On the road: L.A. Mural

Unusually affecting portrait at 617 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles attributed to Jr and Vhils. The head was created by scraping the stucco down to the building’s brick wall and shaping the features of the face with paste.
The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Murals: Red Line Tour (DiscoverLosAngeles.com)

On the Road: Highway 40 Revisited

Heading east on I-40 toward Gallup. Bob Dylan‘s great bluesy new album, Tempest, on repeat. Nobody cops licks & embraces cliches with more gusto & abandon than Bob Dylan.

The band’s hot. The stories’re gripping. 50 years and counting. Amazing.

You can get Tempest by Bob Dylan at Amazon.

Good eatin': Quick lunch

Chopped a large heirloom tomato — keeping seeds aside — and sprinkled with lemon juice. Laid Spanish anchovies across chopped tomatoes and topped with tomato seeds. Served with cubed feta cheese and whole grain crackers (and a glass of Merlot).

Travel Usury : Putting the tax in taxi

Taxation without representation

Since tourists don’t vote in places they don’t live, it’s customary for local governments to gouge visitors with excessive and arbitrary travel taxes and fees tacked on to hotel rooms, airport, railroad and interstate bus transactions, car rentals, etc., at venues like airports, lodgings, and so on,
where local voters are less apt to go. A particularly egregious example: taxi ride fares in Las Vegas, a sprawling western city where most locals drive their own cars and parking fees are minimal to non-existent to attract gamblers.

You’ll want to think twice before taking a Vegas cab. Turning on the meter costs $3.50 — before you’ve traveled an inch. At the end of the ride, a tip is added with no obvious way to remove or change it. If you choose to use Visa/MasterCard or Amex, there’s a $3 fee to swipe the card. A short trip — from the Venetian to Caesar’s, say, about a half mile — can set you back $15.

Is that $3 swipe fee even legal? (In California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas, at least, it would be against the law; what’s up, Nevada?) Doesn’t charging the fee amount to offering a cash discount? Visa rules don’t allow retailers to charge cardholders a checkout fee for using their cards; probably neither do the agreements of other credit card issuers. Even if, in tight times, a business felt it needed to make up the sums paid to the credit card card companies, these amount to about 3% of the cost of a transaction not, as in the case at hand, a usurious 20%!

The Virtual Traveler: The photographs of Malcolm Kirk

On your virtual travels, don’t fail to visit the site of New York-based photographer and fellow traveler Malcolm Kirk. Galleries on the site focus on Iconic Figures — revealing studies of prominent figures in the arts and sciences, from Marcel Duchamp and Saul Steinberg to Richard Feynman and Arthur C. Clarke, including the famous portrait of Andy Warhol that the iconic and ironic artist turned into a series of silk-screened ‘self-portraits’ that hang in major museums throughout the world; Man As Art — a record of tribal body decoration in Papua New Guinea that was published in a large-format hardcover book documenting islanders’ visually stunning tribal body decorations, headgear and carved masks; Silent Spaces — a documentation of aisled barns dating back to the 12th century; and Enclosed Gardens — a pictorial essay covering some of the world’s most magnificent gardens, self-assigned projects that each involved years of research.

Books by Malcom Kirk:
Silent Spaces: The Last of the Great Aisled Barns (Bullfinch Press 1994)
Man As Art (Chronicle 1993)

Books: In Bogotá, rethinking access to the public library

We read on buses (and trains and planes and subways*), so Bogotá is taking the logical next step in putting books where we use them.
One thing about travel, it opens your mind to new thinking even about common things that might seem settled until they are presented to you in a new way.

* The Underground New York Public Library is a virtual gallery featuring the reading-riders of the NYC subways. The New York Public Library, the real one not the virtual one, maintains its smallest branch in the Metropolitan Transit Authority located down a flight of stairs, just outside the turnstile entrance to the No. 6 train on the northwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 50th Street.

Resource: Links to summer travel savings

Here are some links to cost-effective summer travel from Tips and Tricks: Summer Savings by Robert Brokamp (Motley Fool‘s Rule Your Retirement Newsletter 07/2012):
Summer travel season is here, and FareCompare.com, Kayak.com, HotWire.com, FamilyVacationCritic.com, AirFareWatchDog.com, SkyScanner.com, SkyAuction.com, and CheapTickets.com have great deals. For spur-of-the-moment trips, see Jetsetter.com, LastMinuteTravel.com, and Sniqueaway.com. Go uncoventional with time shares at CondoDirect.com, EVRentals.com, and ResortTime.com, or vacation rentals from owners at VRBO.com. Check out hostels, adventure travel, or temporary work overseas at BootsnAll.com. Go to SlowTrav.com for tips if you’re looking to settle in and explore a locale in Europe or North America. Use Hotelsweep.com to find places skipped by the bigger travel websites. Backbid.com shops your hotel reservation around for a better deal.
For more money-saving tips, go to Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement newsletter for July 2012.

Free Urban Foraging: Fallen Fruit is a great site for finding fruit to pick

Double the health benefits of your daily walks with free urban foraging.

Fallen Fruit is a long-term art collaboration that began by mapping fruit trees growing on or over public property in Los Angeles. The collaboration has expanded to include serialized public projects and site-specific installations and happenings in various cities around the world.

“By always working with fruit as a material or media, the catalogue of projects and works reimagine public interactions with the margins of urban space, systems of community and narrative real-time experience. Public Fruit Jams invites a broad public to transform homegrown or public fruit and join in communal jam-making as experimentation in personal narrative and sublime collaboration; Nocturnal Fruit Forages, nighttime neighborhood fruit tours explores the boundaries of public and private space at the edge of darkness; Public Fruit Meditations renegotiates our relationship to ourselves through guided visualizations and dynamic group participation.

“Fallen Fruit’s visual work includes an ongoing series of narrative photographs, wallpapers, everyday objects and video works that explore the social and political implications of our relationship to fruit and world around us. Recent curatorial projects reindex the social and historical complexities of museums and archives by re-installing permanent collections through syntactical relationships of fruit as subject matter.

“Theoretically, David Burns, Matias Viegener, and Austin Young are the three artists of Fallen Fruit that imagine fruit as a lens through which to see the world.” — from the website.

Kayaking in the former USSR

“In 1993 three Australians and one Englishman took their kayaks to two rivers in what used to be called Soviet Central Asia. As far as we can ascertain, it was the first time kayaks had been taken into Uzbekistan and Kirgizstan, and probably the first time kayaks had been taken down the Chatkal and Pskem rivers.”
Dancing with the Bear by Liam Guilar is a free online book that recounts their journey. It offers a reminder that not all roads have been taken, that there are still unique adventures to be had.

Travel detours to places that sparked writers' imaginations

Hearing the news that Moat Brae, a Georgian townhouse in Scotland that sparked JM Barrie to create Peter Pan, is to be turned into a center for children’s literature got Emily Temple thinking about all the real-life places that have animated works of literature.

West Egg

Not big cities that figure in thousands of books, like New York and London and their numerous incitements, but “houses and moors, caves and farmlands hidden away in authors’ hometowns or childhood vacation spots.” So she compiled a list of ten real life places that inspired the likes of Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Emily Brontë, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain, Robert Frost and F.Scott Fitzgerald to create literary classics.

The rest of the story: 10 Real-Life Places That Inspired Literary Classics by Emily Temple (Flavorwire 2011-08-06).

As an aside: it would be fun, wouldn’t it, to plan a summer trip to Durham, Maine (the inspiration for Salem’s Lot) and to locales such as the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado (The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel), around Stephen King Country: The Illustrated Guide to the Sites and Sights That Inspired the Modern Master of Horror by George W. Beahm. Available from Amazon

Armchair Adventures: The Travel Film Archive

The Travel Film Archive sells commercial access to travelogues and educational and industrial travel films, “…from the boulevards of 1920′s Paris to the streets of San Francisco in the 60′s…from the Sudan to Palestine to Pakistan” and every place in between. All of the footage, much of it in color, was shot on film between 1900 and 1970. The library includes work by renowned travel filmmakers Burton Holmes, Andre de la Varre, and James A. FitzPatrick, as well as footage shot by journeyman cameramen. Although the films are not rentable by individuals, the catalog available on line is a joy to visit, especially for anyone nostalgic for locations and lifestyles lost to time. Here, to take one example, is New York City as it was a little more than a half century ago:

Website: The Travel Film Archive

The Everywhereist: The Detourist’s favorite travel blog

“Yes,” says Geraldine DeRuiter about The Everywhereist,  “it’s a travel blog.” But that hardly does it justice.
Geraldine DeRuiter writes The Everywhereist
DeRuiter is a clever, insightful and opinionated writer, and whether she is carrying on about obnoxious airplane passengers, the Seattle Gum Wall and the Most. Complicated. Shower. Ever. or splurging at Rome’s Hotel Raphael, overdosing on New York cupcakes (a descent into madness) and encountering L.A.’s Coolest Mailman, she is never less than entertaining. Bonus: guest bloggers.

The site: The Everywhereist

Summertime Blues

You may think summer is just around the corner, but I have proof to the contrary:

I-80, Donner, California June 1, 2011

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