Anybody visiting a city from which both J.R.R. Tolkien and Ozzy Osbourne sprang should be prepared for a dose of cognitive dissonance, and Birmingham (or "Brum," as it's affectionately known in the U.K.) delivers.
I am in the L.A. International Terminal, staring in disbelief at posters of Kandinsky, Sam Francis and Howard Hodgkin on the walls of McDonald's. I take it as a good omen for my mad dash to six cities in three countries.
The Belgian Red Star Line Museum -- a European counterpart to Ellis Island -- is looking for emigrant memorabilia and stories. If you're a Red Star Line descendant, the museum would love to hear from you.