virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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Caffeinated Comics and Quirky Cars

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee (with Jerry Seinfeld)

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee (with Jerry Seinfeld)

[Note: If you're a linguistic puritan, please excuse the liberty I took in my title for this post. Caffeinated Comics is actually a misnomer given that Jerry Seinfeld's latest project involves more than just standup comedians, but it conjures up a droll image that I couldn't resist. Sorry.]

Are you ready for season three of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee? I am. And despite

I’ve never been much of a television guy, but as a bartender in graduate school I developed an appetite for Jerry Seinfeld, pretty much the only personality in the perennially-on glow box over my head that cut through the bar buzz. He’s funny. He’s smart. He’s articulate. And he’s a great storyteller.

Jerry Seinfeld Doodle

Jerry Seinfeld Doodle

If you haven’t caught up with him lately, you’re due for a welcome surprise. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is a web-based project described by its creators as follows:

Jerry Seinfeld is joined by friends for a drive in a classic car and having coffee, sharing stories all along the way. (Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee)

Caffeinated comics and [mostly] caffeinated cars. It’s goofy, laid back and revealing. Entertaining but un-airbrushed. It’s candid. It’s unrehearsed (so far as I can tell), and it offers up an endearing angle on what makes some of the funny businesses’ stars tick. On the Facebook page Seinfeld offered this explanation to the question “Why are you doing this?”

Well, I’ve been doing it my whole life. But talk shows and interviews can’t let you see this other side of the comedy world. To me, one of the best parts. I just thought it might be a fun thing for fans. (FAQ: Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee)

Tune in for the new season which launches on January 2, 2014.

Essaying Wanderlust

Essaying Wanderlust: "Let each man exercise the art he knows." ~ Aristophanes

Essaying wanderlust…

[It's almost time for the] launch of Wanderlust, the first in a series of short format memoirs. I’ve been writing and revising these chronicles for four years during which time they’ve evolved from a single-but-sprawling Year in Provence style narrative into a more intimate collection of extended essays exploring the notion (and artifacts) of “home”.

Essaying vs. Wandering

At first glance wanderlust and essay seem to be odd bedfellows. One is carefree, omnivorous and easily distracted; the other is systematic, focused and (ideally) conclusive. One is a potentially undisciplined adventure outward propelled by curiosity. The other is a disciplined journey inward propelled by opinion, judgment and evidence.

Or so we’re lead to believe by parents and teachers.

To be sure, wanderlust and essays can be penned into polar continents, but they needn’t be. In fact, perhaps they’re not so dissimilar at all. A little etymology opens the possibility.

Middle French essai, ultimately from Late Latin exagium act of weighing (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Think of weighing in terms of exploring, considering, comparing,… Think of weighing an idea. Discovering possibilities. Brainstorming. Assessing. Think of endeavoring to understand something better.

essay \ˈe-ˌsā; also e-ˈsā\
verb: to try to do, perform, or deal with (something)
noun: a short piece of writing that tells a person’s thoughts or opinions about a subject
First Known Use: 14th century
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

An essay in the broadest, most ample sense is an attempt. An experiment. A foray into a subject endeavoring to explore and – hopefully – better understand the subject. An essay is a composition that tries to weigh something.

Redacting Rosslyn Redux

Rosslyn Redux was born out of renovation. It was an attempt to understand why converting a dilapidated house into a livable home mushroomed into a multi-year journey. It was an attempt to do something with the stories and artifacts and history that were discovered in the process. It was an attempt to honor the heritage of a place and the people who made it valuable. It was an attempt to “heal”, to expiate the excess, and to celebrate success once the dust settled. It was an attempt to understand the series of events that kidnapped much of our lives for several years. It was an attempt to move on.

I envisioned a tidy A Year in Provence or a sprawling Under the Tuscan Sun. What I didn’t envision was that the process of telling the story would turn out to be as challenging, confusing, and (ultimately) as rewarding as renovating Rosslyn had been in the first place. I also didn’t envision the story evolving from novel-esque chronicle into an experimental series of narratively structured essays that explore the following themes:

  • Wanderlust to Houselust Why does a diehard vangabond settle down?
  • Archeology of Home Digging into the weird and wacky artifacts of “home”.
  • Rehab Ad Infinitum Renovating. Never. Ends. Learned the hard way!
  • DIY: Design, Build, Share Parallels remodeling a house with writing a book…

The four mini-memoirs chronicle my adventure from wanderlust to writing a book. Or four! But they do so in an unconventional way. With more than a few broken rules along the way. Each is a tangle of interwoven stories comprising a thematically focused “essay” with a decidedly scrapbook feel. And in a strange way, the process of revising and preparing the manuscripts for the public marks a return to the wanderlust that I thought I’d abandoned when I plunged into home ownership in the summer of 2006.

A Return to Wanderlust

Wanderlust is opportunity. It is the yearning simply to go, to leave without an anticipated return date, or determined destination… It is an overwhelming need to escape, traverse, and rove… Wanderlust is raw desire… ~ Rachel Narozniak (Examiner)

If the first book is a prequel to the renovation story, the fourth book is a sequel. W2H explores the back story for why I abandoned the mortgage-free lifestyle of a footloose global nomad. The next two books plunge into the all-consuming  3-4 years of saving an historic home, a marriage, our sanity, etc. AofH focuses on all of the bizarre baggage that we load on top of a home, and RAI focuses on the endless process, and the ever retreating finish line. But DIY is about stepping away from the project and transforming it into a story. It focuses on the “do it yourself” approach we took to revitalizing Rosslyn and the ”do it yourself” approach I’m taking with developing and sharing the story. It is a plunge into the rapidly transforming world of publishing in the 21st century in the same way that buying Rosslyn and swapping Manhattan for the Adirondacks was an adventure into uncharted but fascinating (and SUPER risky) waters.

It is the story of how the vision for the Rosslyn Redux memoir became four separate story/essay/scrapbooks. It is the story pulling up the anchor and heading off on a new adventure!

Cycling & Recycling

Cycling & RecyclingStiffer breeze than anticipated – better suited to windsurfing than cycling – but after double days of drizzle I’m due for a pedal along the Adirondack Coast.

Recently I’ve been recording my bike rides and uploading them to the interwebs. Why? Goals. Tracking. And, even for other cyclists to use. I’ve also been using my GoPro camera to get footage of the rides, and soon I’d like to post a collection of good Champlain Valley bike loops with video highlights, routes, distances, etc. Maybe a future feature for Essex on Lake Champlain? Would be nice to recycle the digital artifacts of my rides into a usable tool for others. Perhaps there’s a convenient way to share my Garmin Connect data? Contact me with suggestions.

Until then, a fuzzy image of an old tricycle rusting under the drip-line of the bike shop in Plattsburgh who keeps me rolling along. Thanks, guys!

Waffling

Waffling, by virtualDavis

Waffling, by virtualDavis

Monday morning is Sunday night.

For me.

Which is to say, today… is yesterday.

Sleepless night.

Exhausted by 9:00 p.m. but unable to pull the darkness or the dreams deep enough.

So rested. In bed. For hours. Mind wandering.

To Machu Picchu. My parents journey to Lima tomorrow, and I follow in less than a week with my bride. Ready. Eager.

The reverse of jetlag is jetleap, I think, when the soul leapfrogs ahead of the journey. I’d better start catching up.

Why the waffle photo? I’m not waffling. Not really. But it’s an intriguing snapshot from the weekend to balance the onslaught of Halloween photo booth documentation, n’est-ce pas?

Mindfulness and Flânerie

Just another listless dreamer...

New Yorker marginalia by virtualDavis via Flickr

Linda Hollier’s Mindfulness and The Flâneur examines a topic near and dear to my heart, soul and senses: flânerie.

I’m honored to be mentioned and grateful because she inspired me to update my Metro Flaneur post with a list of my favorite flanerie miscellanea. But ego and overdue “housekeeping” are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ms. Hollier (@lindahollier) is positing an insight that intuitively resonates truth to me, but which I’ve never before heard.

Speed, whether online or offline, is a characteristic of the modern world. The flâneur reminds us to set the pace of our own lives.

Cast as a character in the 21st century drama of life, the flâneur thus begins to play the role of consciousness. (here2here)

Amen. The pace and the scope. Flânerie demands an elasticity of time and space. Freedom to meander, to lose oneself in the other, perhaps even to become the other without fully detaching from self. For a while.

Anthropologist Grant McCracken reflection on Joy Walking comes to mind.

It’s a little like joy riding, except we’re not stealing cars, we’re stealing moments. Joy walking happens when we leave the house or office and start walking. We don’t have a plan. We just go… We step in and out of people’s lives. Couples in love, couples at war…  The tiny courtesies and rudenesses of public life… The key is to get out and about. To get away. To see what you can see. Steal a moment. Make it your own. (PsychologyToday.com)

Ms. Hollier’s suggestion that flânerie and conscioussness may overlap is intriguing, an idea worth passing along to my mother who’s a student of Buddhism and a proponent of mindfulness. Let’s see if I can get her to weigh in. Stay tuned.

Off to meander the digital meadow with the mingling masses…

Update:

Great news. My mother, Melissa Davis, shared her impression. Thanks, mom! Here’s what the wise lady thinks:

Mindfulness, flaneuring and turtles

Reading this after an abbreviated mindful yoga session with Jon K-Z (on tape), I am delighted to chime in. Linda Hollier’s reference to turtles on leashes reminds me of walking with a 2- or 3-year old, a great flaneur opportunity. I recently grandparented my 3-year old granddaughter for a week which required walking her to preschool and back in Georgetown, a fascinating place where equipment and men with shovels were digging up the ancient trolley tracks. Took us forever – which was as good as it gets – even better than a turtle because she had a couple of feet more within her purview AND she asked questions!

Years ago I read a NYTimes op ed that shared the unscientific findings of a city dweller observing adults accompanying small children around a neighborhood in Manhattan. She reported that the majority of them pushed strollers which ensured timely arrivals wherever the adult was headed. She contrasted them with the handful of adults who walked – meandered – alongside their youngsters, stopping to examine every interesting flower or bit of flotsam along the way. She pointed out that there was nothing more important for a child that age to do than poke along – and through – every curiosity.

I think flaneuring is like drawing, something we are born with but that schedules and school steal from us. I agree that mindfulness – being totally present in the moment – goes hand in hand (or leash) with flaneuring. I am not surprised that so many people wonder if they ate, lose their keys, forget names, obsess about how stressed they are given the mindless speed that propels them through their days. A little daily flaneuring would sort them right out! (Melissa Davis)

Amen! Way to go, mom. Just goes to show that my decision to meander the digital meadow with the mingling masses yesterday restored the cosmic balance, inspiring my mother to opine. Perhaps I should meander the soggy non-digital meadow this afternoon?

Related articles:

Essex-Charlotte Ferry Breaking the Ice

A true North Country winter! The Champlain Valley is blanketed, no… quaint, but no. Rewind. The Champlain Valley is buried beneath another 15-18″ of fresh snow. Beautiful. Picturesque. Unless you’re pushing a shovel! (Or trying to get somewhere…)

Getting somewhere is the learning lesson topic of the day. Why get anywhere other than right here. Stop driving the desk and go out for a ski! Shortly I hope to do just that. But first a glimpse at the now mostly frozen lake. I shot the fuzzy video on my phone this morning to show that the Essex-Charlotte ferry is still managing despite the ice. This vessel is technically not an ice breaker and can only manage to navigate until the ice becomes thicker than 3″ thick. Which — I’m guessing now — isn’t too far off. In fact, it’s already well beyond that near our dockhouse. Then we’ll reallyhave to stay home and play in the snow!

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Lake Champlain Sunrise

Good morning. Another sleepless night. And another spectacular morning. Just recompense. I’ve grabbed a brief video of the sun rising up out of the clouds above Vermont’s Green Mountains, above Lake Champlain that I’m adding to my Essex, New York flickr set. Nice that I couldn’t even remember what the date was…

Sorry that the quality is “poor”. I shot this on my Blackberry Storm2 through antique wavy glass. The result is a little bit dreamy.

 

Rosslyn Dock House on Lake Champlain

Another unseasonably balmy day today, so I snapped a couple of photos from our waterfront. You’re looking at our dock house on Lake Champlain located in Essex, New York. In the distance you can see Vermont’s Green Mountains.

Our Dock House from Essex Ferry Landing

 

Rosslyn Dock House
Rosslyn Dock House via twitpic.com

I took this photo a day or two before they closed the ferry. I was sitting in my car, waiting to be ferried across Lake Champlain to Charlotte, Vermont.

Another Dockhouse Sighting

Flickr is nearly as perfect a procrastination tool as Facebook or Twitter. Better than Twitter, maybe. Recent discoveries include a couple of shots of our dockhouse.

Rosslyn dockhouse

 

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