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Friendly Skies

I'm a culture junkie and I need a variety of RESOURCES at my disposal at all times. If I somehow forget to buy my Cigar Aficionado at the airport, I'm on a six-hour flight with nothing but my head up my ass.
December 1, 2004, 12:00am

Photo by Tim Barber

I'm a culture junkie and I need a variety of RESOURCES at my disposal at all times. If I somehow forget to buy my Cigar Aficionado at the airport, I'm on a six-hour flight with nothing but my head up my ass. I can't afford a culture blackout like that. That's where the in-flight mag comes in––it fills in the blanks, giving me the opportunity to soak in some much-needed culture while I soar through the proverbial air. When I travel, I need to be in the know. Let me give you an example. If I'm flying to Seattle, I want to know where the funkiest steakhouse is, or if I'm flying to New Orleans, I would like to know where Samuel Jackson listens to jazz. There's no better feeling than reading up on some hotspot on the plane, then dropping that "info-bomb" on your associate when you hit ground. For example, you've landed in Salt Lake and you're at baggage claim and you turn to your homeboy and say, "Hey, we gotta hit this place Bambara tonight…They've got over a hundred types of martinis." Boo-ya!!! You're in the know. I was lucky enough to fly recently on American Airlines and came across what I now consider one of the most informative pieces on Aspen I have ever read. If there were an award dedicated to in-flight journalism, Mark Seal would win it and not show up to receive it because he would be way too good for that award. Before I get into that, I need to backtrack.

When the settlers from the east came over the mountains and wagoneered their way to New York, every second of their treacherous journey was a risk, but it was a risk they were willing to take to put their families in jeopardy to become rich. None of them made it, but much later, people did finally fly in and settle what is now New York City, and it is in that spirit that we are all here in America—the spirit of wanderlust, the spirit of risk-taking, the spirit of freedom and of will and of determination and inventiveness and achievement and dreamcatching. I was searching for an example the other night as I channel-surfed on my couch, and a movie came on that reminded me of another movie I hadn't seen in some time. That movie was No Way Out and the movie it reminded me of was Dances with Wolves. At the time I saw DWW, I knew the guy who directed and starred in this epic tale was someone to watch. He was not just acting, he was teaching us this all-important story. You knew he believed in the spirit of what that movie was portraying by that oh-so-familiar smirk and that unique glimmer in his eyes. His body of work is impeccable. Whether it be baseball, golf, the old west, or the future, Kevin Costner brings a spirit that few other actor/producer/directors have ever brought to the genre that is now called cinema. Back to the in-flight magazine. I would like to cite a portion of Mark Seal's ground-shattering interview with Costner from the 8/15/03 issue of American Way magazine. I think it exemplifies the spirit of the in-flight-magazine experience. It informs without being pretentious or preachy. But you already know, that's what Costner is all about. It is entitled "Kevin Costner Hangs His Hat in Aspen."   Mark: What should people pack for their visit to Aspen?
Kevin: There are some people who look pretty snappy downtown, but I'm looking down at myself right now, and everything I have on has to go in the wash as soon as we're done talking here. I'm just in Levi's, a sweater, and boots. I've always got a little raincoat, too.  What are your favorite outdoor spots in Aspen?
I don't really feel the need to go anywhere, but I enjoy being invited down to Don Johnson's. He has a fabulous place down there in Woody Creek. He makes everybody feel welcome. But I come here and I really kind of nest. I'm probably not here more than an hour before I'm on my tractor, and away I go. In fact, I just about tipped it over today. Yeah. I was in a tough spot. Sublime but down-home. The ultimate synergy. The soaring spirit of a man firmly grounded in his beliefs, but with an eye to the heavens (a winking eye, I might add) that seems to say, "God, don't worry about me. I'm doing all right down here. Now you go do what you gotta do to clean up the rest of this fucking mess." And he owns a tractor.  And Costner is just the tip of the iceberg. All I can do is tell each and every one of you that the journey doesn't begin when you land at your destination. It begins when you open the pages of the in-flight magazine.