Monday Song #19

This song came out last year, but I think it still holds up.

“…eatin’ bread sticks with out a care!!”


#3 Real de Catorce, Mexico; #2 Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The list of top five places I’ve been and would go back to in a heart beat continues this week with #s 3 and 2.  Tune in next week to find out which place holds the #1 spot.

#3: Real de catorce,  Mexico
Reason: hidden treasure


I will just describe the scene of entering this town and tell me if you would get back their at all costs:

We (5 adults and a 4-year old in a Toyota Matrix) drive down these remote Mexican mountain roads. The pavement turns to cobblestone, the cobblestone turns to dirt, and our altitude continues to rise. We come across a random town with nobody in it, but it looked ready for a parade/festival, and we were greeted by this guy:


So as we ascend, we, and multiple other carloads of people, need to ask a food vendor if we are lost, if he has heard of, and how do we get to one of the magical towns of Mexico. Right before despair set in, we come to a tunnel cutting through the side of a mountain leading to our destination. We wait our turn to pass through the one way tunnel, with old-ass stones, low ceilings, and dim lights.


On the other side, we are greeted by a teen who tells my friend (who is a native Spanish speaker) he will never find a hotel without his help. He jumps on the hood of our car and directs us through the narrow cobblestone streets to a hotel. We head down to the street markets and peruse the brightly colored clothes, religious idols, and souvenirs. The history seeps under the skin and before I knew it, I was mesmerized. How could I not want to go back.**

Oh yeah, I took this picture there too.

Image** if you want to see the town and the tunnel, watch The Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. The scenes with Pitt in the small town were filmed here.

2: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Reason: hip, historic, and romantic nostalgia

I had the first conversation with the woman who became my wife in Plovdiv. There is a lot of personal history in that place, to go along with the 6,000 years of history before I was born. Plovdiv has an ancient Roman amphitheater, hip hip nightclubs and cafes, Bulgaria’s first recycling program, art museums that celebrate the cutting edge and ancient times, a city square that could rival any piazza or plaza in Europe, do I need to continue….?


Visitors can spend an afternoon or a week and feel fulfilled. The major attractions are centrally located, so they can all be seen in an efficient manner. The shops are aplenty, parks are a-lovely, and the diskoteks are a-hopping, so an extended stay will not be left with any dull moments. This is very comforting because I know whenever I make it back there, no matter how much time I have to give it, Plovdiv will be ready to show me a good time. One of the best moments of my life happened in Plovdiv, adding my little story to its rich history. I know there are many great moments left to be had. I think ya hear hear me knockin’ Plovdiv, and I think I’m coming in, and I got my family, a group of 12 gypsies dancing the horo, and a whole bunch of chickens coming with me!

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Distraction / Travel List

DISTRACTION DISTRACTION DISTRACTION!!!  Read here if you want to take your mind off of the insanity for five minutes.

For the next three weeks I will be posting parts of a list entitled “5 Places I’ve Been That I Would Go Back to in a Heartbeat.”  I will list #s 5 + 4 this week, #s 3 + 2 next week and #1 and honorable mention on the third week.  So without further ado:

Reason: Unfinished business

I spent about 18 hours in London on my way home from my Peace Corps service. I spent a lovely time with this guy Alex, who I met a couple weeks earlier in Macedonia. He showed me the town, put me up for the night, and drove me to the airport, which saved me at least $100.* At Alex’s direction, we took a 5 hour power walk and knocked out Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Piccadilly Square.  I saw all the big sites, but the list is not completely checked off. The town was settled in 43 AD, the amount of history there is mind-blowing. Stories and sites of the World War 2 blitz, art and museum exhibits that cover the entire span of human history from all over the world (thank you imperialism), the Globe Theater, the pub life, the hooligans, I’m not sure what I would make a priority, and that is all the more reason to go back. Let me know if you want to come along so I can let Alex know how many places to set at the dinner table.

* I can remember telling my folks about staying with this guy, and my Mom asked, “how’d you know the guy wasn’t some wierdo? And what would you do if he was?” Both excellent questions that I constantly asked myself the entire time I was in this dude’s house. It’s just one of the joys of traveling. Putting your faith in others, and hoping for the best.

Reason: Live Music


After a 2 day bus ride from Worcester, MA, to Austin, our friends whisked us back to the blues bar they had left to get us. Great first impression of a city. Transitioning from being surrounded by the characters on Greyhound buses to a bar lined with pictures of all the greats who played there was grounds for serious culture shock, but I was instantly in love with this town.

I was amazed that EVERY bar had at least a couple of guys strumming guitars. I was amazed there was high quality blues in a concert open to the public in a park where people responsibly sat with coolers full of beer and enjoyed a good time. I was amazed at the BBQ.

I feel like Austin is one of those places that you just have to like, and if you don’t, there’s something wrong with you, man. I was hesitant to include it on the list because the pick seemed too easy. Of course anyone with any sense would want to go back to a city that a) is home to three really close friends, b) is always warm, and c) has music, film, and comedy festivals year round. It is reassuring that Austin will be rocking, weird, and there for me no matter how many years it takes to make it back.

The list continues next week.

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Polarization, Bumper Stickers, and Faux Accents

I am frustrated because I feel like I am THIS close to putting together a profound societal observation in a succinct yet understandable manner, but I just can’t make it all work.  I’m going to give it a shot and hope I get my point across.


Here it goes:
So I noticed two things lately that are clear markers of the ongoing polarization happening these days.

I was commenting to myself about how there is a lot of good real music in popular culture these days. Mumford and Sons, the Black Keys, and Adele are perfect examples of what I’m talking about. As I was thinking about this, I realized what other types of music are tearing up the charts: Nikki Minaj, Pit-bull, Keisha. One group plays their own instruments, the other makes music I could probably create with the right app on my phone. There isn’t much in between. Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and all those boy bands made music that was clearly computerized but could easily be recreated by a live band. There is no way this ( could ever be recreated by humans. The other choice is music made rockers who have been strumming a banjo or banging a drum their whole lives. So pop music is becoming both more and less human at the same time. Pick a side, because there is no middle ground.*

I saw a political bumper sticker on a car the other day that spelled out just how divided everything is.  It was in the same red white and light blue the Obama campaign used during the last election, and it simply said “Not a Republican” and had written in the corner. I just felt so sad that it would just be assumed you are a Democrat if you are not a Republican. Like there’s absolutely no possible way anyone could possibly have a political thought that is not compatible with one of the two “teams” in power. Ooh, maybe I’ll make some money on the side selling bumper stickers that say “Not a Republican…. But also not a Democrat” and then put the blog web address in the corner.  It could be a way of saying “I can think for myself” or “This political system is full of robber and thieves,” or “insert anti-establishment statement here” It just really sucks that it comes to this. You’re either with “us” or against “us” regardless of who “us” is.  What’s going on with the line in the sand mentality?**

**Britney is clearly taking a page from Madonna’s playbook with the whole faux British thing.  Up next is a big book of black and white pictures featuring Ms. Spears in lingerie riding a donkey (which is dressed in a wedding gown) and hugging a sad clown frying an egg while wearing a sexy blind fold. 

**By the way, another suggestion for the future: all political bumper stickers are made with glue that only lasts 2-2.5 years. I’m not joking, I saw a “Clark ’04” sticker the other day. I don’t even know who that is. With my glue, that sticker would have been on for the primary season, hung around for little after the election to let everyone know that person is/was a conscientious objector to whomever was elected, and everyone would move on, instead of living in the past, man.

Another idea that came to me:
In the same vein of parental controls for your children, add a blocker for sites frequented by a splurge-ey significant other. The financially conservative member of the set can install this program to block sites like Pottery Barn, J Crew, LL Bean, or other sites where non-existent money is commonly spent. Any attempt at charging non-essential online purchases would be redirected to this site for a good laugh.


Ok, I don’t know who you are, but if you’re out there, please listen:  Yesterday, this blog got one view, and that view was from someone in India.  I hope I don’t sound confrontational when I ask “Who are you and how did you find this?”  India.  I don’t know anyone in India.  I would love to know what combination of search engine terms and cookies and widgets guided this person to Firecat Central.  If you’re out there, please leave a comment, please, I’m dying to know.  Also, the post with the pictures from Canada was the second most viewed post ever and a third of the views were from Canada.  Maybe I’ll just write travelogues about random highly populated places, so FCC will come up on searches in these areas and get more of a global audience.  Hey, I might be on to something.


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