New York, Toronto, Montreal, Boston…

…it’s been a busy few days and all.

Photos are continuing to appear via my Flickr page and I still need to upload a slew more from Montreal. But for now here are some quick notes as to what’s been up:

Candles in Brooklyn

So as I half guessed I was late getting out of Charleston due to a delayed train — in this case due to an accident down in Florida, so a little perspective helped for me there. (It’s one thing to be a few hours late, quite another to simply no longer be here on this planet.) A bit of a slog getting up to NYC as a result but we all got through it; ended up making friends with my seatmate, who was heading out via a series of last-minute connections to see her boyfriend in Italy — hi there C.W.! — though I gather there were still more adventures to come. I hope her guy V. ended up making her the promised lasagna.

Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights

Hanging with Jesse and Dani in Brooklyn for a couple of days was a treat — some might remember my story of how I ended up at their wedding — and good conversations and rest had, not to mention the sheer beauty of seeing what the Brooklyn Heights could provide in terms of views over to Manhattan. As I told Jesse, I finally got a sense of the romance of the city after all these years, so that was a joy. Following a meeting of music writers for a soon-to-be-unveiled project, a small group of old and new friends got together for dinner one night which led to a lot of excellent conversation, catching up and all those things that I admit I kinda thrive on. Not to mention great food of course. Saju was the spot, if you’d like to check it out.

Manhattan itself

Toronto was next, a first time visit, done so I could finally catch up with a slew of friends in the area who I’ve known for many a year — in the case of one of them, almost a decade! — without actually having met them yet. That was a bit of delay on my part, I admit. Not much browsing time done in the city — it truly is a big suburban sprawl that’s weirdly fascinating in its flatness (in more senses than one) but it does have areas where more can be found than might be guessed. I have to highly recommend the Beguiling, easily one of the best comic book stores — hell, bookstores period — I’ve ever been in; I would have bought everything there and shipped it home if I could. I also had a chance to be interviewed by Scott Woods for a forthcoming project — but more on that later, I am sure. Staying with my friend (and sort of label boss) Chris P. was as ever a treat, and his housemates Heather and Morris equally fine folks.

Chilling in Toronto

Should also say at this point that I’ve been turning this whole vacation into the ‘watch the World Cup in an appropriate timezone’ deal, thanks to being on the East Coast and given where the games are being played. If a vacation is all about relaxing and enjoying, then I’ve been doing it plunked in front of a lot of TV screens — and you know, being able to do so that way or via ESPN’s internet radio feed instead of groggily getting up at 4:30 am and staring at a computer screen is a treat in and of itself.

Maurice in the dawn

I was busy listening to one of the games while taking the train on VIA from Toronto to Montreal — an experience I highly recommend, it’s a great ride — and as for Montreal itself, almost worth a post of its own, and I probably will do just that when I have a chance to work with all the photos. Seeing friends of long standing there was also its own treat, with the ever great Rrrobyn and her grand cats, especially Maurice, hosting me one night while I stayed at UQAM for the second. S1ocki, Alex, E. and J. and others kept it all going for what was a too short stay to wander a really vibrant, beautiful and complicated city, something not easily summed up. And for food alone, the full day I spent there easily rivalled my Charleston visit, top of the line stuff. (Though no poutine — I’ll have to save that for a beer-fueled visit next time, as my hosts all agreed on.)

Part of Lake Champlain

Monday I took the train from Montreal to Rhinecliff in New York, passing through the Adirondacks and stopping briefly at Saratoga Springs for a minute, strange given that I spent three years there in my youth. It was an echo of a past time returned very quickly, maybe it was enough. As for Rhinecliff, the stop there placed me near Bard University, where my cousin George is completing his MFA summer program this year. A wonderful night of catching up and meeting many classmates of his, including Fall fan Deitra (always a good sign), Andy Lambert and Ed and their great films, and, very randomly, Harrison of Les Savy Fav. And why not! A very personable guy.

George and the gypsy moth

Yesterday I made a connection in NYC to take the train route up to Boston, where I’m chilling right now — last night I hung with the Abunai! crew at the Burren in Davis Square, meeting up with a slew of friends tonight, and am being hosted by my friends Dan and Joei, still among the best folks I know. Tomorrow it’s back to NYC, staying with Eve and Ef again for a couple of days, hanging around with another last batch of folks and then flying home on Saturday. And I freely admit, much as I’ve enjoyed all this trip, I am looking forward to getting back, and having that whole Sunday to do nothing at all but, quite simply, decompress, relax and reflect.

But of course the World Cup will continue. Time for me to watch the first matches of today, in fact…

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