Brennan Purtzer


Brennan Purtzer

There's a big world out there, and I'm just a small man in the middle of it. I'm crossing the world one stitch at a time, and writing at least one book.
As a journalist and ethnomusicologist, I'm digging up all the music I can find along the way, and looking for a way to bring it to YOU.
<img src="" width=800 height=435 alt="Visited Countries">

North America » Mexico » Baja California » Tijuana May 26th 2010

**** THIS POST IS A "CATCH-UP" POST, from the Summer of 2010, the first in a series of posts bringing my blog up to the present day ***** Wake Up I rubbed my eyes and literally slapped myself in the face. That’s something I do occasionally, mimicking cartoons I’d watched as a child, when I need to wake up. It was three in the morning, and there were probably 150 cars in front of me. I had another half an hour until I reached the checkpoint, but this was just another Tuesday. I did wonder however, if the air quality of living in Tijuana would impact my health if I did this long enough. What was I doing commuting daily across the busiest border in the whole world, and running a national political campaign anyway? How ... read more
Suburban Playas
The beach and islands
Playas beach

Europe » Denmark » Region Hovedstaden » Copenhagen May 2nd 2010

Arrival On the plane from Kosovo, the large gentleman in front of me started having an intense freak-out, banging his head on the seat in front of him. I excused myself to use the restroom, and casually reseated myself. I was thinking about the fast-approaching end of my European odyssey as the red sun set under the clouds and over the Oresund channel, over a horizon dotted with futuristic white-colored wind generators, and a bridge running from Peberholm, a flat island of Danish muck under a sea tunnel to Sweden. On the tram into the city, I looked up and slowly began noticing that half the cabin seemed to be occupied by deaf students who enjoyed the reaction they received by clapping loudly and chaotically. The other half of the tram featured several individuals with severe ... read more

Europe » Macedonia » Skopje April 30th 2010

FYROM The country doesn’t really have a name. The official name of this nation of 2 million, by default, is The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, which basically means, “we used to call it Macedonia,” with the implication that you can call it whatever the hell you want to call it now. So some people call it Macedonia, but honestly the whole Greek peninsula used to be called Macedonia as a geographic region. They really don’t know what to call it. They have a distinct flag that amounts to something like “Japan meets New Mexico” and I applaud their originality. I visited Macedonia with my friends from Kosovo because of proximity and because, it’s essentially the only place Kosovans can visit. Because, despite the fact that Kosovo is an established, modern democracy, it hasn’t secured solid ... read more

Europe » Kosovo » Centre » Prishtina April 28th 2010

The trees There is something about the trees here. Something about the neon green phosphorescence of the Kosovan springtime. It looks unreal, twinkling in the dancing light like a dream. I sit drinking coffee with new friends, watching children play at a special fun village cut between the trees, complete with waterslides. In Kosovo, the whole country seems to come out on weekends to bask in the sunlight and play Frisbee. Various tidbits According to my friend Burim, people drink coffee here all day long. Forty percent are unemployed, so they just sit there drinking coffee, talking and admiring the ladyfolk. All the bars seem to be full all day, mostly by unemployed Muslim men who religiously avoid alcohol. There are casinos everywhere, all of which have photos of scantily clad women, lying on tables. Honestly, ... read more

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana April 21st 2010

Welcome to Albania, the quirkiest country in the world What a strange place. Brightly painted poverty, the worst roads in Europe and Mercedes-Benzes everywhere. Throughout the Balkans, I encountered squabbling people with petty disputes with their neighbors. The Slovenians didn’t trust the Croatians. The Croatians mistrusted the Bosnians. The Bosnians mistrusted the Serbs and the Montenegrins. But all of them agreed on one thing: Albania was the most dangerous, perilous and shadiest place in the world – or so they shared with me. None of them had ever been there. “There isn’t a dumpster in this town that some gypsy hasn’t laid claim to.” There are more cops than trees in Tirana and urban Albania. In fact the only quantity that compares is the number of scabby homeless dogs. The funny thing is that besides standing ... read more
at the Pyramid
Traditional farm transport
How to move a sofa in Albania

Europe » Montenegro » Podgorica April 14th 2010

I had no expectations when I rolled into the capital city of Podgorica (pop. 150,000). I’d never read a word about the city. I wanted it to be modern, I wanted it to be unique and, more than anything, I wanted it to have a market for selling motorbikes. It doesn’t really have one. It has a couple of potential methods, including listing the vehicle in the newspaper and talking to the folks at the motorcycle racing store. I’ll sell this thing for €300 if I have to, but I need to ditch it ASAP; I’m broke. I had created an elaborate lie to tell a dealership about trucking the scooter here from London, with a girlfriend and a job at her parents’ company that didn’t work out – this seemed more plausible than telling them ... read more
Cathedral Gypsy
The Moraca River
Millenium Bridge 2

Europe » Montenegro » Niksic April 10th 2010

The long and winding road On a clear, cold April day, I loaded my well-worn companion Olivia and left Pljevlja for Montenegro’s second largest city, Niksic (pop. 75,000); it would have been nice to know I was driving in the wrong direction. After 25km, I “asked” the townsfolk in the village of Gradac (pop. 364) “which way to Niksic?” This elicited an amused round of laughter. By “asked,” I mean to say I pointed in each direction, and said “Niksic,” with an implied question mark on the end of the word. A fifty-year-old man with a single tooth and traditional handmade farmer’s clothes, seemed quite sure that I had indeed traveled the wrong direction. As much as my prideful self would have rather traveled around the planet in the other direction, my retreat was imminent. Durmitor ... read more
Mount Durmitor
City of Niksic
Ostag Monastery

Europe » Montenegro » Pljevlja April 9th 2010

When Bosnians really like you, they whack you with their cane Since I had 10 Bosnian marks that I needed to spend, I decided to buy fuel. I stopped in the town of Foca (40,000 people) to do so. But I couldn’t find a fuel station in Foca. I drove around and around, up and down looking everywhere, but I couldn’t find it; I knew it had to be there. I started heading down the highway, but stopped to check my map. While I was looking at the map, an old man who spoke no English snuck up behind me and slapped his hand on my shoulder. I was about to go on the defensive and tackle him when I saw he was trying to help me orient myself. This geezer, who spoke no English, ... read more
My Buddies from Pljevlja
Pljevlja Mosque
Pljevlja Monastery

Europe » Bosnia & Herzegovina » East » Sarajevo April 6th 2010

Held hostage The bastard is late. I’m sitting in the garage of this crazy university – or at least what was supposed to be the garage before they ran out of money and had to turn it into an office – waiting for the Turkish Prime Minister to arrive. The PM is coming to Sarajevo for the grand opening of this University my friend Zoe works at, and because he is late, they have barricaded the door to prevent anyone from leaving before he arrives (to further inflate his ego). Let me tell you exactly how I came to be held hostage at an international institution, waiting for this foreign chief executive … A worthy introduction to Sarajevo There is a marvelous stretch of modern, wide, actual freeway for about 20 kilometers, leading South to Sarajevo. ... read more
Brennan in Sarajevo
Sarajevo at night
Along the River

Europe » Bosnia & Herzegovina » North » Banja Luka April 1st 2010

Disaster at the crossing Northern Bosnia was the beginning of the end. In retrospect, if it had to happen – this was the place for it. It started ominously enough. As I attempted to cross the border from Croatia, there was a problem – just a little one. The loosely-uniformed border agent at Bosanska Gradiska (who wore a tired old uniform that didn’t entirely match his partner’s and more closely resembled a costume from Kevin Costner’s best-forgotten “Postman” cinematic catastrophe) informed me that I’d need a “green card.” So typically American, I tried to explain that I wasn’t intending to work in Bosnia. In Bosnia and several other countries, the term “green card” refers to an automotive insurance card for non-EU countries. Green cards cover insurance claims in countries not covered by my EU insurance policy. ... read more
Serbian Orthodox Church
Brennan and Predrag

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