Category Archives: Travelogue


We were down for Dan’s wedding and hiking around the mountains when we stumbled on some lone graves. They were up in the woods, set back off from the trail. There were bear tracks even just a few feet downhill. Hidden away.

I couldn’t say I’m in support of the rites of Christian burial per se, but if they’re gonna make you get a marker, it’s not a bad way to go.

This was near the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Virginia horse country, this was.


Old Joy

Old Joy is maybe my favorite film about how being an expectant father turns you into an asshole. I admit that’s a strong reading, and it could be a theme more than a storyline, but hey, it’s also maybe my favorite movie about road trips to Oregon hot springs with Bonnie “Prince” Billy and a dog. I’ve seen it a half-dozen times easy, but six Old Joys is still shorter than one viewing of the LOTR trilogy, so when it was on IFC the same night we finally got cable again, I gave it another go.

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Glare Bombs v. The Heavens in Florida

Light Pollution

Blur – Far Out (mp3)

I caught the lunar eclipse Wednesday night but couldn’t find the satellite being exploded. That was clearly the more awesome event and would have been broadcast live on PBS if we had a halfway competent government.

I mention this because it reminded me of all the stars we had during our Florida Keys trip last month. They were allover in a way we hadn’t seen before, in a way we didn’t recall from last year’s trip. It was like one of those desert places where universities build their observatories. I, since I’m really good at figuring things out, explained to everyone that this was because there were no lights around to drown all the stars out, just water. All we had to compete with was U.S. 1, and the roadside kitsch on either side of U.S. 1, and nothing beside that from the panhandle to Cuba.

(I was fixated on U.S. 1 this trip, convinced the story of the Florida Keys was not the story of island life but the story of the American road. We kept running into markers for Flagler’s Folly, the railroad that preceded the paved road, a story that writes up as a South Floridian There Will Be Blood. America’s epic distilled to two lanes.)

My mind was just frazzled. It took us two nights to figure out the stars were there because there wasn’t any moon.

I was walking around the park with Katie on New Year’s Eve gazing up at these things, and predictably, as New Yorkers, we fell into talking about light pollution. More specifically, about that New Yorker light pollution article from a few months back. For a couple of post-Inconvenient Truth ecologists, here was something else to feel guilty about. The article, The Dark Side by David Owen, built up detail on detail into a cosmological gothic: glare bombs, circadian rhythm cancer, decimated insect populations, Vegas light leakage, children with telescopes, Home Depot signs on the moon.

The debate on light pollution, to the extent there is a debate, is a funny one: not good v. bad, or (like the guy who keeps taking out those Why won’t Al Gore debate me? ads) bad v. non existent, but bad v. who cares, bad v. we have priorities, bad v. lighten up.

As a generalization, the world’s big light polluters are its big energy consumers, our most economically developed nations. That seems to matter more than densely v. sparsely populated. Light pollution doesn’t come from the underdeveloped or remote regions, from the $1 a day world. Light pollution is a form of waste, but waste when waste is the burning off of luxury.

I don’t want to fault them, but the light pollution advocates haven’t been discussing the question on the metaphysical level. You’re going to call me old fashioned, but back in the day we used to think of light and dark primarily as symbols. They were the forces also known as good and evil; they were born to do battle with each other. Two players, two sides:

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I’m back like a chiropractor.

Yeah, so Miami was a wash. We visited the Bay of Pigs museum, which may get a separate post, and the Rubell Collection, which won’t. The plan was to park our carcasses down on Ocean Ave and marvel at the American Graffiti-by-way-of-Versace parade of human plastic. But we brought with us a record cold, so cold the iguanas were falling from the treetops. That meant all the reptiles stayed indoors. The cafes that weren’t empty were stuffed with Hokies, in town for the FedEx Orange Bowl. These diehards were not about to let some pretty mild tailgating weather get in the way of a good, rowdy Art Deco drunk. The Kansas U. fans either turned in early or partied in a cooler part of town.

We were back at the hotel in time to watch the late night hosts break strike. A penitent Conan sang Radiohead over Rock Band with an English accent not evident in the original (“Your skin makes my croy….”). And so to bed.

Posting Notice: So this is the new year

Bahia Honda Bridge

I’m heading back down to the Florida Keys this weekend to hit the reset button for next year. This time we’ve tacked on an extra day at the end to see everything in Miami. One of life’s great regrets is that during my stay in Key Biscayne back in 2003 I never got around to checking out the Winter White House, Nixon and Bebe Rebozo’s Key Biscayne pleasure palace. That was where the president holed up to wait out Watergate like he was Boccaccio waiting out the plague. A real estate developer went and tore the place down in 2004, leaving no trace of that city’s special contribution to our nation’s psychic trauma. It speaks to our perceptions of Nixon that his compound was given less of a push for historic preservation than the brownstone next door to the Whitney.

Life Winter White House

Still, the Internet tells me there’s some nice sunsets to be viewed from the Presidential Helipad, and there’s always Harry Truman’s Little White House in Key West. And best of all, the helpful and entertaining blog C-Monster informs us that the house where Elián González lived has been laminated and turned into a museum, an honor not even granted our 37th President. (To be fair, Nixon was spared the abduction at gunpoint and deportation -Ed.)

I had meant to get everybody some good end-of-year Best of 2007 lists, but the (for me) vacationless holiday season turned out to be longer than anticipated. Of course, by the time I get back, at least one of the major presidential candidates will be having a Howard Dean-style Iowa meltdown, so I’ll probably be racing to finish some hilarious remix to post on YouTube in the sad, vain hope of getting Jeanne Moos’s attention. 2008 is going to suck.

For the bored, here are my posts from last year’s Keys excursion:
Notes on the Keys, part one
The Idea of Order at Key West

Up top is an image of the Bahia Honda Bridge, which is more or less US 1’s equivalent of the High Line.

Smooth Brazil photos


I am finally sorting through our honeymoon photos. I’ll spare everyone most of the detailed LiveJournal-esque narrative for now. The essence of today’s vacation is the transformation of experiences into media, so photos.

Here I am snorkeling at Lagoa Azul on Ilha Grande:

Lagoa Azul

Brazil achieved oil self-sufficiency in April 2006, in large part through a system of offshore rigs in the waters surrounding Rio de Janeiro known as the Campos Basin. The area further west, where we were vacationing, has become a focus of more recent exploration by Petrobras. The month before we arrived one of the tankers that supplies these rigs cut off the main electricity supply cable for Ilha Grande, leaving the island without power for 15 days.

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