Travel Photobook: Princetown, England

Just after graduating from The University of Kansas in 2001, I took a poorly-planned trip to England for a month that left me flat broke.  Needless to say, every other trip I’ve taken has been well-budgeted.  Perhaps the greatest lessons in life are learned outside of the classroom.

After spending entirely too much money in London (some of which went to new clothes after the airport lost my luggage) and enjoying the lower cost of living in Exeter (where I found a couple of great pairs of pants), I spent a few days wandering about Princetown in Dartmoor, collecting my thoughts and bracing myself for the job search I’d inevitably have to engage in when I returned to Kansas.

Here are some of the photos I took while spending next to no money in Princetown:

The Plume of Feathers Inn.  The oldest building in Princetown.  I stayed in the bunkhouse for just a few pounds a night.Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Dartmoor Prison.  Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

The Railway Inn.Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Photos taken while walking around the village (which costs nothing to do, by the way).Processed with VSCOcam with n3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with a3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with a1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with g2 preset

Kansas City Photobook: Union Station

I had a vague notion to go to Union Station.  I’d never been there before.  When I was active in the theatre scene in Kansas City, I’d driven by it hundreds of times.  There was a four month rehearsal process for A CLOCKWORK ORANGE alone, not to mention THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, which were both performed nearby at the Just Off Broadway Theatre, between Union Station and Westport.

There’s a Pirates exhibit going on at Union Station.  There’s Science City.  The planetarium was closed that day.  There’s a cinema with an 80-foot tall screen.  I figured I’d go see the Actors Theatre’s performance of Eugene O’Neill’s A LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT.  If nothing else.  I’ve never worked with the Actors Theatre before, but it’s hard to pass up Eugene O’Neill.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t give you a review of the play.  Or tell you about any of the exhibits.  The only thing you could say I did at Union Station was have a latte from Parisi and some truffles from The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, both of which I would give five stars.  Otherwise, I just walked around and took photos.

Walking around taking photos might not sound that interesting, but I’d swear if there was one part of Kansas City you wouldn’t mind getting lost in, it’s Union Station and the surrounding areas.  On one side is the Crossroads, Kansas City’s Art district.  On another side is Crown Center, an expansive shopping arena where you can buy cool WIZARD OF OZ lunchboxes and eat at the Crayola Cafe.  On another side is the impressive and thought-provoking Liberty Memorial and National World War I Museum.  All within walking distance.


Union Station seems like the perfect setting for some Hitchcock or Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart.  Whether Jimmy Stewart is in the midst of some embroiled plot where all the innocent people milling about him are unaware of the situation or he’s on his way to Capitol Hill to stand up against a cold and calloused congress for the rights of the working man, there’s Union Station.  There’s always Union Station.  In fact, the film would probably be called UNION STATION and involve the interlocking stories of serval unrelated people, eclipsing even GRAND HOTEL.  In other words, it’s cinematic in scope.












A Day Out: Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza

When thinking of The Plaza, the first thing that comes to my mind is Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in MY FAIR LADY singing “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?”  To walk along the beautiful streets passing by high-end retailers like Armani and Burberry!  Ah, compare that to our peasant shops here in Lawrence, KS, which are mainly locally owned, where people toil their lives away to eke out a humble living.  Sure we have The Gap and Urban Outfitters on our little Mass. St., but Gucci?  No, sir, we’ve none of that ‘ere in Larryville.  Just an abundance of PBR and used (I mean “vintage”) clothes.

Sometimes it’s nice to see how the other half lives, however, to break free from the poor little village to which you’ve grown accustomed, to walk in luxury, surrounded by luxurious streets and buildings which contain luxurious things and to pretend, even if for one moment, that you could ever afford a pin-striped Gucci suit.  It’s the ancient art of window shopping.  To catch a glimpse at a life you could only dream of.

If Barnes and Noble is indicative of any other shop on The Plaza, they’re all impressive inside.  Three stories of books, notebooks, magazines, one story of music and movies, a cafe.  I bought a copy of Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and went on my way to brush shoulders with the glamour and luxury etched on every stone of The Plaza.





At this point, I was famished.  Glamour and luxury is all well and good, but, when it’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon and the only thing you’ve eaten all day is a mediocre doughnut you picked up at the grocery store (precisely, Dillon’s on 6th St.), your mind starts turning to other things.

On the advice of a dear friend of mine, I’d set out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory.  You can always tell a true friend by how acutely their advice strikes you.  Cheesecake is high on my list of things I could not do without.  Perhaps it was because I was in a daze of hunger, but I couldn’t find The Cheesecake Factory to save my life.  I did, however, come upon Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue.

When in Rome, they say, do as the Romans.  When in Kansas City, eat barbecue.  Seriously.  It doesn’t matter which one.  Everybody’s got their favorite.  Mine is Gates.  Other people acknowledge that Gates is a good one but argue that Arthur Bryant’s is better.  There’s Oklahoma Joe’s.  There’s Danny Edward’s.  There’s about as many barbecue restaurants in Kansas City as there are cathedrals in Rome.  And, no matter which you go to, you won’t be disappointed.  When on The Plaza, go to Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue.  You won’t be disappointed.

And then you might discover, as I did, that The Cheesecake Factory is just around the corner.  And you might also, as I did, discover that, no matter how full you thought you were after eating a massive helping of barbecue, there is always enough room for cheesecake.  And you, as I did, might very well discover that, no matter how good the description on the menu of the dulce de leche caramel cheesecake may sound, seeing it in front of you dispels any doubt in your mind on the matter.


The cheesecake put up a good fight.  Ultimately I couldn’t finish the entire thing.

Oh, and there’s an impressive fountain on the patio.  By the way.


Across the street is the J. C. Nichols Memorial Fountain.



Geese and people with cameras just love this fountain.  Sometimes the geese will pose for you.


Even the geese are glamorous at The Plaza.

You would think that seeing the most impressive fountain in Kansas City would make all the others pale in comparison, but I noticed more fountains on my way to Scooter’s for coffee than I had earlier, and they all seemed more impressive somehow.

Neptune, God of the Sea:


This cat face:


And there are some lovely statues.


I read around 30 pages of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S on the patio outside Scooter’s.


During this time, a drummer was setting up a drum kit.  Later, he would be joined by a DJ, a front man, a couple of female vocalists, and a small entourage of supporters.  They’d perform, alternating between the DJ spinning tracks with live percussion and performances of original songs, trying to raise funds for their first professional project.  A dance party would ensue, everyone having good times.  All ages of people, young kids, teenagers, elderly, different races, different lives, together dancing.

I finished my coffee and went for one more walk around The Plaza before returning to Scooter’s.  Every restaurant was full of people, large windows open, blurring the lines between the people dining al fresco and the people dining inside.  It was dusk, and it all seemed so beautiful, as if nothing could ever go wrong there.  Like being at Tiffany’s, perhaps.


Photos from my first trip to Paris at age 15

Old yearbooks.  These exist only to taunt and torment the people whose photos they contain, preserving for all history how silly and awkward you really looked through adolescence.  I think the yearbook may have been invented purely out of spite by someone years ago who sold everyone on the idea and then failed to show up for the class photo so that later no one could really say what that person looked like, while he or she could then scoff at the clothes everyone else wore at the time.  Not to mention their hair.

It is an exciting and terrifying thing to discover a box of stuff from your high school days at your parents’ house.  There is no telling what it will contain or if you want to know.  Yet, somehow, you know you must open it.  I can’t say how happy I am that a stack of old yearbooks didn’t fall out of the box I found.  The yearbooks remain hidden away somewhere unknown, which is all for the best in the grand scope of it all, I’m sure.

Among some notes from classmates, photos from my freshman year in college, a few VHS cassettes, some mixtapes, and various other memories, I found the photos I took when I went to Paris with French Club between my Sophomore and Junior years in high school.

Some of the photos were terrible, like this one:


Seriously, there is no telling what was going on in my strange 15-year-old mind when I took that shot.  Certainly not the tourist poster for the Catacombs.


Some of them were inexplicable, like this one:


I have no idea why I took this photo nor anything about the African Safari Club in Paris.  But, for that matter, the place will always be mysterious to me.  There will always be some part of Paris yet to discover.


There is the obligatory photo of me standing by Jim Morrison’s grave:


I can’t remember who took this photo, but it’s perhaps the worst photo of me ever taken.  But it’s at Jim Morrison’s grave.  I remember thinking it might be inappropriate to smile in a photo taken at a grave but also that it might be weird to not smile, so I ended up doing both at the same time right as the photo was shot.


But, then, just as it is with memories of adolescence, there were some photos that weren’t too bad, like these:


A view from our hotel window.



Another view from our hotel window.



Some kids hanging out on the steps of a famous place in Paris.  There are a lot of famous places in Paris, and this is one of them.  Honestly, I forget which one.  Breathtaking, though.



The Eiffel Tower.  Somehow you never forget the first time you saw it.



The Opera House.  Mainly I remember a horde of pigeons milling around the place.  Perhaps they enjoy Verdi.



Tour Montparnasse.  The tallest building in Paris.  I think it may have been built just for the view from the roof.  There may be some other reasons as well, but they couldn’t be as interesting.



A view of Paris from the top of Tour Montparnasse.  Somehow Paris will always be.  It’s like a memory you never want to forget.