Brick Lane, Mang.

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It was crowded, sure, but what’s really dribbling outta the fingertips right now reads like this: I am certain that I’ve never seen better graffiti than what lives in-between the lines of Brick Lane’s geography.

There’s some authentic:

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Some sharp:

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And the result is that all modes of humanity can enjoy–like a great brothel, or if God had a twitter handle.

I don’t think it’s necessary that I describe Curry and Szechuan as Far-Eastern flavors here; if you don’t know good Indian food by now, you probably shouldn’t be reading a blog entry on Brick Lane. Sharpen up, citizen: There are bloggers out there with a heady snare for followers, and you will not benefit.

But, if you are already aware of the sensation that chicken and rice stained yellow has on the taste pallet, look no further. Trust a Brick Lane vendor. Trust me.

Also, check out Allen Park just off of Brick Lane. There are playground obstacles (?) there that seem to have evaded my childhood–and at an age deemed mature enough to buy liquor, you should have seen me at that park. Twenty whole minutes–it’s the truest thing I’ll ever say.

Anyway, keep up with life as you best see fit–personally, I’m just traveling at this point in my life, so, you know…

Unknown-3 (Love that translation underneath, don’t you?)

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Prague & Now

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I told myself that I’d sit here and write about how Gothic and Stuck In Time Prague was–how it displayed to me an incandescence like no other city I’ve visited to date. That Prague was dark, mysterious; a old-world city topped by only Rome on that front and with the ghost of communism still filtering through its thick, thick morning mists–all conjured within the aesthetic confines of Bedřich Smetana’s Má Vlast Moldau. And I could–I could do that, I suppose. But right now I’m too caught up in Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2 to write about Prague–which I say to bring up a bigger point:

Prague was Prague–it took place in my life within the hours of the days thursday the 14th of November through the latter sunday–and then I flew back. I paid the ticket, wrapped the collar of my peacoat around my neck and embraced a pocket of time in the steady length of my lifespan. Now it’s just a memory. A vivid one, yes, but optionally mine to keep. The special things I have to say about Prague are absurd things (see Snow Globes at Hyde Park), they are disturbingly subjective and wouldn’t make sense on paper; that, and I fear publicizing them could only tarnish their reputation still throbbing fairly valiantly in my skull. So, in short, I’m being selfish. But at a slightly more generous length, what I’m trying to do here is listen to Eminem in peace, because Prague is a thing of the past for me, and I’ve pocketed several subtle elements for a future narrative at best.

I do have one thing to put down here for my reader though:

If you’re curious about visiting a place that displays itself as some rare form of destination in your mind, then go. Worry about money later and just go. It sounds backwards, I know this–but it’s always easier to say no, and money is replaceable. Spontaneity is not. Go to Prague, reader. Go ahead: buy the ticket, take the ride, drink absinthe and eat cheap beef stroganoff. Look at their beggars, look at how they compose themselves, look at the sooty medieval-ness of the architecture suspend its place in time; the charisma. Do these things and you will change. I can’t tell you how, because, well, your chemistry is different than mine; but I can guarantee that a first hand slap from the Czech Republic will do more for your character than reading this travel blog. . . now back to Rap God.

 

Btw: The Charles Bridge is in the top 5 greatest places I have ever been;
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It All

So it was about mid-day outside the Museum of Fine Arts Boston when Freddy roared through my line of sight for the first time on his skateboard. The sun winked. I was sitting on the first of three marble benches in a line, so I had no trouble hearing his skateboard grind along a majority of the second bench before falling and rattling to a still on the sidewalk–but I hadn’t watched.

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I was preoccupied: The glint of my copper-nickel pinky ring in the broken sunlight under thin, leafless trees–how cool I felt raising that boney hand up to my lips and pulling on the cigarettes–how patiently those rolling fumes danced everywhere. Of course, my headphones had something to do with it too; I’d recently been turned onto the duo Bleached some days earlier. But the grit and wail of a Punk Rock, LA-princess were only a part of the point I’m trying to make, which is why I took the earbuds out as Freddy started back my way.

“Fuckin’-ay.”

“I know,” I said, “but it’s all you.”

Which was true. There wasn’t any foot-traffic along the entire stretch of sidewalk to stall him, and I suppose the unlikeliness of an empty Huntington Avenue at mid-day was mention worthy.

His silhouette blotted out the sun again, but I was watching him now–all soaked, off-white t-shirt black denim jean green Vans Eras of him. Once his momentum died he did a stationary kick flip, then stepped off the board and kicked it around a little–this actually prompted me to roll mine back and forth underneath my feet, just to hear something out of it. As it typically goes, our boards sounded different; which is poetic: It’s the motions, the way a skater moves–his style–and the allotted time they’ve had their board that influences how it sounds once it’s been broken-in. Mine had a hollower, perhaps even drifty sound to it, while Freddy’s had more of a flat, solid crack going on. (But who knows.)

Anyway, when Freddy got back on his board he started rolling around in a circle, and I watched the thin, leafless tree-shadows grip his shoulders and give his shirt a very marbled look. So I started to say something:

“You know, you kind of–”

But he was off, and the hurtling rumble of polyurethane wheels on concrete drowned me out. For a third time he blotted out the sun, and the silly little aesthetic finally made me grin behind my knock-off RayBan Club-masters. When he popped up and came down, both trucks smashed into the marble so well that the thing practically turned into a conveyer belt for him. At the end of the ledge he popped back off, losing almost no momentum as he rolled away.

I clapped hard hard once or twice, but I’m not sure. I doubt he heard me anyway because when he landed he just went right on pushing. Faster. And then past the third ledge, more likely than not without a single clue what to do–or not to do. He was fueled on hype. Then I was:

Tossing my earbuds back in, I cancelled my cigarette on the bench I’d been occupying, somehow overly enthralled watching the waffle-grip sole of his right sneaker kick up from behind him. I got right to skating after that, sure. But that was the best part of my day; watching Freddy push though the growing shadows of tiny branches behind my RayBan imitations with the angry charm of Bleached running through my head. The scene was completely stained with culture. I don’t know, I think I might’ve just been happy to be a part of it all.

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/weekly-writing-challenge-music/

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Snow-Globes at Hyde Park

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     Hyde Park. Beautiful, like Central Park, but with a better name, and divided by The Serpentine River from its other half, The Kensington Gardens. I’ve witnessed endless University Art student photo-shoots as well as people taking lunch off-work to be at peace, and I’ve seen an army of runners pass sweaty and empty-handed, many while I walked behind a teenage girl riding hopelessly slow on a Penny board, pushing mongo. It’s already drizzled, twice, occurrences between which a four year old challenged me to a sword fight with some rather healthy-sized sticks, though unfortunately I declined. Finally the leaves have begun to decay and I’ve gotten my first honest whiff of autumn. Brilliant.

I’m posted up on a bench writing this, mostly because there’s a lady-writer some several yards (alright, meters) back the way I came with handwriting almost as poor as mine, and so the timing seemed fit. Well, it compelled me to sit down myself and test her judgement, and I’ll be the first to say that the scene’s slightly more ideal than I let myself believe at first. To tell you the whole truth, I wish I could write here that I Typically Like To Write In Open Places–places with a whole lot of depth, and view–but it’d all be garbage, because I don’t know the places that I like to write. I don’t have what some might call a writing niche. And so I’m glad I’ve popped my squat on behalf of this middle-aged lady’s handwriting because it really is nicer along here than I thought. It’s literally a straight path in both directions, and the trees lining this path of separated benches are symmetrical in height, width, and distance from each other–like a hallmark card, but slightly less ornamental. Which is nice.

Anyway, I naturally hope that the lady-writer realized the place’s quality in a similar light to how I did before she sat down, but it’s not likely. I was caught up in skateboarding myself before I saw her sitting there writing, so I’m one to talk.

My mind’s always attaching itself to something arbitrary whenever I’m in a pretty decent setting, which sounds anti-climactic, but isn’t. Not entirely. See, before I made it to Hyde Park, back when I was over on the Kensington Gardens side and before all the rain, I crossed quite a big opening and had the opportunity to survey the greater area. The park looked big enough, but what really got to me were the few distant skyscrapers surrounding the park’s massive boundary mixing in with an array of cloud shapes and airplanes, giving the whole mass of it a sort of snow-globe feel. It sounds crazy, I’m sure. But it’s these subjective observations that make wandering or exploring with an open mind valuable–even if skateboarding occupies that void between the aesthetic moments. And the wandering abstract doesn’t cost as much as a museum ticket–though you do have to work if you truly want your mind open to the subjective. Trust no accuracies, if that’s what it takes–even if that means shutting your self out; if only to wind up offering a stranger a large stick in a compulsive effort to duel.

Can’t say that I’ve gone that far over the edge myself–but I say try. Try and lose yourself, if only momentarily. If it works, you’re rich.

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Manhattan Rembrandt

Alright, I know I’m cheating here in not writing about London directly. But I stumbled upon a skater and filmer trying to get a clip of a nose grind down a four-stair kinked rail today that I just had to fictionalize–in New York (a vice of mine, forgive and forget). Anyway, the entire thing’s fictional, other than the boys, the blood, the and the fucking Hell Of A Trick that I hope was eventually pulled-off. . . .

Curtains:

Panny gets back up on his feet, staggering for a moment. His cuffed grey slacks are polished in soot, especially at the knees, and his collarless white t-shirt has stretched even farther down his shoulder blades. He puts his earbuds back in with a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his bottom lip. Blood’s begun to run down his scalp, his face.

Another boy sits cross-legged about twenty feet away from the point of impact. “Jesus, Pan, you ok?”

Panny assures him with a grunt. He looks over at his friend; into the fisheye lens, making out what might be his own silhouette.

“You’re covered in blood.”

Panny shrugs evasively for the camera, but turns before it catches his smirk. He walks over to the pricker-bush beside the stair set. Overgrowth sticks through the hand-railing’s frame. The sun’s low in the skyline and cracks off of glistening windowpanes between the city projects. Panny squints, then sticks his hand into the bush, yelping, complaining playfully. He produces a dirty skateboard for the camera and flings it over his back. Pass-byers can vaguely hear choppy, vulgar punk rock pulsating out of his cheap earbuds and see that a single trickle of blood runs all the way down his temple–that drops have begun to materialize at the tops of his shoulders and torso.

After kicking the thing around for the greater portion of a half-minute, Panny reaches down and picks the skateboard back up. The tail has already chipped and the grip tape echoes dusty, fragmented footprints. He walks over to the railing, taking the board up with both hands, then brings it down over his right shoulder and smashes the truck into the hassling kink he’d come for. There’s a loud metallic bang, followed sharply by a hollow reverberation from the rail which gains and permeates the initial crack of metal on metal. In this moment, the railing has no outline, but a subtle blur, and Panny’s dropped the skateboard and begun rolling down the sidewalk at the top of the stairs.

 *          *           *

Panny’s pushing. A city-block away can hear his wheels roar and tear down the cement path. Someone has stopped and turned. He ollies: his front truck connects with the railing and alloys grind through clean till the rudeness of the kink, again.

There’s a hiccup of pedestrian silence–people blink once, twice. Panny’s curled up, wheezing. His right leg thrashes out at the pavement. The boy filming curses as he hustles over.

“Ya alright?!” He’s pressing the camera to his hip.

Panny’s groaning, feeling around for his skateboard blindly, reactively.

“Umm,” says the boy standing.

Panny’s shoulder finds the board and knocks it over. He stops thrashing and lays on his back, looking up for a moment before reaching behind his head for the board, picking it up, and letting it fly out in front of him. It ricochets to a stop, more or less.

“Umm,” says the other boy.

Panny sits up and sniffles. The cigarette fell out of his mouth in the skating process and now lies next to him, bent into some pseudo-zigzag. He leans over and picks it up, straightening it out as best he can before placing it back in his mouth, caught on his bottom lip.

Within minutes it’s grown dark. Now the sun is behind Manhattan, and for a glimpse, a zippo-gas flicker plays off of Panny’s tight, dusty-pale face. The blood’s dried to shallow patches on his forehead while his face is speckled with metallic little blood flakes–vivid at the sparking flame, illuminated for the sudden still of dusk…

Geoff_R This is Geoff Rowley. That is all.

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Diary from the 4th floor window of a Hostel for the skinny wallet

Verbatim:

Amsterdam, oh Amsterdam;

Your narrow lanes and Calvinist-steepled architecture have me drifting into bicycle-ringing traffic–as of now I’m a spinning mind of Northern-European proofs. But don’t take my awe quite to heart now; I’m American: My mixed-blood gets giddy when I see something so historically finite as Medieval 3rd-floor trimmings. It’s that simple.

Anyway, as it stands I’m here alone at the Hotel Croydon (ward-esque hostel for short, or, no, just better-put), sandwiched between Condominium (clever, clever), and a leather bondage emporium. From this vantage point I face a cobblestone alley of fifty-euro one night stands and hookers on the half-shell–red lights, red lights…. 

But enough gawking–things have happened: I wandered aimlessly through the Tourist-Capitol of the free world upon my evening of arrival; eating Halal food, treating Heineken like Budweiser, and trying to find out just who the natives were. Three aspects of experience I find (in hindsight, as always) more valuable than any words I could potentially govern to the page. But I drift. Tourism is a cultural art here. It’s a romance. Even as a United States-man I feel like a part of this human circuitry pulsating in and out of Irish pubs and Amsterdam “coffee” shops. Just look, for instance, at what this thrill’s done to my writing–I’m practically bleeding flowers. But whatever, all things can happen once, and I’m loyal to this tourist-beckoning support for now. For the time being, I’m well.

Being alone in a foreign country is like being hungry….. You do what it takes, to paraphrase. And so integrating over beers and Halal with the randoms is what I’ve been doing. And I don’t want to come off false here by saying that if you put yourself out there well and hard enough things will come your way–but, in this particular case, they have. I’ve run into familiar faces at pubs after only three nights; purchased other’s drinks, been purchased drinks, lived in the moment at drunken will, etc. etc… And an off-duty bartender I met over a cigarette my first night poured me an Amstel on the house three nights later.

But I brag. My stomach’s just full, so-to-speak, or, I’ve quenched my thirst. It doesn’t matter how I put it, really–the meaning’s only to be temporarily trusted. So to close–with emphasis, no doubt: Alone now I feel at-ease, at place, and ready for the inevitable random of a foreign country. #Rare.

                                            

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It Felt Good Again

Yesterday I skated through Shoreditch and revisited the spots I’d come across on that first rainy day I arrived in this city–where I wandered around aimlessly, without coffee.  A journey brutally anti-climactic without caffeine or wheels. But anyway I went back because I’ve started skating again–I’m really doing it. I can feel myself honestly progressing again. I haven’t felt progress since maybe the day my old roommate Will Schaffer and I battled-out big spins off some stone wall outside of Boston’s Boylston T-station some years ago. And it feels important, or at least noteworthy, to say that I’ve been getting back on my board alone. I didn’t think I had it in me, but it feels good now; it feels good just to be skating for myself. I’ve been able to tell people what it’s like skating for myself:

Behind some apartment project in Shoreditch, I bummed a lighter off some kid who stood there watching me skate while he ‘waited for a buddy’. He was probably waiting on drugs, but I didn’t inquire nor did I care. At first I didn’t want the second-hand company: he was practically cheering after everything I landed and throbbing with heartfelt disappointment after everything I happened to miss. The session was very average, and the passer-by stayed impressed.

Then he started asking me questions about skateboarding, which naturally got on my nerves, because even I don’t care about how long I’ve been skating, or what my favorite trick is. But then he started asking really good questions; things like: What skateboarding meant to me, why after quitting for some years had I decided to start back up, did it mean anything to me that it reminded him of surfing, and if I had to put it into words, Why Was It That He Admired Skateboarders So Much For What They Were Doing? I answered these questions as best I could because I honestly thought he deserved thought-out answers. But in regards to his last one I told him all people should have something going for them that they’ve worked towards–people willingly or unwillingly pick up on such a trait. It’s respectable. That resonated in him. I told him skills like skateboarding bring people together who otherwise have nothing in common, that ego takes a back seat to ability. I thought I might just get a head nod, but instead he proceeded to tell me that he Liked To Smoke Pot But Now Felt Like Getting Good At Something He Might Have To Work Towards, Like Skateboarding, Also. I chuckled and told him not to hesitate trying his hand at it and let him stand on my board for a minute.

I don’t know–these are the types of corny, imaginary conversations I have with people in my head all the time; so it felt good to actually have one of them. It felt good to talk out loud like that–to remind myself why I’d picked the damn thing back up anyway.

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