Wednesday, April 02, 2008


The Book: LET'S GO USA including coverage of CANADA, completely revised for 1999. St. Martin's trade paperback, 1999. Good condition; cover is scuffed, spine is badly creased.
First read: 1999
Owned since: 1999

Although I read Six Months Off in 1996, I didn't get around to taking any substantial time off until 1999 -- when I decided to get in my car and drive west.

My brother Ed agreed to come along and share the driving. We had driven around the country together once before, so we knew we shared a general outlook about the ratio of driving time to tourist time, our minimum standards for overnight lodging, and the kind of places we wanted to eat. Friends and relatives along the route were also extremely generous about offering us places to stay and meals, so that was a bonus.

This book was our guide for the trip. We agreed that we would stop once a day to see some cheesy tourist attraction. Theoretically, we would take turns choosing, but I don't remember ever disagreeing on a choice. Because this book jams two whole countries into just under 1,000 pages, if an attraction made it in, it was usually worth a visit.

Stops included Ronald Reagan's boyhood home (questionable, as he only lived there for three years); the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden, UT; and, coolest of all, The Sod House in Gothenburg, Nebraska. We stayed at the Frontier Motel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and saw The Matrix in an old movie palace downtown there, which was surreal.

All of this week's posts will be travel-related, if you haven't figured it out yet. I was talking to a friend last night who said something about my traveling a lot, and I felt a little indignant. I haven't been anywhere since the first of the year, except for a day trip to Boston which was not for fun. I had hoped to be in Philadelphia this weekend for NoirCon, but can't make it.

My feet are seriously itchy. The good news is that my next round of travel starts in just a couple of weeks.

Five Random Songs

"There Was a Few," Material Issue. These guys were a great power-pop band. Dumb lyrics don't interfere much with this song's hooks.

"Sweet and Tender Hooligan," The Smiths. More racing guitars, more questionable lyrics -- but the Smiths managed to make even the silliest lyrics sound profound. "In the midst of life we are in death, et cetera."

"The Rebel Jesus," Jackson Browne. Every time this song comes up on the shuffle, I think, "I need to delete this." It annoys me to death; it's a Christmas carol about how Jesus was a socialist. He was, of course, but to see him as political is to reduce him for human purposes. I object.

"This Loneliness," El Perro del Mar. El Perro del Mar is the musical persona of Swedish singer Sarah Assbring; she sounds a little like Kate Bush, but the tunes are much lighter. Even this song is bouncy in its wistfulness. This CD was one of those rare psychic gifts, a present from a friend who didn't even know I wanted it. She's performing in Boston next month, I might try to see her.

"If," 13 & God. 13 & God is a supergroup comprising members of themselves and The Notwist; they make music that combines electronica, hip-hop, rap, and something that's all their own. They put on an amazing live show.


Anonymous said...

Ooooooo yesss... travel... you'll need to do an extracurricular post after our meeting in LA this summer!
Can't wait to read about it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Material Issue. I didn't think anyone outside Chicago new about them. I remember seeing them live often. Unfortunately they came to a tragic end. Thanks for bringing back memories.


norby said...

I hear you on the itchy feet, I've gone overseas the last three years and I keep wondering where I'm going this year. Nowhere unfortunately-but I'm swearing I'll make up for it as soon as I can afford it.

A trip with your brother? I think my sister and I could do that except for one thing-music. We do not have the same taste in music and that would cause a problem. We would have to go with driver rules, but we're both control freaks and would insist on driving, so maybe we'd be better off flying.

AnswerGirl said...

I saw Material Issue live a couple of times in DC; I think I first discovered them on tour with Too Much Joy. "Valerie Loves Me" is still one of my all-time favorites.

Ed and I have fairly similar taste in music, but I'm a pretty easy traveling companion for anyone who can tolerate my driving.