Tag Archives: travel

teenage wasteland: wishing I’d been a punk rocker in my prime

24 Nov

Last Sunday I discovered that when surrounded by London’s original punk rockers, it is difficult to appear cool and collected.

But pear cider helps.

I was invited to a show at the Scala to watch Agent Provocateur, Chiefs of Relief, Bow wow wow, and Adam Ant.

Clearly, my air-guitar skills were no match against the professionals.

I mean really, these were band members from a scene I only wish I had been cool enough (or old enough for that matter) to be a part of.  Trust me, had I been British and a teenager in the late eighties, I would have plaid-skirted it up with the best of them.

As it was, I happened to meet them at 29, over beers, in the VIP bar of the show.  Not a teenager anymore by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely still awestruck to be in the same room as a former Sex Pistol and the many talented punks I was happily watching onstage.

I chatted it up with some of the band members, but tried to remain as quiet as possible for fear that my obvious lack of knowledge regarding music would deem me intolerably boring.  I’m pretty sure I just looked like a groupie anyway, so for the most part the band members ignored me.

I mean seriously, I’m a wandering menace.  They are punk rockers.

My narcissism does not reach so far as to question who is cooler here.  Come on.  There is no question.

-Insert that doe-eyed stare that always gets me into trouble here-

So to report to any of you who still have a place in your heart for the Brit punk scene-let me state, these guys are awesome.

I even got in a discussion about Obama with one of them.  Which I can assure you, I did not see coming.

For the record, musicians are my kryptonite.  Doesn’t matter if they’re old.  Doesn’t matter if I’m not even attracted to them.  They rock, they know it.  I know it.  I end up gazing.

In my next life I am coming back as a rockstar.  Maybe in a Zilla costume, but a rockstar nonetheless.

All the pear cider in the world can’t bring on the confidence of standing onstage, fist-pumping, leg-kicking, and collecting admirers.

God. Bless. Punk. Rock.


Near death experience in a Parisian airport

13 May

A peanut-butter m&m tried to kill me in the Charles de Gualle airport.

I refer to it as one of my near-death experiences, though the only human witness to the event claims I am ridiculously over-dramatic.  Easy for him to say, the m&m never clawed its white gloved-hands into his esophagus while performing variations of River Dance with its tiny bright shoes.

But before I get ahead of myself-allow me to set the stage for you.

Picture this guy.

Picture me.

I think we can agree-someone was gonna go down.

As I sat innocently waiting to board my flight to the Dominican Republic, then-fiance at my side, I decided to enjoy a few m&m’s, not realizing of course-that the yellow assassin huddled eagerly in the package.  Plotting his demise of my throat he patiently planned his attack as I eagerly thrust my hand into the bag, and attempted to chat with my companion.

For his part, Luka was reading a newspaper and clearly wanted me to leave him alone after I had insisted on twirling the wheels of our check-in luggage whilst he explained his visa status to the Air France woman.  They had rapidly debated in French and I had taken the opportunity to sing the theme song of a French cartoon from the seventies about a love-able seal while spinning the wheels on the upturned suitcase.

Not loudly-mind you, more like humming to pass the time while the visa situation was under control.

So, for his part, the companion was eager to read the newspaper and ignore the antics of one very excited-about-vacation-menace.

I munched away on a few sleeper candies while he read the sports page.  I asked him a few questions, receiving mumbles and deep sighs in return.

His evident desire for peace and quiet resolved in my determination to entertain myself and eat my candy.  Silently.

But it was not to be.

For just at that moment, the stealth-choco-covered-peanut and my fingers were to meet for the first time.  I gotta give it to the little devil, he remained motionless and peaceful when I grabbed him (I suppose it’s part of his melt-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand contract), but then cleverly launched himself past my mouth, directly into my throat, and began performing the aforementioned jig.

Quickly losing oxygen, I attempted to get Luka’s attention.  At first with a tap on the shoulder, followed by a punch to the knee.

When neither of these tactics were successful, I thrashed around on the floor as if being attacked by Jaws.  Fearful that my soul might too eagerly jump into the light that was sure to appear at any moment, I frantically mimed out that an m&m was kicking his poofy white Reeboks up and down the interior of my throat-sure to bring death swiftly.

My hands went from the bag, to my legs as I tried to jig-to my throat.  Eyes bulging out of my head, cheeks turning bright red I chose interpretive dance to communicate my distress.  Hoping against all odds that Luka would understand, which thankfully-he did.

He softly patted my back, listened to me cough for a moment-made sure I was actually breathing, handed me a bottle of water, and said:

‘you ok?’.

Right.  As if anyone who has just won an epic battle against a candy-coated monster can be simply, ‘ok’.

The next ten minutes before boarding passed along in silence as I pictured my conquered nemesis slowly dying in my belly-surely devastated at his own failure to take down his Zilla target.

I haven’t encountered any undercover agents in my candy-bags since then, but I’m sure there’s at least one more.  Next time, I’ll be ready.

Twain’s example

9 Apr

Mark Twain once wrote, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example”.

I am convinced he wrote this after visiting Switzerland.

I can just picture him now, stumbling up the stairs of an old apartment building after drinking too much bourbon (undoubtedly smuggled into Europe).  Swaying, hiccoughing, and reaching his front door-he likely found a note that said something along the lines of:

Dear Sir,

Please stop walking in your apartment past ten p.m.  Also, you were spotted in the hallway past midnight, this is unacceptable.  Oh, and tell your lady visitors not to wear their heels in the apartment.  It is too loud.

Thank you,

your neighbor

The Swiss are more obsessed with rules than any culture I have ever encountered.  For example, it is forbidden to use a vacuum on Sundays, and to flush a toilet past ten p.m.

Don’t even get me started on laundry.  I am positive that any homicides occurring in the ‘neutral’ nation have been committed as a result of a laundry dispute.

I’m not kidding, doing your laundry on the wrong day (everyone gets a day) is a complete sin worthy of stoning.  Reactions to such behavior include but not limited to:

Leaving notes on ones front door.

Leaving notes on the washing machine of the building.

Telling all other neighbors to watch out for the ‘rule-breaker’.

Long-winded lectures that continue long after the intended recipient attempts to communicate she cannot understand a word coming out of the Swiss mouth.

It is a strange, strange country that I don’t know too much about, but I can say that I definitely prefer the French approach to rules than the Swiss.

The Swiss treat the green walking man at a crosswalk like Jesus.  I’m with Twain, it’s just plain annoying.  If no cars are approaching, cross the damn street.

Lest we all become sheep.

Someone pass the bourbon, I’m toasting Mark.

Who I am

23 Mar

I’m Ryan, some people call me Ry.  You can if you want to, if not-I have also been known to respond to Ryzilla, Zilla, Buttface, Menace, and Blondie.

I once spent a year referring to my brother as Mutant.  I now call him kid-Ginger.  He features in the blog sometimes.

I haven’t had a real address in two years.  I’ve been traveling and writing.  I am in love with Paris and I haven’t lived in the US since 2006.

I have an obsession with sandwiches.  Seriously.  Making them is an art form, and I’m all about it.  If you serve me a dry sandwich, I really don’t know if our friendship will survive.

I write stories about my life, but I try to keep love and dating out of it unless it just happens to be something so ridiculous I feel like sharing.

I was never a cheerleader because I have the coordination of an ox and lack the proper motivation for flipping around in a skirt with a bunch of girls who would kill me in their sleep if given the chance.

I was definitely a drama geek.  I’ve been known to dress up in costumes for no reason, and have an ability to convince others to join the festivities.  Nothing screams good-time like wandering a public park dressed as a giant foam condiment (ketchup, mustard, or mayo-foreign options also up for discussion).

People who bite their silverware should be shot.

That was a hoot.  Glad we talked.

Zilla’s life-plan

13 Mar

Garlic bread crumbs cover my shirt, my dog is asleep on my legs, and there’s a near-empty box of ibuprofen on the coffee table.  I’ve been contemplating making popcorn for the past hour, and so far today I’ve gone through two buckets of green tea and a considerable amount of chocolate chip cookies.  If procrastination of life-planning was an art, I’d have lost an ear by now.

So must get started.  Must tie on cape, inflate muscles, slap this curvy figure into a spandex super-hero costume, and figure out what to do with my life.  Here I go…

(insert blank stare, sigh, nose crinkle, sip of coffee, spill coffee on the part of cape hanging over shoulders, yawn, another sigh-and now we’ve returned to the blank stare)

Did I mention that my super-hero costume has spikes down the back?

Cause it does.

Maybe I should wear it to job interviews.  Talk about making a first impression, those folks won’t know what hit em.  It kind of reminds me of the inflatable dinosaur I used to keep in my car in high-school.  Except that was Spike, and he was red.  The costume is slightly different, because of course-it is Ryzilla.  Not a dino, but a distant cousin.  Who doesn’t want to hire the distant cousin of a dinosaur?

Course first I gotta figure out what jobs to apply for…..

Focus Zilla, focus.

(stifle yawn, tiny growl, shift dog off legs onto couch, sit up straight, one firm nod of the head-and presto-focused face on)

Well I have a double Bachelors degree and two Masters degrees so that should help-not as much as the costume, but good as a foundation of my qualifications.  A foundation of awesomeness, if you will.

Plus I like to write, take pictures AND make movies.  Insert the basement of my split-level home of qualifications.

Now how to get up the stairs….

(popcorn urge taking over, requiring giant glass of water, butter stains appearing on costume, eating faster as contemplation increases, brow-furrowed, feeling bloated, can’t stop-too tasty,  share some kernels with dog, get up to wash hands, return to computer, ready for it to reveal answers)

Computer screen still as blank as before….

Well, at least I’ve got the costume.

Any employment ideas for the well-educated, artistic, mildly-delusional distant-cousin of a dinosaur?

All suggestions to be taken into account.

Parisian metro

11 Mar

If all the world’s a stage, then the Parisian metro should be raising ticket prices.  Theatre of all forms lurk inside the cavernous walls of the this city’s underground public transportation system.

The absurd, grotesque, comical, romantic, in-the-round, fourth-wall, and musical all manage to co-exist throughout the tunnels, stops, and cars as one hops from location to location.  Above ground the city maintains a gorgeous plethora of sites, art, and architecture,  but underneath-the actors never stop playing.

Perhaps you need a short cast-bio to really understand what I’m talking about.  Let me display tonight’s program for those of you who are new to Paris.

The role of the absurd shall be performed by the woman I once witnessed changing her pantyhose in a metro car, while it was moving, while standing.

The role of the grotesque has a profound number of understudies, but tonight shall be performed by the man who pulled out his penis and rubbed it while staring at me.  When I refused to look at his disgusting member, he spat on my shoes.  And they were my Chucks, which are my favorite.

The role of the comic shall be performed by the idiot who muttered disgusting profanity to my friend and I before attempting to dive off the metro as the doors were closing. I say attempted because his jacket got stuck in the door and he required our help out of the situation before being let free.

The romantic goes to the homeless couple I once witnessed having sex underneath a piece of cardboard, next to a poster displaying a Louvre exhibit.  Seems the two were quite taken by the art housed above them.

The in-the-round theatre exhibit goes out to the groups of little Parisian thugs who like to enter one car at opposite ends and move their way toward the middle, harassing everyone in their way.  In particular, the group who once set the ends of my friend’s hair on fire, and then stole her phone.

The fourth-wall acting method shall be performed by the schizophrenic who lurks on line ten.  He once sat next to me and shouted about farm animals for ten minutes (there was no one else on the train)-but never acknowledged my presence.  I must say, he kept that fourth wall barrier up quite well.

and finally

The musical cast shall be performed by a collection of the many accordion players who insist on playing the obnoxious songs they think we adore.  These cast members will undoubtedly be shoving their overturned hats in your faces immediately after completing said songs.  Never mind that you’ve already paid for a ticket to ride the metro-they have separate licenses allowing them further income.  From you.  For no reason other than playing an instrument that should have died with the polka.

If you need me, I’ll be up above.  Walking my dog.  Sorry, just couldn’t bring myself to buy another ticket.