Journal

Sailing Through

Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. The rumors are true. I moved back to the south; Athens GA to be exact. But I hate staying in one place for too long, so after a month or two in Athens I headed up to Charleston to visit a friend. The south is curious place. If you've never been here I couldn't hope to explain it, but it's not so much a place as an approach. A way of getting somewhere more than anywhere specific. Perhaps even a wrong turn.

Goodbye to the Mother and the Cove

Los Angeles, California, U.S. It's strange how you can plan something, go through all the motions of making it happen without ever really understanding what you're doing. I've been doing this for the better part of three years now. I realized recently that I have no real idea how I came to be here.

Everything All The Time

Los Angeles, California, U.S. I don't know if I'm just overly paranoid but when I call up memories in the dark hours of the Beaujolais-soaked pre-dawn, I see a collection of mildly amusing, occasionally painful series of embarrassments, misunderstandings and general wrong-place, wrong-time sort of moments. Which isn't to imply that my life is a British sitcom, just that I'm not in a hurry to re-live any of it.

The Sun Came Up With No Conclusions

Los Angeles, California, U.S. "And so it is that we, as men, do not exist until we do; and then it is that we play with our world of existent things, and order and disorder them, and so it shall be that non-existence shall take us back from existence and that nameless spirituality shall return to Void, like a tired child home from a very wild circus." -- Robert Anton Wilson and Kerry Thornley. Good luck and Godspeed Mr. Wilson.

Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose

Los Angeles, California, U.S. Traveling soul. Soul is not something out there or in you, it's the place where you meet the out there; something very similar to what I think James Brown meant — a mixture of the secular and the spiritual, the profane and the sublime.

Homeward

Los Angeles, California, U.S. New York, New York. John F Kennedy airport 1 am date unknown, sleepy looking customs guard stamps a passport without hardly looking at, without even checking to see where I had been. A light drizzle is falling outside and the subways extension to the terminal never looked so good. What is it like to be home? I don't know, I'll tell you when I get there.

Cadenza

Paris, France Paris - Outside it's raining. Beads of water form on the window in front of me. The glow of the unseen sun is fading behind midnight blue clouds and darkening sky. An old man in a butcher apron selling oysters under an awning smokes a cigarette and watches the mothers and children walking home with bags of groceries.

I Don’t Sleep I Dream

Vienna, Austria How can Freud's former residence in Vienna lack a couch? The closest thing is up against the wall, behind a small writing desk in what was then the waiting room — a small divan where one might stare at the patternless ceiling until the patterns emerge as it were. “Tell me about it,” he began.

Unreflected

Vienna, Austria The Kunsthistorisches Museum contains probably the best collection of art outside of France — Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Raphael, Velazquez, Bruegel and a certain Italian for whom I have a festering personal obsession, which shall be addressed shortly — and what's remarkable about this magnificent assemblage is that the vast majority of it was once the Hapsburg's private collection.

Four Minutes Thirty-Three Seconds

Prague, Czech Republic Just north of Prague's old town square and east of the River Vltava is Josefov, the old Jewish quarter of Prague. The Pinkas Synagogue in Josefov is an unassuming pale, sand-colored building with a slightly sunken entrance. Inside is a small alter and little else. The floor is bare; there are no places for worshipers to sit. The synagogue is little more than walls. And on the walls inscribed in extremely small print are the names of the 77,297 Jewish citizens of Bohemia and Moravia who died in the Holocaust.

Inside and Out

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic Chasing Egon Schiele: The attention to detail that makes the difference between a building and work of art was everywhere in Cesky Krumlov, from the delicate pink and red complements of a fine dovetailed corner, to the white plaster and oak beams of the Egon Schiele museum, which, despite geometric differences, looked not unlike the Globe Theatre in London.

The King of Carrot Flowers Part Two

Bled, Slovenia There is a roughly 200km loop of road that leads northwest out of Bled, through a pass in the Julian Alps and then down the other side, twisting and winding back toward Bled by way of craggy canyons, small hamlets and crystalline rivers. We set out sometime after breakfast.

Ghost

Ljubljana, Slovenia Like Dubrovnik, Trogir is a walled city of roughly Venetian vintage, but Trogir's wall has largely crumbled away or been removed. Still, it has the gorgeous narrow cobblestone streets, arched doorways and towering forts that give all Dalmatian towns their Rapunzel-like fairly tale quality.

Feel Good Lost

Dubrovnik, Croatia Dubrovnik, Croatia was heavily shelled during the Bosnian conflict and roughly 65 percent of its buildings were hit, built for the most part you'd never know it. Most of the buildings date from about 1468, though some were destroyed in the great earthquake of 1667, still, by and large, the city looks as it did in the fifteenth century.

Blue Milk

Dubrovnik, Croatia It's hard to understand, standing on the banks of such crystalline, cerulean lakes, whose dazzling colors come from the mineral rich silt runoff of glaciers, that the largest European conflict since world war two began here, at Like Plitvice Croatia. But indeed this is where the first shots were fired on Easter Sunday in 1991 and the first casualty was a park policeman.

Refracted Light and Grace

Budapest, Hungary Evening, after dinner, outside on the balcony, smoking cigarettes and contemplating the nightscape of Buda's Castle Hill rising up out of its own golden reflection in the shimmering Danube waters. The drone of car horns in the distance and the electric tram squealing as it pulls out of the station below on the river a boat slowly churns upstream...

London Calling

London, United Kingdom London: The British don't want me -- no money, no proof I'm leaving and no real reason for coming, good lord, I must be a vagabond, up to no good, surely. Eventually the customs agent relents and lets me in, a favor I repay by nearly burning down one of London's bigger parks. Seriously.

Closing Time

Koh Kradan, Thailand Headed back to Europe: I started to write a bit of reminiscence, trying to remember the highlights of my time in Asia before I return to the west, but about halfway through I kept thinking of a popular Buddhist saying — be here now. Most of these dispatches are written in past tense, but this time I want to simply be here now. This moment, on this train. This is the last time I'll post something from Southeast Asia.

Bird of Paradise

Koh Kradan, Thailand I wasn't expecting much from Ko Kradan, but in the end I discovered a slice of Thailand the way it's often describe by wistful hippies who first came here twenty years ago.

Beginning of the End

Koh Hai, Thailand I will confess to being a bit melancholy on the ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lanta. It was slowly beginning to sink in that my trip was nearly over, the money nearly gone and coming home no longer felt so far in the future. Still, it;s hard to be too melancholy in the Thai Islands, even the one's that are covered in trash.

Going Down South

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand The Phi Phi Island Resort, where some friends were staying, is on the leeward shore of Koh Phi Phi Island and posts a private beach, beautiful reef, fancy swimming pools and rooms with real sheets. Unheard of. I sauntered in a day early, acted like I owned the place, rented snorkel gear, charged it to a random room number and spent the afternoon on the reef. If only I could have put it on the Underhill's credit card.

The Book of Right On

Sinoukville, Cambodia The next day we continued on to Sinoukville which is Cambodia's attempt at a seaside resort. Combining the essential elements of Goa and Thailand, Sinoukville is a pleasant, if somewhat hippy-oriented, travelers haven. We rented Honda Dreams and cruised down the coast to deserted white sand beaches, thatched huts serving noodles and rice, where we watched sunsets and dodged rain storms.

Midnight in a Perfect World

Death Island, Cambodia A lost island off the Cambodian coast where the crab is fresh and the bungalows cheap. A perfect world near the end.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, Cambodia Roughly half a million people a year visit Angkor Wat. The first evening we decided to see just how tourist-filled Angkor was by heading to the most popular sunset temple, Phnom Bakheng, to watch the sunset. And there were a lot of tourists. Thousands of them. And that was just at one temple. Thus was hatched the plan: see Angkor in the heat of the day. Yes it will be hot. Hot hot hot. Fucking hot. But hopefully empty.