Monday, January 11, 2010

Alone again.

I haven't had a moment to write the entire trip because i have been working constantly and on the move. All of my downtime has been taken by Cabernet. Right now, I am sitting alone in the Judean Desert atop a tremendously beautiful mountain near Masada, listening to John Zorns Circle Maker. It's the most outstanding score to the most picturesque landscape. Downtime is so much more appreciated when it's just you, the sky and the dry earth. I just rode a camel through the desert, and slept in a Bedoine tent after drinking wine and playing music all night with Brazilian and Argentine Jews. My hands are sore from playing my new Darbouka with such passion. I'm about to hike Madada and swim in the dead sea. Maybe a massage and mud bath first... The past few days have been breathtaking. Shabbos in Jerusalem was spiritual, regardless of my Atheism. You just cannot escape the force of such a place at such a time. I am so incredibly happy that I was able to spend a few days with one of my best friends, Andrew Susser, who has been living here for a while. We had such a blast walking around Jerusalem together and getting into trouble. Two nights ago I took a group of people to an Israeli Sushi Bar and then to. Jazz club that has the most incredible vibe. There have been a lot of things that I've done since the last time I've written a post, but I am feeling inspired to climb Masada right now. I'll check back in at the beach if I have the time. Home soon...


Location:Judean Desert

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kabbalah And Other Things Madonna Related

After swimming laps this morning, I sat outside the pool at the kibbutz to watch the sunrise and drink tea. My tour guide Tuvia and I spoke for a bit about Zionism and life and did some laundry. Afterwards, we made it over to breakfast and I enjoyed some potato borekas and espresso, which go together very well by the way. We drove out to some ancient roman ruins that were destroyed in 1834 and I listened to French Musette and stretched. We fled to the Mystical Jewish Hilltown of Tzfat to see the birthplace of Kabbalah and eat Lebanese Crepes that were out of this world. I bought a Doumbek drum from an Arab man on the street and played it when we reached the Lebanese border. The rest of the group went to a photography seminar and I took a drive to the mall with my Bedoine driver Kaid. I picked up 4 bottles of wine and a bottle of Vodka for tonight. I'm completely exhausted, but I'm sure I'll be able to manage another night of silliness...



Monday, January 4, 2010

Day One.

The sun shines a little differently here. It wakes you gently. A hike on the Golan Heights was the perfect thing to start the day with, and the volcanic hot springs are always the perfect ending. My body feels rejuvinated and my mind feels at ease. Two bottles of local wine snuggle perfectly into my belly as I bond with some of the coolest, most friendly participants I could ask for. Everyone is an artist, so there is never a shortage of interesting conversation. Beautiful people. Beautiful weather. I've been spoiled in this kibbutz with a personal flat screen tv, kitchen, fantastic bathroom and wireless internet. My skin feels fantastic after swimming in the sulphuric hot springs. I will be taking an early morning swim in the pool to watch the sunrise after I post this. Better get my trunks on.


Location:Golan Heights, Israel

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Short Story, or Starting Fresh

I'm on my way to Israel, where I will be photographing my journey... I took a similar trip last year which you can see throughout this blog. I have been going through my old writings and sketches from last years Israel/France/Spain trip, and found a short story I thought I could share with everyone... Enjoy.

There was once a man who woke up everyday in a new part of the world. Everyday he did the same neccesary things in order to survive. The first thing he did when he woke up was draw a picture of the landscape directly outside the place where he woke in his book that he carried everywhere. When he finished, he walked through the town looking at people. He studied their ways of life all morning. He gathered any information he could about the people and their culture from the clothes they wore, the music they played in stores, the food they ate and the way they talked. He recorded all of this information in his book, and constantly checked back to refer to other places he had visited. The man became fluent in culture, perfect with a pen, and spoke well in any region of the world. The information he gathered in his travels made it easy for him to make small amounts of money- enough for him to get by day to day. The man would draw, write, knit, make shoes, pick flowers, fish, anything that the people needed. His life flew by. He lived under the radar, avoiding any real commitments to anyone. His life seemed perfect. He enjoyed the simpler pleasures in life, because the more complicated things got, the less time he was able to spend with them. He met women, and had the occasional one night romance, only to wake up in another part of the world. This hurt the women more than it hurt the man though, as he became numb to this type of emotion over time. But as one could expect, the man fell in love with a woman one day and could only spend a single night with her. In an attempt to save his own heart, the man never wrote down her information in his book. He knew that love could never work for him... That is, until one day when his story began to change. The man noticed he had woken up in a town where he had been before. He checked his book to see what he had drawn there many years earlier. It was a cabin by a lake. The man went to the lakeside to search for the cabin. When he found the cabin he walked in and saw an old man who welcomed him into the cabin for some tea. When he showed the drawing to the old man, a tear wept from the old mans eye. He explained that his late wife always wanted a portrait of their cabin to hang over their fireplace. So the man ripped the page out of his book and gave it to the old man. That night he stayed in the cabin once again. When the sun rose the next morning he woke up in a garden halfway across the world. A garden where he had once been. He looked in his book, where he found the phone numbers of friends from a long while back. He met with them and had a blast. The following day a similar thing happened. The man began reliving his past through the information he kept in his book. Months went by and all he could think about was the woman he fell in love with many years ago. He looked in his book and found only a delicate drawing of her. When the man closed his eyes, he saw the woman clear as day. He could smell her hair and touch her skin. He waited patiently until one day when he would wake up in her city and could find her. When this day came, the man searched for his long lost love from sunrise to sunrise. He wouldn't let himself sleep, for fear of losing his only opportunity to spend one more night with the woman he loves. The man did everything in his power to stay awake, and managed to pull it off for weeks, until one day he fell into a deep sleep. When he woke up, the portrait of his love had been erased from his book completely, along with the details of his fond memories. He noticed his book was beginning to rearrange its information. The phone numbers were not clear, the drawings had blank spots, even the language began to make no sense. Distraught and angry, the man fell into a bit of a depressive time. His memories were fading. His book was being erased... With urgency, the man ran around searching for some kind of memory, but ultimately failing. He spent much of his days attempting to fill the void where his book left off. Eventually the book emptied itself completely and the man had to start over with an empty book. His memories meant nothing anymore without the book. The man had to teach himself about the world all over again, on the same pages he once took for granted.

-Paris, France 1.15.09


Location:In the air.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blogging from my phone...

Only a couple more weeks until I'm on a 12 hour flight to the middle east. :/

Wonder if I can get bumped up to first class?

Can't wait to write for the majority of the flight...

Location:Frankford Ave,Philadelphia,United States

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Trailer for film 20th Century Boy (music written by Me and Tim Conley)

I recently wrote and recorded some music for an Independent Film Called 20th Century Boy with my friend Tim Conley. They just released the trailer for the film. It looks pretty bizarre. Check it out!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 24th, 2009 - Tel Aviv, Israel

I woke up up from a nap after finally checking into the Sky Hostel. It's in the heart of a Tel Aviv, a street called Ben Yahuda, down the street from a gorgeous beach. I showered and went out to search for a nice place to eat with Jackie. We ended up at a cafe/restaurant that Jackie had eaten at before. I had sweet potato and Parmesan ravioli, accompanied by a fresh salad and a couple Stella Artois beers. The weather was perfect, so we ate outside and watched people walk around on Shabbat. We drank, and talked about the trip in full detail for the first time. We had a ton of laughs and learned about each others favorite times. It felt good to reminisce, as the entire day was filled with sadness that the trip was over and our friends had all gone home. It is a strange feeling to be the last ones from our trip still around. All that is left to do at a moment like this is to ponder what fun you've already had. It's a great feeling, but an extremely vulnerable one. Especially when you are forced to walk around the last place you saw all of your friends for 6 hours until your hostel is ready! This gave me time to think about everything in great detail, and almost re-experience it in a way... During our "timeline" discussion, my phone rang. It was one of the Israeli girls that was on my trip, Maya! We met up with her, another Israeli friend named Or, and a few of their friends and drank a couple bottles of wine at a nice little pub. We had the best time, remembering the littlest things... Before you know it, the time was 4am. Jackie, Maya and I left to get early morning sushi at a crazy sushi bar in the middle of the street. It was fantastic and unbelievably cheap. An entire roll of sushi was 11 NIS. $1 = 4 NIS. We are meeting up with the Israelis again today for one last run around Tel Aviv before we head to the airport at 10pm. We are going to Old Jafo today to ride on magic carpets. Hopefully they are less turbulent than the airplanes we have been riding. Old Jafo is kind of like a reallly old flea market with tons of second hand/third hand items. It's very fun. I'll send a wrap up I'm sure, but some of you may see me before you read my last email. If you are one of those people, I cannot wait.

January 23rd, 2009 - Tel Aviv, Israel

We arrived in Tel Aviv around 4 in the morning. We slept the entire flight, so it didn't matter too much that our hostel reservations got a little screwed up. We decided to take a walk and get some food because we weren't able to get dinner last night. We had falafal and pizza at 5:30am on a strip in Tel Aviv that was still crazy bumpin til all hours of the morning. The clubs were still blaring music when we left to go to the beach to watch the sunrise. We sat on a bench across from the hotel where we spent our last night with the group and watched as the sky change colors in the most amazing way (see picture.) We are still up and waiting to check into the hostel at 11. We walked a little and ended up at a cafe in Old Tel Aviv that is really awesome. We remembered it from a tour we did with the group because of the graffiti paintings on the wall across the street that we took pictures with. Great coffee and hot chocolate! Yesterday we spent the rainy day in Paris by going to the Musee D'Orsay and eating at our favorite French restaurant in the gallery district. Before we caught the airport shuttle, I decided I couldn't leave Paris without trying some real creme brûlée. The airport was a fiasco. We were pretty much flagged as terrorists and had to take everything out of our bags and get swabs taken of our stuff for ion testing. Israelis do not like to stand in lines, so they all barge in one big clump and get stuck in doorways. So you can imagine what each part of the airport check-in was like... Needless to say, a whole bunch of Jews in one small packed space is always a kvetch. We will probably sleep all day and go out with some friends tonight. Maybe the beach tomorrow? We have lost our tans from being in the cold of Europe for a week... I cant believe its almiat over! We've begun the countdown however, with slightly less than two days until we see our homes, family and friends. I think we are ready.

From Israel with love...

January 22nd, 2009 - Paris, France

We arrived in Paris with our Aussie friend Nikki around 3pm. Starving
and exhausted from the back and forth traveling from bus to plane to
bus to metro to other metro, we found the first restaurant we could.
Pizza Pino. We ordered pasta and salads that, as you could have
guessed, were fantastic. Pricey, but we weren't about to be picky due
to our intense hunger... After a good pasta meal, its hard enough to
breathe, let alone walk around Paris, so we walked down to our hostel
and took a late siesta before meeting a couple friends near The
Louvre. We bought a couple bottles of wine and ran around the Louvre
like little kids, taking pictures and laughing so hard that our
stomachs began to hurt. Obviously a bit drunk, we decided the best
idea would be to eat some crepes and find a bar. We walked around a
bit and ended up at the bohemian bar I had visited with a French woman
I met last weekend. We drank some more, and met a couple locals that
spoke very elegant english (which is extremely uncommon for French
people I have noticed...) We talked about many things, but it seems
the topic of conversation for most people right now is Barack Obama.
The discussion was very interesting, because they spoke about being
skeptical of an Obama presidency. They were only really playing
devils advocate, because I know that they are very intelligent people.
It is great to hear other world views. We are really fed the same
things over and over again in our little bubble. The same is true for
every country, as they all have some kind of agenda, but hearing other
views is a great thing that we don't get to experience enough in the
US. The French have a long history of having strong political and
philosophical views that challenge "the norm". After the bar closed, I
decided to walk Nikki back to her hostel, which was a long walk along
the canal by our hostel. It was a cold, lonely walk back, but
fantastic. The lights from all the lamp posts were shining so
amazingly off the canal waters, that it kept me warm. Paris is the
best city in the world. I absolutely love everything about it. We
leave for Israel tonight, getting in around 3am, which would be around
8pm EST. Even though we wish we could stay in Paris longer, we're
excited to see a couple of our Israeli friends one last time before we
head home... It'll be sad staying in Israel without the whole group.
I'm getting very excited to come home though. Not so excited for
another long flight...

See you in Tel Aviv!

January 21st, 2009 - Barcelona, Spain

Well I'm on a bus headed towards the airport now. Barcelona was great, but way too short... Our friend Nikki is heading back to Paris with us. We met in the hostel and kicked it at an Indian restaurant. She's from Sydney, Australia, and is pretty cool. She's been traveling for a while and just living life to the fullest after graduating from school and before starting her new job. We saw the entire city of Barcelona yesterday from the top of Parc Guell, which was a steep climb, but well worth the view. We saw the Gaudi church that has been in construction for over a hundred years. He was apparently run over by a Trolley Car during it's initial construction! Ever since, it has been quite a controversial topic in the city and art world. To finish the church or not... A religious sect has been furiously working to finish it. It really is a fantastic piece of work, but I wish someone had warned me not to pay 13 euros to see the inside. It's empty! Biggest waste of money on my trip so far... The Spanish coffee was pretty good, but nothing compares to Parisian coffee. Not even Italy. Barcelona had some ok food, but after eating in Paris, I'm pretty sure I'll never be satisfied again. The layout of the city is wonderful. I walked everywhere with ease (except for the steep climb to the park.) The people are attractive and very nice. It really seems like a great place to live life... I'm happy to return to Paris for one more day to do things I wasn't able to do last week. Things I want to experience before leaving Paris: try a street cart waffle, go to the Musee d'Orsay, have drinks outside the Louvre on a clear night, watch one more episode of Spongebob Squarepants in French (the most hilarious thing ever.) This leaves the rest of my day (and a half) to buy everyone gifts with the little money I have left! Jackie and I booked our private hostel room again. Ah... Luxury. These Ryanair flights scare the hell out of me. Wish me luck.

I've included a picture that Jackie took of me after our last French adventure... I was seriously exhausted.

January 17th, 2009 - Paris, France

I'm sitting in a Canadian Sports Bar right now in Paris watching the Eagles slowly come back. It's pretty exciting watching the game with an entire bar packed full of Philadelphians in a city where I really haven't been able to understand anyone. Well... To tell you the truth, it's kinda hard to understand all of these screaming Philadelphians also! I'm meeting people from Upper Dublin, Lower Merion, even Rittenhouse. It's bizarre... I ate some macaroons today and paid a fortune for a meal that resembled McDonalds, only worse service! I'm sad to leave this city! I will be back for one more full day after Barcelona to finish up my business here. I got to hang out with Jim Morrison today, reincarnated as a cat at his grave site. One of the coolest cats EVER. We named him Morris. The picture is from a hike in Northern Israel at our tourguide Dani's kibbutz. I have some really great memories from this place. It is truly magical. GO IGGLES!

See you in Barcelona.

January 19th, 2009 - Barcelona, Spain

It's surprising that most people in Barcelona cannot speak English, but maybe even more surprising how little Spanish I remember... I've been using my Italian, but people don't really understand Italian either here unfortunately! Some of the Catalonians understand my Italian better though because it's much closer to their language. I found this out when I stumbled into a little Catalonian cafe in town while trying to get lost. This time I actually did get lost though because it took me a really long time to find out where the hell I was... Luckily, my audacity led me pretty far west, following one of the most intensely serene sunsets I have ever witnessed. The sky was pink, blue and orange with an incredible rainbow straight through it. Along the sunset lay the famous Gaudi church on the hill that looked like a medieval silhouette stencilling the sky. As always, my headphones were in my ears, playing the perfect score to my visuals. The music was Lhasa de Sela, a Spanish woman, whose music is so hauntingly beautiful it could make the dark seem warm. At one point I saw a local woman stare into the sunset and pray. The colors of the sky were bouncing off her face and dress. The image was straight out of an Almodovar film. Obnoxiously incredible. I spent the entire day just walking around the city, getting to know the surroundings and feeling the culture. I drank a lot of espresso, ate a baguette, and got a haircut/beard trim because I was starting to look like a caveman when approaching people speaking some gibberish language. Jackie dyed her hair dark brown and looks way more European now. This city doesn't cater very well to vegetarians, but I enjoy the difficulty in finding really good food. It was too easy to find good food in Paris! Since we are only staying in Spain for a couple days, Jackie and I decided to leave our packs in Paris with our friend Negar. It's been very easy travelling with just a small backpack. The only downside is that the airport confiscated all of my new dead sea salt shower products! The whole world is so excited for Obamas inauguration, and you can feel it everywhere. I couldn't even imagine people in the states getting excited for a new president of another country... Just some food for thought...

I've got another full day in each of the countries I've been travelling through. I'm going to try and savour the time as much as possible...

January 18th, 2009 - Paris, France

The Louvre was fantastic, I am extremely inspired right now... All I
want to do is paint! Last night was a blast as well... Jackie and I
were so tired from trekking all over the city that our late afternoon
nap turned into a full blown sleep. When I woke around 10pm, Jackie
couldn't open her eyes to get dinner- so I decided to get lost in
Paris... (which I have been trying to do since we got here!) I ended
up at a creperie, meeting all sorts of people. An Algerian man
studying translation was working as a barista at the creperie; we
began talking about many interesting things. We discussed Israel,
which by the way, people do not generally like at the moment. He
guessed that I was from California because I spoke slow and attempted
to speak French. We discussed linguistics for some time before the
night rush came through the Creperie. As more and more people started
showing up, I began to talk to people in the little French I have
learned thus far... I met a reggae musician that taught me some French
slang, and gave me advice on how to meet French women. The
advice worked, because I ended up at a bar with a 33 year old French
woman who spoke almost no English... (I think she was trying to seduce
me!) I didn't succumb to her smelly armpits. We drank a few glasses of
wine and talked about graphic design... She turned out to be a
creative director for Hermes handbags. Jackie is now trying to get me
to call her for a discount on a bag. While at the bar, I met a
Parisian Communist that thought I was interesting and wanted to pick
my brain. French people do not speak English well, and Justin does
not speak French well either, so the brain picking probably made me
sound mentally ill. Today, we are visiting Pere La Chaise, the famous
cemetery where Jim Morrison, Eugene Delacroix (finally saw his work at
the louvre...), Visconti, Suerat, George Mieles, Max Ernst, Stephane
Grappelli, Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein are all buried. The list
goes on, but I will spare you... I hope I can conjure up some more
inspiration there because I am already so excited to work... It is
raining today, which is ok for most activities in Paris, but another
thing we are attempting today is a Giant flea market that all the
Parisians love, called Le Saint Ouen. I hope the rain doesn't ruin it.
Later, I plan on eating a macaroon at Les Champs Elysee, "The most
beautiful avenue in the world". We leave for Barcelona early in the
morning, so before we head back to the Penthouse Suite, we will run
around outside The Louvre after sundown, which we have heard is one of
the most amazing things ever. I think the most amazing thing ever is
the Croque Monsieur Vegiterienne I ate in a little cafe in the gallery
district here... A piece of real toast with goat cheese and cucumber
slices - smeared with french mustard. Lets see if the macaroon can
hold its own...

January 16th, 2009 - Paris, France

I'm sitting in a quaint little bar called Le Voyageur in the heart of the Third District of Paris watching a quartet of French Gypsies swinging it away to the music of Django Reinhardt. I'm wearing a new suit that I bought this morning and my new winter jacket is by my side in case the amazing weather takes a turn for the worse. Jackie and I just finished our French Thai fusion down the street. We walked through the catacombs today and saw the Eiffel Tower. We ran through Notre Dam and drank some afternoon wine... Tomorrow we are visiting Le Louvre and I am sketching people inside a cafe. I have decided to buy an expensive block of cheese and some good bread to keep with me all day tomorrow. My beard has turned red and has grown out of control... I look like a lumberjack with a nice suit. Jackie and I decided to go for gold and upgrade our hostel room to a private suite. The four person room was the size of a baguette. Our new room is twice the size and half the amount of people. It's time to go back to the penthouse for a quick nap before we go out for drinks at another jazz club.

Over and out.

January 12th, 2009 - Masada and The Dead Sea

My Israel trip is almost finished, and it has gone by so fast that I have hardly had time to really take any of it in... Not really sure where I left off, maybe I was about to meet the Israeli soldiers that were to join my trip...? Well they have been traveling with us ever since, and I have really become friends with all ten of them. It is really great to have them around and get a better understanding of Israeli life, but even better to hear their stories about the war going on right now... I have learned so many things about the conflict and it's history along with what feels like every piece of Israeli history ever. The whole trip has been one very concise history bio in the likes of some discovery channel biopic. Today I climbed Masada, swam in the dead sea, rode a camel through the desert, and attempted to ride a donkey, although my feet were hitting the ground. Last night I slept at the Bedouin tents in the middle of the desert. Bedouins are Arabs that live sort of nomadic lives and have absolutely no material belongings other than coffee, tea, and musical instruments, which they live by. The night was a blast, and I played Jewish Geography for hours with the other groups from birthright. So far I have run into four people I know from home in the deserts of Israel. It's a funny feeling when your across the globe and you see someone from another life. I'm leaving for Paris in a couple days with Jackie and although we will surely see the louvre and other areas of interest, my real interests are as follows: drawing in cafes, finding the worlds best falafal, drinking coffee, finally relaxing.