Literary criticism: 50 years on, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” reads like a drug-addled, homoerotic variation of “Jackass.” If we aspire this year to recognize the anniversary of a Ginsberg poem that still seems relevant and challenging, we should fast-forward ten years to 1966, when the iconic Beat poet penned “Wichita Vortex Sutra.”
Museums honor achievement, but finding original travel experiences amid their exhibits can sometimes be a challenge.
Friends and vagabonders, 2006 has been a busy year for me, both in terms of traveling and writing. The spring months found me in the Dominican Republic, and summer took me to France (to teach my writing class; see below), Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Recently, I’ve had articles appear in Outside (“Just…
Korean-born U.S. filmmaker Wonsuk Chin is making a movie that is partially inspired by Rolf’s 1990’s expatriate writings about Busan. With the movie in pre-production, Rolf travels to Korea to meet Chin and reflect on the expat experience.
Travel-culture essay: Disparaging one’s fellow travelers by national stereotype is a time-honored parlor game. Does it serve any purpose?
Literary criticism/travel anthropology: How One Egyptian’s Bad Haircut from a Greeley, Colorado Barber in 1949 Provided Ideological Fuel for 9/11.
As a traveler, what’s the best response when people ask you for money?
Friends and vagabonders, 2006 is keeping me busy with writing and writing assignments — perhaps most notably my new weekly gig as the “Traveling Light” columnist at Yahoo! News. This, in addition to freelance articles I’ve written for Surfer (about long-term travel), Islands (about kayaking in Crete), Outside Traveler (about sailing in Greece), and the…
Travel-culture essay: Within certain hipster circles of indie travel, announcing that you patronize McDonald’s is kind of like confessing that you eat your boogers. But the contempt sophisticated travelers hold for McDonald’s has less to do with ethical principle than the fact that fast-food franchises ruin the fantasies of otherness that are an inherent part of travel.
Why do places grow vaguely annoying once they become travel destinations?
Book reviews: In a round-up of top travel books for the Travel Channel’s World Hum, Rolf sings the praises of Pico Iyer’s Video Night in Kathmandu (#8), Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard (#11), Tim Cahill’s Road Fever (#21), Tony Horwitz’s Baghdad Without a Map (#26), and Jeffrey Tayler’s Facing the Congo (#28).