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New York City Notebook

I keep an oblongly rectangular reporter’s notebook in my back pocket at all times. I take little notes all day long – it could be said that I am an inveterate scribbler – so that I can record conversations, impressions, and descriptions to write about later on this travelogue. The following are excerpts from my New York City notebook.

Thoughts in Washington DC after talking to issue based activists and lobbyists for two days:

I hate issues. People who fight for issues, have ISSUES. (I don’t want any issues).

“Chicken enza, chicken enza,” spoke a Latino restaurant server with an armful of food on plates.

“What!” exclaimed the big, black, and very loud girl who was being served.

“Chicken entre,” the server corrected himself in better pronounced English.

“Isn’t that just called chicken!” the big, black, and very loud girl roared.

“Goodbye. Be bad,” were the parting words of the anthropologist, Kathleen Modrowski, as she left me to my own devices in the nation’s capital.

“You have an excuse to travel,” spoke the geographer Bob Kates, as he precisely nailed the prime directive of travel writing.

A man can do great things as soon as he hits and stays at rock bottom. From here there is never anywhere else to go but up.

“Act like I am asking you questions when you are writing,” my adviser advised me.

“I hate it when you ask me questions,” I thought.

“Africans love to sing, Africans love to drum,” spoke the drumming singer from Africa.

I suppose he loves what he does.

“They need it more than me,” spoke a girl who was trying to justify the reasons why she allows herself to be cheated while traveling abroad.

“Well I need an airplane more than most people, but that does not mean that I can steal one,” I countered.

Is not culture nothing more than the patterns of a mob repeated over and over again?

Cultures do not die, they move on, morph, merge with others, and change. The only thing that is static about cultures is that they are always leaving themselves behind . . .forever and ever and ever.

“I know you don’t want to expand too much, as you like subsisting off of dandilions and beer.” -The anthropologist Kathleen Modrowski on my career prospects after graduation.

“Sometimes a journey arises out of hope and instinct, the heady convictions as your finger travels along the map: yes, here and here . . . and here. These are the nerve-ends of the world.” -Colin Thubron, Shadow of the Silk Road

“Wade! You can’t go on this field trip!” the anthropologist Kathleen Modrowski spoke sternly. “There is a time and a place for you.”

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Filed under: New York City, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3161 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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