Tag Archives: travel

Road Trip:The King was here.

Elvis in real life. Memphis, TN

Authors note: I am on a long distance road trip across America! If you comment and I don’t respond right away please don’t take offense! I will get back to you when I can! Enjoy!

Nashville is a happening city with BBQ joints and live music on every street corner. Proprietors sell memorabilia to eager tourists, bartenders pour shots of whiskey and Elvis could be heard in the air around me. It’s a beautiful little place with southern charm just bursting from its seams. Waiting to be explored by us New Yorkers looking for some respite from the hostile vultures up north.

I am writing to you from the Grand Van in a parking lot of a Super Wal-Mart in Arkansas.  I tell you this because I feel pity for my people back home. There is a cloud of desperation hanging over New York. I’ve been on the road a whole five days and I can already see the difference. I can feel it. Picture a stationary tornado swirling with rage and a ferocious appetite for destruction. This is New York. When you get away from the epicenter, the winds begin to calm, the sky opens, birds chirp.

Down south the sky is clear. The majority of people I have encountered so far have been a pleasure. I’m sure I will run into a few ornery people while traveling the country, but for the most part, so far, so good. I feel like chum sitting here in my van with my out-of-state tags. Just waiting for the sharks to roll in and circle me. I feel like a dopey fish that swam into the wrong end of a lagoon and will now pay the price for his stupidity. But they don’t know I have a spray can full of ArmorAll sitting next to me and I am not afraid to use it.  Who am I kidding? They would pick me off in a minute. Knowing me, I would try talking them down first and when this tactic didn’t work I’d start the van and head for God knows where, all the while throwing free stuff out the window to try and make amends.

I hope this is just another case of my imagination running amok. It tends to make mountains out of mole hills and it usually blows stuff out of proportion. Anyway, let’s get back to the story shall we?

I enjoy the slower pace and the friendly drawl of the locals. The way they tip their hats, the way they are willing to help with directions, the way women call me ‘suga’ and ‘doll’. This morning I was filling up the gas tank and when I was done, I happened to ask the nice young fella behind the counter if he knew of any good churches to attend. This being Sunday and all, I figured I would check out a service. My schedule is rather open at the moment so I took the time to listen. When I mean time, I mean twenty minutes.

I love people. But I am prone to frustration. Yet I generally love spending time with strangers because most of the time people just need an ear to listen, a kind word spoken, maybe even a pat on the back. We are creatures in need of bonding, we want to be understood and recognized. So I took the time and heard him out. I felt bad afterwards because I never actually went to service. I went to Graceland instead.

The King was here in Memphis, TN.

Many, many years ago before my father ran out of our lives, he had an obsession with Elvis, which in turn, led me to enjoy listening too. Over the years, I slowly put the king to rest. When I walked around the outside of his mansion I realized people still loved this dude. Fortunately for me I arrived during “Elvis week”. There were little shops selling souvenirs, tour buses shuttling people back and forth, cops walked up and down the boulevard, people moseyed around with mutton chops and big black glasses. To be honest I thought it all unnecessary and a bit touristy.

Then I walked the around the rock wall which guarded the mansion. Thousands of names and well-wishes were gingerly written in stone by marker, some wrote in paint. It was touching. This man brought joy to millions of people in the form of music. I think I saw someone crying about a hundred yards away. Elvis passed over thirty years ago, yet his legacy lives on. I went back to my van and sorted through my junk and pulled out a Sharpie. I wrote my name on his wall.

When I pulled the cap off my marker, I jumped head first into all the hoopla with everyone else. I felt like I was doing something grand, albeit unoriginal. This will sound corny but the whole experience was rather nice. A part of me lives just outside of Elvis’ doorstep forever. That rocks.

Tennessee is a wonderful state filled with beautiful flowers and arching mountains that appear like ancient gods bursting through the ground. While in Nashville I walked across the Cumberland pedestrian bridge and looked out across the water towards LP Field and realized how blessed I am to be able to experience such things. To be able to get up and move, to be able to read and communicate are a miracle in themselves.

When you leave your comfort zone and drive into unknown territories you will notice subtle changes around you. Landscapes, attitudes, food, weather. Yet one single, absolute truth remains; there are hurting people everywhere, they are hungry and lost and in need of friendship. They are in need of kindness.

Some kid is playing a flute about a hundred yards away from where I’m parked for the night. It’s a melancholy song but I like to think he is content. Reminds me of a guy named Ben I met while in Nashville. I had a chance to sit with this fellow wanderer and listen to him play his banjo. He too found it in his heart to leave home and travel across country. He is looking to be inspired and goes from city to city playing his music, playing his songs for free to bring happiness to others without a price tag. Sometimes we need to do things just because.

Well, my fellow bloggers and readers alike, it is late. It is hot. I am going to try and get comfy and get some shut eye. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Be safe, be blessed and until next time, chow.


Dancing in dress pants.

Photography by Gabriel

I watched cigarette smoke ascend above the people sitting at the grass skirted tiki bar. Their mellow chit-chattering floated alongside the visible cloud of death swirling about. When the smoke crossed paths with the neon bar signs, it became even more ominous looking. Violent reds and deep blues gave life to the straw carpet holding up the roof. I sipped my beer and headed for safer territory, you never know when some fool will toss a smoke and boom.

Classic rock poured forth from massive speakers standing erect on a platform about a hundred feet from where I stood. The humidity had dissipated before I arrived leaving the atmosphere ripe with shenanigans and revelry. People danced and stumbled, laughed and whistled. Fake palm trees vibrated due the entire environment around them and swayed in the warm July night.

It was a pleasant evening chock full of really loud conversations with friends and random beautiful women on the prowl. Luckily for them I’m a decent conversationalist. Even if I managed to bore them, I would just ask them to wait a tick while I jotted down something witty on paper. Hopefully keeping their attention long enough before they started looking around, and making up fictitious stories in order to walk away, leaving your heart in a puddle of old beer on the floor.

Actually to tell you the truth, I managed to do what I always do when I go to clubs. Stand around looking cool with my slicked back hair and dress pants, not really knowing what the heck else to do. I suck in my gut and stand there like an idiot in front of beautiful women, bobbing my head back and forth and maneuvering around everyone else. All the while trying not to lose my buddies and offend someone by stepping on their toes in the process.

I very rarely go to clubs (give me a little pub, or a nice restaurant any day of the week. Good food and normal speaking levels.) so please don’t judge. Anyway, it was good times and worth it, even if I felt older than I should have.

On we go.

For those of you who haven’t been following my blog (shame to you!) I am packing up my meager belongings and moving in a few weeks. My destination is far-away and full of mysteries to great for my mind to fully comprehend. Oh, I know where I would like to end up, where I think I am supposed to go, and in all probability will live.

But like many instances in my short life, I will walk with one eye on the pavement and the other looking towards heaven. Hoping the Big Man upstairs really has a plan, because quite frankly, I haven’t the slightest idea of what I am doing.

Le Ninja

Please don’t be alarmed. I am prepared for this journey and have been for several weeks now. It wasn’t until I started packing tonight when it hit me full force though. I felt like a ninja threw his fist into my rib cage and then round-housed my face with his tiny foot, sending me into a wild somersault over books and balled up Christmas lights, at which point I cry out like a walrus giving birth. Yes, this is what it will feel like when East meets West in a showdown for the ages.

This is why I had to deal with so much growing up as a kid I think. The war I’ve waged and the battles I’ve fought these past few years have helped me understand the meaning of endurance and the reason for tribulations. One must learn how to serve before they can lead. Who knows? This is all too wonderful for my mind to understand, for my imagination to concoct.

I don’t have much to say tonight. Except this, sometimes God will put His hands together and reach out to split the proverbial storm, to touch us on the shoulder and leave us with moments of pure happiness. This is how my evening ended. This is how I will end this ridiculous post. Until next time my friends, peace.

Friday Night follies: Bookworm

After my shadow split the sliding glass doors like the Red Sea a blast of lukewarm air smacked my face to make sure my attention was no longer divided but focused on the bargain bonanza displayed all about me. From Hemingway to Stoker and Dickinson to Hugo the king sized tables of oak and cherry stood gallantly like mute waiters holding up small treats to hungry masses before showing them to the main dining hall for supper. Short of taking my cap and coat, a pretty associate of Barnes & Noble smiled and continued on her way to heavImageen knows where but the Fish & Tackle periodical stuck between her arm and, um, bosom, led me to the conclusion she was on her way to put it back in its’ respective place alongside Guns & Ammo and MADD magazine which, by the way, is as dull as Saturday Night Live and has been for several years.  I shuffled in the general direction of Starbucks to retrieve my fix before heading out to get lost in a maze of books made of paper and bound with whatever it is that keeps them together and readable in my hands. It’s the smell of paperbacks mixed with the soft white ceilings and random cartoon drawings of authors strewn about the place which keeps me coming back to this old haunt year after year. I looked around to see other cool cats arriving in style on this late spring Friday night. If you never spent a Friday night at a bookstore then you my friend are missing out, so for your own benefit, I’d advise you to put it on your Bucket list underneath  ‘Find out what it’s like to be the epitome of dull’.  I stepped on the escalator and began my ascension with suppressed hope of catching someone doing something bizarre beneath me on the first floor. Ever catch someone making a silly face or filling their gullets with food and wish you had a camera to capture the moment?  There is little to think about on escalators so I just zone out if nothing is happening down below. I nodded my head like an idiot after a group of teenagers waved at me for no apparent reason. I am sure they moved along to throw eggs at unsuspecting bus riders or skateboard along the newly placed sidewalk or whatever it is those crazy bastards are calling fun these days. As for me, I headed to the second floor to grab Henry James off the shelf, not wanting any trouble from the wild looking gang sitting in the corner I made a quick beeline to the escalator and leaped down the steps three at a time and made it safely to the cashier. I love this store and all the crap inside of it. From the overly priced and useless trinkets, to the leather bound journals waiting to be filled with inventive thoughts, I enjoy the hours spent here in a multitude of good people, brilliant writers and melodramatic music.

The other day I was sorting through the collection of books and random magazines I had acquired over the years because I am moving across country shortly and I wish to take them all with me. Alas, it will not be feasible because I have other items to store in my van, like food, survival gear and courage. I hate the idea of having to part ways with my library even on a temporary basis. Some people adopt animals, others collect cuckoo clocks. I shell out a few spare shillings when I can on the written word. It’s just something I do. I admit my assortment of novels has become priceless to me and to give them up for a time is akin to forcing me to put one of my lungs on EBay and the way I smoke Pall Malls, they wouldn’t fetch much.  Granted I am in relatively good shape mind you. But the lung is and will always remain used goods no matter how many miles I run or mountains I manage to climb. Unlike my organs, the literature collecting dust on the shelves of my barren walls become more valuable as time moves forward and only serve to prove the printing press will never be put out to pasture by handheld gadgets and gizmos. We coffee drinking, readers of paperbacks and lovers of sexy librarians are stuck in a world filled with wicked contraptions such as Kindles and Nooks and other mechanical piranhas looking to tear apart the paper between our fingers and put many librarians out of work. I am not being cute I would hate to see any of them standing on the bread line, especially without a book to keep them company.

My family purchased a Kindle for me this past Christmas and it sat on a pile of clothes for about a week before I took it back and told my mom I just couldn’t bring myself use it. I guess some habits are hard to shake and as preposterous as it sounds I felt like I had committed adulWe musn't allow this to happen.tery by picking up that horrible machine. Some will call the electronic device convenient and portable. Rubbish I tell you. Balderdash! How big is a book? Put it in your pocket and boom, you’re good to go. Set to travel the world armed with something to do if the monotony gets out of hand and as a bonus, you gain a little bit of renown in the intelligence department. A touch of sophistication women tend to take notice of. If nothing else she will walk away knowing you are literate and from my experience this is a good place to start.