Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nomadic Identity Crisis

Two weeks rarely pass with the haste of these past two. March 16 I found myself in Camden, the live music and punk rock London neighborhood. March 21st I awoke in Monmarte, a popular destination for writers and artists. March 24th a 747 brought me in to Denver International airport. March 25th I walked from Los Angeles International airport to my Uncle's apartment which sits 1 block away from the Pacific.

Seemingly, I could count myself fortunate. London, Paris, Colorado, Manhattan Beach are all places that legions of people spend insane amounts of money to visit. At 26, I'm hitting all of those places in 2 weeks.

Running south on the beach this breezy morning it occurred to me how vastly different the culture of each of these places are. London has a New York City feel to it. Extremely fast paced, everyone dressed to the nines in suits or the latest trendy metro sexual fad, stern looks on their faces, polite but unfriendly demeanor. Paris had couples everywhere. It really is the city of love. Very trendy like London, but a bit more laid back. Everything was expensive, even average tasting meals and wine. The people were more friendly than in London. Manhattan Beach is an 180 degree difference, assuming the scale is a wealthy scale. Everyone is adorned in trendy beach wear. The girls in matching jogging suits, beach skirts, or bathing suits. They are all wearing similar big lens sunglasses. The dudes are all in surf gear, tshirts, sunglasses, and flip flops.

All three of these cultures are trendy in different ways. It must be expensive to keep up the trends. I know this sounds like criticism, and maybe it is, but it is merely an observation. And who am I to judge? My clothing style has adapted to whatever culture I find myself in. One thing that I am realizing is that I don't tend to identify with this kind of wealth. My dad did work in the oil industry for my whole life and I've always had everything I've needed. I did go to a private university and have vacationed in warm climates. Still, my family seemed to live a bit more of a meager lifestyle. My dad was raised in a blue collar family and my mom was raised on a teacher's salary. I identify much better with that culture. The middle class.

I sure as hell don't identify with the poor, as much as my idealistic college self would like to believe I did. I enjoy doing expensive things. Skiing, traveling, drinking wine, going to ballgames are all things that cost money. I enjoy clean bathrooms with nice soaps. I'd gladly pay over 100 bucks for Radiohead tickets. I can't wait to buy new skis even though mine are in fine condition. I'd rather go to Rico's and pay at least a dollar fifty more for coffee than at Pike's Perk or Starbucks because I like the ambiance and the coffee tastes better. I'd never go to a fast food restaurant because of a cheap value menu.

Maybe I understand the colorado springs briargate culture because thats where I became an adult. Thats how I hope to live. I don't need a big house, but I'd like a decent sized one. I'd like my kids to have their own rooms. I'd like to be able to pick up the check most of the time without being stressed about my budget. I don't need a top of the line car, but I'd rather own one thats close to being new.

I use to think it was wrong to desire these things, but I'm starting to think that critics of those desires can piss off. Most agree that we need to have a certain amount of money to survive. The gray area is "how much is too much." Is there too much? John and I had this conversation in England. Some would say middle class is too much. Some would say upper class is too much. Who is right?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Western European Observation

It's nice not to be carded upon the purchase of alcohol

Notre Dame is far too touristy to seem special on a saturday

baked beans are a wonderful breakfast side dish

I smile and nod more than a bobble head doll when I don't speak the language

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Many sights, many nights, just enough sleep

This is the first full day in Paris. A few thoughts so far...

In London, the rumour about fish n chips is true. They do not disappoint.

The pubs are truly magnificent.

London is strikingly similar to New York, or vice versa

Thus far, the stigma of French rudeness is completely false.

Public transportation kicks all sorts of monumental ass.

I'm older than most hostel dwellers

I can easily run ten miles, but walking all day beats the hell out of my feet

The dollar is getting better, but it still sucks balls.

I won't be cool until I get a scarf, ripped jeans, a blazer, and chuck taylor converse

I should have studied abroad in Oxford

Cafe's and pubs are far superior to chains any day of the mutha sucking week!

Monday, March 16, 2009

1st Day

It's 3:30 in the afternoon in London on Monday. I've not slept since Saturday evening. I've already seen Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Hyde Park, The Princess Diana memorial, and toured Westminster Abbey. I'm pooped. However, I'm excited about this evening's festivities.

Happy St. Patrick's Day tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On Adventure's Morning

In only 3 and a half short hours, I'll be boarding a plane en route to Washington DC. Later on this evening, I'll fly across the pond, arriving in London tomorrow morning. It's always tough to focus when filled with anticipation.

This is my second European adventure. The first was an excursion to Germany and Austria over two years ago. Much has changed in life since then. Relationally, professionally, personally, everything is different. I think my expectations are different this time. Chief of which being a lack of specific expectations.

We'll see. I'll do my best to update from hostels over the next 9 days.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Film '08 Volume II

It's impossible to do a year in film justice without mentioning acting performances. I'd like to use this post as an ode to the most memorable performances for me. First, I'm going to do something I've not done before.

Certain scenes from movies sometimes leave more of an impression than the overall film. "Dude, remember when they hide the gun in the bathroom at the restaurant, Pacino goes in and gets it, then comes out and wastes 'em? That was awesome." Or, "I loved it when Spacey walks out of the police station and his limp goes away!" Or, "That was classic when Wayne and Garth sing Bohemian Rhapsody in the Merth Mobile!" People remember sequences. Here is the list of the most memorable sequences for me this year. I'll do my best to not put more than one or two per film.

1. "I'd like to phone a friend" Slumdog Millionaire

2. The opening burglary - The Dark Knight

3. Interrogating the Joker - The Dark Knight

4. Performing Dracula's Lament - Forgetting Sarah Marshall

5. Playing the djembe in the subway - The Visitor

6. Dancing in outer space - WALL*E

7. The diner scene - Pineapple Express

8. The chase through the Mumbai slums - Slumdog Millionaire

9. The final match - The Wrestler

10. Late night phone call - Frost/Nixon

11. Blackmail over the phone - Burn After Reading

12. Ray breaks down - In Bruges

13. The Barbershop - Gran Torino

14. Coming out to Dad - Milk

15. "I'm a broken down piece of meat" - The Wrestler

16. "There is no exit" - W.

17. "Can't smile without you" duet - Hellboy II

18. Prison confrontation - The Visitor

19. "I don't love you" - Revolutionary Road

20. "I am Iron Man" - Iron Man

Here are my favorite performances

Sadly, I've not seen many of the films featuring solid female performances. Maybe that's my fault, or maybe studios are guilty of not offering as many interesting roles for women to play.


1. Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road
2. Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
3. Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
4. Melissa Leo - Frozen River
5. Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
6. Angelina Jolie - Changeling
7. Hiam Abbass - The Visitor
8. Frances McDormand - Burn After Reading
9. Emily Mortimer - Transsiberian
10. Cate Blanchett - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


1. Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
2. Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
3. Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
4. Sean Penn - Milk
5. Colin Farrell - In Bruges
6. James Franco - Pineapple Express
7. Josh Brolin - Milk
8. Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
9. Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder
10. Leonardo Dicaprio - Revolutionary Road
11. Brad Pitt - Burn After Reading
12. James Franco - Milk
13. Brendan Gleeson - In Bruges
14. Michael Sheen - Frost/Nixon
15. Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire
16. Robert Downey Jr. - Iron Man
17. Tom Cruise - Tropic Thunder
18. Ralph Fiennes - In Bruges
19. Russell Brand - Forgetting Sarah Marshall
20. Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think...