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.

 

Happy Fools Day! Fools take risks! Be a fool!

As you all know, I am a member in full standing of the brotherhood of fools. This is our day. In honor of that, I would like to point out that the key trademark of fools is that we are not averse to risk. We tread where wise men dare not go. We take the risks…in honor of that and dedicated to all my fellow fools, I offer the following quotes on risk. Live large fools, for tomorrow we will surely die.

Don’t refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase – that’s what wild geese are for. ~Author Unknown
To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. ~Soren Kierkegaard
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. ~Pablo Picasso
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap. ~Cynthia Heimel, “Lower Manhattan Survival Tactics”
I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I’m not afraid of falling into my inkpot. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first. ~Frederick B. Wilcox
Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is? ~Frank Scully
Yes, risk taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking. ~Tim McMahon
Many great ideas have been lost because the people who had them could not stand being laughed at. ~Author Unknown
The fear of being laughed at makes cowards of us all. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. ~Wayne Gretzky
I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean. ~G.K. Chesterton
What is more mortifying than to feel you’ve missed the Plum for want of courage to shake the Tree? ~Logan Pearsall Smith
A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for. ~John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic
To eat an egg, you must break the shell. ~Jamaican Proverb
To win you have to risk loss. ~Jean-Claude Killy
The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny. ~Napoleon Bonaparte
If you’re never scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take any chances. ~Julia Sorel (Rosalyn Drexler), See How She Runs, 1978
Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. ~Author Unknown
Prudence keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy. ~Samuel Johnson
This nation was built by men who took risks – pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action. ~Brooks Atkinson
The more chance there is of stubbing your toe, the more chance you have of stepping into success. ~Author Unknown
The healthy being craves an occasional wildness, a jolt from normality, a sharpening of the edge of appetite, his own little festival of the Saturnalia, a brief excursion from his way of life. ~Robert MacIver
Of all the people I have ever known, those who have pursued their dreams and failed have lived a much more fulfilling life than those who have put their dreams on a shelf for fear of failure. ~Author Unknown
Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome. ~Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, 1759
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. ~Robert F. Kennedy
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. ~Seneca
What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? ~Robert H. Schuller
You must lose a fly to catch a trout. ~George Herbert
The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet. ~Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield
Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic. ~Author Unknown
If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being? ~Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
Dare to be naive. ~Buckminster Fuller
It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves. ~André Gide
Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide? ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
There are those who are so scrupulously afraid of doing wrong that they seldom venture to do anything. ~Vauvenargues
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. ~André Gide
Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. ~James Bryant Conant
You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward. ~James Thurber
We fail more often by timidity than by over-daring. ~David Grayson
Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down. ~Ray Bradbury

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).

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.

Bicycle Vagabond – Dave Stamboulis

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).

Dave Stamboulis was born a traveller. Born in Greece, raised in Berkeley and on the road taking pictures and notes for most of his life since then. He  rode his bicycle around the world and his narrative of that trip Odysseus Last Stand won the Silver Medal from the Society of American Travel Writers. Dave lives in Thailand and is a featured contributor here at Vagobond.com. His books, articles and photos will blow your mind when you check them out at DaveStamboulis.com or at Flickr.com/photos/davestamboulis

Vagobond: What’s your first memory of wanting to travel? What about the first time you realized you wanted to capture the world on your camera?
Dave Stamboulis: I can’t say I really have much of a first memory of wanting to travel, probably because my parents took me traveling from a young age. My mother always had a great story about me that I thought explained it all. When we crossed from Greece to the US a year after I was born, the boat we were on ran into very rough seas. All the passengers were lying inside, all prone and sick as dogs. But I was out on deck crawling around. I guess it was a sign of things to come!
Vagobond: On your website, there is a great quote by Rudyard Kipling “There are basically two types of men in the world. Those who stay at home, and those who don’t.” What’s the hardest part of being one of those who don’t?
Dave Stamboulis: The hardest part of being a constant traveler is missing the time and energy necessary to put into relationships at home. Close to that would be a few other things, such as people, even friends, being jealous of your lifestyle, and subsequently dealing with those feelings, and also the fact that travel, when it becomes a lifestyle and living, is no longer exactly the fantasy and pleasure cruise that it once was.
Vagobond: Riding your bike  around the world is one hell of a way to break into travel writing – what was the most difficult part of that journey?
Dave Stamboulis: The most difficult part of riding a bicycle around the world was actually finishing at the end. I never intended to spend seven years wandering when I set out, it just happened. And in year six, riding across Central Asia as winter set in, with bursitis in my knee and endless days of frigid frozen sleet out on the road, I could find nothing enjoyable about what I was doing. In every way I wanted to stop, but I was pretty dedicated to the finish line at this point, so I put my head down and ground it out.
Vagobond: Did you ever expect that Odysseus Last Stand would get the acclaim and praise that it did? How much of that was part of your vision for it?
Dave Stamboulis: I had absolutely ZERO idea that Odysseus would do as well as it did, and basically launch my career as a travel writer and photographer. I basically wrote the book because when I returned home, I wanted to figure out what had happened to me and to somehow gracefully lay seven years of travel to a peaceful rest. Further on, I just wanted to share my adventures with friends and family. Then, once I had a 130,000 word manuscript that took over two years to write and edit, I figured it wasn’t going to be much of an endeavor if it just sat on a shelf taking in dust. In retrospect, I did put a huge amount of time and energy into it, and I researched and followed all of the proper steps in trying to become a first time publisher, and I guess it paid off. But I never expected it to do as well as it did.
Vagobond: Are you a goal setter? How much planning do you do to get your trips to go the way you want them to?
Dave Stamboulis:  I am a goal setter, but my goals are more like whims or dreams that aren’t necessarily overly concrete. I finished a cross country US bicycle trip that changed me quite significantly, and after that I wondered what could be next. A world trip came to mind, but the only real goals or aims of the trip at the time were to get to Tibet, India, and across the Himalayas, places I’d always wanted to go to. Once I got to Japan and started saving a lot of money working, then the planning got a bit more concrete, but most of that was based around weather patterns, monsoons, hot and cold seasons, and trying to avoid extremes wherever possible.
Vagobond: On a related note, how do you start your day? Do you have morning rituals?
Dave Stamboulis:   I guess I have always had morning rituals. I did yoga for many years, I did Zen meditation for a spell. While traveling, starting the day at a cafe, drinking a good cup of coffee and writing my notes became something to cherish. These days, being based in Bangkok, I usually get up and watch an NBA basketball game online in the early morning while having my coffee! (being a lifelong basketball fan and having the night games come on in the early a.m. here is a great way I find to warm up the day before I start working.
Vagobond: I was in Bangkok back in 2001 – it was obviously on the rise and from what I’ve heard, is now one of the most comfortable cities in southeast Asia in a Western sense…what challenges do you face living there?
Dave Stamboulis: Bangkok, in 2011, is probably 100 times more comfortable to live in than 10 years ago. I live 5 minutes from the Skytrain, so I virtually never deal with the infamous traffic, my nearby mega-supermarkets stock products from around the world, and I can find just about any kind of camera or computer gear that I need for work at reasonable prices. On the other hand, the Thailand that I fell in love with, the Thailand where people never honked their horns, smiled all the time, and just took it real easy, has drastically changed. It has become far more like the west or developed world in terms of stress, crime, greed, and focused on money rather than on anything else, and this is a very sad thing in my opinion. Also, given the decline of the dollar along with inflation, Bangkok is no longer the bargain paradise that it once was.
Vagobond: Back to that Kipling quote – what about family life? How does a man who goes build relationships? Or does he?
Dave Stamboulis: It is very difficult to sustain intimate relationships as a road junkie. I have had my share over the years, and have even cut down on my trips and time away during the times I have had steady companions. But I think it is tough to share the lifestyle, and probably the only way I think it really works is if you end up with someone who is in a similar line of work or way of thinking, perhaps another writer or photographer. I saw a documentary recently about Lemmy, the zany singer of Motorhead, and he was basically saying that as a touring rock star, there was just no way a relationship with anyone other than another musician was going to work out, and I think that is somewhat true. Artists tend to be rather committed to their passions, often at the expense of partners and friends in their lives.
Vagobond: Can you offer three travel tips that Vagobond readers may not have heard before?
Dave Stamboulis: I don’t know that I have any new tips, but
1) as I have gotten older and more “comfortable and convenient” I have resolved to take myself out of my comfort element at least once a year, it usually is rather life changing and reaffirming to go get on a rustbucket bus on a potholed road in the middle of nowhere with few amenities. It is humbling and reminds oneself just what real travel is all about.
2) Try going precisely to the places that don’t interest you. Years ago I didn’t have any strong draw to spending time in Africa, as opposed to Asia or S. America, whereas now, for me, Africa is somewhat the last great place to adventure in.
3) I think it is pretty important to combine some sort of project or focus with just a relaxing escape. I actually no longer really enjoy the “motion” part of travel. Too many hours on bad buses in bad hotels eating bad food without any of the comforts of home. But going on trips with the purpose of taking photos and gathering material for articles, it gives me a focus and gets me through those bad moments.
4) And I am sure this has been said, but I can’t stress the importance of it: TRUST PEOPLE. 99% of the people in the world are good, and if you open yourself up to them, you will be rewarded with amazing kindnesses and great memories.
Vagobond: Your forthcoming piece on the Kazakh Eagle Hunters (here on Vagobond coming Monday!)  was the kind of travel piece that I used to eat up when I was a kid. I would dig through 80 years of my grandmother’s National Geographics to find stories like that – what are some of your other awesome adventures?
Dave Stamboulis:  Probably the best adventures to me involve a bit of physical hardship. In Mongolia, it might have been the extremes of temperatures and landscape, a million miles removed from home in a harsh landscape with no amenities. One of my most outstanding adventures was a crossing of the back side of the polar ice cap in Fitzroy National Park in Argentinian Patagonia. I was with a climbing friend and we had finished several months of trekking and climbing throughout S. America and I was really spent and ready to go to Buenos Aires and go sit in cafes and read books. And my friend basically pressured me to do this final trip, which involved slogging huge amounts of gear across highly crevassed ice completely away from civilization. The trip was very hard, but the scenery, solitude, and sense of adventure was enormous.
Vagobond: I’m not going to ask you how many countries you’ve been to or which one is your favorite – instead, if aliens appeared and told you that you had to spend the rest of your life in just one place (let’s assume it has to be on Planet Earth) – where would you pick?
Dave Stamboulis: Put it this way, for most of my life, I always thought of places in the world to be a bit like stations on a train journey. Some stations merited getting off and staying in, some worth more time than others, but eventually, one would have to get back on the train and enjoy the ride. Well, Thailand changed that for me. This was the first place I ever said to myself, “I will die here,” meaning it as a place I felt based in and very at home. The other place in the world I have a very strong connection to is Nepal. I spent several years living there, teaching there, cycling and climbing there. I loved the people, the culture, the landscape. I went back for the first time in 12 years a few years ago, and actually had as much of an enjoyable time as the first time. The mix of friendly people along with the Himalayan landscape and culture is something I love.
Vagobond: What does the future hold for Dave Stamboulis?
Dave Stamboulis: The future? Given continued decent health, I am sure I will do more of the same, getting out and seeing the world, and trying to keep an open and fresh mind. On the one hand, it is horrible to go back to places that were paradises 20 years ago and see them destroyed by tourism and development greed, yet on the other hand, travel exposes one on a daily basis to lots of wonderful human interest stories, far more hopeful than the garbage we tend to read and be spoon fed on a daily basis on the internet, newspaper, and television.

Jack Kerouac

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).

On the road or on the seas, a vagabond must travel. It doesn’t matter if you have money or not, you simply have to see the world. Jack Kerouac and his friends were extraordinary vagabonds.

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist and poet born in Massachusetts in 1922. He is a literary iconoclast and a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac was very much influenced by Neal Cassidy, they met in New York and soon became friends. Some people even say that they even fell in love with each other.

Jack Kerouac VagabondVery soon they both began the series of cross-county adventures which was mentioned on Jack Kerouac’s book “On The Road”. They roamed all over USA like vagabonds. Jack Kerouac started writing about their travel experiences as and when they were taking place, but somehow he was not able to find a style suitable to the content, and he put the project away in that frustration. After a series of letters from Cassidy to Kerouac , he began the project again and the letters gave him an idea to write a book “On The Road” and it was a success. The book became a sensation by catching the voice of Cassidy. On The Road inspired the generation to travel across America in search of freedom and adventure.

More about the beats and Jack Kerouac:
Jack Kerouac: Road Novels 1957-1960: On the Road / The Dharma Bums / The Subterraneans / Tristessa / Lonesome Traveler / Journal Selections
On the Road: The Original Scroll
The Dharma Bums
Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diana DiPrima
Beatniks: A Guide to an American Subculture

Personally, The Dharma Bums is my favorite of his books, though On the Road is much more famous.

Vagabond KerouacCassidy married many women and he became the father for many children, his life has been explained in On the Road by Kerouac. In his final years he settled down with Carolyn Cassidy in San Jose. Whereas Kerouac married Joan Haverty, but she left him while she was pregnant. Next several years Jack Kerouac spent his life traveling and writing. He took long trips all over US and Mexico and he fell into drug and alcohol use due to depression. He died at the age of 47 due to internal hemorrhage because of heavy drinking. Kerouac’s life was a good inspiration for world travelers and a good lesson for heavy drinkers!!

Extraordinary Vagabonds: Harry Franck, Pioneer of the Vagabonds

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).

In terms of extraordinary vagabonds, it’s hard to imagine someone who fits the bill more than Harry Franck. This literary vagabond traveled the world and wrote more than thirty books about his adventures during the early 1900’s.

Among Franck’s books are:

A Vagabond Journey Around the World (1910, The Century Company)
Four Months Afoot in Spain (1911, Century Company)
Tramping Through Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras (1916, The Century Company)
Trailing Cortez Through Mexico
Vagabonding Down the Andes (1917, The Century Company)
Vagabonding Through Changing Germany (1920, Harper)
Roaming Through the West Indies (1920, The Century Company)
Working North from Patagonia (1921, The Century Company)
Wandering in Northern China (1923, The Century Company)
Marco Polo Junior(1929, The Century Company)
Zone Policeman 88 (Panama Canal)
South America:
Prince of the Vagabonds: Harry Franck
Glimpses of Japan and Formosa (1924, The Century Company)
Roving Through Southern China (1925, The Century Company)
All About Going Abroad (1927, Brentano’s Inc.)
East of Siam (1926, The Century Company)
The Fringe of the Moslem World (1928, The Century Company)
I Discover Greece (1929, The Century Company)
A Scandinavian Summer (1930, The Century Company)
Foot-Loose in the British Isles (1932, The Century Company)
Trailing Cortez Through Mexico (1935,Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
A Vagabond in Sovietland (1935, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
Roaming in Hawaii(1937, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
Sky Roaming Above Two Continents (1938, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
The Lure of Alaska (1939, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing, later printings by JB Lippincott Co.)
Rediscovering South America (1943, JB Lippincott Co.)

As you can see by his titles, this guy got around and was most certainly a pioneer of the modern vagabond spirit. What makes him special is that he was at that point when mass travel was just becoming an option for getting from place to place. As you can see from the picture above, Franck was a backpacker in an age when there really weren’t any backpackers. Certainly he had to make his own gear and figure out things that would make most modern backpackers quiver with nervousness.
Vagabond Harry Franck Franck’s first journey was after his freshman year of college when he decided to see Europe with just $3.18. Not a lot of money even in the 1900’s. He did it. The next year, on a bet, he managed to work his way not only across the Atlantic but around the world with no money at all to start and then published Vagabond Journey Around the World in 1910.

Harry Franck’s willingness to travel with no money, his keen eye for the details of his journey and the societies he recorded (some of which soon disappeared) make him a welcome addition to our list of Extraordinary Vagabonds.

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