Saturday, March 28, 2015
Poof! Jim Vanishes without so much as a trace...
That's all you will hear, just a quiet muffled poof, not sure from what direction it came or how close it is to you. In front of you or behind? In the same room or outside on the porch? Something fell off a shelf or finally rotted enough to just collapse under its own weight. You turn to the place you thought the poof poofed, but there's nothing there but the tiniest wisp of white smoke.
You turn back around to where I was standing just a few feet away, not a minute, a minute! before, but I am not there. There no wet foot prints, no glass or bottle, nothing to indicate I was even ever there. The tiny wispy strands of smoke seem determined to fill the empty space let by me.
But I am not there. I am gone.
You look. Other looks. Neighbors look. The nice local policeman makes a sincere effort.
Nothingbecomes of it. A few flyer posted at the laundramat and the bars.A local TV crew comes to town and slaps together a sloppy piece that airs just once. Somebody says somebody filed a missing persons type report.
Doubt enters your mind. You know your memory is not as good as it once was.
So was I ever there?
No one, not a living soul! ever sees the likes of me again.
I have vanished on this continent or that. Last few passport stamps would send the friend, or a family rep, or a private dick, or police detective, or a forensic pathologist, or an investigative reporter of the Pro Publica school, the exact wrong way. The dead wrong way to the dead end. Several false leads, ute bils, tickets, phones, registration all pointed to a score of dead towns difficult to reach in winter.
Rumors, Instagram pix, coded words used bit only once, fleetingly, on a phone that then is thrown in a river. One call, one phone...plunk. But no seems to know if it is me at all, or just a wannabe...even
a ghost in a certain radio
machine that had been smuggled in-country right under the collected noses of the constabulatory.
No confirmed sightings. Cash rewards eventualy resinded. A few files go missing.
Case goes cold. Other cases pile up. Old folks die.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Scores of Travel Tips and Sayings
"The traveler may feel assured, he will meet with no difficulties or dangers, excepting in rare cases, nearly so bad as he beforehand anticipates. In a moral point of view, the effect ought to be, to teach him good-humored patience, freedom from selfishness, the habit of acting for himself, and of making the best of every occurrence. Traveling ought also to teach him distrust; but at the same time he will discover, how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he never before had, or ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance." Charles Darwin
"There are certain scenes that would awe an atheist into belief…without the help of other argument." Thomas Gray (1739) on viewing the Alps
"Travel was flight and pursuit in equal parts." Paul Theroux
"Comes over one an absolute necessity to move. And what is more, to move in some particular direction. A double necessity then: to get on the move, and to know whither."
D. H. Lawrence
"Spirit of place! It is for this we travel, to surprise its subtlety; and where it is a strong and dominant angel, that place, seen once, abides entire in the memory with all its own accidents, its habits, its breath, its name."
"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. ... In other words, I don't improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable."
"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilisation, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints."
Robert Louis Stevenson
"One of the gladdest moments of human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of routine, the cloak of many cares and the slavery of home, man feels once more happy."
Sir Richard Burton
"Though a plane is not the ideal place to really think, to reassess or reevaluate things, it is a great place to have the illusion of doing so, and often the illusion will suffice."
Shana Alexander b. 1925, US journalist
"There has been, of late, a strange turn in travelers to be displeased."
On the toil of travel "If there is anything worse than the aching tedium of staring out of car windows, it is the irritation of getting tickets, packing, finding trains, lying in bouncing berths, washing without water, digging out passports, and fighting through customs. To live in Carlsbad is seemly and to loaf at San Remo healing to the soul, but to get from Carlsbad to San Remo is of the devil."
“The traveler often arrives at the wrong moment: too hot, too cold, the opera, theatre, museum, is closed for the day, the season, or indefinitely for repairs, or else there is a strike, or an epidemic, or tanks are taking part in a political coup."
"...there was still room to turn around in, but not to swing a cat in, at least with entire security to the cat." Mark Twain, on the size of a ship's stateroom
"If a person asked my advice, before undertaking a long voyage, my answer would depend upon his possessing a decided taste for some branch of knowledge, which could by this means be advanced. No doubt it is a high satisfaction to behold various countries and the many races of mankind, but the pleasures gained at the time do not counterbalance the evils." Charles Darwin, on long voyages
"This was pleasuring with a vengeance. We would have shone at a wake, but not at anything more festive." Mark Twain, on travel in general
"How was your flight Mr. Coward?" "Well, aeronautically it was a great success. Socially, it left quite a bit to be desired." Noel Coward
"Bad roads and indifferent inns...the continual converse one is obliged to have with the vilest part of mankind -- innkeepers, post-masters, and custom house officers." Edward Gibbon, on the travails of travel
“Every journey has a chance to become a forced march, commanded by the primacy of next meal and next bed.” John Krich
"In America there are two classes of travel---first class and with children." Robert Benchley
"He that travels in theory has no inconveniences; he has shade and sunshine at his disposal, and wherever he alights finds tables of plenty and looks of gaiety. These ideas are indulged till the day of departure arrives, the chaise is called, and the progress of happiness begins. A few miles teach him the fallacies of imagination. The road is dusty, the air is sultry, the horses are sluggish, and the postilion brutal. He longs for the time of dinner that he may eat and rest. The inn is crowded, his orders are neglected, and nothing remains but that he devour in haste what the cook has spoiled, and drive on in quest of better entertainment. He finds at night a more commodious house, but the best is always worse than he expected." Samuel Johnson
"An involuntary return to the point of departure is, without doubt, the most disturbing of all journeys." Iain Sinclair
"Extensive traveling induces a feeling of encapsulation, and travel, so broadening at first, contracts the mind." Paul Theroux
"Pack the one bag. Unpack it, pack it, unpack it, pack it: passport, ticket, book, taxi, airport, check-in, beer, announcement, stairs, airplane, fasten seat-belt, air born, flight, rocking, sun, stars, space, hips of strolling stewardesses, read, sleep, clouds, falling engine speed, descent, circling, touch down, earth, unfasten seat-belt, stairs, airport, immunization book, visa, customs, questions, taxi, streets, houses, people, hotel, key, room, stuffiness, thirst, otherness, foreignness, loneliness, fatigue, life." Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War
"Is there anything as horrible as starting a trip? Once you're off, that's all right, but the last moments are earthquake and convulsion, and the feeling that you are a snail being pulled off your rock." Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"Traveling may be...an experience we shall always remember, or an experience which, alas, we shall never forget." J. Gordon 1896-1952
"The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it." Rudyard Kipling
Samuel Johnson's advice for travelers:
1. Turn all care out of your head as soon as you mount the chaise.
2. Do not think about frugality: your health is worth more than it can cost.
3. Do not continue any day's journey to fatigue.
4. Take now and then a day's rest.
5. Get a smart seasickness if you can.
6. Cast away all anxiety, and keep your mind easy.
This last direction is the principal; with an unquiet mind neither exercise, nor diet, nor physic can be of much use.
“A good holiday is one that is spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.” J. B. Priestley
"On the other hand, there is a certain advantage in traveling with someone who has a reputation for shooting rather than being shot: as Keram said, in a self-satisfied way, they might kill me, but they would know that, if I was with him, there would be unpleasantness afterwards." Freya Stark, on her native guide in Persia
"We found in the course of our journey the convenience of having disencumbered ourselves, by laying aside whatever we could spare; for it is not to be imagined without experience, how in climbing crags and treading bogs, and winding through narrow and obstructed passages, a little bulk will hinder, and a little weight will burden; or how often a man that has pleased himself at home with his own resolution, will, in the hour of darkness and fatigue, be content to leave behind him everything but himself." Samuel Johnson, on packing for travel
"Tis a good rule in every journey to provide some piece of liberal study to rescue the hours which bad weather, bad company, and taverns steal from the best economist." Ralph Waldo Emerson
"He should be endowed with an active, indefatigable vigor of mind and body, which can...support, with a careless smile, every hardship of the road, the weather, or the inn." Edward Gibbon (c.1760) on the qualifications for a traveler
"...the understatement, the self-ridicule, the delight in the foreignness of foreigners, the complete denial of any attempt to enlist the sympathies of his readers in the hardships he has capriciously invited." Evelyn Waugh, on qualities of a good travel writer (speaking of Eric Newby)
"Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure." Aldous Huxley
"As the Spanish proverb says, ‘He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.’ So it is in traveling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge." Samuel Johnson
"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." John Steinbeck
"A wise traveler never despises his own country." Goldoni
"Tourism requires that you see conventional things, and that you see them in a conventional way." Paul Fussell
"He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of a hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all." Sinclair Lewis
"A disease of the mind, whose germ is the idea that one may learn that which is valuable, or in any way acquire virtue, by the process of being shown things." Kingsley Martin, on modern tourism
"That gregarious passion which destroys the object of its love." Patrick Leigh Femor, on travel
"The tourist debauches the great monuments of antiquity, a comic figure, always inapt in his comments, incongruous in his appearance; ...avarice and deceit attack him at every step; the shops that he patronizes are full of forgeries.... But we need feel no scruple or twinge of uncertainty; 'we' are travelers and cosmopolitans; the tourist is the other fellow."
Evelyn Waugh, on tourists
"Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going." Paul Theroux
"The traveler sees what he sees; the tripper sees what he has come to see." G.K. Chesterton 1874-1936
“I have learned that the cost of everything from a royal suite to a bottle of soda water can be halved by the simple expedient of saying it must be halved." Robert Byron, on bargaining in the Middle East
"Here the tourist is still an aberration. If you can come from London to Syria on business, you must be rich. If you can come so far without business, you must be very rich. No one cares if you like the place, or hate it, or why. You are simply a tourist, as a skunk is a skunk, a parasitic variation of the human species, which exists to be tapped like a milk cow or a gum tree."
Robert Byron, on travel in Syria
"It is only the unexpected that ever makes a customs officer think." Freya Stark
"The Pyramids, whose function as a public latrine no guide book mentions, were made impossible by guides, watchmen, camel-drivers.'Come and have a cup of coffee. I don't want you to buy anything. I just want to have a little intelligent conversation. Let us exchange ideas. I am a graduate of the university.’" V. S. Naipaul
"A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
Winston Churchill, on Russia
"An American diplomat is sometimes like a bull who carries his own china shop around with him."
“Where daily life was pared down, the imaginative life could not help but grow terrifyingly complex. Less was not more here. More was more, less was little. Less than that was nothing at all.” John Krich, on principals of aesthetic design in Bali
“Competition was brisk; a survival of the weakest.” John Krich, on beggars in India
"I began to understand that 'America' in reality belonged to the whole world and not just to Americans. The idea of America had already been invented by the philosophers, the vagabonds, the dispersed of this earth, long before the Spanish ships got there. Those whom we call Americans have only rented it for a time. If they behave badly, we can discover another 'America'. The contract can be canceled at any time." Sergio Leone, on the idea of America, Ruminations of the Philosophical Kind
"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." St. Augustine
"People don't take trips. . .trips take people." John Steinbeck
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” Robert Louis Stevenson
"Sightseeing was...based on imaginative invention, like rehearsing your own play in stage sets from which all the actors had fled." Paul Theroux
"All the pathos and irony of leaving one's youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time." Paul Fussell
"Travel at its truest is thus an ironic experience, and the best travelers...seem to be those able to hold two or three inconsistent ideas in their minds at the same time, or able to regard themselves as at once serious persons and clowns." Paul Fussell
“Charity is always help that is offered too late, just as revolution is help that is offered too soon.” John Krich
“The past has to be seen to be dead; or the past will kill.” V. S. Naipaul
"Every exit is an entry somewhere else." Tom Stoppard
"Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” Cesare Pavese
"A part, a large part, of traveling is an engagement of the ego v. the world. The world is hydra headed, as old as the rocks and as changing as the sea, enmeshed inextricably in its ways. The ego wants to arrive at places safely and on time." Sybille Bedford, British author
"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." G. K. Chesterton
"Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will-whatever we may think."
"It would be nice to travel if you knew where you were going and where you would live at the end or do we ever know, do we ever live where we live, we're always in other places, lost, like sheep." Janet Frame
"If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things." Henry Miller
"Traveling is like flirting with life. It's like saying, 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.” Lisa St. Aubin de Terán
"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." Robert Louis Stevenson
"I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them." Mark Twain
"Here I am, safely returned over those peaks from a journey far more beautiful and strange than anything I had hoped for or imagined - how is it that this safe return brings such regret?"
Peter Mathissen, US writer
"So much of who we are is where we have been." William Langewiesche, US writer
"Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation." Elizabeth Drew, US writer
"One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it's left behind." Charles Dickens
"People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.
Dagobert D. Runes, US writer
"Travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than the travel bore. We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong Kong." Vita Sackville-West
"And the ideal travel writer is consumed not just with a will to know. He is also moved by a powerful will to teach. Inside every good travel writer there is a pedagogue -- often a highly moral pedagogue -- struggling to get out." Paul Fussell
"Anyone telling about his travels must be a liar...for if a traveler doesn't visit his narrative with the spirit and techniques of fiction, no one will want to hear it." Paul Fussell
"But we love the Old Travelers. We love to hear them prate and drivel and lie..." Mark Twain, on experienced travelers
"We travelers are in very hard circumstances. If we say nothing but what has been said before us, we are dull and have observed nothing. If we tell anything new, we are laughed at as fabulous and romantic." Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
"Our instructed vagrancy, which has hardly time to linger by the hedgerows, but runs away early to the tropics, and is at home with palms and banyans-which is nourished on books of travel, and stretches the theatre of its imagination to the Zambesi." George Eliot
"The travel writer seeks the world we have lost -- the lost valleys of the imagination." Alexander Cockburn
"Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up."