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Chariot of Fire [Burning Sensations]


Running is a great way to feel healthy and alive.

Running is a great way to feel healthy and alive.

            I, a fat man, had been circling Portland, Maine’s Back Cove like a dog prepping its bed for most of the summer of 2007. Now intimately acquainted with every pothole, washout and linden tree on the route, I finally turned 7 miles at 9:20 per, and added longer runs of 10 and 12 miles. I was feeling reasonably prepared for my first-ever long running event until just before the race, when a telephone call informed me that I was to be without my race partner,
who I lovingly refer to as Chubby. Her plantar faciitis had put her on the back foot (pun intended) since the beginning of the summer. She simply didn’t feel ready to tackle the full 13.1 miles of running in Hanover.

“I’ve tried to run a half-marathon before I was ready, once,” she said. “I’m not going to do it again. But you can still come and stay with us, and I’ll pass you gu during the race.” Now alone in my quest, I commenced a final week of training: a solid 9.5-mile jog, a 3-mile Monday, a 5-mile Wednesday and a 7-mile Thursday. It was a beautiful week, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. My times were on target. I was feeling so good about my preparation that I left work early on Friday and promptly wrecked my motorcyle… Continue reading

Is Just Like Amerika! [Off the Map]

Who needs a Eurail Pass?

Who needs a Eurail Pass?


In 2000 writer Brad Wetzler penned an hilarious report from the Czech Republic on a curious phenomenon, a kind of Old West mania, in Outside Magazine. Here’s a taste. Thanks Brad — CDB 

IF IT’S TRUE that you are what you eat, then I am a big, greasy kielbasa. I brought this on myself: For the past week I have been camping with a dedicated band of carnivores who favor canned meat and an alarming variety of sausages. We’re deep in the Brdy Hills, a rolling patch of beech forest as charming as a dream, about 30 miles south of Prague in the czech Republic. The air is full of the smell of honeysuckle, the buzzing of bees, the chirruping of bluebirds, and the sizzling of meat. The only human tracks within sight are our own.

            But this is a curious bunch. There is Jerry, the frequently drunk prankster who gets his kicks hiding pinecones in our sleeping bags. He whispers that his real name is Vladimir, but tramps are only supposed to go by their tramping names. Which is why “Jerry” is tattooed in boldface on his right forearm. George, a starry-eyed guitar player, can do a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” in czech that would make anyone homesick for the hills of central Bohemia. Ace is a private in the czech army who always wears a Daniel Boone–style coonskin cap; he sucked down too much rum last night and, while dancing to George’s intoxicating music, fell into the fire. Lucky for him Sheriff Tom was still sober enough to pull him out. A one-armed bear of a man, Sheriff Tom is, at 45, the oldest hobo, and he happens to own the biggest bowie knife, making him the logical choice to be the group’s chief law-enforcement officer… Continue reading

Ne Pas Taser Moi, Bro [Dokuments Please]


Trains in Europe seem to move at a more stately pace of life.

Nothing beats the relaxing pace and Old-World romanticism of European train travel.

  Back in 2001, I was living in Paris, juggling language classes, a part-time job that I’d BS’d my way into and a seemingly unquenchable drinking habit. When a longtime friend — whom we’ll call Dave because he’s now a serious painter who takes himself, you guessed it, very seriously — asked to come over for a weeklong visit, I decided to add tour guide to my repertoire. With a stamp-saturated passport, a girlfriend (so what if she was my first?) living in Italy and a reputation to uphold at many a Parisian bar, I was already considering myself quite the international Casanova and so I figured, what the hell, I can show him a good time.

           The plan was to spend the first three spring days living it up in the bars, clubs and crêpe stands (real restaurants were financially out of the question) of Paris, then heading south for a long weekend of skiing in Chamonix. Following a few sleepless nights in the city of lights, including one in which I’d mistakenly lead us into a gay club in search of fine women, we made for the train station for a weekend of soul-cleansing skiing. Unfortunately, there was a train strike (one of many I’d incur the wrath of during my year abroad) and our alpine quest suddenly seemed all but hopeless….

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