Returning To Bulgaria

Posted on Nov 5, 2015 in Bulgaria, Culture | 2 Comments
Returning To Bulgaria

For a long time, the only country I’d ever say I truly disliked was Bulgaria. The last time I was in Bulgaria was Sofia seven years ago, after my semester in Prague and my first swooning trip to Turkey, and I hated it– because it was hot, because it was ugly, because it wasn’t Istanbul. […]

Adventures in East Boston

Posted on Aug 17, 2015 in Culture, USA | One Comment
Adventures in East Boston

I’m from the Boston area. I grew up north of the city, I went to college in a nearby city, and I lived in the Somerville and Boston proper for three and a half years after I graduated. In that time, I never went to East Boston. Is there a good excuse? I didn’t explore […]

All The Communist Kitsch: Memento Park, Budapest

Posted on Jul 16, 2015 in Culture, Hungary | One Comment
All The Communist Kitsch: Memento Park, Budapest

Say you’re a country that’s been hanging out behind an iron curtain. Suddenly, you’ve gone post-Communist, and yet these epic commie monuments are still hanging around. What to do? Dump ‘em in a park and charge admission. Sort of a Communist playground. When Hungary shed its decades of Communism in 1989, the newly democratic country […]

Reconsidering Diyarbakir

Posted on May 23, 2015 in Culture, Turkey | No Comments
Reconsidering Diyarbakir

The last time I was in Diyarbakir, Turkey, it was in July during Ramadan. The southeastern city felt hot and hostile, with beckoning backstreets full of lewd children and sketchy men. I try to focus on the positive– and there were certainly things I liked about Diyarbakir– but when it came down to it, I […]

Riding Trains in Sri Lanka

Posted on Mar 19, 2015 in Culture, Sri Lanka | 2 Comments
Riding Trains in Sri Lanka

There was a while when my white noise was the clatter of Sri Lankan trains. As I sat at quiet tables in hotels eating curry or attempted to clear my mind to sleep, all I could hear rattling in my ears was the repetitive sound of our rickety second-class train car rolling over colonial tracks, […]

I Love LA, Unironically and Shamelessly

Posted on Mar 6, 2015 in Culture, USA | No Comments
I Love LA, Unironically and Shamelessly

Los Angeles is a city that seems easy to hate. Its sprawl of car-choked freeways and skies thick with morning smog, its celebration  of plastic celebrity culture and neglect of the homeless, the self-loving kitsch of Hollywood—ask someone why they dislike LA, and chances are you’ll hear one of these complaints. Sure, the weather is […]

Downtown Los Angeles Plays Itself

Posted on Mar 3, 2015 in Culture, USA | 6 Comments
Downtown Los Angeles Plays Itself

Few cities are simultaneously as recognizable and opaque as Los Angeles. It’s not an iconic city. Think about it. What’s a famous LA icon? The Hollywood sign, that’s it. It’s not New York, whose streets from any angle ooze Big Apple, whose bridges and skyline and Statue of Liberty are familiar all over the world. […]

Hot Days, Hot Nights, Hot Jazz

Posted on Feb 19, 2015 in Culture, Sri Lanka | 3 Comments
Hot Days, Hot Nights, Hot Jazz

What place do you think of when you think of jazz? Maybe dim blue clubs in New York City, smoky cafes in Paris, the rollicking streets of New Orleans? How about a colonial seaside town in Sri Lanka? Before I went to Sri Lanka, the only thing I definitely wanted to do was ride trains […]

The Recent Ruins: Welcome To Sutro Baths

Posted on Jan 15, 2015 in Culture, USA | No Comments
The Recent Ruins: Welcome To Sutro Baths

I know that things don’t last forever. I see historic ruins, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, places where the word “former” is firmly stuck in front of “glory.” The impermanence of the ancient world is accessible to me. But really, I don’t often think too deeply about the impermanence of my present surroundings. Ruins are for […]

It’s Crummy, But We Love It: Welcome to Revere Beach

Posted on Dec 17, 2014 in Culture, USA | No Comments
It’s Crummy, But We Love It: Welcome to Revere Beach

Did you know that Boston has beaches? No, I’m not talking about Cape Cod, or Rockport, or Martha’s Vineyard. I mean city beaches, accessible by public transportation. There’s one in particular on Boston’s North side, and it’s not Gloucester. It’s called Revere Beach, and it’s crummy, and we love it. I grew up visiting Revere […]