Thursday, January 29, 2009

recent fascinations

1. Princess Hijab, a young Parisian guerrilla artist who "hijabizes" advertisements in order to "subvert consumer images—especially of women—and to push cultural boundaries".

2. Leila Khaled, a rather foxy Palestinian who was part of a team that hijacked TWA Flight 840 on its way from Rome to Athens in 1969. She's now a member of the Palestinian National Council, as well as the subject of a recent Swedish documentary that I can't get ahold of.

3. The Okapi, a very shy and solitary "forest giraffe" found in rainforests of the upper Congo River Basin in central Africa. This nocturnal animal was one of the last mammals discovered by scientists in the early 1900's.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

in the words of Celine Dion, "A New Day Has Come"

A perfect Martin Luther King Jr. Day concluded with making shirts for the inauguration tomorrow. More on this soon.

America! is the name of a shop in the Washington Dulles airport. The ! means we really really like America.

2008 was a good year for seeing new places:
Upstate NY & Canada
Vermont, New Hampshire, Montreal and Quebec
Edison Lake, CA
Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights
Cairo, Egypt
London, England
Zion National Park, Utah
and, bridging the transition from 008 to 009:
Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware

(it was also a good year for concerts, by the way. My top 4:
- Neil Diamond at the Hollywood Bowl
- Beck at the Nokia Theatre
- Amr Diab in Damascus
- Angelique Kidjo at the citadel in Damascus)

Because it's already the middle of January, I'll spare the blow-by-blow anecdotes of the recent road trip to DC and just share some photos of the adventure:

A charming city bursting with happiness at the Ravens' recent successes. Also, home to more churches than I could shake a stick at, and plenty of religiously-themed hair salons as well (the sign on the window below says giving your hair everlasting life, through the body of Christ. ?!).

Thanks, Dax, for the epic walking tour of the monuments by moonlight. And let it be known that Abraham Lincoln made my heart sing with patriotism and hope.

Thank you, Smithson, for your generous grant to the People of America. The Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum pretty much blew my mind. Space shuttles! The Hope Diamond! A Giant Squid! Dinosaurs! Quelle delight indeed.

I've been waiting to see the Vietnam War Memorial since I was 11. I was not disappointed.
Arlington National Cemetery also proved to be quite moving.

Sing along with John Denver and me in my rented Mustang as I drive from Harpers Ferry in WV all the way down Skyline Drive: "Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River...Take me home, country roads, to the place I belONG! West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads!"

Gettysburg is incredible.

Intercourse, Pennyslvania is also pretty great. But not on Sundays, when the Amish aren't working or selling homemade rootbeer or fresh churned butter. Darn it.

Philadelphia, however, might have been the biggest and most surprising gem of my eastern adventure. A ridiculously fantastic city with a fascinating history, some blend of the vibes of NY and Riga, more community-painted murals than any other city on earth, original King James Bibles, random statues, cheesesteaks, and friends (I love Preethi and Dan) who happen to be the best tour guides east of the Mississippi.

As a bonus, I'll include SAN FRANCISCO, where Jessica and I quickly roadtripped this weekend. Stop at Pea Soup Andersen's next time you're headed north, and ask Jessica about the best taco place in Gilroy too.

Looking forward to more adventures - and better adventure reporting - during this fine new year. Might be hard to beat Yemen, though. I'll see what I can do.

Monday, January 19, 2009

merry christmas, jäger

Jäger is my dad's dog, a white German Shepherd search and rescuer who responds to commands auf Deutsch and loves chasing sticks (spuchen is what you say when you want him to spit out his stick so you can throw it again).

If you give him a squeaky sheep, it will take him less than 14 minutes to happily disembowel it.