Tag Archives: travel

NYC in 12 hrs

New York City

New York City (Photo credit: kaysha)

If you only have half a day in the City of Empire, here is what you need to do.

I’m meeting a client for a writing project in New York next week, taking the train in from Philly, and there is no way in Tartarus I’m going to waste a trip to The City. I’ve got shore leave for 12 hours. What am I going to do?

So I started thinking — what if this was my first time, or my only time, or a stopover on a world tour? What must be done if I wanted to introduce myself to NYC?

The following is a NY lifetime packed into one single trip around the face of a clock.

Old New York was once Nieuw Amsterdam, according to They Might Be Giants. It still is, if you recognize contemporary Amsterdam as the European headquarters of finance, art and sin. Investigating these three spheres of knowledge will suffice as a time map of your day in the Big Apple.


12 noon – Take a taxi to Wall Street and get a pic with the obligatory bull. Grab some grub at The Spotted Pig in the West Village with investor and frequent luncher Jay-Z. Don’t complain if you have to share a table with Luke Wilson, Courtney Love or Jude Law when it gets busy. Take a Styrofoam to-go cup and head to 47th St and 6th Ave for an afternoon of prospecting. Between the diamond exchanges and gold merchants, one patient soul found $800 of discarded wealth on the sidewalk. Will your friends laugh at you for spending your precious time in the Empire City looking for garbage? Sure. Will they shut up when you drop the benjamins? Likely.


4 pm  – Art is what defines us as distinct from animals. Ants build cities, otters use tools, birds have language but only humans spend every waking moment swimming in symbols. Leave the Met, the MoMA, the Whitney and the Guggenheim for a time when you can spend a few days to gaze in wide wonder. Today, you will need to become the artist. On your smart phone, learn street photography from Yomatic, then take the Landmarks Photo Tour from Citifari. Starting at the world-famous Camera Superstore of B&H, you can pick up what you need there or rent a DSLR with a SD memory card from Citifari. You will trek across Manhattan, learning about f-stops, apertures, and deep focus as you capture lightning in a bottle, or at least some share-worthy uploads for Instagram. The tour culminates at the cinematic UN building on 1st Ave and 42nd St. It is time to put away your art and welcome the night.


8 pm – Rick Blaine once told Major Strasser that there are certain sections of New York he would advise him not to try to invade. I believe he was referring to the South Bronx, Brooklyn Heights, and the murder capital of Brownsville. Actually Midtown, with all its gawking tourists, rates dead last on the safety list, so travel by yellow cab and don’t carry purses or bags if you can avoid it. Eat dessert for dinner at ChickaLicious then hide out at someplace like Le Scandal Cabaret for a night of torch singing fan dancers, contortionist fire eaters, neon sword swallowers, animal-riding belly dancers and performance art that you won’t be able to unsee.

At midnight, your glass slippers fall off and your carriage turns into a pumpkin. Time to catch your plane, train or hotel bed. If not, you’ll regret it; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. As you return to your regularly scheduled boredom, take a moment to thank the Sumerians for their base 12 numeric system, giving us our hours, months and the zodiac.

Right now, as I sit here wondering whether the Babylonian Great Intercalation syncs up with the Mayan End of Days, I can hear the whistle of the tonight’s last train to NYC. The whistle is saying that I will never be able to see it all and that is OK. After all, isn’t my bucket list is half full?


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Happy Cemetery!

“Stop the car!”

happy cemetary

I was sick as hell. The Carpathians are unforgiving in the winter. We had just come up from Sighişoara, the boyhood home of Vlad Țepeș (affectionately known as Dracula) and I couldn’t get myself right.

Part of it was the Ţuică, fruit alcohol that my travel-fatigued liver couldn’t understand. Part of it was slamming along potholes the size of mortars in a Soviet built Dacia.


“But there is nowhere here,” my driver sagely advised like a giant ungreen Yoda.

“Stop!” I bellowed.

We skidded to a halt and I tumbled out.

The cemetery was waiting.

I miss it all now. Adventure is someone else going through hell and now I have become someone else to myself.

Tonight I’m writing a book proposal about the happy cemetery. If you are an agent, give me a shout. I’ll make you a superstar — trust me, baby.

The people of Săpânţa know how to die. One side of the grave marker shows the deceased in the full stream of life; the other, floating on the surface. A jolly poem often accompanies each. As baseball, there is no crying in Săpânţa.

It’s like Edward Gorey married Melissa and Doug. Come to Transylvania and enjoy the happy cemetery. And don’t bother about the return ticket.


happy cemetery

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Why travel?

Why do you travel?

When I was asked this recently I had no answer.


Image by yilmaz ovunc via Flickr

‘Why not?’ is woefully inadequate. How about all you travelers on Triberr and Empire Avenue? {EAV:be3ccb82d15ad0e9}

How can you answer someone who doesn’t have the fever?

In Victorian times, the novel was born partially because people wanted to know about the world and couldn’t. Dracula was really just a travelogue with monsters on the side. Travel was dangerous and expensive. But now? It’s more dangerous to stay home.

If you want to see the world, go to YouTube. If you want to explore different ways of life, go on Twitter. If you want to expose your mind to the full experience of being alive, try to find a parking space at the mall.

Why travel? After crawling through the muddy underbelly of 54 countries, I still can’t tell you. I only hope the answer lies in 55.

Here are a couple of my crawls:

Summer in Bodrum

Poisoned on Paros


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Relaunching the Blimp

This is no technological breakdown. This is the road…
Helium blimp Today I am relaunching the Blimp (BLog Is MicroPilot) with a focus on History, Travel and Meditation. These topics will sharpen as I figure out why we are here, how must one live as a philosopher, how to endure the thorns and claws of an angry world, and why a blog would be able to help with any of that. I welcome guest blogs from fellow triberrs and all well-reasoned comments.

From the quiet calm above the clouds, we will become our own panopticon.

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Filed under Meditation