Mar 29, 2012

Spotted: Super Mario in Lisboa, Portugal

Soundtrack to 'Mario Art'
The Super Mario Bros Super Show Title Theme

Spotted in Lisboa, Portugal. 2pm, Segunda. 16 Maio 2011.
I stumbled onto Maria as she was putting up this legal piece at Chiado, right by the Metro stop. I visited her periodically over 3 days, helping out and generally being a nuisance. She directed me to a group exhibition she was a part of down the road which I checked out.
- See more of Maria's art
- Find a selection of works from other Artists I met in Europe: Free Art Exhibitionism

 Does anyone know if this piece is still there?

Mar 26, 2012

Hanging out: Smoking, drinking and 'Stream of consciousness YouTubing' around Europe

Through networking, Couchsurfing and the general goodwill you get as a traveler you often find yourselves in homes with new friends. They're usually young minded and open, former travelers and students. I've had the pleasure of experiencing this in each Country I visited around Europe.

Much like we're all used to, friends gather over drinks often times smoking. Sometimes there's an instrument at play and recently for this generation a Laptop. As the outsider in these interactions its a pleasure to get a snapshot of another culture and social group even for just a night. One thing I've found universal across cultures has been 'Stream of consciousness YouTubing', its the ultimate window for getting up to speed with a groups' frame of reference and Cultural history.

Lev Grossman writes for Time Magazine:
The Beast With A Billion Eyes
There's never been an object like YouTube in human history. It gets 4,000,000,000 page views a day... Human civilization now generates massive quantities of video footage simply as a by-product of its daily functioning... Before YouTube there was no central catchment for all that video; now it drains into a single reservoir, where we as a species can pan through it and wallow in it endlessly.
Here is an incomplete catalogue of how Youtube has helped in the "getting to know you" stage with new friends around Europe:
1. I was staying with Germans from the SpoHo in Köln, the most prestigious Sports University in Germany. We spent an evening watching Surf Videos curated by an avid skater.
2. I stayed with Brazilian Erasmus students for the month in Porto. Though we had a resident Guitarist who could kickstart the party, we sometimes looked to YouTube for Karaoke
3. I hung with charming girls in Kaunas, Lithuania. They were daring travelers and videographers. During a get together the girls screened Videos of their recent hitchhiking expedition to Spain.
4. I hung with saavy Turkish students in their Istanbul Attic. They educated me on the history of Anatolian rock and acquainted me with the music of Grace Jones.

5. I was couchsurfing in Ventspils, Latvia along with two other guests. At a house gathering the Latvians played some humorous shorts educating us on the playful stereotypes heaped on the neighbouring Estonians. Much to the chagrin of our fellow Estonian guest.

6. Was couchsurfing in Tilburg, Holland on the eve of their annual Gay event Roze Maandag. My lesbian host and her good friend were fans of theatre, they curated videos of Comedian Eddie Izzard and the 2010 Oscars hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

7. I slept and exhibited at an art Gallery in Hamburg. My gracious host curated videos highlighting the anarchic genius of mainstream rockers Rammstein and off-kilter performance artist Jonathan Meese.

- Limerence: Snowboarding, Skating, Surfing, Christmas and Love
- Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania - Part II

Mar 19, 2012

Pete Holmes and The Sklar Brothers: Performing, possibly failing - That's living the dream

"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough"
- Unknown
Lose Yourself
Yesterday I had an interview to return to my old job. Despite the fact I was returning to familiar territory with familiar faces, I found myself having butterflies in my stomach. I don't recall having been this tense my entire year abroad.

After playing basketball socially all over Europe my hope was to continue playing at home which I rarely did prior to my trip. As I drove to my first game with ex-workmates, I felt a nervousness I never felt when I was playing with complete strangers on the other side of the world. I guess the familiar isn't quite in my comfort zone, a fascination with anonymity perhaps?

In preparation for the Ribeira jump with the Brazilian Safados
Everyone has a different definition for what they feel is "going out on a limb". I know for me that's when I feel most alive, when its time to perform. Comedians the Sklar Brother in conversation with Pete Holmes talk about the thrill of being on stage and the optics of living the dream:

You made it Weird with Pete Holmes - Sklar Brothers on living the dream
SKLAR BROTHERS: (78m 40s) When you think about what performing is, whatever the scenario even if you're in front of the most friendly crowd ever. Performing is you taking yourself out of your comfort zone... especially if you're trying new material and literally saying "I could fail right now".

You're doing what 99% of people never do once in their day ever. Or in there life in a year. You are saying on a nightly basis, we're gonna put ourselves up and put ideas out there to be shit on in front of our very eyes

SKLARS: In front of you.
HOLMES: I wanna see how this happens.

SKLARS: Respond. So you're taking yourself and literally living life to its fullest... We had to remind ourselves of that because its that scary.

HOLMES: Isn't that brilliant because living life to its fullest doesn't feel like you think it will and it takes so long to get comfortable with it. At first the greatest thing I've ever done used to make me vomit '8 Mile' style. I had to tell myself "I'm living the dream"
Find previous Pete Holmes podcast references below:
Pete Holmes collection: Adjacent experiences
- Zach Cregger: Being a kid again and the power of "play"
- Matt Besser: Travel coincidences and Counting the serendipities
- Duncan Trussell: Traveling, living the dream and remembering it
- Kyle Kinane: Being excited everyday
- The Sklar Brothers: Performing, possibly failing - That's living the dream
- A question answered with a quote: Comedy Podcasts

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

Mar 16, 2012

Coming Home from a year abroad. Reverse Culture shock and beating the travel Blues: The Hurt Locker (2008)

hurt locker, travel blues, adrenalin
The closing scenes of 'Hurt Locker' (2008) capturing the call to adventure and
adrenalin rush that beckons people back. Something travelers wrestle with also.
There's always a period of adjustment when coming home after a year abroad. Settling back into the grind of daily life you encounter people who don't even realise you were gone. Conversely those aware of your absence show little interest to what you did while you were away. Then you come to realise everyone's been living eventful lives (marriage, divorce, mortgages, promotions, kids). You just hadn't been paying attention. You needed your own experience and some time away to get the fresh perspective to see what's always been there.

The more you experience, the more you realise nothing is new - Its just new to you. I've started to have a new appreciation for the stories people tell, messages in movies resonate more.

If you ever get the blues after returning from an extended stay away from home. Don't feel so bad, its human to crave returning to environments where we felt invigorated even though we belong elsewhere. While you're dying to reenlist for your next adventure don't forget that there are others itching to getaway again with their backpacks also.

VIDEO: "Love the Adrenalin" - The Hurt Locker Ending

The Hurt Locker (2008)
Staff Sergeant William James: [Speaking to his son] You love playing with that. You love playing with all your stuffed animals. You love your Mommy, your Daddy. You love your pajamas. You love everything, don't ya? Yea. But you know what, buddy? As you get older... some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you'll realize it's just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And the older you get, the fewer things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it's only one or two things. With me, I think it's one.
- Transcript: Travelers depression and feeling the pain
- Backpacking Round the World Trip - A modern day "Hero's Journey" (Joseph Campbell)
- When fireworks underwhelm: Returned Soldier Kyle Wilson and Comedian Pete Holmes "feel nothing"

Mar 10, 2012

Maiden 'Loz in Transit' Wallpaper

travel, blog, shit, motivation
This will be the first of many 'Loz in Transit' Wallpapers.
Please tweet and Tumblr to show your appreciation.

The photo is from my time in Lisboa, Portugal.
The line is from a poem I wrote on a Sampler post.

Mar 6, 2012

Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)

<< crossposted on 'The 30 Home Games' blog

VIDEO: Aladdin - Do You Trust Me?

During my weakest point in Istanbul, I would think of this famous Disney clip and amuse myself by humming 'A Whole New World'. My intent shifted from sarcasm to optimism.


This is a cautionary tale. I myself have never been scammed in the following way. My brother was scammed in similar fashion in China (Tea Ceremony scam) and my good German friend experienced another variation in Malaysia (blackjack scam). My American running mate in Istanbul ran through the complete course taking 5hrs total. Fortunately he escaped unscathed, no Standover men forcing him to the ATM. I joke that his scammer was in a 'Jules Winnfield-like 'transitional period' and just let him go. The "Clip-joint" scam is explained below
The Single Male Scam
One of these is the "Let's Have a Drink" Scam which results in your paying a drinks bill of hundreds or even thousands of dollars or euros... While you wander around on your own in the evening, you're approached by a well-dressed man who speaks good English. He chats with you, then he suggests you have a drink together, and leads you to a bar or nightclub that's in on the scam.
VIDEO: Scam City Istanbul (National Geographic)

Below are a sample of the dozen interactions I experienced, these examples on their own shouldn't raise any red flags but do illustrate the variety of scripts. Most of these stories happen from 4pm onwards, as it approaches dark. I am dressed casually (hoodie, trackpants, no bags/camera) and all my interactions began with approaches in English, inexplicably they would say "Sorry, I thought you were Turkish".

Just like making a sale or attracting a partner - the routine is about triggering certain human behaviours
Appearance: Young, Mobile phone in ear
Location: Sultanahmet Square, walking alongside
Story: Kurdish man on holidays from Antalya
Approach: (Phone in ear) "Excuse me which one is Haghia Sophia and which one is the Blue Mosque?"

Appearance: Older, Very well dressed
Location: Galata köprüsü (main walkbridge with Fishermen), In my path then stops suddenly to enjoy the view with me
Approach: "How far down do you think it is?"

Appearance: Young, dressed for going out
Location: Taksim Beyoğlu
Story: Visiting Istanbul from Izmir, staying at a hostel
Approach: "We are staying at x Hostel... they suggested this bar worth checking out"
Scams are a subversion of the ordinary interactions we have in daily life. Preying on our better nature, they are most effective when they address a want or a need. Scammers see these as 'vulnerabilities'. When our house is on fire, its reasonable to trust the first person we see with a uniform and hose.

When the want or a need is a "free lunch" or something sexual, its understandable why others would be unsympathetic but more often than not the wants are innocent. In the case of the Istanbul clip-joint scams, it could be a yearning for good company, seeking a local connection or just an interesting night out. A scammer is a 'Man with a plan', they target wayward travelers offering direction and directions.

I like to travel with an open mind and have found that all my best experiences in life involve me trusting in others. Most new relationships and experiences are founded on this principle, we use our value systems to balance Risk VS Reward then we make instinctual decisions. On-the-street interactions is how I arrived at many of my best experiences traveling. I didn't want to lose this aspect of my journey. This episode certainly made me more mindful and more grateful of the good fortune I'd had up to this point.

Everyday people are being scammed. Tourists are soft targets because they often stick out and are often more trusting. Looking through forums discussing Travel scams I've found people tend to break down into these types:
1) Victims - ranging from philosophical to vengeful
2) Cautious know-it-alls
3) Defensive locals

Instead of depriving myself of a great Turkish experience (which I did find) because I was afraid of unwanted attention, I instead calibrated my state of mind. The more I reflect on this time, the more I realise how human the experience was. As an adventurous person by nature, I would have been perfect fodder for this scam thankfully things transpired differently. I found myself fascinated and obsessed with this stomach-turning game, it was when I read this that everything changed:
CAREFUL: SCAM in Istanbul...
... My guy was very well dressed and well spoken, when I told him I was just going to check my email and then return to my hotel because I was tired, he said he also needed to find a net-cafe and skype his family (he told me he was a business man from out of town !) and he even paid for my net use. I even got to say hello to his wife and child, so how could I suspect a lovely family guy ? Anyway, much the same as everyone else...
- BP007
Enter Basketball...
- Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

Mar 5, 2012

30 Home Games To-do-list maps: Western Conference

Western Conference map
nba, map, northwest
Northwest Division map
nba, pacific, map
Pacific Division map
nba, southwest, map
Southwest Division map
Head over to the 30 Home Games blog and check out my tentative to-do-list for the Western Conference. Tell your friends!

Explore my to-do list for the States of the Western Conference

1) Northwest Division
Colorado | Minnesota | Oklahoma | Oregon | Utah
2) Pacific Division
Arizona | California
3) Southwest Division
New Orleans | Tennessee | Texas

30HG Destination Spotlight
Wieden + Kennedy, Nike Kitchen (Portland, Oregon)
Troublemaker Studios (Austin, Texas)
Pixar Studios (Emeryville, California)
WrestleMania 29 and Indy Wrestling (MetLife Stadium. East Rutherford, New Jersey)