Archive for Travel

The City as a Character…

Most of us have a favorite city. New York, London, and Paris are high on most lists, but it could be any city. It becomes a favorite because we associate it with a visit, a person, or maybe even its skyline.

As a writer I’m interested in story telling but especially fond of those in which the city is not just a setting but a character. For example, it’s hard to think of anything by Charles Dickens’ – Bleak House, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, even A Christmas Carol – where the city in not omnipresent and interactive. Fred Schwarzbach, author of Dickens and the City says, “He teaches us to read the city like a book.” read more

The Importance of Being Ernest…

My last post drew a number of interesting comments, especially Marilynn’s belief that Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita could only have been written by someone who experienced or fantasized about what is described – a middle-aged professor’s sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl. Jon Maksik, a very good writer friend, pointed out such a belief could only come from an inability to separate the art from the artist. And now we have Ken Burns’ three-part documentary on Hemingway.  read more

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Sometimes good fortune feels like destiny. Stars align and something magical occurs. In the spring of 2001, before 9/11 and 20 years before Covid-19, Marilynn and I rode our bikes from Bordeaux through the Dordogne in southwestern France. No itinerary, just three weeks alone rolling through the countryside. 

We had grown up together, married other people, and were back together after a 40-year break. I had traveled a lot in those 40 years. She had done some but wanted to do more. I asked if she would be willing to try it on a bicycle. She was game and we were off on the first of our ten self-supported bike trips. read more

Art in the Pandemic Era…

If art, music, dance, or theater were an important part of your world earlier, the pandemic has turned it upside down. With the ability to travel, attend events and visit museums limited, we have been left casting about for alternatives. Art is meant to be experiential—best when it’s a one-on-one experience with the original. 

A picture can’t begin to deliver the feeling of standing next to Michelangelo’s statue of David at the Accademia in Florence. In its presence the stone pulses with energy, muscles ripple, veins throb and eyelids almost blink. read more

Paying it Forward…

You’ve got to admire a friend so eccentric, so eclectic, that his magazine subscriptions included The National EnquirerNew England Journal of Medicine, Popular Mechanics, The New Yorker and How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive (A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot). Dr. Fred Terry Simmons was that friend – a Boston brahmin, graduate of Exeter, Yale, and McGill University Medical School and all-around tequila loving polymath. 

In 1975 I sold him my 1967 Volkswagen Squareback. He named it F. Potato (yes, that F), re-registered it, drove it home to Los Angeles, ordered a vanity plate, kept the Idaho registration until they stopped renewing by mail, and drove it until it rolled down his steep driveway and self-demolished. Whereupon he bought an identical Squareback, named it The Biscuit, and drove it until he died and it was towed away in 2014. I often fantasized he might choose to be buried in it like one of the Pharaohs. read more