Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was made into a movie that stars Johnny Depp. JD was in Don Juan Demarco with Marlon Brando. Marlon Brando is the Godfather and his consigliere, Tom Hagen was played by Robert Duvall who was in the Great Santini, which is possibly the best movie ever made. Right up there with Lonesome Dove.
What the hell does that have to do with me? Col. Bull Meechem liked to hit the road before sun up. Me too.
Traffic is light, the music sounds clearer, you smell like coffee, cigarettes and traveling. Cat traveling. Traveling with Milton the cat couldn’t have gone smoother, it was like menthol. Cool and nice.
The first time I ever crossed any farther west than St. Louis MO I was 21. I loved the open road. Steel belts on asphalt. The next cheezy landmark. “the Buford Pusser Museam is only and hour and a half out of our way??? Lets go!” and “Pull off here, There is a guy who puts on a christian parrot act!”
The town I lived in had signs for “Merrimac Caverns 200 miles away” painted on the roof of barns up and down Rt40.
I thraveled (sic) west with two books that time. “The Mother Road Rt66” and “Roadside America” a listing of all the giant balls of twine, white squirrels (Yes Olney Illinois, You were there) and Michillan Man statues that used to pepper the American landscape like ticks on a dog.
Doug and I took pictures of the things we had seen only in one of these books.He keeps everything. I keep nothing.
The billboards promised us authentic hillbilly carved nut bowls. The radio was selling autographed copies of the Last Supper. I could get a free 72 ounce steak if I could eat it. It was just about a days drive to get it. The yellow Jack Rabbit Trading Post signs counted down the miles when Doug wasn’t. Television started speaking a little Spanish. The grass was gone. There were the buttes and the mountains I had only seen in movies. That’s some pretty cool shit when you have never seen it.
The Highway Beautification Act. It stopped the signs that littered our ribbon of highway and replaced is with Subway NEXT EXIT. No shit. There is always a Subway next exit. Here I am, having a nostalgic moment about nostalgia.
I’m no Tom Joad, no matter what ever romantic fantasize run through my clouded noggin. I have an accent here. I don’t understand. A man guessed Louisiana.
It’s blues music. I have always felt that American guitarists are better blues players by far than the British. Yeah, I know they rediscovered the music and gave it back. We appreciate it my fog-breathing friends. Let me buy you a beer.
I’m a white kid from the rural midwest. We were also not far from the path traveled by, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, etc… During the northern migration of poor blacks in the south. I have known men with thick southern accents. I have seen cotton, I have seen delta, I have seen the McDonald’s on the Crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Leg-Buh.
As liberal as I am, I find the midwest and my friends and culture taking over. I’m living in an artist community. They know me as Arlo. I know Claudia at Kathy’s Diner. Bana from the middle east. Gay Stephen. I don’t really know them. I know their names. Gay Stephen and I even had a moment.
GS was the guy at the Verizon Store. He’s saying a fact about something, and it related to a fact I knew about guitar strings and without blinking an eye he said “Super Slink-ayyys!” We fist bumped as brothers of the guitar. Though I use Fender nickle wound on my Tele.
There is “soul” inherated by simply being there. chicken, cornbread, black coffee. I’m the only one who says “Hello pretty lady.” or “Fine. How are you?” They look and sound shocked. These people are fuckin’ rich around here. Not the “one night the band ate in the corner with other rich people.” These guys are 24/7/365 and a 1/4 days a year! I’m in way over my head.
When we saw a rodeo ad on TV she said “That is so cruel” I’m thinking “How else are those guys supposed to brand those calves?”
I want a bar. One that smells of cigarettes and stale beer, desperation and alcoholism. I miss my friends. I miss some of the women I have known that I probably won’t ever see again. I gave my heart to each and every one and though we will still talk I doubt I’ll feel their hugs, smell their hair and listen as I tell them I love them. It was never a lie. You know who I’m talking to, because I never said anything but I love you. I would have done anything for you. We didn’t breach the subject much, just in jokes and passing but I would have traded my life for yours.
Clint Eastwood lives here.