John Munson


Jester’s Privilege 🗺 @therovinghotel@watchingtonsquare
As of this morning, I’m 42 years old. Which, inshallah, is probably about half of my natural life. Or, to frame it in a slightly more uplifting statistic, means I’ve likely only lived about one third of my adult life. My second 21st birthday, if you will. And while those recent few decades certainly didn’t lack in adventures, they always carried the undercurrent of something- failure perhaps- because I didn’t have the relationship, the career, the stability, the things that I was “supposed” to have. But it’s become more and more clear to me that perhaps these feelings of inadequacy were from trying to force a round peg into a square hole- that maybe, truly, the “supposed to” life just wasn’t meant for me. (It’s not like the universe hadn’t been sending me plenty of clues along the way.) So I decided to finally try just diving head on into a life that wasn’t “normal.” I put my belongings into storage and my car onto a boat, and today I woke up in Spain. I’ll be living here for the next three months (do come visit), and the months after those and then the month after those, who knows? At the moment I have no real plan on how I’ll support myself, and most of my future socializing will likely be with people I’m yet to meet. But I’m just going to trust myself. Going forward I’m pledging to lean in to the things that feel right, reject the things that feel forced, and just figure it out as I go along. While to many I know this seems like a chaotic existence, it’s a notion which brings me a long sought sense of peace. Here’s to the third 21.
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In November, I found myself happily on a trip to Europe, wondering why I didn’t just move there full time. I reasoned that I was locked into a multi-year lease on my New York apartment, and had spent a bunch of time and effort decorating the place so I might as well see it out. On my way to the airport, I got a call from my buddy Mack who had been staying there while I was gone, telling me the ceiling had collapsed due to a flood from the unit above. Mack also happens to be a prodigious real estate investor who has been a landlord to literally thousands of apartments, and he warned me that they needed to fix this correctly, as mold could become a serious issue. Long story short, they didn’t, I became ill for almost the full month of December, and when I returned to the apartment after New Years, there was visible toxic mold all over the bathroom wall. So now I’m forced out of that apartment, suing the landlord who dismissed my initial concerns and still has not fixed it correctly, and suddenly free to live anywhere. The universe is funny like that. As a wise man once said, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
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Life, when lived correctly, should be one long theme party.
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Get you a friend that does house calls.
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I have been a licensed driver for almost twenty-seven years now, and it is something I absolutely relish. In that time, I have driven hundreds of different automobiles from exotics to econoboxes on roads and tracks all across the world. But today, January 8th, 2024 at 3:40pm piloting my Cayman S through a residential neighborhood somewhere off I-81 in Pennsylvania that I pulled into solely to take this photo, I reached the pinnacle of my motoring career thus far. Though I may (arguably) present the outward semblance of a responsible forty-one year old man, I can not explain to you the pure joy that I experienced in this moment. This is a high I will be chasing for years.
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Here’s a fun little game for your Thanksgiving travels will completely alienate all but like 30 of you. (I’m super good at social media engagement strategy.) Facebook has informed me that @tedgushue and I threw the above party thirteen years ago last night. Who do we recognize here and what are they up to now, and if it’s you, why don’t you chime in and share with the class?
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A couple weeks back, I got a call out of the blue from one Joseph Pace Mawhinney asking if he could come stay with me in New York as he’d just gone through his second divorce and needed a getaway. We hadn’t been in very frequent contact over the last decade or so as life and kids and things got in the way and also we’re men, but from the age of ten through college, Pace and I were best friends. The awkwardness of adolescence, our first loves and subsequent heartbreaks, our parents’ respective divorces, the entirety of the high school experience, we went through all of it together. I obviously replied “of course” and asked him how long he had free. When he told me “nine days” I said “f@ck that, we’re going on an adventure.” So off to Amsterdam, Prague, and Budapest we went; where we immediately reverted to our middle school humor, listened to our favorite grunge rock, and sampled the local beers like we were back at a frat party. Never in our lives had we traveled abroad together before, and it was one of the best weeks I can remember. Moral of the story: if you have that old friend you haven’t seen in ages, and I bet all of you do, go hang out with them for a bit. Preferably in a spot full of history and great architecture where the women are gorgeous and the drinks are dirt cheap. You won’t regret it.
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My grandmother Edith was the youngest of the four Salkay children, and the only one not to be born in Hungary. It may be time to start looking into whether that qualifies me for residency, because this is consistently one of my favorite cities in the world.
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I’ve got friends in high places, too.
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And with a key slipped under the mat, my Charleston chapter officially comes to a close. It provided a respite exactly when I needed it, a place to regroup when the pandemic caused my travel company to fold. I certainly picked up some more stories for the memoirs during my years here, I finally got to scratch the itch of opening a collector car dealership, I solidified some old friendships and made some new ones, and I fell deeply in love. But all along I missed my life in New York. I missed the people, the energy, the culture. They say you can never go home again, but I’m about to try. See you tomorrow Manhattan.
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I hate to part with this one, but I’m moving back to Manhattan where garage prices are absurd and I’d rather have a nicer apartment. This is my 2006 Aston Martin DB9 Volante. It was my 40th birthday present to myself after lusting after them since the day they were introduced. It has just over 32k miles on it and a three ring binder full of meticulous service records since day one that add up to more than $27,000 in maintenance. It is turnkey and ready to go, I wouldn’t hesitate to drive it cross country tomorrow. Along with being one of the most beautiful cars, hell, one of the most beautiful things ever made it’s got a 6 liter, naturally aspirated V12 that puts out 450 horsepower and makes a glorious sound above 4k rpm that can only be described as a machine having an orgasm. It is an absolutely magnificent grand tourer that will get you wherever you’re going in speed, comfort, and style and will get you laid once you get there. It retailed for $176k in 2006 which translates to about $260k today, and you can now buy it from me for less than the price of a fully loaded Toyota Corolla. If you hate the idea of being called James Bond by strangers this isn’t the car for you. If you don’t like having a stupid grin on your face every time you mash the go pedal, this isn’t the car for you. If you want the single best bang for your buck in hand crafted automotive sex appeal, you owe it to yourself to DM me. You won’t regret it.
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@therovinghotel was, in many ways, the very best version of myself.
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