Laffing Sal, San Francisco’s Creepiest Tourist Attraction

I moved to San Francisco, way out near the ocean, in 1972. Just a short walk from my house was a rubble strewn, abandoned theme park called Playland at the Beach. I wandered through just before the wrecking ball smashed it to smithereens. Playland had a roller coaster, a fun house, a replica of Noah’s Ark, a diving bell. Its creepy ambience costarred in Orson Welles’ “Lady From Shanghai,” “The Princess Diaries,” and many others, some of dubious distinction such Roger Corman’s “X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes.”

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From Vandalism to Art: Portugal’s Thriving Urban Art Scene

Portugal Embraces Political and Social Expression for All to See
(Even Seniors are Getting Into the Act)

Today Portugal is one of the hottest destinations for travel in Europe. But back in 2008 the country was hit hard by the worldwide recession. Portugal’s austerity measures had put people under tremendous pressure. Lisbon’s central district, the Barrio Alto, a magnet for youth because of the clubs and nightlife, was being hit hard by vandals with spray cans. Three hours drive north of Lisbon, Portugal’s second largest city Porto was also struggling with defacement of long-empty buildings.

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Thanksgiving Cold Turkey: Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Castle ©Russell Johnson
If you are over 18 you have probably spent some holiday season away from home. A few years ago I flew to Frankfurt, Germany the day before US Thanksgiving for a 1/2 hour business meeting. The meeting was a bust and alone, in a terrible mood on a bone-chilling afternoon, I boarded a train for Heidelberg, where the Student Prince was alive and quite drunk.

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A Stroll From Minnehaha Falls to the Mississippi – Video

It is a sacred ritual, a religious experience. If you grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota as I did, you probably make the pilgrimage to Minnehaha Falls time and time again. Your parents took you there when you were a child. You had picnics there. You found a hiding place to steal a kiss with your first date, you crawled through the caves on the nearby Mississippi riverbank. Long after I left Minnesota for California, I went there to present my wife with her engagement ring. Now I’m back on our anniversary.

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