Why You Should Study Abroad (if you get the chance)

Studying abroad is one of the best ways to travel. You’re not just visiting the place, you’re living there. You learn the price of milk and learn to spot a bargain in the thrift stores and can join in the complaints about the price of “gas” even when you know back home it’s three times…

Helicopter Tour over the Grand Canyon (South Rim)

There’s a big hole in America. I’m not talking about the hole in the economy out of which all the money is going or about the hole in Oprah’s face into which food is shoved*. I am, in fact, talking about the gigantic hole across the south-west of America, the Grand Canyon. It’s pretty big. Almost as big…

John Malkovich Playing the Harp

I was once on a train from Salt Lake City to Denver and after midnight John Malkovich started playing a harp in the lounge car. Okay, it wasn’t actually John Malkovich but when he spoke the likeness was uncanny. And you can just imagine John Malkovich chilling out playing the harp, can’t you? He has that feel about him….

Three Homeless Nights in Chicago

You know how sometimes you look at someone and you think, “That could be me in ten years?” Well, let’s hope those things never become true because in a decade’s time I’ll be a homeless black man. I should back up here because you might now be confused, thinking, “That Chirpy, he ain’t a black man…

Underhanded Tactics at a Baseball Game in San Diego

I went to a Major League baseball game in San Diego. For anyone who doesn’t know the first thing about American baseball, the San Diego Padres are not a good team. Not a good team at all. That’s all you really need to know. The Padres (henceforth to be known as “we” because I like…

Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake, Utah

When you think of America as an outsider, you think of certain places: New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco. They’re shown in movies and TV shows all the time, recognised by their skylines or by their landmarks or by, err, their psychopaths, natural disasters and terrorist atrocities. So when I planned my month-long…

Dinner with a Teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina

I had dinner with one of my college professors while I was studying at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Now, I know what you might be thinking and, no, there were no candles, no footsie under the table, no raunchy taboo love-making back at her two-car, leafy suburban home and she certainly wasn’t…

Lake Erie with a Weird Uncle and a Giant Teddy Bear

I like quiet places. I like libraries and bookshops, I like cycle rides into fields full of cows and big skies, and I’m pretty sure I’d love the eerie aftermath of a nuclear explosion. And talking of eerie, I also liked Lake Erie, the smallest of the Great Lakes in Canada/America. It was peaceful, in…

Is Niagara Falls a Good Place for a Honeymoon?

Apparently Niagara Falls is a popular honeymoon destination. I wouldn’t know, but I trust Google (probably a little too much). Having spent a day at Niagara Falls I find it astonishing that newly-weds want to go to Niagara Falls to have some steamy consummating sex to the sound of roaring water. I mean, lots of…

Late-Night Conversation in Los Angeles

There’s only one book that’s ever made me cry. Winnie the Pooh came close, The Koran left me right on the verge, but it was Jack Kerouac’s On the Road that put me over the edge. It wasn’t like Toy Story 3 crying, and not even your-team-getting-relegated crying, it was just a bit of face moisture. If I’ve…

Night at an Amateur Dramatics Group in Los Angeles

I spent two nights in Los Angeles, California, and didn’t even see the Hollywood sign. I did, however, enjoy an evening with an amateur dramatic group in a public library. Yes, friends, that cliché is true. Everyone in LA is an aspiring actor or actress. If anyone tells you different it’s because they want you to…

Walking Blindfolded to Times Square in New York City

My host in New York City led me blindfolded to Times Square after the sun had gone down. I hadn’t been so excited about being blindfolded since my introduction to the BDSM community, and just like then, I was again terrified. I’d only met Mike that morning so for all I knew he was leading…