Posts filed under ‘Travel’
August 5, 2013
Last month, we flew to San Juan with the Burkes. Until this trip, I’d always assumed Puerto Rico was somewhere off the coast of the Carolinas. Maybe I’d confused it with Bermuda, I don’t know. The world is huge: I can’t be expected to keep track of all of it.
When one spends time in NYC, or Philadelphia, or Providence, one could easily assume that everyone in Puerto Rico is really, really excited to be from Puerto Rico. That is not actually the case. I didn’t see one car sporting the island’s star & bars flag. Are residents of Puerto Rico aware that their mainland expats are acting like a bunch of Texans?
We visited the Arecibo radio telescope. Arecibo is basically the only safeguard this planet has against a killer asteroid. It’s the size of like 200 parking lots and you feel kind of crazy when gazing at its vastness. After buying some pencils and astronaut ice cream in the gift shop, we hiked back down to the parking lot as a scientist careened up the road in his battered Corolla, frantically working out calculations on the dashboard. As he passed, we heard him shriek, ‘idiots!’
Later, this place happened. Somehow, I convinced myself that this was just the name of the establishment—some nightclub’s ironic take on a cruel tradition—and not a place where cocks were made to fight. It was one of those weird things were the brain tries to superimpose What It Wants To Be over What Actually Is (cockfighting is totally legal in Puerto Rico).
I am going to give this unincorporated US territory a good review on Yelp.
May 21, 2012
HOME, May 21 – I took a week off from thinking about my book tour. Even now, I’m not sure what lessons I should’ve learned. I had a good time. I sold some books. A lot of people were very nice to me. Going into this tour, many of my expectations were rooted in the experiences of a previous millennium. No livid skinheads or uppity lefties took the time to confront me. No one confronted me about anything.
My only antagonist was the wall of rejection. Going into the tour, I knew that indifference would be part of the deal. And small turnouts are far less harsh on a book tour—where you have the luxury of a motive—than on a band tour. But it’s still tough dealing with society’s cold shoulder night after night. As a freelancer, rejection comes in easily-dismissible form emails. On the road, it’s a physical presence, a volume of empty space in every room.
Jesus, here’s a sad photo:
On this trip, I remembered some things about touring I’d long forgotten:
- The colossal waste involved with driving from city to city, all those mounds of wrappers and coffee cups I found myself cramming into garbage cans day after day.
- That weird thing where at least one person, at every show, without exception, will apologize for their own city.
- How much stuff people give me at shows, sometimes as networking, sometimes as an offering. On this tour, there were dozens of fanzines and CDs and albums, and, in one case, a taxidermied tarantula. Some things I had to ship home.
- How very many of life’s opportunities and adventures I will forgo for a little extra sleep, just to clear my head of that constantly encroaching confusion.
To this list, I can add one new observation: blogging about a book tour requires frequent use of the words “I” and “me”. Too much. I’m not happy with how much me there’s been in this blog. My life isn’t yet exciting enough to warrant so much real-time autobiography. Hopefully now I’ll have time to start writing about other things.