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A mellowing and meandering trip through this American life. Follow the adventures of Jan, Jack, and Patrick as they take you on a whirlwind trip through Washington, DC's seedy underbelly of cut-rate poolhalls, thrift stores, and temp agencies.

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Maundy Thursday, Austin Texas.

We bombed in Yazoo. The folk were welcoming enough at the Karaoke bar, but they liked neither Jan's valiant falsetto rendition of Aerosmith's "Dream On", my underwhelming performance of "Help", nor Pat's dynamic, but technically imperfect "These Boots Were Made For Walking". We scored points with "Hard Knock Life" though, and endeared ourselves to the locals by soliciting their advice about our Saab, and losing to them at pool.

The first hotel of the trip lulled us into a lie-in, which was a fairly disastrous error, given the epic struggle that lay ahead of us in the form of fixing a foreign car in the middle of ass-nowhere Mississippi. We set up shop at a payphone outside a KFC and started making calls. The only place that was open Saturday afternoon and took imports was about 40 miles away near Jackson, and AAA were gonna charge us a small fortune to tow the damn thing there. How many stop lights can there be between Yazoo and Jackson anyway?

The trick to running a stoplight is you have to give it everything you've got. Once it turns red 30 yards in front of you, the time for frantically pumping your useless brakes is long passed, and it's time to get into fifth gear as quickly as possible, while your front passenger honks your horn for you, and the guy in the back shouts "We're all gonna die." With a little help from my strategic honking and Pat's inspired screams, Jan was able to navigate us to the Goodyear auto-shop in Ridgefield, who were open, but who didn't take Saabs. On the advice of the friendly mechanic (who refused to take any of our money), we bought a vice-grip at a nearby Walmart, clamped it onto our rear brake hose in front of the broken line, and headed for Louisiana, where Saab dealerships dot the landscape like some kind of Swedish paradise. To save himself the anxiety of Pat's and my yelps of fear every time we tried to stop, Jan only admitted after we arrived in New Orleans that the vice-grip, while it restored confidence and hope to our battered psyches, only restored a most negligable pressure to the Saab's braking system. Which was shot to shit.

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