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2004-01-19

IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:

Wow, I sure have been traveling for a long time. As I post today's installment I looked at my calendar and saw that I've been out here for 161 days! This is the longest I've ever traveled, and by far the most challenging trip I've ever taken. Sometimes I think about calling it quits and heading home—some days I'm just tired of never sleeping in the same bed, some days I'm tired of wondering what happens when the money runs out. I miss my friends and family.

Yet, there is something that compels me to continue. I know I have something great to find out here. And, I know I have something great to give out here. And, I'll know when it's time to go home. But, until then, you'll find me somewhere out there. I'm the one in the red car with the driver's side window that doesn't work anymore, the one with the rust spots all over it that speeds past you. I'm the one taking the pictures of the graffiti, the statue, the strange food.

I am still looking for nice, fun people who can put me up for a few nights and really host me. This would involve me staying at your house for a few days, showing me a good time, feeding me from time to time, and leading me into whatever general mischief we can get into. I'll get to learn about your life and write about our times together! I am meeting with people I've never met before and living some life with them. That could be you! If you think it might be fun to host me for a day or two or three, email me at justingrace AT mac DOT com.

Please make sure to include your address and phone number in your email to me so I can be in touch!

I am especially looking for places to stay in the southeast USA and everywhere on the East Coast. I will be traveling all over the USA, though, so email me no matter where you are because I will probably come visit! Here are the places I will be in the next few months that I am still looking for a place to stay at:

• North/South Carolina
• Georgia
• Tennessee
• Virginia/West Virginia

Please contact me ASAP if you want to hang out!

If you believe in what I am doing and want to help support me, please do so! You can donate money to me using PayPal. Email me for more information! Or, check out my photo sales page! Buying photos from me feeds me and keeps me on the road!



US Tour Day 127, Part 1: Miami Beach


Spotted near Miami. What's the deal with Florida and all their Christian bumper stickers?

Jennifer took me to Miami Beach today. I felt like I was on another plant. And, on this planet everyone was short. Everyone was Hispanic. Everyone was good looking. Everyone wore far too expensive clothes—Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Louis Vuitton.

You could see money—or the illusion of having money—sloughing off the people like gallons of liquified twenty dollar bills pouring out from the fabric of their fancy fabrics and onto the immaculate sidewalk. But, who cares about money when you have even more money, right?

It reminded me of Santa Monica's outdoor promenade area, only far more pretentious. In California rich people are notorious for downplaying their wealth through acting Bohemian. They wear cotton or hemp clothes. They buy organic. They live in houses on the edge of town to stay closer to nature. Oh, but that felt so far away! Miami Beach was full of people whose every movement and every purchased accessory screamed LOOK AT ME AND HOW MUCH MONEY I AM WILLING TO TEAR INTO SHREDS JUST BECAUSE I CAN!

We strolled east through a row of high–end shops and outdoor restaurants where fancy pants folks ate shellfish over pasta and sipped ten dollar bills out of martini glasses.


A north–south sliver of historic buildings known as the Art Deco district lines the Atlantic Coast of Miami Beach. The streets were lined with opulently dressed Hispanics whose obvious work at the gym would make even the most vain gym boys from the Castro look like pot–bellied couch potatoes.


I noticed that all the hotels and condo buildings had names. I guess that addresses weren't enough to differentiate these buildings or something—they needed words, too! They bore pretentious names like The Belvedere, The President, and The Claremont. I imagined Miami Beach to be like a big Art Deco locker room where the poor buildings without a The in front of their names would be teased and made to feel terribly inadequate and small.

It wasn't long before we got tired of walking around and looking at pretentious people and pretentious buildings. I was ready to return to a more inhabitable planet—someplace less like Miami Beach and more like anywhere else.

I wonder, what happened differently in the upbringing of the folks who wear their self–worth in their clothing and cars and high–ticket–item accessories? Who taught them that you could attain happiness if you just buy a fancier shirt or the most elite shoes of the moment? I want to find that person and have a talk with them. We need to make a shift in our patterns. We need to start teaching our children about the self worth that you carry on the inside—rather than encouraging them to toil their whole lives for a fleeting, fake scent of self worth you get at a shop.


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