A History of Pop Culture Subversion: Nine Food-and-Drink Mascots Who Totally Ruined Your Life

Hey, you! Humanoid American of non-specified ethnicity or gender born between the years of 1980 and 1985!

Are you suffering from a low-grade case of of pre-midlife malaise? Are you currently jobless, newly dumped, or suffering a case of the existential snifflies? Are you beginning to suspect that maybe you’ve totally flunked your own life?

IT MIGHT NOT BE YOUR FAULT!

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It Happened in Tangier! Photos and a brief dispatch from Morocco

We are just back from a side trip to Tangier, Morocco. I pushed hard for this journey, as I’ve long been fascinated by tales of the various and sundry and sometimes-even-legendary creative types who have landed there through the decades, from writer Paul Bowles to The Rolling Stones to a few of the more rough-and-tumble Beat poets.

They came, mostly, I suppose, for the mind-altering substances and the whores and the general social permissiveness of the place. (Odd, considering that it is and always really was a devoutly Muslim corner of the world.) I came for the mint tea and the nostalgia, characteristically late to the party, and it turned out to have been a good thing, as this place has changed its stripes drastically in the years since all those poorly behaved artistic types recast the medina as their own personal drug den.

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Cava, queso, and that red-wine-macaroni sea

Last night I dreamed that I was drowning in a soupy sea of red wine and macaroni noodles, and it’s really no surprise.

We landed in Barcelona almost a week ago, after dark, with the sky awash in thunder and lightning, and  a few long, deranging days in, it’s already pretty clear that the Spaniards, and perhaps Western Europeans in general, have a certain zest for pleasure that’s conspicuously lacking in daily American life.

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Mexico City – Photo Gallery 2 (DF to Portland by way of airplane + headcold, stomach flu, etc., etc.)

Caught a few overlapping and particularly nasty viruses on my way out of Mexico City and back to Portland by way of Southern California. Add to this a massive Dec. 31 editing deadline and I was out for the terrible, terrible count, doing that favorite old dance of Sometime-Gringo adventurers, the Aztec Two-Step. What a gut-wrenching Christmas! What a fate! Alas, alack. ‘Tis a terrible-wonderful brand spanking new year! I have updates on Mexico City coming, and photos. Many, many photos. Down and Out in DF Batch One comin’ atcha. Hold onto them hats.

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No me jodas!

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Hola de D.F.

It’s 6:20 p.m. and I’m just emerging from a nap. When I fell asleep, light was still pouring through the windows of our fancy colonial apartment. When I woke up – totally dark.

The sun sets early in these parts come December. No Daylight Saving Time. Mountains and tall buildings all around. And a pallor of smog that mutes out the wintertime sun before dinner.

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Best Lucky Trip!

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It’s a sunny noon on Saturday in San Francisco. As I type this, my driver’s license is long gone, most likely sloshing around at the bottom of a steaming, stinking dump truck, marinading in lukewarm garbage juice on the long journey out to Altamont Landfill.

Yesterday afternoon, in my greedy rush to consume an entire very large to-go container of chicken-and-cabbage dumplings in a hotel spa lounge and then quickly dispose of the evidence, I managed to inadvertently chuck my ID into a trashcan.

It is a long, long way gone.

I was able to bribe a security guard into letting me into a Chinatown mai-tai bar without proof of age last night, so I’m still counting this trip as a success.

Tomorrow, in a valiant bid to make it back to Portland sans any brand of government-issued identification, I will do battle with the Transportation Security Administration armed with little more than a few credit cards, a photocopy of my passport photo page and an aging University of Missouri Graduate School ID.

All that, plus my questionable charms, and my mother and my 88-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother in tow.

Luck.

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On my Birthday’s Eve

Hello, late summer. It has been a season of way too much work. I’ve been kept busy 6-7 days a week with freelance writing and photo projects and have mostly been quiet and industrious since I got back from the East Coast at the start of July. Did run a half-marathon in there, though, which must count for something.

Tomorrow, I turn 32.

Last week, I flew down to San Francisco. I caught up with my little sister and then met up with E on his way back from his adventures in Ecuador and Colombia. Que chilero! We saw the shit out of SF, ran a bit, and ate copiously. The highlight: lunch at Chez Panisse, the petri dish for farm-to-fork dining and a Berkeley stalwart. Fresh squid with beans, shaved squash, chicken, collard greens, hazelnut ice cream, berry spritzer. Best $90 I ever spent. Then it was on to Sacramento to catch up with E’s extended family.

Yesterday, I drove back up to Portland from Sacramento with E and his dad. I am potato salad from 11 hours in the car and a long day of catching up on work today.

A few selects from late, great California. I just had my little handheld Canon on this trip. As always, I am fascinated by the minutiae of cities. Graffiti, old signs, windows and mirrors. That, and cheesy preloaded camera filters. What can I say? I picked up some cool pieces of random garbage, too, for my collection. Mostly scraps of old notes and parking tickets and fortunes and stuff.

From the righthand coast

Well I suppose I am abandoning the 30 Days experiment. Or at least retiring it until a calmer month. I’ve been hopping around the East Coast since last Tuesday visiting friends and family and there is literally not even time to sleep. DC – Baltimore – DC, and off to New York City Wednesday. Then back to Baltimore for the weekend and back to DC for a few more days after that. Feeling nuts for trying to pack so much in, but it’s been worth it.

I’ve been taking mad photos. In substitution for my lack of literary endeavor, enjoy this photo of an outhouse being lifted up by a crane. And a few assorted others.

Photo gallery: Sri Lanka and a bit more of India