Archive for December, 2008
It’s pretty much been the most fascinating and fun year of my life. It’s been a year where I’ve had no fixed abode for the whole 12 months; spend my time in/on three continents; learned to love Starbucks and Coldplay; embraced Flickr and Twitter; found out (self diagnosed via a lot of web research) that the migraines I get aren’t migraines, but show all the signs of being cluster headaches; begun wearing baseball caps regularly; not cut my hair since 10 January (apart from having it thinned out a bit in Milwaukee); and have yet again failed to give up smoking cigarettes (the best I managed this year was five days when I was in Brasília).
Here, self-indulgently, are a few photos of the highlights of my year. I say “a few,” but that’s a bit of an understatement; the post has ended up being quite large, so, if you can’t be arsed to reminisce with me – and who can blame you – I won’t be offended if you click away to another website.
1 January. Royal Festival Hall, London, United Kingdom Blog post
The best New Year’s Eve event I’ve ever been to: Super Furry Animals and Deerhoof and friends and a pleasant walk amongst drunken people and party debris.
13 January. Plaza de toros México, Mexico City, Mexico Blog post
Going to a bullfight is horrific in the ways you’d imagine, but despite that, a thoroughly pleasant afternoon.
16 January. Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico Blog post
Getting drunk on a pretty boat with pretty ladies and him-out-of-The-Shamen.
20 January. Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico Blog post
A goalless draw between Club América and Puebla, but so very cool to be in the stadium where Maradona scored those wonderful (in different ways) against England.
30 January. Punta Gorda, Belize Blog post
Kayaking through jungle and visiting a butterfly farm.
4 February. Snake Cayes, Belize Blog post
Not only snorkelling for the first time in my life, but getting to know lovely new friends.
7 February. Panama City, Panama Blog post
Getting a yellow fever shot that I’d stupidly neglected to get before embarking on my travels. For some reason, I didn’t take any photographs of the day, which is a shame. It’s all very clear in my head, though; especially Maria’s tits.
8 February. Panama Canal, Panama City, Panama Blog post
Just really damn impressive.
10 February. Punta Gorda, Belize Blog post
Being bitten by a kinkajou.
24 February. São Paulo, Brazil
A great day spent hanging out with my friend Juliana. I can’t really remember laughing so much in one day; visiting the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, and later watching the Oscars on telly.
27 February. Brasília, Brazil Blog post
A stunning city; the massive skies, Oscar Niemeyer’s buildings, and Juliana’s family who welcomed me into their home with such warmth.
1 March. Brasília, Brazil Blog post
The first of three trips to the cinema to see There Will Be Blood.
6 March. São Paulo, Brazil Blog post
Zooming around on the back of a Brazilian girl’s motorcycle in the early hours of the morning.
10 March. Curitiba, Brazil Blog post
Getting drunk with strangers.
15 March. Florianópolis, Brazil Blog post
The twelve hour Santo Daime marathon.
20 March. Ingleses, Brazil Blog post
Getting a tan.
26 March. Campo Bom, Brazil Blog post
Seeing Brazilian football for the first time: Clube 15 de Novembro vs. Grêmio.
29 March. Punta del Este, Uruguay Blog post
Being sat on my own in a fairly ropey restuarant, trying to stifle the shoulder-shuddering laughter when reading the translations on the menu.
30 March. Punta del Diablo, Uruguay Blog post
Being dropped off by a bus at the end of a 5km road that lead to this tiny fishing village, not knowing where or if there was anywhere to stay.
9 April. Ushuaia, Argentina Blog post
After spending a few days in Buenos Aires and felling sorry for myself, I flew down to the southernmost city in Argentina, and spent an afternoon on a small boat on the Beagle Channel looking at sea lions.
12 April. Ushuaia, Argentina Blog post
Walking on a glacier.
13 April. Ushuaia, Argentina Blog post
Drunk landlady in her underpants.
15 April. El Calafate, Argentina Blog post
Best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
17 April. Buenos Aires, Argentina Blog post
Bumping into an old friend from London on a pedestrian crossing in smokey, smokey Buenos Aires.
19 April. Buenos Aires, Argentina Blog post
Boca Juniors. Specifically, their fans.
20 April. Buenos Aires, Argentina Blog post
Watching Paraguayans huddled around a radio in the centre of Buenos Aires listening to the results of their native country’s election.
2-5 May. Puerto Iguazú, Argentina Blog post
An excellent few days beginning with chatting in broken English and Spanish to a pretty stranger on a bus; seeing the breathtaking Iguazú waterfalls, and having drunken fun in a casino with two Italians.
10 May. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Blog post
Visiting the Rocinha favela.
12 May. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Blog post
A real sightseeing day, going up the big Jesus thing and Sugar Loaf mountain and seeing exactly how magnificent Rio is.
18 May. New York, NY, United States Blog post
Being back somewhere where I can easily communicate was lovely. Getting drunk with friends, meeting random Yankees fans, and ending up drinking more on a rooftop in Manhattan.
7 June. Pittsburgh, PA to Milwaukee, WI, United States Blog post
After only a few hours sleep, taking a monster journey through five states, and getting to know some American people along the way.
10 June. Beloit, WI, United States Blog post
A few games into my tour of baseball stadiums, I joined my friends Rebecca and J.P. on a little trip to the small town of Beloit to see the Snappers.
12 June. Chicago, IL, United States Blog post
Wrigley Field. Beautiful.
14 June. Chicago, IL, United States Blog post
The best hot dog I’ve ever had.
17 June. Denver, CO, United States Blog post
Meeting new friends and having a right laugh at a ball game.
28 June. Wenatchee, WA, United States Blog post
4 July. Estacada, OR, United States Blog post
Watching the insurgents celebrate their independence.
17 July. San Francisco, CA, United States Blog post
Eating some fantastic pizza with an ex-girlfriend’s husband and finding out what a great bloke he is.
24 July. Los Angeles, CA, United States Blog post
Going to Marina del Rey and seeing where Dennis Wilson died. No plaque, nothing particularly attractive about the place, but somewhere that I’d always dreamed of visiting.
25 July. Los Angeles, CA, United States Blog post
Dodger Stadium: the most beautiful stadium I’ve ever visited.
27 July. San Diego, CA, United States Blog post
What’s not to love about this?
9 August. Barnet, United Kingdom Blog post
It was a real headfuck being being back in London, but going to see a football game with my mate John was the highlight. Great, after six months or so away, to hang out with my mate and just natter about shit.
18 August. Berlin, Germany Blog post
Travelling to Berlin, and it feeling like home.
19 August. Berlin Germany Blog post
8 September. London, United Kingdom Blog post
Sitting in my mate Jackie’s kitchen, systematically searching for every previously unfound street named after a date and completing the A year of streets project.
22 September. Berlin, Germany to Aalst, Belgium Blog post
I spent my birthday on a train travelling to what at the time felt like it’d be my new home. Didn’t quite turn out like that, but at the time it was exciting.
18 October. Ostend, Belgium Blog post
Spending a cold, windy afternoon walking along the seafront, listened to episodes of This American Life on my headphones (something I tend to do is stock the episodes up so I can have a nice binge of three or four in one go).
5 November. Aalst, Belgium Blog post
In a cold attic, watching live streams of US television coverage of their election, and, thankfully, the Republicans not winning.
8 November. Strasbourg, France Blog post
Hanging out with my lovely friend Silke in a lovely town.
5 December. New York, NY, United States Blog post
Simply stood getting cold, looking at a beautiful sky over New York Harbor for about half an hour.
18 December. Bellingham, WA, United States Blog post
Lots and lots and lots of snow, a white Christmas.
And there’s still two more days to go, so maybe there’ll be something else noteworthy.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far, thank you. I feel like I’m always going on about the travelling I’ve done this year. It had a greater effect on me than I ever imagined, and something from those travels, particularly in South America, passes through my head daily. I miss it, and can’t wait to do it again one day. But, after a few more weeks in the States, I’ll be heading back to Berlin, looking for an apartment, getting my stuff out of storage and settling down for the foreseeable future. I’m very much looking forward to it. Here’s to a wonderful 2009 for all of us.
For some reason, this popped into my head last night. The, ahem, poem was something I wrote way back in 1994, when I was studying jewellery at university in Derby. So, always on the lookout for cheap and easy website content, I drew a circle, put some lines on it, then copy and pasted a pixelly Craig and pixelly pole from other drawings on the top. I think you’ll find that Alfred Lord Tennyson is beginning to reassess his position as Lincolnshire’s top poet.
Maybe these little porcelain kittens amuse me more that you, but they really do amuse me so.
(The image above is an animated gif, so it may take a short while to load)
Let me take this opportunity to thank you.
Thank you to those of you who’ve started reading this weblog during 2008, thank you to the more seasoned readers who have continued to read, and especially to those of you who have commented about this or that. I know that it can be a bit random and hit-and-miss at times.
It’s been a wonderful year for me, travelling around, seeing at least some of the world; and I’m genuinely humbled that you’ve chosen to give up a bit of your day to read the words I slap up here. I really enjoyed blogging this year, and part of that is down to you. I especially enjoyed it because otherwise, I’d not have kept any sort of diary or journal of events, and knowing that you were reading it pushed me to make it as interesting as possible.
For those of you that celebrate Christmas: Happy Christmas. For the Jews: Happy Hanukkah. I’ve yet to meet someone who celebrates Kwanzaa, but I’d quite like to, so Happy Kwanzaa to you. For those of you that don’t celebrate any of those: sorry that the shops are shut.
I hope you all have a wonderful time with your friends and family.
The eleventh Pigeon is online over at Spreeblick. Archive. RSS.
It’s a bit Christmassy, in so much as there’s snow. In case you’re wondering: the eyes are cranberries, the mouth is a bit of tree bark, and the nose is three-quarters of a hot dog sausage. I ate the other quarter. For art’s sake, of course.
I found this in a dusty folder on my hard drive recently. I really can’t remember the context, but the date of the file says 5 May 2005, and I believe it was just something I did during an email conversation with my then-girlfriend, Hanni. It was probably funny at the time. But now it just seems a bit creepy and perverse. If you’re wondering, Billy’s head is on top of Estella Warren’s body.
This is how close I got to spending my weekend in Seattle. Bellingham train station. The train was cancelled. And the replacement bus couldn’t take all of the passengers with tickets, so I forsook my place on the bus for people who needed to go, rather than simply wanted to go. but what with more snow forecast, who knows if I’d have been able to get back to Bellingham on Monday, anyway. So a weekend of movies and Pop Tarts beckons. What’s wrong with that?
Earlier this evening, I went to my 36th live sport event of 2008. This time, it was an (ice) hockey game at the Bellingham Sportplex. From what I can gather, it was a Division 1 game in a local league, between Bay City and the Blazers. Including Lisa, Cameron and I, there were seven spectators.
It was my first time watching the sport live, and two things hit me straight away. Firstly, it stinks in there. The smell of sweaty, wet men. Secondly, and I don’t know why I was surprised by this, but it was cold in there. Almost like they were keeping it cold in there for a reason… I wonder what that could be?
Anyway, it was a far more enjoyable game to watch live than it is on telly, mainly because I could actually see the puck moving around which I find difficult on the box. And it was refreshing to see an (ice) hockey game with no WWF-style stupid fights going on, just a bunch of regular blokes (and a couple of women) wanting to win a game. Neither team managed a win, though, with one of the teams pulling back from 4-2 down to draw level with just a couple of minutes on the clock. Those last couple of minutes were very exciting indeed.
There’s a lot of snow on the roads here. Quite dangerous. Seen a few cars slide off the road and get stuck in ditches, cars without enough traction suddenly starting to go backwards down a hill, I even saw one spin out. The bus was running fine, though. And super jolly it was, too. The driver was dressed up as Father Christmas, she had a portable CD player playing some Christmas songs, there were decorations and fairy lights all along the hand rails, and a big box of cookies for the passengers.
I tried to imagine this sort of thing on a London bus, but then my brain started to haemorrhage, so I gave up trying to force it to do something it quite clearly couldn’t cope with.
I had a nice little saunter around Bellingham, but the museums were closed, so I cut my losses and decided I’d get a bagel and head home. (The bagel shop, called the Bagelry, is great. Really nice onion bagels.) Bus ride back, went to the shop to buy some cigs, and just before I walked home, I decided to go and take a couple of photos of trees across the street on the golf course.
Snap, snap, snap, then I heard someone talking to me, I took my headphones off, and a guy said something about it not being good weather for golf. It was the guy who’d been behind me in the queue at the shop. He asked me if I lived here or was just visiting. He had an English accent, too. From Birmingham. So we had a nice little chat about the States. He loves it here. Works at some company that makes parts for aeroplanes. As we talked, I put my hand in my trouser pocket. No wallet. Checked my other trouser pockets. Nope. Coat pockets. Nope. Unzippped my rucksack, checked the three sections. No wallet. Fuck. All the time, I was nodding, smiling, carrying on with the conversation. I don’t know why it went down like it did, but even after I’d realised that, yes, I have lost my wallet, I stood there and chatted with him for a good three or four minutes. Then I apologised, told him the situation, and re-traced my steps.
Scanning all the foot prints in the snow for a black wallet-sized thing, checking any disruption to the purity of the blanket of snow, just in case it had fallen beyond the foot printy area. Nothing. Across the road, kicking up the brown snow to see if it was there. Nothing. The same in the car park. Back into the shop, they were incredibly nice. There was the middle-aged woman behind the counter who remembered how I like my cappuccino (drier rather than wetter), and calls everyone “hun.” They’d not seen it, I hadn’t left it on the counter. We checked the boxes of chocolate bars in front of the counter, and it wasn’t there either. I left them a contact number, had another check over on the golf course, then trudged home annoyed with myself. I’ll have to phone my German bank, my English bank, the credit card people, get a new driving licence, all that crap. Shit, shit, shit.
I got home, and it was nice to see Rosco, all happy to see someone back in the house. (Incidentally, I’ve no idea if that is the spelling of Rosco that Lisa and Cameron are going for. It’s more likely to be Roscoe, I suppose, but the only instances of seeing the name in print I have in my head are pop culture doofus references: Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane and rapper Rosco P. Coldchain.) I sat down, covered in snow, being licked by a happy dog. The phone rang, I checked the display at it said the store’s name. The English guy had found my wallet. If I could do an end-of-level Super Mario spinny-jump-and-peace-sign celebration, I would have done one.
I did wonder where he’d found my wallet, though. After we parted company he went off in the opposite direction, so unless he was an exceedingly good citizen and had come back to have another look for my wallet, he must’ve accidentally picked it up off the counter with his groceries after I’d left the store. So, Rosco and I went back to the store. Rosco did his business.
Then decided to have a little swim.
And when I picked up my wallet, the guy had left his name and number. I’ll give him a call later to thank him. I’m not happy with myself, though, for letting my cynical side come out and wonder why someone would leave their number unless they specifically wanted to be thanked for their good deed. Cold and wet, Rosco and I came home. Somewhere along the way, I lost the fresh packet of cigarettes out of my pocket. After what I very nearly lost, though, it’d be churlish to be annoyed about it. (I am a bit annoyed about it, though.)
Looks better, actually, if you watch the high quality version aquí.
I’m gonna assume it’s been nagging away in the back of your mind, just as it has mine: I finally got hold of that fucking Michigan quarter. Yay. And since I was here in the summer, the Alaska and Hawaii quarters have been released. I now have the whole set, which pretty much makes me king of the world.