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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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Sunday, May 23, 2004

5\23\04.

I woke up two nights ago on a strange couch, with a strange cat looking at me, and it took me a good ten minutes to work out where I was. It was the cat who eventually gave it away. He returned my gaze with the smug complacency that is characteristic of house-cats the world over, and as we stared at each other, my sleepy haze began to clear, and he began to seem a bit less like a dream and a bit more like a familiar. But who did he belong to? I tried to remember the events of the past couple of days. There had been the epic drive from Chicago to Philadelphia. Pat and I had both gone a bit nuts after eleven hours of it; the last 200 miles of the endless Philadelphia Turnpike were punctuated by our frenetic and incoherent conversation, and, when all else failed, frenzied singing. We had spent a night and a day in Philly with our old friends Sam and Patrick, but after that?

After that we had driven home.
Hodge, growing tired of our little game, yawned, blinked at me, and stalked off upstairs to my parents' room to find more stimulating company. I guess we made it home. Where the hell are we supposed to go now?

Jack.
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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Mysteries Of the Road Trip Answered!!!!

The Road Trip is over folks. It endned when Pat and Jack Came to my house last night. We had beers, dumplings, and basktball for a finale.
This blog should not stop here. In fact, email myself, jack or pat and you can join. then we can have a blog team.

But while the trip is over, major questions remain unanswered. Was Jack really turning gay? Who won all the HR derby games? Was there any cartime drama? Did anyone masturbate in the car? Was talk cheap? Is the Saab still a driveable car? And what is Jake braking (not referred to in the blog, but a major question for the roadtrippers.)

And the answers are: No Jack was not turing gay. I won 5 Hr deby games, Greg Gomes won 1, and Jack won the last (which I did not play in). There was a little car time drama when a. Pat drank jack's dip spit b. we listened to book on tape dramas No one masturbated in the car. The Saab drives like a dream. And as for Jake Braking, the action that was banned in many towns across the country on road signs, here is the story:
What is a jake brake and why is it often banned on trucks?

Many towns have signs with the words "Jake Brake" overlaid with the international symbol for "banned." I will explain what it is and why it is banned.

The Jake Brake takes its name from the manufacturer who invented the most common implementation of the technology, the Jacobs Company.


The Jake brake is an add-on engine brake for diesel engines. Big semi trailers, the 18 wheel trucks that move everything we use, can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Stopping them or slowing them down results in a great deal of wear on the brakes, which have to be replaced frequently. The Jake brake, as an engine system, causes no wear and tear and can help slow the truck before the wheel brakes need to be applied. Its primary use is on long downhill grades where the wheel brakes would otherwise have to be frequently pumped to keep the truck from gaining dangerous speed.


When the driver presses a button in the cab to activate the device, two things happen. First, all fuel flow to the engine is stopped. By itself, this would help only a little but it is necessary for the second step. What happens inside of the engine goes roughly like this.


As a four-stroke internal combustion engine, each piston in a diesel normally moves up and down twice in each cycle. The process begins when the fuel and air valves are closed and the piston moves upward. This compresses the air in the cylinder to as much as 25 times atmospheric pressure. This is much higher compression than a gasoline engine (typically ten times atmospheric pressure) and results in the air getting very hot, about 900 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time fuel is sprayed into the superheated air which immediately begins burning. The second stroke, the power stroke, is the downward movement of the piston as fuel burns. The third stroke is an upward movement with the exhaust valve open to clear out the combustion products while the fourth stroke refills the cylinder with air.


The Jake brake completely changes all this, redefining what the valves do as each piston moves up and down. With the fuel flow terminated, the upward moving first stroke still compresses the air to very high pressure. As we said above, this transfers mechanical energy into heat as the air becomes highly compressed. If nothing else were done, most of this energy would be recovered, except for frictional losses, as the cylinder moved back down and the compressed air expanded. The Jake brake, however, opens the exhaust valve just as the air reaches maximum compression, dumping all of that energy in an almost instantaneous explosive release. The result is a very effective slowing of the vehicle as mechanical energy is converted to heat and then dumped. The Jake brake effectively transforms the internal combustion engine into an air compressor.


It has only one drawback: it is very noisy. You may have heard a semi use the Jake brake without realizing what it was. Sometimes when a truck is approaching a stop sign or stop light it suddenly emits a load roar, very much like a large lawnmower, for five or ten seconds. It is the noise that is causing many towns to ban the use of the Jake brake. Even though tests have shown the decibel level to be about as loud as a large lawnmower, at night or early morning the low frequencies seem to carry a long distance and are very noticeable.


Because it extends the life of wheel brakes and saves money, trucking companies generally lobby against the bans and some towns are compromising by allowing the Jake brake to be used in daylight hours. Yet more and more signs, with the words Jake Brake and the international symbol for "banned", are certain to appear. Since the primary use of the Jake brake is to slow the truck on long downhill grades, the technology will continue to be widely adopted for use on the open road.


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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

oooh! I am about to eat a philly cheese steak from Pat's on Philly's South Street.

a little shout out to Adam and Paul:

"Yo Dudes, I bought you guys a vintage turquoise Chris Carter Viking's jersey in a Chicago thrift store. Unfortunately, my nephew Josh saw it and wanted it to hang up in his room (inexplicably). So, atleast you guys know that Carter ended up in a good place. Also, when were the viking's light purple/pink?"

maybe a stop at the ordinance museum off 95? or the cal ripken birthplace?

pbr
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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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Sunday, May 16, 2004

5\14\04

We're finally leaving Colorado, on our way to Omaha (via Wyoming so Pat can claim 48 lifetime states). There is no Jan in the backseat, but the miraculously revived radio makes company between us. I am withdrawing from tobacco, but the sweats haven't started yet.
Reno saw the end of our radiator hose. The leak we had been stopping up with electrical tape turned out to be a decoy for a massive rip along the opposite side. Fortunately the part is fairly common, and we were able to find a replacement and fix it at a minimum of cost and effort. With the danger of overheating removed, the plan was to fly through Nevada, Utah, and half of Colorado in just two days, making only the most necessary stops on our way home, as Jan had remembered that he needed to be in DC by the 13th in order to catch a flight to London for his stepsister's wedding. Pat and I kept quiet about the fact that this would be utterly impossible in light of our plans for Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, and Philadelphia. These things tend to work themselves out.
Jan initiated our mad dash across the Wild West by accelerating to 70 mph in a 50 mph restricted work zone, prompting an immediate reaction from a Nevada state trooper, who stopped by to ask him if he knew how fast he was going. Jan had never had a speeding ticket before, and, to be honest, the signs were confusing, so he was fairly unperturbed when the cop went back to his car to write up the ticket. Pat and I, who have both been struck down by the leprous arm of highway law on a number of occasions, kept our calculations to ourselves. 20 miles over the limit = reckless driving = $150 + $10 for every mile over the limit = $350, X 2 for speeding in a work zone = $700. We were pleased and relieved when the officer came back with our third warning of the trip. Combined with our sundry parking tickets, historians should be able to reconstruct our trip with just DMV records in years to come.
After about 50 or 60 miles, Pat poked his head out from the back seat to ask us if today was "Pat Gets Ridiculously Drunk in the back seat of the car Day". It turned out thatt it was, so we stopped at a 7-11 and bought him a 6 pack. "PGRD in the back seat of the car Day" got off the ground with some inspired readings from Richard Hofstadter's "Great Issues in American History, Vol. III". Pat was able to accurately recreate, in the back of the Saab, the atmosphere on that fateful July afternoon in 1896, when William Jennings Bryan spoke out against the Gold Standard at the Democratic National Party Convention:

"Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: YOU SHALL NOT PRESS DOWN UPON THE BROW OF LABOR THIS CROWN OF THORNS, YOU SHALL NOT CRUCIFY MANKIND UPON A CROSS OF GOLD."

Pat's last words were drowned out by enthusiastic yells of commendation: "Down with Bimetallism!," "Down with the gold standard!," before the Saab was restored to some semblance of order. A few Budweisers later we were treated to a slightly slurred version of Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream". Then I read to them out of "Dubliners", each story the same juxtaposition of false and real epiphany, of desire followed by disillusionment, until "The Dead", where this hitherto clunky formula is employed with such precision and insight, that the story's wrenching climax illuminates the entire book with the brilliance and force of a lightning storm. Unfortunately, we read "The Dead" first, so the other stories were tough to get through, and ultimately degenerated into Pat and I taking the parts of Jimmy Carter and Reagan and re-enacting the 1980 Presidential debates in silly voices.
Every time we stopped, Pat would get himself a tall-boy or two, and then find somewhere to gamble. He was $10 up by the time Jan and I were able to drag him away from the casino the second time. As it grew darker, Pat began to complain bitterly every time we passed a liquor store without stopping, and at some point verbal communication ceased, and the only contact we had from him for a while was through increasingly offensive notes he would pass up to the front seats. By Utah, he was incoherent, and by Midnight he was asleep. By all accounts, "PGRD in the back seat of the car Day" was a tremendous success.
The next morning we woke up early in what turned out to be someone's field just off the highway (route 50-- the loneliest road in America). We ate breakfast in some no account diner that Pat said was exactly the sort of place that would get rave reviews in, like, "Eat Your Way Across America" or something. This proved to have been the case.
Comments-[ comments.]
5\14\04

We're finally leaving Colorado, on our way to Omaha (via Wyoming so Pat can claim 48 lifetime states). There is no Jan in the backseat, but the miraculously revived radio makes company between us. I am withdrawing from tobacco, but the sweats haven't started yet.
Reno saw the end of our radiator hose. The leak we had been stopping up with electrical tape turned out to be a decoy for a massive rip along the opposite side. Fortunately the part is fairly common, and we were able to find a replacement and fix it at a minimum of cost and effort. With the danger of overheating removed, the plan was to fly through Nevada, Utah, and half of Colorado in just two days, making only the most necessary stops on our way home, as Jan had remembered that he needed to be in DC by the 13th in order to catch a flight to London for his stepsister's wedding. Pat and I kept quiet about the fact that this would be utterly impossible in light of our plans for Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, and Philadelphia. These things tend to work themselves out.
Jan initiated our mad dash across the Wild West by accelerating to 70 mph in a 50 mph restricted work zone, prompting an immediate reaction from a Nevada state trooper, who stopped by to ask him if he knew how fast he was going. Jan had never had a speeding ticket before, and, to be honest, the signs were confusing, so he was fairly unperturbed when the cop went back to his car to write up the ticket. Pat and I, who have both been struck down by the leprous arm of highway law on a number of occasions, kept our calculations to ourselves. 20 miles over the limit = reckless driving = $150 + $10 for every mile over the limit = $350, X 2 for speeding in a work zone = $700. We were pleased and relieved when the officer came back with our third warning of the trip. Combined with our sundry parking tickets, historians should be able to reconstruct our trip with just DMV records in years to come.
After about 50 or 60 miles, Pat poked his head out from the back seat to ask us if today was "Pat Gets Ridiculously Drunk in the back seat of the car Day". It turned out thatt it was, so we stopped at a 7-11 and bought him a 6 pack. "PGRD in the back seat of the car Day" got off the ground with some inspired readings from Richard Hofstadter's "Great Issues in American History, Vol. III". Pat was able to accurately recreate, in the back of the Saab, the atmosphere on that fateful July afternoon in 1896, when William Jennings Bryan spoke out against the Gold Standard at the Democratic National Party Convention:

"Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: YOU SHALL NOT PRESS DOWN UPON THE BROW OF LABOR THIS CROWN OF THORNS, YOU SHALL NOT CRUCIFY MANKIND UPON A CROSS OF GOLD."

Pat's last words were drowned out by enthusiastic yells of commendation: "Down with Bimetallism!," "Down with the gold standard!," before the Saab was restored to some semblance of order. A few Budweisers later we were treated to a slightly slurred version of Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream". Then I read to them out of "Dubliners", each story the same juxtaposition of false and real epiphany, of desire followed by disillusionment, until "The Dead", where this hitherto clunky formula is employed with such precision and insight, that the story's wrenching climax illuminates the entire book with the brilliance and force of a lightning storm. Unfortunately, we read "The Dead" first, so the other stories were tough to get through, and ultimately degenerated into Pat and I taking the parts of Jimmy Carter and Reagan and re-enacting the 1980 Presidential debates in silly voices.
Every time we stopped, Pat would get himself a tall-boy or two, and then find somewhere to gamble. He was $10 up by the time Jan and I were able to drag him away from the casino the second time. As it grew darker, Pat began to complain bitterly every time we passed a liquor store without stopping, and at some point verbal communication ceased, and the only contact we had from him for a while was through increasingly offensive notes he would pass up to the front seats. By Utah, he was incoherent, and by Midnight he was asleep. By all accounts, "PGRD in the back seat of the car Day" was a tremendous success.
The next morning we woke up early in what turned out to be someone's field just off the highway (route 50-- the loneliest road in America). We ate breakfast in some no account diner that Pat said was exactly the sort of place that would get rave reviews in, like, "Eat Your Way Across America" or something. This proved to have been the case.
Comments-[ comments.]
Hi from England

So the Ant party got split by a union. a sad, sad departure happened in Boulder, CO. My stepsister was married last night in Oxford:
1.I got the shaft seatingwise. All through the first course I was planning revenge seating for my stepsister at my wedding. the trick is not to sit her with boring people as she did me, no. The trick is to seat her next tothe biggest asshole(s) that my bride would be froced to invite -- or perhaps just invite a huge asshole to the wedding for the very purpose of inflicting revenge.
2. (second negative thing) this wicked wicked woman would not give me a cigarettte.
it wasn't for me even, it was for my poor stepfather - of the bride - who wanted one smoke; his first in 10 years or something. she didn't give in when i told her who it wasfor. her lamo boyfriend mentioned that it had to do with sayinhg please or something. I was drunk, and I was deserving.
3. Oxofrd, the wedding, my stepsister, the people (on the whole) were great.
I beat a tough hangover out this morning, and I was nice and crazy at breakfast.

bye
Comments-[ comments.]

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

ok friends -- I want to set two records straight. 5 HR deby games played. 5 won by me with crushing margins. 1 one by Gregory gomes.

I am tremendous at this.

Next, we have the car radio and sophisticated tape player. IT GOT FIXED..... by Jack

He read all the paperwork in my car.

he found a peiece of paper I didn't and typed in the right code. See I thought it was 1252
coz that's what my piece of paper said, but no it was 5142.

bam, working stereo. Now all i have to do to secure bliss is throw away the rap mix tape (pat's) and one of three REM tapes (jack's)

jack bought a very girly rainbow hooded dacron zippy sweatshirt. he thought he scored, but I wonder if I could 'score' with such a raging homo within 40 feet of me. you should see how GAYlord it is. i am beginning to wonder, especially with Jacks opting to be the naked guy in a hot tub filled wuth guys who did decide to wear shorts. Don't worry readers, it is probably just the road trip that's turning his head in the directions of the unfair sex -- pat and I are such studs after all.

I want to eat something. I am soo hungry. I think there are some nutritious kahndy bars in the car, but I want to buy some pasta.

A bit of bcktracking, the drive through Nevada was vonderbrot. You gotta take rte 50 across. I'm thinking about somehting, but I won't tell y'all what till the next blo post.
Peace,
j
Comments-[ comments.]
5/7/04

We're driving through Sacramento as I write, on the way to Reno Nevada, where Pat is going to take his last $100 to a casino and turn it into a small fortune. The Saab Story's radio has finally followed its old friend the Air Conditioning to the great Saab dealership in the sky (may they forever rest in peace) and the Coolant Hose we have come to know and yes, even love, has the sad, existential look of a hose that is not long for this engine.

After San Diego, we headed back to LA, spent some quality time with our friend Andreas, and checked out the Getty Museum with my brother, before meeting up with Nora again. In our Naivete, the four of us thought we could just waltz up to a Dodgers game in the second inning and buy tickets on the night that they were giving away Eric Gagne Bobble-head dolls to every fan, a prize so coveted amongst LA baseball enthusiasts, that the game had the 6th largest attendance in Dodgers history. The scalpers we tried to buy from were arrested just as we were about to close the deal, and we had little hope of getting in as we trudged closer to the stadium.
After some more attempts, we found a sketchy looking doorman and asked him if there was any way to get in with no tickets.
"yeah man, but you gotta do it now before my boss comes back. 20 bucks each and I'll let you through to get the bobble-heads and you can come right back out again."
This was my first and hopefully last experience of the seedy LA underworld of illegal Gagne bobble-head smuggling, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. We walked away shaken and distraught at the depths to which people will sink to store up earthly treasures for themselves, with no thought that even the most beautifully wrought ceramic Eric Gagne doll will not be worth even a cent in the world to come. After some more walking, it became apparent that Jan had disappeared. As we searched around for him amongst the security guards and ticket collectors by the stadium, our eyes fell on a door, temporarily unguarded, creaking slowly back and forth on its hinges. After some moments of panic, I plunged through, trying to look alternately confident and confused, and Pat and Nora followed a few minutes later, with Nora muttering "No! No!, Turn back, Abort mission!," under her breath. We found seats with difficulty, poured contraband Jim Beam and Tequila into our $3 cokes, and settled down to watch the Dodgers trounce the Expos 13-3 in a packed stadium. This was extremely fun.

After LA we headed for Jan's childhood home of Topanga to hang out with his old friend Amanda and her parents Maggie and Rick. We went for a long walk in the hills which culminated in Jan having to go on ahead and bring the car back while Pat and I lay sprawled on the road, very sick of walking. The next morning we filmed a conceptual piece with our Super 8 camera about Jan getting pregnant and ultimately dying in childbirth.

Topanga gave way to Pismo Beach, where we discovered the "Target game," which has become our stalwart friend the past 3 or 4 hundred miles, especially now that we have no radio. Our Road Atlas is sponsored by Target Convenience Stores, and it has a chart on the back with every Target location in America. I can say now, without looking, that Wyoming has only 2 Target locations, one in Cheyenne and one in Casper; that Texas' biggest Target accumulations are the 15 in Houston, 5 in Dallas, and 7 in San Antonio; and that California boasts a massive array of Target stores, including 2 in Fresno, 2 in Chino, 1 in Bakersfield, and 4 each in Sacramento and San Diego.
After a day in Santa Cruz (and another HR Derby triumph for me), we hung out with Derek in Oakland, and spent a day in Berkeley, where I had a less than satisfactory interview with a Comp. Lit. professor who felt that I didn't have a narrow enough focus. We took in an A's game and watched them choke in the 7th Inning against the Yankees after A-Rod hit a dazzling homer to tie up the score. Jan left the key on in the Saab overnight, and according to the clock on the dashboard, our poor battery struggled on until 9:30 A.M. before it gave up. AAA fixed us up pretty quick, but the whole ordeal was too much for the radio. The next day was San Francisco with Greg Gomes, who became one in a long line of people to fall to my ferocious batting skills at Home Run Derby. We are currently in grinding traffic on the 80, comically running out of the car to push it every 5 minutes or so when traffic starts again, to forestall overheating the engine. Next stop Reno, the biggest little town in America (1 Target location).

Jack.
Comments-[ comments.]
The rolling crime wave that is the ANTPARTY EXPRESS creeped into Breckinridge yesterday and the Police were on alert. Obviously their brethren in Reno, Neveda and Salina City, Utah had alerted them to our devious plans. What the podunk officers in Breck [sic] couldn't possibly have been informed of was that we were preparing to change vehicles. That insight on their part was pure detective genius.

So it was: we left the Goat Soup and Whiskey at approximately 10:30pm on Sunday night. Amy was driving her 2004 Toyota Tacoma from the Goat (where she works) to Breck (where she lives) with Me, Jan, and Jack in tow. Jan was riding in the truck bed (for no good reason) and Jack in the back seat. As we entered Breck city limits, we were pulled over for going 58 in a 50.

The officer also informed Amy that she was weaving and asked her why she was weaving. She responded with the immortal words of "Sorry Officer, I am a weaver." Which, apparently, was the right answer because the cop wrote us up a warning and sent us on our way.

This episode, though not in itself very exciting, capped off a 36 hour strech in which we were pulled over three times in three different states and marks our fifth time being pulled over for the trip. If you include Jack's run-in with John Q. Law in Baton Rouge for sleeping in the library, that is six cop-related interactions. What do we have to show for all this hoopla? 4 warnings and one very superficial "search" of our car for drugs. We were very helpful during that event, pointing out various good places for him to search, though we did get slightly persnickedy when the officer picked up green burrs from the carpet of the car and shout "Eureaka". He was like "I've made over 1300 narcotics arrests, I just have a sixth sense about these things." And Jan was just like "Dude, that's a burr."

Anyway, he sent us on our way with a verbal warning to, uh, well, I don't know exactly what. He pulled us over because Jack made a wide lefthand turn onto the freeway entrance ramp.

Our Reno warning was karmic gold though. The speed limit dropped from 70 to 50 for a construction zone and Jan was immediately pulled over for going twenty miles per hour over the limit in a construction zone. Which would have been some combination of reckless driving ($100) and $15 per mph over the limit. Then the total would have been doubled because it is a contstruction zone. Me and Jack calculated a $400 to $600 ticket. Jan did not want to calculate. When the officer came back with the writen warning, it was pretty sweet. So, even though we might give the cops a hard time in our blogs, our overall rating for them has been A+. Even that narcotics dick in Utah.

xoxo,
pbr
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5\3\04: Big Sur.

Well. We're driving through Big Sur at the moment, but there are a number of blanks to fill in between White Sands and here. Beginning in Tucson Arizona where we met up with Hillary and saw, among other things, a U of A baseball game, and an Indie Rock band who played covers of 8 bit Nintendo theme tunes. The highlight was the inspirational interlude music from Mike Tyson's Punch Out. Jan and I got briefly mad at each other when he commented on my inability to urinate under pressure just as I was trying to do so, and I claimed that it was precisely these sorts of comments that had contributed to my occasional stage-fright in the first place. My sense of masculinity was not helped much by losing a ping pong game the next day to Hillary, who is crippled and a girl. But I have been able to console myself with a devastating Home Run Derby driumph against Jan, Pat, and Hillary's buddy Micah in Tucson, and more of same a few hours ago in a Little League field outside of Pismo. Jan and Patty split for LA a couple of days after arriving in Tucson, and I stayed to distract Hillary from doing her Med School reading, and occasionally eat her painkillers. The most noteworthy event of the week was an Olde English and Vicadin fueled Trivial Pursuit game where the boys defeated the girls three pies to one (with no little help from Micah's truly inspired dice rolling) and made them sing "You are the champions my friend".
Hillary and I drove to LA at the end of the week, and met up with Pat and Nora at Karaoke night at Shakey's Pizzeria just in time to see a drunk 70 year old lady doing a free-form, beat-poetry inspired rendition of Fastball's mid 90's sugar-pop hit "The Way". I was both impressed and saddened by this. Jan had been MIA for some days by this point, his tragedy of a cell-phone no longer even a placebo to soothe the pain of being hopelessly out of touch in a vast country that is ever more tuned in and turned on. It has been alternately minus batteries, minutes, and a charger since well before New Mexico.
The first night in LA was Pat's birthday, and we celebrated it by making hilarious prank calls to Greg Gomes in San Francisco until he turned his cell-phone off and we had to settle for leaving hilarious messages on his voice-mail.
The second night we were joined by Jay Marietta and Amanda Baber. Amanda very sportingly accepted the necessity of finishing all 18 of the Budweisers I had triumphantly returned with at 2:00 in the morning only to find that most everyone had packed up and gone home or to bed.

After exchanging fond farewells with Hillary, we spent a few days in San Diego with Math genius at large John Farina, his good buddy Jana, and Washington DC urban legend Anthony Schneider. Jan showed up to complete our trifecta, and there were some lazy days of swimming and surfing and frisbee golf, before, without so much as a hint of trouble ahead, Pat and I were subjected to what would turn out to be one of the most physically and mentally demanding trials of our young lives.
It started innocently enough. We returned from Del Mar beach at about five in the P.M., tired and salty, but looking forward to a night out in San Diego which was to include stand-up comedy and pretty girls. Pat idly flicked on the Playstation and loaded up a season of FIFA World Cup Soccer, putting us both on the same 2002 A.S. Roma team that included Gabriel Batistuta and Gianfranco Totti. After three or four games, the room began, at first imperceptibly, to change. The voices belonging to our old and beloved friends became oddly distant, their familiar and comforting tones taking on a tinny, almost disembodied quality, like background radio noise. At the same time, the room itself began to shrink, and the screen in front of us seemed to grow, filling even our peripheral vision and catching at our minds, while the voices of our friends became more and more faint, until they had given way entirely to the exuberant commentary of Ally McCoist, and the deafening roar of a full capacity stadium crowd egging us on to ever greater feats of football prowess. At around 10:00, I have a vague memory of Anthony, Jan, Jana, and John trying to get us to do something, their spectral voices barely reaching us from another place and time, but the notion was absurd, surreal, and by 10:15 the voices stopped entirely, and I heard a faint sound like the slamming of a door. Pat and I were still undefeated, despite some close calls against AC Milan and Juventus, and we seemed to be communicating telepathically, sending impossible through-passes and logic-defying crosses to each other as we hewed our way through the Italian First Division.
At 3:00 A.M., we had finished the regular season and were in the group stages of the final cup tournament. The others must have come back at some point, as my handling of the controller was restricted somewhat by a sleeping Anthony on my right. Our old rivals AC Milan and Juventus had fallen to our sharp-shooting strikers, but Bologna, the only other undefeated team, whom we had narrowly escaped with a 1-1 tie early in the seaon, loomed menacingly in the Cup Final. My back ached from ten hours of sitting in the same position, and my left thumb was bright red and throbbing excruciatingly, but we had to press on. We had come too far.
As the first rays of the morning sun reached out to illuminate our furrowed brows and aching hands, we stepped on to the field, full of fear and anticipation, to battle Bologna for the Cup. Bologna neutralized our strike force in the first half, but our defence held strong, and we entered the fray after half-time in a scoreless tie. With 13 long hours of experience, we were grittily determined to see this through, and within two minutes, Totti had bounced one off the right cross-bar, and Batistuta's strike from mid-field was barely batted away by the outstretched fingers of the Bologna goalkeeper. But we couldn't break them. Time after time, our sallies were rebuffed, and the minutes of the second half ticked by and seeped into the Golden Goal period, as our energy sapped, and our passes grew wild and undisciplined. The room filled with the odour of fear, desperation, and countless days on the road with no showers or laundry, and we approached the first Penalty-Shot Overtime of the Season with sick hearts and numb fingers.

I honestly can't remember where Pat's last penalty shot went, but as it sank into the back of the net, our shrieks of triumph resounded through the room, drawing muffled complaints from the sleeping Anthony, while we wept tears of joy and exhaustion, and the morning sun shone proudly on the glorious culmination of the best spent 13 hours of my life. Then we went to bed.
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4\21\04

I think I must have been quite drunk when I stumbled up to the top of a sand dune at midnight in White Sands to look at the stars and marvel at the expanse of desert, which, if you kept your back to the electric sprawl of Alamagordo in the East, was uninterrupted as far as the horizon. I had been pretending, during the daylight, that the four of us were the last people left alive after a nuclear holocaust, that we had finally emerged from a deep cave after years of hibernation, and were grimly aware of the desperate task that faced us, of picking up the pieces of a shattered world that was all sand and no water, and starting fresh, of creating civilization out of rocks and dry grass and four weary souls unused to the glare of the sun and the sting of the mosquitos and the scorpions. I thought of The Waste Land, and Stephen King's The Stand, and Mad Max: Escape from Thunderdome. But in the wind and the dark, the dunes seemed alien, otherworldly, and when I reached the peak, I was Luke Skywalker, looking up at the twin moons of Tatooine, mourning my aunt and uncle, but at the same time preparing to meet my destiny as hero of the rebel alliance. It occured to me that this was precisely why Plato kicked the poets out of the Republic.
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Friday, May 07, 2004

A lot has transpired since San Diego. We made our way back up to LA for a Dogers game with Nora Lawrence (who knows all the tricks for sneaking into Doger Stadium). When we drove up to the park, the parking attendants were all like "The game's sold out, Dudes, sorry."

But Nora was just like "Whatever, bitch." And we turned around and parked on this random neighborhood street. We were like "Aren't you worried that we are going to get towed?" Nora just looked at us, all steely-eyed.

So we walked up to the gates and Jan asked the ticket lady if there was anyway we could get tickets for tonight. She offered to sell us $45 Club Seats. We balked. Next we went around to a side entrance and this one ticket taker dude was like "Yo, hommies, I'll let you in right here for $20. You won't have seats or anything, but you can get your bobblehead and leave."

We were like "Bobblehead? Whatever."

Next we went around to a gate where people were already starting to leave the game (with their bobbleheads). It was maybe the third inning and people were pretty much just psyched to have their Eric Gagne bobblehead. Apparently, even though it was a tuesday and the Dogers were playing the Expos, Gagne Bobblehead night was the Sixth largest attendance in Doger Stadium history: 56,450 or so. So we got to this exit with people leaving and I was just like "Man this is going to suck, getting to the game and not being able to go in..." when Nora is just like "YOINK!" and darts into one of these closing doors and into the stadium.

Me, Jan, and Jack were just left there standing (outside the stadium). So I go next. I time it perfectly and get in right before the door closes. I look out at Jan and Jack and they are just standing there holding each other and shaking, terrified. I think I see Jan crying. It takes them about 5 minutes to muster up whatever little courage they possess and then they finally make it in, jabbering-bawling-and-caterwauling.

The game was good and we learned about a new drink "Southern Comfort and Pepsi". It was a bleacher seat special. Thank you Los Angeles. Even though you didn't give us a bobble head we will always remember you.

xoxo,
pbr
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Thursday, May 06, 2004

the first time I went so San Francisco, I knew too little about cities to like it.

Now, I am old enough to know that a Santa Franta means a little law library, a little antics with lawn-lovin' diary writers, and from time to time an A's fan or 2

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