Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pure Evil

I was worried this blog entry would be kind of dry, so I have tried to juice it up a little. Here goes.

What follows is a harrowing tale of treachery, deceit, and death. Or, as some call it, how we came up with the idea to do this walk.

It all began on a chilly December eve, back in '06. The air was cold enough to freeze a man's soul. Except in Pasadena, where Rob was enjoying the balmy 70-degree weather. Come to think of it, it was a pretty mild December here in Brooklyn, too. It must have been about 50 degrees out. Still, I needed a light jacket. A light jacket OF DEATH.

As I recall, the two of us were concocting nefarious schemes in the dungeon of a haunted medieval castle. A more literal-minded person might describe our unspeakably evil encounter as a jovial exchange of emails between two buddies looking for fun trips to take together.

It wasn't long after I moved to New York (and became an axe murderer) that I found myself with a desire to walk the length of Broadway (while chopping people to bits with my axe). Considered by many to be the backbone of the city, Broadway essentially runs the length of Manhattan, some thirteen miles from Bowling Green up to Inwood, before continuing on into the Bronx and beyond. Whether I would walk the entire length or just the portion in NYC was undecided, but I put the idea on my list of "Things To Do While Living in New York," in between "Melt a child's heart with my wicked gaze" and "Get a great big yummy sandwich at Katz's Delicatessen - Mmm pastrami!!!"

Among other potential ideas, I mentioned to Rob my vague desire to walk Broadway at some point, thinking this might inspire a future trip some years down the road. So I was quite surprised when he said, "Okay, I can come to New York and do it whenever." I suspected, quite correctly, that some darker motives were at play here, so I cautiously replied, "Sweet! Sounds good to me, dude." And so the trip was born.

We decided that just walking Broadway wouldn't be enough to justify a cross-country flight, unless we continued on Route 9 farther upstate, where it is no longer signed as Broadway. But we figured we could find a better, more malevolent use for those miles, so we decided to do the entire walk in the city, hitting all five boroughs. What better way to wreak havoc on the metropolis, we thought, than to travel through it at safe low speeds, producing no carbon emissions and just generally celebrating all it has to offer. Yes, New York would rue the day Matt and Rob romped around it having a good old time. That much was certain.

In terms of total mileage, our initial goal was that most devious of all numbers, 100. We figured this would take three or four days to complete. But once we started plotting out tentative routes, we realized even 100 miles couldn't cover everything we wanted to see. The mileage gradually increased until it reached 150 over five days. This, we cackled to ourselves, should be sufficient to make New York's skin crawl, by which we meant it should allow us to visit a whole bunch of neato places.

Neato indeed. Be sure to tune in next weekend for the bone-chilling account of what kinds of tasty treats we ate on the walk.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We're famous!

Well, not really. But, we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Additionally, the first news article about the great trek has been published, in New York's "Metro" newspaper.

Courtesy of Amy Zimmer at the Metro:

"UNION SQUARE. Remember Matt Green and Don Badaczewski, those two guys who last August broke the record for circumnavigating the city by subway?

Well, Green is back — with a new teammate, college buddy Rob Moncure — for another urban adventure: a five-day, 150-mile walk across the city. That’s 30 miles of pavement, or roughly 10 hours of trekking, a day, starting Monday on Staten Island."

The rest of the article can be found at

Why, Part II

Reading over this entry, I realize that I sound like a gigantic dork. So at least you know I recognize this fact.

Being a resident of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, it always bothers me when people assume that Manhattan (and the lower half of Manhattan, at that) is all there is to NYC, and that the other boroughs are just suburbs. Brooklyn alone has a larger population than any city in the country not named Los Angeles or Chicago, and the same goes for Queens. The huge influx of immigrants over the years has formed concentrated pockets of many different nationalities and ethnicities, and has helped give each area of the city its own character.

No matter where you go in NYC, that neighborhood is the center of the universe for someone. The neighborhoods of the outer boroughs are not anonymous commuter suburbs, but complete communities in their own right, thriving or struggling, vibrant or dilapidated. Adjacent parts of the city have totally different feels, and walking from one place to the next often seems more like a walk between countries than a walk within one city.

And yet, despite this diversity, there is something connecting all these neighborhoods together. Maybe it's just that they all lie within the jurisdictional boundaries of The City of New York, or maybe it's something deeper. Regardless, I can't help feeling like all of these different places are part of my city. And the longer I live here and the more enamored I get with the place, the greater my longing to truly know my new home, in all its glory and its troubles.

I want to know more than the vague generalities people tend to throw around about different parts of the city. Anyone who speaks about a borough as if it is one homogenous unit is ignoring the huge number of people, cultures, histories, economies, and landscapes that vary throughout the city. These are richly textured places I live among, and there's no way to fully know them without going to each one and feeling its fabric for myself.

While it's naive to expect to really understand a place simply by passing through it, I do think this walk will let us experience the city in a way few others ever have. We will be totally immersed from early Monday morning until Friday night, constantly on the move, the texture of each neighborhood washing over us as we go. I'm not quite sure what it will feel like, but I can't wait to get started.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


As I’ve begun telling friends about our plan to walk 150 miles through New York City in just five days, the most common question I’ve been asked is, “Why would you want to do that?” While I’m sure I’ll be asking myself the same question over and over again next week, for now, I’ll try to explain my motivation.

My answer to this question will differ from Matt’s, as I’m approaching the walk from the perspective of a tourist, while Matt has spent the last couple of years living in Brooklyn. I’ve never spent more than a few days at a time in NYC, and I’ve never been there in any capacity other than as a tourist.

As a tourist, when I think of New York City, I tend to think of the endless sea of skyscrapers, the crowded streets and sidewalks, Broadway, the Yankees, the Statue of Liberty, and other similar tourist hotspots. While these tourist-laden areas are certainly part of what makes New York such a great city, planning this walk has made me realize that the vast majority of tourists never have the chance to experience about 95% of the city. While everyone has visited Times Square and looked out from the top of the Empire State Building, few have been to the many beaches, islands, and parks that comprise a significant portion of the city.

This walk, to me, represents an opportunity to see the New York that the average tourist doesn’t get to see. Among many other things, I’m excited to swim at the beaches, sample numerous different authentic cuisines, stroll through a wide variety of neighborhoods, and meet an even wider variety of people.

At this point in the conversation, the friend usually states, “You know, New York City has a perfectly good subway system. Why walk?”

My answer, while somewhat cliché, is that it’s impossible to truly experience the culture of a city any other way. Any more standard method of transportation simply moves too fast.

“Ok, I can buy that…but why 150 miles in a week?”
I could get into deep psychobabble about wanting to challenge myself both physically and mentally, but instead, I'll rely on the tried and true, “Why not?”

Monday, May 28, 2007


We here at BurnSomeDust aim to provide you with top-of-the-line travel and geography-related entertainment. Our next trip is coming up soon, on Monday, June 4, to be exact, so strap on your seatbelts. The ride's about to get a little bit... awesome.

Two Men Trek 150 Miles Through the Big Apple

Starting on Monday morning, June 4, Matt Green and Rob Moncure will embark upon a grueling quest to conquer the wild streets of Gotham. Armed with some drinking water, a lot of socks, and an emergency roll of toilet paper, they will set out on an ambitious urban expedition, trekking more than 150 miles by foot across the great rugged expanse of New York City. When and if they survive this daring odyssey, they will no doubt have a great bounty of stories and riches to share with us all.

However, there is much more to this voyage than the mere journey from one place to the next. Rob and Matt will carry with them a checklist of crucial tasks that must be completed before their adventure can be considered a success. Among the ranks of these daunting challenges are such herculean feats as riding a camel, getting a haircut, and performing music on a subway platform.

So roll over, Lewis and Clark. And tell Neil Armstrong the news. The pantheon of great American explorers is about to get a little more crowded.

More information is available at Periodic updates during the walk will be available by calling a voicemail line: (718) 407-4697.