Tag Archives: Boston

02. A Camper’s Outing

  1. 01. Hardwood Island
  2. 02. A Camper’s Outing
  3. 03. Serious Business

Amongst gays, “camping” has a meaning very different to “the activity of spending a holiday living in a tent.” Wikipedia explains “Camp aesthetics disrupt many modernists’notions of what art is and what can be classified as high art by inverting aesthetic attributes such as beauty, value, and taste through an invitation of a different kind of apprehension and consumption.” I cite this blather not as the alternative definition of camping, but as an excellent demonstration of that alternative definition.

In 1986, Boston’s Gay Pride Parade was a very different animal than it is today. For starters, it was still called “Gay Pride”, rather than today’s beast which is mandatorily and generically referred to as “Pride” so as to encompass “people of all walks of life and all identities”. I guess that’s a good thing. I certainly supported it when they made it “Gay and Lesbian Pride”, and got on board when they added “Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex”. After that, although I was delighted to have their support, it was a little difficult to explain the view that adding “Black, Latin and Youth” to the list had the effect of watering down the potency. Today we celebrate everybody’s Pride, including, presumably, war criminals, performance enhancing drug cheats, bankers, and all the bigots who hate gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, black, Latin and youthful persons.  Huh. Continue reading 02. A Camper’s Outing

06. A Yankee’s Yankee

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

The campaign trail headed north from Boston aboard Amtrak’s Downeaster, bound for Portland Maine. I like train travel, even on Amtrak. An Amtrak cabin attendant once told me that American rail employees refer to train buffs as “foamers”, as in foaming at the mouth. Australians are a bit more subtle about it, inventing, as they do, their own word for train fans, “gunzels”. This is as one might expect: where Australians enthuse, Americans fanaticise.

Would be that there were a few more Americans fanatical about Amtrak. Continue reading 06. A Yankee’s Yankee

05. Athens of America

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

Ah, Boston, my home town, amongst others. When William Tudor called it “The Athens of America” in 1819 he did not mean it as a reference to the city’s rich history of corrupt government spending. Nor did he mean to imply that Boston would be a risky candidate for hosting the Olympics. No, he meant it as a compliment, or a boast, really, about Boston’s tremendous cultural and intellectual influence. Given the recent political and financial developments in both Boston and Athens, one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Bostonians aren’t shy about boastful nicknames for their city: The Cradle of Liberty or The City on a Hill, for example. Perhaps most famously, Oliver Wendell Holmes’ offhand jest that “The Boston State-House is the Hub of the Solar System” was modestly twisted over time into “The Hub of the Universe” before the twentieth century slickened it to “The Hub”, Boston’s favourite condescension.

Continue reading 05. Athens of America

04. On The Campaign Trail

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

Near as I can count, the flight from Sydney was the thirty-eighth time I’ve flown across the Pacific. Depending on the direction and wind, it takes around fourteen hours, give or take. Hours nine to eleven are reliably the worst, when it seems it will never end, when I resort to counting trans-Pacific flights instead of sheep.

If you are smart or lucky, the eastbound flight will leave you in Vancouver, or San Francisco, or even Dallas. But most of the time it will dump you at LAX, which is reliably unpleasant yet entertaining. Stepping off the plane in LA I revelled in my first American greeting being a cheery “Hola!” from the first ground service agent. Continue reading 04. On The Campaign Trail

03. The 22% Solution

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

On Tuesday the eighth of November in 2016 about seventy million Americans will vote for the next President of the United States. With that mandate, 22% of the population, the winner will celebrate long into the night, blathering about unity, promising to govern “for all Americans”. It will be the realization of a lifelong dream. It will go downhill from there.

When he sobers up, the President-elect will get his first security briefing. This entails that poor soul having a meeting with both the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA Director.

It’s a tough meeting for all involved. Continue reading 03. The 22% Solution

BoltBus Jitters

The BoltBus from Boston to Manhattan promised to be packed the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend. To ensure we would find space for our considerable baggage, we rocked up early, first on line. To our surprise, we were put in the ‘C’ line for being too stupid to realise that if we merely had agreed to receive BoltBus spam, we’d have been given ‘A’ line preferential boarding status.

Our ‘C’ line status became a potential problem when several smug, preppy college types sauntered up, taking their rightful place in the ‘A’ line, with big bags and bicycles and kayaks and sousaphones and farm equipment and the contents of at least one dormitory room. At the last minute a dumpy, haggard, middle-aged man joined them in the ‘A’ line, looking rather out of place. Continue reading BoltBus Jitters

37,000 and counting

The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund organisation planted 37,000 American flags on the Boston Common for Memorial Day. Each represented the life of a Massachusetts “hero” who died in service while on the American side of one of the many wars the U.S. has joined since the Revolutionary War.

Memorial Day was established in the wake of the Civil War specifically to memorialise the Civil War dead. After subsequent wars it was determined to broaden its applicability to include all American wars. That is pretty liberal thinking when you consider that those who perished in the Revolutionary War weren’t even US citizens. Let’s face it, if America had a separate holiday for every war, we’d never get any work done.

All I know about the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund is that they purport “Supporting Families Who Have Made The Ultimate Sacrifice”. That is an honourable intent, so other than excess capitalisation, I have no quarrel with them. Despite having grown rather fervently anti-military in my old age, I realise that their flags represent far more victims of circumstance than courageous crusaders. photoCertainly most foot soldiers end up in the infantry for being unlucky in the draft, or because they had no better career prospect. Moreover, regardless of provenance, the families of war dead deserve to be supported. The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund says the flags are there for “observance and reflection”,  to help me “remember and honor the ultimate sacrifices”.  Fair enough.

There are a number of memorials that offer a visual representation of the enormous number of war dead. Some are permanent, like Arlington National Cemetery. Some are temporary, like this one, or the millions of poppies that overflowed from the Tower of London to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of The Great War.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know about everybody else, but when I come across such monuments, my reflections are not about courage, or heroism, or valour, or honour, or victory, or bravery, or sacrifice. My reflections are about senseless loss, and needless pain, and unspeakable arrogance of government, and ego-driven stupidity of leaders.

Do I pity the fallen foot soldiers? Yes. Have I empathy with their families? Absolutely. But mostly I am furiously angry with their leaders and government for getting them killed in the first place.

By the way, why does the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund even need to support families who have made the ultimate sacrifice? Isn’t that the least the government can do?

Not fair enough.

SK

Bicycling Bingles

IMG_7403
Melbourne’s Foreshore Bike Path (Middle Park)

I saw him coming.  The goofball in his mid-twenties was riding on the wrong side of the foreshore bike path, helmetless, not looking where he was going, abreast of friends, if not the road rules. I rang my bell with increasing urgency, then came to a screaming halt – literally, I was screaming – all to no avail. I was motionless when he crashed into me with the stunned look that infants reserve for, well, you know.

Near as I can figure I’ve ridden about 80,000 kilometres (50,000 miles) over four to five thousand hours. I’ve spent half a year, 1% of my entire life, riding a bike.

Many of us recall the joy and freedom we experienced with our first bicycle. The bike enabled us to go places faster, farther, and harder to find than Mom and Dad could, or the school, or the police, for that matter. It bred a sense of independence, as well as irreverence for authority and the law. It was borderline anti-social, especially when we did it in packs. Stop at traffic lights? Stay off the footpaths? Signal before turning? Wear a helmet? Are you kidding?
Continue reading Bicycling Bingles