Tag Archives: flickred

Brighton in Review

Last week I began the lifestyle that will define me for the next few months; that of a backpacker. My goal is to explore the world, learn about other cultures and meet new people all through the aid of digital tools and social media. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes I am making my way based on recommendations of friends and followers.

I arrived in London Tuesday morning and soon made my way via bus down to the coastal city of Brighton. It was early afternoon when the bus pulled into my stop where I met Jeremy and we walked over to the Clearleft offices. There I got a good rest in their nook and enjoyed my first legitimate cup of British tea. The office got a good laugh when I wasn’t sure how I wanted it (I went with milk and minimal sugar after asking the crowd.)

From there we made our way to Jeremy’s home. We enjoyed some delicious homemade pizza made by Jessica and had few glasses of wine and then it was off to bed, only to awaken the next morning to explore the city.

The next morning I took another pitstop to the Clearleft offices and then headed south with the intent on wandering the coastal pier area but soon found myself at the Brighton Pavilion, a bizarrely out of place, but beautiful structure. The Pavilion was built for Prince Regent (later King George IV) as a seaside retreat to be deliberately over the top, and it shows even today as it poorly mimics eastern architecture and design practices in a way that winds up being charming in it’s own right.

Wandering the area I stumbled upon The Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and found myself spending more than an hour exploring it’s halls and learning about Brighton’s history. The city was first known as a health resort spot and later as an epicenter for underground rock culture complete with fights between motorcycle rockers and mods on mopeds. All in all, my kind of place.

Once I tore myself away from the museum I finally made my way to the pier where I purchased a 99 flake and then was promptly attacked by Brighton’s infamous seagulls, eventually escaping into arcade portion of the pier.

That night we got together with the Clearleft folks for drinks and attended a night of “Geek Comedy” as part of the Brighton Digital festival. It was definitely the only time I’ve heard jokes about CD-ROM video games, rocket scientist sex magik and carbon atoms in the same show. It was a blast.

The next day on the suggestion of Jessica I visited the old pier on the west side of the city. Due to fire and suspicious activity the old pier has collapsed into the channel and what remains is mostly a haunting charred skeleton of a structure just a few meters from the shoreline.

That evening I met up with Jeremy and Jessica at The Grey’s Pub for a hearty meal and a round of drinks.

Brighton was a great time, it was a comfortable and friendly place to visit with obviously more culture than one can take in a few short days. In addition, Jeremy and Jessica couldn’t have possibly been better hosts, I look forward to seeing them again soon.

Photo set here!

Next up: London!

Grid Meets Road – World Travel in the Digital Age

On the 19th of September I will embark on an adventure that will almost certainly change my life. I am heading overseas to Europe to travel full time until February of next year.

Along my way I will use digital devices and social media tools to explore and find what to do in each respective city. I will document my experience on this blog, Flickr, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, FourSquare, GowallaTumblr & and maybe even YouTube. I will attempt to find places to say either with friends from these services or using sites like CouchSurfing and AirBnB.

The idea is to “crowd source” my adventure, asking for you, the reader, to supply me with input as to where to go, what to see etc.

My end goal will be not just to explore the world but to really test the limits of our global communications network, the so-called “global community”. Can we, “the internet”, actually supply what one person needs to know on such an adventure? How connected are we really through these services and how easy (or hard) is it to maintain the relationships with your loved ones while traveling full time?

I have also submit a panel to next year’s SXSW Interactive Festival and hope to be able to share the results of my trip with you there as well as eventually publish a book on the experience.

I will share more details about the trip as we get closer to leaving but for now I could use your help.

Please do me a favor and vote for my panel to be accepted to SXSW… the voting period ends tonight Friday the 2nd at midnight. You can do that here.

And if you’re so interested you can donate to my experiment as well here.

Anyone who donates me any money (doesn’t matter how much or little) will have their name on a slide at our SXSW presentation should it be accepted. Thanks!

Osama Bin Laden is gone: 9/11 Thoughts from a New Yorker in Chicago

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Osama Bin Laden is dead. To many, the events of 5/1/11 stir up a lot of memories and feelings of relief, joy, anger or sadness. I was living in Brooklyn at the time of the 9/11 attacks and the post that follows is a recount of my 9/11 experience which I wrote 5 years ago that I thought would be an interesting read today.
Before I get to that I’d like to share some of the best insight I’ve seen on yesterday’s events from Facebook:

“I am not certain human beings will know world peace until we can equate justice with reconciliation instead of retaliation.”
-Jenn Kloc

“So it took 10 years for mankind’s largest and most technologically advanced military to take out one guy and we’re actually PLEASED with the results, huh?”
-Tobias Jeg

“Osama Bin Laden existed as a symbol of hate, evil, and horrifying destruction. Let the world celebrate not the death of a man, but triumph over darkness, pain, and fear.”
-Ashley Sather

“Relief looks a lot like joy, don’t judge those that are out celebrating together, they need this.”
-Melissa Pierce

I feel that all these years later I can relate to all of these but Melissa’s hits home the most.
I watched on TV last night the scene in NY and despite all the cynicism, misplaced joy and other feelings I wished I there with those people. I’m not into celebrating the death of anyone but the symbolism of this is big but the feelings in this article still hold true.
Thanks and I hope you find it interesting.
I’ve got the scars to remind me…

9/11/2006

…I’ve watch the clocks go ’round.
Walked myself through some days
that have put me where I am.
In another time, In another place
all things might have been in place
But for now I’m finding myself up here standing on a rooftop screaming.
Hey world are you listening… listening to me?
I’m here and I’m hurting to begin again.
It’s another time, it’s another place.
We are making more old days.
But for now I’m finding myself out and standing on my doorstep screaming.
Hey world are you listening… listening to me?
I’m here and I’m hurting to begin again.
Hey world I’m ready to listen… and learn something new.
I’m here and I’m willing to get myself through.
– Hot Water Music “Rooftops”



I wasn’t going to do this but Zeldman’s post stirred up a lot in me.
Has it really been five years? I really don’t know what to do… it still seems so unbelievable. I feel like I have spent the last 5 years living in a bad dream just waiting to wake up. I still sorta lie to myself about things. I let the media corrupt me and my memories of what happened that day. I feel cheap and used. Until recently I had almost completely forgotten parts of it. As if they were blocked out of my memory.
The endless smoke. The smell of burning and ash. The jumpers. The smoldering holes that were once buildings. How they didn’t stop burning for weeks.
A few weeks back I went upstate with Christine and her family and found papers from 9/12. I looked though them and every article was in somehow related to the towers. It was like everything else in the world just froze. Like someone put the rest of history on pause for a moment. I had forgotten that baseball went on hiatus, or how long it was before planes were flying again. And how weird it was to hear fighter jets overhead rather than the commercial planes that you were so used to you barely even noticed them anymore.
I was living in Brooklyn at the time, attending the Pratt Institute. I remember everything like it was yesterday. My roommate Dan and I were on our way to class when the guys across the hall from us yelled, stopping us from getting on the elevator.

“Some idiot flew a plane into one of the Twin Towers.”

We ran into his room where his roommate was videotaping it from his window. Although it disgusts me to admit now, honestly… at the time…. we laughed. We laughed recounting the famous story of the plane that hit the state building back in the 40’s. Thinking this to be the same: a very public accident of small scale.
What you have to realize is that we had no idea of scale, we figured it was some private plane and honestly didn’t even think about size or injury. It seemed impossible that anything could even damage the towers, so we didn’t even think anything of it. The longer we stood there, the more smoke I saw, the more serious it felt. But we also figured we were late for class, so we’d better get a move on.
When I got to class most of my classmates hadn’t even heard about it. About 10 minutes in someone comes running into our room and yells:

“A plane just flew and hit both Trade Towers!”

Half of our class went running into the other room to go look out from their window. Once again: the issue of scale. You never really realized how big those things were until a plane flew into them. It seemed reasonable to many to believe that they were close enough together that one plane’s wingspan could hit both towers. As I looked from the window and watched the North and South towers billowing out black smoke it hit me. I was the first one to say it aloud:

“The one tower was already smoking when I left my room this morning, the second one just happened. This is no accident, someone planned this.”

It just seemed inconceivable at the time to everyone in the room and honestly I forget sometimes how carefree we all were before that day. The teacher rushed us back to our respective room where we continued class for a bit. Time passed and he called for a break. I started walking to the on campus cafeteria and attempted to phone my parents back home… strangely I couldn’t get a signal out at first.

“Turn off your phone @$$hole! Other people need to use the networks.”

Confused and completely caught off guard, I looked up at the upperclassmen had just yelled this at me and I didn’t know what to make of it. The phone was useless anyhow so I shut it off. When I got into the cafeteria it was like nothing I had ever seen before. A massive amount of people were crowded around the TVs that were mounted on the ceiling. Someone had changed the channel from the usual corporate marketing bullshit CTN (college television network) and put on the news. I stood there frozen in shock with my peers as we watched the first tower fall. When I managed to regain thought I then rushed myself to my room and put on CNN. Dan had just arrived as well and we sat and watched in astonishment as the second tower fell.
Neither of us knew what to do, we both agreed that we weren’t going back to class. Fuck class. We spent the rest of the day just in a fog sitting there dumbstruck. I remember trying to load up CNN and it crawling. Going even to a white page with headlines briefly announcing countries that were wishing their sympathies. Horribly enough Afghanistan was the first to issue a statement of sympathy. It wasn’t for a few days before we would realize the grim irony in that.
The first thing on everyone’s mind was war. And honestly the first nation people thought of was Iraq. It was no secret even back in 2001, BEFORE 9/11 that Bush wanted to invade Iraq. There were still our enemy, the media had conditioned us to think that way so it seemed to make sense that they might would perpetrate such an evil. All I could scrounge up from the news though was something about an unmanned US spy plane being shot down over Iraq that morning. Something I’ve never seen or heard mentioned since.
At some point I made it to the rooftop of my building and snapped the photograph you see above. The door to the roof was normally locked at threat of expulsion, but somehow none of that really mattered anymore.
My biggest regret, the one thing that gets me to this very day is that I was so close and yet, all I did was sit there and watch TV, like everyone else. I should have taken off and gone into the city and found a way to help but I sat there and did nothing like a zombie.
I can’t explain exactly why I’m writing this or what conclusion I am hoping to come to, the fact is I don’t think I have one. I’m writing this just to write it, just to put it out there. I can’t explain what this is better than Zeldman did so I won’t try:

“These mini-essays are not art. They are not reportage, either (but what is?), and may not even be accurate. We were all a bit dazed–although not so dulled as now. The shock and sorrow were fresh. The events of September 11th had not yet been branded, nor turned into tools of partisan rancor, nor made into a mini-series, nor used to justify atrocity.”

So much of our world changed on that day and for once people really came together. Now I look at where we are today and I am concerned that we haven’t learned a thing. In fact we’ve let ourselves and our feelings be used and manipulated in the name of this atrocity to commit others.
Have we learned the right lesson? Have we done the right thing? Is the world a better place today? I hope dearly we can say yes, but my gut seems to tell me otherwise.

To Memphis and Beyond

After leaving New Orleans we head back north again to Tennessee. This time to Memphis instead of Nashville. The drive was uneventful until our stop in Jackson Mississippi for lunch we took the suggestion of Mindy’s friend Osid Riley and checked out Keifer’s for a Greek lunch, a welcome change from all the BBQ we’ve been ingesting.

We could see the capital building from where we parked so we decided to walk over it. There we found a somber ceremony on the front lawn for Mississippi Department of Transportation workers who were struck and killed while working on the highways. I stood in the back taking it in for a while and a nice lady informed me of what was going on. It was truly moving. In a tribute that reminded my slightly of the ghost bikes to remember fallen cyclists they had set up road cones, each with a white worker’s helmet placed on top of it.

The capital itself was a beautiful building with the high steps and domed roof you’d expect from such thing but what really caught our eyes were the statues. They had a replica of the liberty bell in front as well as a monument to confederate women, complete with sculpted confederate flags. The embracement of the rebel flag is something jarring to me. I knew it was still a symbol that some clung to but it’s weird to see it as a celebrated piece of history in this area. Fascinating and disturbing to me at the same time.

From there we continued north and arrived in Memphis. Although our friends Kyle and Courtney were waiting for us at their home James insisted we check out Goner Records before they closed that evening. We looked up prices and times for Graceland as well and found it to be obscenely overpriced.

After getting set up at Kyle and Courtney’s we made our way out to get dinner. Of course Memphis is famous for it’s BBQ so it was the obvious choice again. I swear that when this trip is over I am lying off BBQ for AT LEAST a month. My arteries hate me right now but I cannot deny that it was the best we’d had on the trip so far. Over dinner Kyle told us about a beer place called Flying Saucer that has a beer club membership and over 200 beer choices and a website to log your beers. Seeing as how I’m attempting to try as many different beers as possible this suddenly became a ‘need to do’ item.

Sure enough I joined the beer club, drank a Ghost River Copperhead Irish Red, a Yazoo Sue, and a Sam Adams Black lager. All of which were excellent. The Sue was particularly interested as it was a smoked porter, the first of it’s kind that I’ve tried. I am not usually a fan of porters but I was pleasantly surprised. A few of Kyle’s coworkers from the local Apple store joined us for drinks and we spent the night swapping stories.

The next morning James, Courtney and I went over to get a traditional southern style breakfast at a deliciously greasy little place called Bryant’s, the first real breakfast we’ve had on the trip. From there James and I made our way to the legendary Sun Studios, the birthplace of Rock and Roll and original home to Elvis, Johnny Cash and more. Standing in the spots that these legends first recorded was an honor. They even have an original Shure 55 vocal mic that was used by these greats that, on the wishes of their founder, is available to hold and pose with.

Memphis was great, a worthwhile trip and we definitely didn’t give ourselves enough time there. Hopefully I’ll be back at some point.

Enjoy the photos!

Missing: New Orleans

We took advantage of not having to drive anywhere yesterday by sleeping in and relaxing around the hotel for much of the morning.

The weather was a uncomfortable mix of overcast, humid and hot. The kind of day where you can feel yourself getting a sunburn through the clouds and sweat seeping through your deodorant. This didn’t stop us from venturing out far and wide on foot. We first wandered over to a record store and then to Cafe Du Monde for beignets.

From there we wandered northwest through the French Quarter, eventually stumbling onto a voodoo museum and spending some time there.

We learned about Marie Laveau and New Orleans’ rich voodoo history. The kind of stuff that I’m not sure how to feel about or what to believe, but I know definitely not to mess with or cross people involved. Interesting stuff to say the least.

From there we took up a suggestion from Aki and paid a visit to the St. Louis Cemetery. The whole thing was interesting to me as it’s very crowded and completely paved. Due to New Orleans being built below sea level the bodies have to be buried above ground so they don’t shift up out of the dirt. This particular cemetery was home to many voodoo priestesses and the whole thing just reeked of creepiness.

From there we took the suggestion of Marcus Gilmer Marcus Gilmer to check out Domilises for amazing Po’ Boy sandwiches. It was a bit out of the way but well worth it. If I could eat one of those daily I would.

After that we took off to find a place called Holt Cemetery a little known, barely maintained resting place of many unmarked graves and penniless war heroes. Unlike the earlier grave yard, this one was almost exclusively below ground and many of the plots had fallen in on themselves. I plan to research and write a whole piece on this place so I’ll leave it at that for now. The experience was truly chilling and thought provoking. It provided a much different view of the city than you hear about often.

It was nearing the magic hour where the light hits everything perfectly (link) so James and I set off to take a gamble and visit a place that not many have visited in the last few years: Six Flags New Orleans.

The story of that visit, along with Holt Cemetery are enough to fill several posts and simply too much to write from my iPhone in-between shifts driving. Yesterday was by far our heaviest day of the trip, so more photos and entries will come when I’m settled in. For now here is a small set of shots.