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Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Travel notes, not necessarily about the beer
Warning, this is mostly off-topic. Or, maybe you like that sort of thing. Traveling, particularly far from home, often gives me a chance to put a lot of things in to perspective. And, believe it or not, it doesn't always involve beer! This contemplation typically comes when aboard a plane or train, when there is very little distraction apart from the random jerk that I'll come back to later. As I ease my way back into a "normal life" here in suburban Philadelphia, I'm looking back on notes I tapped out during the long nine hour flight home from Zurich--at least it was nonstop--just a mere couple of days ago. I was reflecting upon some observations that I made along the way; once again, not really much to do with beer. I'm guessing that you'll be able to spot some familiar pet peeves of your own as you read through the list. I also made a list of the most influential music played through my headphones during this trip. I have a set of music that I always keep on my iPod for inducing a tranquil travel chi. And, then there are usually new batches of music that I move in and out of rotation just to mix things up. What you'll find below is a beer guy's dozen (that'd be 13, just like a baker's) of songs and artists that were most memorable to me on this European trip. (in no particular order of annoyance level) -Please return your seat to an upright position. Well, let's get this one out of the way first. The inability for reclining jerks not to be aware of the impact of their inability to sit still is just one simple example of how incredible I find that so many people can be so absolutely unaware of the people around them and the impact that their behavior and actions have on others. Yes, I said that in all one breath. Just one more reason to hate the act of flying in today's aviation environment. -Clean ship. I'm far from a germ-a-phobe, but I wish the rest of society from workplaces to gas stations and grocery stores was even half as concerned about cleanliness and sanitation as a cruise ship's staff is. -Don't phone home. From Holland to Germany to France to Switzerland, people obviously use their phones and other handheld devices. But, when in pubs, restaurants, and other social situations, I just simply did not recognize what feels like an epidemic abuse of technology here in the States. That goes for kids with gaming devices as well. -Don't ask, cuz I'm not telling. Steve Beaumont, like many, does not like to be asked "the question", particularly after midnight. Why is it that some people--particularly the ones that find beer so "curious"--insist on insisting that we have a favorite-of-all-time-beer? And, further, why are they not okay when we can logically explain why it's virtually impossible to ever name a favorite beer? I mean, c'mon, how about "what's your favorite song of all time"? Can you answer that one? -Old is relative. What will be left standing in the U.S. 500-1,000 years from now? Even the buildings that we consider "old" here in North America (100-200 years old, maybe a rare 250-300 year old one here or there), will they still be standing in another 500 years? I can't imagine of what has been built in the past 50 years, what will still remain standing in even another few dozen years, let alone another few hundred. Our stadiums get replaced every few decades or so. How is it that I saw castles almost 1,000 years old and residential buildings still inhabited that are 300-500 years old across Europe? -On my honor. Buying a ticket for public transit that will rarely ever be checked or enforced?! Maybe in Europe. I couldn't imagine this working in Philadelphia, let alone most other major metropolitan areas across the U.S. -Pathetic state of airline industry and service. From grumpy service to cramped seating in coach class, the state of the airline industry and customer service has never been worse. Take, for example, after the jerk's (described above) seat had been thrust back into my chest, I was no longer able to bend over to pick up something off the floor that I had dropped. If you've flown any time in the, say, last 10 years or so, I'm sure you can commiserate. -It's a sporting life. No one seems as pop culture obsessed (from sports to Hollywood to "reality") as in the U.S. Of course, people love their soccer (futbol?) across Europe and I did have interesting conversations with knowledgeable baseball fans from Canada (they still like Roy Halladay), but at the end of the day I get the sense that more conversations in the States start and end with sports and television (particularly "reality" shows) than anywhere else in the world. Enough curmudgeonism, on to the music... (in no particular order other than alphabetical) Cat Empire, Fishes. I've been to several Cat Empire concerts and have never heard this song live...only on their live album. Just another great example of infectious happy music and positivity from this Australian band. Diego's Umbrella, Viva La Juerga. Because we were basically a gypsy, beer-drinking party on the Rhine and Moselle rivers and we demonstrated some of the spirit of this song. Doyle Bramhall, A Birds Nest on the Ground. A guitar that speaks, nuff said? Dr. John, My Indian Red & Didn't He Ramble. Between these two songs, Dr. John adds color to the already colorful tapestry of "real" New Orleans. Jackson Browne, Rock me on the Water. A song I routinely play during every flight. John Denver, Country Road. A guilty pleasure? Maybe it would have made more sense if the lyrics were something like "country river...take me home." Or "country air..." Basically it was a song that made me thinking of going home after 17 days away. Makes sense, eh? Johnny Cash, A Satisfied Mind. Love the lyrics that go something like "The wealthiest person--Is a pauper at times--Compared to the man--With a satisfied mind". Apply Mr. Cash's voice to this country classic and you get great stuff for the ears and soul. Lauren Hart, God Bless America. I typically don't go for the jingoism associated with a lot of "patriotic" songs, but I love Lauren Hart's voice and it seemed appropriate as we were circling Philadelphia. Melissa Etheridge, I Run for Life. Because this is one of the most deeply meaningful running-related songs that I listen for to get me motivated to run. Oktoberfest music. I had a couple of Oktoberfest-themed albums on the playlist. Hey, when in Deutschland, right? Ray LaMontagne, Hey Me, Hey Mama. His music can be a bit droning like a lot of similarly-styled music, but this one has a little something extra...maybe it's the banjo picking, the trombone, the trumpet behind this foot-tapper. Stevie Wonder, Living for the City. The "deep" storytelling told in this song on the epic album, Innervisions, is delivered like only Stevie Wonder can in this classic. The Commitments or Wilson Pickett, Mustang Sally. One of my favorite songs of all time (but notice I didn't say absolutely, definitely, indubitably my one and only favorite of all time!) Toby Keith/Willie Nelson, Beer for my Horses. Talk about Americana. What else says this more than Toby, Willie, country music, beer, and horses. There you have it. What are we if we can't be honest with each other?