The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen fictional characters (television, films, plays, books) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. It says tag fifteen friends but a man my age shouldn't be doing these things as it is so I will spare you.
1. John Self
3. Antoine Roquentin
4. Philip Pirrip
5. Jude Fawley
6. Sue Bridehead
7. Sebastian Flyte
8. Alf (Henry Miller's Alf, not the alien)
9. Gordon Comstock
10. Denis Dimbleby Bagley
11. Oscar Zeta Acosta
12. Bill D an Mark M
13. Michael Beard
14. Lemony Snickett
15. Daniel Dreiberg (only because I'm watching it right now)
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (Half done)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
(1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
(2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
(3) Write down the first 15 songs that come up--song title and artist--NO editing/cheating, please.
(4) Choose 25 people to be tagged. It is generally considered to be in good taste to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I'm betting that your musical selection is entertaining, or at least amusing.
To do this, go to "NOTES" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, enter your 15 Shuffle Songs, Tag 25 people (under the post) then click Publish.
1 - Peter Gabriel - In Doubt
2 - Tom Waits - Tom Tales
3 - The Hair and Skin Trading Company - Loa (12" Remix)
4 - The Light Bulb Project - If I Liked Sports I'd Be One
5 - Big Star - Try Again
6 - Cars & Trains - Rd Buick with the Broken Tail Light
7 - Ladytron - Predict the Day
8 - George Michael featuring Mutya - This is Not Real Love
9 - Cinerama - Kerry Kerry
10 - OMD - Architecture and Morality
11 - Pale Saints - Time Thief
12 - Okkervil River - Calling and Not Calling My Ex
13 - The Lilys - Where The Night Goes
14 - Yo La Tengo - I'm On My Way
15 - Boy in Static - Broke
Woah. Not too embarrassing. Two friends bands, too.
Tag the person you got this from as well as 5-10 people who live near you with your answers! Also, if you know Buster Benson, tag him too because he's using this as a bit of research for a project. Thanks!
Whenever possible, phrase your answers as if you were recommending the thing to a friend.
What are 5 worthwhile things you currently do?
1) Employ people
2) Provide them with health care
3) Try and make people feel better when they're down
4) Make people feel better about themselves through inappropriate flattery
5) Fund startups
What are 3 easy things that you WANT TO DO in the next 6 months?
1) Convince Aug Stone to get on Tumblr
2) Get enough sleep
3) Make it through to the christmas break
What are 3 medium to hard things that you WANT TO DO in the next 6 months?
1) Secret thing 1
2) Secret thing 2
3) Lose 30 pounds
What are 3 easy things that you have DONE in the past 6 months?
2) Meet new and interesting people
3) Tell the people I love that I love them
What are 3 medium to hard things that you have DONE in the past 6 months?
1) Integrate two very different companies into one
2) Drink less
3) FIx my electricity
What are 3 worthwhile things you have DONE in the City (replace "City" with wherever you happen to live)?
1) I went to brooklyn once
2) And one time I went to like 80th street or something.
3) I don't really get this question.
The rules: Don't take too long to think about this. List 15 albums you've heard that will always stick with you. Tag some friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. To do this, go to your Profile page, then to your Notes tab, paste rules in a new note, list your 15 picks below, and tag people in the note.?
Dammit. I was almost done and Chrome crashed. Let's do it again:
New Order - Low Life
Mojave 3 - Ask Me Tomorrow
Mercury Rev - Yerself Is Steam
Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies
Spacemen 3 - Playing WIth Fire
Joy Division - Closer
Primal Scream - XTRMNTR
This Mortal Coil - It'll End in Tears
Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers
The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
Tom Waits - Mule Variations
Neutral Milk Hotel - In an Aeroplane Over The Sea
The Underground Lovers - Leaves Me Blind
The Wedding Present - Seamonsters
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Henry's Dream
I am so not as pop as my friends. I almost put Technique instead of Low Life just to have a synth pop record, but I really do love Low Life better. Also XTRMNTR is probably a synth pop record, right? Sorta?
As we've grown, however, some of these perks have needed to take a bit more formal shape - we still have formal work hours, but people need to be here for a fixed set of yours at the core of the day so people in various time zones can work together, etc. Interestingly, it is those self-same new needs that lead me, finally, this year, to think about doing something about my apnea. Additionally, Emma is a very light sleeper, and my snoring has bothered her a fair amount. So these two things combined lead me to decide to take some action.
I'm sort of an anti-hypochondriac in a lot of ways, and even though every sign has pointed to bad apnea for a lot of years, I've kind of figured it's all sort of BS, and I really don't have it, and it's no big deal, etc. etc. But my doctor convinced me to get a sleep test a month or so ago, and I did it. The results were pretty dismal. Very dismal. The doctor conveying the information sounded very worried for me. It was decided that I needed a CPAP mask, stat. A CPAP mask is basically a mask you put over your nose and hook up to a machine and it applies continuous air pressure through your nose and forces the uvula and the tongue, and makes it so you can breathe properly.
I'd much rather they just cut off my uvula - there is maybe a millimeter between my uvula and my tongue in the best of times, so chop that sucker off, right? Well apparently surgery only halves your number of sleep interruptions per hour - and they like you to be under 20 or so interruptions per hour. I am at 45. So on its own, surgery won't cut it. Ha. Cut it. Get it?
So, the rough plan is CPAP, then some weight loss (which has been going well already - 15 pounds! did you notice?) and then with the weight loss and surgery hopefully I can go off the mask. Great.
So I went in last weekend back to the institute to get fitted for the mask. You have to get fitted because they need to calibrate the amount of pressure - too little it doesn't work, too much, well, I guess you like blow up or something. After two hours of adding all these electrodes to me, and glue in my hair and wires everywhere, then they don the mask. And it's this moment where all of the sudden you're completely depressed. They have ARCHAIC equipment at this institute. I've been looking at CPAP sales websites and they have all these sleek, awesome, small machines and tiny little nose masks so you look sort of like a diver in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Cool little nose straps. But here there is this giant fucking mask, and not one machine but two, each the size of a wash basin. Great. Suddenly every ounce of coolness, hipness, or youth is sucked out of you. This is the rest of your life. It's painfully depressing.
The nurse sees this happen in you, and she sees it happen five times a night, every night, basically. You can tell she feels bad, but there's not a lot she can do.
Still, though, you're tired, the mask is on, it's halfway comfortable, and you can breathe great, and you think "okay, maybe this can work."
Then another goes by while they try and get their archaic machine to send data. It doesn't work. After another 30-40 of trying, they give up, they send you home.
So. Now. I have to do it all again. Do I go to the place with the archaic equipment? I got my original appointment through my doctor. I emailed him my problem, asking him to get me into another institute, where he originally wanted me to go, but he literally didn't understand the question. So.. now.. I have to try again with him, or go to the original institute. And, of course, the insurance company. I have to call them because you just KNOW I'm going to get billed for this shit. Isn't that lovely.
Health care. Such a pain in the ass. And it doesn't help the whole time they're like "you are going to die if you don't get this fixed GLOOM DOOM MISERY DESPAIR." SO I feel like I just want it NOW. Better rest? Weight loss? BRING IT ON.
But now... at least another month.
I'm not doing best of yet. I still have to see a few more. But here's my annual list. New releases only. Using this list.
Che parts 1 and 2
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans (man this year started off weak)
He's Just Not That Into You (curse you emma)
Scott Walker: 30th Centure Man
Valentino: The Last Emperor
Monsters vs. Aliens
Fast and Furious
Hannah Montana the Movie
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The Brothers Bloom
Transformers: revenge of the fallen
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
(500) Days of Summer
On HIs Majesty's Secret Service
Where the WIld Things Are
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Up in the AIr
46. Weirdly, 4 more than last year. Awesome.
- I don't smoke anymore, very often, and I am wrestling with the lozenge. I want to quit it. It's making my voice raspy. It makes my heart race. But it's going to be complete hell quitting the thing. It's going to kill me, and I can't imagine doing it right now with work and the integration, let alone while not being able to eat cheese or drink or something.
- I've been reading Michael Pollan, and I can see that my original rules are a bit fucked up (though very useful for weight loss, which I still desperately need). I'm trying, roughly to start following his rules about processed foods, etc., and I've been making progress, but it's slow. I'm not ready for a big jump in.
- Aside from nicotine, it's clear to me the other thing I really need to get a handle on is my Diet Coke consumption and I am so so not ready to deal with that, even though I know I need to.
- Exercise is a big problem for me, and I want to tackle that.
- I'm too busy to make a rules-based system that i will undoubtedly fail in, and feel bad about myself.
- I have to go to SF, and to Korea, and my parents will be here, and there are too may situations in which I will need a drink.
So, I have distilled all that, and this is broadly what I think I'm going to try to do this month:
- keep the lozenges to a minimum - less than 4 a day .
- My friend Madeline is trying for "no hangovers" - I'm going to try something similar. And I'm going to try to confine myself to Wine
- I'm going to try and follow the "eat only food, mostly vegetables, not too much" dictates. Which basically means I'm going to try and give up Doritos and fast food (my only real vices in that realm).
- I'm going to get my treadmill fixed and try and exercise 3 days a week
- I'm not going to obsessively track any of it.
- I'm not going to get bogged down by mean people on the internet
- I'm going to try and keep a lid on the cheese consumption - no pizza deliveries and no cheese in the house.
- I'm going to probably break all of these rules a few times and not sweat it.
- I'm gonna do a few weighings now, for a start weight, and at the end of the month, for end weight, and hope to lose 5 pounds.
Well, that's about it. I'm sorry to let everyone down. I got shit to do and I don't feel like feeling bad about fucking up.
First, it is patently absurd to spend 1/12 of the year - fully 8%+ of the entire year - looking back on things. Ridiculous!
Secondly, too much happens in december! I have four more trips to go! At least 20 restaurants! This is madness.
I will do this, but in my typical, annual way, I'm going to do it all between Christmas and New Years, this year, holed up in the Golden Nugget Hotel, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Despite growing up in Alaska, or perhaps because of it, my mother made every effort to raise her children with a musical education. Piano lessons began at around age eight, if I recall correctly. I think it was age eight, because trumpet began when they let you start playing in the band in elementary school, which was fourth grade, or age nine. And piano came first.
I loved piano, but there were a dearth of piano teachers in Fairbanks, and mine, though she was wonderful, was classically focused. Some of this was necessary, as a student learns the basics. I banged and pounded my way through Hanon's warm-up exercises and various etudes and simple piano pieces. I say "banged and pounded," since nuance and dynamics were not things that were of interest to me. This extended to school band, where I chose the trumpet, originally, simply by putting my lips to it and unleashing a godawful squaawk! and thinking "Yeah. This is the instrument for me."
The classical foundation was, of course, necessary, but I was much more interested in learning to play the synth parts of the various pop songs and the ricky, meaty ten finger chords from the piano ballads I heard on the radio. My piano teacher, Mrs. Wallace, resisted these urges. (Later, much later, my teacher would take a two-fold approach to a compromise - letting me play some cheesy piano ballad whose score I had picked up at the local music store, in exchange for consenting to play more classical fare. She's worked around my hopeless lack of dynamics by selecting musicians who fared well under my pounding fists - most notably the Russians such as Rachmaninoff, and some of the more contemporary classical composers such as Alberto Ginestera - a pounder's paradise if ever there were one on the keys.)
But, alas again, that was later. Much later. Nearly ten years later. In the intervening years, my urge to play other forms of music was almost completely unfulfilled, save for the occasional aforementioned pop music scores I'd find at Music Mart. These, however, only went so far when you had a full rehearsal docket of Brahms and Handel, as well as a practice card for band requiring five 30 minute practice sessions a week, to be signed off on by a parent, as well as classwork, and never mind playing doctor with the neighborhood girls. Not having someone to teach me and coach me through Lionel Ritchie's "Say You, Say Me" or Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" made it even more impossible.
Years of frustration went by. Actually, I could do the math. From age 8 to age 13. Five years. No pop music issuing forth from my desperately modernist fingers. And then, somehow, my mother alighted on the solution.
The origins are murky, though of course, now, I realize that my mother probably always had this planned. She had, after all, set me on this musical path - she played the piano and sang in the choir and taught me all about everything from Ralph Von Williams to Bob Dylan before I made it to Kindergarten. By the time I was thirteen, though, I probably thought it was my idea to go to the University of Alaska Summer FIne Arts Camp, having gone through some fairly painful Alaskan-style summer camps, the stories of which are for another day. Wherever the idea came from, however, I can say with confidence that upon my first year of summer fine arts camp, my life was changed for good.
The memories of it are totally murky, and since they came rushing back to me this spring, I have been trying to piece them together. I went to the camp for four summers. I think. Maybe five. These were the summers of my adolescence, and there was so much change through the years that it's almost impossible to recall anything in a coherent series of events.
First, there were the musicians. Musicians from all over the state. This was something of a shock. There was band, of course, at your school, so you knew the other trumpet players you sat with and competed with for first chair, and the cute flautists and clarinetists that you had crushes on, born in exotic locations outside the state or raised by mysterious, disciplinarian parents who insisted their Korean, Sikh or Hatian offspring be the best. And there were adjudications, for piano, throughout the years previous - once or twice-annually affairs where all the piano students in the city of Fairbanks gathered at the public library to play on one of the three good pianos in the town - a Bosendorfer - while some out-of-state adjuticator passed judgement on your playing (curiously, this is where I finally learned about my lack of dynamic sense, and became acutely embarrassed by it, despite years of my teachers pleadings to learn pianissimo. Somehow the outside critique stung more). But aside from these, musicians in alaska were in a bubble. You got the sense there weren't many of them around.
So to arrive at Fine Arts Camp and discover trombonists and timpani players and harpists and jazz bassoonists - it really was eye opening. Reassuring. Overwhelming. Welcoming. Scary. Amazing.
I remember walking into one of my group piano classes (group piano class?? who knew there was such a thing!), and some precocious, snooty 14 year old I had never seen before (she was home schooled) was playing, perfectly, the theme song to a recent film, composed by an 80's one hit wonder I had liked (okay, okay, it was Lihmal's theme to "Never Ending Story"). Who was this person? Where did she come from? How did she manage to learn this song? Where did she even get the score from? She was one of many. Cool veterans of fine arts camp studiously scoring their own arrangements of new wave hits in advance arranging classes. Glockenspiel players! Glockenspiel!
Then there were the classes and the teachers. I remember learning what the 12 bar blues were and feeling forever changed. I didn't even like jazz, but just understanding such a basic, primal structure to so much music was incredibly powerful. Learning improvisation techniques - something so important to my thinking about music now, but heretofore completely unheard of. Improvise? You're kidding, right? You follow the score, you follow it exactly, and the if the piece is supposed to last 3:15 in the Glenn Gould version, then by god, you better be close to 3:15. But here, suddenly, were dozens of different teachers, styles and techniques. I took a classical malleted instruments class. Jazz improvisation - every year. Rock Piano (on Fender Rhodeses - my first introduction to such a heavenly instrument). I learned to play the harmonica. I expanded my trumpeting into jazz trumpet. I took my first guitar lesson - and hated it (guitar wouldn't hold appeal to me until I discovered the bliss of delay and fuzz). It was an unending smorgasborg of eye-opening musical magic. Marimbas. Vibraphones. Farfisas.
And then! And then! Let us not forget the name - this was Summer Fine Arts Camp, not Summer Music Camp. The music curriculum was just part of the fun. There were photography classes - I first learned to use a darkroom in my time here. For as much as my mother was a music buff, my father was a photography buff, and bought me my first Pentax K1000 when I was 11. It was here, though, that I truly began to understand the device's mechanics and the full process (I had always sent my film away previously). And print making classes - something I could never quite get the hang of, much to my consternation later in life. And Macintoshes! I first discovered the joy of Photoshop at Summer Fine Arts Camp. Painting. Figure drawing. Pastels (I loved pastels - I was such a pussy). There was so much.
And the other attendees... well, what can I say? Essentially every artist from 13 to 18 in the State of Alaska, all in one place. Along with innumerable student performances throughout the months, they had three student dances as well - social gatherings. The few times I've thought of Summer Fine Arts Camp through the years, this is the part that I almost always thought of. I made my first friends here that were anything like me. They changed my life. They gave me my life.
It was here, in the summer of 1985, that I first heard Peter Hook's haunting falsetto refrain that permeates New Order's "Temptation." I can still remember the first time I heard it, and I can still feel the reaction I had to it. I had heard nothing like it in my life. It's still a remarkable work, but then, in Alaska, it was unbelievable. Thinking back on it, it boggles my mind that this even happened - "Temptation" came out in 1982 or so, and somehow, in three years, it had found its way halfway across the world to Fairbanks, Alaska, to become a dance hit, unaided by the internet, New Music Express, radio airplay, MTV or even a halfway decent record store. I usually think of my friends at Fine Arts Camp as being older than me, and therefore "in the know," but it is really amazing how they found out about all this music so quickly. It was here I also learned about Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Tones on Tail (though not Bauhaus or Love and Rockets, which I had learned about in church, weirdly), and so much more. Billy Idol. The B52s. Roxy Music. Through my four or five years attending camp, the dances became, literally, the highlights of my year.
And it was here that a girl first ever told me she liked me. I still shudder at how terrifying and confusing it all was. I had had a crush on her for ages, but was a typical adolescent male, unable to think straight or see past my own nose. It was only when she explicitly, undeniably told me that she liked me that it started to click. It was not my first kiss, but it was the first I can ever remember. I doubt the girl, who went on to become a famous cheerleader in our district, even remembers it. I doubt she remembers me, but she changed my life.
So many memories blow by. I grew up at this camp, but time has blended the years together. Playing video games at the student union. Sitting in the seats of the giant concert hall (oh, man, what was it called? I will have to look it up. Oh, got it. The Charles W Davis Concert Hall), watching my flute playing crush practice in the symphony. Glowing with pride and embarrassment when she'd wave from the stage. Seeing my friend Dylan arrange and score New Order's "Elegia" and watching him conduct a string quartet as they played it. The choral practice room (oh man! I forgot! I sang in choirs there too! Church choirs. Jazz choirs. Doo wop. Everything I could get my hands on). Learning that the choral room was named after my father's godmother. The dances in the Great Hall. Learning the drum parts to Soft Cell's "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go" that we just HAD to hear, in its entirety, at every dance. The dark rooms. The printmaking studio. Sitting out by the fountain, everyone trying to look cool, desperately wanting to meet everyone but too cool to admit it, or just too scared.
Years later, in college, I went home for the summer. I met a girl. I fell in love instantly. She went to another school, in another district. When I worked up the gumption to finally talk to her, she said, "I remember you. I was three years younger in Fine Arts Camp and I had the hugest crush on you." I met her at the campgrounds above the university. We walked down to the camp, which was in session. People remembered me, people remembered her. Their approval of me sealed my fate as an acceptable prospect for her to date for the summer. If the camp people thought you were okay, you were okay.
What amazes me now, thinking back, is how much of my life was influenced by this camp, and yet how little I think of it, and how I never pieced it together through the years. It just sits there, in the back of my mind, like your mother's care or the town you grew up in - something so intrinsic to your being that it's hard to even call it an influence. And it amazes me to think about all of this going on in Fairbanks, Alaska. When people ask me what it was like growing up there, I inevitably talk about the cold, the pain, the loneliness, the dark, the misery. But what were all these artists doing there? Hundreds of art students in a city of less than 30,000. How is it anyone in Alaska knew about the Smiths in 1986? Or the Cure, before Kiss Me? Who brought these things there? I don't think I'll ever know, but I do know that it was Summer FIne Arts Camp that brought them to me.
You head south, and things look unknown and vague. You were told that night that 28 Days Later was filmed in this part of town, and it looks it. Real london, not the center. People live here.
Then gradually things become more recognizable. This used to be around Camden Town, but I can start to pick things out by Kentish Town now. Then a quick turn and a route you don't know, and you're into the unknown again, eventually coming out somewhere on oxford street, and all of the sudden everything is familiar. There's the first Top Shop I ever went into. Your old late night drinking club is on the right. The Apple Store should be coming up now. Ahh yes, there it is. But you're staying in a new part of town, so again you plunge into the unknown. Only it's not the unknown, it's the parts of London you always see, but never can piece together. There's Marble Arch. That's weird, that doesn't seem to be on the way to your hotel, especially when the next thing you see is the London Eye, but somehow it all just works and makes sense. Big Ben, kids. Houses of parliament.
And then, like that, one last turn happens, and you're at your hotel. Blake's or Charlotte Street or St Martin's Lane or the Saunderson or wherever it is this time. A different one every time. What was the name of the one you stayed in with your sister? Eight Hundred dollars a night, with a private terrace and a king sized, dual temperature zone, moisture absorbing Tempurpedic bed that still ranks as the greatest bed you've ever slept in? But not this time. This time you've chosen an upscale suites style hotel, gorgeous but stupidly cheap on Orbitz for some reason, and you're on a budget these days. South Kensington. A new part of the city for you, but gorgeous as always.
London. Every time I go, I can see why Aug loves it. I don't even have to DO anything to love it. Just sit in pubs with his friends, do some karaoke, eat funny foods, hunt for british-only books, and con pharmacists into giving you codeine. There used to be an absinthe hunt, too, but that's over now. Gone the way of the dodo, thanks to the legalization of absinthe in America, courtesy of the Swiss embassy.
Just as well. Duty free's a pain to haul around the country for the rest of your vacation.