May 212013
American Robotnik Going on Travel Hiatus

American Robotnik has been going strong since October 2011, early ups and recent downs notwithstanding. It has been both helpful and inspirational: It has helped process and grow from my immigration experience. It solidified my decision to make writing the focus of my work. It triggered the epiphany that led to my writing and publishing (on demand) of my book, Guerrilla Yardwork: The First-Time Home Owner’s Handbook. The time has come for another adventure. I am joining the love of my life Lindsay on a yearlong trip around the world […] Continue reading >

Apr 232012
Between East and West Is a Long Road

Eighteen years ago Anne Applebaum traveled through the flat lands between Russia and Poland and documented her journey in "Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe."  At first glance, it was a different time: Communist governments had toppled a few years before and the chaos of transition to democracy pervaded all life. But, Applebaum presages what Anne Porter documented in last year’s "The Ghosts of Europe": history casts a long shadow across time. Shifting borders, clashing empires, and old conflicts turn making sense of the borderlands into a daunting […] Continue reading >

Mar 272012
Head-Spinning in America

The title of Bertrand-Henri Lévy’s "American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of de Tocqueville" is both accurate and deceiving. Lévy’s prison tours are a thin pretext for his travels through the United States in 2004, an afterthought in the dizzy-inducing whirlwind of a trip.  Whereas Jean Beaudrillard spun, in "America," his account in terms of space (the desert), Lévy narrates the country as movement (the road). The result reflects the approach: Lévy breezes through the land in fragments and enumerations. Similar to any lengthy road trip, as soon as I settled into the book […] Continue reading >

Feb 172012
America the Hyperreal

Visiting and then writing about the U.S. has a solid tradition among the French, but it’s safe to say the late Jean Beaudrillard‘s 1986 work"America" hasn’t made the list of books covering their country that Americans would showcase. Even the most cynical among my new compatriots would hesitate to call their country "a giant hologram", a "blank solitude," or a "narcissistic refraction." Abstract hyperbole defines Beaudrillard’s "America". On the ground, it is the desert that defines Beaudrillard’s America. He can’t get enough of it because "you are delivered from all depth […] Continue reading >

Jan 092012
The Lure and Magic of Junk Stores

On a recent road trip to Northern California, I made a point of revisiting the Guerneville junk store. Tucked in the western edge of the Safeway parking lot in downtown Guerneville, the junk store, like many other junk stores, casts a strange magic on me whenever I visit it, which is on every trip down there. A junk store is like a lure: it pulls you inside but it hurts as well. As always, I forgot to check the name on the storefront. Thinking back, there may not even be […] Continue reading >

Dec 282011
This Journey

[T]his journey, this long, enduring journey by car, this ground-level journey that spares you nothing of the tectonics of space and hence of time, allows the traveler to experience a mode of the finite that alone can allow him to come to terms with the finitude of landscapes and faces. Or rather: by yielding that sense of distance and gravity of places back to the traveler; by adding to that a sense of immensity; by pursuing a frontier that seems to keep hiding, growing ever more distant as he […] Continue reading >

Nov 302011
Praha My Prague: A Micro-Memoir

This is a reprint of a guest post I wrote for Czechmate Diary. Enjoy! *** “I’ve been to Prague,” is the most frequent response I hear when I tell Americans I’m from Slovakia (“Where is that?” and “Czechoslovakia?” are close behind). Prague looms large in many people’s imagination, and every time I hear the sentence, I think of ‘my Prague’ and the layers upon layers of memories the city conjures. The Velvet Prague I visited Prague for the first time when I was 12 1/2, with my parents in […] Continue reading >