Hot Cars in Istanbul – American legends on the road…

American Classics in Istanbul…

Dodge Desoto

The first time it happened, I was completely blown away…
One day I was walking up a small cobblestone road adjacent to the Grand Bazaar, just up from the Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Coffee store, when behind me I heard a rumbling, coughing, carbon-belching engine coming up the road.

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I had to cook at some point… Turkish Hamsi, Mezgit and Coban Salad

Cooking over here is always an interesting procedure for me.

For starters – all of the ingredients are foreign, the knives are dull, none of the spices are labeled and must be identified by smell, there isn’t a pepper mill to be found anywhere and the salt smells very strong of iodine from time to time.

However, not to be deterred, I stuck with what I know well. Fish. And here there is hardly anything better than some fresh Hamsi – that is if you’re in the mood for finger food.

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Some days I just feel like this guy… Wild dogs in Turkey

Ever since I laid eyes on this pooch I’ve wondered what it must be like to be such a rogue character.

It was just a week ago when I heard, or read the line “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals.” I assume you could say the same thing about a country. Don’t expect me to get all PETA on your ass or anything. I just happen to really like dogs and I find the way Turkey deals with wild strays to be a much more humane response to the issue of feral animals. Simply treat them like members of the community.

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A brief note about 9/11 – as I write from Istanbul

As I sit here in a predominantly Islamic country on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I am somewhat torn emotionally as one might expect. I don’t have enough time to fully dissect those emotions or to try to bring them to the forefront completely. So I will simply say a few things.

It is hard for us as Americans to face a faceless enemy. One without a state, without a flag, without borders, buildings or visible leaders. We don’t do well with it. We want someone to blame, to pin the target to. It damages our psyche to not have a tangible foe to do battle with. And that is what leads us to want to reach out and grab the next closest, available person in line.

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Day 4 in Istanbul… Treats so gastronomic

I never intended for this to be a food tour of the city – or to be a reporter or a critic while I was here and I don’t think I’ll go back on that lack of intention. Plain and simply put, there are some things here that are so wonderful in their simplicity that they simply have to be talked about, or at least noted for future reflection.

My decision to plant my ass in Sariyer, Istanbul rather than in some other part of the city was an easy one to make, but I cant take all the credit for it. This is where my wife’s family lives most of the year and the house was available while they were away on holiday down on on the western shore of Asia Minor.

My other option was to stay in Cevizlibag with all of the in-laws. Cevizlibag is one of those areas on the outskirts of “real” Istanbul – where poverty and piety, oft bedfellows, are rife and after certain hours one doesn’t want to be strolling down the road looking around with wide wonder. It certainly isn’t a place for a big fat westerner to be roaming around after dark.

When you pull up a ring-side seat in a Sariyer waterfront cafe along the edge of the Bosphorus,  you are promptly greeted by schools of small fish which have been coaxed toward the shoreline by locals tossing bits of bread to them. The schools of fish attract more locals who stand in lines a hundred yards long to fish them out with rod and reel with seemingly little concern for time, as I have seen the same fishermen stand in one place over the entire course of a day to score a small pail of them.

Bosphorus fish

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Day 3 begins in Istanbul…

So it’s 1am back home on the east coast of the US – and most are tucked away in bed. It’s 8am here… and the roosters are crowing and the minarets are squawking, dogs are barking and people are out and about. Fortunately no horns are honking yet – but I guess that’s soon to come… It’s another beautiful day and I’ve been up most of the night. Sleeping comes at a real premium when you first get here as there is so much going on and you have to have the windows open most of the time to breathe and get some air across your body at night.

Generally it gets better after the first week and sleep is usually something that just ends up happening rather than being something that is planned. Yesterday I was doing the “Hey that guy’s passed out” head nod for an unknown amount of time and ended up bouncing my head off a cement wall about four times before I realized I had dozed off. And as it’s always entertaining for people to watch, my brother in-law Ozcan (ooz-john) was watching with amusement when I woke up.

Though I had good reason to be sleepy on top of the jet lag… The night before I had been up until 5am running around Taksim Square with Turkish voice over talents Andy Boyns, Mehmet Onur and my sister in-law Cigdem (Chee-dem).

Though a grainy photo does it little justice, Taksim Square is a raucous place which caters to many people and many different desires.

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Another fork in the road… and I stand here contemplating…

If someone had told me over 15 years ago that I would still be sitting here surrounded by recording equipment, wondering what the future would bring in the production business – I would have told them they were crazy. I also seriously doubt I would have taken the first steps down this long and dusty road.

I was anything but patient when I began my quest for voice over success. I really did believe that I would be rolling in riches and all things material after a few years in the craft. I didn’t know at the time how foolish those assumptions were and I certainly had no way of telling who and what I would be when time began to tick by. I didn’t know that years later I’d be sitting here counting my blessings and basking in the glory of riches made not of paper and coin, but surrounded by scant material items which reach just outside the lines of necessity . I certainly never envisioned myself as being happy with so little.

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