Live from Iraq

By Stewart Nusbaumer

Surviving in Mosul Stuggling to survive after a horrific explosion.

Street Without Joy
Will Bush’s surge secure Baghdad’s bloodiest block?

Good Morning, al-Adhamiya
In one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods.

Squiring Out Of Baghdad
Is the surge ending or dispersing the insurgency?

With PTT in Heet
A Marine unit training and equipping the Iraq Police.

Embed in Trouble
What is a journalist to do with attacked by a U.S. Army biggie? Go to the bigger?

Four Days in Dulab
In a small, dangerous town in the most violent province in Iraq.


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  Humor: Sleeping With The French

A growing number of Internet Journalists are on the road reporting on our deteriorating democracy and our flipped-out citizens, but where do they straighten themselves out and recharge their batteries?
By Stewart Nusbaumer

The American road is brutal. Road maniacs are hunting for human road kill. Oil companies are draining our financial tanks. Trucks are 18 wheel tornados. Cops have no mercy for drunk drivers. For the cash poor and much maligned internet journalist, just finding a place to sleep can be the end of the road.

• 90 percent of the motels will blow a battleship-size hole in your wallet.
• 4 percent require you to sleep in bulletproof pajamas.
• 2 percent don't take Americans.

The remaining 4 percent are Indian shanties and Motel 6s. The Asian Indians will take anyone, but they're a screwy lot, and although their rooms are dirt cheap, their motels are temples to the God of the unpredictable. I prefer the more dependable perverts at Sick 6. In this new American Nightmare where guns are worshiped and my money is dying fast, I need all the security and predictability that I can buy. Besides, Motel 6 is a French chain, and we all know the French are a classy people.

The SS and Writing

What you get at Motel 6 is one sterile and stark room, SS. What you get is sensory deprivation at a reasonable rate. Devoid of modern comforts except bed and roof -- a television is not a modern comfort since lobotomy is never a comfortable thought, well for most of us anyway -- you are free to do what mainstream journalists lounging in plush five-star palaces surrounded by distracting amenities and pampering help seldom do. Write good articles.

At Motel 6 there is no enticing lounge round the corner, actually, around the corner is probably a mugger. The motel restaurant is the candy machine, also a thief. "Ladies of the night" avoid the Sick 6 because of what the high class ones call "la femme fatale de bed sheets." There are not even simple cockroaches for a game of hide and seek. For a 15 mile radius all insects and rodents are dead, miserably gassed by the spray that fans out of the motels every early afternoon.

In Indian establishments you have a slew of cute little friends running all over the room, which can add up to big distractions. Soon you're talking to the little guys instead of to your computer screen. Women are wall-to-wall and they are even more distracting and a whole lot more trouble. Indian restaurants end up costing you at last two blown days on the toilet. I say skip the Indian motels and get some writing done.

There is a fitness center in Motel 6, however. That candy machine which just stole your money. But bloody fists make for short workouts, so that is not a real problem. There is often a pool, but never enough whiskey to get me to dive in. I'm unable to find any scientific evidence that swimming in a florescent-greenish chunky soup enhances writing. But I know from experience that the SS of Motel 6 keeps me focused on my writing.

In addition to the absent of distracting amenities, what helps to channel the writer into overdrive when camped in Motel 6 is the regimented ambience of those stark and sterile rooms. We're talking Albert Speer School of layout. The brutal uniformity is stupendous for giving mental confusion -- rampant in the profession of journalism -- the swift boot and whipping those fuzzy ideas into concise formation. From there it's a short march to iron prose.

So it's simply not true that Nazi environments are hostile to stimulating creativity.

Entertainment for Creative People

There is a major drawback to staying in Motel 6, which can screw up more than your story. With a perfect environment for writing, one tends to become obsessive about their writing, which fuels heavy drinking, which can send hallucinatory distractions zooming all over the room.... Sometimes it's best to just chill out.

Thankfully, most Motel 6s have live entertainment. Sure the blood-curdling screams in the middle of the night are difficult to handle, but this is not Hollywood fluff entertainment. This is not the Holiday Inn. In the Mojave Desert I didn't leave my room for 3 days because for 3 days the screams wouldn't leave my head.

There is less intense entertainment, such as an interesting play that ran in a Motel 6 in Nashua, New Hampshire:

12:30 A.M. Hard pounding on the door of a nearby room and a man's voice screams: "Diana, get the f--k out of there you whore! I know your screwing someone in there bieetch! I'm going to kill you!"

1:23 A.M. More pounding and the same male voice hollers: "Damn it, Diana. Open up! We need to talk about this."

3:30 A.M. The man returns and cries: "Sweetie, please. I'm sorry."

That's Shakespeare -- and right next door! You pay a lot of money for that in the real world.

For the less sophisticated, there were bumper cars in the parking lot of a West Palm Beach Motel 6. A ripped cokehead of a female driver reduced half of the guests’ cars to scrap metal in ten minutes. In most Motel 6s there are storytelling hours. Refugees from gas explosions, survivors of horrible killings, escaped cons detailing sex education behind bars -- a constant stream of stories in lobbies and hallways in the first person narrative from some very dramatic speakers.

And the clincher, all this starting at only $29 a night! With an AARP card -- lift one from an Alzheimer's patient, they'll never remember -- 10 percent less. You can't find a better deal in America. And you'll never write better. Thank God for the French!

This is an excerpt from Stewart Nusbaumer's forthcoming book, Lost in America: Dispatches from the Campaign Trail and the Battlefield, which was due to be published over a year ago.

Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine. You can email him at

Posted Thursday, December 28, 2005


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  Live from Kabul

By Stewart Nusbaumer

On the Road to Kabul
Is Afghanistan progressing and becoming more stable -- or slipping back into civil war?

The Morning the Apple Exploded
An inside view of an Afghanistan beginning to explode, one apple at a time.

The Kabul Rumble
There are many dangers in Afghanistan, but one is seldom mentioned.

"Every Missile Was a Painkiller"
Afghanistan is an enigma wrapped in pain with a future that is anyone’s guess.

Kabul Erupts in Gunfire
A spark becomes a riot and Stewart is surrounded by gunfire.

Bombed in Afghanistan
With reality confusing and fear rising, illusions are manufactured as fast as drinks can be consumed.

Unfinished Business
Defeat in Iraq would be a humiliation, defeat in Afghanistan could be a real threat.

A Diffferent Fireworks
On the 4th of July in Kabul there was a different type of fireworks.

Where Did The Dough Go?
Billions have been donated for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, so where did the money go?

On The Edge
It's simple why we're not winning the hearts and minds of Afghans and nation-building is a diaster.


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  Live from China

By Stewart Nusbaumer


Astounded in China
China’s development is stunning and its power is growing quickly; will America become a lapdog for the Asian dragon?

Bombed in Beijing
Yes China’s development is stunning, but not as stunning as the Goddess of Tiananmen Square.

Enigma or Bomb?
It's a weird world with weird Americans making it hard to tell what is really real.

Tongue-Tied & Stomach Pumped
While their language tells us about Chinese society, their cuisine tells us about a very dirty political secret.

Drinking & Driving
Driving in China teaches you to appreciate airplanes; drinking the booze will probably turn you into a tea drinker.

Sexpots Galore
When sex merges with politics, the Big Dog authorities never win.




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