Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Traveling Wombury Has Moved; Please Follow Him!

Look, I lied. I thought I could stop posting but I can't. Bob is no longer here and the Traveling Wombury is no longer Traveling, but that's the vein of rich irony we love to mine. For the next few weeks or so we'll be staying on a farm in the town of Lafayette. Here's a picture for you. I took this from a plane. Made from a kit. More on that later. Feel free to read on. The new blog is Off the Grid (with the Traveling Wombury), at www.offthegrid2007.blogspot. It's a work in progress. It's weird, personal, confused, angry, sentimental. In short, it's everything I grew to love about Robin Williams' body of work.

Boulder is home of the University of Colorado, which makes Boulder a College Town. There is a sisterhood of college towns in America. Let's list them in alphabetical order, starting with "E": Austin, Asheville, Boise, Boulder, Eugene, Berkley, Paris, Frankfurt, Zimbabwe, Bermuda, and Neptune. As you can plainly see, citizens of one College Town like to make the circuit of college towns. The young lady above attends the University of Wisconsin which means she's probably drunk in this photo. Look at her: Nordic, blond, shitfaced. The Traveling Wombury went to UW-Madison. He's also drunk in this photo.

What's missing from this picture of downtown Boulder, taken around 2 pm? Rhinoceroses? Salmonella? Give up?

If you answered "Minorities," or "Black People" or "The Minorities", give yourself a high five, Mr. Racist. Or is it Mrs.? Or is it Miss? or is it Ms.? or is it Ms? or is it Mme?

Guess what else you find in College Towns besides people who are not minorities? Hippies who play Harps, like this guy. This guy helped the Traveling Wombury find Saxy's coffee shop, which has free "wi-fi" unlike Starbucks, a corporation known for aiding Nazis during the schleidenfuss. We will never forget the schleidenfuss. You can donate to the harp guy at

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

To the Mountain You Will Travel

The year 1982 changed my life, because that was the year my father took me to see The Empire Strikes Back and Rocky III in the theaters. Anyone who knows me well knows three things about me: I'm graceful on skates, I like my porridge hot, and I've always wanted to be a Jedi and/or Rocky Balboa. My friends who interviewed me at Bronx Letters told me I was basically hired because I talked about Star Wars for nearly 45 minutes. Throughout early puberty (for me: ages 19-22) I tried to move inanimate objects like the toaster or my sleeping mom by thrusting my right arm outward towards them, and shutting my eyes tightly and making the veins in my forehead pop in order to will them to move. I was imitating Luke's futile attempt to resurrect his X-wing from the swamps of Dagobah. Similarly, after seeing the toaster (and mom) not move an inch, I would drop my arms, and breath heavily, spiritually exhausted in the presence of the magnitude of the Force.

Girls did not date me in high school.

Since those heady days of youth I have outgrown any aesthetic attachment to Star Wars, especially in light of the artistically disastrous recent installments, and I nearly cried after watching Sylvester Stallone embarrass himself in the latest Rocky film; but, I have never outgrown my desire to find a real Yoda, to find a real Mick. People who know me have often commented that I seem "irreverent", that I have "issues with authority," that I'm a "complete asshole," but the truth is, I go to pieces like Patsy when I find a teacher I respect. I love great teachers. Always have. Wanted to be a great teacher myself, but I could never find my own "voice" as a teacher. I was simply imitating all the teachers I loved from the movies and from my own life. Being a real teacher never interested me as much as pretending to be one. But I loved being taught by great teachers.

And now I've found two. I've finally found Yoda and Mick. And they live together. Here in Colorado. Doctors they are. They run marathons. With them I am staying for a while. Somehow the higher powers that be, be they who they be, have allowed me the opportunity to make my way to the Mountains. Yoda told me I was a warrior, and took me running for three miles in the mile high air. Mick is taking me running "hills" tomorrow. At seven. in the morning. As I write this I'm in surrounded by piles of unfinished tasks. Mick took me around for two hours, showing me all the work that needed to be done. Debris that needs to be tossed, kitchen counters that need to be installed and scrubbed, pictures that need to be hung, refrigerators that need to be hauled from the shed. There are beds to move, carpets to clean, furniture to be stained. Yoda told me to start making a phantom portfolio of stocks and to memorize names of companies. Yoda asked me if I like running. I said, "the first few times I have lots of energy and enthusiasm and then I quit." Yoda snapped back, "That's your entire life; it's time to get over it. " Well okay.

So I'm here. I've come to the mountains, I've come to doctors (not sure if I'll drink from the fountains). I'm in sorry shape now (see photo above); But I won't be for long. I'm too worried about letting down Yoda and Mick. This may be the last opportunity for me to be the Jedi I've always wanted to be.


I'd like to end by saying thank you. Thank you Bob. I'm sure being back in the City is going well for you. Thank you for accompanying me on this-at times- maddening journey. You are, as I'm sure Maiko and your friends already know, a Jedi in your own right. See you on the other side, friend, when I get back. As Karen Carpenter sang, probably right before not eating a breadstick, "We've only just begun..."

Until then.

The Traveling Wombury

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dare I Eat a Peach? (and other Allusions to TS Eliot )

This may or may not be the last post. I'm not sure if the place we're going to has the internet. What is our destination? An ostrich farm in Colorado. We'll be there for quite some time. The posting may temporarily cease, but not the adventure.

If it is the last post, I want to thank everyone who read this, kept up with our travels, wrote comments, or dropped us a line via email or phone. It was a very encouraging. At some point Bob and I are going to sculpt this thing into something interesting and useful. It'll be called "Off the Grid".

If this is the last post for some time, it is fitting that it be written from my parents home. Nothing like coming home. Last night we played the Newlywed Game with Pat and Kathy. We are unable to upload photos directly onto their computer, but it was sort of priceless. We asked Pat and Kathy to name each other's best trait. Patrick said my mom's best trait was her "smile, outgoing personality". We asked Pat what he thought Kathy wrote. "My sense of humor?" To which Kathy replied, "I forget about that!"

Kathy said Pat's best trait was his "spousal devotion".

If this is the last post for some time, I want to ask the question: who is Peaches? We've loved reading your posts, especially the ones where you call me an attractive young man. We love anyone who comments on the blog, but we know everyone else. MLevy, Steven Aloysius, Child-like Robots, Becky, Nicole, all the students from Bronx Letters, but we don't know the identity of Peaches. So, tell us Peaches, who are you? Did we meet you somewhere out there in America? In Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Iowa? Inquiring minds want to know.

Until then.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Monopoly in Iowa City Turned Out Really Well for Some People in The Room

Bob is always flapping his well-brushed gums about something he calls the "singularity," which is a concept he learned from Star Trek or the Filth Element or whatever sci-fi books he reads. The "singularity" is the name for the moment in the not-too-distant future when one generation of humans will be so intelligent that the previous generation will not be able to understand them. Sort of like how some people have no clue what a blog is or what a gigabyte is, or how to use the multiple remote controls lying on the coffee table in their parents house to turn on their parents fancy shmancy big screen television.

Bob says most of humanity won't even know when the Singularity will happen, but I'm fairly certain he believes it has happened already based on spending time with me. He thinks I'm the least intelligent person he knows because I've never played X-Box or changed a tire. Mostly he marvels at how much more adept he is with "technology" than me. He enjoys knowing how to "save" files" and to "export" data. He'll watch me get frustrated and say "Just hit control 'H' and the tab key. You don't know Control 'H'?"

And I know he really got a kick watching me suck at video games. On Friday we visited my brother in Iowa City, Iowa, at the University of Iowa, the state school for Iowa. Joe co-produces and writes the University's talk show, Iowa Desk and Couch. They were taping Friday. I don't see my kid brother (ten years my junior) very often, but I'm proud as hell of him, so I wanted to see him in action. Afterwards, we played video games in his dorm room. College kids play video games. Joe plays video games. Bob was just in college last spring. Bob played video games in college. I drank. We're all very similar.

The last video system I understood was Nintendo. The last game I "beat" came out in 1986. Bob and my brother thought it was HILARIOUS to watch me tap helplessly on the array of buttons and toggles and joysticks, watching my on-screen avatar crash and burn into buildings and people. What a hoot they had snatching the controls out of my hand to show me how easy it was to maneuver in the world of video technology.

But later in the evening we played Monopoly. My kind of game, people. Low-tech game, to be sure, but a classic one; a game steeped in the classic virtues of combat. Like poker and Zen Buddhism, victory in Monopoly depends on mastery of complex interpersonal skills, such as the ability to yell at opponents, call them names, and threaten to "f#$k this board up if Bob gets another damn Free Parking!"

And you know who won when the technological aspect was removed, when raw intelligence was back at the forefront? Joe. But I did come in second, which was way better than Bob who came in third. Oh man it was so embarrassing for him. I think he wet himself, which worked out for Joe because there's a school policy that if your older brother stomps Bob in Monopoly while visiting you get a 4.0 for the semester because of the stress in dealing with how awesome the guy who isn't Bob is.

Until then.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bob Gets Bibs

Hi. My mom dressed me until I was 19. She bought me clothes until I was, well, until now. For years we fought over what to wear. When I was younger, in middle school, I lost those fights, and as result lost social standing, because how can a kid sport fake parachute pants and Erkel eyewear and be popular? He can't. But for the sake of our project I decided to let Kathy Clarke take Bob and me shopping; but, unlike past excursions I would not fight mama Clarke's discretion. If she picked we bought it.

And this is what I got. And Bob too.

Until then.

Sioux City, Iowa

We're in Sioux City, Iowa. Just mama, Bob, and me. Mama says she wants to take us shopping. For overalls.

Until then.