WickedEye's Quotient

1/23/2008 at 22:58

France, Senegal and South America

I have bad- no, very bad and simultaneously ridiculous- news for gearheads everywhere.

First- Paris-Dakar 2008 has been canceled.

This in itself is horrible. Paris-Dakar is the world’s longest off-road rally; it usually starts in France and winds up in Senegal, and over the years it’s been run through Portugal, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Niger, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania and the Western Sahara. This year’s rally was set to be the roughest course ever, with more than 5,700 miles of rock, riverbed, ravine and road to traverse.

More importantly, for gearheads who love to drive the Paris-Dakar is the ultimate dream- crossing desert, dune, mud flat, rock, ravine and erg in a grinding more-than-4,000-mile run at an average temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is the definitive test of driving and navigational skill, mechanical skill, wilderness survival skill, determination and endurance for any driving team. Only 40% of those who begin the race finish it.

And the 2008 Paris-Dakar was canceled two weeks ago due to terrorist threats from (who else?) Al-Quaeda.

That’s bad enough. Now comes the ridiculous part.

It’ll be run next year.

In South America.

Excuse me? It’s called the Paris-Dakar (or more recently the Dakar) for a reason. The race from Europe to Africa covers the most brutal terrain in the world- Mauritania’s Adrar segment chief amongst them. The course is so harsh that automakers the world over routinely test their off-road vehicles in the Paris-Dakar.

Doubtless Chile and Argentina can offer stark conditions- but they cannot match either the roughness of the past courses or the sheer romance of travel through and around some of the oldest human cities, villages, and cultures on earth.

The movement from Europe to Africa is meant to be a journey backwards in time, meant to challenge everything in its entrants, body and mind- from endurance to perception of humanity’s significance.

Moving the Paris-Dakar to South America is not only capitulation to the threats of terrorists but a willful subversion of everything that the rally stands for.

Change the course to avoid terrorist-controlled areas? Yes- though it will prove challenging and delicate, it can be done.

Move it from two continents to one- one in another hemisphere? No.

The Paris-Dakar has run for thirty years not only on the grueling, nerve-sapping challenge it presents, but also on the intrigue and fascination of the transition from new to old on a scale that maps tens of thousands of years of human existence.

Let the Paris-Dakar remain in its birthplace.

Let its entrants challenge their own beginnings and have the singular and unmatchable satisfaction of finishing their race face-to-face with the fathomless gaze of their ancient past.

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1/22/2008 at 22:10

Dirge Without Music

Heath Ledger is dead.

At 28. I don’t really believe it yet.

He was so young. And so very talented.

I constantly make fun of people who keep up with celebrities’ lives. But this…

He had such integrity, such ability. He never took a role he didn’t like and think worthwhile. His filmography was already impressive, and he was- after Lords of Dogtown and especially Brokeback Mountain- one of my “ones to watch”, a young Peter O’Toole or Jack Nicholson in the making.

Ledger’s last scene in Brokeback, standing in his dead lover’s closet, is to this day one of only three that have made me, a moviegoer, feel as though what I was watching was private. Looking at his face, sitting in a theater with 200 people and gazing at a 50-foot high screen, I felt as though I were intruding, seeing something I was not meant- should not be able- to see.

I had to fight not to avert my eyes.

The intensity of the suffering he was able to convey with no words, with barely any movement, the magnitude of tragedy and loss… He transmuted breath to the thready pulse of a man bleeding from a mortal wound, touch to the last, frozen gasp of a swimmer drowning in water too dark to grant sight.

It is something few actors have ever accomplished. And it evidenced genuine genius.

Nobody knows whether he committed suicide or not, yet. But whether he wanted to die or not, the world is a little bit darker for this.

For another golden boy lost to the dull and indiscriminate dust.


…Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go: but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains - but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,-
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

...Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


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1/18/2008 at 08:46

Flickr Photos

Those of you who know what I did last summer- well, here are some pictures from it (finally).

As I get time over the semester, I'll update my travel photographs until they're up-to-date (which may take a while, because I'm picky about things like formatting and photo information)- meaning that I'll be posting photos of Innsbruck, Vienna, Washington D.C., Florence, Verona, Venice, Bangalore and Chicago, as well as the rest of my Munich pictures.

In the meantime, here's a badge link to my Flickr site:

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