Writing

Machu Men


On Peru’s most famous peak, manhood is challenged, bonds are strengthened,

and perseverance in the face of fear is handsomely rewarded

MACHU PICCHU, Peru – Are you going to climb Huayna Picchu?

Of course I am, I assured my Limeño amigo Martín in response to his repeated prompts.

You’re not going up that narrow path on the side of a mountain, the one with the steep, tiny steps and nothing to grab onto… Are you?

I wasn’t lying to my family during the days preceding my first trip to Martín’s native Peru when I insisted I wasn’t. I honestly believed it. Just turns out I had no clue Huayna Picchu and this terrifying trail they kept mentioning were, in fact, one in the same.

Not until I found myself on it, with nowhere else to go but up.
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In Tune with Ireland


The Emerald Isle strikes a chord with artist/ journalist Erik Scalavino,

who arrives searching for harmony – and departs on a high note

DUBLIN & ENNIS, Ireland – Although I’d never visited during my first 44 years, Ireland managed to captivate me, what with its fascinating landscape, literature, and legends.

Then, of course, there’s all that green – Ireland’s inextricably identifiable color happens to be my all-time favorite. “The Emerald Isle” seemed forever mysterious and magical, yet strangely familiar.

It went deeper, though. The music… Ah, yes, the music!

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Amman means ‘Amore’


AMMAN – Try as you might, you won’t find cheese steaks or Rocky Balboa in this town, which the ancient Greeks called Philadelphia.

What you will find in modern-day Amman, capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, are Lego-like limestone dwellings, from which its nickname – the White City – springs. These predominantly impoverished neighborhoods tumble down from the city’s seven jebels (Arabic for “hills”) into Biblical-era archaeological sites like the well-preserved and still acoustically astounding Greco-Roman amphitheater.

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The Best Pictures I Never Took


Sometimes, our most memorable images are ones we choose NOT to photograph.

I absolutely LOVE photography, as you can plainly see here on my website. When I return from a trip with my camera, my likeminded friends always ask the inevitable, “How many pictures did you take?”

They’re often surprised by my answer, which might be a number much lower than they were expecting. As much as I want to get that quintessential shot – what photographer doesn’t? – I’m also determined to enjoy life’s most precious moments with my own two eyes, not just from behind the lens of my Canon.

Striking that desired balance is an art form in itself, I believe, and I’m constantly striving to master it. There are times, though, when I’ve found myself with the perfect subject in the most ideal conditions… and chosen NOT to snap the picture.

Here are three that come immediately to mind:

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Arrogance vs. Confidence


When you attend a New England prep school like St. Paul’s in Concord, New Hampshire, you become acutely aware of certain truths. Tradition, for instance. It can be both comforting and terrifying. The latter, because you sense the penetrating stares of those who’ve come before you, sometimes centuries before you, and can feel the weight of their expectations for you. The former, because once you’ve successfully followed in their footsteps, you join their august ranks.

One such tradition at St. Paul’s is the Chapel talk. It can be as intimidating a crucible as there is for any teenage student. You stand before the entire school — classmates, faculty, and the ghosts of alumni alike — in a soaring, neo-Gothic structure that looks as if it were uprooted from medieval Europe and transplanted in modern-day America: the Chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul. In this sublime space, you stand at the lectern and speak your mind, your voice echoing, it seems, directly to the Heavens. As you do, you fear not so much the judgment of the Almighty, but that of your potentially merciless peers.

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A Date with Lady Liberty


NEW YORK – I’m off the boat, just seconds into my Ellis Island visit, when I’m asked my first question.

“Would you mind?” begs the middle-aged man with the grey mullet and same colored tank top. He’s also inquiring with wide, eager eyes as he gently offers his digital point-and-shoot. He and the wife, he explains, are here from Covington, Ga., some 30 minutes outside Atlanta.

When you travel alone and carry a professional-quality camera, like I do, you get asked this frequently. It’s always a pleasure.

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Dreaming of a White (House) Christmas


WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania Avenue is pulsating with protests.

To the east, where New York Ave. stabs 15th Street from an oblique angle, police have cordoned off the intersection to automobile traffic, allowing demonstrators the freedom to fill the street from sidewalk to sidewalk. Their din mimics their behavior: chaotic and incoherent, like a crowded bar scene.

Luckily, I’m on foot as well and need go no further south. I make a right turn and the familiar, expansive plaza opens up to me. Ahead, a competing chorus of cacklers makes a more unified sound.

“O – BA – MA! THA LEE-DAH MAH-ST GO!”

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Postcard from Ground Zero


NEW YORK – It has taken me 10 years to get here.

Ten long, lightning-quick, wonderful, frustrating, heartbreaking, joyous, grateful, revealing, tumultuous, transformative years.

I’ve visited New York City numerous times over the past decade, but events always precluded my returning specifically to lower Manhattan. Each time, I left the Big Apple with immense regret, my mission unfulfilled.

Next time, I’d vow.

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