Category: dispatches

  • Transnistrian shake down

    ODESSA, Ukraine It was the most pathetic shake down attempt I’d ever witnessed. It wouldn’t be a bribe, they explained, but I must pay money if I wanted to leave the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. In Transdniestria must give– give geld! the border guard insisted in a mix of tongues. I’d been told to prepare myself […]

  • Leaving Fortress Europe: a sojourn into Ukraine

    Our story so far: After three relatively glorious years in Saranac Lake, New York the author liquidated many of his assets and set off back into the world to claim his fortune or at least stave off boredom as he enters his thirties. After a grueling pace of travel that took him through a half-dozen […]

  • RCMP: The R is for ‘refund’

    SARANAC LAKE, New York — Back in June I wrote about getting popped – twice – in Canada. The first time was by a CN railcop in the Charny yard outside Quebec City on my way to Halifax. Second arrest was in St. Leonard, New Brunswick after my 48′ container car was flooded by a […]

  • Federales net 11 riders, four dogs stowed away on freight train in New Brunswick

    ST. HYACINTHE, Quebec — Get caught or get stranded. Neither was certain but I’d have to move soon or else that train would pull without me. No guts, no glory, I kept telling myself. I was in the wrong part of the Halifax railyard when I realized how little time I had. Between me and […]

  • Halifax freight trip derailed by bilingual bull in blue

    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — A little after 6 in the morning and everything was in place. Ensconced under an overpass in Montreal the tell-tale signs of success surrounded me: soggy cardboard, recent trainriders’ tags and a sleeping homebum told me that the site was well-known as a portal east to the Maritimes. Like clockwork, my […]

  • Fleshpots and Finance Ministers

    VIENNA, Austria Forgive me, gentle reader, for I am about to stray into adult territory. For that is what I did one weeknight evening on a trip through some of the seediest places purely for journalistic reasons. I had made acquaintance with a fellow journalist, whose identity I shall protect, who was investigating the underworld […]

  • Eating the free food

    VIENNA, Austria. Journalists in the United States jealously guard their sense of independence. In order to avoid even the appearance of bias, we’ve invented all kinds of rules silly rules for ourselves. One of these cardinal rules is never eat the free food. When going out for a meal or even a coffee we pay […]

  • Striking a deadly pose on a purple girl’s bike

    SALZBURG, Austria It’s t-shirt weather during the heart of winter in this Alpine city. The 6,470-foot peak of Untersberg rises up only a few miles from the city center, reminding this visitor that despite the balmy weather, the majestic Alps are not far. While snow-capped, it’s the only glimpse of snow I’ve yet to have […]

  • The $94 million question; Austrian steel executive aghast at Corporate America’s wage disparities

    VIENNA, Austria After a virtually sleepless flight across the Atlantic punctuated by crying babies, we touched down in Vienna’s international airport. I didn’t blame the wailing children one bit after all, they are merely expressing (loudly) what the rest of us passengers feel inside. Because air travel sucks. My in-flight companion and I only had […]

  • Politico: Tidy in its infancy

    WASHINGTON, D.C. Politico is such a brand-new news organization, clutter hasn’t had a chance to pile up on the reporters’ desks. Each desk was tidy; I was horrified. Three weeks into this venture, former Washington Post staffer of 21 years John Harris led us into a sleek conference room and began to pontificate on the […]

  • ‘I hope you won’t think Salzburg too provincial,’ the Austrian ambassador told me.

    Don’t ask me how or why, but the International Center for Journalists chose me as one of two American journalists to travel to Austria for a six-week placement with a major Austrian newspaper. My employer, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise was generous enough to grant me a leave of absence to work with the Salzburger Nachrichten […]

  • Accidentally Expatriated

    SARANAC LAKE, New York It was a such a simple, fool-proof plan, only a genius at incompetence could foil it. And when it comes to ingenious incompetence, I’m your man. Canadian National has been sending a lot of freight down through Vermont along the New England Central, I’d heard, through to White River Junction. Why […]

  • Shades of respectability (tend to spoil everything)

    SARANAC LAKE, New York Well I finally done did it. I landed me a writin’ gig. For a newspaper no less. Relocated on a week’s notice to the Adirondacks where I’m a staff writer for a small daily tucked up in ‘dem mountains, just shy of Quebec. It’s a groovy area, and I’m liking it […]

  • The Waiting Game

    “And now we play The Waiting Game. Aw, The Waiting Game sucks — let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!” — Homer J. Simpson STOWE, Vermont — Ah, yes The Waiting Game. I’ve gotten to know the rules well this past month. Not to say I haven’t been active. On the contrary, since leaving Brooklyn I’ve hitched […]

  • Foamers and Fundies

    BROOKLYN, New York — Capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Amman is just over a three hour drive from Syria’s capital Damascus. Both countries operate and maintain a fleet of comfortable air-conditioned buses that are efficient and inexpensive. Or you can take the train, which is even cheaper. Most Syrians give the train a […]