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Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 2 comments

Breaking Into the Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Heinz-Field

 

A stadium hasn’t been constructed yet that can keep me out.

Well, maybe one.  More on that later.

This week, I’m visiting Pittsburgh.  The hotel and casino where I’m staying are adjacent to the stadium where the Pittsburgh Steelers play their home games.  I’d mention the actual name of the stadium, except that the ketchup company which pimped the naming rights isn’t sending me a royalty check, so you’ll just have to try and guess the official name of the place.

I have a fetish for stadiums.  Like some kind of sick pervert.  Some guys like tits and ass.  I get a rise out of triple-deck overhangs and natural grass.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve made pilgrimages to every stadium humanly possible whenever I visited a new city.  Seeing stadiums up close in person are not only impressive as the architectural marvels they are, they’re also part of history.  Exciting things happen in stadiums, especially for us sports fans.

Moreover, visiting a stadium adds a much greater sense of perspective.  Watching a football game on television gives the average fan no sense of the actual experience of attending a game.  Sure, I’d rather stay at home too, and flip my Direct TV channels back and forth along with everyone else.  I also don’t fancy forking over $300 for seats in the end zone.  But there’s also a rite of passage of going to games when you can — parking, walking to the gate, taking a seat, tasting the shitty food, freezing your ass off, getting into fist-fights, and witnessing everything first-hand.  Otherwise, you really don’t “get it.”  It’s the difference between seeing your favorite band live in concert versus listening to a studio recording.  Sure, the sound quality is much better on your the iPod.  But which is the better “experience?”

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Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Blog, Travel | 4 comments

Dining in Dusseldorf

 

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Dutch food sucks.

Sorry, Holland.  Beautiful country.  Nice people.  But the local food scene is basically one Long John Silvers after another, only with unpronouncable names.

Your food choices in Holland are pretty much limited to the following choices:  Fish, fish, and more fish — and it’s all fucking fried.  Just about everything you order comes with fried potatoes topped with a giant dollap of mayonaise.  Yuck.  After staying here a week and losing a full belt loop in an unplanned fast, I’m ready to flee the country just to get a good meal.  And today that’s exactly what I did, racing towards the German border in a reverse blitzkrieg with the first authentic German restaurant as my primary target.  Hey, you know the food is lousy when you’re burning rubber towards Germany to get a decent meal.

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Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Blog, Travel | 1 comment

My Love Affair with French Cars

 

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There’s three things I love about France — their cooking, their wine, and their cars.  Well, maybe four things, but I don’t want to get into trouble.

Such fine memories.  In fact, I owned a Peugeot when I lived in Europe.  Day to day, that was funnest car I’ve ever driven.  Later, when I returned to the U.S., I went on to purchase two more Peugeots, including the last model that was ever imported into the United States.  Now, French cars have become quite a rarity on American shores.  This makes me sad.

About 20 years ago, Peugeot stopped exporting cars into the U.S.  Truth is, Peugeots never sold very well here.  Some of this lack of enthusiasm came from our cultural bias against the French.  Peugeot and other brands including Renault also didn’t help their cause any with shoddy craftsmanship.  They developed a terrible reputation that become impossible to shed from the early imports being problematic cars.  The cars got a lot better over the years, but as they say, one never gets a second chance to make a positive first impression.  The hint of a lemon smell stuck forever.

At the time, the American luxury car market was dominated by the Germans.  Now, Lexus and other popular brands have caught up and surpassed the Europeans, becoming the new automotive gold standard.  Meanwhile, few Americans have ever driven or even seen a French car, since most of the remaining models are now quite old, or have been restored as classics.

If Peugeot was my first love — then my tempting mistress has always been Citroen.

I’ve always wanted to own a Citroen.  But that wasn’t a widely held view.  The older Citroens looked funny.  Many people thought they were ugly.  At least let’s agree on this — they were certainly different.

You decide.

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Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 4 comments

In a North Dakota State of Mind

 

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North Dakota Short Stories.

Until recently, five miles had been the closest that I’d ever come to being in North Dakota.

Five miles — as in 35,000 feet high.

And why would I ever go to North Dakota?  Nothing against the fine people of that proud red-state voting, red-eat meating giant walk-in outdoor freeezer, but as far as I was concerned that territory might as well be called South Saskatchewan.  Or Mongolia.

If there’s a lesson to be learned about how our perceptions often do (and should) change over time, it’s that exposure to something you know nothing about often makes you gain an appreciate for it.  Except for Anthrax and FOX News, of course.

Fulfilling this pedestrian philosophical prophesy, days ago I penned the following narrative on what it’s like to stay in Downtown Fargo for a whole week.  Read “FARGO” here.

What I didn’t reveal to you then are a few of the many things that surprised me about North Dakota.  Did you know that:

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Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 30 comments

Fargo

 

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Tell someone you’re spending a week in Fargo, and a blank stare is likely to be chaperoned by a single word.

Why?

I had no idea what to expect on this, my first trip to Fargo, North Dakota.  Well, I thought I knew what to expect — which turned out to be completely wrong.

What I knew about Fargo was pretty much limited to the wonderful 1996 movie of the same name, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, a.k.a. the Coen Brothers.  Oddly enough, practically none of Fargo was actually filmed here, nor anywhere nearby.  In fact, just about every scene was shot a few hundred miles away, in Brainerd (Minnesota) and the suburbs around Minneapolis.  The Coen Brothers know this territory well, since they were born and raised in St. Louis Park, just outside the Twin Cities.

When I asked a local resident why they decided to call the movie “Fargo,” he told me, “because it sounds a helluva’ lot better than Brainerd.”

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