The Randymon Bash Blog

Eat my shorts.

Tim Cahill

December 03, 2021 — ~randymon

Out there, somewhere, moonlit swells are rolling through the darkness over a point I have dubbed “The Spot”: 2,700 nautical miles equidistant from Cape May, New Jersey, and Lisbon, Portugal, and roughly 1,290 miles southwest of Newfoundland. The Spot mark the halfway point on our journey and is, by definition, the farthest we’ll stray from land on our voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

-- Paul Bennett, How to Sail Across the Atlantic
   National Geographic Adventure Magazine

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Standing on the deck of a thirty-eight-foot sailboat in the absolute center of the Atlantic in the middle of the night feels more mundane than I had assumed it would. When I imagined this moment months ago from my leather chair in New York City, it was much more Byronic. I was the plucky adventurer thousands of miles from anywhere, alone with the sea, like the people I read about in books and magazines. Instead, as I look out at the barely discernable line of the horizon, I see the concrete facts that led me here: the engine we repaired in Virginia, the rub rail we replaced in Rhode Island, the mortgage, the dody ports whose officials we’ve grown adept at bribing.

-- Paul Bennett, How to Sail Across the Atlantic
   National Geographic Adventure Magazine

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The argument for carrying a gun is cynically straightforward: sailing a yacht in the vicinity of poor countries is like walking through the zoo’s polar bear exhibit wearing a seal-skin suit.

-- Paul Bennett, How to Sail Across the Atlantic
   National Geographic Adventure Magazine

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Contradictions … mostly in the form of Litton’s puzzling personality quirks. He has fought for all sorts of restrictions to protect fragile landscapes, yet he loathes any government agency that musters the temerity to tell him where he can go and how to behave when he gets there. He inspires great loyalty, but his former employees describe him as the sort of mercurial boss who could switch in a heartbeat from charmming to curmudgeonly to nitpicking. He bemoans the loss of solitude in wilderness but made his living by encouraging millions of people to go out and discover it.

 -- Kevin Fedarko, Isn't it Grand?
 Outside Magazine

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Thing is, they ALL seem to enjoy being around you. Prostitutes are good like that. The best ones make you forget they’re even prostitutes, make you think you’ve stumbled into the greatest singles' bar in the world. That girl you’re talking to, she’ll tell you that you’re handsome and sexy and intelligent, and she’ll make you believe it no matter how fat or dumb or ugly you are because she knows you’ve got a hundred bucks burning a hole in your pocket. Back home, you’d spend that on dinner and a movie, and for what? A kiss on the cheek? Down here, that gets you laid, and by a woman who pretends she doesn’t think you’re a pig.

-- Sean Flynn, Where they love Americans ... for a living
   GQ magazine

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Just look around. Stand at the edge of Parque Morazan and watch the parade of white guys with young brown girls. “This place,” says that American expat former cop, “has to be the number one destination in the Western Hemisphere for horny, middle-aged moron-loser-gringos jacked up on Viagra.”

-- Sean Flynn, Where they love Americans ... for a living
   GQ magazine

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Sex tourism is built on that very premise: these girls, the chicas and the Eastern Europeans and the Southeast Asians, are different from American women, more loving, less judgmental, oblivious to your gut and your hairline and the fact that you’re the sort of guy who hires women to have sex with him.

-- Sean Flynn, Where they love Americans ... for a living
   GQ magazine

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Even Lonely Planet, however, hasn’t figured out a way to market its epiphanies other than by using the impoverished language of travel writing. And so “palm-fringed beaches” and “lush rain forests” and other “sleepy backwaters” are invariably counterpoised against “teeming citites” with their “bustling souks.” Every region has a “colorful history” and a “rich cultural tapestry.” And every place on earth is a “land of contrasts.”

  -- Tad Friend, The Parachute Artist
  The New Yorker

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That’s when panic rose in my throat, a stifled upchuck. What in the name of bullcrap was I doing here?

 -- Michael Paterniti, XXXXL

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You fully expect The Girl to whisper up at the monkey – to coax it down, cradle it into her arms, and walk off peacefully to share the muffin on the shores of the Holy Ganges. Instead, her face reddens, and she snatches a tin of tea sugar. Curling her thin, lovely lips, she screams, “COCK SUCKING FUCKING MONKEY!”

--Rolf Potts, Tantric Sex for Dilettantes
Perceptive Travel

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Part of me wants to offer to help. But that would be, of course, ridiculous, melodramatic. He washes these stairs every day. It’s not my job to hand-wash stairs. It’s his job to hand-wash stairs. My job is to observe him hand-washing the stairs, then go inside the air-conditioned lobby and order a cold beer and take notes about his stair-washing so I can go home and write about it, making more for writing about it than he’ll make in many, many years of doing it. And of course, somewhere in India is a guy who’d kill to do some stair-washing in Dubai. He hasn’t worked in three years, any chance of marriage is rapidly fading.

– George Saunders, The New Mecca GQ Magazine

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Here girls of roughly student age release their Slavic pheromones to the music of 50 Cent, their flea-market miniskirts held together by bobby pins and sheer will. In the Amsterdam room, desperation and testosterone tickle the nose in equal measure. After several vodka shots chased with beer, I settle into another Dostoyevskian moment - feeding the G-string of some poor damaged blond a series of one-hundred-ruble notes whilst mumbling something about life and beauty and redemption.

– Gary Shteyngart, A St. Petersburg Christmas Travel + Leisure

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Seven Years in Tibet

December 03, 2021 — ~randymon

Heinrich Harrer

Tibet has not yet been infested by the worst disease of modern life, the everlasting rush. No one overworks here. Officials have an easy life. They turn up at the office late in the morning and leave for their homes early in the afternoon. If an official has guests or any other reason for not coming, he just sends a servant to a colleague and asks him to officiate for him.

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The soft of fatalistic resignation with which they lent themselves to this backbreaking toil always used to infuriate me. As a product of our modern age, I could not understand why the people of Tibet were so rigidly opposed to any form of progress. There obviously must be some better means of transporting these heavy burdens than by manhandling them. The Chinese invented and used the wheel thousands of years ago. But the Tibetans will have none of it, though its use would give an immense impusle to transport and commerce, and would raise the whole standard of living throughout the country.

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An indescribable scene awaited us. There squatted hundreds, nay thousands, of monks wearing their read cowls and busy doing something for which privacy is generally regarded as essential. I did not envy Aufschnaiter his place of work.

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Still, we comforted ourselves with the thought that our life was very tolerable and that we had many reasons for satisfaction. We had a good roof over our heads and were no longer struggling to exist. We did not miss the appliances of Western civilization. Europe with its life of turmoil seemed far away. Often as we sat and listened to the radio brining reports from ou country we shook our heads at the depressing news. There seemed no inducement to go home.

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The daily life of Tibetans is ordered by religious belief. Pious texts are onstantly on their lips; prayer wheels turn without ceasing; prayer flags wave on the roofs of houses and the summits of the mountain passes; the rain, the wind, all the phenomena of nautre, the lonely peaks of the sno-clad mountains, bear witness to the universal presence of the gods whose anger is manifested by the ailstorm, and whose benevolence is displayed by the fruitfulness of the land. The life of the people is regulated by the divine will, whose interpreters the lamas are.

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I listened to the news the first thing every day and often found myself shaking my head and wondering at the things that men seemed to think important. Here it is the yak’s pace that dictates the tempo of life, and so it has been for thousands of years. Would Tibet be happier for being transformed? … by accelerating the tempo of existence it might rob the people of their peace and leisure.

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Christianity and Buddhism have much in common. They are both founded on the belief in happiness in another world, and both preach humility in this life. But there is a difference as things are today. In Tibet one is not hunted from morning till night by the calls of “civilization.” Here one has time to occupy oneself with religion and to call one’s soul one’s own. Here it is religion that occupies most of the life of the individual, as it did in the West during the Middle Ages.

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