So Much California

i liked california. you know the song “hotel california”? of course you do: a guy goes to california to hang out and can’t leave but the song’s really saying “why leave? it’s alright here”. well i was driving route 99 and the song came on the radio and i had this moment where i was actually experiencing the song except for the part about “the beast” because that line is an inside dick joke to steely dan and i don’t know them and find a lot of their catalogue boring.

have you ever felt like something you were blogging about made perfect sense except for one thing? that’s “the beast” and most steely dan

*california will have the last laugh: its curse will echo in my car for the next week.

Misinformed X-Files Tourism in the Southwest

from email dated march 7th 2012
—– – –

so i stayed in tucson on monday and started driving towards roswell cause I thought it’d be kitschy and i’d meet some awesome people. it wasn’t what i thought it’d be. it’s just a town.

the UFO crash happened some 75 miles away from town. i didn’t know that till i checked into the hotel and wiki’d the city and incident. i probably should have wiki’d roswell before I drove there but I flipped a coin to decide if i should go and that’s chance for ya

the drive through white sands missile range made it all worth while. white sands is where the trinity test occurred. the history of the world changed forever in this desert and there are so many ruins of little structures and towers popping up out of the ground. thousands of them. i wondered if they had names that are still in use and if they are still in use.  the basin is huge and it’s all for testing. google maps doesn’t list anything in the gray area it’s zoned in, but there’s a lot there. i wiki’d it at the hotel that night: now the military shares it with NASA. it was like stepping back in time to the cold war…

i had to exit the highway and go through military check point. the mp who spoke asked if i was an american citizen. they other mp didn’t say anything. i asked mp1 if he wanted to see my id, he said no. he asked where i was going and i said roswell and both mps laughed. that was it. they let me through. going through military checkpoints near nuclear weapons is lots easier than flying.

white sands had some tests happening but i didn’t stick around cause i hate modern explosion stuff (they look way better in black and white) and i was really excited about getting to Roswell which you know, sucks. why’d i trust x-files and conspiracy documentaries on tv over a pre-wikipedia?

until miami,

—– – –
little structure on a hilltop; little structures this one's [probably] an observatory; little structures on a hilltop, do they still have names?

Baton Rouge’ll Flirt Wit’cha

i wanted to get a prostitute. i’ve never picked up a prostitute. i’ve taken girls out for dinner and after dinner we did stuff which is kind like paying for it and i’ve been with girls who were a lot of work the next morning so i payed for it in other ways but i’ve never actually paid for it. if prostitution truly is the world’s oldest profession, i’ve been neglecting my rite as a man to soliciate this service. tonight’s the night.

i checked into the cool boutique hotel in downtown baton rouge a couple blocks from the one bar i found googling “hipster baton rouge”. the room was nice and the desk clerk called me “mr. joseph”. i had sushi on top of the slick high-rise next door. i sat at the bar a couple chairs down from tanya. tanya is 40+, educated, and works in insurance. it’s her birthday and she was there with all her black coworkers. she kept saying, “lukatchu cute lil’whiteboi. if i wadn’t marrieeeeeeeed, ewebet dat’ass i’d be flirt’n witchah. ooowwwwah” she didn’t. she passed out from too many blue martinis and her coworkers carried her to elevator.

at this same time but in miami my friend was walking along the beach when a tall and mysterious fisherman opened his hands to present the most beautiful shell of the season. “for me?”, she asked. the stranger nodded his head with a smile. my friend took the shell and that was that.

after dinner i walked towards the hipster bar i found on google. some djs set their pa up in the corner and played a mix of eclectic favorites like hot butter. the bartender who took care of me is young, thin, beautiful, excited about her vintage mom jeans, she’d soon love my blog. she ignored the other patrons and let her co-bartender make all the drinks. we spoke of the perks of self-awareness and i told her about my journey. “i wish i could do something like that” she whispered she asked where i was staying.

as i’m going through a real empower the self-aware thing, i spent 45 minutes at the corner of the bar verbally pumping my bartender full of empowerment then said goodbye before finishing my second drink. in my head, i was a magic apparition of light who appeared on a slow night and gave her a shell of strength to do wonderful things then left without a trace or “pumping” but there’s a thousand other ways she may have and probably perceived me.

baton rouge is on the mississippi and the old town buildings were erected at the same time as st. louis’ inner city. i felt akin there, this is a cousin home. mark twain probably felt the same way except he would have written tanya differently.

the sky looked super neat and i took photos before going back to the hotel to call prostitutes. i called five. deep down i knew i wouldn’t actually sleep with one. she’d show up, we’d jump on the bed, eat pizza, and fight over little spoon while sharing bad date stories. none of the prostitutes returned my calls. i’m worse at prostitutes than sealing deals with young bartenders and tanya. the next morning my car broke down next to a sign that read, “watch for snakes. theyre watching you.”

baton rouge was alright


listening to primal scream’s rocks (1994)

Car Trouble

i’ve never owned a bmw. i don’t know how to drive a stick. i’ve tried but it takes more concentrating than i feel comfortable with. i’m into not paying attention to what i’m doing behind the wheel. that’s why i went to look at a slick 80’s bmw convertible with automatic transmission at a car lot near my brother’s. i went to the wrong car lot.

the sales guy, dan, at the wrong car lot is a race-car fantastic. his lot features framed photos of every pace car of every indy 500 ever. he told me the car lot with the bmw is next door then asked what i wanted a car for. i told him about the trip. he asked if i had a minute to show me something.

dan showed me a 1992 honda accord with 35,000 miles. it belonged to an old lady. her son sold it with power of attorney, he was 75, she was old. the wrong-lot turned out to be the right lot. i bought it. it made sense: drive a super clean and cool old honda that won’t break down then flip it for what i paid after the trip. how was i so naive to think it wouldn’t deliver tension in the script?
thursday, march 1st, 5p
had a little routine maintenance done in la.

monday, march 5th, 4p
blow out near joshua tree. repair shop in blythe, ca replaces tires and master cylinder.

tuesday, march 6th, 12a
car won’t start in roswell, nm. when tow truck arrives car starts. i go to fill up and it doesn’t start. local mechanic takes me to get starter fluid: i spray it in a hose under the hood and it works. i do this myself: im working on my car

thursday, march 8th, 11a
car won’t start at rest stop near winnie, texas. starter fluid is useless. my roadside assistant told tow i was in a different place with a different car. took tow two hours to find me and i was scared cause of the scariest sign. guy at auto parts store 10 miles away helps replace fuel filter. car works. i spend the night in baton rouge and try to get hooker to no avail.

friday, march 9th, 3p i. don’t. need. this shit.
car dies while driving towards busy interchange near hammond, la. im in a bad spot 50 yards from worse spot and im dressed like an asshole in seagreen.
the tow driver was awesome. he was alive with energy and charisma and would answer questions by repeating question with the the kind of delivery that said it all, which usually meant angrier and louder. said i’m his funniest customer all month. he’s honest. so cool but i can’t write too much about him cause then this would be a good post and i need it to elicit the feelings i was going through which might be similar to how you feel if you’ve read this far: fuck this blog. fuck this car. fuck this trip. i should just cut losses and light the car on fire. would be a great video
the car taken to a honda dealership in covington, la. the guy at the dealership says they’ll take a look at it in a few minutes. i hope they know what it is. they don’t. i’ll have to stay in covington for the night. the next morning i get a call: they don’t know what’s wrong. they won’t get to the car until monday.

covington, la is 42 miles from new orleans on the other side of the lake pontchartrain causeway. both of the city’s car rental places were out of cars. there’s no trains, no busses, no shuttles, basically no way of getting to new orleans aside from hitchhiking and i can’t do that cause of the last time i was in louisiana… yeah…

monday, march 11th, 10a

the car is fixed. it cost me so many shrimp cocktails. a genocide of shrimp. there’s a reason all this happened. i dunno why and i didn’t proofread any of this, fuck this post

listening to primitive radio god’s standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand (1996)


Hostess City of the South

i left miami and began the conclusion of my journey. i slept at a rest stop near daytona beach. woke up at sunrise and went to the beach: we went there as a family when i was seven. my folks drove the station wagon through the smokey mountains down to florida: it was my first road trip. i’m backtracking their route for the finale. kind of.

savannah photographs were lost because my computer ate the sd-card

Savannah, GA
the savannah college of art and design is a private design university for the artistically inspired children of those wealthy enough to afford it. you can see the money in their bone structures. i liked savannah, it’s cute. my ex-fiancé and her husband have been living there since last summer while he works on a secret project that will be a very popular toy among the parents of scad students.

they’re awesome. we ate shrimp cocktails on the ocean and saw real gators and ferrel cats and (i) drank so many piña coladas at this place that was like merlotte’s- they were two of maybe six people dancing to new order at ultra because the stage was empty… they’re awesome. she knows everything about eighties and nineties pop music there is to know. she coulda done 120 Minutes on the fly-

two weeks before our wedding her and i had a bickerment that lead to calling things off. we’d have been divorced within the first year. in my opinion we couldn’t find a balance between our dreams so for one of us to be happy, the other would be miserable. i feel much of the time since then has been a frenzy of proving it not in vain and perhaps this journey was my way of coming to terms with what i see/saw as a major sacrifice *mind you my hindsight is messianically romantic.

her and i spent the morning walking through forsyth park talking about everything that’s happened since we last saw each other and what we thought of what we had. she sees our end a little differently, “you live your life like a game. constantly finding different scenarios to put yourself in. you figure things out faster than your patience and when you find yourself in the throws of total intimacy the game suffers and eventually… eventually you get bored.” ffffffffffffff

there’s no fountain at st augustine’s fountain of youth. no basement either

listening to : new order’s world  (the price of love)  (1993)

Pulled over in Spartanburg

A Palmetto State of Mind
south carolina

from savannah, i took two-lane state roads through the cradle of reconstruction. this is where lincoln and johnson experimented with giving land to the Freedmen. everyone i met was wonderful though my conversations were more “yes” and “thank you” than talking. im over talking. it’s forced. self-oppressive. i don’t want to talk anymore. i want drive through the south quietly, forever.

the sun isn’t far from setting. i got the biggest coffee the gas station had. then got another biggest coffee another gas station had. it’s not a big deal: i pull over and pee wherever i want cause i can do it standing up cause im a man. i pulled into spartanburg, sc cause it’s on the edge of the smokey mountains. a perfect place to stop before appalachia.

i fill up my tank and drive towards downtown. a police car is to the right of me at a four-way-stop. the police car turns and i pull behind them. then they pull over to the shoulder. i pass them then they get behind me. i can almost hear the benny hill theme playing really slow. then they turn their lights on and i start my voice recorder. it is no longer forever.

oy. remember when i was over talking?

Cupcakes Turtles and Kinks

dolly parton had her own variety show on abc in the late 80’s. we watched it as a family. she said a lot about growing up in the smokey mountains. they meant a lot to her.

in the early 00’s a girl i was with told me she’d never pilgrimed graceland and wanted to, badly. hours after the start of spring break we were diving south to the mississippi delta in the rain. we wore all black. the sad-face photos of us at the eternal flame were outstanding and appeared meaningful.

while dolly aired, the family took a spring break road-trip to florida. we left in the middle of the night. i woke up in the backseat when my mom announced, “this is where dolly’s from!” the rising sun shined through the fog that rested on the range: smokey mountains! the name made sense

the day after graceland, girl and i were entertaining the staff of a bbq place on beale street. we asked if they had ideas on where to continue our trip but they weren’t much help: two of the cooks hadn’t ever traveled outside of memphis. we numbered six places we knew on a napkin and rolled a die. one was drive east to the smokey mountains; two was south to new orleans; six was west to texas; i don’t remember four or five. we rolled a two, easy!

despite my car breaking down so close to new orleans, i didn’t make it back on this trip or back to the smokies on that trip. if i stay on the road long enough i’ll be able to connect all the nouns of my life. e.g. if i take the smokey mountains on this journey, i’ll be experience mapping at a highly skilled level. like the circled white icing on a hostess cupcake

great smokey mountains-

i stayed the night with family friends in louisville. from there it’s a straight four-hour-drive to st louis. i wasn’t ready for that: i had this feeling that the trip was incomplete: it wasn’t a i-don’t-want-this-to-be-over feeling, rather a this-isn’t-done one. i turned the gps off. exited the highway and cruised with no direction

for days i wove roads and states without a map. i often didn’t know where i was. i slept in the car. i barely spoke. i drove really fast. this is experience dessert.

weaving until it feels right-

in southern missouri, i was on a farm-to-market road. the speed limit is marked 50 but everyone keeps 70+. at the top of a hill, off the corner of my eye, i noticed a turtle crossing the street. i hit the brakes and ran out. i snapped the photo and picked him up as a caravan of trucks sped past the spot he was at

i set Allegory Turtle down safely in the field he was walking to

now i’m ready.

i kept a rough course in the direction of st louis and as the cupcake’s circle would have it, came upon the subject of the journey’s first photo via a road i’d never traveled-
how predictable – life is pathetically poetic

listening to: the kink’s till the end of the day  (1965)

End of the Line

i sold my car and moved to berlin. it’s been seven months since my last post. The Journey was 2012 and the world’s predicted to end in december. upon my arrival i knew that this blog couldn’t be continued as it was while making myself at home in a place i’d never been because there’s that time in a new place after the honeymoon fades where one might question the decision. i didn’t want to write about that or endless rambles of longing wheat thins and other groceries not available in germany. when the end-of-the-world-day comes and goes my blog will be a year old and in the new year i’ll continue this project as the next chapter.

last weekend i rode the trains. that’s it. as far as my day-passes would take me i rode the trains. ipod in pocket, camera at my side, and changing leaves all around. it was vaguely reminiscent of The Journey, quite fitting for an epilogue and the pass cost less than a shrimp cocktail

Sain’t Louis

st louis. i went home in january. i could wax poetic stl history for days but it still feels like a compromised place. there’s gun toters, there’s abortion clinic bombings, there’s “legitimate rape”, there’s seedy strip clubs, there’s abandoned strip malls, but there’s jesus. in the black neighborhoods where the whites dare not go and want them to stay, there’s a lot of crime but jesus is also there. it’s a melting pot of midwestern simplicity with licks of northern and southern culture. the people and their varying groups, no matter how extreme, are separated by a single colloquialism: ain’t. some use it their Others don’t but they’re all St. Louis.

listening to r.l. burnside – poor boy a long way from home (1978)

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A Day to Hannibal

in elementary school history class we were taught about the pony express. the pony express was a horse-powered courier service which delivered messages across the american west from april 1860-october 1861. it failed after 18 months because it was replaced by a better product, the telegraph. sure morse code isn’t as exciting as dodging indians on the back of stallions but if understanding History is about learning from our mistakes then why, year-after-year, were we taught about a failed delivery service?
“the pony express” is a lot of things.

i drove my mom’s car up the illinois side of the mississippi river then across to hannibal, missouri. we went to hannibal a few times as a family. i haven’t been back since. mark twain is from hannibal. the temperature was near 70 and the sun was shining. a cloud hovered just above the water’s surface. it rolled north, much further north than i traveled. on one of our family trips to hannibal we went to lover’s leap. it was the first time i heard the term, was quite heavy. i went back there after taking a photo of a yellow corvette one block from the real becky thatcher’s house. becky is the unattainable aristocratic woman.

i asked a young couple if i could take their picture. they agreed and she added,  “i been livin here my whole live and i’d never seen anything like this” pointing to the cloud riding up the river. they’ve been through a lot. neither of them have had it easy but they’re trying and they found each other (a little laughter too). she’s 17 and lives with him. he works full-time. they’re saving money to move to alaska after she graduates high school in the spring. they’re ready to leave now. they just moved into a new apartment building. the first night he went into the basement. he moved a sweatshirt on the wall and discovered a meth lab. i hope they make it to alaska. we said goodbye, i thought i heard them say “hey…” as i got in the car but maybe i imagined it.

starting in east st louis

meeting the mississippi riverbox

before arriving in hannibal i shot my way around side roads taking an occasional photo. around the bend of a dirt road i found a group of holstein cows. the farmer who’s land i was on came down on his atv to say hello. his dog was in the back. she goes everywhere with him. he took over the farm after he lost his previous one in the flood of 1993. i remember the flood, it was 20 years ago but it’s recent history along the river.

returning to hannibal and lovers leap

i want to do this forever.