Tuesday, June 07, 2005


In Which I Hit the Road...

The epidural appears to have kicked in. That is to say, my back is still a little sore, but I don't really give a shit. Sometimes steroids can be an incredible mood enhancer that way.

Or maybe I'm just happy because I'm hours away from shaking the dust of this office and this city and getting out on the road with some good pals and true.

I haven't been on a real, honest-to-God road trip like this in well over 10 years. And while I'm sure our itinerary might seem tame to some--such as my 20-something self, if he were still around--I'm looking mighty forward to it.

Our trip will take us in a long loop into the heartland and back east. The fun will start in Chicago. Some of us are flying in; some are driving. Ultimately, we will all end up in the back of an old van, in which we will keep our bags and four Styrofoam coolers of beer (for the passengers not the drivers, so don't look at me like that. Drivers and passengers will alternate duties every day, thus ensuring that drivers have a chance to drive and passengers have a chance to drink, with ample time for our metabolisms to catch up in between. Some of my pals are professional passengers in this regard, whereas I really don't like to crack a bottle until I'm sure I'm landed for the night, so I have a feeling I'll be doing A LOT of driving). Also along for the ride will be my bottle of absinthe, which is the real deal, and which is somewhat illegal in this country, and which I have been saving for just this occasion, and which we will use for a nightcap in whatever fleabag hotel we end up in on any given night.

We'll spend at least a day and a night in Chicago, bar-hopping, listening to great music, eating pizza at this little bar where I used to take Her Lovely Self (and where the barkeep still greets me like he saw me last week, even though I haven't lived in Chicago in 12 years).

From there, we head east. One of our number is lobbying hard to stop at the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, necessitating some time in Cleveland which, despite its reputation as a punchline in countless comedy routines, is actually a pretty cool place. We may acquire one more of our number there, if we can find him. We'll see.

We'll pass the time in usual fashion, bull-shitting with one another and catching up. This is a group of writer-types, the best kind: part cynical hack and part lover of words. So I'm bringing the laptop, not just to blog (if I can. So many rest areas have hot spots these days), but also to start a round-robin novel. If you're not driving, you're taking a turn writing chapters.

Eventually the goal is to end up in the Mid-Atlantic states. There's one crazy-ass party happening just outside of Philadelphia that we simply MUST attend, but otherwise the rest of our destinations will probably hinge on the flip of a coin. There's talk of catching a baseball game, but whether that happens to be a Phillies game or an Orioles game (I suppose we could include the Nationals as an option too) is up in the air. Depending on the weather, and our mood, we might just as easily end up doing some nature shit somewhere in the Allegheny or Blue Ridge mountains.

Readers who have any recommendations for stops along the way are welcome--nay, encouraged--to post them here.

At some point next week, we'll all run out of money and at that time, we'll figure out how we're all getting home. Depending on where we are, I may be driven home or grab a commuter flight from wherever I am. Or hitchhike.

Her Lovely Self is trying hard to conceal her mild horror that I'm heading out with no more formed an itinerary than that, or even a clear idea of when or how I'll be getting home. But the truth is, I don't care where we end up, and I know I'll get home somehow by mid-week, so what's the big deal? As my dad likes to say (and he's probably paraphrasing a long-held maxim), "It don't matter where you go. It just matters that you're on your way."

And you couldn't ask for a better crew to make the trip with. Our number will include:

JC: Summon every stereotype you can imagine about the boozing, bedraggled, cynical, burned-out newspaperman, and that's JC. A disciple of the late Dr. Thompson, JC has worked for every newspaper on the east coast, it seems, and has enjoyed a colorful career as a columnist and writer for a variety of men's magazines. Sober or drunk, he's also one of the coolest, funniest guys I know.

C-Dog: Like me, C-Dog is an editor for a Really Big Magazine. His specialty is health and fitness, although you'd never know it to look at what he puts in his mouth. Day-to-day, he's the most dapper, professional magazine man you could ever hope to meet. But put him in a barstool next to us and he becomes this wonderful pig of a man, a smoking, drinking, woman-ogling, filthy-joke-telling vulgarian. If get kicked out of any bars, it'll probably be his fault.

The Kid: Back when we all worked together and I got promoted to a management job, I hired The Kid as my replacement--and promptly regretted it because he quickly eclipsed me by being a far more creative and interesting writer than I ever was when I had the job. The Kid's byline has appeared in most major magazines (including mine), but these days he is a broadcast reporter for a Really Big Network.

And then there's me. I'm not sure how my friends would describe me, but no doubt there would be some mention of my repository of funny stories (and voices. My northern New England accent is always a crowd-pleaser. I can also do Australian and Irish accents, which are more convincing once we've all had a few), my capacity for trying really stupid things (breaking into a cemetery, stealing a company van, shooting an editorial vice-president with a Nerf gun), and a certain ability--or at least a kind of insane willingness to try--to talk our way out any trouble we happen to get into.

There's a rotating cast of characters we may hook up with along the way: our old art director, the semi-famous comic-book writer, the guy who might be in Cleveland (or Pittburgh. Or dead), but that's the core group.

I can't guarantee that there will be regular posts, or even any posts, while I'm on the road. But I've got my PDA--with built-in camera--up and running, so that will be good for on-the-spot photos. And I've already decided to try at least one audioblog. But that may have to wait til I'm drunk enough to try my Australian accent.

So if you see a guy with glasses, wearing a t-shirt that says "Nice bongos" (don't ask), and yelling "G'day!" into a phone, come on over and say hi.

Otherwise, I'll see you when I get back.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Have a blast you Bohemian Geek, looking forward to the stories!
Was cracking up at the image of a bunch of drunk guys in the back of a van on a road trip writing a novel together. That should make for one interesting read. Have a great time!
Sound incredibly fun!!!! My family used to do that same thing in our 1977 Ford Econoline (except without the beer and the absinthe - although sometimes I'm not so sure that they didn't slip something into our OJ to put us to sleep when the van started getting too small to contain our hyperactiveness). Luckily my Dad was a professor so we'd get to just drive for about a month at a time - no real plan, no real responsibilities, stopping when we saw something cool, taking pictures, writing, reading, fighting, bonding - I MISS THAT!

Anyway, have a blast, and you'll have to post some of the "back of the van" novel sometime. I'm sure it will be fun to watch the writing progress into the depths as beer after beer disappears from the coolers :) I'm officially organizing one of these trips of my own, you have inspired me!
Have fun... where the heck did you get a bottle of absinthe?!

In honor of absinthe and writer-types, I'm moved to quote:

Ils buvaient de l'absinthe comme on boirait de l'eau
L'un s'appelait Verlaine l'autre c'était Rimbaud

Rough translation:
They drank absinthe as if it were water
One was named Verlaine the other Rimbaud

Sounds better in French - it rhymes. You'll have to decide who's who in your cross-country scenario.

Also, from the same song:
Pour faire des poèmes on ne boit pas de l'eau

Which is a poetic way of saying that you can't write poetry while you're drinking water. :)
Have good time MM.
Am looking forward for the updates on it.
Am pretty sure the stories would rank up there with the classics of "The Further Adventures of Magazine Man"

:) ... pig yourself out.
That sounds like an awesome trip, have a blast... and yea Cleveland is a cool town, I have spent a few nights drinking there.
What a trip. I consider it an accomplishment to organize a phone call to a friend, let alone an extravaganza like this.

You should definitely hit a Nationals game if you're in the 'hood and the schedule works. They're a fun team to watch and the crowds are raucous. (Of course, I live a mile from the stadium and could be biased.)

Have fun storming the castle.

Looks like we took a road trip at the same time. I named ours the following:

"The Get Radically Nostalgic Road Trip 2005"

We came to my old home town and have been hanging out/ getting drunk with people I've known since I was a little boy. It's been nuts!

I can't wait to hear about your stories and to hear the accents!
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