Extraordinary Vagobond Interview with the Planet Earth – Happy Earth Day

Today is the day we celebrate this wonderful world. I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot of this big blue marble and to see some wonderful things, places, cultures and natural wonders.  Today, rather than celebrating another traveler – I would prefer to celebrate the place we all travel on and the greatest traveler we all know. The planet Earth – Terra – Mother.

In a year- Earth travels about 940 million kilometers around the Sun, however, this does not include the distance the Solar System has moved around the Galactic Centre during that time. Nor does it include the distance you have traveled as the earth rotates every 24 hours.  Since we are all on this wonderful spaceship – each of us is actually traveling further than anyone (and the same distance) every second of every day. We are all great space explorers.  When it comes to cheap flights – planet Earth gives us some of the cheapest. Tenerife is just one of her many places that fly through space on her surface.

Whether you want to travel closer to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, or Mars – she allows it. Whether you want to go to the far side of the sun or take a vacation to the close side. And then there is the moon…but that’s another story.

The symbol of the Earth consists of a cross over a circle and here is a funny thing, humans always thought that the other planets moved, but they actually thought that Earth was standing still!  It wasn’t until the 1700’s that some radicals started to really dig how the Earth travels.

It’s not uncommon to think of Earth as a person or a diety –  called Gaia by her friends and Mother by her children,  she is most often thought of as a woman – and who can imagine a man with such incredible fertility? Right? Of course, a lot of the ‘big’ religions think this is a terrible thing but then they say to ‘honor thy mother’ and continue to deface and devalue the biggest mother of them all. Our mother planet where (as far as we know) all life was born.

A very funny thought today is that for most of human history – people thought of Earth as being a flat, one dimensional place.  Of course, you can’t flatten a good woman and Earth demonstrated a lovely spherical shape as humans began to circumnavigate and even visit outer space!

And that brings us to today, it really wasn’t until seeing that big blue marble photo above that anyone thought about the fact that this planet is all connected. That things you do in China (or anywhere) actually affect what happens everywhere else. It’s no coincidence that spaceflight and the modern ecological movement began at about the same time.

Earth agreed to a very short interview with me when I caught up with her this week.

Vagobond: Where is your favorite destination?

Earth: Well, all of my regions have their charm, but to be honest it is the oceans that I love the best.  The constant movement, sound and beauty – the diversity of life. The oceans are really like my womb and what woman doesn’t love being able to create life?

Vagobond: Are you upset at the way humans have treated you?

Earth: What mother wouldn’t be? But you know, the dinosaurs shit all over me too and look what happened to them. Like ‘the Dude’ I endure – by the way, I’m a big fan of The Big Lebowski. I feel like if more people were to watch that film, the planet would be better off. I hope that in a few centuries Dudism is a major force on my surface.

Vagobond: What’s your most dangerous travel travel moment?

Earth: Actually, it’s hard to say but I think when the planet between Mars and Me got smashed by a comet, that was a close call. You have to be careful of those who travel with no plan – sometimes it can be beautiful, but often it can be cataclysmic.  In this case, I was given a beautiful moon after the break up but the impact was large, I have huge craters to show for it.  And, you know, we were pretty deeply involved. At the time, there was an advanced civilization that moved between both our surfaces – no traces remain of course – at least not obvious enough traces for my arrogant human children to find -yet.

Vagobond:  Fascinating. I thought I knew something of astronomy but I’d never heard that before. Can you share any other secrets with our readers? Maybe you have some travel tips?

Earth: Actually, I’m filled with secrets but now isn’t the time to reveal them, but I”m happy to share a few travel tips that will make your life easier. They’re pretty common sense but it’s surprising how many people ignore them.

1) Don’t shit where you eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about feces – I’m saying that you need to take care of your home or else it becomes incredibly unpleasant. In this case, just look at my atmosphere and oceans, all the garbage and you should get what I mean.

2) Time heals all wounds.  No matter how much destruction or devastation is caused, eventually things return to a balance. Chaos is a myth. The universe is orderly and that includes the lives of humans and planets.

3) Time is the only true wealth.  Whie I’m very old by human standards, my clock is ticking down. Eventually I will transform and become something else. It’s for that reason, that I treasure each moment. Sure, it hurts to feel my resources pulled out and sent into space, but in fact – as long as I have time, I am the wealthiest planet around.

Vagobond: I thought there would be more ‘green’ tips – aren’t you going to suggest that we take better care of you, use less water, develop clean energy and things like that?

Earth: Why would I do that? I don’t tell a deer not to make a path in the woods. I  don’t tell termites not to eat trees. Humans are just another animal species and you will do what you do. You think that you are deviating from nature, but in fact – there are lessons you have to learn and as your mother, I would love to save you from the pain those lessons might cause but I know that the pain is what will actually make you learn. Okay…well, just one thing.  Enough with the plastic – it’s everywhere and it doesn’t go away.

Vagobond: Thank you for the wonderful interview and the wonderful world Mother.

Earth: You’re welcome – it’s nice to actually be noticed!

Cross Dressing Vagabond – Isabelle Eberhardt

Traveling the world used to be a game that only the men played, but as in all fields, brave pioneers broke out of the Victorian conception of women as meek and mild and showed that even the hardest travel makes no distinction among the sexes. Isabelle Eberhardt was one of these extraordinary feminist vagabonds.

Isabelle Eberhardt was a Swiss writer and explorer who lived and traveled widely in North Africa. She is considered to have been an extremely independent individual, who refused normal European ethics and characterization of women. Instead she followed her own path which led her to world travel. Isabelle’s first trip was with her mother to North Africa in 1897. They were trying to set up a new life there on this journey, and during that time they both converted to Islam.

feminist vagabondIsabelle’s half brother Vladimir committed suicide and another brother was married to a French woman whom Eberhardt was not in favor of. From then onwards, she spent her life in Africa, she made Northern Algeria and Morocco her home and became a true desert vagabond. Isabelle was in Tunisia for some time as well. She was frequently disguised as a man and there are many who conjecture that she not only lived as a man but loved women as a man does.

The life and writings of Isabelle Eberhardt:
The Nomad
In the Shadow of Islam
Prisoner of Dunes
The Oblivion Seekers
The Vagabond

female vagabondIsabelle married an Algerian soldier, Slimane Ehnni in 1901. She was known to drink and fight in the hardest of ways. She died in a flash flood in Algeria in 1904. She had rented a house there which was constructed of clay. The house collapsed on Isabelle and her husband during the flood, she saved her husband but she didn’t survive the disaster. She wrote about her travels in several books and the newspapers of France.

Her books and articles include “In the Hot Shadow of Islam”, “Algerian Short Stories” and “The Day Laborers”. She also wrote a novel, Vagabond which was translated into English by Annette Kobak. The journals of Isabelle were recovered from the flash flood, they covered the final four years of her life and now these journals are also available in English.

Isabelle Eberhard was a nomad in Africa but more importantly she explored the limits and boundaries of gender as well as the deserts of Africa and continued her writing during that time. Most of her novels, books and journals on her travels can be found in English, Spanish, French, and German.

Desiderius Erasmus – Extraordinary Scholar and Vagabond

by Sofie Couwenbergh

Desiderius Erasmus was a scholar and a humanist born around October 27 1466 in Rotterdam. His birth name was actually Gerrit Gerritszoon (Gerard Gerardson), but he Latinized it at a later date.

Life

Erasmus

Erasmus and his brother first went to a great school in Deventer, but when both their parents died of the plague his guardians sent them to a school at ‘s Hertogenbosch where the educational level was lower than the level they’d already reached at Deventer. Eventually the guardians insisted that the brothers would enter the Augustinian monastery at Steyn, near Gouda.

Although Erasmus had never felt any vocation, he agreed to be ordained a priest as this would probably give him better chances of leaving the monastery. He must have considered himself lucky when he shortly after got the chance to become the Latin secretary of Henry of Bergen, the bishop of Cambrai. This was somewhere around 1492.

Another four years later the bishop didn’t need Erasmus’s services anymore and the latter convinced the bishop to send him to the university of Paris to complete his studies. To earn money Erasmus started tutoring wealthy young students and one of them, William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, invited him to come to England with him in 1499.

It’s there that Erasmus met Thomas More and the two became friends for life. An even more important encounter was the one with John Colet, who taught Erasmus how to reconcile his faith with humanism by replacing the scholastic method with a study of the Scriptures.

Erasmus was offered to lecture about the Old Testament at Oxford, but he felt like he couldn’t thoroughly do this without knowing Greek and so he returned to Paris. Not long after, however, the plague broke out and with a short stop in Orléans, Erasmus ended up in Louvain (now my hometown in Belgium, before part of Brabant in the Netherlands). There he studied Greek every day until he could read and write it.

For unclear reasons Erasmus left again for England in 1505. One year later he saw an opportunity to visit Italy as the tutor to the sons of the physician of Henry VIII. He was given a doctorate in Theology in Turin and also spent time in Bologna, Florence and Venice before moving to Padua, where he became tutor to the illegitimate sons of King James IV of Scotland. He even went to Rome, but refused to stay there and receive ecclesiastical promotion.

The reason for this is that Henry VIII had just inherited the throne in England and Erasmus was hoping that the new king, who had shown an interest in literature, would offer him a good position.

It was on his way back to England (1509) that Erasmus conceived what might be his most famous work: The Praise of Folly. This satirical work, which he completed in England while staying with Thomas More, criticizes the follies of the different classes of society, but especially of the Church.

Erasmus lived in England for five years, teaching at Cambridge and doing other academic work. However, when he realized that Henry VIII would not appoint him, he returned to Brabant.

There he was named honorary councilor to the then 16-year old archduke Charles, the future Charles V. He was also commissioned to write his Education of a Christian Prince (1516) and The complaint of peace (1517).

In 1517 he became a member of the faculty of theology in Louvain and took an interest in the newly founded Trilingual College, where Latin, Greek and Hebrew were taught. Erasmus believed that the education of theology had to be based on the study of languages. He expressed this in his Ratio vera Teologiae (1518).

This belief, in combination with his revised edition of the New Testament, based on the Vulgate, caused a lot of controversy among his fellow scholars in Louvain.

Erasmus had always been critical of the Church and when, around the same time, Luther gained attention, Erasmus was blamed for inspiring Luther and supporting the Reformation.

However, up until then Erasmus had never really taken side in the dispute between Luther and the old, catholic Church. He agreed with Luther on several points and also wanted reforms within the Church, but he did not feel for a separation and disputed other arguments Luther brought forward. Erasmus always claimed neutrality and was stuck in a position between Rome, to which he claimed fidelity, and Luther, who he entered in polemics with, but who he did not publicly wanted to take position against.

Seeking more neutral ground he left Brabant for the more humanist Basel in December 1521, where his preferred printer Johann Froben was located. This, however, didn’t keep him from being criticized for his ‘indecisiveness’ and distrusted for not defending the old Church. Many of his friends, amongst whom a lot of important men, as well as Emperor Charles V, urged him to take up his pen against Luther.

When he eventually did, in 1524, it turned into a polemic which resulted in a break between the two men. Although some Catholics believed that Erasmus had now rehabilitated himself, others still distrusted him as he still hadn’t fully taken the side of the Church. Erasmus still thought that reforms were needed and hoped that Catholics and Reformists could be reconciled.

However, as the Reformation became more dominant in Basel and Catholics weren’t welcome anymore, Erasmus and other humanists had to move to the Catholic university town of Freiburg im Breisgau. He only returned to Basel in 1835 to have his Ecclesiastes printed. One year later, while he was preparing to return to Brabant, he died of dysentery.

Erasmus Program

Erasmus

Everybody studying in Europe has heard of the Erasmus Program. It’s a student exchange program named after Erasmus because of his scholarship and perpetual travels through Europe. ERASMUS, an acronym for European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, allows students to go study abroad or gather work experience in companies all over Europe. Apart from that it supports university staff and training and funds co-operation projects between higher education institution across Europe.The program took off in 1987 and has since allowed more than 3 million students to study abroad.

Famous quotes by Erasmus

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
“To know nothing is the happiest life.”

Further Reading

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/erasmus/
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/191015/Desiderius-Erasmus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desiderius_Erasmus
http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/erasmus_en.htm#did

Author Bio
Sophie Cauwenbergh
Sofie is a Belgian language lover and travel aficionada who combines a full-time job with a never-ending wanderlust and an upcoming freelance business. She uses her weekends, vacation days and public holidays to travel the world and share her experiences with you on wonderfulwanderings.com. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Vagabond Anarchist – Emma Goldman

anarchist emmaEmma Goldman was a very well known female radical, especially for her role in developing the anarchist philosophy in North America and parts of Europe in early twentieth century. She was born on June 27, 1869 in Kaunas, Lithuania (then Kovno, Russia), Emma shifted to the USA in 1885, where she began her political career. She was always a caring and helping person (though notoriously rowdy), and she soon began to attract attention through her articles, editorials and other writings. She also began to speak on issues, and managed to gather large crowds wherever she went. She was especially active on women issues like birth control, ill treatment of women, etc.

Further Reading
Anarchism and Other Essays
Living my Life by Emma Goldman
Red Emma Speaks
Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman

Emma showed rebellion early in life, right from standing up for her when her father used to beat her. That made her father only angrier, but Emma was not one to back down. Her life was filled with constant movement from city to city and town to town. While she was still young, her family moved to Papile, a small village in the then Russian Federation, where her father ran an inn. There she witnessed her first sight of a peasant being whipped, and that began her dislike of violence that authority puts in people. Then, when she was seven, the family moved to Konigsberg, then part of Germany, where Emma had her first taste of education. The teachers there, however, were either very religious or harsh, and she could not stand either.

Vagobond AnarchistHer school career came to an end after a year when the family again moved to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where her father opened a store. The venture proved to be unsuccessful, which led to another store, and another. He could not succeed. That forced the kids to work, and Emma herself had to work many jobs, most of them menial. Emma’s interest in education was sparked, and she began to educate herself in her free time, starting with the revolution that was going on in Russia at the time. She was a quick learner, and she soon managed to know how things worked.

Emma Goldman AnarchistIn 1885, at 16 years of age, Emma moved to Rochester, New York, this time not along with her father, but with her mother, and joined her elder sister in New York. She started working as a seamstress there. They were soon joined by her father and elder brother who were unable to survive the harsh conditions in Saint Petersburg. Emma started to actively take part in revolutions around her, and was allegedly involved in many high-profile incidents that occurred at the time. She started a journal, Mother Earth that was home to radicalists from all over the country. Her involvement became so severe that she was deported from the US to Russia, where she stayed till 1921. She wrote a book named “My Disillusionment in Russia” where she recounts her experiences during her stay there.

Emma left Russia in 1921 for Germany, where she found the conditions too harsh. She then moved to England, where she stayed till 1927. In 1927, she again moved to Canada, where she tried to settle but could not because of the political unrest. In 1936, she returned to the USA, having become quite a well-known figure by then. She finally moved to France in 1938, where she underwent a couple of prostate gland operations. Then she moved back to Canada, where on May 14, 1940, she took her last breath. She was buried honorably in German Waldheim Cemetery (now named Forest Home Cemetery) in Forest Park, Illinois, where her burial was attended by all her colleagues and well-wishers.

Extraordinary Travelers – Cosmas the Flat Earther

Sorry Seinfeld fans, I’m not talking about Cosmo Kramer. Cosmas Indicopuleustes was a far more fascinating figure though, although probably not as delightful at opening doors and making witty comments.

Cosmas was a writer, merchant, traveler, monk who is most famous for his 6th century tome Christian Topography in which he provided some of the earliest world maps on record for the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

cosmas indian ocean explorerBefore becoming a monk and a hermit, Cosmas was a very successful voyager and trader who visited Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sri Lanka, and most famously, India. Cosmas seemingly difficult last name was easy for Byzantines and Greeks – it was Indicopleustes and essentially means  “Voyager of the Indian Ocean” – which was helpful when you were trying to remember which Cosmas to invite to your Christmas party – you wouldn’t want to accidentally invite the one who explored the Aegean – Cosmas Aegeapleustes…that guy is impossible to deal with…

Of course, you might not have wanted to invite Cosmas Indicopleustes either since one of his most famous conventions was that the world was flat. It was he who introduced that idea to the early Christian Church. He spent considerable time in his book and in his life trying to prove that Ptolemy’s view that the Earth was a sphere was laughable.  He was of the much more (to him) reasonable opinion that it was flat and had a treasure chest type lid  on it.

flat earth photo by John O'Sullivan

He was not the person that ‘cosmology’ was named after, though it was one of his passions.  Mostly, it was the fact that he covered some serious ground and drew maps about it, that he is remembered for, though, like Donald Trump, his ridiculous views about some things eclipse his true accomplishments.

 

Extraordinary Marseille Vagobond – Pytheas of the Midnight Sun – Namer of Britain

Marseille, Pytheas the NavigatorWhile I was in Marseille, France last week, I passed upon what looked like a Greek statue – I was surprised to see it was a Greek man name Pytheas – now, this goes to show you that we all have our ingnorant spots – my first thought was to mistakenly wonder why the inventor of the Pythagorean Theorem was famous  in Marseille – and then my mental stabilizer kicked in and I realized it wasn’t a statue of Pythagoras, but Pytheas and that I knew nothing about him.

How fitting that I should discover his statue just prior to going to Britain. Many people don’t realize that Marseille was the ancient Greek colony of Massalia – and Pytheas was a native of that town. So, that statue of a Greek – was actually a voyage of a Frenchman before there was ever a France. And here’s the real interesting part – Pytheas was the first sailor to record a trip to Britain, where I am now. We could say that he ‘discovered’ Britain, though like saying Columbus discovered America, that is pretty much ignoring the fact that the people living there, discovered the respective countries long before Pytheas or Columbus ever lived and breathed.

Pytheas was one of the great geographers and explorers of the ancient Earth. He left Marseille  in 325 B.C. and set off to explore the great unknown seas and lands of Northern Europe. Along the way, he became the first documented source to describe the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun – that is where the day does not get dark in the Northern lands.  As if that wasn’t enough – Pytheas was the first person to discern that the moon was responsible for the tides of the Ocean and the first to encounter and write about the Germanic tribes.

Sadly, the complete work of Pytheas is lost to history and his writings only survive as excerpts in the writings of later explorers. I find it astounding that work of such importance can be lost to history, but there it is. History does not discriminate in the fading of memory.

Even the title is gone though some different authors later said it was similar to “My Trip Around the Earth” or “Of the Ocean” – but really, we just don’t know.  With no reason to it, I like the title “Of the Ocean and My Trip Around the Earth” 

Scholars suggest that another mariner from Marseille reached Britain first, but his name is completely lost to history.

In fact, it was Pytheas who named Britain and the British. Britanniae meaning all the islands easily became Britain and BritishMany scholars however, are quite certain that the word began with a P until the time of Julius Ceasar when it changed to the present ” form.

Pytheas described his Britains as a people who baked bread, stored grain, and lived in thatched huts. Like hobbits.  He reported “they are of simple manners and happy with plain fare..” – like hobbits.  After leaving Middle Earth, Pytheas went North seeking Elves and Thunder Gods – okay, wait, let me get back to history.

From Britain, Pytheas sailed North to the land of Thule where he encountered ice sheets and the midnight sun.  The explorer, Richard Francis Burton wrote a detailed study of Thule much later. We can reasonably know that Pytheas went through Scotland and the Orkneys and straight on until Morning when the sun stopped setting.

All of this was done with hat modern sailors and navigators would consider very primitive equipment.  An astounding accomplishment which ceratinly has more than earned him a simple statue in his hometown of Marseille – which I’m certainly happy to have come across.

 

Graham Hughes – Every Country in the World with no Air Travel – Amazing Vagabond

Editor’s Note: The uptight folks at Guinness have finally given him credit as of January 5, 2014. Republishing now from 9 Feb 2013.

Graham HughesGraham Hughes (@everycountry )is an Amazing Vagabond. The British man is the first in the world to ever visit all 201 countries without using air transport. The task took him four years and was completed in November of 2012. At the moment, there is some controversy attached to his feat as the Guinness Book of World Records has refused to acknowledge his accomplishment because his crossing into Russia was illegal. They don’t hold with breaking the law – and yet, he did it. Early this year he crossed into Russia legally and is waiting to hear back from the uptight suits at Guinness.

Graham Hughes

Hughes was born in Liverpool, England in 1979.

graham hughesHis quest began in 2008 and was covered by a program on the National Geographic Channel called “Graham’s World”. During the course of his “Odyssey Expeditions” he was arrested numerous times and proved himself to be a regualr pain in the ass to authorities and a pretty cool guy to the rest of us. He was imprisoned in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arrested when he snuck into Russia, and ran a blockade in Cuba.

The rules of his trip were: no flying, no private transport (a rule enforced by the Guinness World Records race regulations, which cannot condone a public race in private vehicles) and no travelling to far flung territories and counting them as visiting the motherland. For example he couldn’t visit French Polynesia and count it as visiting France.

Hughes traveled 160,000 miles in 1,426 days – all on a budget of just $100 a week. He kept costs low through couchsurfing and hitching rides with locals and cargo ships.

Best quote?

I think I wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you

Although, this bit from his bio page might be a close runner up:

If you had to define in a sentence what drives him perhaps it’s the desire that years from now schoolchildren across the land will be required to learn his date of birth.

Graham Hughes Route
Greaham Hughes Route

In fact, Hughes description of his journey is worthy of quoting all by itself

It was an adventure of epic proportions. I spent four days crossing open ocean in a leaky wooden boat to reach Cape Verde, I was imprisoned for a week in Congo and was arrested whilst attempting to sneak into Russia.

I ran the blockade into Cuba, blagged my way into Eritrea, ran around Iraq with an AK-47, spent seven days in Tibet and warned schoolchildren in Afghanistan about the dangers of men with beards.

I met the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, rode on top of a 18-wheeler through the northern badlands of Kenya, hitched a ride on a cruise ship to The Dominican Republic, joined a Bwiti tribe in Gabon, screamed at the ocean in El Salvador and watched a space shuttle blast off in the USA.

I’ve fed the crocs in Australia, hunted the dragons of Komodo, befriended the orangutans in Borneo, played with the lemurs in Madagascar, washed the elephants in India and eaten live octopus in South Korea.

I tip-toed into North Korea, took the slow boat to Nauru, danced with the Highlanders of Papua New Guinea and was rescued from Muslim fundamentalists in The Philippines by a ladyboy called Jenn.

Yes, he’s an Amazing Vagabond. No doubt about that.

Herodotus – The Father of History (and all Vagabonds)

Father of VagabondsQuite a title to hold  “The Father of History” and yet, it is quite firmly in the dead cold fingers of Herodotus. Nephew of the poet Payasis and not only the father of history but of anthropology, and one can equally (but not so forcefully) argue he is the father of all travel writers and vagabonds. One should also point out that because of his sometimes fanciful tales he has also been known as the ‘father of liars’ which also seems to make him the patron saint of modern travel writers.

Born at Halicarnasus, which is modern day Bodrum, Turkey in the year 484 B.C. He was a rich kid and we can guess like modern rich kids in Bodrum, he spent plenty of time on his parent’s yacht and enjoyed the perfect summer climate there. At 20 years of age, he left, not for a gap year travel, but to explore and document as much of the known and unknown world of his time. As far as we know, he was the first to undertake such a journey with such a goal.

He first headed towards Memphis – no silly, not the home of the King of Rock and Roll (Memphis, Tennessee) but Memphis, Egypt. He visited the pyramids, watched the Nile overflow its banks, and wrote of Heliopolis and Thebes. It’s he who was really the first tourist of the world.  He described the religious rituals, the daily life, the food, and the culture of Egypt and in the process, he set the foundation of anthropology.

From Egypt he set out to Libya where he was amazed by snakes, elephants, and an animal he described as “having no head but eyes on the chest” – from this we can guess he wasn’t averse to trying out the local psychedelics.  From there to Ethiopia before leaving Africa and heading back towards Bodrum by way of Phoenicia (Lebanon), Syria, Palestine, and Arabia.

He described Arabs as the people who ‘kept any vow they might have made’ and wrote lyrically of their spices and religion in Assyria and Babylon (Iraq).  Next he went to Persia (Iran) because he wanted to document as much as possible about the wars between the Persians and the Greeks – at the time, Persia wasn’t a Muslim place and Herodotus notes that the Persians of that time didn’t like their gods to be depicted in human form either. He was enthusiastic about the Persian custom of transacting business over too much wine – something that would probably make the mullahs of Iran a bit mellower today if they adopted it.

Next, Herodotus ventured into India, the Punjab, and Afghanistan.  From there he ventured into the ancient country of Media – which today is what we call ‘the ‘stans’ of Central Asia. From Central Asia he ventured around the Caspian and Black Seas and into the Caucasian Mountains. He explored a considerable portion of what is today European Russia including stretches of the Volga, the Don, and the Danube.

Around the Black Sea and to the Bosphorus before returning back to the Aegean Sea where he explored the many Greek isles and introduced his readers (later of course) to the Amazons, Lesbians, and Cretans – three terms today which have very different meanings than in his time.

World Map of Herodotus
The World According to Herodotus

After eight long years – he returned to Halicarnassus and read his travels at the Olympic games in 456 BC. At this time he was exiled to Samos by a dictator who was obviously threatened by what he represented (an open travelers’ mind perhaps) – he returned in rebellion and the tyrant was overthrown – at which point he was again exiled to Samos.

Finally, he retired to Italy (like all good travelers should) and died in the year 406 B.C. – one can imagine that he was completely unaware of the iimpact he would have on the world, but as you can see – as I write this nearly 2,500 years later – he was one very kick ass vagabond.

Amazing Vagabond: Anthony Bourdain

I still miss Anthony Bourdain. Remembering he is gone makes me sad although, I don’t know that he would have been enjoying himself in Covid Times – hell, he wasn’t enjoying himself in pre covid times, I guess. I hope in whatever comes next he is doing what he loves and finding joy where he found pain here. This world isn’t easy for those who see beyond themselves.

Anthony Bourdain is Not a Bullshit Artist

Anthony Bourdain is Not a cuntOne of my favorite celebrities in the world – Anthony Bourdain. I was introduced to him back in 2005 when a close friend handed me a book called Kitchen Confidential and said “Read this. You’ll love this guy.”- The title sounded like a bullshit Hollywood Madam type of book so I took it with low expectations and planned to give excuses whenever she asked me if I’d read it.

Then, one day when I knew I’d be in the bathroom for a while, his book was the closest thing on hand aside from a box of Apple Jacks I’d already read – so I grabbed it. Within two paragraphs I was hooked.

You see, I’ve worked in some kitchens. I’ve made sandwiches, worked as a seafood line chef in a high-end kitchen, been the sous chef in a southern BBQ joint, and washed all kinds of dishes. I’ve smoked more dope and done more lines of coke with kitchen staff and pantyless waitresses than I care to admit. Check out this line:

I want to tell you about the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly – a sub-culture whose militaristic hierarchy and ethos of ‘rum, buggery, and the lash’ make for a mix of unwavering order and nerve-shattering chaos -because I find it all quite comfortable like a nice warm bath.

Hunter S. Thompson was dead but this guy was still alive and kicking. I read his book and then I went looking for more. I found it. This was a guy who could write, made me hungry for food, made me feel like my adventures were pretty tame, and who was traveling the world and making a spectacularly kick ass television show where he didn’t seem to be pretending to be someone else.

Anthony Bourdain is smart, funny, irreverant, and successful. He’s introduced a whole generation of punk-rock lost souls to the joy of food and travel.  Here’s a bit of his backstory (pulled from Wikipedia and his website at AnthonyBourdain.net)

Anthony Bourdain was born  in 1956 in New York City.He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 and went on to become a professional chef. Hi s love of food was kindled by an oyster he ate in France as a boy. It was given to him by a fisherman while his family was on a vacation there. In 1998 he became Executive Chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.

Kitchen Confidential was a New York Times best seller in 2000 which led to his writing two more best sellers – The Nasty Bits and A Cook’s Tour. He’s written nine other books including a graphic novel for DC Comics.

His TV show : No Reservations began in 2005, so when I went looking for more, I found one of the most enjoyable food and travel shows ever produced. Yeah, I’m a fan, that’s why I’m writing this to introduce you to him.

I have no idea how many countries Anthony Bourdain has been to, nor does it matter. I would guess that he doesn’t even know…the important thing is that he goes, he eats, he shares, he learns, and you know what?

He’s not a bullshit artist. He shows respect to the food, the cultures, the places, and the people wherever he goes. He doesn’t mind disrespecting blatant commercialism, celebrity, or even himself and calls bullshit as he sees it. That’s why I’m a fan and that’s why I recommend you read his books, watch his series (there’s another called  The Layover) and miss him like hell.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Eudoxus of Cyzicus – Extraordinary Navigator Lost at Sea

You know those great musicians who die when they are 27 and live on forever as the greatest even though the musicians who live into their 80’s probably are a whole lot better?

portrait of Eudoxus
While no portraits of Eudoxus of Cyzicus exist, he probably looked something like this Greek man who looks Turkish and is suing a Swedish yogurt company for using his image and saying he looks Turkish. They should have called the yogurt – Eudoxus of Yogurtus Cyzicus.

Eudoxus of Cyzicus wasn’t one of those guys. He was really one of the best, one of the greatest and though the facts are quite obvious and obviously speak for themselves, he has largely been forgotten by history. In fact, if you start a conversation about either Eudoxus or Cyzicus – you are likely to immediately asked Who? What? or Huh?

Who was he?  He was a 2nd century  (B.C.) Greek navigator who tried to circumnavigate Africa about 1700 years before anyone else tried again. By the way, he probably failed since he disappeared along with all of his ships and crew on his 2nd attempt. Of course, maybe he found paradise and decided not to return home.

Cyzicus, by the way is located near the present day Bandirma in Turkey and while there isn’t any evidence to say that it is where the scissors were invented – I like to think it might be true.  The ampitheatre there was considered as one of the seven wonders of the world and was the largest ever built – at least until a larger one was made. The monuments of this great city were carted off to build the Hagia Sophia and later Ottoman monuments. The site is now an uninhabited wet land.Extraordinary Navigator

His career included much more than just his disappearance, however. He made successful voyages to India from the Red Sea for the Egyptian Pharoah-King Ptolemy Euergetes II and loved to party down with the locals (okay, I just added that part in though it could be true.)

He sailed the monsoon system of the Indian Ocean 120 years before the baby Jesus let out his first wail and he was written about by Poseidenius as a hero of yore back when yore was considered to be pre-yore. The story goes that a shipwrecked Indian sailor found his way to Ptolemy’s court and offered to guide a ship to his homeland in turn for passage. Ptolemy thought about it for a second before saying “Get Eudoxus – that guy can sail anything. I think he’s in Cyzicus.”

Much to the surprise of everyone Eudoxus not only accepted the challenge but also came home with a load of herbs, teas, spices, and precious stones.  Needless to say, he was sent back. One story has it that he was in love with Ptolemy’s queen and she returned the feelings – of course, that is a story I just made up because it sounds rather nice. There is no historical record of it – but if it were true, you can imagine why he kept getting sent away on dangerous missions.

ancient navigation astrolabe toolWhile some early historians thought it was all a pack of lies (the whole voyage to India, not just the part I made up), modern scholars are pretty sure he really did make the trips. One reason is that during the 2nd century BC,  Greek and Indian ships plied their trade with one another in ports like the modern Turkish city of Aden. By the year 50 BC there were plenty of Greek and Roman ships sailing the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Of course, if he kept returning to have the King’s queen swooning over him, it was necessary to have more dangerous missions placed before him. Ptolemy next said something like “Why don’t you go West and just keep going…” So, Eudoxus, not one to really understand a hint, got in his ships and went to Spain where he built more ships and set out to go around Africa – something else that no one else had done and something that he probably had no reason to suspect was even possible – so we have to think that maybe some of the herbs from India were smokable and of the sativa variety. Or maybe not.  Here’s a bit from Wikipedia – not the most reliable source but for this story, it probably is worth the weight in gold.

When Eudoxus was returning from his second voyage to India the wind forced him south of the Gulf of Aden and down the coast of Africa for some distance. Somewhere along the coast of East Africa, he found the remains of a ship. Due to its appearance and the story told by the natives, Eudoxus concluded that the ship was from Gades (today’s Cádiz in Spain) and had sailed south around Africa. This inspired him to attempt a circumnavigation of Africa.

Personally, I like the story with Ptolemy’s queen a bit better, but what we know for certain is that he shipwrecked somewhere South of Morocco, probably in modern Mauritania and then spent some time making repairs before once again heading back to Greece where he was told once again to get lost.

So, once again, he  set out to circumnavigate Africa and this time it is presumed that he was lost forever though some, such as Pliny, claim that Eudoxus went all the way around and came home. The truth is probably that he finally got the hint and went and found a queen of his own somewhere.

Papa Vagabond- Ernest Hemingway

When it comes to famous vagabonds, people often forget that respected writers now often had their roots as shiftless vagabonds. Ernest Hemingway is no exception. He was a man of action and an extraordinary vagabond.

Perhaps the most famous vagabond of them all, Vagabond Ernest HemingwayErnest Hemingway , was a well-known American writer, he was born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. He began his career as a news writer in a newspaper office in Kansas City. He joined a volunteer ambulance group in Italian army during First World War. He was wounded while serving at the front and spent his ample time in hospitals. After some time he returned to United States and became a reporter for American and Canadian newspapers. He was sent to Europe again to cover events such as the Greek Revolution.

Hemingway became a member of the group of expelled Americans in Paris, he explained about this in his work The Sun Also Rises
. Another important work of Hemingway which was very successful was A Farewell to Arms
, this was a study about the depression of an American ambulance officer in the war and his performance as a deserter. He traveled to many places like a vagabond for his work and like many other authors he was also considered a world traveler. For the background of his most aggressive novel “The Old Man and The Sea”, he used his experiences as a reporter at the time of civil war in Spain. This is the story about a journey of an old fisherman and his struggle with a fish and sea.

Vagabond HemingwayAlong with traveling, writing Hemingway was a great sportsman, he liked to portray hunters, soldiers and bullfighters. He became deeply involved in the culture of all the places he visited and wrote very clearly about what he saw and experienced. Due to this Hemingway’s history became increasingly associated with the places that he traveled. From the beginning of his life Hemingway traveled more than many people during that time. He traveled like a nomad and this gave him an opportunity to show the aggressive image which he had created for himself. He visited Kenya and Tanganyika in 1933 with his second wife Pauline for the first time. He visited Africa again in 1953 with his last and fourth wife Mary, where he enjoyed another safari. Much of this time can be read about in his short story collection The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

Hemingway in Paris
Personally, I enjoy all of his work, but it is some of his lesser known works such as To Have and Have Not or On Paris that I find to be the best indication of his vagabondness.

Written for the Toronto Star between 1920 and 1924, in On Paris, Hemingway focuses his gaze on Paris. Writing with characteristic verve, he tackles cultural topics in chapters such as Living on $1,000 a Year in Paris, American Bohemians in Paris, and Parisian Boorishness. “The scum of Greenwich Village, New York, has been skimmed off and deposited in large ladles on that section of Paris adjacent to the Café Rotonde. New scum, of course, has risen to take the place of the old, but the oldest scum, the thickest scum and the scummiest scum,” Hemingway wryly observes, “has come across the ocean, somehow, and with its afternoon and evening levees has made the Rotonde the leading Latin Quarter showplace for tourists in search of atmosphere.”

Hemingway ended his life with a shotgun in a log cabin. Some say it was alcoholism, others that he couldn’t stand a life of being older and debilitated. Personally, I think he simply wanted to know what adventures waited on the other side either that or he saw what global tourism was going to become and decided to get out before it fully manifested itself.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Extraordinary Vagabonds – Nearchus the Voyager

great explorer NearchusMost famous for having been an Admiral of Alexander the Great, if Nearchus the Voyager had lived during a time when the great shadow of Alexander cast it’s light over all in the world, he would be remembered as one of the great explorers of history.

Nearchus was born on Crete sometime around 350 B.C., became a tutor of Alexander, and then later explored and charted all of the coast of Alexander’s Asia from the mouth of the Indus to the mouth of the Euphrates.  The reason for the expedition was to open up communication between India and Egypt,  but for Nearchus, the voyage was about traveling and obtaining knowledge of far off lands.

With 2000 men and Nearchus the Explorer scores of ships, Nearchus sailed down the Indus while exploring the delta and then set forth to explore unchartered seas. Before he was through he had explored unknown parts of the Arabian Coast, the Persian Gulf and had begun charting an expedition to the Red Sea.

He was the first Greek to visit Bahrain and one of the great captains of Maritime history. We know of him from the chronicles he wrote of his voyage. The book,  Indikê is now lost, but its contents are well-known from several sources, especially the Indikê by Arrian of Nicomedia and the Geography by Strabo of Amasia.

There was a lagoon at the mouths of the river, and the depressions near the bank were inhabited by natives in stifling cabins. These seeing the convoy sailing up were astounded, and lining along the shore stood ready to repel any who should attempt a landing. They carried thick spears, about six cubits long; these had no iron tip, but the same result was obtained by hardening the point with fire. They were in number about six hundred.

Nearchus observed these evidently standing firm and drawn up in order, and ordered the ships to hold back within range, so that their missiles might reach the shore; for the natives’ spears, which looked stalwart, were good for close fighting, but had no terrors against a volley. Then Nearchus took the lightest and lightest armed troops, such as were also the best swimmers, and bade them swim off as soon as the word was given. Their orders were that, as soon as any swimmer found bottom, he should await his mate, and not attack the natives till they had their formation three deep; but then they were to raise their battle cry and charge at the double.

On the word, those detailed for this service dived from the ships into the sea, and swam smartly, and took up their formation in orderly manner, and having made a phalanx, charged, raising, for their part, their battle cry to the god of War, and those on shipboard raised the cry along with them; and arrows and missiles from the engines were hurled against the natives.

They, astounded at the flash of the armor, and the swiftness of the charge, and attacked by showers of arrows and missiles, half naked as they were, never stopped to resist but gave way. Some were killed in flight; others were captured; but some escaped into the hills.

Those captured were hairy, not only their heads but the rest of their bodies; their nails were rather like beasts’ claws; they used their nails (according to report) as if they were iron tools; with these they tore asunder their fishes, and even the less solid kinds of wood; everything else they cleft with sharp stones; for iron they did not possess. For clothing they wore skins of animals, some even the thick skins of the larger fishes.

Nearchus met his end in the the battle of Ipsu (at least according to some historians) and so was not one of those who picked up the pieces of Alexander’s empire once the great man had perished – although, there are alternate histories which say that he did outlive Alexander and threw his support behind Heracles, the illegitimate son of Alexander. There is no way to determine which account is true.

Oddly, Nearchus is often confused with St. Nearchus, an Armenian Christian who became a Christian saint, despite the fact that the Greek Nearchus lived well before Christ.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Buddhist Vagabond – His Holiness, The Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama VagabondThe Dalai Lama is the name given to the leader of all affairs concerned with the religious Gelug branch of Tibetan Buddhism. In other words, the Dalai Lama is the religious head of Buddhists in Tibet. However, the Dalai Lama’s patronage extends to Buddhists all over the world, and He is seen as a holy figure, along similar lines as the Vatican Pope. The post of the Dalai Lama is traditionally given to the person who people believe is the reincarnation of God, and this is generally decided at the time of birth. There have been 13 Dalai Lamas so far, with the 14th Dalai Lama currently in position. The first Dalai Lama was born in the year 1391, and the current Dalai Lama was born in 1935.

Dalai LamaThe current and 14th Dalai Lama’s real name is Lhamo Dondrub, and He is religiously called Tenzin Gyatso. The Dalai Lama has many distinctions to His name, perhaps the most prestigious being the Nobel Peace Prize, that He was awarded in 1989. Born n July 6, 1935, to a family of traditional farmers, the Dalai Lama was believed to be a reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama right at birth. As a result, he had a very religious childhood, and was given many of the previous Dalai Lama’s belongings. Dondrub’s reign as the Dalai Lama began on 17 November, 1950, and has been a gratifying journey. The Dalai Lama always fought for the rights of fellow Tibetans, and the people in power did not fancy this behavior much.

The Dalai Lama travelingAs a result, after a long process, the Dalai Lama was sent out of the country, to exile, to India, where Buddhism is quite a big culture. He found many loyal followers among the Indian Buddhist crowd, and felt at home. The Dalai Lama has traveled all across the world, speaking and giving his message of equality and freedom. The Dalai Lama was listed as the second most spiritual person on Earth by the Watkins Review. Many films and novels have been inspired by the Dalai Lama’s life and no wonder: it is a very amazing life indeed.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Extraordinary Carthaginian Vagabond – Hanno the Navigator

The voyage of Hanno the Navigator 500 BCIn the annals of great explorers, there is one name that is often overlooked – that of the Carthanginian Periplus of Hanno – later known to the Greeks as Hanno the Navigator . Neither a Greek nor a Roman, but a free man of Carthage and perhaps one of the great unheralded navigators the world has ever known.

While the exact dates of his explorations are not certain, historians agree that they took place sometime around the year 500 B.C.E. It was around this time that Hanno left the city of Carthage – for those wondering, Carthage was located approximately where Tunis, Tunisia now sits.

Hanno left Carthage with a fleet of sixty rowing ships for the purpose of colonizing the unknown territories of Northern and Western Africa. With him were an ungodly number of people which counted in somewhere around 30,000!!!! Hanno’s job was to take all of these people and get them set up in colonies in the great unknown areas.

Passing through the Pillars of Hercules (between modern day Gibraltar and Tangiers, Morocco) the fleet set out into the Atlantic Ocean and turned south.

They founded a city called Thumiaterion at approximately modern day Safi, Morocco. From there, having left a number of settlers, he continued Southward to the isle of Cerne – a place much disputed and lost to history but given the voyage of Hanno, probably either Tenerife and the Canary Islands or less likely, Cape Verde. Even more fanciful is the idea that Hanno reached Atlantis…but who knows?

From Cerne, Hanno sailed back to the mainland and found a large river. Judging by the descriptions of the animals and landscape, we can assume that he was in modern day Senegal or perhaps The Gambia.  He encountered not only elephants, reed filled lakes, crocodiles, and hippopotomai, but also hostile natives that drove he and his settlers back to Cerne.

From Cerne, again, Hanno went further south to find a land that was wonderful by day but lit by fires at night.  He rounded the cape of Hespera Keras and encountered a people steeped in mysticism and music. His own mystics (an essential party to any Carthaginian voyage advised leaving quickly) and so they went south again.  This time they reached modern day Guinnea-Bissau and the Isle of Orango upon which they mistook gorillas for a race of hairy men.

Hanno the Navigator - Finder of Gorillas

In its inmost recess was an island similar to that formerly described , which contains in like manner a lake with another island, inhabited by a rude description of people. The females were much more numerous than the males, and had rough skins: our interpreters called them Gorillae. We pursued but could take none of the males; they all escaped to the top of precipices, which they mounted with ease, and threw down stones; we took three of the females, but they made such violent struggles, biting and tearing their captors, that we killed them, and stripped off the skins, which we carried to Carthage: being out of provisions we could go no further.

This is as far as Hanno reached before returning to Carthage with Atlas lions and stories of wonder. He left seven colonies behind (all in modern day Morocco) and presumably returned with much lighter ships. It is no wonder that Hanno became king of the Carthaginians. History knows him as Hanno II of Carthage.
ship of carthageThe voyage of Hanno is much in dispute, in order to come to a greater understanding of it, I’ve referred to many books and online sources, none of which were more helpful than this article which details the fact, the fiction, and the speculation.   http://phoenicia.org/phoewestafrica.html

I too, am guilty of some speculation but in reading the accounts of Hanno the Navigator, the above description of his voyage feels the most right to me.  One thing that can’t be argued is that the voyage of Hanno was one of the great epic voyages of all time.

Can Hanno the Navigator even be classified as a vagabond? To my mind, the answer is yes – in that a vagabond is anyone who sets out on a voyage of discovery where the unknown is the biggest thing that is known.  But, like everything with Hanno – all is in dispute. We don’t even have an idea what he looked like.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Mark Twain – Riverboat Vagabond

mark Twain VagabondMark Twain is one name that almost everyone who has studied English at school knows. There is at least one story by Mark Twain present in every English school curriculum by default, and the most popular choices are Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Twain, born Samuel Clemmins first started writing by contributing towards his brother’s newspaper, by giving in other occasional article or two. Twain gained national attention after the publication of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” a humorous story that he wrote during his brief stint as a reporter. He then discovered that he had a great talent in writing, and that was what he began to do. Twain was also known as a speaker, putting his wit and satire to good use.

Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain
1. Total abstinence is so excellent a thing that it cannot be carried to too great an extent. In my passion for it I even carry it so far as to totally abstain from total abstinence itself.

2. There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man’s notion that he less savage than the other savages.

3. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.

4. The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass.

5. Of the demonstrably wise there are but two: those who commit suicide, and those who keep their reasoning faculties atrophied with drink.

6. Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born to John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton Clemens, on November 12, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. He was the sixth child in the family, of a total of seven. HIs first traveling occurred at the age of four, when his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, which would later become the setting for Twain’s main characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Mark Twain in DragTwain’s father died in 1847, when Mark was just eleven, of pneumonia. Twain then became a printer’s apprentice. Then, when he was 18, Twain left Hannibal for New York. After a brief stint there, he moved to Philadelphia, then to St Louis and finally to Cincinnati. He used to educate himself by going to the public libraries at all the places he worked at, during the evenings. He finally returned to Missouri at age 22.

Mark Twain: Further Reading
Autobiography of Mark Twain
The Bible According to Mark Twain
The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race
Roughing It by Mark Twain

Twain began his travels with his elder brother Orion, who was an aspiring politician, in the early 1860s. Judging by the misadventures they had, they could have benefited from travel insurance, but it wasn’t available at that time. Twain and Orion traveled across the Rocky Mountains and The Great Plains, and finally ended at Nevada, where Twain tried his hand at mining. Having fared unsuccessfully at mining, he dropped it and started work for a local newspaper. It was here that he first used his pen name, Mark Twain, which is how he is known by, today. The name was a term used by Riverboats to measure the depth of the rivers. Twain had worked on the riverboats of Missouri when he was a youngster.

Mark Twain Riverboat SteamshipTwain then moved to San Francisco in 1864, where he published his first story in the Saturday Press, a weekly. It brought him national attention, and resulted in his traveling to Europe and the Middle East, funded by a local newspaper. He wrote a collection of travel letters while on these trips.

Twain returned to the US after his trips and then settled down. He continued writing stories and speaking to the public. He died on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut. Mark Twain has become a tradition, with many of his works being taught at schools worldwide and thus making him perhaps the most famous American writer in history.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Henry Rollins – Punk Rock Vagabond

A long-haired Henry Rollins (circa 1983) sings with Black Flag in Tucson. Photo by Ed Arnaud.
A long-haired Henry Rollins (circa 1983) sings with Black Flag in Tucson. Photo by Ed Arnaud.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Henry Rollins is more than an actor, DJ, spoken word artist, and musician punk rocker. He’s also a vagabond activist and world traveler.

 

 

 

I’ve been a fan of Rollins since the mid-80’s when I was introduced to Black Flag.

Rollins is an outspoken human rights activist and speaks out on social justice, gay rights, and crusades against war and oppression all over the globe. On his spoken word tours he promotes equality including raising money in support of gay-marriage organizations.

During the 2003 Iraq War, he toured with the USO while remaining against the war, at a base in Kyrgyzstan he told the crowd “Your commander would never lie to you. That’s the vice president’s job.” Rollins has toured in Kuwait, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan (twice), Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Honduras, Japan, Korea and the United Arab Emirates where he has performed on US bases. He has also traveled throughout the globe both for performances and to learn about the world.

Rollins joined Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in 2008 to launch a groundbreaking national public service advertisement campaign, CommunityofVeterans.org, which helps veterans coming home from war reintegrate into their communities.

Rollins has summed-up his approach to activism, “This is where my anger takes me, to places like this, not into abuse but into proactive, clean movement”

His book  Occupants goes into detail about that.

RollinsFor the past twenty-five years, Henry Rollins has searched out the most desolate corners of the Earth—from Iraq to Afghanistan, Thailand to Mali, and beyond—articulating his observations through music and words, on radio and television, and in magazines and books. Though he’s known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the greatest statements can be made with the simplest of acts: to just bear witness, to be present.

In Occupants, Rollins invites us to do the same. The book pairs Rollins’s visceral full-color photographs—taken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few years—with writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary. Simply put, this book is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, and resilience. Occupants will help us realize what is so easy to miss when tragedy and terror become numbing, constant forces—the quieter, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith, and even joy.

Check out Occupants – or at the least enjoy some of his spoken word on youtube – Rollins is awesome.

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