Cultural criticism/personal essay: Why do we take pictures when we travel? And what has been lost and gained as our photo albums move from hard copy to digital?
Literary criticism/collage essay: In his literary manifesto Reality Hunger, David Shields argues for artistic plagiarism and the end of traditional narrative. Rolf’s response — embedded in a story about getting drugged robbed overseas — appropriates its own flavor of plagiarism to counter Shields’ argument.
Interview: Rolf talks with travel writer Pico Iyer about his book “The Man Within My Head,” and how art can help us identify parts of ourselves we never otherwise could have articulated.
Commentary: The same travelers who insist on dropping the “s” from Laos in the interest of linguistic accuracy would never call Egypt “Misr” or Finland “Suomi.” What factors influence the names we give to the places we visit?
Interview: Rolf talks with the legendary travel author about technology, traveling light, reportorial accuracy, notions of home, and the “Tao of Travel.”
Essay/Reportage: When allegations surfaced that parts of Greg Mortenson’s memoir “Three Cups of Tea” had been fabricated, reports noted that the book is “required reading” for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Various other branches of the military promote titles like “Freakonomics” and “Starship Troopers.” Why is this the case, and what do these non-military books offer to combat-bound soldiers?
Media criticism: Where does the Travel Channel take us? To find out, Rolf locks himself into a Vegas hotel room and embarks on a one-week experiment in gonzo-criticism.
Literary Criticism: Between 1996 and 2002, a spate of British-authored pulp fiction portrayed self-absorbed 20-somethings trying (and failing) to use travel in Asia as an escape from the superficial, directionless, consumerist lives they lead back home. What did these novels predict about the way travel was changing?
Rolf leaps off of cliffs, soars through the trees, and jets up rivers near Queenstown, on New Zealand’s South Island.
On a 24-hour train transit from Bangkok to Penang, Rolf learns the social limitations of Thai whiskey, and meets a fellow traveler who embodies the antithesis of “traveling light.”
Back in Thailand after a seven-year absence, Rolf revisits the Khao San Road backpacker scene, eats insects in Chinatown, and tests his no-baggage wardrobe in an upscale nightclub.