Monthly Archives: October 2012

Oct. 20, 2012

Bullfight I attended in Mexico City in 2009. I will never go again. All praise to the bulls!

“Normal is Just a Dryer Setting: Living with Autism…” from Alexis Wineman, a young autistic woman who will be representing Montana in the Miss America contest in January.

____________________________________________

Ahmed and Bronson, CS hosts, La Condessa district, Mexico City, 2009.

Here’s a pic of my darling friends in the D.F. (District Federal). A wonderful married couple! Ahmed’s Mexican and Bronson’s from Minnesota.

__________________________________________________

The Ayatollah Begs To Differ

A Los Angeles Times and Economist Best Book of the Year With a New Preface

The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, journalist Hooman Majd is uniquely qualified to explain contemporary Iran’s complex and misunderstood culture to Western readers.

The Ayatollah Begs to Differ provides an intimate look at a paradoxical country that is both deeply religious and highly cosmopolitan, authoritarian yet informed by a history of democratic and reformist traditions. Majd offers an insightful tour of Iranian culture, introducing fascinating characters from all walks of life, including zealous government officials, tough female cab drivers, and open-minded, reformist ayatollahs. It’s an Iran that will surprise readers and challenge Western stereotypes.

Ont the street in Queretaro, Mexico on Christmas eve, 2009.

In his new preface, Majd discusses the Iranian mood during and after the June 2009 presidential election which set off the largest street protests since the revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power.

_________________________________

Here’s what all I dreamed about last night undert a golden quilt at Jim’s safe, beautiful old house in Coral Gables, Florida:

new baby, world chaos, high-class restaurant job, alien contact, first flight (I was flying!), boy in a bar, old women’s restaurant, Sam (my grandson), my hand is all gross/burned/disfigured.

Advertisements

Oct. 19, 2012

On the pavement at the Midway4 Mall in Miami. Oct. 2012

Warm, warm rain and thunder here in Miami. I’m at Angelina’s, a nice little cafe with free wifi, near the Mall and near my next CS host’s here (also near downtown). I had a double-espresso, a shot of wheatgrass juice.

__________________________________________

Brickell, The Wonder Dog of Miami. Oct. 2012

My theme in this piece — and in my life — is trust. So I am having lots of pics of dogs from now on.

This dog, Brickell, was rescued after he fell from a Miami drawbridge into the river. Jim, my  CS host, adopted her.

Dog Falls Off Brickell Drawbridge Saved By David Bernstein, Good Samaritan (VIDEO)

Posted: 07/19/2012 10:37 am Updated: 07/19/2012 2:47 pm

Dog Brickell Bridge

Can our city — which is known for its vanity, crime, and deadly driving — redeem its reputation by Miamians’ commitment to rescuing animals in distress?

David Bernstein was stopped on the Brickell Bridge Tuesday night when he saw a terrier-mix dog jaunt towards the opening drawbridge, as first reported by CBS Miami.

Bernstein reportedly got out of his car, tried to get the bridge operator’s attention to stop the bridge from opening, and finally pursued the puppy himself.

But he was too late, missing the animal by a foot, and the clamoring dog fell 5 stories down through the widening gap.

“Poor girl, she was trying to hang on to the grated surface here…and she just slid through the crack,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein told CBS he looked for the dog under the bridge for an hour. The next day, he returned and spoke with a bridge operator who said the pup may have fallen in one the “tunnels” built under the bridge.

There they found the dog, covered in mud and oil, where it had been stranded for the last 12 hours. Bernstein took it to a local animal hospital, where a vet checked out in perfect health despite the long fall.

NBC 6 reports that the tunnels had not been drained recently, so collected water softened the dog’s fall.

The lucky dog, who was sporting a pink sweater, is clearly not a stray. Bernstein hopes to reunite it with its owner.

–What ended up happening was that no owner showed up, and my CS host, Jim, adopted Brickell, about two months ago. Brickell and Smokey, a four-year-old cocker spaniel are a tight pair. With Jim, they make up a family.

Brickell, Jim, and Smokey. Oct. 2012

______________________________________

I am here at Angelina’s, listening to WWOZ New Orleans live radio, on my headphones. They are talking with Dave Ferrato, local musician (band: Tchoupazine), about the gris-gris (magic, voodoo) in the Magazine St. and Tchoupitoulas area (the “Tchoupazine“).

Tchoupitoulas Street

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Tipitina’s at the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Napoleon

Tchoupitoulas Street /ˌtʃɑːpɨˈtuːlɨs/ ( listen) is a street in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It is the through street closest to the Mississippi River running through Uptown New Orleans. Formerly, the street was heavily devoted to river shipping commerce, but as shipping became less of a need in the later 20th century, more of the street became devoted to residential and other commercial uses.

____________________________________________

The structure is what counts. The structure of life, of writing, of making films. I heard this last night when I was watching the documentary that accompanies Young Frankenstein (have seen this movie 3 times my life). Mel Brooks told co-writer Gene Wilder (who wrote the original script) to “shake the pillars” of the script and take out whatever shakes loose and keep whatever stays solid.

I love Couchsurfing. I love meeting people this way. I don’t meet them in public (usually); I am welcomed right into their houses. It’s amazing. It’s magical. In addition, where would I stay if I didn’t have these usually lovely people’s houses? I’d have to camp out or something. Sleep in alleyways (yeah, right).?

But really, I love meeting people, I love meeting Couchsurfers. It’s such an easy, wonderful, intense and thoroughly intimate way to meet people — I am suddenly part of their lives, living with them! Where and when else does this happen? Nowhere in my life.

There are very few more exciting experiences in my life than the combination of Couchsurfing-plus-Traveling. Well, there are NO more exciting experiences. Yeah.

This is the top for me: the whole enchilada. The reasons are 1.) While Couchsurfing, I meet wonderful people in their own homes (where they are most likely to be themselves), 2.) After a few days, I move on, continuing to travel and have more adventures in other places with other people.

The key is to continue to TRUST. Trust the universe, trust other Sentient Beings, trust yourself, trust life.

When I shake the pillars of the successful, positive, social experiment that is Couchsurfing.org, trust is one part of the structure that remains solid. What falls loose and must be discarded is fear.

My son and daughter-in-law’s (Seth and Noelle’s) very trusting dogs, Happy and Kirra. Oct. 2012

Oct. 18, 2012

Me and my youngest brother, Brownie Boswell from Destin, Florida. Taken in New Orleans in c. 2010 (2011?).

Cough cures:

1.)     Cider vinegar and honey (whiskey optional), as strong as you like it!

2.)     Thyme tea (brew it strong!) with honey.

Believe me, these natural remedies work, and they won’t give you “severe liver damage” if you take too much (like store-bought cough suppressant medicine [I read this on the label!]).

3.)     Overheard today at Publix, a great market here in Coral Gables (and in other areas):

Vodka and honey!

(“It cures your cough AND helps you sleep!”)

_____________________________

Big banyan tree near Jim’s house in Coral Gables, Florida. Oct. 2012

I just adore the culture here in Miami. First, it’s hot hot hot and humid. So, much is forgiven and much insanity is expected. Second, many Cubans are here — and Haitians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, South and Central Americans. It’s very diverse, marvelously Spanish(-speaking), and OUT-going with all that entails/includes/permits. Yea!

For 20  minutes I talked to a Marco, a Cuban guy who has been here for 25 years. He works at Publix. He told me about Cuba and about Italian wines. Fabulous! Marco probably got a kick out of my initial conversation-opener: “Where is the ‘Waiter’s Cork Screw’ wine that’s on sale for $3.99?” Oh, those are the cork screws hanging alongside the wines right below that little sign.

Uh, oh. Yeah. OK.

Marco told me that one should not have more than 3 glasses of wine. Wine cleans out the blood. Italian wine is the best (French and Spanish wine gives one headaches; Australian–ditto: Yellow Tail is very bad; some California wines can be good, some not). Get a Merlot. Marco pays about $5 a bottle for wine; he directed me to the cheap Italian wines in the store. I found 2 bottles of Italian wine for $10. Merlot.

We went on from there to a discussion of Cuba then (perfect! beautiful!) and Cuba now (horrible! destroyed! very poor!).

Most tourists only see the sweet parts of Cuba. A Couchsurfer I stayed with in Bolinas, Ca. a few (3?) years ago had visited Cuba recently and was gutsy enough to look behind the facade the authorities presented. She met real Cubans, poor people  in dire straits, who were roughly prohibited from going into any tourist areas.

My Publix informant on the much-vaunted Cuban health care system: Great system; wonderful doctors; the hospitals/clinics have NO supplies!

So much for my desire to try to sneak into Cuba on this trip.

Miami, or Coral Gables at least, is divine. Beautiful architecture (Jim’s street is full of lovely old [1930s] Spanish-style homes); little lizards everywhere; huge banyan trees. I will know more soon:  I go into Miami-proper tomorrow to another Couchsurfer’s house across from Target.

_________________________________

PUBLIX

(from Wikipedia)

Publix Super Markets, Inc. (commonly known as Publix) is an American supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Florida.[6]

Founded in 1930 by George W. Jenkins, it is an employee-owned, privately held corporation. Publix is currently ranked No. 67 on Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For 2011 and was ranked No. 6 on Forbes‘ 2011 list of America’s Largest Private Companies and is the largest in Florida. The company’s 2011 sales totaled US$27.1 billion, with profits of nearly $1.5 billion, ranking #106 on Fortune magazine’s Fortune 500 list of U.S. companies for 2012. Supermarket News ranked Publix No. 8 in the 2012 “Top 75 North American Food Retailers” based on 2008 fiscal year sales. Based on 2011 revenue, Publix is the fourteenth-largest US retailer. Publix’s current stock price is $22.40 per share though it is privately held and not available to the public.

Publix has operations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

In 2012, Publix announced they would open stores in Charlotte, North Carolina, the first in the state. Publix also said they are already looking to expand within the state.

_________________________

Anya and Alon, my oldest child and her husband. 2011

Here’s a picture I can insert just because this is my blog and I can do that.

Everybody who wants to freely express themselves would love to blog. It’s so much fun! Cock-a-doodle do!

 

_________________________________________

I was talking to a man on the street in Los Angeles, and I told him about Couchsurfing. He was astounded and shocked, and he undoubtedly thought I was a deranged, warped woman. “So you haven’t been trapped yet,” he said referring to my surfing experiences. This disturbing and seemingly cowardly man was hobbling along on a cane as a result of a broken foot he got in Vietnam. He tries to walk two miles a day. I left him behind at his suggestion; he was probably relieved to be rid of me.

No, I haven’t been trapped yet. What a fucking, scary thought! I do go into strangers’ houses all the time, and I spend nights there, trusting these unknown people with my life. And my passport.

Did that Los Angelino know something I don’t? Is my charmed time, traveling here and there, at strangers’ mercy, limited? Someday, will I be swallowed up, never to return, lost forever, my whereabouts unknown? Could I be tortured for months, killed and probably eaten by a perverted monster?Yes, it could happen. It could happen to any of us who wander, homeless, around the world

We all know psychotic killers exist and are searching for their victims RIGHT NOW. What more perfect disguise could there be than a benign, generous Couchsurfing host? A person who welcomes grateful, weary travelers looking for shelter from the storms of life.

Great. Now, I’m terrified and forever cursed by that broken, old man’s fears. Let’s hope this is only a story… I have to stop doing this to myself!

Happy Hallowe’en.

Oct. 17, 2012: Florida

I’m here in a fancy little city next to Miami called Coral Gables. I’m waiting until 10 am when my CS host is free. It’s 9.
Breakfast at Airport: Cafe con leche and a Jamaican vegetable patty. $4.60

Breakfast at Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Oct. 17, 2012

Then, I took one train and three buses. This sign was at the very front of one of the buses:

“Seat dedicated in honor of Rosa Parks 1913-2005”

 Saw a big “Stop Obama” billboard once I got to Miami.At Starbucks/Einstein Bros Bagels now, coughing, sucking on cough-suppressant drops, and drinking OJ.I have about $130 to last me two weeks til the end of the month. Food and buses. Spent over$10 today on breakfast and buses.___________________________________________________

Now, it’s after 10 am Wednesday, Oct. 17, and I’m with my first Miami-area host. Jim inherited the house his grandparents lived in. He spent time here as a child. It’s a rather fancy, old, treasure of a house.I’m at the end of a cold and still coughing. (I felt like I coughed almost continuously at Barbara’s.) I have almost no money left, and I arrived without food or wine (which is unusual for me); in addition, I am nomadic and don’t even want a home. Lots of people can’t accept such very different values. Jim seems cool with it — he said that he thinks most people are brainwashed and don’t ever consider alternatives to what our culture says is the “right” way to live. Jim’s very conventional, so what he’s saying is not very clear to me.I told Jim my whole sad story (no money, etc.), and I don’t know what he thinks of me.

I just felt so tired this morning and so guilty about showing up empty-handed. But Jim’s very well off, and, while making a contribution is a nice thing to do, it’s very bourgeois. Jim doesn’t NEED food from me, and I actually do NEED the money I have left to just squeak through the month.It has come to be expected within the CS community that  guests will bring a gift (often food or wine). The vast majority of CS surfers seem to have money, so there’s no question of whether or not they can afford to bring something for their host.It’s wonderful when we can bring a contribution, but if a broke surfer came to my house for two or three days, I hope I would be generous with them and understand the difficult spot they are in by trying to live and travel on such limited funds.

Serious travelers like me (I guess I mean nomadic people rather than tourists or vacationers) often can’t afford it. Like now, I occasionally end up with only enough money to get myself through the month.

Some guests take their hosts out to eat! That’s so crazy because then someone like me shows up, someone who really needs to couchsurf and can’t afford a hotel, and the hosts probably feel slighted by my (relative) poverty and my inability to take them out to eat. (See note on this below, talking about CS host, Bob Lee.)

The bar has been raised a bit too high, and CS may now be populated by more middle class (economically well-off) people than in the past. Maybe CS is becoming like the rest of the U.S.: wealthy people hang with people who are economically like themselves, and poor people hang with poor people. I think this is because rich people hate that we poor people can’t afford all the stuff they do/have, but they don’t hate it enough to share some cash with us (so we can party together!).

Some of these wealthier folks are happy to host travelers like me. I share all of my self with them: my life, my time, my stories. They usually like hosting people like me, and they don’t  want any economic or material returns for giving me a couch and shower for a few days.

I have had many incredible Couchsurfing hosts. Bob Lee in Hilo, Hawaii is one. He has a jar on his kitchen counter for any financial contribution people can make for groceries (but it is definitely NOT REQUIRED). He doesn’t watch what individuals put in it. He just enjoys his Couchsurfers! He cooks simple meals for us, popcorn and a movie at night, and, he likes taking Couchsurfers around the Big Island and showing them the sights. He loves it, and his surfers love it.  *When I had money, I  took Bob out for dinner a few times–yeah, I forgot that I did that! Good.

When CS hosts are like that, it’s just wonderful. They make me feel very relaxed and welcome.

Here in Coral Gables, Jim’s standard of living is so much higher than mine that I feel awkward. I can’t eat the way he does (and I don’t need or want to). Is it me or has CS become so trendy and cool that poor travelers, at least in the US, often feel unwelcome now unless they can bring expensive gifts to their hosts?

At Barbara’s in Inglewood, I spent about $25 on food and wine. I was very glad to do be able to do that. We ate all the food I brought and drank all the wine (plus I left an unopened $2 Chuck bottle there). Barbara offered me a lot of her food with love. That was very nice.  I definitely can’t afford to spend that much money with every host I visit when I’m doing some heavy traveling, like now. I am confused and torn about this.

The U.S. has such a high standard of living compared to the rest of the world; I can’t compete or fit into the U.S. standard. In fact, over the past 35+ years I have consciously chosen to have a lower, more universal standard of living. As a result, I am in a conflicted position when traveling in my own country.

________________________________________________

The 5 hour flight here on Spirit Airlines (the “ultra low-cost airline”) was very uncomfortable. I put my sleeping bag over my head and did sleep a little; I felt like I was wearing a burka. Our seats didn’t recline, and there was exceedingly little space between me and the seat in front of me. Well, that’s what I paid for. The terminal waiting area, pilots, flight attendants, the plane itself, and my fellow-passengers were all fine; the take-off and landing were smooth, and we arrived safely and on-time. What’s to complain about? Nothing.

We got in at 2:30 am Los Angeles time (lost 3 hours en route). Today I feel so uninspired and empty because I didn’t go to that place I go to in my dreams. I feel like an empty shell. I haven’t touched base enough with my soul in the last 24 hours.

It’s super humid and warm here in Florida; feels like rain.

__________________________________________________

Romany People By Country (Wikipedia)Distribution of the Romani people in Europe (2007 Council of Europe “average estimates”, totalling 9.8 million) * The size of the wheel symbols reflects absolute population size * The gradient reflects the percent in the country’s population: 0%                              10%.
 (“The gradient” refers to gray [0%] to green [10%] colors on chart.)
____________________________________________
_____________________________________________Miami Jim.Had a nice dinner with Jim. He made lentil soup and bread! And he made me thyme tea with honey and also cider vinegar with honey for my cough. Very nice and generous man!All is well despite all my worrying and bitching. As usual

Oct. 16, 2012

Sunset, Venice Beach.

We picked Ramona up at LAX last night. She’s the daughter of my Couchsurfing host, Barbara.

Ramona’s just returning from  D.C. and New York, and before that, Chile.

Hot day and the fumes were very bad at LAX (in loading zone). I felt sick for a few hours.

Barbara and I had a great hour-long workout this morning with about 30 Mexican women, free and outdoors at an Inglewood park.

Ramona, young world-traveler! Oct. 2012 Los Angeles

Tonight I fly from LAX to Ft. Lauderdale. Then, in the morning, I’ll make my way to my Miami Couchsurfer:  “MiamiJim.”

Venice, California

Here (below) is one more L.A. picture before I leave. From Venice Beach: a little girl practicing some frisbee tricks just off the Boardwalk.


Headin to where I love the life: Down South. Deep South. Dixieland.

 

 

 

 

Here’s me at LAX Oct. 16 for night flight to Miami:

LAX Oct. 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Oct. 15, 2012

Here’s Miss Barbara, my Inglewood, Ca. CS host. Oct. 14, 2012

I am here in Venice Beach at Starbucks at the end of the Venice Pier. Oh, yeah. I’m online, and I am listening to the Southern Blues from the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest, streamin’ live from New Orleans. Drinkin’ iced coffee.

I walked around amidst the crowds of people at Venice Beach. It’s Sunday, and there are tons of people here. It’s hot and I went into the public toilets by Muscle Beach, between the crowded arcade and the pier.

 

Brie, Miss Barbara’s neighbor

Barbara’s backyard isn’t big by any means, but she’s got a whole world of

 

veggies and fruit trees and three bee hives out there. In the front yard are cacti and succulents.

Below is a picture of a very cute performer here at Venice Beach Boardwalk. I saw him in Hollywood, too. He calls himself “Sexy Black Guy.” He does acrobatic tricks, like jumping over a row of people who are bending over. He’s funny, cute and smart. He (and all the black performers out there: the majority) make funny, smart jokes about white people.

_____________________

Glass-jumpin’ performer and couple from audience. Venice Beach Boardwalk, Ca. Oct. 14, 2012

I’m going to Miami in two days. I was conceived there, I think. Home of my Soul circa Nov. 7, 1945. I think my Soul’s Home now is New Orleans. Or maybe in New Mexico. Or perhaps somewhere I haven’t been yet.

The gorgeous pair of young people in a few of these photos were pulled out of the audience at Venice yesterday (they weren’t together) to participate with the performer who jumps from a chair into a pile of broken glass. Awesome because of the chemistry between the young, gorgeous couple.

The performer kept calling the young man “chicken legs.” Ha ha. A wonderful half hour show on the Boardwalk.

Oct. 13, 2012

Among all the stars along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles is Keanu Reeves’ star. Oct. 2012

Rachel is in the L.A. circus scene. She goes to “circ school” and is an aerial performer. I’m hanging out here at Catherine’s house in Hollywood with Rachel and Catherine, the voice-over queen. Cat told me that 95% of the people in the SAG union (screen actors’ guild) don’t make a living from their work.

The make-up union is, like, $7,000 to join. SAG’s annual dues are a percentage of your income, and that union costs about $2500 to join.

_____________________________

Oct. 13, Saturday

I wake up early in Hollywood. Cat’s asleep.I have my headlamp on to see the computer screen.

Today I go to Barbara’s in Inglewood; she’s another Couchsurfer, my age. (Cat was 40.)  Will catch an early bus (Metro 212 on Hollywood Blvd.) and just hang around, waiting for Barb and scoping out Inglewood (which Cat says has gangs and is ugly). With a book and Queenie, the divine PC, I can happily hang anywhere for hours.

Decided I don’t have the bus money to go to Naples. It’s about $30 from Miami to Naples and the same returning to Miami. I have about $150 til the end of the month, plus on one of my Spirit Airlines flights I have to pay a $30 carry-on luggage fee! If it’s on the flight to Miami on the 16th I have to save that now.  So, I have enough for the month if I don’t go to Naples. Too bad though because I would like to have seen my nephew David and his family and my brother Hill and his wife, Patti.

_______________________

Took Metro bus#212 from outside the Chinese Theater (where all the handprints of stars are in the cement) on Hollywood Blvd. over here to Inglewood. Cost: $.25 for seniors on weekends. Took about 1/2 hour, mostly along La Brea.

One homeless-lookin’ woman piled a big old black plastic trash bag of stuff by the front door when she got on the bus. The driver told her to move her stuff on back into the bus and the woman wouldn’t. She got really mad at the driver and started ripping up the driver’s stuff and put her hands on the young woman driver. Some men from the back of the bus calmed down the angry woman and got her off the bus; then, we applauded and one of the helpful men began talking loud about god.

Homeless/poor people get on the bus for free, I guess. I heard this from Cat and from what I observed today, it’s true. Nice.

_______________________________________

I got to Starbucks about 10 am and hung out, drinking coffee and eating pumpkin bread for a while. Got directions to the local Walmart (on Crenshaw Blvd.). Took two buses and walked almost a mile to get there. Traffic (including buses) is all detoured today because the Endeavor space shuttle is in town, and everyone I talked to wants to go see it.

I got nice Frog-something brand headphones for about $10; I have them on now back here at Starbucks in Inglewood. I’m drinking a coffee-free vanilla bean frappacino, and listening to WWOZ radio in New Orleans, live at the Crescent City Blues and Barbeque Fest in Lafayette Square. It’s 2:00.

___________________________

What appeals to me about a place is the visual effect on me, the auditory appeal, the smells, and how it effects me emotionally (and, I suppose, psychically). I don’t give a rats ass about how a place makes sense to me, the logic of living there, the economic benefits to me, etc.

___________________________

Here (below) is my Darling Boy, Sam, with a nice garter snake he caught back behind the natural food store around the community garden in Nederland, Colorado a few years ago. I took this picture. Boy, did he ever used to love snakes! I wonder if he still does.

I haven’t seen Sam since right before I left Nederland at the end of April, this year. I sure do miss him.

Sam, 2010