Wednesday, September 30, 2009


After 9,418 miles, 37 states, and nearly 5 weeks on the road, I am back in Los Angeles, but mark my words, it won't be for long...

Below are random notes from my first book -

Blondie obliterates everything in her path. Butterflies explode across her windshield like a scene from a Hitchcock film. She's a monster. It figures I'd fall in love with another crazy bitch. I think about washing her body and caressing her slippery wet headlights, but decide to just fill her up instead. Fuck dude, it's lonely on the road.

It's almost 8 A.M. and I'm sitting inside a warm cafe somewhere near the center of South Dakota. There is a broad glass window before me and I am staring through it at the glaring blue sky. A fly eats his breakfast off the glass while I drink my coffee. To the East, the crimson sun is already blazing. Beneath the sun a man parks his motor cycle in reverse next to Blondie. I watch this act closely because I'm obsessed with my car, and by "my" I mean Hertz's, and by "car" I mean girlfriend. The man dismounts his ride and walks toward the cafe. This brings my attention to something else. I squint, tilt my head, and lean forward. In the dirt on Blondie's rear deck lid a finger has scribed words that were not there yesterday, the words read, "Sorry ladies I'm gay." This is how my friend Sean thanks me for showing him the time of his life the past 7 days. Not surprisingly, I'm the only person in South Dakota who thinks this is funny. I would deny the statement, but my lavender shades, tight shorts and pencil mustache are too much evidence against me.

7 days earlier, a few hours before I pick up the above mentioned Sean, I'm on the Kentucky Turnpike driving through a torrential rain storm. The sky is darker than some nights in Los Angeles and it's fucking noon. I've never seen anything like this. I might as well be driving through Lake Michigan. Lightning and thunder explode everywhere. It's impossible to see anything and every vehicle on the entire Interstate has made a dramatic attempt to pull off the road, every vehicle except for mine of course. This is because:
A) I'm a fearless fucking badass in search of danger.
B) I'm a fucking idiot!
C) I always choose to document my near-death experiences.
Notice my punctuation. Those are facts, not multiple choice. Anyway, in documenting my near-death this time, I accidentally discover that driving through a *Kentucky Waterfall can be achieved by looking through the viewfinder on my Panasonic Lumix camera. That Leica lens really is something. My view is crystal clear so long as I don't actually look through my windshield. I drive by viewfinder for a several miles before the whole thing ends like a magic trick. Poof! Jimmy Cliff's I Can See Clearly Now would be the perfect song at this moment, but Sirus Satellite Radio decides to play I Love A Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbit instead. You couldn't write shit this good. Oh wait...

Back here in this hot cafe in South Dakota, I feel like I might smash through this fucking window bat shit crazy at the thought of how close I came to giving up on my dreams. Don't ever give up on your dreams. Ever. Go all Winston Churchill on their asses! Doing anything less means an ordinary life. Think about that...

In Lexington, Kentucky I arrive curbside at terminal 1 to pick up Sean. For several days since he decided to join this directionless expedition, we joke about being outlaws and chubby chasers. I tell him he might want to put on a ski mask before he gets in my car. He asks that I make sure to put the window down to accommodate his entrance as I blaze through Lexington Bluegrass Airport. Within minutes of his arrival we are laughing harder than either of us has in years. This escalates for the next 7 days until he makes a quick get away at his Mom's house in Rapid City, South Dakota. Before his departure we develop a loose plan that is sure to change the lives of at least 3 people, if not 10 million. Erring on the side of 10 million is where to place your bets people.

Weeks before, somewhere in New England, I'm checking in at the Red Roof Inn. I make flirtatious small talk with the babe behind the counter just to make sure I still got it. Turns out all I've got is the key to my room and a crappy suitcase.

On my way out to explore the town, I walk through the glass double doors in the lobby and meet an Asian man standing beside a garbage can. He's holding an unlit cigarette. He struggles with his English, but not his confidence to deliver it, and asks me point blank, "Do you have any fireworks to light my cigarette?" I say, "No," and promise to fucking God never to travel without fireworks again. I had a free pass to blow off a Roman Candle directly into someone's face and missed it. God-Fucking-Dammit!

4 Chapters later, somewhere around Day 17, my threadbare wet shirt is stuck to my back and chest. I squish a flying black insect into my neck and roll it between my fingers. My hair has wilted. I wipe my forearm across my forehead, and then I push the backs of my thumbs under my sunglasses and slide them across my burning eyes. My sunglasses slip down my nose repeatedly. My feet are moist. The air is thick. I am deep in the South of The United States of America.

Do not make God jokes in the deep South, trust me on this. Not even if the joke is hilarious.

Anyway, in Alabama, about 50 miles outside of Montgomery, I pass a watermelon patch on my way to Selma. The sun is shoving its way through the clouds, and the wet landscape is exploding with blinding yellow light. Beyond the watermelons the road cuts its way through the vista. Everything seems to be alive and watching me. Abandoned houses are eaten by trees, and ivy, and moss. I pull over, walk into nature, and pee on the earth, my God given right as a man. I feel like the animal I am as I listen for predators. I make it out alive, get back into Blondie and drive. Up ahead I steer her around a huge green and brown hill with a swamp at its base. Trees grow right up through the green water, and I stare at this, captivated by the bright algae that covers the entire surface. The road continues to bend into the sunset like a painting, then, ever so slowly, like red velvet curtains spreading to introduce a grand movie, a scene like I have never witnessed comes into view. It is 1,000% clear that if I turn left up ahead I will drive directly into heaven. (R.I.P. That Afternoon ~Here lies another injustice between words and sight.) There is no way I could ever come close to recreating that day with words. I will have to live with it residing solely in memory.

Day 21 ~ On a painfully early morning somewhere in Eastern Arkansas, Sean and I are faced with a serious decision. We are about to head bumper first directly into Coxville, and if that's not bad enough, Blue Ball is just beyond there. After a careful 0.2 second deliberation we decide to avoid both these towns. We also skip Moorhead based solely on its inaccurate spelling. The road and landscape has changed yet again. Today it is flat with sunflowers swaying beside it. The sky seems endless.

Every night we stay up late, exploring new towns, and each day we rise early and hit the road. We do not spend more than one night in each place. This adventure is about the road and traveling down it. It's about lost highways and the treasures that sit just beyond the two-lane blacktop. It's about discovering ourselves in America. It's about friendship, solitude and freedom, but maybe most importantly, it's about setting the ground work for living, real living, living the way our hearts and minds have always dreamed of living.

On a morning similar to all the others, Sean and I throw our junk in the trunk (no pun intended) and sit down on Blondie's lap. It's 7:30 A.M. and we're somewhere in Indiana. I ask Sean, "Which way to Memphis?" He points in three different directions and looks another, then says, "I'm pretty sure it's that way," I pick one and go. We have developed a motto: The wrong way or the long way ...this is how we get everywhere. Occasionally, we go back the wrong way we came, and once, we went back the wrong way we didn't come.

There's no getting lost on the road to nowhere, and the best discoveries so far have been by accident.

Day 22 ~ Today we apparently drive a 1985 DeLorean because we end up in Greenville, Mississippi 1925. In Greenville we make a wrong turn, which ironically is a right, and drive away from Downtown. We roll past Jim's Cafe when Sean spins Blondie around and parks us out front. Inside Jim's we eat food. Nothing more, nothing less. While we eat we have a 20 minute conversation with the owner. He's a peculiar man, proud of the South, proud of his roots, intelligent, interesting, lonely, and uncomfortably hard to read. He eats his grilled cheese on white bread with hot sauce spread between the two slices. He drinks Dr. Pepper from a can, and tells us his story. In the entire 20 minute conversation we make out somewhere between 4 and 17 words. His father was a Greek immigrant who set out 200 pre-made sandwiches a day on the nearby dock. Next to the sandwiches was a cigar box and a sign which read, "25 cents". The honor system in its hay-day. The man is just as confused by our accents as we are of his, but this is no matter, we part ways intrigued to have shared the company of someone and someplace so different and unusual from our norm. He gives us great tips for New Orleans, and we accidentally take him up on every single suggestion, only to realize we are doing so as his suggestions present themselves everywhere we go. I believe I could write an entire book on that half-hour at Jim's Cafe in Greenville, Mississippi. An entire world that is difficult to imagine. We go back the wrong way we came and laugh at a sign that reads, "Fire Works."

Day 23 ~ In Waterproof, Louisiana it pours rain, and instead of playing I Love A Rainy Night or Puple Rain, Sirus Satellite Radio plays some crappy song by Tiffany. We pretend not to like this although neither of us speaks or changes the station. We put on Van Halen seconds after the song is over and remember our lives from 1984. Somewhere thereafter I pull over into a field. Sean disappears on a photo safari and I decide to light off a Roman Candle. Van Halen blares from Blondie in the background. We leave Blondie's doors wide open because there isn't a God damn soul in sight. Miles up ahead we stop to take on fuel at a small convenience store. Sean and I are separated for less than two minutes, and when we get back in the car we both have stories to tell. Mine; the woman working the register burped in my face and blamed her Sprite. Sean's; he was laughed at for having a funny hat and a beard, although he "doesn't know why the people next to him were laughing", I'm just telling you, they were laughing because he has a funny hat and a beard.

To be continued...

*Kentucky Waterfall: this is not some stupid mullet reference. I was actually driving through a Kentucky Waterfall.

~Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful (state slogan, which as far as I'm concerned applies to all of America)

Friday, September 4, 2009

WEEK 2 - One Ball and a Handful of Dreams

More adventures from the blacktop of America...

I need to see something real asap or I'm going to pull back the curtain and Wizard of Oz this fucking Truman Show. I'm sitting on a pony wall at James Madison University in Harrisburg, VA, and this place is suspiciously perfect. I'm not comfortable with this. Finally, a blotch; a golden young man with golden hair and golden arms has a stupid sounding sweaty wet shoe-sandal. Sorry dude, but serves you right. Shoe or sandal, not shoe-sandal. All the girls here are sporting cuchie cutter shorts with tanned Southern legs. These legs are a bit thicker than their feminine Los Anglelian counterpart. Since the age of nine I have concluded this to be a good thing, and since sitting on this wall less than ten minutes, I've fallen in love just shy of 400 times. I'm about to beeline it to the Admissions Department when some guy with a sign, a stick, and a megaphone starts screaming about Jesus. I feel like I'm living in a God damn stereotype when a blindfolded Freshman walks past being led by another classmate. A few more perfect smiles pass, when I notice a girl with the grin of young love on her face. She is texting, smiling, and currently experiencing the greatest feeling of her life. This has me thinking about young love. Fuck. How did any of us survive? I drive away eventually, still wondering if that entire university is run by animatronics.

Miles away from James Madison U, I make a U turn and pull over. From the driver seat of Blondie I am debating entering Chelsey's Water Hole. The name is suspect, and has my left eyebrow higher than normal. I've heard of a "watering" hole, but "water" hole? There seems to be something fishy about this place. I park, get out, and walk toward the door. As I round the side of the building I see a sign I missed upon my first lap - "Bikers Always Welcome." I stop, turn around, and head back the way I came because this place is in fact Chelsey's Water Hole, which is a metaphor(!) and not a place to get a tasty beverage. Maybe this is debatable? I drive on.

Because I love math I try adding up how many states I've been through so far, and it's like trying to count how many girls I've slept with. Although the number is somewhat low, I keep questioning if I'm double counting somewhere. I decide to go the conventional route and write them down. 17 United States behind me, and a good 100 pages to my first novel.

The moon above me in North Carolina is exponentially bright. The early Autumn clouds have divided its direct light to the earth, dispersing a nightlight to the tall trees beside me. I twist through a dark green valley staring at the yellow lines. Blondie pulls us through the silent hills above Wake Forest, and thoughts of my future loom. So do thoughts of my past. But I'm lost in the moment these days. A proud man with dreams no longer a distant extension of my broken heart, instead, they are right here in my sight. Some I hold right here in my hands. The hair on my arms and neck stand at this thought. I open the moon roof and send all the windows down. The cold Carolina wind comes crashing through like a wave. My hair whips my face. I am the luckiest person alive. I am so fucking happy, and so fucking proud, and so true of heart, and my hellbent determination on discovering only truth and love and happiness is coming full circle. I run through an endless list of people who have contributed to my happiness, and I am thankful for all of them, and for the first time in my life, I am on the top of that list.

Blondie pulls into the Super 8 motel in Williamsburg, Virginia, reverse-car-show style, and I pay $40 plus tax for a room. Ten minutes later I decide I have over paid by at least $36. The mattress feels like a hammock on a bed of rocks, I can’t determine the difference between a hand towel and bath towel, and a train wails past every 15 minutes like ACDC's Thunderstruck blaring from a Marshall full stack. Tonight I really do feel like I'm a million miles from home, if Los Angeles is such a place? It makes me wonder why I'm always so God damn happy?

Several nights before I'm carving the dark back roads beyond New Haven, Connecticut. It's cold and raining, and Blondie is all wet, but I'm dry and warm inside her, steering us toward an old friend's house...

Crap pie! I can't sit here all day, I've gotta pig to rescue!...

If anyone questions the validity of this next story, please refer to my fist. My love for baseball is similar to my love for having all my limbs, so when I found myself at Fenway Park last Thursday night, life was nothing less than perfect. That was until the bottom of the 5th, when said perfect life became nothing less than UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE!!! Thank you J.D. Drew. That homer you smashed sailing to Grandstands Sec 6 rolled right into my hand, then, bitter sweetly, it rolled right back out when I gave it to the little girl it hit in the arm before bouncing over to me. I find it odd that the two most extraordinary highlights of this adventure so far involve 7ish year old girls.

Damn it! I have so much more.....To Be Continued... JG out!!!

Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson