

Another Rauschenberg creation, proof positive of the uncertainty principle.


Duchamp, To Be Looked At... for Almost an Hour

It'll get you hiiigh.


Francis Bacon, Painting



Alberto Giacometti's bronze dog.


Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space


Dali, The Little Theater

Eleven planes of glass = one surrealist piece of awesome.


Andre Masson, Battle of Fishes.

According to Masson: "Left to chance, pictorial compositions would reveal the sadism of all living creatures."

I can get behind that.

But you know what I can't get behind? Matisse.

Fuck Matisse. Fuck him and his dainty pastel dashes. He makes me feel like I have a cat (See also: Feist, white wine).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Turns out the Met has much more than boring old paintings. Oh yes.

It's a mind-numbingly large and labyrinthine warehouse of pillaged artifacts. Such as:

4,000 year old Celtic armbands! (Could've sworn I had a picture of this... but I can't find it. Sadness.)

And an egregious amount of Egyptian burial stuff!


Some swords!


Suits of Armor!


Behold the 1549 armor of German Emperor Ferdinand I (and his accoutrement):



Feast your eyes on these 16th century Italian spears, capable of lacerating the flesh of men in hundreds of different ways!


And old furniture!


1820 NYC Grecian Sofa.

(I was particularly taken with this couch).


Bear with me for a moment while I sing the praises of Delta Airlines ...

As a Southwest devotee, I was a bit hesitant to fly Delta, but my fears were completely unfounded. Not only do they have a fine selection of free snacks (biscotti, cheese crackers, salami, trail mix), but they also have TV screens in the seat backs featuring movies, TV shows, games (including interactive -- and free -- in-flight trivia) and a fucking map showing your flight trajectory, remaining flight time and all sorts of other interesting facts, like outside air temperature (-70 degrees), distance traveled, altitude, etc. Yeah, so I was into that.

And that in-flight trivia game was pretty fun: a series of 20 questions with multiple choice answers and a little "in case you were wondering..." factoid dessert. For example, say the situation was:

Q: Ridley Scott directed what 1982 film?
A: Blade Runner
In case you were wondering: Blade Runner was based on Philip K. Dick's novella "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

But every now and then you'd get something like:

Q: Mellow Gold was the title of whose 1994 album?
A: Beck
In case you were wondering: Beck is the man.

(For serious.)


Well, I started out with a bran muffin. But from then on, it was all gluttonous Street Meat, baby! OH YEAH!

Hot Dogs
What's on the New York street dog? Sauerkraut, and some sort of brown, tangy mustard sauce. Tasty, but doesn't hold a candle to a Chicago Dog— I'm not even sure it stands up to the Angeleno bacon-wrapped hot dog.

Nevertheless, I ate several from random street vendors, and was still compelled to check out Papaya Dog on 42nd street, particularly because I assumed it was in some way affiliated with Anthony Bourdain-approved Gray's Papaya. I had two dogs and a papaya drink and it was good; it would have been mind-blowing if I was drunk, but it was good. Though I have to admit I was a little suspicious of the two dogs-and-a-drink deal for $3.50. Rrruh?

I took a long walk in cold rain to check out the co-worker endorsed Shake Shack, which was really great for the price – I had a quality, thick juicy cheeseburger and some expertly salted crinkle cut fries. I also had a strawberry shake (hey, why not) but wasn’t too impressed with that – Chick-fil-A does it better.

Katz serves beer and pickles. What more do you need? Oh – a pastrami sandwich perhaps? Oh yes indeed.


Oh boy.

Let's hit this chronologically, shall we?


While waiting for Pete to finish hobnobbing at his NYU archivist function, I ducked into Terra Blues on Bleecker street and cozied up with some Maker's Mark during a refreshingly unpretentious solo blues acoustic set. 'Twas a nice venue: small, dark, candle-lit, intimate; yet kind of divey, with paper mache looking angel wall sculptures affixed to dark blue walls in need of a fresh coat of paint.

Once Pete found me, we headed to a mysterious bar (I neglected to record the name of it) for gin gimlets, refreshingly crisp cocktails made of gin, lime and soda (sort of like a mojito, without the mint and sugar). We then moved along to the Blue and Gold for Pabst and Magic Hat Apricot Ale. After building a nice buzz, we parted ways, and I resolved to sit on the chair-backed log in the Hudson Bar once I got back to the Hudson Hotel.

And then I went the wrong way on the subway, and got lost in Brooklyn for one hour.

Luckily -- or not -- the Hudson Bar was still open by the time I made it back at 3:00 a.m. I paid $12 for a watered down vodka soda and stared at the ceiling mural (some abstract art design that looked like a child's Crayola crayon sketch enlarged to 100x its original size) while two chubby girls in satin dresses closed down the house with a rumpshaking rendition of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable." After they finished, I was asked to take my vodka drink upstairs. Fatigued, I complied.


On the way back to the Hudson after more academic conferencing and a sniffling, chilly walk across several dozen city blocks, I got lost on the subway. Again. I ended up by Les Halles. So what would Anthony Bourdain do? Why, he would go into Desmond's Tavern, the local Irish pub. (Seriously, it's been televised.)

I enjoyed several Smithwick's there among the local happy hour crowd, none of whom were particularly interested in speaking with me.

After that I walked to Central Park and shared my Holden Caulfield moment with some ducks on a rock in the middle of the pond. Then back to the Hudson, to check out the Library Bar. It was a chill space: black and white photographs of cows wearing various kinds of hats lined the walls, as well as books; all sorts of books, about porn stars and Tanzania and supernovae and Marilyn Monroe. Chess boards were built into the table tops and a large blue pool table anchored the center of the room. It would have been a cool place to drink alone, but my sniffles had worsened, so I packed up early.


Pete -- did we do car bombs at The Library? Yes, we did. With the sultry bartender from Montreal.

After that, we went to the 2 by 4. Two words: Exultant sleaze. Wood paneling, cheap beer, pool tables, bartenders in bikini tops dancing on the bar. What more could one ask for?

How about some Yuengling on the way home? And my botched interpretation of an improbable Body Worlds pose and the subsequent repercussion: a skinned knee and bruised cheek after faceplanting on Pete's roof. Twice.


All right; now I was sick. But that didn't stop me from going back to the 2 by 4 after dinner, then on to the Belgian Room for Delirium on tap and Burp Castle for the Monks-on-a-bender mural before heading off to Pete's roomie's birthday fiesta at Lit.

There are two levels to Lit. The first is a Short Stop-esque bar/dance floor with a DJ spinning Vampire Weekend for a smattering of greasy haired patrons. But this isn't where you want to be. You want to go downstairs into the basement, and dance among the exposed brick and cigarette smoke (yes, you can smoke down there!) to soul, oldies, new wave and classic rock. I powered through my Dayquil induced haze and had a blast. But dancers beware: don’t set your favorite purple sweater on one of the booths. Because the staff will move it. And lose it.

In Memoriam: Purple Sweater

The last photograph of my purple sweater and me (center).

Dear Purple Sweater,

I only knew you for three months but I felt I’d known you forever. You were a particularly soothing shade of purple. Plum, perhaps. You matched nearly everything. Even my purse. I have tried to replace you but the only retail outlet with purple sweaters in stock is H&M and the quality is far inferior to Express. We had some great times. And some bad. I’ll never forget you.


And thus concludes the boozing.


I was shocked by how friendly everyone was in New York. I haven't been approached by so many strangers since... well. Ever. Strangers helped me wrangle my bags and hop onto the right subways, complimented my chic bangs (thanks, Summer), and interjected their own wry opinions into private conversations. Unexpected, truly. But refreshing.

Though nothing beats an old friend.

And now:

A GBD Salute to Peter O.

Peter is a great friend. He will drop everything to show you around town, and cheerfully agree to accompany you to cheesy tourist traps, even if you end up too hungover to visit them the next morning. He will not laugh at you when you faceplant twice on his roof, drunk. (All right, he will, but not in a mean sort of way.) He will take you to the Natural History Museum, twice, and wait patiently while you take painstaking notes on every exhibit you can get your hands on, and wait even more patiently for you to post 2% of those notes to your blog, 2 months later. He will also take pictures of you cheesing out in front of a stegosaurus.


Thank you, Peter.

Alain de Botton once asked, Why travel? When you bring your worries, your insecurities, your anxieties with you, everywhere you go? I say: to know the feel of a 4.5 billion year old meteorite. Or the taste of a Papaya Dog. Or the pain of smashing your face into shingles. Or the comfort of reconnecting with an old friend. To "expand the mind," as they say. Figuratively. Literally.