On Black Friday, my father and I headed to the Jamaica fishing boat in Brielle, New Jersey. He told me to set my alarm for 2AM, but of course, I was awoken at 1:30AM by him tromping around downstairs preparing for the adventure. It didn’t matter much to me, what’s the difference between 1:30AM and 2AM…it was going to be a long day. We loaded the truck, dressed in our gear, and left at 2AM on the nose. I think we ended up at the boat around 3:30AM, which my father concluded was “probably a little too early” since the boat was scheduled to depart at 5AM. We loaded our stuff on the boat and picked out what turned out to be a great spot for the both of us and watching our fellow fishermen sleepwalk into the boat, pursuing a blurry dream of big fish and adventure.
An old man traveling solo was having difficulty removing a patch for seasickness from its wrapper and was unsuccessfully soliciting help from the crew.. I offered him a hand and quickly removed the patch for him, but then he needed help applying it to him. At this moment I gave pause and asked where the patch needed to go. Fortunately, he just wanted it behind his old ear and I pressed it on like I was touching a hot stove and received a warm “thank you” from the man. One thing I’ve learned in my life that is that it’s great to be a nice guy, but sometimes it can really backfire on you. Like giving a homeless guy some change and him calling you an asshole for not giving him at least a dollar. I was fearful that this guy might need more assistance throughout the trip and I’d become his go to guy, these fears were unwarranted though and he kept to the back corner of the boat content to fish alone.
At 4:45AM the captain began roll call (By the way, why is roll call called roll call? According to phrases.org, its origin is from the long scripts that were rolled up on a long sheet of paper, like a scroll…our captain did not have our names on a long rolled up scroll, he did more of a clipboard call). My father ordered us a bunk for the trip out, we went down stairs into the belly of the boat and picked out a clean and basic bunks and closed our eyes. The engines were so loud it was impossible to be bothered by anyone who may have been snoring or talking, I was too tired to be bothered by the engines, I was thankful for the bunk. It seemed like I was asleep for ten minutes, but who knows how long it was, but I awoke to the sound of engines slowing down and lights coming on, I popped up and headed for the deck.
You grabbed your rod, hooked up pieces of clam for bait, and drop it down 100 feet into a perilous ship wreck. You can feel the line bouncing in and out of debris, fish darting out from the wreck to tap your bait, and as the boat rolled over the waves, your rod yanked the heavy weight from the bottom causing your rod to bend as the weight was lifted off the bottom. As your line drifting in and out of tangled ship debris, you’d feel short taps on your line, the first one would be real quick, like a fish pinching your bait and immediately letting go, the second tap was two quick pinches and then release, you waited for the fish to get greedy and grab onto the bait, put their weight into it, at that point you would violently jerk your rod up and try to slam that hook deep into the fish’s mouth. My average rate of successfully hooking a fish was worse than Ryan Howard’s batting average in the playoffs. I was constantly ripping the rod up trying to hook onto something, the fish must have been startled to see a huge sinker and clam fly 2 or 3 feet up of the bottom after they took a nibble.
The whole day we were bumping our lines into fish and ended up catching at least a couple dozen. The fish were mostly cod, ling, sea bass, and dogfish (sand sharks). This made 14 hours on the boat pass in an instant, it was a lot of fun trying to keep pace with my father and talk a little trash when I’d catch something a little bigger. Ultimately, he caught the biggest fish between the two of us, a fat slimey ling that had definitely been living the good life at the ocean’s bottom.
I consider myself a fairly capable fisherman, but was very appreciative of the crew/mates on the boat, my father as well. Without their help, it definitely would have been frustrating at some points when my line got snagged, a new rig was required, or a hook was far inside a fish’s mouth that had vicious looking teeth. The weather was beautiful, it was my favorite Black Friday so far.
In the latest Harpers Magazine, they review the writings of Raymond Roussel.. Roussel died somewhat anonymously in 1933 and from what I can tell, his writing is difficult to digest. While I couldn’t enjoy his writing, I loved a letter he wrote to his idol’s (writer Pierre Loti) secretary:
“What I would like to know is if Monsieur Pierre Loti, towards the age of nineteen or twenty, when he began to write and discovered that he was endowed with genius, if he did not experience, during a short period of several months, a sensation of universal radiant glory…It would have been purely interior sensation and one doubtless followed by a terrible disappointment when, on the publication of his first writings, the public did not immediately realize that he had been a great poet.”
This quote reminds me quite a bit of Winston who is always telling me, “Watch and learn my friend!” or “Prepare for the world’s greatest (fill in the blank [train, car, monster truck, etc.]) show!” Winston has unbridled enthusiasm for his activities which he always deems spectacular…and they are. I hope he never worries about his audience and just keeps building and inventing, because the audience isn’t creating anything.
Well, my crazy year of traveling is complete and I wanted to rank the top ten places I’ve been in 2011:
10. Dallas, Texas – This place has promise, but you really need to have a car to get around. I think I like Texans, they speak in opinions but most often are correct.
9. Houston, Texas – I really only remember two things about this place, an enormous Gallery Mall that had an ice rink inside and a strange bar called Big Woodrow’s. Big Woodrow’s was one of my favorite experiences all year, crawfish was sold by the pound, they put a ziploc bag of ice inside our pitcher of beer to keep it cool, and we also sampled quite a bit of alligator there too, that was a good spot.
8. Miami, Florida – This place is growing on me, I figured out why I don’t like it that much, it’s sexy without substance.
7. Charlotte, North Carolina – I could live here, it’s a small town, a college town, a wealthy town, a rural town, and it’s not overly southern.
6. Orlando, Florida – There’s only one reason Orlando made the list….airboat ride. If I grew up in Florida, I would captain airboats and charter fishing boats, I know it.
5. Atlanta, Georgia – There’s always something to do here and Buckhead is a great place to be if you’re not paying. One of those places that is smart enough to incorporate all of its flavors and Atlanta has a lot of them.
4. Chicago, Illinois – I went to Chicago 3 times this year and still haven’t had the “Chicago is the greatest city” experience, but it is pretty good.. I need a local to show me the ropes sometime. I did take in a Cubs day game which was on my bucket list, but I’ll be honest, watching the Phillies play at Citizens Bank Park is a better experience. The foot long hot dog at Wrigley Park is absolutely the best hot dog I’ve ever had in my life, can’t imagine anything better.
3. Denver, Colorado – I went to Denver 3 times this year too and I like it more every time. I love the first steps out of the airport and inhaling that air, it is pure. Jac and I had a good trip to Beaver Creek deep in the mountains, was terrified by a homeless person on Colfax Avenue, tasted their local brews, ate a gin berry, was nearly hit by their electric bus on the 16th street mall, and have walked all the way across the city. It must be the air, the city makes me feel great.
2. San Diego, California – Beautiful weather, beautiful people, beautiful town. Best of everything and nothing else. While Miami tries to impress, San Diego impresses without trying. It is casually superior, just can’t help but being perfect.
1. San Francisco, California – You can sit down in a Starbucks and see 100 people walk by your window and not one will be remotely similar. Same goes for the streets, restaurants, bars, shops, and landmarks. Golden Gate Bridge, Haight Ashbury, North Shore, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Chinatown, and the list could go on forever, it is a strange and wonderful place.
I still love my Florida Keys and New Orleans, but San Fransisco has earned it’s way into the top 3.
Celebrated Dalia’s 3rd birthday a couple nights early because I have to travel this weekend to Boston. Can’t think of anything more precious than Winston giving Dalia a big kiss on the cheek and wishing her a happy birthday, she opened her present from Winston and gushed over it, then returned a big kiss on the cheek for Winston. I’ve seen those two battle it out and really get into some brawls, maybe deep down they really like each other!
I have traded in a bunch of old video games for a nice pair of headphones so I can play my games late at night without waking anyone. Jaclyn is confident that they have raised my level of geekdom to an all-time high.
I downloaded a bunch of Tosh.0 TV shows onto my iPad for long flights, only problem is that the shows are really inappropriate. One of my last flights had me seated next to a board member of a college and I’m pretty sure she thought I was appalling for watching it. I didn’t realize how messed up some of the web videos are on that show, I wonder how much more weird and disgusting things will get as our culture advances, like there once was a generation of people who thought Elvis was obscene, what would they think about the weird stuff on YouTube. I now will watch only if seated next to a young guy.
I think Boston is my last trip of the year! Thank God, it has been a long freaking year with too much travel.