Ruminations on the Bookstore

bookstoreI think that I shall never adore, a place as lovely as a bookstore. Okay, maybe that doesn’t roll from the tongue as easily as Kilmer, but the sentiment is just as heartfelt and true. Technology is killing off bookstores like a plague, sweeping through the landscape with an indifference reserved for the most trivial things. But these are not trivial things, these are the hallowed houses of the written word where the most heartbreaking, the most sublime, the most fundamental stories are held and told. A bookstore isn’t just a point of retail as it has been so callously reduced by the scourge of the Kindle and all of its ilk. The bookstore is a place to escape, to learn, a sacred sanctuary for literary repose that must be experienced at least once by everybody and anybody who considers themselves a civilized human being. (more…)

On Drinking The Cheap Stuff

whiskey cocktailWine, beer, whiskey; pick your poison. You just don’t need to spend large amounts of money to do so. There are some staggering misconceptions about the quality of your alcohol as it relates to the price you pay for it. Yes, there are bad brands out there that cost very little money and, yes you will pay the price for it the next day.

Cheap vodka and cheap champagne are both particularly notorious for causing those kinds of bad hangovers where all you want to do is crawl into a dark hole and promise whatever deity you call your own that you will never touch the stuff again. Only to break that promise just a few short days later. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find inexpensive brands that taste good and won’t wreak havoc on you the morning after. (more…)

Journalistic Travels

I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to travel the world doing what I love the most: writing. Travel journalism has always been a lifelong pursuit and it was a tough business to crack. I’ve been doing this long before the days of blogs and Twitter and Facebook.

But there’s no question all three have made it much easier for other talented people to break into the business. This is both good and bad as it fosters healthy competition between writers who are looking to cover certain parts of the world, allowing us to feed off one another’s energy and creativity, learning so much more about far away places, while on the flipside there are way too many writers looking for work and too few employers willing to pay.

So it’s up to me to get out there, find those less-traveled locales, and write. Write something better. Be more visual, more imaginative, more transformative with your words. Make my work just that much more compelling than the next guy or gal.

I’ve been in some of the best and worst places around the globe and there are a few things that I always need by my side. My laptop, my camera, obviously. A little bit of extra cash, you know to keep the locals friendly, and of course, a good bag. In fact, I have a brand new backpack that I took with me to a little shit pit part of the Ukraine that did more talking for me than I ever could.

Kamyanets-PodilskyI had just bought myself this jet black tactical backpack. I mean this thing looks like something Sylvester Stallone would wear in one of his action movies. Mercenaries are the target demo on this pack, it would seem. It’s got loads of compartments and pockets, thick zippers and compression straps.

One shoulder strap, so it’s easy to sling over your shoulder and go when you need to run…and I’ve been in that exact position before. Anyway, it holds all of my gear, secures it from impact and water, and it’s generally a badass bag.

I had been detained by security at a checkpoint. Nothing major really, they just wanted to make sure I really was who I was claiming to be, an American traveling abroad. They got one look at my bag and they must have thought I meant business because they let me go pretty fast.

Of course, they rummaged through it first but they let me go promptly and I was on my way. I heard them laughing as I walked out, maybe it was nervous laughter because they thought I was some kind of international soldier of fortune perhaps. At least that’s what I like to tell myself. Who knows what it was really all about…

But hey, if you’re a traveling journalist who wants to look like a badass, get yourself a killer tactical backpack like the ones found here. I guarantee you’ll find yourself the perfect travel companion.

My Man and his Watch

G-Shock GA110 WatchI’m what some people might call a tough broad. I have my feminine side obviously – have you seen me do a strip tease lately? But I’ve lived a pretty intense and awesome life. I’ve seen things no woman is supposed to see, just like in that song. I’ve worked drab jobs and dream jobs. I’ve traveled to galaxies far, far away and I’ve walked through war zones in the bad section of town. The places where good girls always don’t go and bad girls don’t always come back. I have called some of the most beautiful cities in the world home, and I’ve lived in places where I couldn’t wait to get the hell out.

I like my liquor. I know a lot about good beer and bad beer and there isn’t a whiskey around that I haven’t been to bed with at least once. Some of them even got a return invitation to my boudoir.

I’m still writing that novella that won’t ever seem to let me complete it. I don’t know why it has chosen to be so elusive. We’d been getting along for awhile, but then it made me kill off two of my favorite characters. Unfortunately, they were the only two characters in the book thus far and we were up to eighteen pages in length. So the short story was indeed short, even though there was so much more to say.

It takes a tough man to keep up with me but Keith put serious dedication into the task. Trust me, I made it pretty hard for him. Broke up with him twice. Bailed out on him at a club one night and he didn’t call me for three weeks. I was sure I was rid of him, but like a bad penny he turned up at my doorstep once again. I made love to him three times that night. It was the least I could do. That’s my Keith, my bad penny. I keep him around now. Even let him put a damn ring on my finger and we moved down to Nashville. Home of the best damn music ever made.

My man needs to have a few things if he’s going to be mine. He needs to know how to drink. He needs to know how to handle a gun. My man needs to know he will never win with me but he can always keep on trying. He needs to know how to be creative. He had better be a reader. My man loves dogs. He had also better wear a man’s watch. My Keith is not wearing some fancy dainty thing, he better have something big and thick. A tactical watch. Like the one I bought him as an engagement gift. Girls, if your man isn’t wearing a tactical watch, then check these out. Find him the timepiece that shows off his masculinity. If he’s a rugged type like my Keith, I can guarantee he’ll love it.

Some Songs Work. Some Songs Don’t.

burlesque musicThe choreography is never right. But I continue to keep at it. Burlesque is equal parts music and performer. Perfectionists such as myself have battled this combination for as long as time itself. Your skill as a dancer is never up to snuff. Some songs work, some songs don’t. The music is what brings them into the story, you are the one who keeps them within it. If the combination isn’t working, then one of you isn’t doing your job correctly. The right song can make or break your routine. Sometimes the right song simply does not exist. I have a diverse library of records, CD’s, music I keep on my hard drives, in my iPod. Old, new, timeless. Sometimes none of it works.

Then there are the songs that will always inspire me. They may not always be the songs that are right for the act, but they are building blocks to something else spectacular. Or a spectacular failure. I’ve experienced both. You can design, create, break it down and build it back up again. This can take weeks, months. All that work, all that self-doubt, all that success in the rehearsal. None of it works on stage. Those songs are never re-visited ever again. You know which song I thought would be perfect? Big Spender by Shirley Bassey. An old classic, right? Should be a no-brainer. But I realized the old classics don’t always get the audience engaged. It’s tired on it’s own. The execution is in the performer. Look, it’s not Shirley’s fault, it’s mine. I didn’t bring enough to the performance. Not enough tease, not enough imagination.  I’ll never use it again. But does it get me thinking about other songs? That it does.

The routines I’ve been developing lately are all solo works. Nothing comprising an entire show yet. Besides all of this is being done in the privacy of my own room. I’m not taking it on the road at the moment. But the music has me. The ideas have been flowing through my psyche, my very soul, and I can’t get certain songs out of my head. These are the ones that demand to be heard, forcing themselves upon me until I do what they want me to do. Create. Perform. Give everything I have until there’s nothing left but the applause.

Here are some of the best offenders that I can’t get out of my head:

The Cramps – Queen of Pain

Rigor Mortis – TittyShaker Sleazy

The Hollywood Vines – Cruisin

Ace Kefford Stand – For Your Love

Rezurex – Don’t Mess With Me

The Bikinis – Bikini

The Instrumentals – Are You Nervous?

The Twiliters – Shakin All Over

Jack Hammer – Wiggling Fool

Edgar Allan and the Po’ Boys – Panic Button

You’ve never heard of these, but if you have, then maybe I’d like to dance just for you. You have good taste and I like other humans with good taste. Give them a try, you can find most of them on YouTube or iTunes. Expand your horizons and listen to these songs. This is real music. Real good music.

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