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.Comments-[ comments.]
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
On Sunday night me and Jan played inter-tube water polo with UCSD's Math Dept. Quite an experience. We were very good; Jan had a goal and I had a goal and an assist. Then we hit the hot tub because inter-tube waterpolo is a very strenuous sport.
Then we threw pots (on potting wheels) in UCSD's pottery shed with JANA'S EXPERT GUIDANCE. JANA IS JOHN'S FRIEND IN THE MATH DEPARTMENT WHO IS A VERY LOVELY AND INTELLIGENT LADY. WITHOUT HER, OUR TRIP TO SAN DIEGO WOULD HAVE BEEN POINTLESS AND VAGUE. SHE ALSO MAKES DELICIOUS CHICKEN. Which is neat.
Monday, we got burritos and went to Piney Something beach state park. Big waves and the water was nice. Then we went out to a bar in Ocean Beach because John needed to be alone to do some grading.
Let's see, on tuesday we played frisbee golf, got burritos, and then (if you were me and jack) sat down in front of the playstation 2 and played Fifa Soccer for 12.5 hours. We won.
And today, we are off to the beach and the student art gallery. Also probably burritos.
Tomorrow, back to LA by way of UC Irvine, where I am meeting the head of this bizarre art/computers MFA program.
Monday, April 26, 2004
5 days with my grandmother was great. She loved all the meals I cooked, and we watched heaps of angels/dodgers games.
I've beeen feeling very satisfied.
Now San Diego reminds me of santamonica/malibu.
I threw a bad pot, threw a goal, played a tune and smirked a smirk
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
That, and her ability to shoot flames out of her eyes and her propensity for knocking over large buildings. We went to the nursery today and picked out some flowers for her yard and two large bags of manure for her tomato plants.
Today was glorious for other reasons as well. I found a "Dual 8mm/Super 8mm film editor-viewer" in a thrift store for $7. It works, too. California is great. Also, when we got donuts this morning, the donut shop had a pinball machine. Gilligan's Island. Which I played 7 or 8 times.
Tonight we make dinner and I head into LA to party with the rich and famous. Though I don't know how much more famous you can get than Mothra.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Eventually we found our specified inter-dune area (number 4) and collapsed. We could only lie still for so long though before the urge to throw the football across large, white sand dunes overcame us. Several spectacular diving catches were made before the sunset made us rest at the top of the tallest dune and watch the colors. The view in all directions was of peaks of sand and shadowed vales. Also of other scattered campers like ourselves, each at the top of their very own dune, but none closer than 1/2 a mile. Ant size. Isolation and communion, we waved, but they did not wave back.
We made camp and dinner. We walked the dunes under moonlight and got lost shouting "Jan! Jan! JAN! JAN!" only to be greeted with the angry retort of "Whaaaat?!" that led us to camp, but had Jan expecting us to tear him away from his book and sleeping bag to see some inane thing that seemed important to drunks. I finished the bottle of tequila and woke up much later, far away from the others, in a sleeping bag, but not a tent. I could not comprehend what I had done to be exiled from the tent. WHAT HAD I DONE?
Apparently, it was what I would not do. Mainly, when asked to please come inside the tent I refused and insisted that I liked sleeping where I was (which was on the sand, no sleeping bag, away from camp). Waking up was a bitch, too. It gets hot early in the desert, yo.
Yesterday we did a little homer derby (which I won). this was a great park bec. it had short fences and slamming the homer out of the park was the thing to do. we were all great though, victory aside. then we saw real baseball at ARIZONA UNIVERSITY BASEBALL STADIUM. I call the texas pan am U 1b a no legs stick legs, and I got into his head. I told the catcher he had no butt. It felt good, and its part of the game.
I wonder if I would have hecdkled so much if I hadn't won. one of the great mysteries.
Oh! but here is my wisdom that turned crystal and solid and sure. I saw its veins in the recent past, but now I know its true: you don't have to wonder if you are doing well among people in whatever field (be it if you are the pope, goodlooking, or trying to be a great dart thrower); you'll know because people will be touching you. it will be a little gross I think, but you'll see a strange clawing needing desire to touch you from the people standing around. When they are touching you -- patting your back, shaking your hand impertinently -- you are doing well.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
We made a short filmed titled "Wolf Country" on Super 8 in Gila National Forests. Everyone dies.
We also hiked to a hot spring in Gila. It involved two river crossings there and two back. The river was unexpectedly deep and cold. Also, it had a swift current. Once we got to the hot spring, we discovered it was more of a "Boiling Hot Ankle Spring" as the only part of your body the spring covered was your ankles and the spring was at about 150 degrees. It was free though.
In the town of Gila Springs an old man told me and Jack to stop throwing rocks at each other. We listened.
Silver City is possibly Jan's new home. He applied (and interviewed) for a job there. He thought it went very well. Silver City has several fine coffee shops and is the home of Western New Mexico University.
For several days now I have been eating large bowls of Green Chiles and shredded beef. They are absolutely delicious. We drove through Demming, NM which is the largest producer of Green Chiles in the world.
We also went to Rockhound State PArk in an attempt to find geodes. Jan found 3 and Me, Jack, & Amy found none. There is a 15 pound limit per person of geodes you can take with you. We took approximately 9 ounces.
Today we bury Jacob's time capsule in White Sands. Wish you were here!
At the moment we're right near White Sands, and the delightful Amy Smalls has driven from Colorado to hang out. Jan left his wallet on top of the car and drove off, so he is at the police station cancelling his credit cards and getting an interim driver's license while Pat does his taxes on the internet, and Amy and I sit around. Hopefully there will be camping in White Sands tonight-- last night was a good ol' motel 6, but before that the four of us had a spectacular night of camping near Silver City. That's all I remember at the moment.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Jan and Jack just dropped me off in downtown Santa Fe where I will be meeting one Amy Small in a matter of hours. You see, Jan has a job interview in Silver City tomorrow morning at 9am and so him and Jack are driving there as we speak to get a hotel room and whatnot. Now Amy is driving down from Denver to meet us. But, we have to get to Silver City. So, it was decided that we would split up and then reconvene later tonight 285 miles South of Santa Fe at a hotel room of J and J's choosing in the Silver City (which apparently smells, but don't tell Jan that).
Santa Fe has been awesome so far. We drove in two days ago and went immediately to the International Museum of Folk Art. At first it was just dolls from around the world (think "It's a Small World Afterall"), but then we stepped into the Outsider Art exhibition they had going on and things were off the hook. They had paintings by this one Peruvian mental patient who had to secret away all the paper he could find to create these massive canvases which he painted, crayolla'd, and penciled together scenes of his childhood. He created the parchment by attaching the scraps of paper with starchy foods and spit! Also, the art was grand.
Anywho, then we traveled up the mountain to 10,000 waves, which was a hot spring of sorts. Very influenced by the concept of "Japan", but I wouldn't actually call it Japanese. 14 bucks or so for unlimited use of hot bath, cold dip, and sauna. Sweet.
Then last night we stayed with an artist named Louis, who was building a rad house/art studio in the hills outside of Santa Fe. He had just removed the central supporting beam before we arrived and it just sat there diagonally across his living room floor. A large metal beam. Don't worry, there were other supporting beams, but they were "temporary."
Louis kindly offered us glasses of the world's finest single malt scoth (Glenlivet, aged 12 years) and a pleasant dinner of tortillini and olives. We said goodbye to Louis this morning and wished him luck on his endeavors.
. . .
(movie-making is one day away)
Thursday, April 08, 2004
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.
It's been a few days since I put finger to key, but I want everyone to know that the pet crawfish that I've been keeping in the glove box is alive and well. It told me the other night that it wanted to roam free in White Sands, but I am not going to let it. It's going with me to the pacific, and then maybe we'll see if it gets a swim or not. It could be that it has only a little time before it takes a bath in Limoon Juice.
The dudey popper sitting next to me is plotting a methlab in a barn with "173 acres of nothing around it." Can't get caught he thinks. well, a quick email to the local brady county DA should take care of that one. I smell fine, but my pants need a changing. Steven King is the MAN. Listening to the audio book made me rethink what a circle was, cus this guy invented a whole new one.
Muddy Waters was born more than a century ago in Rolling Fork County Mississippi, and the place still has the Blues in a bad way. There is a wrong side of Rolling Fork, where the trailer trash buy busted refrigerators by the dozen at the weekly auction, but we spent most of our time on the other wrong side of town. The two old black guys who gave us a ride there in the back of their pick-up must have known that no one plays live Blues anymore in Rolling Fork, but they didn't stick around to watch their prank unfold.
In retrospect, it's difficult to tell how "Y'all mur-fuckas dun' showed up at the rawng tahm," ever sounded like an invitation to us, but the five fellows, sitting under a tree outside the Juke-Joint drinking whisky and smoking weed, all had big, gold-plated grins on their faces, and Jan was already approaching them, assuming, perhaps, that he had found the modern descendents of Muddy Waters right where he had been expecting them. "Where y'all from?," asked the oldest of the group, who turned out to be a sort of father figure, in the violent, drunken sense of the term.
"Then what the fuck you doin' in Rolling Fork?" I gave a number of different answers to variants of this question in the half-hour that followed, none of them creative enough to allay the suspicion that we were Mississippi police officers cleverly disguised as urban hipsters, come to finally put a stop to the miserable whisky party that must have been going on in that very spot for 30 years or so.
"Y'all mur-fuckas dun' showed up at the rawng tahm. Have a Seat."
I did. Jan walked off with one of the guys to check out the Juke Joint, and Pat, inexplicably, went with another one to buy him some beers. The older guy shook my hand, decided my name was John, and started to work up some casual conversation. "If y'all came here when it was dark, we coulda strung you up by y'all necks on this tree here."
His friend chimed in, "Yeah, if Billy was here, he'd take you out back and shoot you with a Uzi. Y'all are cops, aintcha?"
As time went on, the threats began to be mixed somewhat with friendly words of advice and the occasional sip of beer, as well as a lot of talk, apparently untinged with irony, about "good ol' Mis'sippi hospitality." Jan and Pat came back and drank a beer with us, and we returned to the Saab, which ran fine, but didn't have brakes anymore.
We downshifted to a stop at a gas station five miles outside Rolling Fork, and found an auction to check out while the rest of our brake fluid leaked out of the right rear brake line. The auctioneer was a Pro. He wore a cowboy hat and managed to be devastatingly persuasive and utterly incomprehensible all at the same time. " 'Bout twenny plastic cups, different sizes, some red ones, and a nice blue one... Dwaheahwundullahumdullahumdullafiddyhumfiddytoodahhumdah, huuup. Toodahhoodullatoofiddyhumdahumdathrumda, huuup. Soldah sixdulla fiddy cents, numba eighty-two." The gentleman next to us, apparently hypnotized by the unrelenting, feverish rhythm of the humdullahumdullahumdulla, actually bought a rusted frying pan with four big holes in the bottom, for five bucks.
We poured some brake fluid into the empty container under the hood, and made our way, tired and brakeless but plus one broken thermometer (a steal at wundulla even), for Yazoo City.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Day 1--DC to Richmond
+ a night at Buddies and pizza for dinner
Day 2--Richmond to Clemson, SC
+ stopped at a lake in North Carolina, but it was too cold.
+ Pizza and pool in Clemson with Chad.
+ There was a midget
Day 3--Clemson to Atlanta
+ Lunch at Grit in Athens, GA.
+ $3 parking ticket
+ Pinball for hours waiting for Simon at Five Points Pizza in Five Points.
-Monster Bash & Mars Attacks
+ Apoco. Now in Simon's super nice condo
Day 4--Atlanta to Joe Wiley State Park (Alabama)
+ Got boiled peanuts on Sand Mountain
+ Stopped by unclaimed luggage in Scottsboro, AL
-went to three thrift stores also, bought some t-shirts/cassettes
-bowled two games (I won)
-went to the public library for hours to set up the blog
-ate miserable Mexican food
+ the State Park we stopped at was awesome.
-but it was a dry county, so we had to drive 20 miles for beer.
-took a midnight hike around the swamp/lake and challenged ouselves to get
lost, did get lost, and found ourselves.
Day 5--Florence, AL to Grenada, Mississippi
+ I ate a whole Turkey Leg
+ Ate sweet BBQ in Oxford, MS @ Ole Miss
+ Played baseball in Blue Mountain, MS
+ Camped and watched "Dawn of the Dead"
Day 6--Grenada, MS to Yazoo City, MS
+ Stopped by and walked around a large indian burial mound.
+ A day in Greenville, MS where we ate very well at "Eat at Gus's"
+ Picked up a drink with some Blues types in Rolling Fork, MS
+ Brakes broke in Yazoo City, where we spent the night.
Day 7--Yazoo City to New Orleans
+ Harrowing front-brakes only ride to Jackson, continued to New Orleans
+ Mr. Goodyear in Jackson offered a temporary "Vice-Grip on the Brake Line" solution and sent us on our way.
+ Met Tom and Kerri at the Red Rhino in the French Quater for 3-for-1 happy hour
+ Ate chicken burgers at Krystal Burger
+ Went dancing at some point
Day 8--New Orleans
+ Ate donuts with Tom, Kerri, and Chad at Dunkin Donuts
+ Walked 3 miles to the Saab Dealer in New Orleans.
-- Were told that if we strayed from Tulane Ave to the left or right that "we would not last 10 minutes."
+ Ate a roast beef po boy that incapacitated me for two hours.
+ Ate crawfish that were AWESOME
+ Sang "Hey Jealousy" at the Kat's Meow.
-earned $21 dollars from the ladies
+ Met a Minnesota Women's B-Ball player at the Krystal Chicken. Her team had just lost to UCONN in the Final Four. She was bummed, but liked her chicken.
Day 9--New Orleans to Baton Rouge
+ Drove to Gerrylane Saab, got the good news about fixing our brakes.
+ Went to the Capitol building that Huey Long built and was killed in.
+ Played pinball at LSU and looked at their Grad programs
+ Watched the NCAA finals in a movie theater.
Day 10--Baton Rouge to Austin, TX
+ Ate at a place that did not like us called the Bread Basket #2
+ I finished reading John McEnroe's book, "You Cannot be Serious"
+ Ate a shrimp Po Boy, delicious
+ Got pulled over for a broken tail light in Katy City, TX.
+ Got pulled over for a broken tail light on US 10
+ Both cops gave us warnings :-)
+ Rolled into Austin at 2:30 am and talked literature with Andrew Gordon til 5am
+ Ate many, many tacos
+ went to a bunch of awesome thrift/ book stores
+ went swimming at the greatest swimming hole in the world, Barton Springs.
+ saw two very shitty bands at Emo's
+ drank very good coffee at LoveJoy's and played their Terminator 3 pinball game.
+ finished the night at Taco Cabana
Day 12--Austin to Points West
+ Got the oil changed
+ Stopped here in Brady, TX to update Blog
+ Hope to get to Carlsbad, NM tonight.
+ Will see bats tomorrow morning.
Friday, April 02, 2004
It won't get you anywhere, not even on blogs.
I said, oh yeah momma, I am driving through delta blues country today,
and what with Bolivar county jammin' I ain't never gonna stay.
Alabama was a place that was not a place that I would like to go to often. Full of Walmarts. But, fortunately, also with Joe Wheeler State Park. Which we camped at and had a swell time. Suspicious lack of beer signs on the highway had indicated that this was a dry county. Which was a tv-sitcom camping situation that we thwarted by driving down the highway 20 miles to Florence for beer.
In other news, I really liked Athens, GA. It is a quality locale. Very nice looking and pedestrian (in a good way). Atlanta is almost no comparision. It takes its job as a city way too seriously. All full of big one-way roads and tall buildings. Alabama, I hardly knew you. Good bowling though.
After Alabama, we crossed into Mississipi through the extreme North and due to our lack of maps, we missed the turnoff for Tupelo (the birthplace of Elvis P.). But did manage to stop by Oxford, MS which is the home of Ole Miss. Me and Jan split a delicious BBQ pork sandwhich from Mike and Joe's and a dainty chicken salad sandwhich from a fancy-pants southern place. We did a lot of driving, too, before stopping at Hugh White State park outside of Grenada.
Outside Blue Mountain, MS we stopped to play home run derby on a field outside a churh. Despite Jan's poor pitching, I won 7 runs to 6 for Jan and 2 for Jack.
Which was fun. Jack isn't eating today because it is good Friday, what is up with that? Jan saw the Passion of Christ last night, too. Me and Jack saw Dawn of the Dead.
See you later!
I've never known an entire county more in need of a drink than Kent County Alabama. But despite it's being populated by sad, sad, sober Alabamans, we made a fine night of it. Budweisers were procured with difficulty, 20 miles across the border in Florence, and we set up our 2 man tent in Joe Wheeler (apparently a Confederate General) State Park. There being a $10 charge for an extra tent, it was an exceptionally cosy night.
We did a good chunk of Mississippi yesterday, stopping only briefly for a revivifying game of home run derby in a softball field (Jack: 9 runs, Jan:7, Pat: 3-- I took those punks to town). We made it into Lafayette just in time for the 7:30 showing of Dawn of the Dead, a movie which has zombies in it. The State Park we stayed in was presumably also named after some Confederate General, but I forgot to look at the sign. I suck bad at driving stick shift.