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Would you drive 362 miles for Waffles?

Would you drive 362 miles for just anything?

We drove straight, we drove fast, and we drove to the nearest Waffle House to L.A.

Who’s we? It’s Zach, the host of Travel Bites You, and myself the producer of said show/youtube channel.

OH boy we had a blast. Played Zipcar games of our own making. Oh did I mention we took a Zipcar? Yeah Zipcars for roadtrips. Think about it. Don’t have to worry about gas, nothing. Just go.

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I once took a Zipcar up to San Francisco but the drive was boring on the I-5. The only thing that made this California road trip any better was the enchanted thought of having my first Waffle House since moving to the West Coast.

Take a few minutes and watch our episode of driving 362 miles to get to Waffle House. It’s a trip.

Guest Post: Zach Huddleston Takes Toronto’s Chinatown

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In most major North American cities, there’s a neighborhood colloquially or officially known as Chinatown. When immigrants from China and other parts of Asia were coming to the continent en masse around the turn of the century, they banded together to create ethnic enclaves – both out of a desire to surround themselves with familiar cultural elements and because they were often not allowed to live in more desirable parts of the city. 

They made the best of the situation, founding business that catered both to other Chinese as well as to their new European-descended neighbors. Left out of more legitimate areas of the economy, black markets also thrived in areas like gambling and opium. 

As new waves of Asians immigrate to North America and the children and grandchildren of previous immigrant generations come of age in a new country, Chinatowns have changed. As more wealthy immigrants moved in the 80’s and 90’s, they preferred palatial estates in the suburbs to the urban Chinatown setting. Suburbs like Monterrey Park in Los Angeles sprung up to cater to these new waves and the Chinatowns they left behind became more focused on tourism. Toronto has five suburban areas with large Asian populations.

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In Toronto’s old Chinatown, the Fung family has owned Xam Yu Seafood for generations. The restaurant specializes in a style of seafood from the Canton region of China, a peninsula around Hong Kong on the southern coast of the country. More garlicky than peppery and with an abundance of shellfish and mollusks, the restaurant has a loyal clientele that has allowed them to stay true to the original cuisine without having to dumb it down for the masses. Stir fried lobster is both a sight to see and an amazing meal.

 

Crossroads of the World

Epcot before Epcot: A Hollywood Landmark – Crossroads of the World

The pictures begin in black & white or sepia. They are slightly faded but the history remains. It opened up just as all of Hollywood does now, with great fanfare, with star power. A ribbon was cut and the masses were ushered into Crossroads of the World an outdoor shopping plaza.

It was the 1930′s and those who came, bought. Those who came, walked around the world. From country to country you could get your bonnets and handkerchiefs from an Italian pavilion, or a Moroccan shaped store.
After a few decades the place fell into disrepair. In the 70′s a developer bought it and refurbished the place, rather restored it. Yet didn’t open it to shopping stores. Now it’s filled with production offices, and design firms, not looking for a swanky suite but rather four walls and some room to work.

But you can still visit Crossroads of the world today. It’s like walking in a mini Epcot Center. From country to country. From famous office to famous office. Hitchcock had an office here. Good Charlotte has an office here now. There are 2nd floor windows open with the sounds of typewriters or keyboards. Writers and producers making real Hollywood magic.

What’s L.A.’s Weirdest Museum?

There are a ton of great little museums in L.A. When visiting Southern California, staying indoors looking at dioramas might be the last thing on your list. But if you’re already sunburnt and don’t want to drop a hundred bucks on a day at Disneyland, then try one of the odd, quirky museums scattered across L.A.

One of my particular favorite ones is essentially a front for Scientology. It’s the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum. Which portrays Psychiatry as… an industry of death. There’s no beating around the bush. From the start it’s a laser focussed attack on this industry. Mainly at the end highlighting the devastating effects of withdrawal.

What this museum more accurately shows is a thought process, a propaganda. Any medicine when looked at in such a way could have a similar museum dedicated to it’s atrocities. I’m not defending anyone here, rather I’d like to say that this is a free museum. It’s in the center of Hollywood. You can go through anytime you’re in the area. Free parking, Free entry. Cool off for a minute and then proceed on your way down the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Actually it’s a couple blocks from the walk of fame)

a ship on the water

Morning Earthquake in Los Angeles Is Like Every Morning on a Ship

 

Downtown View of LAThis morning’s earthquake felt a little strange to me. Maybe it was because it was my first official… “HOLY MOLY, Do we have to run out of this building right now?” feeling. Also it was because I was in the middle of sleeping and in that moment of rocking, shaking, I felt like I was back on a ship.

Spending five years on ships is one thing. Spending a year recovering is another.  I had flashbacks this morning to the ship. Every morning when we came into port, my room, entire life, would violently shake. This was normal. This was life aboard a ship.

a ship on the water

a ship on the water

For the first two years of my ship board career I had the most forward cabin possible. I lived just on the other side of the wall from the Carpenter shop, the Upholstery shop, and the Electric workshop. Drilling and working stopped early in the night, the partying next door might start, then the morning came and the ship’s bow thrusters jumped into action like nothing else could. The large turbines shooting water away so the ship could effortlessly glide into it’s dock. While all my top shelved dvds and stuff came tumbling down.

This morning I woke to my ship not docking.. but my building coming alive. The floor wobbling. My heart pounding because I thought in the darkness I was on a ship. How did I end up on a ship? I’m not on a ship. I’m in Los Angeles.

It’s not until just now, at this moment of writing that I feel like it was death defying.  Because it was such a daily occurrence, my body got used to it.  But I’m a Cali Boy now. Gotta get used to this new Earthquake awareness.

Did my life flash before my eyes? I was half asleep. I did think. Where is my fiancee? Oh she just signed on to a ship today. It’s her 6th contract and I’m so proud of her. A morning flirt with death and danger brings me back to her, now so far away. Still far away.

What will you do with your Post Earthquake day? It also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day so Party Harder everyone! We’ve lived!

 

 

 

Jump for joy!

Can Amtrak Offer Comedian Residencies Too?

Literally within the past few days a tweet has turned into reality.  LA times reports Amtrak starts writer’s residency after a tweet about it caught their interest. The Wire calls it Absolutely Awesome. It was Jessica Gross who got the first trip, but it was Alexander Chee who dreamed the whole thing up.

Jump for joy!

Jump for joy!

So the whole thing is happening. Twitter is abuzz over it. Every writer within a mile of a computer is asking for their turn on this wild, slow ride, train from one place to another. It’s truly one of those things that could turn Amtrak from a struggling, in debt, company into a Social Media wunderkind.

Rush hour in Yokohama, Japan

Rush hour in Yokohama, Japan

As a writer myself, I’ve dreamed of long train rides, and long pieces of writing. Dream and done. As a traveler, I’ve traced a few dotted lines across European fields on trains. Even took a 16 hour train from Mongolia to

China (just for a visa renewal) and then swiftly returned on same 16 hour train back. Traveled joyfully in Japanese commuter trains. But Amtrak leaves nothing of Joy on my memories.

But a writer’s will is to sit in a solitary space for a while, come out of it and let the world know what the product of that was.  The folks on the train have no idea what’s going on. Maybe it’s some 30 something who returned to college and is finishing up a term paper.  Maybe it’s a handsome model trying his lick at the old pen and paper.  Or it’s a weird bearded fat man who keeps farting and giggling to himself.

This Writer’s Residency is not scalable and not conducive to meeting up. Writers want their privacy. They want a few hours alone. Not to be bumped into by a sharp elbow, or a drunk stagger.  A residency on a train may be better for those who are accustomed to hostile work environments, entertaining, and talkative.

How about Amtrak send a couple of comedians on their trains. Brighten traveler’s days, and provide a few odd, weird notes about the surroundings.  A quick chat with the conductor will provide a comedian with enough material to entertain for a half hour set. Sometimes he’ll just make it up as he goes.  A comedian is used to performing on their feet and jabbing when needed.

Let’s make it happen Amtrak. Let’s do this thing we call awesomeness. Amtrak, I’m ready for you to turn from that stubborn old coot into a new media darling.

How To Order at a Jewish Deli

New Yorkers are accustomed to a Jewish Deli. Floridians too. (because it’s all former New Yorkers) But I’m not sure there is a large population that knows what kasha is, or kishka, or Kugel.

It’s funny that most of the menu’s items start with the letter K but it’s true.  Enjoy this video I produced about what exactly is on the menu at a Jewish Deli.

And when you’re done, you’ll know what to … or not to… order next time you walk in.