Saturday, 29 October 2011

Can You Drive From Alaska To Russia?

Can you drive from Alaska to Russia? Yes, yes you can.

In high-school I had the odd inclination to jump into the car and drive to Russia. I only told a few people, and they all laughed. But now, thanks to the Internet, I realize I'm not the only one with this "crazy" idea. As we all know, America is actually quite close to Russia near the Alaskan coast. Technically the two countries are only 64 miles apart. Those 64 mile seem like light years when you realize you're not going to get across. A proposed tunnel, built by the Russians, may solve the problem partially, but the bottom line is that spirit of exploration within those of of who want to do this cannot be diminished.

Sure I should just buy two tickets to Cairo and go enjoy the nice exchange rate with the middle east, but I crave adventure. Something inside of me wants to go to my Avis counter ask for a car and smugly sign my name to where it says "Won't drive in Mexico or Canada", and then laugh as I run to my rental car. Drive through Canada, into Alaska and then stand on the Alaskan coast (probably in flip flops and a tank top) and figure out some way to visit my Russian friends on the other side.

Yes I know, even if you make it to the Bearing Strait, or even across to Russia, you'll find incomplete, or ineffective infrastructure, remoteness, and multiple other problems. It won't matter though, because once you get there, they have endless amounts of vodka. Need further encouragement? It's been done before: Steve and Dan Evans sailed a Land Rover Defender, yes a car, across Bering Strait, where they were met with a small fine, (apparently it's against the law) and some ecstatic Russians ready to drink with them.

Also in 2006, a British and American walked, yes walked on foot across a frozen Bering strait over a period of fifteen days. Think it's absurd, well that's exactly how the original Alaskans migrated. The irony is that when the explorers made it to the the Russian coastline they were temporarily arrested and detained when they arrived. But imagine the feeling!

So if you really want to drive to Alaska, it appears that at the current moment, that is what you must do: park in Alaska and walk across. (Assuming you don't have an amphibious vehicle.) This also will involve a lot of survival skills and equipment, an extended vacation (more than my two weeks off per year), and an almost reasonable $72 fine when you get detained by Russia's finest. I guess for now I will put my hopes on hold. Maybe, I'll stick with flying to London, or go down to Cairo... but one day, when you least expect it... and I disappear, I might be walking to Russia just to prove I can do it.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Anamorphic Chalk Drawings By Julian Beaver

Julian Beaver
Julian Beaver, (Beever) nicknamed The Picasso of Pavement, is a Belgian born English freelance street artist whose specialty is anamorphic chalk art drawings. A type of artistry known in France as trompe l'oeil meaning to deceive the eye, Julian combined European busking with his talent, and amazing skills which ultimately led to worldwide recognition.. Beaver uses flat surfaces such as streets and sidewalk as his canvas, then manifests 3-D optical illusions through the art of morphing. By looking at the anamorphic images from the correct angle, the picture seems to defy the laws of perspective. Some suggest art is all about the angle you approach it from, and in Beever's case, it's the various ways at which you look at his masterpieces that make observers say "wow!"

Julian Beever pictured with his 3D chalk art drawings.

Update! Due to the popularity of this post, Kristen sent me this note to share with my readers on Mr Beaver's New York showing:
I noticed that you have posted about Julian Beever and his artwork on your blog in the past, and I thought you would be interested in his newest creation. My agency recently worked with Julian to create the “Fountain of Youth” in Union Square in NYC a few weeks ago. We recorded a video of how he works and posted it on YouTube. You can check it out here:

It’s the first video we’ve seen produced of how he creates his amazing pavement drawings. Check it out, see what you think, and pass it along if you like it. Let me know if you’d like to know more about the campaign.

Julian Beaver's website:

Friday, 14 October 2011

Meant for something greater

Rose was meant for something greater.
How do you measure the value of your life? By what you can buy, or what you can do?

Like the sound water makes just before it boils, Rose always felt some sort of internal calling which was indescribable. She couldn't tell anyone for fear of ridicule, but she knew, something inside her was telling her that this life she was in wasn't all that there would be in her story. No Rose knew, what only a few select people knew, that she was meant for something greater.

Of course Rose didn't know when or how destiny might call. She didn't know if it was God calling, or if she was completely honest in her times of despair, that she might be delusional. All she knew is she was certain that her life would have some purpose, beyond the mundane, some greater meaning than she could see for herself at this moment. In fact it was entirely possible she concluded, the mere concept that she felt this way would lead her to self-fulfilment of her own destiny. She might change the world, if she could find her way out of this life.

It's deliciously malicious.
As she stared out into the aisles of shoppers, like rats in a maze, Rose was certain as she swiped the umpteenth package of bologna through the bar-code reader at the checkout of her job, there must be an escape. As the fat women on the other side of the conveyor belt drooled at the lunch meat, her three children, all tethered  by way of bungee cord, and leashed to the bumper of her handicap scooter chirped like little birds for a candy bar. Rose tried to be a good person, but bad thoughts occasionally crept into her mind. She already had begun daydreaming of a scenario in which the three little piglet children, upon realizing the Girl Scouts' had arrived at the front of the store with a wagon of baked goods, simultaneously yank their obese mother and her scooter, like a wild pack of dogs, stopping only once they've obtained their chocolate covered mint cookies. Yet the mother and her conveyance, both screaming, and overwhelmed by the laws of momentum continued their path into oncoming traffic and their untimely death. Rose cringed.

"Snap out of it!", Rose demanded of herself, as she read back the woman's total though it shined glaringly at the woman's face. Her internal voice now screaming  "for God sakes, please don't write a check", as the fat woman broke out her checkbook, a custom engraved leather covered checkbook with a cross on the cover, and a Bible passage imprinted on the check. After an eternity of writing, as if to steal time from Rose's youth, she handed Rose the check and with a wink, a smirk and said "now don't spend it all in one place honey!" Rose inserted it into the register and closed her eyes as she braced for what came next while handing the woman the receipt; it's what always comes next: "Have a blessed day!" said the woman as the electronic motor of her rolling seat strained to drive God's creature out of sight. Rose knew this woman wasn't here to help her; idols and idioms only curtain the dream.

In fact no one in her life was. It appeared as though everyone she knew was here to prevent her, to stop her from leaving. From finding out the truth, of becoming who she needed to be, of fulfilling her destiny, the secret she kept inside, of being meant for something greater.

That's when she came through Rose's queue and caught her off guard. "I used to dream of killing my customers too" said Alex as she introduced herself to Rose's face of shock and surprise. "How did you...?"- Rose was baffled; "know? The look on your face. Hell, I practically wanted to shove the lady's patronizing face in a deep fryer and I don't even work here," she confessed. "I used to be just like you, dreaming of grabbing my boss by the hair, dragging her over to the meat slicer, and turning it on. Sometimes I wondered if I was in a television show, and at any moment someone would pop out and tell me this reality was a joke on me. Surely if this is all real, if people were this blatantly consumed for normality, then I might be meant for something greater?" Rose was now bewildered. She had felt alone all her life, misunderstood, an outsider, but here before her was Alex, and this must mean something. Alex handed Rose a book, its front cover white, its back cover black. Then she leaned over the conveyor belt and whispered in Rose's ear: "The answer lies in the infinite possibilities between the finite world."

Deep fried human flesh. It's a slow painful death.
"Save it for someone who cares Tinkerbell", screamed the now impatient customer who arrived at register eight with a box of Twinkies and grew indignant at the epiphany. As Rose turned away, she realized Alex was gone. "Can you help me carry my groceries to my Hummer too", smirked the customer as she refused to pick up the single bag with its golden bars of gooey gluttony pie in it. "Oh and double bag it too!"

By the end of Rose's shift she had read the tiny book in between each customer. She grabbed a loose receipt and wrote out a set of numbers, one through ten. "Ha!" she screamed as the pencil pointed between the three and the four. Finally she knew what she must do. Rose ripped off her apron, pulled out her phone, crushed it with her foot and then she walked out of her job forever. She went to the bank, and took out all the cash she had, drove to the airport and bought a one-way ticket. On the dust covered dashboard of her car, she left a ring and a note written in lipstick that read "Goodbye, I'll miss you." She knew as she made each decision, in some other universe there was a version of her making excuses not to, remaining at the register, too scared of the consequences to really live. "I will not be that Rose!", she declared as she left the book opened with a single phrase circled:

 Invisibility is the cornerstone of secrets but 
your choices in this world are the chemistry of reality.

As she made her way to the gate at the airport, she knew there was no going back. She knew the only way out of this world she didn't fit into, was to give it all up. That meant everything, no matter how much it hurt. To risk it all for something better. This place with which Rose had lived in her whole life was a manufactured, and a packaged reality like the food upon the shelves of a grocery store, designed to keep her from escaping. She chuckled as she realized all the things that held her back. Her car, her cell phone, her job, and most importantly her.

The things she owned, had ended up owning her.

 This was her letting go, and by that single act she had already achieved more than she had ever before, or that most people ever would. She had changed from a passive observer to an active participant in the evolution of humanity.

Great things are about to transpire.
As the sun began to set, Rose boarded international flight 314, and sat down down beside her with a grin. Rose already felt a part of something important, something greater, by asking the question. It always starts with a question, she knew that now. She turned to Alex, put her hand in hers and they both smiled knowing everything had led up to this moment. In silence the two former cashiers placed their feet on the bulkhead, and their faith in themselves as the plane left for the unknown.

And so her story began, Rose, who was meant for something greater only if she was willing to risk herself to the greatness of it all. Who now could decide for herself where she belonged in the vastness of it. To choose rather than be chosen. To save herself, for only she can walk the path- the journey to something greater.