Friday, December 14, 2012

A Part of It

As I finally begin this thing, It's dusk on the Hudson (please click to embiggen all pics):

I've been attempting to coax good pictures out of a bad phone camera, with limited success. :P

I've been having a truly fantastic time falling in love with New York. Recently, any mood other than happy had been summarily banned by my (very strict) inner Sugar Plum Fairy. She takes bootstrap-ism to a whole new level, I'm telling you. Mary Poppins, eat your heart out. She has her reasons, though: I'm in New York.

I'm a Deco fanatic; The Chrysler Building is my all time favorite.

I stumbled across this legend, like bumping into a movie star on the street.

 ESB tourist shot.

 The Chrysler Building peeking in on Grand Central Terminal.

 Grand Central Tourist Shot.

 Gotham in the rain.

 Midtown magnificence.

 A 'pocket park' - the first ever, said the guard - with lighted waterfall.

 Times Square excitement.
I was shocked that it truly lighted up the night sky, meaning the airspace a mile above it appeared nearly daylit.

 Macy's cheery suggestion for your holiday season. 
I nearly cropped out the people, but hey, that's what weekday New Yorkers look like. A busy blur.

 These shots are my favorites, the top three. Two Gotham, and one resolutely New York City:

I did finally indulge a cruddy mood today. I have been all about getting stuff done, and my stupid HAIR, of all stupid things, was determined to stop me from heading out the door. It would not cooperate. It would not hear pleading. It would not heed warnings. It would not entertain alternatives to the usual options. It was 100% incorrigible. So I went Medieval on its ass.

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Gangbusters. I went the fuck at my hair. Inches upon inches were lost to the unflinching wastebasket, determined to withhold judgment. I attacked with violence unbecoming a hapless pair of house scissors. They hadn't a moment to protest. All things considered, I believe I did a pretty good job.

I haven't told the story of my first couple of weeks in New York City. I will, as soon as I'm confident that I can express it with justice to its magic. It has been a beautiful 14 days, and even this day, with its undone errands and crunchy frame of mind, has its unique magic. It took place here, in my City, The City, where it was supposed to take place. My long sought-after & dreamed of home. I am happy, and humbled, and grateful. I'm starry-eyed & spellbound. I feel as choked up and excited as I feel grounded and in place. I live now honored just to be here, to watch & talk with its people as one of its people, to marvel at its history right here in person, to stand and stare at St. Paul's as though I'd never seen a church in my life.

St. Paul's in the fog.

It's full up with such time machines. It's lit up at all hours with 250 year old pubs, days-old cupcake joints, and timeless angels. I'm so happy, so truly happy to be here, in it and with it and part of it. I love you to pieces, New York, New York.

Go, Hawks!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The View from Where I Live

The view from where I live, near Riverside Park in Hamilton Heights (adjacent Harlem West). I'm staying with my old friend Bernie's old friend Bill, both of whom I've known for right around 25 years. He has a big, spectacular apartment with views to match. We're on the 10th floor of a pre-war (1912) building:

Directly North and down to Riverside Dr.

Same, but up. That's the George Washington Bridge on the upper left of both photos. Why this pic & the next are different sizes than the rest is a mystery to me. I didn't have to shrink these two to make 'em fit; I did have to shrink the rest, even though they're all from the same source, my phone, taken at the same time. ???

The George Washington Bridge in all its glory.

The west end of the GWB and the north end of the Jersey Shore.

Jersey Shore north.

Jersey Shore west.

Jersey shore west & Riverside Park.

Riverside Park, slightly north & downward from previous photo.

These were taken with my phone & left unedited (I may deal with them later), so forgive the quality. You get the idea. :) See them better & be able to click to embiggen here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Part II: New York

When I was 14, I promised myself that when I grew up, I'd go live in New York City.  I arrived here in Manhattan on Friday to the most beautiful kickoff weekend possible. I'm really happy.

It took just a moment to percolate: it is THREE DECADES later; I am 44. I had been known to nod my head (at least in comprehension & consideration) to the idea of not going until 'ready'; they said that town will eat you for breakfast. Dire warnings from all over. You get mugged. By 16 inch cockroaches that fly and keep teenage mutant rats to do their dishes. New York smells, they said. The people are terse, impatient, unapproachable. It's SO expensive. Expensive!!! But I knew in the very fiber of the core of the guts of my innermost soul that I love New York. 'Ready'? Okay, but what does that mean? For me? I felt like I was born 'ready'.

Maybe I was & maybe I wasn't, but I can tell you that right now feels like a cosmically exactly right time.

I'll give you nutshells of the first days here, the kickoff weekend and today, tomorrow. In the meantime, here is this sloppy but possibly [insert vaguely redeeming quality here :P] thing I wrote while high on railway ethereality in North Dakota. Maybe I'll tidy it up sometime. Probably not. I guess it's an inner-self-portrait of sorts:

Cannon: Elements

Elvis, angels & saints. My Pantheon. 
Yoda, Buddha, Evinrude, E.T, Super Grover. 
Certain musicians, craftsmen, messengers
Mechanics, artisans, soldiers, spies.

Phantoms, ancestors and beasts

Monkey & dragonfly, dog & orca, owl.

The nautical & the urban

Anchors & bowsprits, masts.
Trains, otherwise.

Ancestral memory. Architecture.    

The ever-dynamic meaning of home.
Launchings & time machines.     

Authors & actors, poets. Stories.
Coming to understand this thing as a narrative 
(‘Part I, Part II, Epilogue’)
The implications of that, the sacred ascribed, 
The careful etching of otherwise toss-off things.

It’s a box filled with small treasures, 
Viewed with an old, shopworn lens.

Sepia, time & wonder. 

A detail takes on its greater meaning, 
Gets fitted in to give the whole its greater meaning.   

Words, syntax & context
This infinitely variable machine, a meaning interface. 

The mathmatic, the cosmic/quantumWhere it come meet us, that point in sub-time/space Where they paint sea monsters on the maps The quarks and the anti-matter play.
Music, color & love.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


If you can think of a lifetime as a story being written in a book, mine is currently on the page between Part I and Part II where there's a picture:

This metaphorical illustration page - I'm enjoying the transition, the limbo of space between that page and the next, which simply says 'Part II: New York'. I'm still here in my hometown, Seattle. I'll hop the train on the 27th & stay on it for several days, laying over in Chicago just long enough to get some pizza & take in the vibe.

I'm gonna say (although it's not the truth, to my conscious knowledge :P) that the entries thus far here at [tao of nomad] have been a little warm-up exercise. I'm going to begin using it as a journal. I'll note some stuff down about this limbo time & the travel, then on December 1st (assuming the Empire Builder & Lake Shore Limited don't derail or a Mack truck doesn't hit me on the way to Hamilton Heights), I'll get busy writing my first few sentences as a New Yorker.

Source: via Coco on Pinterest


Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Sulawesi is one of my top five favorite place names ever. It's musical, even rhythmic, even kinda groovy. It sounds something like an African name, doesn't it? It's an Indonesian island, an old neighbor of Borneo and the Spice Islands. It' a cousin of Sumatra, my favorite producer of coffee on this planet. It looks like a baby cartoon alligator stomping around:

Chomping on an airplane.

Wow, this shot:

Sexy, splishy, jelly sunwater featuring colorful Sulawesi natives.

...and that's the bulk of what I know so far. One of the cool things about this exercise is that it's giving me a real introduction to places I've little more (occasionally not at all more) than barely heard of. I'm fascinated to discover that Sulawesi has an incredible number of endemic species, including a probably very tasty little number called the Orange Delight Shrimp:


Okay, they're kicking me outta the cafe. Rats. See you soon.


Woo hoo, gnu laptop! A Chromebook. I'll think up a new entry & write it a bit later this evening.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Just seeing what it's like to do a post from my nifty new phone. It's a bit of a pain in the ass :P. I'll get back to regular posting when I get a new laptop. Soon, I hope.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I love Autumn, and I'm looking forward to spending the next one on the Eastern Seaboard. Right now, I'm enjoying my final one in my hometown. I'll be reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette? soon, as something like a last hurrah. It's a perfect way for me to celebrate the town, my own relationship with it, and my leaving. I can't wait to savor the outsider/quasi-hater viewpoint without feeling defensive. I want to own the weirdness, & just nod my head with the author. Because this is a weird town. And it sucks in any number of its own ways, just as every place sucks it its own way. I think I must want it laid bare for me before I go (not in the Fremont Solstice Parade way, though, thanks).

I tend to champion my hometown. It's stunningly gorgeous all over. The skyline, the UW campus, the incredible parks. It has good arts & culture, lots of great music as always. It's a trove of riches for lovers of food, wine, spirits and ale. It has a world class zoo. A fantastic aquarium. The waterfront is terrific:

...and about to be vastly improved. It's a reader's paradise. It's educated, techy & innovative. It's famously and long since socially & politically progressive. I could, of course, go on & on. So I have a rosy lens I tend to view it through; like any local of any locality, I'm typically touchy when outsiders rag on it. But...I've gone on to hang my head in secret agreement lots of times, and now I'm ready to emerge from that river in Egypt and take a good long well-lit (so to speak, if the book's any good) look at it.

We also have a football team. I'll tell you this: no matter where in the world life takes me, no matter if I never even see my town again, I will always be a #12thMan, and I will always be reppin' the Seattle Seahawks, beleaguered as they often are, forever. Amen, halleluja, and can I get a witness.

Woo hoo.

Monday, September 24, 2012


When I do that thing that's as close as I get to meditating, I often transport my mind to Nepal. In folklore, the name comes of a phrase that means 'Looked after by the Sage'. It's poetic there, it's beautiful, and I know it has a certain deep, silent power. It's those tall, craggy peaks, I'm sure, like this one known as Sagarmatha  in Nepali:

And also the simple, nutritious comfort food, like Dal Bhat, one of my favorite meals:

 It's that long, long history, steeped in Hinduism & Buddhism, the most peaceable and intelligent religions there are. They are non-demanding, non-exclusionary, lovely, prayerful, contemplative & joyful. I am not in the least bit a religious person, but the earthly humanity of their spiritual tradition sings to me somehow, and I have no qualm with it.

And I'm not a mystical thinker, but I can let myself get a little prayerful or at least meditative when I think on the Far East. It's safe for me somehow and it's among the best shots I have at accessing the poet or artist in me. I want to bust out of the day-to-day dimension & connect with all humanity & all that is; Nepal seems to have become a portal of sorts for that for me. 

Dhanyabaad for reading. See you soon. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lessons emerge!

So, my premise for this blog is to write pocket-sized, zen musings on places in the world. So far, so good. But I must have supposed I'd have a long beginning run of places I knew. I wanted their names alone to be evocative enough to write an entry without (much) up-brushing.

However! I have found that, as with most things in this life, my whim doesn't always stick with the program.  It'll go, 'hey, how 'bout a completely ridiculous bit of wordplay dictate today's entry?' And like an indulgent parent, I say 'sure!' and we have this.  I also very, very much want whoever stops by to either click on the little Twitter bird to the right (hint hint), or leave a comment, giving me an idea for where to 'go' next. Bonus (3 internets) if you tell us why or some other bit of background.

Which means I might often be addressing places I've never even heard of, let alone know anything about. So that's being mixed in early, the possibilities now even more endless. I'm embracing doing a little research and/or asking friends & fam for insight.

Thanks for reading! Back to our regularly scheduled programming on Monday.

Frankfurt am Main

In honor of my (finally!) seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight, Frankfurt it is. I went to its Wikipedia entry to 'brush up', only to realize that I know almost nothing. How can I just now be learning the city's proper name (see title)? I'm feeling so unworldly. Frankfurt is an Alpha World City among even the other Global Cities. I did not know that either - I wouldn't have thought it was big enough. I did know that it was Europe's Wall Street, but  to be be honest, when I think of Frankfurt, I think of beer & brats. Same as just about anywhere in Germany, I suppose. When I think of Germany in general, I think of driving. Fast. Really, really, really, really, really fast.

image credit: 

That would be (one stretch of) the Autobahn. For all the tribulations I've had with driving, I do love it; it scares me irl, but not in my wildest, nearly cartoony Autobahn fantasies. Zzzzooooooom. 

In conclusion, I (clearly) knoweth not the Frankfurt. So I'll study up a bit more, and some time down the road, I'll revisit it. Time for a(nother) beer.

Friday, September 21, 2012


If you take a cardboard wrapping paper tube and swing it around so that it makes a hollow whirring sound, when you hit the dining room table with it, it goes ... BANFF. That was my first thought upon hearing of Banff, Alberta when I was like six or seven. The adults were talking about the hot springs the town is famous for, and they sounded very enticing to a water lover like me. 

image credit:

I loved the crazy idea of steamy hot pools in wintery, northern surroundings. I thought I might like to float there all day as big fat snowflakes fell on my face. Warm & cool, cozy & chilly. Hotsprings are healing, they say. Now that I'm an adult, that part appeals very much to me, too. Urban life, long work history, no real vacation (seriously, ever), stresses & troubles, etc., all make the idea of relaxing outdoors in warm, healing water, watching the snow fall, seem like heaven.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I imagine this place smells like coffee and feels like coconut. For me, Kona, more than any other Hawaiian place name, evokes the big bright colors and lofty, balmy feel of the tropics. The first coffee ice cream I ever had was Kona Coffee ice cream. It was a revelation, nearly shocking me with its pitch perfect balance of bitter and sweet. It altered what coffee had meant for me so far, and what Hawaii had. They became lit-up notions with a surreal dimension of meaning, paired up like that. I'll be living in New York for a while, but when I'm all done there and it's time to kick back, I'll be headed for Hawaii, maybe Kona.