Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009


So Los Angeles was Los Angeles. Looked dusty and dry as hell. I squeezed in one long afternoon and evening with my old friend and editor, David. He took me out for some amazing spicy tuna sushi at Geisha House, a cool and very red place on (the otherwise gritty) Hollywood Boulevard. We did some shopping too, walking around in some of that blinding, late afternoon, long-shadow LA light that you see in some Gary Winogrand photographs.

Otherwise, I didn't sit down much: I was interviewing immigrants, nurses and welfare experts; taking pictures of street signs and middle schools; and getting cross-examined by angry non-profit wonks with an ax to grind. Wuff.

I'm a little beat.

And I've just boarded Virgin Atlantic 418 to JFK-NYC. The 10 pm red-eye. I'm set to touch down in New York at about 6:30 am.

Shit, I just remembered I haven't arranged my bus to Boston. That's the next leg of the trip--about forty hours from now. I must make these preparations. Yes.

First, I think I'll sleep for a few hours or 48.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The International

i've never been a fan of Washington d.C. Too many people who believe in the government, I used to say. I mostly went to D.C. to protest stupid shit the government was doing or not doing enough to stop. So I didn't exactly have a positive perception of it--and all those white, white monuments and federal buildings on the Mall seemed even more fascistic when I thought about all the segregation and poverty in some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

But in the last few days, I really liked the District of Columbia. Maybe I've changed. Or just admitted to myself that I am one of those people who believes in the government.

Of course, I could also just be so tickled to be back in the USA that any place here would have felt like a warm, wet kiss.

My stay didn't start off so well. My hotel was in Bethesda, and when I got in Sunday night, it looked like a long, lifeless stretch of bad retail architecture. Wisconsin Avenue--empty. At 10:05 p.m., I struck out to find a bar--nothing. Even the chain joints like Uno Pizzeria had already locked down. I grumbled a lot, went back to my room, fired up the flat screen, and watched...a lot of infomercials.

But the next morning, as soon as I stepped onto the Metro, I was back in the company of actual human life again, and what a lovely color it was. Black and brown and gimme caps and head wraps and doughy white tourists and lots and lots of Ethiopians. After living in Vienna for four years, I have forgotten how it feels to be elbow-to-elbow with so many different kinds of people. It was like a fist-bump to my soul.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Come and Get it

I'm flying back to the US today. For a little play and a lot of work. For two weeks! It's gonna be great. I must make preparations.

My itinerary is...energetic. I fly from Vienna to Washington, D.C., then three days later to Los Angeles, then three days after that to NYC. Thirty five hours later I take a bus to Boston. Then I fly back to DC, and two days later, I fly back to Vienna.

It's a work trip--I'm flying on someone else's dime--but the detour to NYC is purely personal. So far, my personal plans for the journey have focussed mostly on those thirty-five hours in the big apple. To precise, I've been try to calculate how many meals I can squeeze into my short time in Manhatta, and where I will be taking those meals. These are agonizing calculations. These are what my friend, Monkey, who I will see in Los Angeles, would call "quality problems." The kind of problems I wish I had more often.

In Vienna, your dining options are pretty much Schnitzel or Serbian. In New York, you got your Thai, Indian, Japanese, cracker-fried catfish, fresh bagels with whitefish, and the best goddamn cheeseburger in the world. That last would be at the Corner Bistro, on West 4th and Eighth Avenue. I'll make it there for sure.