Friday, January 4, 2008


It’s been a while since I wrote one of these, maybe because my life is less interesting than that of a professional baseball player in a far-off land. Not everyone can maintain superstardom forever. As crazy and hectic as Israel was, I’m finding great joy in the simple life. I’m living in a place nicknamed “The Chuck”. This is not the juicy beef found at Taco Bell, not what woodpeckers do to wood, but Charleston, South Carolina. The Chuck is nestled on a peninsula where the Ashley and Cooper rivers meet the Atlantic Ocean. Looking into the bay you’ll find Fort Sumter, which heard the first shots of the Civil War. Abner Doubleday was stationed here and not surprisingly the island is shaped like home plate. Up the street you’ll find The Old Exchange and Customs House, which saw the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The Chuck is literally drenched in history and antebellum beauty. Walking down the right cobblestone path at the right time of day you can fool yourself into thinking its 1776 and George Washington might tap you on the shoulder at any time. Can you say dork? On the eve of every season, the art galleries downtown (there must be 200+) open their doors and offer free wine. Even we inbred southerners have to feel sophisticated once in a while. During one of these art walks, my brother’s favorite Poli-Sci profs described Charleston to a tee: it’s a big city on a human scale. In other words, you don’t feel cramped or lost. Did I mention that I haven’t put on a coat yet and there are beaches, bars and the great outdoors?

Oh, the great outdoors! One thing I’ve been doing out here is spending time on an organic farm harvesting vegetables. The farm is owned by a young entrepreneurial friend of ours who sells locally to restaurants and loves having company while picking everything from broccoli to cabbage to turnips. My mom might faint if she knew I’ve grown a taste for raw veggies picked right off the stem. Mother, now you know. If you go to this farm with the wind blowing life into these veggies I swear you feel like you’re in a Van Gogh and the rest of the crazy hectic world just drifts away. And the dorkdom continues.

Running is another outdoor activity I’ve been pursuing. I know. I know—I’m kind of a hypocrite. You may have witnessed a former self saying things like, “a runner’s pleasure is a true athlete’s punishment,” and “go grab a ball you wannabees.” I’ll stick to my guns by saying that running still does not pass the sport litmus test: anything developed strictly as a survival mechanism cannot be considered a true sport (not running, fishing, hunting, swimming, and absolutely not the biathlon). But nevertheless, running is a great activity for many reasons. The single worst part about team sports is blame. With running (unlike baseball) there’s no coach that called the wrong play or teammate that couldn’t hold his weight. With running, it’s your pair of legs; and the watch doesn’t lie. There’s also the endorphin rush. Primarily, I’ve been running over this sweet new bridge that connects Charleston to the adjacent suburb. It’s kind of cool to run from one town to another looking out toward the Atlantic. One time I even saw dolphins. Complete dorkness achieved. I know it sounds strange but running allows you to simultaneously clear your head and think very hard about something, kind of like when you wake up with a great idea that’s been churning around in your sleep.

I dedicated my last run to thinking about the Wire, critically known as the greatest show ever written for television. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor: go to the library and rent season one. It unfolds like a book, so give it a few episodes to develop. It will give you a new lens on the inner-city, drug trafficking and politics. It’s truly a remarkable feat. One great thing about being free from the (yes I’m going to say it) burden of scholastic endeavors is that it’s allowed me to catch up on books and movies I’ve been meaning to explore. Here’s the creme de la crème: Tuesday’s with Morrie (how did it take me this long to read?), V for Vendetta (viva la revolution), No Direction Home the Dylan/Scorsese documentary (you know you’re a good poet if you can make Ginsberg cry), Jews, God and History (man, we’re awesome), and again, The Wire.

It’s kind of crazy but just as I started watching the fourth season of the Wire, which deals with the ills of inner-city youth culture my paperwork came through allowing me to start tutoring middle school math. When that school bell rang for the first time it was almost like I was experiencing the Wire firsthand. I remember how disgusting middle school was and then sprinkle on some low socioeconomic status and I can’t imagine how hard it must be for some of those kids. If anyone has any tips on teaching algebra, for the love of God, call me.

What else is there “to whereabout” about? For one, my guitar is sounding less and less like the ritual slaughter of a young calf. And I suppose there’s my job as a valet at the hideously fancy Charleston Place Hotel. In a nutshell, the job gives me the opportunity to be where I want to be and do what I want to do. Also there are certain perks to the job: I’ve driven every sweet car known to man, so if you want my (literally) professional opinion: Lexus has the smoothest ride. BMW is the ultimate power sports car. Daimler Chrysler has ruined Mercedez. Jaguars look great and drive like poo. Masaratis are Italian Buicks. Bentley’s are classy but say ‘pretentiousness’ and Ferrarias and Porsches purr like kittens. My favorite is my buddy Alan’s 5-speed Jetta that’s been refitted to run on vegetable oil. Talk about bang for your buck. Try $0/gallon, son. All he does is goes to McDonald’s and asks for their veggie oil waste. Now that’s reducing your carbon footprint!

A toute a l'heure,