Unseasonable Weather

Currently stuck in Mallorca, waiting for two dueling storms to blow thin. I'm not sure how much time I can linger here, waiting for sailing weather, but my original schedule, based in which I suggested I might even be back in Paris Wednesday evening, is in tatters. I don't usually use this blog as a bulletin board, but to all those people I told to start getting nervous if they didn't hear from me by Saturday: forget I said that. We may not even be under way by then. Or, I may have decided to abort the mission.


See you next week....

Armed only with the cellphone number of a polish yacht captain I have yet to meet, I'm off to Barcelona tomorrow, from whence I will take the overnight ferry to Mallorca in hopes of helping offload a Swan 45 from a freighter just in from the Canary Islands. Assuming the captain doesn't take one look at me and recognize my incompetence, I will then help him sail it to Marseille. If I haven't posted anything new in ten days call the coast guard (I'm not sure which one; just try a bunch of them). Watch this space.


On the Munich check-in...

Some great stuff over at the blog of my ace boon buddy Andrian, who will be a father any minute. Prepare your cigars and congratulations.

First of all he has the animated history of world religions in ninety seconds.

Even better, Martin Parr is a genius; I'll go out on a limb and say he may well be the greatest street photographer of all time. Proving that somewhere, somebody in the world media still values brilliance, AK 718's paper hired him to shoot Oktoberfest. The images aren't as grim and telling as Parr's usual, and I'm suspicious that some photo editor at the Sueddeutsche may even have tamed him down a bit by choosing a few images of actually attractive, although fully dirndled and lederhosed, people. Perhaps this was necessary to avoid totally incurring the wrath of the more bourgeois Munchner readers, but the pictures are nonetheless classic, and unlikely to appear elsewhere, unless perhaps Martin has his own edit stashed away for later use.


Cosy 6th flr. paris stud., 7th arr. Eiffel twr. vus

Ideal for fitness freaks, this sixth floor walkup is conveniently located in the 7th arrondissement of the wonderful city of Paris, right at the center of the well-known country of France! Just getting to it is a massive workout that would cost you big euros at the overpriced sports clubs in this spectacularly trendy neighborhood.
Beyond cosy, this is a genuine writer's garret, an ideal winter getaway for the impoverished and frugal wordsmith. Since you will be surrounded by foreign-speaking peoples and there is absolutely no access to the internet in the entire country, you will find no distractions whatsoever to prevent you from writing the great American novel!
Former maid's quarters, these very special digs boast a fold-out kitchen, hide-a-bed, a complete collection of classic French literature in actual French, almost 140 luxuriant square feet of living space, and a petite marble-topped dining room table nearly large enough for two salad plates. As you pluck fresh rosemary from the herbs sprouting in your windowbox you will gaze out across the gray slate rooftops of Paris to stunning views of the Eiffel Tower! Don't miss this exciting opportunity.

(Sorry, it's no longer available: I've rented it, having moved temporarily to do the final editing on my book. I haven't spent any quality time here since 1985 and I had forgotten how awesome this town is. Visitors welcome, but space is limited. Hope to hear from you soon.)

My own personal stairmaster, the Chambered Nautilus


It's time yet again...

For our long-running occasional feature in which we round up those Google Search strings that happy readers worldwide have actually used in real searches that led them to our pages. As usual we think it most unlikely that any of these poor lost souls surfed away from their visit with their hopes and queries satisfied, but we were happy to welcome them nonetheless. Because of some sort of "freshness" filter that seems to be included in Google's convoluted ranking process your results may vary, but in each and every case these searches are guaranteed to have returned antarcticiana in that all important, commercially viable, super desirable NUMBER ONE spot at the original time of the search. Some of these make me really proud. And now, without further ado, accurate to the letter, today's TOP google searches, arranged again into a kind of free-associative idea poem:

rebar crucifix

post industrial wasteland

mcmurdo horror

how long is winter in antarctica

fractal geometry in ice

"world's coolest lamp"

besides penguins what other wild life exists in antarctica

mcmurdo antarctica threesum

cheap small yurt

rwandese beauties

andrian tropical

"buying a vineyard in argentina"

what takes super glue off phones

my phone got run over

afro shave and a haircut



The Sunset on October 5th, McMurdo Station

The summer rush at McMurdo Station in Antarctica is just getting underway. As much as I wish I were there, I know this only from emails and communiqués that come trickling in from the seventh continent, where, it sometimes feels, all of last year's friends are reassembling without me. To further fuel my overwhelming feeling of polar saudade, Michael Deany, my skiing crony and the man who valiently kept this blog alive during my long two months camped in the Antarctic wilderness, sends this photograph:

photo: M. Deany


The Great Wade

My brother Luke, miraculously back in the United States after months spent learning to speak Ningatu in the upper Rio Negro of the Brazilian Amazon, skyped me last week to propose a weekend camping and canoeing excursion to New Jersey's fabulous Wharton State Forest. New Jersey bashers and the tellers of "what exit?" turnpike jokes have likely never ventured into the southern third of our home state, and its expansive and sparsely populated pine barrens, vast tracts of scrub oak and pine forest cut by meandering coppery-red streams colored naturally by the tannins of the cedars that grow on their sandy banks. It is truly beautiful, a piney oasis in the midst of the northeastern megalopolis. Automotive superhero Joe Atlas offered to join and bring along a superior bottle of plonk, priced, he said, in the triple digits, a gift from a financier relative. Although current scientific research, not to mention a day recently spent cycling around Napa Valley from one tasting to another, suggests that there is little or no relationship between price and taste when it comes to wine, I don't often have the chance to prove this to myself at the upper end of the spectrum. In an attempt to do Joseph's hoarded bottle justice, I spent Friday night producing a boeuf bourgignon (with a $7 bottle of wine from LeNell's) to be brought along for some fine al fresco dining, and on Saturday at midday we rendezvooed with Luke at Goshen Pond, just upstream from Atsion Lake.

My brother and I have been twice before, and canoeing is always a major part of our Wharton Forest wilderness experience, so while I busied myself erecting the tents, Joseph and Luke took off in the F150 to go and see about a boat. They returned fifteen minutes later and forty dollars poorer with a keel-hulled aluminum beater rented to them by a curmudgeon so unwilling to do business that he gone so far as to ridicule the proposition that one could canoe in Goshen Pond at all, so clogged with snags, downed trees and beaver dams it was, so he said. But as Luke had negotiated a full day rate for a rental beginning at two that afternoon, and including the proviso that we have the boat back without fail by eight-thirty the next morning, I was too busy ridiculing his lack of business acumen (I believe I compared him to a naked Amazonian savage recently emerged from the jungle and being fleeced by a real estate speculator) to pay much attention to the ancillary report on the navigability of the local waterways.

It was a balmy October day, the sun warm overhead when we set off, 620 pounds of manhood in a canoe ominously labeled "max load 580lbs." The glassy, reflective waters of the placid pond divided and subdivided into narrow channels as we weaved amongst the lily pads and the standing carcasses of inundated trees. Not a sound was to be heard save the chirping of the birds and the swish of the paddles pulling gently through the water. Soon to this peaceful soundscape was added the crunching of tortilla chips, the slurping of salsa and the grunts of exertion of the weekend warrior unused to the taxing paddle stroke. And then, some hundred yards into our epic journey, we ran aground.

Our attempts to propel ourselves the way one might on a sled stuck in the snow, by pressing our hands against the bottom of the lake and scootching forward, proved futile. Rolling up our trousers we disembarked into the chilly ankle-deep water. There was nothing for it but to push. The sandbar was only a few feet wide, however, and soon we were back aboard and paddling onward. And soon, too, we disembarked anew, to negotiate the second of a seemingly infinite collection of obstacles, from sandy protrusions to massive felled logs and murky gummy clots of rotting leaf mold. With the campsite still in view, I protested that I preferred to walk in the water rather than sit down and stand up and clamber in and clamber out every few moments. I'm too fat for that and my movements are having a deleterious effect on the stability of our conveyance, I observed magnanimously. It was clear that we were not to reach the mighty Delaware River that day.

Luke runs to catch up with Joseph, seen here pushing the world's largest floating bowl of tortilla chips.

Disembarking at beaver dam number 34B.

Pondering our options at downed tree number 167.

After being rescued by a passing helicopter, the boeuf bourgignon, served over couscous on the tailgate of the truck, tasted mighty fine. And Joseph's bottle of wine was insane!


Shameless self-promotion dept.

Regular readers of these pages may be aware that some years ago in a misguided quest for adventure I spent some months strolling, stumbling and cycling my way along the length of the island of Cuba, a journey much more epic in its conception than in its realization. Those were in the pre-blogging days, and as I made my way through the last bastion of socialism I jotted down my thoughts and experiences, using an actual pen, and paper. To my delight I may now report that I have accepted an offer from a courageous and visionary publisher to bring those tortured scribbles before the public eye in the form of a travelogue, my first book, to be titled Walking to Guantánamo. The contract has been signed.

Antarcticiana, this blog, will naturally from now on serve as nothing more than a relentless and aggressive promotional vehicle for the forthcoming volume.


Shopping in Zimbabwe

From our Harare correspondent comes this bit of hidden camera work documenting just how dire things have gotten in the former breadbasket of Africa.


Does anybody else remember Esquelita's?

Somewhere in northern California, or perhaps southern Oregon (I was too flabbergasted to take notes) you can get your transmission worked on "while you wait." Is this outfit completely oblivious, or, as suggested by the flying guy in tights with the flowing, Village People mustache, are they perpetrating a grand in-joke on the rural locals?