My name is Jonathan Tyler Moore. There is a good chance you already knew that. I am currently on a 60 day solo road trip around the United States from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, north to Seattle, and back. With many stops and a fair amount of backtracking and zigzagging along the way. The reason for the trip is a simple one: I have the time and inclination to see the country. I also love my car, which I have been the sole driver of since 2001. She is a 1996 Forest Green Toyota Camry named Maia, and is likely nearing the end of her life. And so, I want to show her as much of the country as possible before she takes her journey to the great highway in the sky.
Let me take a step back for a moment to introduce myself to those who may not know me, or may not know me particularly well. As with most humans, whatever has primarily occupied my time during any given period of my life has defined me (whether or not this is a good thing is a topic for another time). For the past 6 and a half years that was working for a Democratic Member of Congress from my home state of New Jersey. It was not something I had ever dreamt of doing, which is slightly atypical for someone working on ‘the Hill,’ but once given the opportunity, the legislative process and the institution of Congress quickly enthralled me. Working tirelessly in Congress are many extraordinary people, both elected representatives and the staff that support them, for the betterment of the country. There are also many self-serving individuals that are seeking primarily to increase their own profile for the sake of fame or money. I was lucky enough to work for and with the former otherwise I would not have been able to stay for nearly seven years.
Ultimately, the Member I worked for retired at the end of the 113th Congress (this past January), which also meant the end of my tenure as a Congressional staffer for the time being. While I still love the institution of Congress, the behavior of the political system in recent years has soured my desire to remain a part of it. And so, not having had a moment’s respite since entering the workforce at age 13, I viewed my involuntary separation as an opportunity to reflect of what I have learned and how I can best contribute to society. In truth, that statement should not be in the past tense, as this process is ongoing. However, while I mull this over and am not bogged down by obligation, I have decided to cross an item off my life ‘To Do’ list, and traverse the country, visiting as much of it as possible.
Which brings me back to this travel diary. When I first began to seriously consider this trip, I had no inclination to write a blog. But after repeated and enthusiastic encouragement from every family member and friend I told about my trip, I finally succumbed. With this chronicle I aim to share with you my experience as I journey through the various time zones, climates, and cultures of the United States. I thank you in advance for you interest, and I especially thank all those who will be opening up their homes as I make my way from coast to coast. My current and tentative road map is below, though it will certainly change as I find additional attractions along the route.
To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite authors and thinkers: Herewith. Hope it serves, As always, Jonathan.
Approximate Mileage: 11,000
Highlights: New Orleans, Las Vegas, Yosemite, Pacific Northwest, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Pittsburgh (and many more)
Up next: My journey from Washington, DC to Bluefield, WV to visit a memorial to a revolutionary war era ancestor, and my time in Asheville, NC.
From an interview with retiring Sen. Tom Harkin.
More and more retiring Members of Congress have pointed to partisanship and the amount of time required to spend raising money as the reasons for their retirement. As Sen. Harkin points out here, they are connected. Members are so encouraged to raise money that they no longer have time to spend legislating or building relationships with other Members of Congress. And so when it comes time for large, vital pieces of legislation to be dealt with and voted on, consensus and genuine negotiation is damn near impossible because Members are unable to trust each other because they don’t know each other. Getting money out of politics certainly won’t solve the problems currently facing Congress and the country, but it would help us get there.
Died 10 years ago today.
In 1999, when the web was bedding in but still not at everyone’s fingertips, he wrote a piece for the Sunday Times entitled "How To Stop Worrying and Love the Internet", in which he said: “A couple of years or so ago I was a guest on Start the Week, and I was authoritatively informed by a very distinguished journalist that the whole Internet thing was just a silly fad, like ham radio in the 50s, and that if I thought any different I was really a bit naïve. It is a very British trait – natural, perhaps, for a country which has lost an empire and found Mr Blobby – to be so suspicious of change.”
It really is a shame that he didn’t live to see the world today. It’s wonderful in some ways, a bit of a mess in many others. But if anyone could have made sense of it, Douglas Adams would probably be the man for the job.
"Thank you for joining us.
I would love to say that we’ve got a great show for you tonight, um, not sure that’s the case. We’re going to have Denis Leary in the studio, because quite frankly after watching the news all weekend all I want to do is visit with an old friend and perhaps trade insults about one another’s acting ability.
It’s hard to know what to say. The events this weekend in Arizona weigh heavily. Sadly, it is a feeling that this country has experienced all too often and unfortunately for our show, the closer that we have gotten towards discussing and dealing with current events, the harder it becomes in situations where reality is truly sad.
So here we are again stunned by a tragedy. We’ve been visited by this demon before and our hearts go out to those injured or killed and their loved ones. How do you make sense of these types of senseless situations is really the question that seems to be on everybody’s mind. I don’t know that there’s a way to make sense of this sort of thing.
As I watched the political pundit world, many are reflecting and grieving and trying to figure things out. It’s true that others are working feverishly to find flame and exonerate the other. Watching that is as predictable as it is dispiriting. Did the toxic political environment cause this? A graphic image here, an ill-timed comment, violent rhetoric, those types of things - I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA.
You know, we live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations and I wouldn’t blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine and that is coming from somebody who truly hates our political environment. It is toxic. It is unproductive to say that is what has caused this - I don’t think you could do it.
Boy, would it be nice to be able to draw a straight line of causation from this horror to something tangible because then we could convince ourselves, that if we just stopped this, the horrors would end. To have the feeling, however fleeting, that this type of event could be prevented forever. It’s hard not to feel like it can.
You know, you cannot outsmart crazy. You don’t know what a troubled mind will get caught on. Crazy always seems to find a way. It always has. That is not to suggest that resistance is future either. That sounded dark. Crazy people rule us all. I don’t think it’s true.
I do think it’s important to watch our rhetoric. I think it’s a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with enemies if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifestos of paranoid madmen and what passes for acceptable political and pundit speak. It would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn’t in any way resemble how we actually talk to each other on TV. Let’s at least make troubled individuals easier to spot.
You know, again — it is hard to see good people like this hurt, it is so grievous and it causes me such sadness but I refuse to give in to that feeling of despair. There’s light in this situation. I urge everyone to read up about those who were hurt and or killed in this shooting. You will be comforted by just how much anonymous goodness there really is in the world. You read about these people and you realize that people that you don’t even know, that you have never met, are leading lives of real dignity and goodness. And you hear about crazy but it’s rarer than you think. I think you’ll find yourself even more impressed with Congresswoman Giffords and amazed after how much living was packed in the lives cut way too short.
And if there is real solace in this, I think it’s that for all the hyperbole and vitriol, when the reality of that rhetoric - when actions match the words - we haven’t lost our capacity to be horrified. Please let us hope we never do. Let us hope we never become numb to what real horror, the real blood of patriots looks like when it’s spilled.
Hopefully it helps us match our rhetoric with reality more often. The reality of dangerous rhetoric is, I think even those who speak hyperbolically all of that would recoil and say, wow, that’s, you know — that is not the picture of what we were discussing or talking about.
I have to remember that there’s a reality to that situation that we can’t approach verbally. Because someone or something will shatter our world again. And wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t take this opportunity and the loss of these incredible people and the pain that their loved ones are going through right now, wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t take that moment to make sure that the world that we are creating now that will ultimately be shattered again by a moment of lunacy, wouldn’t it be a shame if that world wasn’t better than the one we previously lost?
So how will we process this tonight? Absolutely no idea. We’ll come back. I’ll show a field piece about something incredibly stupid and silly. Denis Leary will come out here. He and I will most likely insult each other playfully. And then tomorrow, you know, we go back to trying to do what we normally do which is highlight absurdity in a comical way that is a catharsis for people and not a sadness.
Thank you for listening.”
— Jon Stewart, The Daily Show (January 10, 2011)
Fourteen-Year-Old Michigan Student Awesomely Stands Up for Suspended, Gay-Defending Teacher.
The only thing that sucked was knowing that this kid is smarter than most of our elected officials.
This lil’ guy.
… just wow.
and I do mean SOBBED.
Let me back up a bit and explain….
The event I shot this weekend was 110% life changing, and to be honest, left me basically speechless. However, I believe that a lot of the things I learned are incredibly valuable and I’m going to attempt to convey some of the information to you guys slowly over the coming weeks.
Great example of how “if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
It’s not easy being a celeb. Once this little kid asked for an autograph, cute little kid. I gave it to him. He said, “thanks Mr. Hanks!” I took it away from him, tore it up and told him Tom Hanks was dead.
- Jon Stewart, September 20, 2001
“Shocked to discover the statistic that 2 times more American soldiers that served in Iraq had died in 2009 by committing suicide than those killed in combat during that same year hadn’t been properly addressed in the press and is unknown by a majority of the general population, New York-based installation artist Sebastian Errazuriz took to the wall outside of his studio in Brooklyn.
“The counting of dead soldiers outside my studio was long and surprisingly eerie; it was hard to forget that every brush stroke was a soldier who had died the previous year. A lot of people stopped to read the mural and were immediately impressed by the reality portrayed. Most of them seemed quite shocked and approached me to ask if what I was painting was real. I tried to explain that I simply wished to create a physical image that could capture people’s imagination, creating awareness of the current numbers in death, war and the infinite discrepancy between the resources and energies destined to fight and protect soldiers at war versus the energies invested in protecting their mental health and stability.”
I would be interested to see a third column of ‘friendly-fire’ deaths.