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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Change Is

…changes aren’t permanent, but change is.  –  Pye Dubois and Neil Peart, “Tom Sawyer”

hamster on wheelThough I’m a creature of habit and tend to keep doing things the same way for long stretches of time, that doesn’t mean I never change; if you look back at my columns for 2010 and 2011 you’ll see that my procedures have shifted substantially since then.  Originally, days of the week had no significance, though holidays and months did; over time some features became fixed, and at the beginning of 2012 I started my first weekly feature, “That Was the Week That Was”.  After July I added the “Links” feature on Sundays, then in 2013 I fixed Q&A columns on Wednesdays and reprints of my Sunday Cliterati essays on Fridays.  Harlotographies now appear every fifth Thursday, and guest columns on the second Monday of every month (though this month was an exception due to tour-related scheduling difficulties); as of this May I started featuring my tour diaries every Tuesday.  You might think all this self-imposed structure would create more work for me, but you’d be wrong; it actually makes the Herculean task of keeping up a daily blog all by myself (even the guest columns take editing) easier because it eliminates the need for figuring out what sort of thing I’m going to write for most days.

Needless to say, this summer’s tour made it far more difficult to keep up my usual pace; though I prepublished everything but Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday columns for all of June and July (and a part of August) before I left, that still meant a lot of time sitting in hotel rooms between speaking gigs and driving.  And though I did manage it, there were a few times I didn’t hit “schedule” until just a few hours before publication time (and once when a column actually posted in an unfinished state).  Given that my travel and speaking schedule is only likely to get busier, this shows me a need to once again adjust my procedures to give myself more breathing space.  Fortunately, there’s an easy way to do it:  I discovered a couple of tricks to make writing the “TW3″ and “Links” columns quicker and more efficient, and I also found that the tour diaries were really easy and fast to write.  Given that I will be doing more outside projects, travelling, speaking and the like, I think y’all would welcome a regular Tuesday feature discussing what I’ve done and what I’m about to do, including videos, links to podcasts and all that sort of thing.  It will not only save me writing time, but will also save trouble fitting such events and features into the TW3 column; to me, that’s a win all around.  So for now, that will be the new schedule…until things change again, and I have to change with them.

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New Orleans at NightAnd so we finally come to the end of my first – and almost certainly longest – national tour.  After leaving Kelly’s house on August 30th I spent the night in Tallahassee so as to break up the long drive, and the next day I arrived at Denise’s house in New Orleans.  On Monday night I visited Frank and Olivia; on Tuesday I bought myself three new dresses at the flea market, then went to dinner with journalist Jillian Keenan (who had hosted an event for me in New York); and on Wednesday I visited my old friend Charlie and my cousin Alan, then had a lovely dinner with Krulac.  I managed to leave fairly early on Thursday, and resumed my normal schedule as soon as I got home.

Well, that last isn’t quite true; while I did cook dinner, put the animals in and all that stuff, it’s going to be several weeks before I’m actually back to normal.  For one thing, though I doubled the size of my “buffer” before leaving, it’s entirely gone and will take weeks to build back up to its normal one-month size.  For another thing, very few of the columns published after the first week of July were indexed, so I need to catch that back up.  Then there are bills to pay, a huge backlog of correspondence to answer, the next book to compile, and my November mini-tour to Seattle and Portland to plan; all in all, enough to keep me busy for the rest of the year.  About the mini-tour:  though I did manage to make it work, it was extremely difficult (and sometimes frustrating) to have to plan events as I went along, and I’d rather not have to do that again.  So, I’m going to start working on my plans for the Pacific Northwest immediately; I hope to have my basic dates locked in by the end of the month, so if you’d like me to speak or read someplace please email me next week with the details.  Though relaxation is not in my nature, if I can get the schedule worked out before I leave I at least won’t be quite so stressed.

Given all that, I think it would be a good idea to continue this feature for a while longer; not only will that keep y’all up to date with what’s going on, it’ll also help me to catch up since these diary posts are quick and easy to write.  On the 18th I’ll discuss the tour in general, and on the 30th I hope to have the firm-but-not-set-in-stone dates for Seattle & Portland.  And in the weeks after that, I can keep y’all appraised of the progress on the new book, the mini-tour and any other activities of mine that y’all might find interesting.

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You would think they’d want an actual sex worker…but somehow that’s not important because we’re seen as victims; voiceless and having no agency.  –  Jules Kim

License to Rape

Cops raping sex workers is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

…Desiree Patton said that her assailant, Guy Dietz, found her through online advertisements placed by the exotic dancing agency she works for…when she arrived at Dietz’s…California home, he informed her that he was a police officer, placed her under “arrest,” and handcuffed her hands behind her back…Patton claimed that Dietz said…he [could] arrest her and trump up charges…

Check Your Premises

Nick Olivas became a father at 14, a fact he wouldn’t learn for eight years.  While in high school, Olivas had sex with a 20-year-old woman…State law says a child younger than 15 cannot consent with an adult under any circumstance, making Olivas a rape victim…Then two years ago, the state served him with papers demanding child support.  That’s how he found out he had a then-6-year-old daughter…he now owes about $15,000 in back child support and medical bills going back to the child’s birth, plus 10 percent interest.  The state seized money from his bank account and is now garnisheeing his wages at $380 a month…

Follow Your Bliss

…Florida youth pastor [Lucas Dillon Brandenburg] was arrested…after investigators said that they found a computer at his home “sharing” images of child pornography…

Legal Is as Legal Does

Yet another example of why legalization is almost as bad as full criminalization:

Taiwanese authorities said…they busted a prostitution ring exploiting young Chinese women…Prostitution [was criminalized in 2001 due to American pressure] but the parliament in 2011 passed a controversial bill to allow red-light districts…no such district has been set up yet…

Above the Law 

The report calls it a “romantic encounter” but I suspect otherwise:

…an Atlanta police officer killed a woman that he met online, then set her body on fire to cover his tracks.  Tahreem Zeus Rana was arrested…[while] trying to board a flight to Mexico…Vernicia Woodward…was linked to Rana through her phone records...The two appear to have met on Backpage.com…

And in The Nation, others appear to finally be noticing what I’ve been screaming about for twenty years:

…sexual assault is a significant issue in police forces, as The American Prospect and Truthout have reported.  According to the Cato Institute, more than 9 percent of reports of police misconduct in 2010 involved sexual abuse, making it the second-most reported form…Comparing that data to FBI crime statistics indicates that “sexual assault rates are significantly higher for police when compared to the general population”…Jen Marsh of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network…said…“[cops are] targeting victims seen as vulnerable or ‘less credible,’ whether they’re engaged in sex work or are committing a crime”…

The Widening Gyre

Instead of commenting on this ridiculous nonsense:

Denver has evolved into a breeding ground…for sex-traffickers who lure young runaways, often in exchange for drugs…Tom Ravenelle with the FBI said he’s seeing more print and online advertisements — chock-full of keywords like “4-20 friendly” — that attract young girls.  “We’re dealing with people who are pimping these girls who are sometimes gang-related.  These are people with low morals”…

I’m going to let somebody else do it this time.

An Enormous Big Nothing (TW3 #33) Gates daughters on ferry

Another predictable result of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

After my family arrives on the Cape May ferry for our annual vacation to the Jersey Shore, I take pictures of our two daughters…as we leave the harbor.  I’ve been doing this since they were 3 and 4 years old.  They are now 16 and 17…Getting just the right exposure and interaction between the two has never been easy…But this year…a man came up beside me and said to my daughters:  “I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you were okay.”  At first none of us understood what he was talking about…then it hit me:  He thought I might be exploiting the girls…I told the man I was their father.  He quickly apologized and turned away.  But…the more I thought about [it]…the more upset I became.  My wife and I, both white, adopted our two daughters in China when they were infants…we have often gotten strange looks and intrusive questions from strangers, but nothing like this…I walked outside to where he was standing and calmly said:  “Excuse me, sir, but you just embarrassed me in front of my children and strangers.  And what you said was racist”…He replied:  “I work for the Department of Homeland Security.  And let me give you some advice:  You were standing there taking photos of them hugging for 15 minutes”…

The Public Eye

Sydney Journalist and mother-of-two Amanda Goff has revealed her secret double life as…Samantha X…who started working as a sex worker two-and-a-half years ago…[in] a tell-all book about her experience.  After working in British tabloids including The Mirror and Sunday People, Miss Goff came to Australia and worked as the health and beauty editor for Prevention Magazine and at New Idea…[then]  became a TV spokesperson for health and beauty…she believes she can help save marriages…”I hear a lot about marriage from the man’s point of view.  They say they are not listened to, they aren’t heard.  I give them intimacy, it’s not necessarily about sex”…

Down Under (TW3 #49)

Sex workers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are hopeful that…the…Health Minister…Michael Malaba…will keep his public commitment to introduce legislation that decriminalises sex work and same sex relationships…Malaba stated that he recognised that the decriminalisation of sex work was a key reform essential to tackling HIV/AIDS and that he was committed to reforming PNG’s “colonial era laws”…

Absolute Corruption

[On September 2nd] Bernard Baran died suddenly at his home while talking with his partner, David, and his niece, Crystal”  The autopsy results are not yet in, but a heart attack or stroke (resulting at least in part from more than two decades of gross maltreatment by the state) seems likely.  Perhaps now the utterly loathsome Martha Coakley will consent to allowing his record to be expunged.

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Video games and “sexting” cause “sex trafficking”!

Real Battle Ministries is partnering to attack the rampant sex trafficking in our local communities!  Drug cartels and gangs have nearly controlled the prostitution market, planting “bottom ho’s” in our local schools, and utilizing social media & online games to “befriend” our kids for the sole purpose of entrapping them into slavery!…Porn addicted adults produces “Johns”…exposure to porn during childhood produces promiscuous children and kids who post sexually suggestive photos on social media.  Pimps and…enslaved kids…target our kids, befriend them on social media and play online games with them, eventually luring them away for abduction into sex slavery…one pimp with 5 girls generate nearly $1 million in revenue annually.  No wonder organized crime has focused on abducting one million kids yearly!!!!

These are the most insanely-exaggerated claims I’ve seen yet.  Fight “sex trafficking” with exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!City of Lies

A War for Peace (TW3 #323)

City of Lies features eight tales…all names have been changed, as have certain details…Each focuses on an individual, but [author Ramita] Navai uses these personal stories to observe how people live, love and survive in a society ruled by fundamentalists.  Iranian youth read “Harry Potter,” watch Hollywood films…smoke joints and listen to Metallica and Radiohead — all the while knowing that one misstep can ruin their reputations and lives…For women, sex outside marriage could mean “up to 100 lashes.”  If convicted of adultery, a woman could be executed…

Imaginary Evils

Remember, huge police operations have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases in the UK:

…Greater Manchester’s police chief [imagines that]…predators have changed their tactics and are now targeting Eastern European teens and trafficking them into the region for sex…some 180 men are currently under suspicion of child sexual exploitation…of 17 and 18-year-old girls – notably above the age of consent…

Yes, they’re claiming the “child sex trafficking” of girls over the AOC.

Everything Old is New Again

Just in case you were unsure about “sex trafficking” mythology’s origin in racism and xenophobia, take a look at the kind of sites that gleefully quote the propaganda to promote their own agendas.

What Next? 

Clueless, ignorant old American continues to demand that other countries increase violence against sex workers in the name of “rescuing” them:  “Former US president Jimmy Carter has written to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other members of the Oireachtas urging them to adopt a recommendation to criminalise the buyers of sex

Property of the State

Delusional authoritarian thugs presume that women have absolute control over our bodies:

…police reportedly “swarmed” a Texas high school because…a school custodian notified the principal…after finding a “possible fetus” in one of the bathroom stalls…The principal contacted police…Dallas Police Department’s Child Abuse Unit detectives were investigating to find out who may have abandoned the fetus.  The person involved was being considered a “suspect”…Alan Elliott of Baby Moses Dallas explained…that the mother could have avoided any criminal charges if she had taken advantage of Baby Moses laws by carrying the child to term, and then dropping it off at a safe baby site like a fire station…

“Abandoned”.  Seriously.  By that standard, some 10% of the women reading this are “criminals”.cops harass Java Juggs

Prudesville

The headline The Blaze put on this is infuriating; moronic cop masturbatory fantasies are cast as “knowledge”:

The owner of controversial bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts, [cops imagined]…Carmela Panico…was charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering by Snohomish County prosecutors, who allege she was the madam of drive-thru brothels…[where] baristas would expose their breasts and genitals and charge for sex acts…In a raid last year, investigators [stole] $250,000 [from] Panico’s home.  Her profit margin at times was twice that of well-run, established coffee stands…One barista [was bribed via a plea deal to tell] investigators she earned half a million dollars working at Panico’s stands…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #432)

This scare story starts with the arse-backward claim that “sex trafficking” causes youth homelessness and then goes all over the map:

…those who study the issue believe any steps to address sex trafficking in Utah also will help solve the problem of youth homelessness…Tammie Garcia Atkin…of the…Office of Victim Services…said girls often are introduced into prostitution by men who they believe are their boyfriends…“It’s all sweetness and likes [sic] and then it turns into this violent relationship”…[fireman] Fernando Rivero…said…he was able to recognize a sex trafficking business once when he visited an area doing a building inspection…Rivero is hoping to eventually steer Utah’s thinking more toward a victim mentality as seen in other states…Kevin Donegan…at Janus Youth Programs in Portland…sends out a strict warning to parents who think their children are hanging out at the mall, because they could be…recruited into sex trafficking…Peter Thorpe…of the Oak Ridge shelter in Vancouver [Washington], said…the average age for a girl to enter prostitution…“just keeps going down and down…it is a renewable resource…you can sell a girl over and over again”…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #433)

Three Sydney sex workers have staged a protest at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas over the representation of their profession in a panel discussion on the global sex industry called “Women For Sale”…they handed out pamphlets to festival goers and posed with a…sign that read:  “I am a sex worker.  I am not for sale”…Jules Kim…the acting chief executive of…Scarlet Alliance, applied to festival organisers…to be included on the panel…but had her request denied.  However…the…journalist Elizabeth Pisani invited Kim to replace her on stage and she was allowed to take part…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

There’s a word for people who try to control and profit from whores but disregard their welfare:

…It has…come to light that local Conservative politicians and elected representatives from the Christian Social Union (CSU) are…involved in…construction [of an FKK-Club in East Dachau]:  developer…Wolfgang Moll; electrician…Helmut Erhorn; and architect…Heidi Lewald…it remains unclear why the…politicians didn’t make their stakes in the project known earlier…

 

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Well, to be sure, what’s one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and the same is altogether as true of women.  –  Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (VII, vii)

Most people understand that everyone is different, and that things which are vitally important to one person may be of no consequence to another.  In fact, some people might invest a great deal of energy in avoiding that which others invest equal energy in seeking.  There are morning people and night people, city mice and country mice, carnivores and vegans, introverts and extroverts.  But it seems as though economics often favors one set of priorities over another, so that the things which are prized by the majority are more expensive – often much more expensive – than those prized by the minority.  That’s usually a boon for those of us with minority preferences, but trying to explain that to those with majority preferences can result in strange looks and expressions of incredulity.

penthouse viewTake real estate, for example; needless to say, property in a city is more expensive than property farther away from one (and the farther out, the cheaper).  I discovered this the very first time I bought real estate: the things I felt were important in a property (such as its size, relative isolation and lack of laws, rules and covenants restricting its use) nearly always reduced its price rather than raising it.  Similarly, my aversion to annoying bells and whistles that make machines far more likely to break results in a preference for less expensive models with fewer options.  Even most of the food I like best tends to be on the cheap side; I find that with a few notable exceptions, expensive restaurants are not usually better restaurants, and that larger numbers in the price column rarely translate into better taste, larger portions, more interesting selections, better service or anything else I value in a dining experience.

During my book and speaking tour this summer (which, BTB, ends today; I’m leaving New Orleans this morning and should be home by dark) I discovered another way in which my priorities are almost upside-down from most people’s:  what I consider the important and desirable qualities of a hotel.  To be sure, I value some things just as much as everyone else; I want my room to be clean and well-kept, with attractive furnishings and a comfortable bed.  I want it to be conveniently situated in a safe neighborhood and to have helpful staff that are available when I need them, and it’s nice if there are restaurants nearby.  But beyond those basics, it seems as though the more expensive hotels are less likely to have amenities I want, and more likely to have qualities I find annoying, unpleasant or even infuriating.

First and foremost, I like to know exactly what I’m paying for a room when I check in.  Obviously, if I were staying in a five-star hotel on someone else’s tab this really wouldn’t matter because I’d still know exactly what I was paying, namely zero.  But that generally isn’t the case, and there’s no better way to irritate me than to subject me to a constant barrage of nickel-and-dime charges for parking, internet, telephone (back in pre-cell days), coffee, things “helpfully” left in the room and other “incidentals”.  Next, I like my privacy; one would think most people do, yet the more expensive hotels are the ones more likely to pry into guests’ business, spy on their comings and goings, and rat them out to the thugs should they decide something is amiss.  Oddly enough, expensive hotels are also busier and noisier than mid-range ones; in my escorting days I discovered that the noise level and number of obnoxious drunks per capita was often almost as high in the four-star places as one would expert in a scary no-star dive.  And since the fancy hotels are often downtown, that means a lost guest is much more likely to find himself on skid row than he would if he were staying in the suburbs.

Hilton breakfastAll in all, I find that I tend to enjoy the two-and-a-half or three-star business-class hotels best.  The rooms are just as clean as in the ritzy places, and the staff friendlier; most of the guests are businesspeople rather than tourists or locals going “out on the town”, and that means they’re quieter and much too busy minding their own business to be minding mine (the staff tends to be the same way).  Many of them have refrigerators and/or microwave ovens in the rooms, and many have free breakfast (which in the case of Hilton properties is really excellent, with lots of delicious choices).  These hotels generally don’t require complicated rigmarole (or entrusting my car to a stranger) to park, and since they regularly deal with accounting departments they know better than to provide amenities a la carte.  And since they are used to dealing with businesspeople, the staff at such places are much more accustomed to dealing with practical issues like “can you print this for me?” and “where’s the nearest post office?” than the staff at the snobbier places…and they don’t have their hands out afterward.

I’m beginning to get a lot more requests for speaking engagements these days, and will thus be staying in a lot more hotels (rather than just visiting for an hour or so) than in the past.  So if you find yourself in charge of making my arrangements, please keep this column in mind; a Hilton Garden or something of that type will make me much happier than a “better” hotel which would cost  you much more.  And I’m a sucker for those delicious fresh cookies they put out for guests in the evening.

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20140829_204721In Atlanta, I felt my first twinge of homesickness; I reckon it’s because I was back in the Deep South, in a city I’ve visited many times, and saw many familiar business names and the like that I hadn’t seen in a long time.  Mancrack (who as you may recall provided the art for my Lammas column) was my hostess, and I got to meet a number of readers both at my Liberty On the Rocks event last Monday, and in private on the night before.  Another interesting thing about Atlanta was that three of the attendees at my event were running for office; perhaps that indicates a strong Libertarian Party in Georgia, but one way or another I think it’s very important that politicians (of any political party) hear about sex worker rights, so I’m really pleased and I’m hopeful for similar attention to future events.

While you were reading last Tuesday’s Tour Diary, I was en route to Tampa Bay, where I stayed with my friend Kelly Michaels.  Since I hadn’t heard anything from any of the people I had contacted in the area, I was expecting just a quiet week of visiting; however, while I was in Atlanta I was emailed by Tampa-area reader Hotlix, who absolutely would not hear of this, and beat the bushes to attract more attention to my visit.  Kelly hosted a potluck supper and discussion group at her house Friday, and Buttons Berry advertised it on SWOP Tampa Bay’s Facebook page; in all eight people in addition to Kelly and I showed up, and it was absolutely one of the best events of the whole tour.  Besides the quality of the participation, everyone really made me feel like a rock star; so much so, in fact, that I was a little embarrassed by it.  I’m really happy to be reaching so many people that they come out of their way to see me; three of them made a two-hour (one way) drive from Orlando in Friday afternoon traffic!  As you read this I’m in New Orleans, but everything I’m doing here is private; the Tampa Bay event was therefore the last public one of the tour, and I couldn’t have wished for a better sendoff.

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A restaurant is a fantasy–a kind of living fantasy in which diners are the most important members of the cast.  –  Warner Leroy

Due to the high cost of hotels and gasoline, it was absolutely imperative that I keep my food costs as low as possible on my tour.  The great majority of the hotels I chose had free breakfast, and many generous people treated me to dinner (either at restaurants or at their own homes), but that still left quite a few dinners on my own.  Obviously, I ate a lot of fast food because it was cheap, but I knew I’d quickly become bored if I ate at the same places too often (even Waffle House or Steak ‘n Shake).  So fairly early in the trip, I hit upon the idea of visiting fast food places that were unique to the city (or at least the region) where I was staying; not every city or state has such places, but many do.  A few of these have begun to spread out from their native soil, but I did not include any regional chain (like Popeye’s or Sonic) which has become national or at least semi-national.  I ate at most of these during the tour, but there are a couple I knew from previous experience:

Braum's logoBraum’s  This chain is limited to Oklahoma and a few nearby parts of neighboring states by the fact that all of its dairy products are produced from its own private dairy herd near Oklahoma City.  Their hamburgers are good but not outstanding (similar in quality to In-N-Out), but their milk is the best-tasting I’ve ever had and their ice cream products are top-notch.  Braum’s restaurants all include a small grocery store.

Bud's Broiler logoBud’s Broiler  There are a number of local fast-food chains in the New Orleans area (such as Danny & Clyde’s and the New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company), but Bud’s is the most distinctive with its mixture of sloppy-but-delicious charcoal-broiled burgers, po-boys, fried pies and the like.  A local favorite for decades.

Cook-Out  This chain is based in North Carolina, but also has locations in South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.  All the food is grilled outdoor style, and though Cook-Out logoI didn’t find the flavor especially outstanding the portions are generous and the menu is notable both for its extent and the flexibility of combinations allowed.  The hand-dipped milkshakes are as good as those at Frostop, though not quite as good as those at Braum’s or Steak ‘n Shake.

Cosmic Pizza logoCosmic Pizza & Steak  I stumbled upon this unpretentious little place in Warwick, Rhode Island (near Providence Airport) simply because it was close to my hotel, and I’m glad I did; they have a huge menu featuring Italian dishes, fried seafood, Philly-style shaved steak sandwiches and more, and take pride in their ultra-low prices.  And they’re so friendly it actually constitutes another reason to visit besides the delicious food and budget-friendly pricing.

Five Guys logoFive Guys  This Washington, DC chain with an extremely simple menu (burgers, fries, drinks) is spreading along the Eastern seaboard, and will probably be the first one from this list to go national.  Some people call it the country’s best burger, and though I wouldn’t go that far I will say it’s exceptional.  Five Guys has a similar cult following to In-N-Out, but IMHO is more deserving of the reputation.

Harold's Chicken Shack logoHarold’s Chicken Shack  This legendary South-Side Chicago chain, praised by many Chicago rappers, is as no-frills as it gets and very inexpensive, but delicious and has a distinct flavor different from the typical American fast-food fried chicken such as Church’s or Kentucky.  Wikipedia says there are also franchises in Detroit, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Madison, Dallas and Atlanta.

In-N-Out logoIn-N-Out Burger  Many Southern Californians praise this place to the heavens, but I’ve never quite seen what the fuss is about.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good burger, but IMHO it can’t hold a candle to the offerings from Frostop, Steak ‘n Shake, Five Guys or Nation’s.  One notable feature is the “secret menu” of things one must already know about to order.

Milo's Hamburgers logoMilo’s Hamburgers  This Birmingham, Alabama chain is Grace’s favorite, and though I’ve only been there twice I will eat there again next time I’m in Alabama at dinnertime.  The chief distinguishing characteristic of Milo’s is its secret sauce, which according to the company’s website was developed by what we would today call “crowdsourcing”.

Nation's Giant Hamburgers logoNation’s Giant Hamburgers  This San Francisco Bay area chain is, as you might expect, noted for the colossal size of its hamburgers; I was incredibly hungry and could only barely finish one.  They’re really tasty, too.  The chain is also noted for its pies, but I’ve never eaten one so I can’t vouch for them personally.

Prince’s Hot Chicken  For such a highly-acclaimed eatery, Prince’s (whose sole location is in Nashville) is amazingly divey; one sidles through the crowd to the window, orders and pays, and then waits.Prince's Hot Chicken  And waits.  And waits.  But damn, it’s good, and very hot!  While waiting I chatted with an older gentleman, and when I told him I had ordered the “hot” (as opposed to mild, medium or extra-hot) he shook his head sadly and told me that he used to be able to eat the hot, but now couldn’t take it any more.  Let’s just say it made my nose run, and that I was reminded of it again the next day.

Skyline Chili  Skyline Chili logoThis Cincinnati chain is unique in that it doesn’t serve burgers, chicken or any other fast-food staple, but rather a thin, homogeneous chili sauce with Greek spices.  One can order it atop spaghetti (with lots of grated cheese), hot dogs or even potatoes, but these only serve as carriers for the delicious sauce.  Definitely worth going out of one’s way for.

Tops Bar-B-Q  Tops Bar-B-Q logoDespite the excellence of this  Memphis chain’s food, it is surprisingly inexpensive; even their sweet tea is superior.  If you like barbecue, you owe it to yourself to try Tops when in Memphis.

This list is not meant to be remotely comprehensive; just the opposite, in fact.  If you have a local favorite which isn’t known outside your region, please add it in the comments!  Anything from single-city to single-region fast food chains are welcome, but please don’t nominate a chain if it’s known in more than, say, 15 states, or if a basic meal there costs more than about $10 per person.  Sit-down casual places are OK if they are in the fast-food price range.  I’ll probably be doing a lot of on-a-budget traveling in the next few years, and I’d love suggestions on where to have a yummy, unique but inexpensive dining experience.

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purple laptopIf you read Saturday’s TW3 column you already know that within minutes of arriving in Raleigh on the 17th, I was chatting with Rachel Mills on her spreecast, LiberTea.  Rachel and I were introduced by veteran libertarian activist Angela Keaton, and liked each other immediately; she generously offered me her guest room, which made the interview a lot easier since I was already at the studio!  She later mentioned that she was learning photography, and asked if I’d model for her; I of course said yes, and I’ll be sharing some of the other results soon.  FYI, I don’t use glasses to read; I’m nearsighted, not farsighted.  However, I believe in artistic license.

On Monday, my book reading at The Internationalist was rained out; the downpour was, in fact, so heavy that water started coming into the store, but luckily I was wearing sandals so I was able to help out with a mop without risking falling on my arse on a slippery floor.  They were very apologetic, but as I told them nobody can help the weather; besides, as I’ve written before it’s the odd experiences that make a trip memorable, not the ones that go exactly as predicted.  Still, it was nice to get a good book reading in at Flyleaf the next day, and I got to meet two more regular readers.  Eros Guide is currently based in the Raleigh area, so another highlight of my visit was meeting with several members of the staff to discuss not only the work I’ve been doing for them the past few months, but also the future in the current climate of hysteria.  And on a more mundane note:  I’m now back in the South, so I can get sweet tea at restaurants again!

Generally, I haven’t been doing public events on the day I arrive, but that was not so in the Carolinas; I left for Charleston on Thursday morning, knowing I had an event there at 7 PM.  Everything went well, though; I arrived in Charleston exactly on schedule and was delighted to discover that my Priceline-booked hotel was not only on the same street as the restaurant where my Liberty On the Rocks appearance was to be held, but also directly on the route I’d take to Atlanta.  It took me only a few minutes to reach the place, and the group was small but very engaged and highly enthusiastic; it was also one of the quieter venues.  In fact, “quiet” is a good word for my stay in Charleston; on Friday I was able to spend the day catching up from comparatively-hectic Washington and Raleigh-Durham, and getting myself ready for the last two stops before the home stretch.

The tour’s nearly over, but you can still catch me in Tampa or New Orleans; if your city is within a few hours’ drive of those (or between them), you can still send an email asking me to visit, though obviously it’s pretty tight now.  Your request will be more likely to be doable if you can make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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