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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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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

5\18\04: Chicago to Philadelphia.

Does Ivanhoe rescue the beautiful princess Rowena from the castle? Will Cedric ever escape the clutches of the evil Bois de Gilbert? We will never know. The tape player ate the second half of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe somewhere in Iowa, and then gobbled up Parklife, the album that started modern Brit-Pop, for dessert. So it is that we're listening to Chicago early morhing drive-time radio, which Pat is pretending to enjoy. After some disastrous experimentation, we've found the perfect brand of snuff for our snuffing needs-- Ozona menthol and fruit, Rasberry flavor-- and we're beginning to learn an appreciation for its subtle effects. It hasn't helped with Dip withdrawal, but I think the worst of that is over.

Utah. So after breakfast in Salina county Utah, we pulled onto the highway and were pulled over immediately. As the cop sidled over to the car, I reached into the backseat to get my license out of my man-purse.
"Get your hands out of the window where I can see them."
I complied.
"Don't ever do that again, understand? Now, you know why I pulled you over, right?"
"No, Officer."
"When you pulled onto the highway, your left wheel crossed over the double yellow lines. Don't ever do that again, understand? Now let me smell your ashtray."
I handed him the ashtray, and he breathed it in with the delicate professionalism of a wine-taster savouring a fine bouquet, and then breathed out through his mouth, spraying six weeks of cigarette ash over his mustache in the process.
"Shit. I knew that was going to happen. Smells like you boys been smokin' some pot. Mind if I search your car?"
We all got out of the car and stood by the side of the road. Another cop pulled up behind the first one and got out to do some professional gloating.
"Morning Bill, looks like you've caught some pot smokers."
"Yup. I got this container in the glove-box that smells like it had some mariajuana in it pretty recently."
He looked menacingly at Jan.
"Thats my Mother's glasses case."
Embarrassed, but rallying quickly, he turned to me. "have you smoked any pot within the last month?"
"Yeah, but I didn't enjoy it."
Perplexed, but encouraged, he began rooting around in the back seat, emerging after a few minutes holding a green bud pinched between his thumb and forefinger.
"I've had 1300 Narcotics arrests, and my nose has never led me wrong. How do you boys explain this?"
"It's a burr," said Jan. "It's a small piece of shrubbery from where we camped last night."
"Shit... shit." He paused to try and assimilate this information, wrinkling his brow and casting his piggy little eyes around him in search of an answer to this quandary. Then his face lit up again. "Well, today's your lucky day boys. I'm feeling generous, and I'm gonna let you off with a warning. But don't ever do that again, understand?"
We understood.

Our only other stop before Breckenridge was a small town in Colorado called Rifle. Everyone was real friendly, and two guys in the bar we stopped at tried so vehemently to persuade us to go "offroading" in their truck that one of them fell out of his chair and almost spilled his whiskey everywhere. We declined. Later on, we were told that Rifle is a very racist town, but we had no way of knowing htis at the time, not being black. As I say, everyone was real friendly.

The Saab Story just barely made it over the Vale pass (Elevation 10,666 feet). We crawled over the top in second gear at about 15 mph, looking nervously at the shoulder, which was strewn with dead Toyota Tercels that had given up the fight on the way up. In Breck, we were reunited with Amy. Amy is the fourth fifth of an art gallery called 4/5ths. the other three fifths are Joel, Eli, and Brad. All four of them are pretty brilliant artists, and the fifth fifth, the gallery itself, is just about the coolest thing around. I spent both nights we were in Breck on a small mattress on a shelf about 25 feet off the ground inside the art space, which included three 30 foot Cowboys made of cinderblocks and roofing tiles. The next exhibition is going to be of Graffiti and tattoo art.

We met up with Amy at her bar, The Goat Soup and Whiskey, and spent a few hours drinking some Pabst Blue Ribbon, playing pool (Pat and I beat the locals with a bank-shot on the 8 ball into the far corner) and spitting our Kodiak Dip into the empty Pabst cans.

[Pat has changed the channel to an Indiana Christian Rock Station: "The punk kids with their spikey hair and all the techno ravers, taking all the cool they have and praising God." I may just be starved for music after all that drive-time chatter, but these songs are catchy as hell.]

As we walked out of the bar, Pat informed me that he was never dipping again as long as he lived, and that he couldn't believe that I was still a party to such a disgusting habit. Apparently his last swig of PBR before leaving had contained a particularly nasty surprise.

On the way back to Amy's place in her Toyota Tacoma pickup, we took the road that Breck locals call "The Gauntlet," and found out why almost as soon as we had turned on to it. As a police officer sauntered towards our car for the second time that day, I went over in my head all the things that were wrong with this particular pullover. 1) Amy was almost certainly over the limit. We had been drinking at the Goat for nearly three hours. 2) Pot in the truck. Not a lot, but not particularly well hidden either. 3) Jan was not in the front seat with us. He was hiding underneath a mattress in the bed of the truck. Completely unfazed by this turn of events, Amy wondered aloud, "Do you think my driver's license is still suspended? I guess this is as good a time as any to find out." The cop reached the driver's side and shone his flashlight into the car. "I've pulled you over tonight because you were going 58 in a 50, and you were weaving all over the road. Is there any reason you were weaving, ma'am?"

[We've just entered Ohio, and Pat has changed the channel again. Now it's Journey's "Don't Stop Believing", to which we have been singing along. "She's just a small town girl... livin' in a lonely wooorld..." This is about as good as it gets.]

"I'm a weaver," said Amy, and smiled. The cop smiled back. "May I see your license and registration please." As amy rooted around in the glove compartment, she unearthed a pot pipe. Pat jerked his knee up to block the cop's line of sight. "I know it's in here somewhere," said Amy, pulling more and more paper out of the glove box as Pat's knees, first his left then his right, bounced up and down as if they were on strings. Eventually she found her registration and handed it over. The cop walked back to his car and Amy looked at Pat and me, bemused. "Why the hell are you guys so nervous?" I didn't answer; I was praying that Jan didn't pick this moment to come out from under the mattress in the back and ask us what was going on. After an excruciatingly long time, the cop came back. "Alright sweetheart," he said, "I'm going to let you off with a warning this time, but watch out for the weaving." As he drove off, the compartment behind me slid open and Jan poked his head through. "That was fucking awesome," he said.

Joel, the third fifth, delivers pizzas, so he has the keys to all the condos in Breckenridge. We spent the next night going from hot tub to hot tub. The guy who came to kick us out of the first hot-tub turned out to be Mellow Jay. "I'm afraid you guys are going to have to... Oh it's you, hey Joel. Sweeeeet. I wish i could join you guys, but I've got this security job, you know. Have a good night." Breck is probably pretty fun year round if you're a local.

The next day we drove to Boulder and met up with the infamous Peanut Randolph Saum, who had 40s waiting for us. Jan decided we were never going to get home, and had us drop him off at Denver International Airport the following morning. Pat and I stayed one more night in Boulder, during which we wrote a song with Peanut entitled "Hang Yo' Head", and made a music video for it.
On the way to Omaha, Pat and I stopped at the Budweiser factory outside of Boulder, and sat through their shitty hour and a half tour so we could get two free Budweisers and an energy drink. Next stop was Cheyenne Wyoming, but even though we hung out there for more than an hour, neither Pat nor I could figure out why it existed. It was weird and sad not having Jan around anymore, but we had gotten used to it by Omaha, which is now one of my favourite cities in America.

After Omaha we spent three days in Chicago-- two with Pat's brother Tom, his wife Kerri, and their dog Ricochet, and one with Pat's brother John, his wife Nancy, and my new friends Keeley, Josh, Nate, Patrick, and Jack. Home run derby with Tom took an interesting turn. We were joined by about seven kids in the park who wanted to play with us, and at the end of the alotted five innings, Tom and I were tied at 10 runs apiece. We got rid of the kids and had the first ever homerun derby penalty shot overtime decider.
The next morning, Tom and Pat gave me a lesson in basketball, Resing-style, in case I had become uppity after my nail-biting homerun derby victory. Then we headed for John and Nancy's to drink some beers and put up some drywall. Nancy prepared us coffee and pancakes early this morning to fuel us for our long drive to Smelladelphia, and we got started by 8:00. The radio is playing R&B at the moment, and Pat appears to be half asleep at the wheel. I think we're still in Ohio.

Jack.

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