Posts Tagged ‘tourism’

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.

 

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Armadillo’s are nocturnal creatures, the only ones I’ve seen have been laying dead by the side of the road . I am  a crepuscular creature, preferring  the twilight and  dawn hours when it’s cool. I like to head out early and come home late, before the sun explodes and showers it’s violent burning radiation onto the world . It’s the singular intensity of  radiation that really turns me on. I love the incredible color separation at high noon when every blade of grass, tree and golden hay bale in the field is glowing  and redefined as if by HDR Photoshop effect. I come from a place where the sun rarely shines…and when it does it’s weak and apologetic.

I have developed a special appreciation for the sun after growing up in sun starved Vancouver BC Canada where people walk with their hidden heads bowed submissively and that element of their miserable existence has become an aspect of their societies wider personality. It’s not called ‘No-fun Vancouver’ for no good reason. Events are contrived and politically managed….there is no spontaneity there…people are never free to be …outside. Its the sunshine and being able to live out of doors that makes places like Texas so cool.

When we drive down the Texas highways and the clouds pop out glowing white against an intensely cerulean sky as if we’re sitting in a moving IMAX 3-D theater….it’s otherworldly. I can imagine coming to an understanding why people see the face of God more often in places where nature is such an intense experience. This weekend we visited historic Jefferson in Johnson County on the Louisiana border and Greenville…further north towards Oklahoma. The higher elevation of Johnson County produced a surprise… tall pines forests as opposed to the dry deserts of southern plains. Jefferson is where the bayou’s begin and steam boat travel was once possible from Baton Rouge on the Gulf Coast.

On the way we stopped in McKinney for lunch…. a sweet and well preserved old west  town north of Plano on the 75 Hwy North of Dallas.  We stop as much as we can in whatever local phenomena happens along the way….this time it was the Dairy Queen in Farmersville, maybe one of the last whitest places in America. We caught the lunch crowd as the Baptist church across the road was getting out.

Strangers are obviously unusual in rural Texas, we turned the conversation down to a whisper when walking through the door. I wanted to apologize for Canada burning down the White House in the War of 1812….but  a mixed couple with strange accents and glowing sun tans was as much as  this crowd could handle.  I learned something….I now know you can order biscuits and peppery sausage gravy at the Farmersville Dairy Queen.

Road trips through small town America have to taken in convertibles. Its true….you can drive for days and still wake up in Texas. The open roof adds intensity to the tactile experience… like taking communion with the world around you. The scenery and sounds blast by in motion and audible parallax while wind buffets and slaps your face and  sunshine burns your skin raw so that you glow…and exhibit raccoon eyes in the rear view mirror… it’s exhilarating. Before settling on  Camaros we drove many different vehicles. I find the Camaro Convertible to be the best road trip car I have ever driven.

Having the top down eliminates the bubble effect of an enclosed vehicle with a favorite radio station keeping you anchored in the past. The open road is life being lived…most times without conversation, you sit in awe as the planet spins by beneath you….you’re tied to a strip of fading asphalt so you don’t lift off and fly. After every road trip we return home to see ourselves in the mirror…sunshine silly and smiling like delighted children….before plunging into our pool….. knowing we’ve done something important with our lives by living for today.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Self promotion…..what a silly concept. Overnight I was messaged about being ‘accepted’ by Good Reads. You actually have to apply to get in….I suppose there is some kind of vetting process. There are a zillion budding authors out there…..  it is extremely hard to be recognized….. but with the door so narrow for new artists….what will the world of literature look like in ten years time. Will we see nothing  on the impulse racks but cook books and memoirs of unpopular politicians?  I’m tempted to write a book about weight loss regimes during divorce or promoting a new hair style for the pope….. seriously…don’t get me started.

In fact I read many freshly pressed works by new artists on sites like Worthy of Publishing and Figment or Authoronomy…Pinterest….etc….mostly abysmal.  But at the same time we see runaway best sellers ( 50 Shades anyone?) that are absolute crap….. so who am I to judge? And I mean by abysmal crud…. when the craft has been mangled by a complete disregard for the language. But….it’s the dance we do as writers…..a little fandango…. to set our time upon the stage and act out before we perish.

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Yikes…  a year and a half  being cloistered  writing 13 Angels.  I suddenly  resurface and join the mainstream….so weird. A lot of new social media sites have opened up. I ‘m  learning to relate ….. the majority on social media  are now very very very young.  I’ve  rarely spoken to anyone since beginning my last project. In all honesty, it’s strange….my social brain atrophied during a long hibernation. I think inwardly like a person locked in a coma. I have  rare verbal exchange with adults . It’s like being a parent with small children…you forget how to speak except in gibberish baby talk. I have  people mention that I  talk the way I write…in prose…..huh…..too funny.

I  hang out in the Dallas-Deep Ellum art scene , but my interactions are as weird as the LSD inspired bar scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Artists are a strange bunch collectively and should be taken in small doses. Worse, I live in a hotel and have nothing to do except write…. I don’t even pick up after myself…the maid vacuums around me as I work…..the staff is Spanish….. our communications are limited to new soap products and how freaking hot it is outside. …..I must seem  strange ..a foreigner gringo who sits inside and types all day…. with no visible means of support.  My wife arranges the furniture, only to have the staff put it back. It’s like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

I  give the girls popsicles so they don’t carry me out with the trash. So what to do? Of course I  begin a new novel…a  dark and twisted love story…..the antithesis of romantic expectations..  I am useless to the world. I hope 13 Angels sells…but at this point I don’t care …….writing takes precedent over  history. Goodbye …cruel world….

BTW….The chile sauce in the dish pictured below was concocted out of Habanero’s….the hottest chili’s on the planet…..a Scoville index in the range of 350,000….take that !!! I have an ice maker that  makes one ice cube every hour…. one cold drink a day….  like living on Devil’s Island. Is this the kind of annoyance that drove DH Lawrence around the bend?

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