Wednesday, July 2, 2008

pt. 2 : TX, LA, MS, AL pt. 1

[photo: from the game room of the cabela's in buda, tx. redemption for squirrel blood lust is mine!]

TX (days 3-6):
one thing i forgot to mention about arizona-- it was there that i realized how so much of life in the south exists in strict defiance of god. there is no water, no good soil-- fuck, there's hardly any air!-- but people live in southern defiance of god. (this phrase came up again in austin, eg, this bbq is practically dusty, so, clearly, this cow was prepared in a method that is in clear defiance of god [and his only son, my personal lord and savior, bbq sauce]).

austin was hot, but not "god is smiting us" hot. my ye olde friend rebecca lives in austin, and when group visits are planned by other friends she left back east, they usually take place over indie rock mardi gras, sxsw, in march (altho nobody in our li'l gang actually goes to any shows...maybe they just like creepy drunks and being in the presence of laminates?).

[SIDENOTE: at one point, and i have a feeling i'm repeating myself, when rebecca (onion), julia and i were trying to figure out what our own personal FAQs would be, mine was, "how do you afford this [nyc] apartment?", j's was, "man, are you tall!" [not really a question], and onion's was, "is that your real last name?" and since that faq'll never see the light of day, fyi, it is.]

[also, at the time, they were both working at magazines and i was attempting freelance, so we decided to one day create our own publication called "magazine magazine: a magazine for magazines," which would contain articles like, "perfume inserts; pain or pretty?", and "subscription cards, huh! what are they good for?", and "summer's here: how to bulk up for your special issue!" coming never to a newsstand's newsstand near you.]

[photo: said bbq, inorganically blessed by my condiment messiah.]

before i got to austin tho, i was warned about two things; one, nick's cat molly (nick = rebecca's fiance) had recently had fleas. which is to say, she still had fleas, but i didn't know that yet. buzzo is frontline'd, which basically means he's walking flea poison, so i wasn't worried, but still, heads up, fleas. also, and this was not so much a warning, but rebecca had just gotten a taste for friday night lights and was eager to watch more more more. i couldn't understand how anyone who lives in fnl hq could've slept on it this long, but whatever, i had the dvds in my car to further indoctrinate my parents in the ways of mr. and mrs. coach.

anyway, within hours of arriving in austin i already had a pair of cowboy boots, a bizarro housewarming present for my sister and bro-in-law, and a couple vintage battlestar glasses. i love shit shopping from coast-to-coast! please note, however, the the most liberal artsy college towns you go to, the more they start to blend together into one big austinportlandberkeleyprovidencewhatever. the landscape and climate vary, but within ten minutes of being dropped on the arty main drag, you'll find your old movie theater, vintage clothing/crap store, vegetarian slop hole, etc, etc, but some places show certain strengths (austin's movie theater [which i'll get to] is killer, but berkeley meets more veggie needs, etc). and natch, i like all these places, i'm just sayin, you seen one little liberal oasis, you seen em all. just as you see one sufficating christian conservative middle american deathtrap, you've also pretty much done the full tour.

so we strolled around (sweating), and then had a nice dinner party with some of rebecca's friends from her dept. at UT and some old hs people, and we watched fnl protected onto a wall, courtesy of nick's home theaterstraveganza. i love this, because rebecca grew up in a rambling farmhouse in nh with no tv; they entertained themselves with parlor games and, upon the procurement of a vcr, rented troma movies. so she grew up being amused by taboo and the toxic avenger, and now she watches tim riggins three feet tall and in stereo surround. did i mention that the screen (aka, the wall) is framed by a red, beaded velvet curtain? and fleas?

the next day the plan was to go swimmin', because fuck was it hot. the main, famous swimmin hole was closed for cleaning (the local swimmin holes are fresh water from the local river-- thus, they must be flushed once a week or so), so we went to deep eddy, which is still fresh water but in a concrete pool (as opposed to an actually riverbed). the shallow side was closed, so everyone, and there were a lot of everyones due to the heat, had to share the sliver of deep side not filled with lap swimmers. so, soaking in the cold water, the topic turned, as it often does when in the presence of doctoral candidates, to a discussion of harold and kumar 2.

[photo: crowded vs. soiled. read on.]

i loved it, rebecca and friends hated it, both of our reactions based largely on the amount of poop humor. there used to be a store on newbury st in boston called kakas furs that i'd to ask my mom to drive me by when i was little as a treat so i could LAUGH MY ASS OFF (it's no longer there, but the name is still etched on their old building-- believe me, i've checked) (and, now that i'm a big girl, driven myself by there more than once). i once bought a stamp at paper jam on 3rd ave that just said "SHIT" because i was sick of walking in to look at it and laugh when spending $.50 to have that novelty in the comfort of my own home didn't seem like a bad investment (it wasn't, STILL FUNNY). recently, during one particularly long stretch of driving on this trip, i considered getting a very ornate, fillagree-y style tattoo of the word FART somewhere on my body. so yeah, poop humor por vida.

it was around this point of course that one of us asked one of the nice teen lifeguards why the shallow side was closed, and the poor girl, sick of finding discreet excuses, just said, "a little kid made a doody in the pool, ok? so we're just tryin' to clean it up." sitting in cold water, hearing someone say the word doody...mama, am i in heaven?

they finally reopened the shallow side, so we went there to sit for a while, got out when we found ourselves actually getting cold, and i had the ladies explain to me what actually happens at academic conferences. (altho, to hear nick tell it, most of the ones he goes to [film phd] have way too many buffy panels-- that's right, he thinks there's such a thing as a glut of academic study on the whedonverse. and i love this because someone like me, who's logged countless on-ass hours watching buffy (well, less so seasons 6 n'7) can write a huge paper on it and become dr. on-ass. god bless america!)

i think we were discussing how to de-sentimentalize rebecca and nick's wedding ceremony when everyone got kicked out of the shallow side again, and the poor lifeguardette had to admit that they found yet more doody, and someone was taking care of it. then that night, still feeling unclean despite showers, we watched the latest rambo at the onion singleplex, which was awesome, not just because (bringing it full circle) buffy's darla is in it and almost eaten alive by a large pig, but because the dialogue to exploding faces ratio is right where it should be (unless you could the exploding faces' last "aahahahahah!" to be dialogue, where upon it evens out some). also, i love that rebecca can totally stand behind a movie where a character just impaling someone makes him seem like a pussy (as opposed to impaling and exploding them) (and then fucking their parts pile), but will not suffer a film that displays graphic diarrhea.

[photo: on this kid's CV-- water safety, cpr, scooping up fecal mater with a long net.]

[sidenote so i have an excuse to write more about poop: at the dinner party, someone had read a book (phd people are always reading a book, even if it seems to have nothing to do with their field, don't ask) about how c-sections might be effecting obesity rates, because kids are supposed to inherit their digestive bacteria from their mothers at birth-- see, moms often poop themselves during delivery (and pee themsleves, and tear their vages...miracle of life!), and babies, who are in a sterile environment up to that point, tend so swallow just a soupscon of poop as they enter the world, but if they don't ingest said poop, their digestion might be wonky. whereupon someone else said they'd just read a book (natch) about how people who live together start to have similar intestinal bacteria/fecal flora after so many months, so i thought that a good way to keep rebecca'n'nick's vows sapless was to involve how they are as one, in life, in love, and in fecal flora. but that actually might make me cry.]

i had to stay one more day to work out the timing with my next stop down the road, so while rebecca and nick read stuff, i went to cabela's in buda, tx. i've often spoken of cabela's, so i will let the pictures do the talkin'.

[photo: the cabela's in dundee, MI, has two fighting bears out front, rendered in metal, forever locked in glorious combat. this has a cowboy and his li'l buckaroo pointing to exactly which game they're going to shoot in the face.]

[photo: these are towers for hunting-- you bring them one out into the woods, set it up, and stalk away. they're in the parking lot so you can practice on patrons returning to their cars, but it's not as easy as you'd think, considering 90% of the shoppers are in camo.]

[photo: also in the game room-- boar balls! that there's boar on the cafe menu upstairs worried me, given that the cut of the boar was not listed.]

that night we went to the alamo drafthouse to see the foot fist way, which was perfect, because i'd try to see this movie a million times before leaving LA just to watch plans crumble over and over, and i really wanted to go to the alamo drafthouse, not just because it's got alamo in it, but because i know they serve food n'drink during the movies, which is how it should be everywhere always, and because it's just a famously awesome place to go. and while there's nothing about the foot fist way that's shockingly innovative, it does what it does well, and i laughed many times without feeling like i was watching a rehash of anything else. and i got to eat chicken.

when i finally left texas the next day, I had to drive on some smaller highways to get back to 10, and in one town with a name like lulling, i passed all these signs by the road that said VOTE FOR CARLY! or ANNA #1! or JESSI FOR QUEEN! and then also there were banners on the lampposts that advertised something called the watermelon thump festival, and i realized that these girls were making a zillion signs-- and in some cases standing by the tiny highway with bullhorns-- in order to be voted thump queen. i wanted to grab one of these girls and smuggle her out of texas for her own good, but alas. i made my flight for freedom while they were left to fight for ascension to the the thump throne.
[photo: one last cabela's shot-- this is the camo breast cancer awareness chair. it's absurd on so many levels, but what i like best is the idea that this camo is only effective if you're trying to blend in at a forested gay pride parade.]

i got to new orleans just in time for dinner, and i decided i wanted to go to a place called mother's, because, again, as much i aim to search out regional cuisine, most of the cuisine of this region is not my favorite. years ago, my parents rented out a room in our house to a young couple, and the husband was a cajun chef, so i've done extensive research into how much i don't like spicy, shrimpy sadness bowls (tm, patton oswalt) (as is "in defiance of god," i now realize. kudos, patton!). new orleansian food is literally a casserole of everything i don't eat-- pork sausage, crustaceans, powered fire-- but mother's had a chicken po'boy and sweet potato pie, plus it was downtown, so that was my next gps'd stop.

[photo: this highway is running directly over a swamp, mere feet above the stinky water... humans commute here in defiance of god (and boats) (and patton oswalt maybe).]

but here's the thing about new orleans, and really, much of the old south, at least for me-- it's hard for me to feel comfortable in a place that is so inherently uncomfortable. not just because of the heat, but because of the history of slavery (and seeming lack of shame for said history), and, in the case of new orleans, because of katrina. i mean, the first thing i saw driving into the city was the superdome, and all i could think was, is this the overpass where cops kept people from getting to safety? is that the place where people lined up everyday for fima buses that never came while they watched their grandmas die in the heat? and can most people still come here and just think, is this the place we can drink in public and maybe see anne rice?

so i waited for a while, got my sandwich, drove around a bit at twilight to see the old buildings, the tourists, the tense-from-heat locals, and hit the road. and i kind of want a new orleans do-over, but i kind of don't. which is how i feel about most of the places i stayed in from this point out.

[photo: welcome to new orleans! see that giant white thing? tons of people suffered and died there for no reason! laissez les bon temps roulez!]

my time in mississippi was mostly spent sitting in 10 detour traffic, listening to a prince megamix on some radio station that was one fucking awesome half hour, and wondering if i'd ever get out of mississippi.

by the time i decided to conk out, i was in mobile, AL. this was unfortunate, because, IN DEFIANCE OF GOD, mobile was hosting a tennis tournament (they don't make people play outdoor sports in that kind of heat and humidity at gitmo even). which meant no hotels, ANYWHERE. i finally found a room in a way overpriced residency suites place, priced yet higher because they found out i had a dog, and all i wanted to do was shower and pass out so i could get to atlanta the next day in time for dinner, but buzz seemed...restless.

i held him by the belly and parted a random stretch of fur on his haunches.

3 fleas.

(except not funny).

to be continued!

also, from now on, maybe it'll be in defiance of rambo.


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