Posts Tagged ‘art’

I spent a week in what is in my opinion the most livable city in Canada, Victoria. Two hours of ferry riding  through a raft of broken islands and a short drive or twenty minutes by float plane and you’re in a different world. City fathers over generations have done a fantastic job of preserving the nineteenth century character of the provincial capital. Victoria is primarily a university city and seat of government, at the same time young and affluent with students and richly paid civic servants. Brick architecture reflects a British influence. Victoria is no secret but handles the tourist industry well. Restaurants and cafe’s are numerous. Friendly individually owned shops line the streets as opposed to the faceless chain stores of many cities. A very pleasant place, indeed.

IMG_4071-Optimized

– a dancer practices for a performance in an open square.

IMG_4123-Optimized

find clubs packed with young students partying.

IMG_4103-Optimized

-lots of period architecture

IMG_4134-Optimized

– Chinatown has  a lot of good restaurants and stores.

IMG_4092-Optimized

– lots of cool little cafe’s to hang out in when it drizzles.

IMG_4125-Optimized

IMG_4116-Optimized

– sights and sounds of an unhurried place.

IMG_4141-Optimized

– really different street art found unexpectedly.

IMG_4106-Optimized

IMG_4126-Optimized

IMG_4147-Optimized

IMG_4150-Optimized

IMG_4127-Optimized

– West Olson, photographer and my local guide through Fan Tan Alley.

IMG_4094-Optimized

IMG_4087-Optimized

– he took me to some cool cafes….where the owners encourage you to stay and hang.

IMG_4076-Optimized

– intimate shoppes hidden down shady alley ways.

wayne

– fantastic natural light for a new head shot.

I’m living in one of the most under appreciated and most vilified places by foreign ( non Texan) media  the United States and loving it. Most days  we feel as if we have the place to ourselves and couldn’t be happier. The number of tourists in some  global hotspots has depreciated the quality of  traveling there….. not so in Texas.  There is so much to do here , spread out over such a huge area that crowds ( except for sports venues) are rare. The cost of living is extremely low compared to most other places I have been in the developed world and that really takes the bite out of world class travel.

We chose Fort Worth for today’s day trip. It was back in the spring when we were there last. The streets, shops, venues and bars are much more lively now that the sun is shining every day. We added the Amon Carter Museum of American Art to our list of free public facilities to our list. And guess what…the parking is also free and we didn’t have to make any advance reservations or take transit to get there!!!  ! Ft. Worth has it’s roots in the cattle industry, being the end of the Chisholm Trail of Old West fame.

On the way, we stopped at a road side diner for a traditional Sunday lunch of Southern home style cooking…   fried cat fish filets, fried okra, pecan pie and sweet tea. The catfish was excellent, spicy hot, the way it should be. Did I forget the corn bread biscuits and sweet bread rolls with honey and butter…..shame on me. Once down 26th Street in downtown Ft Worth….also known as The Stockyards… we were treated to an antique car show…many groups of street performers…and we stopped into the very famous ( if you’re a cowboy) White Elephant Saloon for a drink and some quality time holding up the bar with the locals. WARNING… MEN WEAR HATS. People have been drinking beer and playing pool to the sound of some of country musics most famous performers for decades. Sure… it’s smoky and stinks like sour beer….but the people are super friendly and you know you’re in one of the most famous Cowboy Churches in the country.

I’ve lived in a lot of places around the world…. but my travelers eye has spied Texas as one of the best destinations for  the unexpected.

IMG_3973-Optimized

IMG_3985-Optimized

IMG_3972-Optimized

IMG_4002-Optimized

IMG_3991-Optimized

IMG_3987-Optimized

IMG_4022-Optimized

IMG_4014-Optimized

IMG_4026-Optimized

IMG_4020-Optimized

IMG_4024-Optimized

IMG_4028-Optimized

IMG_4015-Optimized

IMG_4006-Optimized

IMG_4007-Optimized

IMG_3988-Optimized

Texas is a widely diverse society. In fact the state leads all others in welcoming immigrants. Surprisingly this is not reported by the general media. Looking back I see that Texas has always been a diverse cultural melting pot. Many native American tribes resided here for tens of thousands of years beginning with the mass migrations of Clovis People after a succession of Ice Ages that swept people south. The Spanish were the first Europeans to discover the land, traveling north from Mexico.

A reverse migration of sorts brought a mixed population of Mexican, Indian, Spanish and Mestizo back to Texas in the early 1500’s. The first mass scale cattle ranching industry was established in Texas. The mixture of people clashing became Texano’s, and they came from everywhere. Small towns still carry the names of small Irish and Czech villages that hopscotched from Eastern US ports across Tennessee and Arkansas into what is today Texas. Lost in all this were the native Americans striving to maintain their dignity and identity after being rolled over by the modern world.

Yesterday Trish and I attended a Pow Wow, a meeting of people and tribes, in Grand Prairie Texas. It reminded me that Texas wasn’t always a maze of freeways and industry.

 

IMG_3934-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3947-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3901-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3936-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3946-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3899-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3963-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3954-Optimized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3969-OptimizedIMG_3933-Optimized

A coming film… The Worlds End….just happens to be written around my favorite pub which happens to be situated in my favorite neighborhood in the world… and coincidentally The Worlds End pub on Camden High Street, London appears in two of my novels…The Bloody Oath,,, and The Enablers. Now is that weird or what? Great travelers find great places wherever they may be. I remember traveling in the days before guide books and backpackers when there were only a few travelers, the world was still relatively pristine and unsullied,  and we’d meet in the oddest places simply because there were no other foreigners to be seen.

A small village in Bali for example….it was simple enough to ask a headman..”Is there any other foreigners here?” And they would send a child to find them. In Bangkok, the Malaysia hotel was the place to run into your friends and the odd CIA or KGB agent. Now of course such places are overrun with tourists looking for coincidental fame and we travelers do our best to avoid them. Strange as it may seem. in the late sixties and early seventies there were under a dozen hardcore travelers, all traders and traffickers of the exotic of the world, and we would meet constantly in airport bars, woodworking villages, gem mines, clothing districts….. And now the movie industry has ‘outed’ The Worlds End…and I’m sure the ancient dive will be awash in backpackers hoping some ‘cool’ will rub off on them…..argghhhh:(

The Worlds End has hosted Charles Dickens who set many of his novels in Camden…..Percy Shelly lived around the corner. The heavy oak floors are bowed from being stepped on since the seventeenth century, The ancient stone tred on the door step is swaybacked with use. I liked to sit looking out the imperfect panes of glass into the street and watch the world go by along the high street. The interior walls are black with five hundred years of pipe smoke. There are few places in London like The Worlds End…..I’m conflicted that they’d made my old haunt a movie set. Of course I say that about all the places that should have rested instead of being commercialized…..oh well…..sometimes it’s true…you can’t go back.

Enablers

DSC_0867

DSC_0801

03272011371

Bloody Oath

Given that I have choices, I will confess, I love what I do. As strange as my lifestyle seems to some, you can’t imagine being rootless… until it happens to you. Most days I feel as if my feet never touch the ground. I’ve written extensively in the past on the subject of the hard core travelers life…but I’m not sure I’ve ever really nailed it. I would imagine this inherent rootless nature is what keeps me searching for another place to temporarily hang my hat. I know of many people who make an entire life out of one city, one job, a single interest,

I wonder how they do it. That would bore the crap out of me. Some people start with good intentions, but let themselves be dragged down by an avaricious disposition to possess material objects. Others get lonely while away and seek the structured comfort of a long term relationship and all that entails. Young people lose their youth and the world becomes objectified into paying bills and raising children. It takes a special personality type to drift off and never  touch down…like a perpetual travel machine.

I learned early on how to make a living out of an empty suitcase. I married in the middle of an ocean and raised a child on beaches, in airports and strange cities. It’s a life style I recommend to everyone. I have witnessed travelers suffer tropo so that the antipodal cultures they encounter becomes confrontational. That defeats the whole purpose of traveling. Ideally, you’ll become a kind of  Sadhu, eschewing the possessions and  standards of the world you leave behind. Imagine your freedom…if you can….and become the mighty mighty traveler. Forget about your short term vacation strategy… a month or six won’t cut it…… set yourself free. I promise….you’ll see the most amazing things along the way. Life is short….you’ll never get younger than you are right now.

Snapshot - 15

young wayne

IMG_1924

DSC_7681

DSC_3288_alt

DSC_2372

DSC_9884

2 saddhu's

DSC_4997

IMG_1574

23102010048

IMG_1420

Trish and I are celebrating our one year anniversary in Dallas….but this is just the latest stop in a long line of stopovers. As Canadians, we are considered an anomaly. Most people in my country tend to hunker down, build a nest and stay in that one place for life, in the same job, short term vacation, paint the house every five years, have 1.2 children, put a different car in the driveway, buy a house they can’t afford, spend thirty five years trying to pay it off, divorce at least twice…. and never leave their comfort zone until  taken out in a box. Canadians in general are sedentary unimaginative and predictable people. The banks and government love them for acting like sitting ducks.

Many people emigrate,  we are nor immigrants…. we wander by choice. We have zero intention to stay in one place, instead we float in a dish of cream. When the milk runs dry we will  be on our way. In the past ten years in particular, we have been ‘on the road’ so to speak, living in hotel rooms and long stay executive apartments. I particularily like countries that rent furnished apartments by the week, like Australia. It’s liberating to move from one great view to another. I do not want plants or animals tying me down. I have a beautiful wife …why would I need a little furry buddy to assuage my inner emptiness? Aside from Dallas we have lived/ worked in  Paris , Amsterdam, London, Bristol, Beijing, Singapore, San Francisco, Bangkok, Hong Kong, New York, Maui, Helsinki,Denpassar,  and visited many places in between…..prior to that..  long stints in  Fiji and Brisbane homeschooling our son on the beaches. For university prep we gave the boy a top boarding school education and he went on to spend six years living on the campus of a great university. He is very independent and we’re quite proud of that.

The travelers lifestyle got under my skin when very young. I suppose you develop a mindset after a while where ‘home’ becomes a concept rather than a place. Our circle of friends are living around the world rather than the house-frau and her balding husband across the cul de sac. I’m permanently tanned from too much time in the sun, whereas in Canada they’re sounding alarms against the idea of even 15 minutes exposure. My travel flesh is deep and dark. My rotator cuffs  joints in arms and hips are grinding like an old transmission from too much time spent in swimming pools and surf lines…my travel bones are worn. And still I have no want to return ‘home’ and begin collecting china or automobiles….or even worse….take up golf.  This a hell of a lifestyle…. but someone has to live creatively.

Canadians in particular are jealous to the extreme, they covet  and become angry when anyone has something they cannot. It’s a peculiarity of the culture. You’ll find  conversations with Canadians  begin with  identifiers ‘what do you do….where do you live, how much do you make.. where have you been on holiday’? It is a Canadian caste system that defines who you are financially compared to every one else. They’ll want to know if they’re ahead or behind so that they can either envy you or despise you. Vancouver , for example has been polled as being the loneliest, least friendly, and difficult to make new friends in as a city…. there is a large population of people reporting some form of depression and mental illness due to the social isolation. People there are so covetous of anything another might have that they can’t decide to ‘just be normal’.A visitor to Vancouver will notice a desperation to own real estate and a huge number of newly leased cars…. but no theater scene, no music scene, art scene, no cool neighborhoods…..just a lot of miserable people sitting around telling you how great their city is as justification for what they’re paying every month. In fact…it has to be the most miserable , covetous place I have ever been.

But I remind people that what you do in life is a choice. ‘Change your mind.. change your life’… is a phrase that popped into my head when I began my career as a traveler hitchhiking around North America and then branching off to spend decades wandering the world. It works for me…..and if you don’t like where you are…pack a suitcase and go somewhere you do. Hey…it works for us. I guess I’ll have to keep my crown as ….THE KING OF PAIN.

IMG_3182

People in Texas love to socialize. There is a thriving arts community that  screams…’We’re here’ !! This weekend Trish and I were at the Design District Event where locals got together in a big old warehouse and showed us what they’ve been up to. When you get this many creative minds together you know the day is going to rock. We were treated to kick ass bands… and a swimming pool in the parking lot. Food trucks and a great promotion bar held up the corners. I think the floor was shaking because when I got home I noticed my pictures were all a bit blurred…. but that just underlines the general vibe. I love meeting the local artists and making all the contacts for the Dallas underground. As I’ve said people are super friendly and inviting here. The after party invites are very much appreciated…..I think it must be my cool LOCS shades or the Kid Rock hat….not sure.

IMG_3520

IMG_3518

IMG_3511

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met Carolyn Collins…..of CarolynCollinsPhotography.com …she’s a sweet heart……sorry for the blur Carolyn….it was just one of those shaky days.  It was 108 that day…..could have been the weather. Video should be up on the Bangkok Living and Travel site soon.