Tourist With a Typewriter

Oh, Uncle Adrian, I’m in the reservation of my mind.

Month: May, 2012

All Over but the Tussin

My latest in today’s C-VILLE:

Big Fun, Scottsville Punk, and Charlottesville in the 90s.

Sometime in the late ’90s, while searching online for information on getting high via over-the-counter drugs, I stumbled across a bizarre website detailing the adventures of a bunch of punk rock kids living in a big house in the country, right outside my hometown of Charlottesville. The website was called The Big Fun Glossary, an alphabetical list of terms and definitions and tales of “impromptu punk rock concerts, Dextromethorphan chug-fests, Nomadic Festivals, nazi skinheads, and (most importantly) record alcohol consumption.” It was something I’d dreamt of finding for a long time—a perfect bohemian scene hidden right in my backyard. Only, by the time I’d found it, it was already gone. All that remained was this crazy website.

Read more.

Blood on the Tracks

C-VILLE cover story for the week of 5/1/2012:

Blood on the Tracks: A biography of Charlottesville’s Coal Tower

A partly cloudy day, late March, unseasonably warm. Two men look up as I step into a small clearing in the woods beyond the coal tower.

“Hope I’m not bothering you.”

“It’s cool,” one of them says. He moves over on the makeshift bench so I have room to sit down.

“I saw you taking pictures,” he says. “You know two kids were killed here?”

I know, and that’s part of the reason I’m there. But only part of it.

Read the rest of the story.

The American Century As Seen By A Rock

Warning: If you’re not a serious rock climber, this may not make any sense.

This was written in the late 90’s and appeared in a now defunct climbing magazine called Boulderdash. It was the first piece I ever had published. It’s basically a rip-off of something David Foster Wallace wrote about tennis in his novel Infinite Jest.

The American Century As Seen By A Rock

You Know how to Rock Climb. That, at least, you can do and do well. You can Crank, Pull Down, Grapple, Tug, Send, Fight Gravity, Fall, Get Up, Get Your Ass Off The Ground, Yank, Crimp, Pinch, Cling To The Sheer Rock Face, Slap, Tweak, Jam, Stick, Grip, Adhere, Hold On, Fall, Get Up, and Allez, Allez! You can Rock Climb. At least that. All else has been failure. Read the rest of this entry »

An Hour and a Half Left to Shit on Your Dreams

Muscles, obsession, and growing old in the sport of bouldering

In 2006 I visited the Hound Ears Bouldering Competition outside of Boone, NC. In previous years I was a competitor, twice taking fourth place. I went back after having quit climbing to see what had changed. A version of this story was published online by Deadpoint Magazine.

ClimbingChalk fills the air, blowing like dry snow. To get to where the climbing is, you must walk across a forest floor that is an expanse of wet, dark brown dirt, yellow leaves, and bright orange pine needles. You must walk underneath the soaring, stalagmite trees and the rhododendron plants that form dark tunnels leading to hidden clearings. Here the ground is covered with thick foam pads and muscles tense and strain and people scream. White chalk glows against green moss and grey rock.

Earlier, around 8:00am, a decrepit school bus groans and shakes as it winds along the paved road. Back and forth and up, always up, up, up. It’s the last bus out of the campground, packed three to a seat, and on the floor, and standing. It’s filled with boys and girls, ages ranging from maybe 14 to 25, but its hard to tell because everybody is wearing the accepted uniform – big puffy down jackets and small beanies made of polar fleece or wool. Everybody is nervous, giddy. They laugh and kid each other on the outside, but inside they try to focus, stay calm. Hands are a constant focus for climbers, as they are the literal link between the athlete and his medium. In about an hour these kids will be grabbing cold sharp rock and hanging most of their body weight of off the skin, tendons, and bones of their hands. On the bus, they try very hard to keep their hands warm. Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings From Second Life!

Everything is virtual, wish you were here.

An altered version of this was published in C-VILLE Weekly and In Weekly on 1/8/2008.

Existenz MoviestillsTed: I’m feeling a little disconnected from my real life. I’m kinda losing touch with the texture of it. You know what I mean? I actually think there is an element of psychosis involved here. – From eXistenZ

David Cronenberg’s movie eXistenZ, released in 1999, (the same year as The Matrix), is a movie about a virtual reality video game. The film asks how, if virtual reality looks just like regular reality, can we tell the two apart? eXistenZ does not provide an answer. It does, however, have a lot in common with current virtual reality phenomenon Second Life. Read the rest of this entry »

The Young Americans

A description of the 2009 naturalization ceremony at Monticello published in C-VILLE but not available online. Held every year on July 4th, the ceremony is quite beautiful and moving. Every year the guest speaker is a celebrity who is also a naturalized citizen. In 2009, the guest was the artist Cristo and his partner Jeanne-Claude, famous for wrapping large objects in pink plastic.

It is hard to see the stage and assembled dignitaries wrapped up as they are in ceremonial bunting and tiny flags, against the burping of the brass band. It is hot and sweaty as I sit on the lawn at Monticello for the forty-fourth consecutive naturalization ceremony on July 4th, 230 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Every year people become citizens on the 4th at Monticello, and anyone can come and watch for free. This is why I am here. And traditionally every year a prominent citizen who was once a prominent non-citizen speaks to the assembled throng. This year’s guest speakers are the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, famous for The Gates in Central Park and for wrapping cloth around an entire bridge in Paris. And this is another reason why it is hot and sweaty and hard to see the stage, because I, myself, getting into the spirit of things, am completely wrapped in red, white, and blue fabric, peering through small cut out eyeholes. Read the rest of this entry »

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