Thursday, June 29, 2006

Where's Paul-O?

So, Paul is out wandering the streets of Manhattan, up to God Knows What, and I'm back at work. I expect Paul to look suitably dapper this evening when you all come out to join us for drinks, and then whatever the night devolves into.

We'll tell you later on, but I can give you the heads up right now - the Matthews Family *still* coming through for us - a GPS device and GSM phone are on their way up to New York from Baltimore, a loan from Jochen, Kiowa's sister Raven's boyfriend. And this weekend, I'm-a go out for a spin with Kiowa's uncle Ed and Aunt Patty (and hopefully Molly) to fine tune my stick shift driving abilities.

We think we have some surprises for you tonight - I hope we come through for you all. And if you ask, we'll tell you that NPR's Debbie Elliott is a lovely lady and conducts a fine interview.

Tonight, tonight...

It is now a mere nine hours before the Team Newyorkistan Backseat Drivers' Extravaganza!! Today is a full day for the Team, what with an interview planned for 1 p.m. and all the other stuff that is associated with the days immediately preceeding the Rally. Great things are happening for us, and tonight will be a celebration of it's a few reminders and things to think about:

*Come early!! The fun starts at 7 p.m.!
*Easy parking, so don't hesitate to drive, so long as you've designated a Frontseat Driver for the way home (because needless to say the booze is going to flow tonight.)
*Bring tchotchkies!! There is probably annoying stuff around your house that would make a Kazakh's day - Team Newyorkistan wants to have plenty of stuff to give away to everyone we meet along the way to serve as a token of friendship between our culture and theirs. Anything New York or U.S. related is a plus.
*You are part of something huge. Revel in your awesomeness.

Should anyone have any questions/concerns, feel free to ring Paul's mobile phone, 516 659 0689.

See you all tonight!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How does Paul feel right now?

Some of you are probably asking..."gee, Paul, you must be all, like, nervous and worried and all. How do you feel?" That's a pretty valid question. (People are probably asking Audrey the same thing - but with her it's obvious - her iron will is unmistakable; if she's nervous or pensive, she isn't showing it.)

Well, anyway, the way I feel right now is probably very similar to the way I felt when this picture was taken:

That's me in the poorly-fitting green jumpsuit. Below us is the great state of New Jersey. The guy tightly strapped to me is someone who knows lots more than I do about skydiving.

So I'm kinda feeling the same way as I felt on that chilly day, circa November 2004.

If you are not convinced that I am in fact the guy in the green jumpsuit - you think I'm just being a drama queen by using someone else's skydiving picture - here's the proof:

I don't show that picture often...for obvious reasons. I am happy to report, though, that I've lost about 15 lbs. since then. Fortunately, I don't have to wear a poorly fitting jumpsuit on the Rally.

So yeah, that's how Paul is doin'.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Twelve days

The Rally itself might start in about a month - actually, a month minus two days - but for Pablo, the morning of July 5th will be the beginning of the Final Planning Phase (FPP), i.e. when I leave for London. (I have to thank Audrey for reminding me about the whole "buy a ticket to London, idiot" thing.) On the morning after the 230th anniversary of our nation's independence, I will honor the memory of my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, John Lefferts (who was a lieutenant in Washington's army and later a Congressman), by traveling to the seat of the British Empire. (Yes, that's "Lefferts," as in "Lefferts Boulevard." No, I did not make that all up.)

And so, on the morning of July 5th, I will "jump the pond" on the wings of Virgin Atlantic; that evening I will land, full of energy and complimentary wine, at Heathrow Airport. Once there, I will begin crossing off the many items on our "to-do" list - get the car, put sponsors' names all over said car, and probably sleep in the car, among many, many other things.

Audrey and I are discussing the aformentioned "to-do" list; I won't bore you with it, but suffice to say, it's long. I of course will document every step of the way via digital photography once I get there.

And now a word about The Party.

The Party is taking place on June 29th. These people, Paul and Audrey, are driving...right, you probably know that part by now. Well, if you're reading this, then there is a good chance you're coming to Verlaine on Thursday the 29th. And there's also a good reason why you are coming that night. It's because you're a friend or loved one of Paul or Audrey or both. It's because you want to share in the incredible buzz that is surrounding Team Newyorkistan. It's because you want a piece of the incredible aura generated by going on a wacky road trip for charity. There are many reasons why you will be there, and all good ones. This bar can hold about 150 to 170 people; I think that we are going to fill it up. Everyone there - every single person - will be part of the Team Newyorkistan family ("Backseat Drivers," we like to call them.) You're going to be with us on the 29th, and you're going to be with us from July 22nd until the moment we reach Ulan Bataar, because you're all part of the adventure.

Long story short, it's going to be huge, so don't miss it.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

One Month and One Day

Until we stand, proudly, stupidly, at Hyde Park in London, with 398 people who are just as damn fool crazy as we are, in our tricked out mashina of choice (as I mentioned to Paul [and a reporter] this morning, I think our car should be pimped a la the cab driver in the wonderful Almodovar film "Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown" - trimmed with lights and dancing hula girls and fringe around the interior ceiling).

We've reached a stage where a lot of the longer term planning issues have been addressed for us - Got the time off of work, Paul and I have been vaccinated, we've got car issues under control [partially], plane tickets to London, insurance purchased, a ferry crossing to France, international driving permits and our last visa will be finished for us on the 30th. Which leaves us with every little last goddamn thing we have to pack and take with us. There's a bit of a personality problem for me in doing this rally. I get paid to be on top of things. To make sure that nothing goes wrong and that I've anticipated and addressed problems before they happen. Like that could ever possibly be accomplished here. What in the good Lord's name am I doing, trying to plan for this?

So when you see the frantic looking woman on the 2/3 in the morning, one half of her collar standing up, hearing transcripts sticking out of her already crammed shoulder bag, pen-in-mouth, attempting to digest "Russian in 10 Minutes a Day!" Say hi. You'll know it's me.

Grand Theft Auto

This was posted the other day on the Mongol Rally Forum - when I saw the picture I spat out my coffee, so I thought I'd share it with the four people who read our blog.

If we're not careful where we park...

I believe the original post came from the Mongol Blues Team, whose website can be found at:

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Very Important Details

As a random gift for us, and for our car, my brother David gave us these - decal stickers of bullet holes for our car. Straight outta East New York!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

In just 14 days...

...we will convene the Second Grand Assembly of Backseat Drivers and Newyorkistan Enthusiasts. This event is also known as "the fundraiser" or simply "the event." It has a grandiose official title because it's going to be a grandiose event. The level of excitement is high and Verlaine is just the kind of place where you would want to be on an early summer night in Manhattan.

Some details for y'all: firstly, parking is (unlike everywhere else in Manhattan) very, very easy. That's because there's a municipal parking lot almost right next to Verlaine. It's about $3 an hour, which is what I would call a steal. So, combined with the proximity to the Williamsburg Bridge, arriving by car will be a viable option.

Secondly, the event starts at 7, and the more Backseat Drivers we can get to fill up the place early, the better. Verlaine is still open to The Public on June 29th. However, we want to make it so that any member of The Public who enters is overwhelmed by our presence and switches teams from "The Public" to "The Backseat Drivers." What I'm saying is, get there early (you won't regret it.)

And finally, a bit of a preview of Verlaine itself. It doesn't have the rustic karaoke bar feel of Winnie's - this place is of a different character. Verlaine is a place that is very cool but not overpriced, and has a slick, trendy decor without inviting pretentiousness. Basically, the perfect place for a classy bunch like all you Backseat Drivers. It's somewhat bigger than Winnie's, but the Club is expanding by leaps and bounds, so it might end up being occupied territory of the Backseat Drivers' Club for the night. (Verlaine is located at 110 Rivington Street, between Ludlow and Essex -

I hope all of you are as excited as I am. In terms of getting to meet a whole lot of really awesome people, as well as just plain fun, this is going to be a night to remember.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Three Modes of Transport - check!

Everybody loves to check something off their to do list. And on my to do list today was “book a ferry crossing from England to France”. And so it is done. If there are any other rallyers out there, we’ll be on the 18:05 Dover to Calais ferry – in fact, we’ll be on this honking mofo of a ship – the PRIDE OF BURGUNDY! (see above) I’m really hoping I can get my dad a sailor’s hat from the ship. His is all crusty and old. However, word on the street is that the Technomads (another American team, from MA), as a group of engineers, is going to fashion a raft for themselves. By lashing together a group of supermodels to float the car to the continent.

Perhaps more intriguing than the Pride of Burgundy (and really, does it get more interesting?) is the fact that Mongolia, landlocked country though it is, has a navy. How beautiful is that, people? The Mongolian NAVY. You know we’ll be checking that shit out. As we read on someone’s else’s website, the Mongolian Navy is described as having “three boats, two guns and one engine among them”. Come on people. You LOVE that.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Reminder #1 - Or Subodai Will Hurt You.

I'm going to take this opportunity to remind you all - June 29, 7:00pm(ish), at Verlaine - a bar at 110 Rivington Street in Manhattan. Be there, and we promise it'll be even stupider than last time. If you have any questions, email us at