Category Archives: Travel

With The #3 Pick, MBP Selects Bonnaroo X’s…

Here’s my second post talking about Bonnaroo X, my favorite performances and their best songs. Without further ado; the third best performance I saw (hailing from the “This” Tent…no seriously):

Home of mushroom fountains, insane heat, naked people, phenomenal music and the worst physically manifested Abbot and Costello inspired mind-f*** ever

3. Florence and The Machine (Come on, it has to be “Dog Days”) as the Oklahoma City Thunder circa 2010-2011

I know I know, “didn’t OKC lose in the Western Conference finals 4 games to 1 in largely unimpressive fashion? Did Bonnaroo suck or something?” Hardly, in fact Bonnaroo exceeded my expectations in unexpected ways. I went in dreading the heat, dreading the lack of showers and dreading the porta potties. I thought if things were going to go well these things would have to at least be somewhat ok. I also dreaded that Oklahoma City would be too young this year, Durant too exhausted and people to cocky about what this team could do after 2010’s breakout season. They would have to mature and Durant would have to be Durant in spite of playing a year straight of basketball coming in. In fact, all of the things above somewhat materialized (Durant began the season exhausted, I didn’t shower for 120 hours, OKC looked young at times, and the porta potties absolutely did suck). The beauty is that both the Thunder and Bonnaroo managed to overcome those issues to be big successes. It just took me a little reflection to fully grasp it.

You think I'm the first to compare her^...

to him^?...

Florence and the Machine embodied this. Going in I cautiously expected great things after seeing them perform live online. Florence, like Durant, seemed like a great front-woman, energizing the crowd with her performances while managing the live vocals well (a difficult thing to do consistently when you sing like she does). I believed out of all the groups F & M had the most potential to be both great and disappointing. They started out well enough. We were reasonably close (about 2/3rds of the crowd was outside the tent, behind us in the open air) so we could hear the music and catch glimpses of the stage and Florence’s performance. The problem was, on a couple of occasions, she had to drop her voice an entire octave, altering the choruses of popular songs like Dog Days. This was like Durant altering his game early in the season (when he was missing shots like crazy) because he was worn out from leading Team USA to FIBA Gold during the summer. Florence has been touring pretty hard lately (while opening up for U2) so I’m guessing her voice has been worn down by the insane schedule. By dropping it an octave in parts she could conserve her voice while keeping the song from being too drastically changed. It wound up working out. While I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the full brunt of a high pitched “Dog Days” chorus, the song was still fantastic, the musicians were great and the overall performance had the crowd going bonkers. Meanwhile OKC adjusted their lineup, added Sam Perkins late in the season and won the first two playoffs series of their young careers while Durant largely got his mojo back. They got to where we expected and hoped they would be, they just did it in a somewhat different way.

John Calipari's opinion of the NCAA's so-called "rules" and "bi-laws"...

That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for:  “Hope Solo said the US Women’s 2-0 victory in the first round of the Women’s World Cup was the first time she’s had fun in an international tournament. I guess two Olympic gold medals just weren’t very “fun” for Hope?,” “Kentucky just signed John Calipari through 2019. So, if we’re keeping score kids, if you want to earn millions as a coach, leave two teams (three?) shamed with vacated Final 4 seasons and do it with relatively few repercussions; coach college basketball…,” and “The Halfwits are keeping a long run of July 4th beer ball games going this year on Sunday…it may prove to be the least athletic display of ‘sport’ in, well, ever.”


Bonnaroo X: Ho…ly…S***

The Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee is a blend of emotional extremes. You have your highs: bands bringing their “A-game” to every performance, constant high quality music from noon until 5 AM every day, phenomenal food and beer if you choose to partake (and can afford it) and a level of organization that Woodstock couldn’t have remotely dreamt of. You also have your lows: having to make a choice that (I imagine…) is like picking between children when favorite artists play simultaneously, the incredible ability of people to make porta-potties 20 times more disgusting than they already were, consistent 95 degree temperatures and a serious lack of hygiene. Honestly, it’s a lot like being a fan of a sports team. You have your Championship years (Band of Skulls coming out of nowhere on the first day to bring down the house) and your 2-14 seasons (literally being blinded by the rotting stench of the plastic sweat dome of terror your just bared your goods in). It is a give and take kind of thing, but by the end those highs out weigh the lows substantially.

The Good...

The Bad...(this is fake, but really not that far off)

For the next few days I’ll post my top 4 Bonnaroo X performances (plus a couple of honorable mentions) roughly 1 at a time. In addition I’ll list my favorite song of theirs and a corresponding (think: “major stretch”…) analogy from the sports world. I also apologize for the delay. I was moving my girlfriend up to Boston this past weekend and between that and Bonnaroo it’s been a little insane (we caught a game at Fenway too, a first for both of us…a post on it is in the works).

But enough about that (just kiddin Sar, kisses), here are a couple of honorable mentions and my number 4 pick from Bonnaroo:

Honorable Mentions: Bassnectar as the Arizona Diamondbacks circa 2001 and STS9 as the VMI Keydets men’s basketball team since roughly 2006

While I admittedly didn’t stick around for the entire set of either group I felt I had to mention both. Bassnectar does some truly incredible things with a relatively limited set of musical accoutrements on stage, literally making your heart feel like it will beat right out of your chest the second the music starts. Even as I walked away exhausted through the massive throng of dancing bonnaroo revelers and out into the relatively open air of Centeroo I could feel the sub woofer vibrations knocking around my…insides. Bassnectar’s a one man version of the 2001 Diamondbacks because he does so much with so little. Arizona won the World Series with a two man rotation that year and made the Yankee’s vaunted and financially blessed juggernaut look relatively meek in the path of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. It was more with less, much like Bassnectar, and like Bassnectar those guys literally thundered through the Yank’s lineup relatively un-encumbered (the Yanks didn’t score more than 2 runs in any of their starts). Plus there was that whole blown save by Mariano which, while it was only a bloop single, shook me right to the core. Now excuse me while I go throw up in a porta potty.

The difference? This doesn't trigger my gag reflex...

I actually caught more of STS9 (they wound up being my last show of the whole epic weekend) and got to get a full live taste of what I had sometimes listened to while studying for 3 years in college (my roommate turned me onto them late in my freshman year). I always knew they were unique because of a couple of distinct things. The first distinction is their electronically infused dreamy yet energetic sound, which is described by the band as “post-rock dance music,” whatever that means. The second distinction is that they use a lot of real instruments (i.e. guitars, drum kits, bongos, bass guitar in addition to multiple key boards) to produce their sound. This is why STS9 so embodies the mindset and style of play of the Keydets over the past several years. VMI runs a high powered ridiculously fast paced up and down brand of basketball that essentially operates under a “five seconds and shoot” mantra. This results in some wildly entertaining and high scoring games, with both teams usually breaking the 100 point threshold easily (the Keydets have led the nation in three pointers and scoring the last five years). In a 40 minute (college) basketball game those kinds of averages are pretty remarkable. It’s also completely unique. No team in division I plays quite the same brand of ball, and while some times they lose it seems like it’s always a hell of a ride no matter what. I get the same impression about the unique style of STS9.

The difference? These guys don't do a whole lot of "losing"...

4. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (My girlfriend’s choice: “Ooh La La”) as the University of Vermont Catamounts from 2001 to Now

This is a somewhat more literal analogy. Both the band and basketball team (obviously) are from Vermont but they also can trace the success of their career arcs to a pretty parallel time frame. Potter was discovered at St. Lawrence University singing on campus in 2002 by a fellow band member and left school relatively soon thereafter to form the band. Their major successes came in 2006 and 2007 with songs like “apologies” and “falling or flying” before gaining notoriety recently for “Paris (Ooh la la),” which they closed with at Bonnaroo. Likewise, the Catamounts basketball team first burst onto the NCAA tournament scene in 2003 as winners of the America East conference before beating #3 seeded Syracuse in the first round of the NCAAs in 2005 (Vermont’s third straight appearance). Vermont also made the NCAAs last year as conference champs and won the regular season handily this year before being upset in the conference tourney. Needless to say the parallels are uncanny.

What isn’t is the dynamic end to their major 2011 performances. The Catamounts faltered, but Potter and the Nocturnals most certainly did not. In front of a great (and massive) day crowd on the main stage Potter pulled off her best Janis Joplin impersonation with a cleaner (read: not as raspy) musical sound and truly came off like a rock star. I’d never even heard of herbefore my girlfriend circled her as a must see prior to the festival, but I’m certainly glad I didn’t miss out. In a gorgeous white dress that accented her long straight blond hair Grace embodied all that is in her name, sweeping across the stage with thunderous vocals while alternating between a guitar and a piano easily. Like the Catamounts in ’05, this little group from Vermont made some thunderous noise on the biggest stage. Bravo.

Like I said; Janis Joplin…except wayyyyyyyyyyyy hotter
That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for: “I’ll give you a hint on number 3: female lead singer, crazy lyrics and lots of awesomeness,” “Mark Cuban has said that he wants to do super cheap/free beer days if he gets to own a baseball team by allowing beer ads that stretch across entire sections of seats. So basically, we should boycott the MLB until this happens,” “The Nats are above .500 this late in a season for the first time since the end of the ’05 season and Washington couldn’t be…any less interested” and “Kyrie Irving just became the first 1/2 and done number 1 overall pick in NBA history. Remind me again why this rule exists?”

Talladega: The Tour De France of Not France

Trying to add a little travel talk in your life, when you think of the most epic sporting events in the world the Tour D’Franc will most definitely take the cake in a lot of peoples minds. The great finish on the Champs Elysees is one of the most amazing happenings and with some of the most extraordinary athletes in the world. However, if you were to compare this to any sporting event in America I could not think of anything more awesome than NASCAR at Talladega. This epic clash of motor-sport Albert Einsteins defies all rules and creates something so awesome only people with a lack of normal hygiene can truly love and enjoy. I am proud to say that I am one of those people that fits into this most prestigious category of Awesomeness.

The most recent race at Talladega, Aaron’s 499, definitely showcases the most amazing driver’s in the world of American motor-sports, while drawing in the most eclectic crowd of people who lives by the rules of MacGyver. This all weekend event is a perfect way to bring people who have like beliefs and idea, which are that America is the greatest place on Earth and Jeff Gordon is a bitch. There may be some who do not share those ideals, but they will be swiftly dealt with by a drunk old woman with 3 and a half teeth.

I do not mean to belittle or talk ill of the people that attend these gatherings because I attended this showing of American greatness. The people here were some of the nicest I have encountered in a long while. Everyone is very welcoming and has a smile on their face, except when you talk about socialism, soccer and anything that makes the red, white and blue looks uncool.

However outrageous the fans at these venues may be, you must commend the drivers skill to race a car around such a difficult track. These drivers are truly another breed of crazy that takes their racing machines to the ultimate limit. Talladega is one of the few tracks that requires the drivers’ to limit the speed of their vehicles for safety reasons. This 2 and three-quarter mile ring can get these cars up to a speed well around the 220 range if not for the restrictor plate that is mandatory for the race. This by no means make the race any less exciting when, especially when they come of turns bump drafting each other at about 190 miles and hour.

This was the first time I was able to go to one of these races. I can honestly say that I had the dumbest/drunkest grin on my face during the entire race because of the sheer power and amazing ability that was shown by the drivers of these vehicles. I have never been to something so grand in the middle of no-where. If any of you has the ability or wants to experience something a little different, most definitely check out a chance to go to Talladega, Alabama for a true experience of America and how people in the South get down. Do no go their for a girls weekend or a lame gathering of bros because you will easily be bitch-slapped back to reality by the middle-aged man throwing jello shots at you or the blaring country music that destroys anything hipster.

I  promise that a weekend in Talladega will be one of the most epic of your life, even if you have to get out on bond.

Interlaken, Switzerland: Adventurers Dream In the Swiss Alps – Part 1

Now this tucked away town is deep in the heart of Switzerland. It is probably one of the greatest places to go if you need to quench your adventurous thirst. Interlaken has every possible extreme sport one can dream up. If you want to go ice climbing, you can do it. If you want to go sky diving, you can do it (and what better place to do it than right over the Swiss Alps). If you want to go canyoning, you can do it (google it). This gorgeous town nestled right in between 2 lakes (hence the name Inter- between and Laken- lakes), is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world to explore.

Interlaken has a very fun loving atmosphere that is shared by all of its residents. This is probably one of the most pristine places I have ever been and would probably give up something super awesome to go back there again. This travel destination does push some of the other extreme destinations to the curb in my opinion. I have never been to a place where I could drink tap water that came from the mountain that also calls this place home. The ability to really become a part of nature through the endless amount of outdoor sports that are offered cannot be compared to any other places I have visited.

In addition, if you would like a taste of tradition Swiss culture there are various shops and parts of the city that can give you that. As long as you stay away from the Hooters and Casino in town, you will get an untainted view of Swiss mountain/countryside culture. It truly pained me to leave and I know that many others that have been to this place have felt the same.

One of the great places to stay for the adventurer if called Balmers. This is a hostel and might not be fit for those older individuals or couples. It is a definite for younger people who are interested in meeting people from around the world. The people that visit this extreme slice of Switzerland all come for the adventure. You cannot stay at the hostel if you are not into partying hard at night and really immersing yourself with what Interlaken has to offer by day. It is definitely meant for those with a rebellious edge that enjoy the calculated, and miscalculated risks that Interlaken has to offer.

In my next post I’ll go over some of the exciting things you can do in Interlaken that will most definitely give you a much needed jolt of adrenaline.