Sunday, May 20, 2012

On Days Like These

«An Tagen wie diesen, wünscht man sich Unendlichkeit
An Tagen wie diesen, haben wir noch ewig Zeit»

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Most Perfect Afternoon

Lieblich ist's, im Frühlingsgarten
Mancher holden Blume warten;
Aber lieblicher, im Segen
Seiner Freunde Namen pflegen:
Denn der Anblick solcher Züge
Tut so Seel als Geist Genüge,
Ja, zu Lieb und Treu bekennt
Sich der Freund, wie er sich nennt.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lines on lines on lines

1. The Midwest is really rectangular from the sky.

2. Azealia Banks

Friday, April 6, 2012

엄마, 인천공항이에요

After a two-hour train ride to New York and a 14-hour flight to Incheon:

"엄마, 인천공항이에요."
"아 그래... 지금 자야 되는 시간 아니야?"

Seoul for the weekend

  • Surprise Mother (success!)
  • Get a haircut
  • Find a hat for Class Day. Oh, why doth time so quickly fly?
  • Enjoy Seoul during springtime

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Houston back to Yale

Back in Houston, we spent the afternoon downtown at Discovery Green before heading to the Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel. Disclaimer: most of the following photos are taken from Alex's album.

Outside the Menil Collection
Discovery Green

In the evening, to round out our Texas experience, we headed to Reliant Stadium for the Houston Rodeo and the Band Perry.

Reliant Stadium
The world's largest rodeo
The Band Perry

The next day we spent some time at the Galleria, had dinner with the parentals at Brenner's, and then visited the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens for their 'Sip and Stroll' event through Ima Hogg's 1920s estate grounds.

Later that night: Wild West and Howl at the Moon. Nothing quite as gratifying as witnessing a Turk learn how to two-step.

And for the survivors, a late-night visit to my favorite spot in downtown Houston (though the fog obscured the view of most of the skyline):

Back to New Haven tomorrow!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Route 90

From Big Bend, we had two days to make it to Houston. Our original plan was to spend a night in Austin, but hotels were fully booked for the South by Southwest music festival, and I didn't want to impose five guys on any of my friends at UT. So we switched our one-night destination to San Antonio, which ended up being a great decision.

We headed north out of the park until we reached Marathon, TX, where we stopped to check out the historic Gage Hotel before having lunch.

Shops down the street

We then faced a choice—there are two primary routes out of the Big Bend region back east towards civilization: Interstate 10 and U.S. Route 90. Thanks to what a friendly gentleman on our flight to Midland had told us about the landscape, we decided to take the slightly longer route along Route 90, which runs closer to the Mexican border.

Option 1
Option 2

Dear reader, if you ever find yourself driving east out of West Texas, definitely choose Route 90. Much of the landscape appeared to be an extension of the national park, and then as we continued east towards the Texas Hill Country, the rolling landscape became much more verdant before it flattened near Houston into the Gulf Coastal Plain.

On a different note, we were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol at several points for routine ID checks. Turns out, West Texas patrol officers are not used to seeing SUVs full of college-aged guys, and especially not a Greek, a Turk, a Korean, a Mexican, and an American traveling together. All of the officers we spoke with during our checks were friendly, albeit somewhat confused about/fascinated by five guys from Yale in West Texas for spring break.

Late afternoon, we curved along Route 90 and suddenly saw an incredible vista open up before us. There had been great scenery along much of the drive back east, but this was certainly the most dramatic. We stopped the car at a small barbeque/rest area before the bridge and decided to open up some bottles of Lone Star for the sunset.

We read on a plaque that we were looking at the Pecos River High Bridge, which carries the Southern Pacific Railroad across the Pecos River gorge. When built in 1892, it had the distinction of being the highest bridge in the world. It was replaced by the current structure during World War II.

Photo credit: Alex

A few hours later, we made it to San Antonio, where we explored the Riverwalk area for a while before I introduced the gang to their first Whataburger. Instantly converted.

The next morning, we made an obligatory stop at the Alamo for a dose of Texas history before getting back in the car to head to Houston.

Remember the Alamo
Trip summary

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Big Bend National Park

The next stop on our road trip was Big Bend National Park. On the way, we spent a night at the Lajitas Resort, which was charming but fairly uneventful. The highlight of the night was dinner in the nearby town of Terlingua at the Starlight Theatre. Chicken-fried antelope strips FTW.

On the way back, we decided to stop the car on the side of the road for some impromptu stargazing. Learned two lessons:
  • Car roofs are not constructed to support the weight of five men.
  • You haven't really seen the stars until you've gazed at them on with your buddies on a clear night in a remote desert region far from any lights. 
I could go on about the night sky (complete with shooting stars for our viewing pleasure), but I'll spare you the cliches and the mushiness.

The next morning, we headed into Big Bend, one of the largest, most remote, and least visited parks in the US National Park system. The park runs along the Rio Grande and is a study in stark contrasts. There's not much I can say that pictures would not describe better:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Note: This post is being written in April 2013, when I decided to restart my blog by going back to spring break 2012 and filling in the gaps.

Marfa is, without a doubt, one of the coolest and strangest American towns I have ever visited. The town's motto starts to give you an idea of the unlikely foodie and art destination in the high desert of far West Texas: "Tough to get to, tougher to explain."

As Newsday describes:
It takes so long to get to Marfa, Texas, that you half expect a town crier and trumpeter to herald your arrival. Instead, all there is to stop you from driving straight through this town of 2,000 is a blinking yellow traffic light and the occasional tumbleweed on Highway 90.  
But you'll notice right away that this isn't your typical desolate West Texas burg. (For starters, it's named after a character in a Dostoevsky novel). Sixty miles east of the Mexican border, Marfa is the coolest art town in America, with stellar restaurants, a world-class museum, art galleries, an independent bookstore, chic food trailers, funky accommodations, an NPR station and a bar that used to be a funeral home.
When E, S, A, DW and I were planning our road trip, this is one of the videos we watched that convinced us to visit the town:

The nearest commercial airports—Midland and El Paso—are both about three hours from the city. We found an inexpensive one-way flight from Houston to Midland, where we rented a car and beelined it to Rosa's Cafe & Tortilla Factory for some of the best tacos this born-and-bred Texan has ever had in his life before heading out of town on Interstate 20.

Three hours, one left turn, and some pretty neat landscapes later, we were in Marfa, population 1,981.

The Davis Mountains (from State Highway 17)

We checked into the Thunderbird Hotel, a once-unremarkable roadside motel-turned-icon of minimalist art, complete with pecan wood furniture, cowhide rugs, Malin + Goetz amenities, and typewriter rentals.

Thunderbird Hotel pool

We then rented bikes to explore the town and take advantage of the perfect West Texas spring weather. Below, a few pictures of our bike gang, the Presidio County Courthouse, the Paisano Hotel (where Giant was filmed), and a few other local attractions:

The most charming part of the town is the town square in front of the county courthouse, which today is occupied by numerous art galleries as well as historic institutions such as the Bank of Marfa.

After dinner (more than a year later, I cannot remember what we had, but given the company I am sure it was delicious) we headed to El Cosmico, a lodging concept that describes itself as "part vintage trailer, safari tent and teepee hotel and campground, part creative lab, greenhouse and amphitheatre—a community space that fosters and agitates artistic and intellectual exchange...a unique communal outpost in the West Texas desert."

The lobby

They were having a teepee rave that night, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately I was too distracted by the bizarre music, the different images being projected at each of the rave stations, the participating characters, and the overall atmosphere to take more than this one picture in one of the less strange teepees:

Yes, she is wearing horns

It seemed like half of the people we met told us they were artists transplanted from Brooklyn, which did make matters a bit clearer.

After filling up on the general hipsterness, we headed out for our last stop of the night, the Museum of Electronic Wonders and Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour, which had been on our itinerary ever since we saw it in the Etsy movie at the beginning of this post. After one bite of our Gruyère, caramelized onions, roasted brussel sprouts and Dijon mustard grilled cheese sandwich, I had to ask the owner artist/collector Adam Bork (who is, by the way, as quirky as he seems in the video) if he would ever franchise in Houston. He politely replied that he would consider it.

The following morning, we biked over to the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum founded by artist Donald Judd with an emphasis on permanent large-scale exhibits. Our tour guide was artist Mike Bianco, a San Francisco transplant who moved to Marfa to open a studio and store.

A few pictures from the tour (Dan Flavin's Marfa Project, John Chamberlain various works):

The highlight of the tour was Judd's 100 untitled works in mill aluminum, a fascinating play on form and light with 100 large unique aluminum pieces with the same rectangular outer dimensions. (Photography was not allowed.)

Also found out that some of the buildings were formerly part of a military installation that housed German prisoners of war during World War II. One of the original signs:

"Den Kopf benutzen ist besser als ihn verlieren"
("Better to use the head than to lose it")

(Generally solid life advice, I would say.)

Our final stop in Marfa was Mike's studio, where I picked up a teacup for Father and a beautiful gray-blue vase that is currently sitting on a bench in my room at home.

MUD (Marfa Utilitarian Designs)