Sunday, December 5

Poet of the Cut and Paste

I've always enjoyed how the folks at Google change their logo sometimes to keep us interested and informed in the events of the day.  Late one night I got to messing around with my own logo.  Here are some of my creations, I may switch them in when the mood strikes.  You may have noticed that the heart in the guitar has changed to a pick, above.  

Wednesday, November 24

One year older

Sunday was my birthday, I am now 33 years old.  The celebration included a home cooked persian dinner (made by Dariush Samimi, my father), a trip to see Harry Potter with Amanda (they finally got it right in #7, in case you were wondering) and making a batch of salted pumpkin caramels with my buddy Maria.

Someone reminded me of a birthday message Sandman sent me years ago, maybe the nicest I ever got.  It went like this:

Day 1:

Nima Samimi reminds me of what a male human being would be like. I've never met one, but I've read books on the subject, and he fits the model. My planet has much to learn about this species.

Some may try to probe him, but he may not acquiesce to their wishes. Perhaps we should just take unobtrusive notes for a while.


-Dr. Yrep Pi Ls

(Don't get the joke hidden in the signature?  Read it backwards.  It represents on of his many alter-ego's.)

Thanks to all of you who sent kind birthday wishes, they brightened up my week.

Tuesday, November 16

Road Trip

My odometer tells me I’ve driven in the ballpark of 15 thousands miles since February.  I used to get irritable and sleepy after a three-hour drive but at this point I can put in a solid 7 hours with no trouble.  I’ve compiled this list of driving tips in case you also want to fortify your road trip stamina.

  1. 1.     Eat well.  Sugar, excessive fat and processed foods (i.e. everything they sell at rest stops) are guaranteed to give you a brief high followed by hours of fatigue and discomfort (and possibly the runs).  You’re better off pulling off at any small town and eating at a non-chain restaurant.  It’s rarely more expensive and always involves things very closely related to meats, vegetables and carbohydrates.  Fruit is ideal car food – I find oranges are the hardest to eat but offer an ideal water/sugar/fiber ratio for staying in the driving zone.  And no candy.  Sorry.
  2. 2.     Where to go for the cheapest gas: avoid gas stations just outside cities, these are usually wealthy suburbs.  Poorer city neighborhoods usually have the cheapest city gas.  Once you’ve driven a good 45 min outside a city gas gets cheaper but always takes a jump in price just before and just after any sign saying something like “next gas 50 miles” – avoid those.  Small towns with one gas station can be pricey because they don’t have much competition.  Look for small towns, close to other small towns that have multiple gas stations.  One of them will often be a full 15 cents cheaper than everything else.  Might as well let good ol’ capitalism save you some money.
  3. 3.     Stretch your back, arms and legs every ½ hour in the car.  Stop at least every 2 hours and spend at least 60 seconds stretching.
  4. 4.     Yawn when you aren’t tired.  When you’re tired yawning is a sign that you need to pull over and rest; when you aren’t tired yawning helps release physical tension and makes your ride more comfortable.
  5. 5.     Drink enough water that your pee isn’t yellow but not so much that you need to stop more than once every two hours.  A pee break doesn’t need to take longer than 5 minutes, just go in, do your thing, stretch for a minute and get back on the road.  Rest stops are designed to waste your time: resist.  Spend your time and money having one relaxed stop for a meal in a town.  Never spend more than an hour holding a full bladder.  It will tire you out and irritate you way more than it’s worth.
  6. 6.     Entertain yourself.  Music, podcasts, books on tape (et al) are the long distance driver’s dependable friend.  This is also a perfect time to reflect on your creative projects.  The road keeps the restless and worrying part of your mind busy and allows your creative brain hours on end to relaxedly imagine fantastic new things.  I record my many incredibly awesome ideas on the voice recorder of my cheapo cell phone while I drive.  Before you know it you could be in Memphis or Spearfish South Dakota. 
  7. 7.     In an ideal world, get some play/excersize once during a driving day – could be before or during (not after.  Too late).  That element of play and physical exertion is the opposite of staring at a road for 7 hours and the lightness of it will stay with you.   I keep a basketball with me and 20 minutes of shooting around earns me hours of happiness.  I had an especially fun time playing at a middle school ball court in west Texas under the beating sun.  Other possibilities: run around, throw a football, cartwheels on rest stop grass, brief walk at a scenic rest stop.

Happy trails, fellow traveler.  Send me a postcard.

(Touring with Chris on the West Texas Border Last April)

Tuesday, November 9

Flip-cam Hitchhiking

A brief movie of my various hitchhiking, bussing and taxiing trips in Mexico and Guatemala.  Recorded on a flip ultra hd camera.

Sunday, October 31


You know how every time you go back to places you knew as a child, they're never the way you remember them?  They're smaller or newer or they smell funny?  They sort of don't exist anymore?  Somehow Buffalo is exactly the same as I left it every time I visit.  I love it.

I'm here visiting my earliest childhood friends, the Baraie's.  Tomorrow, off to my father's house in Seneca Falls, NY.

Here are some beautiful everyday things from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.

Tuesday, October 19

Fortune Cookie

My fortune cookie today said an important package was going to come in the mail.  I really hope it's an iranian passport.

I'm working on new and half-written songs today here in Dallas.  Uncle Craig has been really good to me - over the weekend we visited (among other things) the Dallas state fair and had our photos taken with a blue ribbon steer.  I learned that antlers molt and grow back but an animal with horns has the same set for life.

My time south of the border is still percolating in my head; I can't help but see things differently here in the United States now that I'm back.  Over a lifetime of living here I have gotten so used to having access to more or less whatever I want or need - and to that being normal.  I am getting a fuller picture that our country is the exception and not the rule.  I'll try to post 4 photos from my trip for the next few posts:

This was a market I especially liked in Mexico City
The green fruit was very like a pomegranite - I forget the name now
Part of a massive Mexico City bakery, way bigger and fancier than usual
Mexico City trashman - the barrel swivels so he can dump it out

In all the countries I visited most people were really skilled at fixing things when they broke and recycling old parts.  I saw a family of 9 drive down the street in a car so old it undulated as if it had several moving parts.  Every computer I used had been somehow frankensteined together.  The incredible ingenuity and resourcefulness was inspiring.  I would like to be a part of a world that wastes less.

Friday, October 15


I'm back in Texas! Here's a slideshow of my last 9 weeks. More to come.

Tuesday, September 28

Here's To You, México

Dear readers,

I wrote this short poem in Mexico City two months ago (August 2010).  Enjoy.

The seeds of the sandía* are sperms
searching for flavor
and companionship

The caballero's* guitar strings
are a loom
to weave boleros*
of Metallica

Rain causes blackouts
and floods the streets
like a protest

The cheep plastic fork
scrapes my mouth
to make the chille covered fruit
burn brigher

Here's to you, México.

*type of Latin American song with a slow tempo

Friday, September 24


Yesterday I visited the Tical ruins, near Flores, Guatemala - they are the largest of the Mayan ruins and from the tops of the pyramids you can sit back in the shade and cast your eyes on miles of jungle in every direction.
That evening I took a half an hour boat ride around Flores, which is an Island.  I had awful luck with transportation yesterday - I actually swore out loud in English for the first time since I left the US. This morning I was supposed to wake up early to find my way to the bus station and figure out how to get to Belmopan in Belize...but I overslept. I was just about to leave the hostel when a guy walked in and said "bus to Belize!". As Westly Snipes ones said: "Even the sun shines on a dog's ass some days". I just crossed the Belizian border and am riding in a minibus, in my favorite spot - the front seat.

Top 5 comments about my visiting Belmopan, from various Latinos and foreigners alike:

1 why would you want to go to Belmopan?
2 there's nothing there!
3 all they have is a marcado
4 why would you want to go to Belmopan?
5 where?

At any rate, Belmopan is the capital of Belize, and I'm going to spend a day there on my way north.

I've had two month now to reflect on the challenges and strategies of traveling through Latin America. It is not always easy to find experiences that are meaningful to me. The most common budget traveler's strategy is to go from one tourist destination to another, staying in hostel dorms and seeing sites. I like to do this occasionally but get tired of it quick. Another option is to stray from the beaten path, to visit smaller towns and villages (capital cities?) and to wiggle your way into less conventional and usually more interesting situations and to meet people from that place. I tend to prefer that way but it can really wear you out and involves more risk - I spent about half of my time here with one health problem or another, partly because of my risk-taking. This two-pronged approach has done me well, it's been an incredible and eye opening few months. It's kind of the same as my radio-listening strategy at work: I start with hip hop and street humor on JAMN 94.5 - when it starts to drive me crazy (so sexist some times) I switch to NPR; when I can't take that white liberal voice anymore I go to conservative sports radio. When I've had more Obama bashing than I can take...I sing to myself and then repeat the cycle.

In spite of my fears that I wouldn't learn much Spanish, I am now a semi-proficient speaker. Just in time for Belize...where they speak English!  It was a British colony. But soon I'll be back in the Spanish speaking world of the Yucatan in Mexico.

The Next Morning

After a full day of traveling (5 busses, 2 taxis and a good 3 miles on foot) I am now in Tulum, Mexico.  Oy!  Belmopan was great - I was litterally the only tourist there and took a packed local bus with students and people returning from their work day both ways.  Then I tried to find a hotel to camp out in Belize City for the night...but they were really hard to find!  And I was starting to look like an easy target to the local hustlers, I got a lot of attention as the sun began to set.  I ate three fantastic things in Belmopan: a cup of soursop juice (sour, sweet, refreshing), a scoop of ice cream from a fruit I've never heard of (creamy, fruity) and a plate of stew beef with rice and peas, potato salad and pickeld onions.  It occured to me that black Carribean food is a lot like Persian food.  Rice dishes, stew dishes and pickels.  The only thing missing is the yoghurt.  I know in some carribean countries there are big Indian (from India) populations, Indian food shares roots with Persian food.  From what I could tell, Mexian and Guatemalan food was not terribly influenced by Spanish culture.  I read once that early conquistadores almost exclusively ate a salad of avacado, tomato and bread crumbs - they couldn't manage much more.

The tourist bus station had closed for the night by 6PM so I hopped on a 3 hour local bus to the mexican border (packed to the gills with people going back to their houses, isles filled with people.)  At midnight I crossed the border back to Mexico (and got royally ripped off in crossing charges by the border guard; I suspect late night oppertunism), then got a taxi to a bus station just across the border that happened to have a bus leaving for Tulum (a beach town 2 hrs south of Cancun) at midnight.   I managed to find a hostel that let me in at 4AM, caught a little sleep and enjoyed a cheap crepe this morning.  The family that runs this place is really awesome, it's nice to be off the road.  I think I'm going to take them up on their offer to rent a bike and snorkeling gear for 100 pesos.

So far I've only seen the town but the beach is supposed to look like this:

Tuesday, September 21


My father's new Iranian passport arrived yesterday; it took the better part of 7 years for us to get it.  With it I will be able to apply for my own Iranian passport and, with luck, will make it to Iran to visit my family there before I go back to work in February.  I'll be in the city of Shiraz with my aunt Shalah and uncle Abbas - here's a picture of a Shiraz mosque, though it is most famous for it's gardens:

I got the news at an internet cafe in Guatemala city, where I am now visiting the family of my aunt Betty and cousin Ian, who are originally from Guatemala.  Rosa and her son Yankell have been incredibly kind and welcoming.  It has been so nice to be with family, for the first time in months.

In the email about my dad's passport arriving, my stepmother told me they needed some things from me in order to send in my passport application: 10 passport photos, in full suit and well groomed, a copy of my passport and an official copy of my birth certificate.  Incredibly, Yankell just happened to have a suit and tie hanging in his mother's closet and while Doña Rosa was at work I walked to a nearby barber and have a set of somber looking (this is the islamic republic, remember) passport photos taken.  And then I was able to mail it off with 6 day delivery.  The incredible things is that if I had gotten word in most of my other destinations, that simple process would have been way more compilcated- the suit, the photos and expideted mail.  Guatemala city looks more or less like this from the neighborhood I'm in:

What have I left out; I never wrote much about San Cristobal de las Casas, the old city in Chiapas where I spent a really nice week.  I ended up in a place with a working kitchen and spent every other day in the marcado buying fresh foods and experimenting with them at night.  Sucesses included roasted chiles with fresh fava beans and chicken marinated in this rub made of chiles and ground pumpkin seeds and then fried.  San Cristobal:

There I with a friend to a nearby religious center (on horseback!), rented a scooter to visit a park 10km away and climbed massive hills that lead to two citadels on opposite sides of the city, overlooking the opposing buildings and mountains.  From San Cristobal I took a passenger van across the Guatemalan border (about a 12 hour ride) through luch rolling hills and mountain-top towns - and through incredible rain, blinding fog and areas where rockslides forced both highway lanes to share one lane (often overlapping with the blinding fog; I practiced not looking and trusting the driver).  I arrived that night in the city of Antigua, at the foothill of a giant active volcano:

Today or tomorrow I will probably move on to Livingston, Guatemala which is on the coast near Belize.  From there I'll move on to Belize and then back to Mexico to the Yucatan coast.  Then back to Dallas to see my uncle Craig, who has been a gracious host to me in Texas...

Tuesday, September 7


As I make my way farther south in Mexico I often think of one of my favoirte Chris Sand songs, "Belmopan is Belmopan":

Mexico city
is a lotus land
and Veracruz
it is a candystand
and Chiapas...
it is a desperate man...ay...
but Belmopan is Belmopan.

I haven't written any new songs in a while but have found new creative outlets, like poetry and list making.  Yeah, for some reason I feel inspired to make really great lists.  I played a guitar for the first time in a month yesterday - my calouses are all gone.

I just left a very poor rural area where I was taking language classes.  The landscape was lush and green (it being the rainy season), the air smelled of burning wood which reminded me of New England.  I have four more minutes at this internet cafe computer in San Cristobal where am now staying for a few days.  Next stop, Guatemala.

Saturday, September 4


I got really sick here in Oaxaca and some new friends came to my rescue.  I probably wouldn't have been able to find the hospital without Carmen - let alone navigate the Mexican health care system and get the antibiotics I needed.  Then I stayed with her and her siblings for two days while I got over the worst of it.  Mexicans have been extremely generous with me everywhere I've been.

If I understand correctly, Mexico has socialized health care.  Even for me, a foreigner, I had to pay only a few dollars for my doctors visit (which couldn't have covered the labor involved in diagnosing me and cleaning up the mess I left on their floor.)  The doctor was friendly and un-harried; the medications were free if they had them in their state run pharmacy and a few dollars (in the 50 peso range) to buy in the commercial pharmacy.  There are also a number of natural health stores, where herbs and traditional remedies can be found - as well as a surpising number of homeopathic stores. 

At 8PM I'll get on a bus for Chiapas and on monday I begin Spanish classes at a school run by the Zapatistas in a place called Oventic, one of the 5 "Juntas of good government".  They just sent me a conformation email and said I needed to buy galoshes because it will be muddy. 

And I'm learning my first Mexican song, "Cielito Lindo". 

Tuesday, August 24


I wrote this post almost two weeks ago but it got stuck on my iPod (I couldn't find any wifi to send it):

Well I managed to make it from Mexico city to Acapulco in one day. I've just pulled into this huge city in the passenger seat of a milk truck. Of course, I had no plans whatsoever to come to's how it happened:

I took a bus to a small town about an hour south of the city for 5 pesos - about 40 cents. I debated just taking a bus all the way to Oaxaca but that would have cost about $ by US standards for a 6 hour trip but I'm on a budget and I keep hearing that hitchhiking is easy here.

So about an hour outside Mexico City I caught my first ride with a guy transporting wood. After about 30 miles he dropped me' off in a chilly mountain town covered in fog. My second ride was a man named Jesus in another work truck. Both men had three children, were around my age and had never traveled far from their region. Then a third short ride with two elderly men in an unbelievably old VW bug and a 4th on the back of a pickup truck filled with sheet rock and no tailgate. Three of us were in the bed, holding onto the detachable sides as sheet rock dust whipped our eyes. Finally I ended up at a place where lots of trucks stopped and I caught a ride (after a record hour and a half of thumbing) all the way to Acapulco with a guy named Alfredo. He drives a semi filled with milk for a huge company called Lala - their milk is everywhere in Mexico. Alfredo was great conversation. He spoke no English which was really nice, it meant we had to speak Spanish and had lots of patience. Several times he followed me' into lengthy digressions just to help me' understand a word. He wanted to pay every time we stopped and even pulled the truck over when we hit an especially breathtaking vista to show me the view. And we stopped several times to visit friends he had at familiar trucking rest stops, each time he introduced me as his Iranian friend. We had lengthy conversations (most of which I understood) about family, politics (he liked joking with me about weather I had bombs) sex. food and where I was going to stay that night. I think it troubled him that I didn't know, so he brought me to a crappy and overpriced hotel on the side of Acapulco where his delivery destination lay. I gladly stayed there and enjoyed a nearby meal of tacos al pastor - BBQ pork with a slice of BBQ pineapple, "verdurita" (means "a little vegetables" but is always diced raw onion and cilantro) lime and salsa.


I'm writing this post in two parts; now it's the next day.

I Got a good night's sleep and hopped on a bus for Acapulco. It w as a long ride and the bus didn't stop for me' to vet on,e and an elderly man sort of jog-stepped our way on to the steps. It was a long ride and we crossed several tolls and tunnels before getting to the tourist section of town. Immediately upon stepping off the bus a man offered to help me find a hotel. I've been practicing my bartering and managed to get the extremely hot and cave like room for cheeper than a hostel. It has rained almost the whole day and was super hot. I occupied my time with sitting on the beach under a palm frond umbrella (in the pouring rain), walking the length of the boardwalk, seeing the movie Salt (which was really a pretty good spy movie) and I just finished chilling m with a bunch of folks I met at the youth hostile and now Im having a bite on a rainy sidewalk with a man playing a really great rendition of "dust in the wind" (Chris Dunkle, are you out there?) on the guitar. His accent makes it that much more fantastic. Tomorrow I'll head south down the coast.

Sent using my big thumbs on a tiny iPod

(Travel log at

Monday, August 23

Gmail Trouble

Dear friends and readers:  After logging in to my Gmail account from many locations in Mexico, they took over my account and locked me out.  It took me almost two weeks to get it back!  They don't make it easy.  Anyhow if you've emailed me this is why I haven't responded.  Expect to hear back from me soon.  I hope to write a new post tomorrow; I am in Puerto Escondito.

Thursday, August 12

Milk Truck

I managed to hitchhike from Mexico City to Acapulco yesterday, most of the way with a great guy named Alfredo in a semi carrying milk.  He was great company and patient with my spanish.  All of a sudden I can tell I'm making progress!  Which is satisfying.  Acapulco is huge and overwhelming (I never planned to come here but that's how the rides worked out!  Took me 6 rides) and I need to get my bearings.  I stopped at this internet cafe to learn about this place and print out a map.  More soon...

Wednesday, August 11

Onward and Downward

I've had an apartment all to myself for the last five days. It belongs to my new friend Yunuen, she very generously let me I'll take a bus just outside the city limits and begin hitchhiking south toward the Oaxacan coast. Probably won't be as easy to get Internet for a bit so if you don't hear from me this week, not to worry. I made friends with the carnitas vendors a fee days ago, Yolanda and her nephew Adrian...everyday they offer me' a new free food to try. Yesterday: a beef quesadilla, corn tortilla, deep fried.

- Posted with big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my iPod

Location:Mexico City

Friday, August 6

Street Food

My obsession with food has followed me, unsurprisingly, to Mexico. I've been here 10 days and think I'm starting to get a handle on eating.

Today I had the best tacos of my life (in Mexico a taco almost always means two small, soft, freshly made corn tortillas wtih some meat, vegetables and sauce) in a marcado (market) near my new host's home in the Moctezuma neighborhood, eastern Mexico City. I went for a walk in my new neighborhood and stopped for tacos in the first marcado I came to. Marcados are big buildings that house several dozen individual stands - vendors of cooked food, raw fruits and veg, and other household items. For example I wanted a simple piece of cloth (to sit on, for a blanket) and I bought one in the marcado; it has a nice green and red cotton weave. Then yesterday a new friend, Yunuen, informed me (amusedly) that this type of cloth is used to mop floors. This is my kind of country! So many things are both beautiful and functional (my favorite qualities) here.

Back to tacos; so I have discovered that not all tacos were created equal and the quality of the taco mostly depends on where you find it. There are two main kinds of "street food", the stuff you find in stands on the street and the food in marcados. This morning i had a porc taco for breakfast, that was in a oily red sauce with a spoonfull of rice - it cost 4 pesos or 30 cents. I washed it down with an OJ, queezed on the spot for 12 pesos or a dollar. I was pretty happy with my $1.30 breakfast, since I'm on a budget. But later in the day I went to this Marcado and asked a woman at a taco stand (fancier, with metal benches in a calm, quiet corner of the market) how much they were; 12 pesos this time, $1 each. Still very cheep as compared to the US but three times as much as my breakfast taco. (Tacos are eaten for every meal, but some are for breakfast and others for lunch and dinner; I have no handle on this yet and chose my tacos via ennie meenie miney moe). Anyhow, these tacos were a whole different food. The corn tortilla was fluffier, I want to say "al dente". The filling was this honey colored roasted pork, at least 1/3 fat (but not in an unapealing way) topped with a salad of cilantro and minced onion and a choice of red or green sauce. I started with red which had a strong and fantastic chipoltle flavor (orange fanta to drink) and then couldnt resist a second with the green sauce which may have been "mole verde", which tastes like onions, herbs and citrus. A lime is always included on every plate, no matter what you're eating and lime juice helped reign in the pork and onion.

This is a web image but looks something like what I ate

When I paid the woman bid me farewell and called me Joven (pernounced "Hoben") which litterally means "young one". But in my mind it means somthing more like "my child".

Tuesday, August 3

Mi Villeno Favorito

After many days of searching I found a map of the whole of Mexico today - and it's beautiful. I've been having a hard time wrapping my mind around the geography here and this map has it all; each region by page, plus a whole map of the country with distance tables and an index...I'm kind of a geek for details. I have a fetish for really thorough footnotes too - to the point where I get disappointed when I read a book without footnotes.

Day 3 staying at this hostile with my new friend Loius. I was supposed to visit a friend of my aunt Betty's in the Yucatan peninsula but it didn't work out and I decided to stay here in Mexico city for a while longer. I asked Louis how he cleans his clothes and he said he washes them by hand in the sink of our dorm with a bar of laundry soap. So he gave me directions to the supermarcado - and I swear I followed them exactly! But I got lost and ended up in a local market (which is much more interesting than a supermarcado anyhow) and found a huge bar of rose scented laundry soap there. Then I bought some clothesline, came home and tied it between two bunkbeds...which made Loius laugh when he saw my clothes hanging there. He showed me how he just hangs his clothes on the bars of the bunk and hangs his shirts on coat hangers. So I washed my (now 3, I bought an extra one) shirts, my 5 new pairs of socks, 2 of 3 pair of underwear (had to wear something!) and in the morning all my clothes will be clean. I really enjoyed hand washing, I'd never done more than one garment at a time.

Now I'm in the hostile lobby, just made friends with a woman from Turkey and two men from India. Oh, and I took in a movie today just as it was about to downpour; "Mi Villeno Favorito" - the. US cartoon despicable me in Spanish. The language was nice and simple and clear.

- Posted with big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my iPod

Location:Mexico City

Sunday, August 1

Diego Rivera

Today I visited two sets of Diego Rivera murals; one at the museum of Bellas Artes and one at the Palacio National, an area known as the Zocalo in the center of the city. It is next to a massive square where hundreds of workers have already begun preparing for Mexico's 200th (i think I understood that right) independence day celebration - it's the 3rd biggest square in the world.

These two things are related; Rivera's murals are intimate histories of Mexico. Of pre-colonial society, of his Aztec forefathers and Mayan countrymen, of the Spanish conquistadors (almost always portrayed as animals of some kind; donkeys, pigs, dogs), U.S. captains of industry, communism, war...and Corn. I overheard one man explaining to a group of visitors "in Mexico, everything is made of corn". It lay in almost every landscape, personal (like when you put it in your tummy), political (like when you try to change it's genetics to make money) and corporal; Mexicans themselves are made of corn. At least I thin that's what Diego was saying. I don't usually stay a long time at museums but today I stayed with those murals for hours. Then after sitting and interpreting as best as i could, making songs out of the stories, I realized there were free tours, explaining. And I was totally captivated for the whole thing. I think I might take that tour every day for the rest of mug stay in Mexico city.

Now I'm at a street vendor about to eat a quesadilla of squash blossoms and queso "oaxaquena" (= cheese from the Oaxaca province, where I'll go next - a sort of farmers cheese.) the quesadilla is hand made in front of me (corn) and is long and oval, folded lengthwise. To drink, a popular bottled juice called "boing" - mango today.

Here's one piece of the 12 part mural at the National Palace:

- Posted with big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my iPod

Location:Mexico City

Friday, July 30


Yesterday was my second full day in Mexico City - I already feel like I've been here a week. At the same time I feel like I want to stay for a month. My body is starting to adapt to the variations in the food and the water (in spit of many warnings and my bet efforts I have consumed small amounts of impurities water - I can feel my stomach trying to decide what it thinks about this, so far so good).

Yesterday I went to the Frieda Calo museum with my French speaking friend and another friend who's couch surfing at the same house as me. She's an architecture student from La Paz Bolivia and, oddly enough also speaks French fluently. So between the three of us we switched in and out of our three languages regularly throughout the day.

We also went to Trotsky's house and the Diego Rivera museum. On our way there we met a Malasian woman and a South African man doing the same circuit and hung out together for the rest of the day.

For lunch we ate at a market. I had never seen one like this, in the open air with food stalls but organized more like a food court at a US mall, with a big block of tables and chairs in the middle. Waiters from the stalls took our orders and brought three courses of soup (cream of pumpkin flower) rice or spaghetti and a choice of entrees - I bad chilles rellenos, a big roasted stuffed chile with sauce and meat.

The subways are often incredibly crowded and women and children have a section for them only; folks here are mostly pretty annoyed by how...

Okay my iPod just deleted a paragraph in a different way than yesterday. I think I'll sign out for now.

- Posted withe big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my iPod

Thursday, July 29


I just wrote a whole post and deleted it with a few accidental touches of the iPod. I'll have to be more careful next time...

Location:Mexico City

Wednesday, July 28

Haya Llegado (I Have Arrived) Mexico!  The truth is I have no idea weather or not Haya Llegado is correct spanish.  But I sure am trying!  Whew, what a day.

After a good nights sleep (I can{t find the apostrophe on this Mexican keyboard!  That button only makes parenthasis!) I scrambled to get my things together (hrm, no semicolon blogging style will have to adapt and change...i{ll have to use lots of dot dot dots...) - anyway, all my stuff fits in a small backpack. 

Pack List

shaving razor and associated artifacts
toothbrush etc
small video camera and digital camera
blank notebook for songwriting and Spanish learning
spanish grammar book (old but looks like quality)
iPod touch (to blog on...although I cant seem to connect to the internet with it and now Im using a computer for 15 pesos an hour (12 pesos to the dollar)
headlamp (seemed like a good idea)
bandanas for blowing my nose and covering my eyes on the bus

two t shirts
three pairs of underwear (one of which is from REI and is supposed to take a while to get funky)
one regualr shorts, one running shorts
one button down shirt
a poly pro long underwear top and bottom
small pack towel
one pair of socks
new vibram 5 fingers shoes

I decided to only bring one pair of footwear - the vibram 5 fingers.  They look like toe socks and are in direct violation of my main objective here in mexico city: (I found the semicolon!): To blend in.  Well, that and not to look like I´m lost (heeey, I found the apostrophe too.)  It´s actually been kind of fun, I´ve gotten a lot of smiles (I think they´re smiling AT me, not WITH me but oh well) and made one friend because of my amusing and futuristic shoes.  First thing tomorrow, I will begin my search for a nice looking pair of locally made sandals.

Anyhow, when I got to the airport they had overbooked the plain and they offered a $500 voucher to anyone willing to wait (get this) an hour and a half for the next plane. yeah, I took that.  And I almost took their offer on the next flight for another $400 voucher to wait for the plane that got in at 7PM...but you know, first time in Mexico City, no plans, I know no one...I figured I should get in while there´s still daylight.

Then I landed, went through customs (for the first time in about 12 years! It was thrilling), changed my dollars to pesos and made my way to the subway.  Now, my spanish is pretty terrible and I was fully expecting to bumble my way through taking a train to...well I wasn´t exactly sure where but I had some ideas.  At least I knew a station that I knew was near a hostle.  I was clearly eminating the statement "I´m lost, please help me!" and within about 10 seconds a really nice woman (who it turns out was a waitress at an airport restaurant) told me to follow her, as she led me to where I needed to be.  As I was walking with that lady, a young woman overheard me speaking spanish and interrupted us to ask if I was French.  Yes, that´s how bad my Spanish is.  Well as some of you know, I speak fluent French so I guess it makes sense that my Spanish is Fracified.  Anyhow, nice lady #1 then passed me off to nice French speaking young woman #2 (a college student who had done a semester in France) and she proceeded to give me a 4 hour tour of downtown Mexico City which was pretty damn cool.  I ate some chicken with roasted poblano peppers and grilled cactus, then washed it down with a drink made from hybiscus flowers (called Jamaica).  Then we went to a cathedral that was litterally built on top of a myan pyramid, the ruins of which were still visible in one part (incredible). 

Then I made my way to the hostle I had heard about which I found with no trouble and paid 150 pesos ($12) for a bunk in the dorm.  I have one dorm mate, his name is Louis and he´s a great f#%&ing guy.  We just talked for about an hour, each in our respective broken spanglish and I took pages and pages of notes.  He sounded out every letter of the Spanish alphabet for me and I wrote the letters down phoenetically.  (It is just occuring to me that this computer is not able to check my spelling and I have no idea how to spell "phonetically".  Maybe I´ll just spell it...nevermind.)

The way you say W in spanish is "double-eh-oooo" and for some reason this evokes uproarious laughter from somewhere deep inside me.  I wanted to make sure Louis didn´t think I was laughing at him or his beautiful (s´frickin´ beautiful)´s just so fun to say and it really makes me laugh.  One of those "learning a new language" things.  Anyhow, he had to turn in at 10PM because he´s a motorcycle courier and has to be at work at 2AM.  I wish I could forge a stronger friendship with him, I like him already.  But tomorrow I´ll be staying with a friend of a friend, which is cheeper and I´m sure I´ll like that person too.

Okay, I´m exhausted and still sick.  Time for bed.  Goodnight frineds, it was good to be in touch with so many of you before I left.  For those of you I didn´t get to say googbye to, I´ll be in Latin America for several months and you can only reach me through gmail ( - I can´t find the AT button) and I would love to hear from you. 

Sending you warmth from luminous and expansive Mexico City.  6 Minutes left til the computer kicks me off...

Saturday, July 24

Tuesday: Mexico City

I've just installed an ap on my iPod so I can blog on it - here goes! I bought a one way ticket (autocorrect suggests a one way rocket) to Mexico and I'm not bringing a computer; I know there will be Internet cafe's but it's too tempting to get to blog and email on my iPod. So this is my trial run. Dallas has been great, I just got back from a ranger's game that ended with an incredible fireworks display (I'm not being metaphorical, they turned off all the lights and set off fireworks in the stadium). Before that I was in Austin with my cousin Ian: swimming holes, ska bands and we played basketball every day. Now I'm gearing up for leaving the country - the first time in 12 years.

After Mexico city will be Oaxaca, then Guatemala city where I'll stay with the family of my Aunt Betty (ian's mom). Not sure when I'm coming back to Texas to pick up my truck...but when I do I will hopefully be heading right back out to Iran. Dear friends, family and fellow travelers; I'm glad to be on this journey with you.

PS - I've tried to be diligent about posting pictures with my posts. Sadly this will no longer be practical. I will eventually share pictures and videos, bear with me.

- Posted with big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my mobile device
Location:Dallas TX

Sunday, July 11

Flight 2000

I've put a new post-tour song on my myspace page: a love song for my favorite pin-ball machine, Flight 2000.  Recorded at Sunset House in Seattle, dedicated to the Martin in Olympia.

And here's Flight 2000, live on the Mailboat 
leaving Great Spruce Head Island in Maine

July Update

Whew!  So much has happened since my last post.  Here's a recap:

After a great month in Seattle (living with friends, doing some interesting volunteer work) I spent a week in Denver with another dear friend.  Then back to Boston to see people and handle some things.  After that I drove to Great Spruce Head Island in Maine, where my old pal Barney and I cooked (with no electricity on only a wood stove) for an artist retreat for a week:

A lunchtime spread
Stove and oven
Making savory pastries
Me and Barn

Unfortunately I managed to get bit by a dear tick while home in Boston, which turned into Lyme disease while I was working on the island.  And incredibly, Barney got bit too!  We were both miserably sick, but we got through it together - and once we got antibiotics we were on the mend.  This is one of the worst Lyme seasons on record so learn from me, freinds: check for ticks.  

Then I flew back to Seattle, picked up my truck, bid my friends farewell and drove (with a guy I found on Craigslist) to Los Angeles, where I am now visiting another friend.  Monday I'll start driving to Texas where I'll visit family, leaving my truck with them.  Then on July 27th I fly to Mexico City where I'll stay for a week.  From there I'll visit other parts of Mexico and Guatemala and maybe other Latin American countries.  In some places I have contacts, family, friends of friends, in others I'll just show up.  

Thursday, May 20


My KYRS Spokane radio interview on Sharokh Nikfar's Persian Radio Hour came in the mail this week, I've posted it at the top of the page for you to have a listen.  It's an hour long, so if you'd rather download it and stick it on your iPod so you can listen to it when you're stuck in line at the post office, there's a link for that too.

Sharokh and I on the air
I'm in Seattle for a month now, doing three months of work at a social justice organization and living with my friends Chris and Sam at the Sunset House co-op.  The house is unusually empty and I had my pick of 4 rooms this visis; I took this long attic room in the end.  I've written 2 new songs and should have them recorded and up here in a week or so.
On Saturday I caught an awesome hip hop show; Gabriel Theodros (left), probably the most progressive and original MC in rap, performing with his DJ/Producer Amos Miller (right) and two incredible vocalists who's names I don't know.  Gabriel is of Etheopian decent and grew up in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of south Seattle - evidently the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the country.  His new album, "Lovework" is both deeply personal and political, with some of the best beats and rhymes I've heard in a while.
I also made an appearance on my friend Andrass Jones' "Radio 8 Ball" show,which I was happy to discover is located in Seattle's international district (which meant I ate Vietnamese food afterwards).  Here's how Radio 8 Ball works: members of the audience are selected after putting their questions in a hat; then you spin a wheel (bottom right) and the number you get corresponds to a list of songs (bottom right) that the guest musician will play.  The song is the answer to your question and you, Andrass and the guest musician (who was the fantasticly talented Tracy Bonham that night) try to make sense out of it.  Good times...
There was even a "celebrity skype-in" appearance from Weird Al Yankovic.

Click Here and scroll down to the middle of the page to ask "The Pop Oracle" your own question.  Don't hold back now, it only works if you ask a real question.

Sunday, May 9

Perfect (breakfast) Storm

Olympia has a great farmer's market, right on the Puget Sound.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I found a mushroom vendor with a crate of wild foraged morels - the crown jewel of all fungus lovers.  I've seen them dried but never fresh; the batch you see below cost me $5 (they're $40 a lb).

So the next day, I sliced them up
and ate them with an Oakland Bay pork sausage patty (from pigs that only ate grass, forages and roots)
and then scrambled the mushrooms with an egg...
the morels weren't flashy - no crazy flavors or inexplicable musk;
but they sure packed a satisfying punch.

Friday, May 7

Moth Written Blog

I just noticed that Mary Robbins (Mary made my t-shirts and I also got to know her husband Nabil) from Portland, ME wrote a post on her blog about working with me: click!

Wednesday, May 5

The D.S.S.G.T.G Breakfast

This post is a full year late; I took these pictures last summer of my buddy Jonathan (hair featured below) and I making a high energy breakfast cereal that I ate every morning for the last year.

Why, you may wonder, did I choose to post this long forgotten event?  Because I'm in Olympia WA at the home of my dear friend David Scherer - the man who's breakfast food innovation prompted me to

1. buy a proffesional grade mixer (see pic 4)
2. spend almost $200 on a 5 gallon tub of brown rice syrup (BRS among us veterans, see pic 1)
3. find 10 half-gallon mason jars to divide the back-breaking tub into (pic 2) and
4. eat a cereal with the consistency of wet gravel for a whole year.

A brief history of the David Scherer, Super Goldberg, Tough Guy Breakfast:

This invention is actually a byproduct of one of David's earlier inventions: "Bihk".  Bihk, "The Milk Of Nuts" was a creamy thin liquid that david made using nuts, brown rice syrup and water and sold to the co-op as a locally made milk substitute.  After soaking the nuts in the liquid and removing the milk, a grainy sludge remained that, it occurred to David, he could eat.  He then realized it was high in protean and complex carbohydrates...and when the time came to leave the Bihk business he continued to prepare it's sticky byproduct for his own enjoyment - with a new and ever improving recipe.  

Enter the poet: I was having trouble finding a breakfast food that was quick, easy, healthy and filling.  Then I remembered David's breakfast and he kindly sent me the recipe.  It's probably the funniest recipe I ever read:

A cousin asked me to submit a recipe for a family cookbook she's putting together. I thought some of you might be interested in this for your own records, diet. David

Your Name: David B. Scherer

Town, State: Olympia, Washington

Recipe Name: The David Scherer Super Goldberg Tough Guy Breakfast

Ingredients: Three pounds of organic brown rice syrup (it’s best to order this thru a co-op or health food store in 5 gallon buckets), eight cups of organic raw rolled oats (not quick oats), a cup of cashews, a cup of almond butter, a cup of walnuts, a cup of dark semi-sweet chocolate chips, three cups of raisins, a shot of vanilla extract, and any old cookies you have laying around. You can add and change ingredients; I do just to keep things interesting.

Directions: First you put about a cup of the raw oats in the bottom of the bowl of your Industrial Kitchen Aid Mixer. If you don’t have one, go get one. You will break anything else you might use to make this. Learn from my mistakes. I’ve broken wooden spoons, a piece of rebar, a witch’s cauldron and my arm. Next you pour the brown rice syrup in and the nuts, vanilla, old cookies and chocolate on top of that. Then you start up the mixer. Maybe five minutes, until it’s mixed up, but not all homogenized. Then you add the raisins at the end and let those mix for about a minute. When it’s done it looks kind of gross, like some old hippie’s cookie dough. Makes about seven days worth of breakfast. Store it in the Kitchen Aid bowl in the refrigerator. Serve cold and raw with milk, yogurt, maple syrup, ice cream, pie, cake and cookies. Eat it right out of the bowl. I don’t eat it first thing. I wait until I’m real hungry, about 10 a.m. Get a serious spoon because the stuff is not only hard to eat, but it’s nearly impossible to spoon out. Assist youngsters before feeding yourself. If you eat it in the morning, you won’t want to eat until about 6-7 p.m., if ever.

Story: I started eating this in college because wanted to leave my apartment in the morning and not have to eat until I got home for dinner. I’ve been eating this same breakfast for nearly eleven years now and I’ve lived to be 32 years old. Doctors are baffled. There’s no scientific or spiritual explanation why I should like this. And, I really like it. This isn’t a joke. I don’t joke about breakfast. I’ve had girlfriends break up with me over this. 

The reason why this food sustains one’s appetite for so long is because the main ingredient, brown rice syrup, is about 99% maltose. This sugar, unlike others, takes about 4-5 hours for the body to break down. It gives the body a steady supply of energy. There’s no spike, no “sugar rush” and the body uses no insulin to absorb it so it’s an ideal food for diabetics. Of course, there are the side dishes (maple syrup, ice cream, pie, cake and cookies) that aren’t like that. Also, I don’t eat sugar after breakfast. Who could? So I’m a little hypo-glycemic when I wake up. I also go running before eating breakfast. By 10 a.m. I’m so unbelievably hungry that I’d just as soon eat sheet rock or car tires.

To our knowledge David and I are the only two people who have attempted the breakfast.  Please let us know if you ever join our ranks.

Finally, I'd like to share one of David's current projects with you, "Healing Journey" with Dr. Roger Sty Bantum (hint: it's David).

EROS and PSYCHOS from Healing Journey Television on Vimeo.

I know this post is getting long but I can't stop myself from linking to another project of David's, "The Flat Win Company".

Monday, May 3

Miss Rodeo Montana

If you came to one of our shows, you probably heard that I am producing a new Sandman album - variously recorded in Birmingham, Dallas, Dunn Ceneter ND, Niarada MT...and maybe in your town too.

Here's one of 26 tracks we laid down in our 3 months on the road, just the raw recording.

Miss Rodeo Montana

Here's Chris at the recording session of this song in Nairada at the Morrow's ranch
Note the simple hardware of my mobile recording studio, "Studio In A Bowl" from left to right: Headphones, notebook, laptop, audio interface, mic stand and mic, cowboy, guitar.

End of Tour

Whew!  After 11 weeks on the road, Chris and I have hung up our 1/4 inch cables and parted ways.  Chris, if you're reading this it was such a pleasure to spend three months living, playing and traveling with you.  It was one of the best things I ever did.  Let's do it again!

Here are a few highlights from our last shows.  More to come...

They danced late into the night at Fergie's Bar in Hot Springs MT
(and we had a nice soak beforehand)

Riding through the mountains of western montana at the Morrows' Ranch

On the KYRS Persian Radio Hour in Spokane with my new friend Sharokh
(I'll post the whole hour-long show when I get it!)

Our last show, at the Hamilton Photography Studio in Spokane - 
we got our first standing ovation!  Because we're awesome.

"Roll Out Cowboy" Trailer

The "Roll Out Cowboy" documentary trailer (a movie about Chris) has been released!  The first showing will be in Marfa, TX this thursday.

Roll Out Cowboy from Roll Out, Cowboy on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 17

Dunn Center, North Dakota

I got to Chris' house thursday night, a sweet little one bedroom slice of the good life.  Chris is driving truck until tomorrow so I've had the place to myself.  My favorite parts of his house include

the living room where i've been writing,
recording and catching up on work
the kitchen that he and Hana (his girlfriend) have stocked with sturdy,
beautiful old kitchen gear(and there's a trap door on the floor by the
table, I'm really curious what's under it..I may have to find out today)
his claw-foot tub
their cozy bedroom (no more sleeping in the truck)
Last night his dad, Rob Sand, had me over for dinner and a walk to meet the grand Sandparents.  I mean the Sand grandparents.  We've now recorded songs that he wrote about each of his grandparents (and there's been plenty of time for family stories over the last months) and I really enjoyed getting to see them all.  His mother, Mary Sand, is on a trip back to her native Montana and I hope to meet her when she gets back.

If you haven't already you might want to read Chris' last journal entry, it has a bunch of good insights into our last few months.

Lastly I'm reading a book (something I haven't done in at least a year) that I've been hearing about for a while - The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and enjoying it.

North Dakota is a beautiful place, with rolling grassy hills, grazing cows and bison, warm people and a rich local culture.  It's a treat to be here for a week.