Photos, Travel

Russian Roulette… you’ll never believe what happened next!

 

Blatant click bait. Sorry. Not really. You should know better.

Well, now that you’re here, you might as well have a gander at the wares. It’s all for Movember. A post everyday for the month. Consider a dollar per post! That’s a fair deal.  It’s more work than you think! Plus growing a super tash and working to raise awareness about important men’s health issues? Certainly worth a dollar a day. 

Anyway, I was recently back in Mother Rus as part of a Burlington Yaroslavl Sister City delegation. A lot of the photos and info from my recent trip that trip can be found on the our Facebook page.

As a short Sunday evening post, I thought I’d share with you a few favorites from my own amateur efforts.

The captions have a touch of info about each. Enjoy!

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Photos, Travel

Yaroslavl, Russia

People…

Places…

Soviet answer to the pink Cadillac?

Soviet answer to the pink Cadillac?

~AB

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Photos, Travel

Samara, Russia

People…

Places…

Plane over the Volga

Plane over the Volga

~AB

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Photos, Travel

VDNKh (ВДНХ), The All Russia Exhibition Center

During Soviet times it was the Exhibition of Achievements of the People’s Economy. VDNKh was one of the first places I visited when I arrived in 2008.  All the pavilions were filled with rundown kiosks, penned in ornery sales folk, and cheap wares, which must have made Lenin squirm a bit in his embalmed Marxist state on Red Square.

Lenin, doing his imposing thing in front of the central pavilion.

Lenin, doing his imposing thing in front of the Central Pavilion.

Having just reached its 75th anniversary, the local authorities have spruced it up well. All the cruddy kiosks have been replaced with cultural exhibits and businesses from a few of the respective ex-republics – Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus. There are also pavilions dedicated to space, agriculture, academia, etc. Most of them have been finished, but many are still in the process of modernization.

According to the official website, negotiations are ongoing about opening pavilions for the Azerbaijan Republic, the Republic of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and the Volga and Central Federal Districts of the Russian Federation.

A very popular place for a traditional Russian ‘stroll’ – cruising at top speeds of .5 mph, holding hands (for couples or girls, not boys) or locked arms, setting the world to right – having a shashlik and breaking out your roller blades (yes, still outrageously popular here).  A huge area, so some sort of wheeled device is important. Skateboards are becoming hugely popular here for such purposes.

You will probably leave with is a strange desire to eat wheat and go to space.

~AB

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Clipper at a distance
Photos, Travel

Permission to Board? The Liberty Clipper, Boston

“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea.”

~ John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the Dinner for the America’s Cup Crews, September 14 1962

The dimensions of Liberty.

The dimensions of Liberty.

At a loss for a place to stay in Boston, our adventurous side led us to The Liberty Clipper Hostel. Docked in the heart of the old town, you couldn’t get closer to the center if you tried.  A few shades off glamorous, but for the price and experience, it was worth it.

We took the discounted sail around the harbor and got to see her crew in action. They were a lively bunch of students in varying degrees of youth, friendly as the dickens.  All of them lived aboard.  Must get pretty cozy.  But what a great way to live out one’s student years. Adventure. Better than a frathouse or a hole-in-the-wall dorm room, for sure.  Reminded me of the summer I spent in Santa Barbara as a kayak guide – meeting interesting folk, learning new skills, being out in the sun, rolling with the wind.

I had a hard time imagining the annual journey down to the Bahamas, but after doing silly day sails all summer it would be a welcome relief to get some real nautical miles under the belt.

Would I do it again? Sure. I hope to be preparing for a far more hardcore version of it when the Clipper Round the World Race #Winleg6 competition concludes next month!

~AB

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Photos, Travel

Summer Orphans – 2014

Everyone needs a home. Everyone needs some love. These babies don’t classify easily, so together they will be – orphans of the 2014 road trip around the Easy East of America.

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Running, Travel

Music Half Marathon, Moscow

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”

~ Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I was inspired by Murakami in the run-up to my first marathon in 2010.  First, his literature was gripping and full of an indescribable tension, like love or balancing a spoon on your nose – difficult to do right, playful and mildly exhibitionist.  Second, his take on running in the above-mentioned book was right up my street. I had visions of taking on a marathon every year for the rest of my mortal days in his honor.  A mysterious Moscovian illness kept me from my third back in 2012, but I’ve been planning the comeback ever since.  For the time being, I’ll suffice to run two half marathons in a season.  The first of which being…

The Music Half Marathon in Moscow, organized by Adidas, was a splendid event.  Materials in English, pace runners, whacky-wigged, high-fiving supporters (volunteers), live music/DJs the whole way, excellent medals, and a view of some of Moscow’s most historic sites to help shape your own ‘homemade void’.

Moscow route

Pretty flat, out and half-way back route from Luzhniki Stadium to the Kremlin.

There was the usual stone-faced police folk lining the route, but past the noticeable lack of public support, it could have been an event organized anywhere in the Western world.  I ran the 2011 Adidas half marathon  (the first clip shows the outrageous registration line and later you can see many of the 90 degree turns in the race.) and the organizational quality was night and day. Very happy to see the improvements over time…

It was the first time I’d run that far in the Merrell Barefoot shoes since I bought them last summer. I’d like to think that the epic calf cramps I got towards the end of the race were not associated with them, but maybe others can attest to such happenings… They could have also been down to the cold wind and rain that pelted the last few kilometers, but one can never know.

Wet, but happy to have finished. Total – 1:41 (unofficial).

Wet, but happy to have finished. Total – 1:41 (unofficial).

The second half marathon will be a sojourn to Yaroslavl in mid-September. Hopefully I’ll be able to connect with some Burlington-Yaroslavl Sister City people, too.

I’ve seen far too little of the “Golden Ring” towns, so ticking off some UNESCO World Heritage vistas will be a treat for the ‘homemade void’.

~AB

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Photos, Travel

Russian Capitals Revisited

Moscow

St Petersburg

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Photos, Travel, Writing

NYC – Day 2 – Creative Spaces

IMG_7302Twelve hours sleep will do wonders for spirit and mind – we were up and out the door for a run around Prospect Park park by 10am, soaking up the greenery. Creativity is supposedly boosted by a dose of green, and that’s exactly what was on for the day – a grand tour of some incredible creative spaces around NYC.

IMG_7304Back to the Smith’s by 11, and out the door again by 12 to meet up with an old friend, Moriah Cowles, in her Orchard Steel metalwork studio. Bursting with energy, she gave us a grand tour of her working space and walked us from tip to tail in process of making a knife – sourcing the right metal, tempering it, pounding it out, picking the wood for the handle, putting in the decorative pin, giving it a mild ‘patina’, and touching up the uber-solid edge.

It sounds so simple in a list like that (and I’m surely missing some of the key features), but I think Moriah just makes it sound easy.  The finished product is an elegant blade, built to last, but age with style and grace.

Moriah shares her space with very cool (very Brooklyn) start-up vodka outfit called Industry City Distillery.  It was mid-day so didn’t get into a tasting, but will surely follow up another day.

Over burritos on the fire escape we all mused about what we might do if we had such a space…  Dave was music and I was publishing/writing. We can all dream…

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Next up, we dashed downtown to the Flatiron District to see some family history.  Legend has it that Oscar Lundberg, my great-grandfather from Sweden, worked on the famous Flatiron building for the Remington Construction Company. One day while out on a beam, he lost his balance and fell six stories into a pile of shrapnel.   The doctors said he was probably a goner, but sure enough he left the hospital later that week complaining of the food.

Check the New York Times article here:

Click the picture to see the PDF.

Click the picture to see the PDF.

 

Our next destination on this whistle-stop creative spaces tour was Neuehouse to see R. Littauer for ‘happy hour’ on his last day in the building.  A linguist by trade, but a front-end web designer by choice, Littauer does some great work for Ideapod – a Facebook/Twitter for ideas. Very cool office, if it can even be called that. Pictures give the vibe, but I’m sure it’s the people that make it.

The final stop was The Village Vanguard for some world-class jazz from the Billy Hart Quartet.  Nobody was snapping or howling, but just thinking about all the famous acts that had come through there from the Beat generation to now was pretty special.  IMG_7367

Quite the day in the life of a New York creative class citizen. It takes strength to wake up and do any of these things every day – music, art, writing, craft. Seeing the design specifics for each creative purpose really highlights the importance of where the craft is done, not just how.

~AB

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Travel, Writing

MOS-NYC – Day 1

Our journey from Moscow to NYC was relatively painless.  I organized my computer, touched up my application to the Clipper #Winleg6 contest and watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Good film. Laughed my britches off. His mental wanderings really tickled my bunny fone, for some reason. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I thought Ben Still did alright.  Great locations in Iceland – makes me wanna go.

Julia slept a bit and tried to play the Aeroflot in-flight gaming console, but at sloth-like speeds, it wasn’t so engaging.  Pretty much everyone brings some sort of device on-board, so it must be a bit silly to develop such technology.  Some French Solitaire took me back to playing it with marbles around the house in Vermont as a kid…

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A midwestern brew.

Land. Passports. Taxi. JFK-Brooklyn. Lovely.

Got settled in our digs and had a charming chinwag with the one and only D. Smith after so many years between us.  He set us up with some great food/libation recommendations and we were on our way out the door before the 4-hours-sleep momentum stopped. A quick dip through Prospect Park gave us an idea of the activity in the area.  An amazing place for all manner of community cohorting.

The Farm on Adderly wasn’t open yet so we caught a swift pint in the Sycamore Bar & Flower Shop – what a combo.  A flower shop entrance leading to a long bar bouquet of happy, hoppy beers and an open sitting area outside with vines, trees, books on tables, and locals

(I learned later that Thursdays are when New Yorkers typically go out. Everyone from Jersey and other suburbs comes in on Friday and Saturday, so Thursday is the day that the local population takes to the town.)

An incredible burger and steak between us at The Farm on Adderly followed.  I tried a Midwestern Pale Ale and was pleasantly impressed. Didn’t know the midwest was making decent brew.  An incredible meal, but that was the end of us. In bed by sundown.

On the way home we ran into this high school and thought of the Erasmus Mundus crew in Poland. You are all missed!

Twelve hours sleep set the tone for an energised, event-filled Day 2.

~AB

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