Friday, July 17, 2009
New Mexico-Kansas City, Pt3 (Motel Notes, Feb08)
In north New Mexico/Texas we pass through tiny deserted looking towns, straight out of Westerns except they have a gas station and a Motel. Tumble weeds roll out into the road before us in true cliché style. These towns have names like Blackglove, Whitedeer, Panhandle, Gloom, Eagle Nest, Angel Fire and Wolf Creek. There are no ironies in American Westen movies, it seems. Suddenly there is the noxious smell of burning tyres which fills the car and Jenny and I both begin gagging for breath – Jenny says this smell is of Skunk and I'm shocked as I always wondered what one of these creatures smelt like. It penetrates everything too, inescapable – you can even taste it – hideous.
In silence we drive through the town Greenberg, Oklahoma (I think) recent hit by a tornado – the devastation is frightening, trees either stand petrified stripped of their leaves and bark or are ripped up from the roots completely. It is the same with peoples homes – some have their roofs torn off, others simply not there at all and others are half demolished like they have been ripped in half by giant earth moving machines, savage-like. Household debris is scattered everywhere and bright blue Tarpaulins covering household contents, furniture and such, flap wildly in the wind. There is not a soul in sight and the massive sky looks like a Turner painting. We pass by in the car transfixed whispering the word 'Jesus!' over and over again at this violent act of God in disbelief. As we leave the town we see a billboard that reads: 'Follow Jesus or regret it forever in Hell' (honestly). Another tells us: 'The price of Abortion is a human life' with a cute picture of a big fat American baby next to it. Another oddity we see, stands in someone's garden, but facing out at us on the road, is a large crucifix with a well painted, wooden and realistic looking Foetus nailed to its centre with the words 'American Holocaust' painted across it dramatically… Scary stuff.
On the Oklahoma/Kansas Stateline we pass enormous trucks parked at the roadside which dwarf the drivers standing next to them, and the trucks, in turn, are dwarfed by colossal grain silos which stand twenty stories + into the air, like concrete space rockets, strange and monolithic and periodically spaced in the vast flat landscape: religious science fiction alien monuments, slate grey - stained and bleached - crumbling and symmetrical. These silos too are dwarfed themselves by the sky which fills everything out in all directions to the one inch above the ground horizons in the unimaginable distance. The very American word 'Awesome' immediately springs to mind (again). A word I have seldom ever used before, but the only word I can think of now whilst driving through this country.
At Meade, we make our last stop and stay the night in another Motel, which are very cheap, clean, warm and have everything you might need - always including a good bed, a TV (with a hundred channels of total junk) very hot showers and fluffy towels. All for 40$ for both of us. We are both exhausted and have driven for 11hours today and have a hell of a drive starting early tomorrow morning to get back to Kansas City for a 3pm meeting. I can't sleep though. Apart from having restless legs, every time I close my eyes I see the road ahead of me – like seeing fried eggs before your eyes when you have been looking at the sun – the road is burned into my mind. We arrived here at 10ish and its now 2:30 in the morning, so I get up and go outside for a cigarette.
The road is still busy. No cars now only Trucks, thundering passed in both directions all customised and lit up light Christmas trees. It's relentless. I think about the American Brat and how these Trucks are racing from one end of the country to the other supplying them, driving through the night – an endless stream of Logos. For some reason it suddenly all makes sense, but I'm really tired…
I have been travelling at 80mph for the last 5hours and finally my luck runs out when I see flashing red and blue lights in my rear view mirror. State Trooper. I begin to panic as a thousand violent movies and TV program scenarios race through my head. This exact situation being the prelude to a thousand horrific celluloid nightmares from 'Psycho' to 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' to even a movie I only saw last week 'No Country for Old Men'. I wake up Jenny, put on my indicator and pull over to the road side and wait for the worst. We are in Kansas so the policeman is wearing a cowboy hat. He waits too long in his car before casually opening the door and getting out. His uniform is immaculate and he saunters over with an air of calm authority and power only felt by those who carry both a police badge and a gun. I wind my window down and smile nervously with frightened eyes thinking 'this is it!' We are now going to either get our brains blown out, after first being hideously abused and tortured, or we will be arrested and taken to a place somewhere off the main road to be skinned alive and cut into pieces by retards or rednecks in masks made from human skin wielding chainsaws… This though strangely doesn't happen and for some reason I feel a wave of disappointment too. Instead the cop is friendly and polite and almost apologetic sounding. And when I hand him my English licence he brightens even more and wants to chat. He tells me I was speeding with a perfect smile and doesn't even give me a ticket - just a warning. He goes on to say that I am the third European he has pulled over this morning and I get the impression this experience has made him feel worldly and international – something to tell the wife later (I don't think there is much action around these parts). Jenny is quietly stunned as I finally drive away waving to him in the wing mirror..
Posted by Simon Kossoff