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Friends of a Long Year is a private mailing list bringing stories to your inbox like it's still 1995. It's written in the spirit of Mary Austin. It was originally called Place Without a Postcard, which does a better job of summarizing what I like to write about. Friends is delivered roughly twice a month.


Riots, Iraqi Restaurants, Goodbye Seine

Paris, France Well it's my last night here in Paris and I've chosen to return to the best restaurant we've been to so far, an Iraqi restaurant in a Marais. I am using all my willpower right now to avoid having a political outburst re the quality of Iraqi food versus the intelligence of George Bush etc etc. I'm traveling; I don't want to get into politics except to say that my dislike for the current El Presidente was no small factor in my decision to go abroad.

Bury Your Dead

Paris, France I would like to say that the catacombs of Paris had some spectacular effect on me seeing that I strolled through human remains, skulls and femurs mainly, "decoratively arranged," but the truth is, after you get over the initial shock of seeing a skull, well, it turns out you can get adjusted to just about anything. Maybe that in and off itself is the scary part.

The Houses We Live In

Paris, France I've been thinking the last couple of days about something Bill's dad said to me before I left. I'm paraphrasing here since I don't remember the exact phrasing he used, but something to the effect of "people are essentially the same everywhere, they just build their houses differently." Indeed, Parisian architecture is completely unlike anything in America. Perhaps more than any other single element, architecture reflects culture and the ideas of the people that make up culture.

Sainte Chapelle

Paris, France Sainte Chapelle was interesting to see after the modern, conceptual art stuff at the Pompidou, rather than simple stained glass, Sainte Chapelle felt quite conceptual. In a sense the entire Bible (i.e. all history from that perspective) is unfolding simultaneously, quite a so-called post-modern idea if you think about it. And yet it was conceived and executed over 800 years ago. Kind of kicks a lot pretentious modern art in its collective ass.

Living in a Railway Car

Paris, France This French apartment is more like a railway sleeper car than apartment proper. Maybe fifteen feet long and only three feet wide at the ceiling. More like five feet wide at the floor, but, because it's an attic, the outer wall slopes in and you lose two feet by the time you get to the ceiling. It's narrow enough that you can't pass another body when you walk to length of it.

Twenty More Minutes to Go

Newport Beach, California, U.S. Well it's the night before I leave. I just got done pacing around the driveway of my parents house smoking cigarettes… nervously? Excitedly? Restlessly? A bit of all of those I suppose. I walk across the street, over the drainage ditch and head for the swing set at the park. Right now I'm swinging in a park in Costa Mesa California. Tomorrow France. Weird. [Photo to the right, via Flickr]

Travel Tips and Resources

Newport Beach, California, U.S. An overview of the things you might want to bring on an extended trip, as well as some tips and recommendations on things like visas and vaccinations. The part that was most helpful for me was learning what I didn't need to bring — as it turns out, quite a bit. Nowadays my pack is much smaller and lighter.

The New Luddites

Newport Beach, California, U.S. An older, non-travel piece about Google's plan to scan all the world's books and Luddite-like response from many authors. Let's see, someone wants to make your book easier to find, searchable and indexable and you're opposed to it? You're a fucking idiot.

Farewell Mr. Hunter S Thompson

Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S. Hunter S. Thompson departs on a journey to the western lands. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas delivered the penultimate eulogy for the dreams of the 1960's, one that mourned, but also tried to lay the empty idealism to rest.

The Art of the Essay

Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S. I generally ignore internet debates, they never go anywhere, so why bother. But we all have our weak points and when programmer Paul Graham posted what might be the dumbest essay on writing that's ever been written, I just couldn't help myuself.