A Progressive Endorsement of Biden

Political Forum

By Chris Tharp

With the golden star of Bernie Sanders’ recent endorsement, it’s clear that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee, and I will be voting for him. While he may not be your first choice, he’s now our only bet to stop this slow motion bus plunge of the Trump era. And, anyone with a lick of sense can see that, when contrasted with our current Babbler-in-Chief, he is clearly the better choice. This, to me, is a self-evident truth.

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Riding El Chepe: Part 3

Back on the Train

As the train pulled out of Bahuichivo, memories of the past several days flashed before me: the boozy, musical afternoon in the El Fuerte cantina; the enchanting train ride into the mountains; the close shave with death on the narrow road; the splendid chaos and grandeur of Urique and the canyon it calls home. All of it added up to a heady string of hours, the kind of travel I hadn’t properly tasted for years now.

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Riding El Chepe: Part 2

Into the Canyon

I jumped off of El Chepe at the town of Bahuichivo — a picturesque hamlet nestled among the mountain pines — and immediately came across three white women carrying big packs. They had been in my train car, and from the sound of their language, I pinpointed them as Dutch. Years of meeting travelers in Southeast Asia had attuned my ear when it came to picking out accents and languages, and Dutch was one of those that I just knew right away.

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As kids, we usually don’t second guess adults. We pretty much take them at their word, which makes sense, since they’ve put in the time, and (in theory) have amassed the necessary knowledge. Sometimes they get it wrong, but when we’re young we generally view adults as infallible. It wasn’t until my teens that I began to question the wisdom of this arrangement, and by my late twenties I came to understand that as adults, we definitely don’t have it figured out. In fact, we’re just making it all up as we go along and hoping for the best. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

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Into the Wild West: Part 3


Ugly at the Arch

We had just arrived back into town after our jaunt up the Karakorum Highway, having dinner and beers (of course) at the Chini Bagh’s John’s Café.

We were joined by Simon, a towering Englishman we had met the Olympics opening-night piss-up. He was sinewy and bald and looked a lot like Peter Garrett from the Australian band Midnight Oil. His eyes shone wild as he carried on about a day trip he had just taken to Shipton’s Arch, a rock formation a couple of hours outside of town. Shipton’s Arch, or Tushuk Tash (“Pierced Rock”), is the tallest natural arch in the world, standing at over 1,200 feet, and located in a very remote part of the desert.

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Into the Wild West: Part 2


The Olympic Spirit Comes to Kashgar

“The security forces are here,” whispered Hamish. “They’re on every street corner. You can fuckin’ well guarantae it. You just have to know how to spot them.”

As his name suggests, Hamish was Scottish, and spoke with a heavy brogue. He sipped from a can of Coke while he fiddled with a small, expensive-looking video camera.

“I thought this place would be in lockdown,” I said, “after what happened.”

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Into the Wild West: Part 1


The best parts of China are often the parts that don’t look like China. After all, China is a country so massive and varied that your preconceived notions are easily destroyed. This is especially true if you travel around the edge of the country. It is here, close to the borders, where things get strange and interesting. This is where you can discover nations within the nation. This is where your expectations get flipped on their head. This is where China will slap you in the face and ask, “Do you even know where you are?”

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The Other Side

peace dome

“Mmmmmmmy God this is so good,” I mumbled, chewing the sushi in slow motion, savoring every molecule of texture and flavor. “Mmm-mmmmmm… good lord.”

“Excuse me.” Steve–my friend and colleague–waved to the sushi chef, who was busily chopping ginger on the other side of the counter.

“Ah… yes-uh?” The chef stopped his work.

Steve proceeded very slowly: “What-kind-of-fish-is-this?” He pointed to the silver slice perched atop the ball of molded rice in front of him.

Aji,” the man replied.

Aji?” repeated Steve.

Aji. Hai,” confirmed the kind-eyed chef. “How do you say in Eng-uh-rish-uh?”

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House of Rose


The girl carefully slid the key out from its slot behind the dark wooden check-in desk. She waved a few loose strands of hair from her face and motioned for me to follow. I trudged behind, lugging my backpack and sweating. It was only nine in the morning and already hot. My mind was full of static and eyes bleary from lack of sleep.

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