Peripatetic Postcards

If I Could Get Away, I'd Go to . . .

Photo: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

PM is on a break, so I might as well come off mine.

I've been traveling about for some time now, collecting pictures and anecdotes, which I'll post as time permits. But while I was sifting through the shots and sorting out my thoughts, I came across this piece in the Los Angeles Times.

It was listed under their "Most emailed Stories" sidebar, but that is actually a misnomer, since it is mainly a collection of photos with a bit of text clinging precariously -- apologetically (one might even say) -- to the outer edge.

Proving (what we already know): that pictures often speak more authoritatively than words.

Anyway, clicking through the photos, the following thoughts came to mind (not necessarily in this order):

  • While the title of the piece was: "Bizarre and unusual destinations around the world", there were very few places that would induce you to think: "right, I'm circling this on my map to be sure to travel to." I mean: bedding down on a converted plane at an airport? Taking dinner in a treehouse? Attending a rodeo at a prison? The scenes depicted here were more like things that you do if, by some off-chance, you happen to be in the neighborhood.

  • As glorious as the shots may have been, this was more a case of how to lie with pictures. I mean: the lighting was good, the conditions were right, the camera was at the ready and so: voila! a delectable piece of eye candy. But a destination . . . ? Hell, I have a great shot of a bird sitting alone in a rice field when my train stopped on the tracks just outside of Narita station. It's an amazingly good shot, it was a unique photo op, but I'm not sure that a destination it does make.

  • With 5 of the first 10, and 7 of the 20 photos in the Times piece hailing from the U.S., you wonder who was putting this compilation together. I mean, are these really the 20 most bizarre and unusual destinations in the world? Why not just call it something closer to what it was: "B & U Destinations in the States"?

  • Still, the restaurant under the aquarium was pretty cool. And, admittedly, there is no getting around how gorgeous the caverns and natural stone structures of the US southwest are.

  • But is it just me being negative?: does anyone else think it's strange that a person would travel to that coastal resort in Chile and then take a swim in that long hotel pool, when such an astonishing, gorgeous ocean sits beckoning no more than 62 paces away?

  • Definitely, if I ever screw on the courage to take up scuba diving, then that so-called "Great Blue Hole", in Belize, is definitely where I would go explore . . . I mean, assuming I had the $10,000 to get out there and hang out for a few days -- not to mention splurge for a boat rental and some deep-water gear.

Photo: USGS

Which got me to thinking . . . And, soon enough, without forewarning and little ability to repress it, I became conscious of a voice snaked through my cranium, wondering: "If you had the money, if you could get away, where would you go?

Which then that got me to thinking again . . . this time, about you, fair reader (since I always, under all circumstances, and at every turn, think about you . . . unless, of course, my thoughts of you were simply an artifact of the fact that the voice that had just slithered through my brain had been in the second-person and, thus, I mistook that as being thoughts of you . . . when it was really all about meeeeeeeeeee!).

Well, whatever the case, since the subject has surfaced, let me ask: "If you could get away, if you could go anywhere, where would you go?"

If you have the time, and a notion; if you care to weigh in, then think about it like this:

  • If you had to pick a place from the Times list to get away, where would you go?

  • And then if you could go anywhere for a getaway -- list be damned -- where would it be?

Oh, and a "because" or two. Since no one launches ships without reason.

And after you've made your contribution, after we've had a right proper send-off, we can say with satisfaction that this entry is ready to sail off into the sunset.

Ready to make its own PP getaway.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.