Monthly Archives: February 2010

Saw It In A Movie…

Apparently Martin Scorcese’s new movie is out today. You might have heard of it: Shutter Island. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t say one way or another if it’s cinematic gold or trash, but I do know that movies are spectacular ways to get me interested in a place. Casablanca makes me feverish for Morocco and cigarettes.

That said, movies are also great for telling me where I shouldn’t be going, often in gruesome ways.  I will forever stick to the roads and beware the moors because of An American Werewolf in London.

Go here for a list of bad vacation spots, brought to you by Hollywood. They’re pretty spot on.

Wanderlust Hall of Fame: Alexander von Humboldt

Wie geht's, bitches?

Oh Alexander, I want to be just like you. I want to travel uncharted waters and lands with my French manservant. I want to encounter foreign peoples, map the Amazon and let the Spanish know that they have the location of Cuba totally fucking wrong on their nautical charts. (To which the Spanish said, “Hey thanks! Can I interest you in some tapas, perhaps?”) I want dare myself, like you, to wander up mountainsides and look at the life in everything. You, sir, define the word “wanderlust” and are likewise German and awesome.  Here’s to you and your extraordinary accomplishments.

Behold Alex’s many good deeds in the name of travel here.

My Top 5 “Once Was Enough” Travel Destinations

None of us here at TWD are strangers to getting around and seeing new places. But for every excellent vacation and accidentally awesome discovery made on the road, there is a corresponding “What the fuck did I just see?” moment. Here are 5 places I am content to leave off future travel rosters. Seeing them once will last me a life time.

5. Worlds Largest Truck Stop – Walcott, IA. This wasn’t so much a travel destination as a “Oh look there, it’s 4 am, I’m in a car with Rosalita and I could use a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit” spontaneous stop. And that’s pretty much all I would recommend it for…It’s a glorified haven for fast food and gasoline. How it has blossomed into Route 66 nostalgia nightmare is beyond me. But to be fair, it is host to the annual Trucker Jamboree. Which might be fun. If you’re into 18 wheelers. All I know is I have since passed the World’s Largest Truck Stop on many of my cross-I-80 trips without much more than a look at the dash to be sure I don’t need to stop for gas or Slim Jims. Or nasty bathroom trucker sex.

4. Mealy Mounds Archaeological Site – Mokane, MO. With a name like Mealy Mounds, you know it’s bound to be a great weekend getaway. Now, I can’t be responsible if I’m wrong on the name of this one, since I was only 10 or 11 when I visited. But it left an impression friends. I remember being tucked in the family van, driving through pleasant Missouri hills and woods, the only car in the whole park it seemed. We pulled up to the Indian burial mounds we had come to see, just small careful hills covered in grass, really only discernable from normal grassy knolls because we had been told what the were, and the suspect lack of trees upon them. But no one wanted to get out of the car. Not a-one of  us. The air was rife with foreboding and ghosts. We were not wanted here. It’s difficult to describe what this feels like, but imagine what it would take for a white, middle class family to drive all the way out to the boondocks and defer from seeing their destination. Also, at the time I’d already read Pet Semetary and I knew that this is what happens when you fuck with that shit. No one needs a scalpel wielding toddler around.

3. Oliver Anderson House -Lexington, MO – Yet another horrifying trip from my childhood. What, you don’t mean kids aren’t totally into blood stains from the civil war and holes in the ceiling from cannon fire? And ghosts? Creepy creepy cemetaries? Unholy land where the souls of lost soldiers wander just to scare the shit out of your kid? My parents strove to give me nightmares.

2. Medieval Crime Museum – Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany – This one actually scores high on the interesting-meter, but in a beautiful walled city in Germany, where you can eat the best pastries in the world that i never shut up about, it’s a big downer to suddenly get reminded of all the gruesome ways people like to hurt people. Just…bummer.

Yeah. That.

1. Dachau Concentration Camp – Dachau, Germany –  Let me be clear: I include this on the list for completely different reasons than the previous entries. No, I do not think that a truck stop is on the same tier of horrifying as a prison camp. And I do believe that everyone with a soul and eyes toward the future should force themselves to stare at this kind of evil. But once is good enough. You cannot walk on this ground, you cannot look at the chimneys of the incinerator silhouetted against the sky, you cannot notice the quiet German neighborhood backing up to the barbed wire fence, without feeling your heart wrung with anger and despair at the black things man can accomplish. But to keep your heart in that vice grip is dangerous; leads you to your own thoughts of torture and vengeance. And the world has no use for any more of that.

Via Chicago

On my departing flight from Buenos Aires the second time, I realized that there were STILL things that I didn’t get a chance to do there.  We won’t get into why I didn’t get around to doing those things, but suffice it say, I have regret.  Luckily I may get another chance to do them, but it’s not always going to be that way.  So this time, planning to leave another major city for an indefinite amount of time, I feel that it is best to make a list and follow it.  There are some things I’ve had the chance to do over the past two years in Chi-town that are pretty much awesome.  And there are some things that will be fucking amazing as soon as I get off my lazy ass and do them.


Wilco – Yes this tops my list.  Two nights of Wilco in their hometown was about as epic as a show can get.  I wish I could do it over again.  And over again and over again.  Just like I wish I could do Jeff Tweedy. Over and over again.

Air and Water Show from the John Hancock Building – It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  And I know my aunt. Who knows a doctor.  Who has a penthouse on the 80-something floor of the Hancock Building.  We got to see the airplanes whiz by and watch all the dumb shits stuck down on their boats in the rain FROM ON TOP OF THE HANCOCK. We win!

Sail the Great Lake Michigan – We’ve already established that I use people for their stuff.  To the horror of pretty much everyone I know, I voluntarily went out on a boat, at night, alone, with a guy I work with who just so happens to be 50, ogre-like and desperately single.  I realize that this had the makings of a B horror movie, something like, “Raped at Sea,” but it all worked out fine.  So to all the naysayers: I’m on a boat, motherfuckers, don’t you ever forget!

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel – While it may be an overpriced tourist attraction, it remains a twinkle on the city’s skyline: the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel.  Like sex in an alley with a dirty hooker, it doesn’t last long and it costs a lot, but you’ll always remember the view.

Cubs game – I am not a Cubs fan. I’m not really a fan of Cubs fans either.  Actually the fans are the ones that suck.  However, I’m willing to ignore them for a few hours if someone else is paying for an awesome ticket behind home plate on a warm fall night at Wrigley.


See Second City – It just seems wrong that in the few years I’ve been here, I haven’t bothered to go see the show that Chicago is known for.  The show the gave birth to Ms. Tina Fey and her awesome ass.  I’m ashamed.  I seek redemption, Tina!

Eat at Hot Doug’s –  Sadly, I have yet to get my mouth on a Doug’s juicy sausage.  Always a reason to put it off (it’s Saturday and the line is long and it’s raining and I’m lazy), a trip to Doug’s has eluded me.  I just need to remember these three words: Duck. Fat. Fries.

South Side Irish Parade – So I heard a rumor that the South Side Irish Parade is no more.  Bollocks.  The Irish didn’t eat moldy fucking potatoes for a hundred years just to have their most exuberant parade of prideful hooligans shut down by some bloody pigs.  No sir.  There will be a parade. And I will be there, soaked to my shamrock knickers in green Guinness.

River Tour – Ahhh, smell that? That’s the Chicago River.  Smells like sewage.  Looks like sewage.  But still people seem to really enjoying taking a nice little ride around the city on it.  I did it back when I was a lil’un and it was good times.  I want to go again.  Just gotta make sure there aren’t any mediocre rock stars trolling round town in their tour bus, accidentally dumping feces on innocent water taxis.

Buddy Guy’s and a return to Kingston Mines – I’ve been to Kingston Mines once and it was awesome.  But Layla sat by Buddy Guy.  That makes me jealous.  Now as someone who hasn’t even been to Buddy’s, I really have no reason to be hatin’ until I boogie woogie my way in there.

“It’s like a fucking fairytale.”

Because no one wants to read about a bunch of Debbie Downers, I move to lighten the mood! Travel gets all sorts of great representations on screen – there is probably no more accurate medium to translate the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land than film. So here, I give you “In Bruges” – not just my favorite travel movie, but possibly my favorite movie ever. Makes amazing use of “otherness” and the fucking gorgeous scenery.

Anyone else got a favorite?