Friday, July 31, 2009

The State of the City

The Cupboard is Bare

I was re-reading some old posts the other day, something I don’t do very often, and was struck by how often over the last 5 years I was leaving someplace, looking for somewhere else to go or just plain trapped. I like that I’ve lived many different places and seen so many things, but I did find something about those posts alarming. So many cities, jobs, people… It can do strange things to a person. Hard travelin’ and ramblin’, the sort of thing Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams sang about, has nothing to do with Caribbean cruises and weekends on the beach at Club Med. When Robert Johnson moaned, “I’ve got to keep movin’, I’ve got to keep movin’” at the start of “Hellhound on My Trail,” he was following the classic blues format. That is, the first line states a problem. The second line reiterates that problem. And the need for constant movement is a problem. Yet I find movement soothing like very little else. I rarely care where I’m going or when I’ll get there. Robert Johnson apparently felt the same way, waking up in the middle of the night to hop passing freights with no regard for direction or destination. He was dead by age 27. Someone once told me that the difference between travel and a vacation is obvious. If it’s really hard, smile, you’re traveling.

Grape Ape Code Blue

All this is a roundabout, long-winded way of saying I’m headed to Albuquerque and hope to stay awhile. It doesn’t take much perusing of this site to see that I have a special fondness for the desert Southwest. Also, one of my big regrets is that I didn’t start City of Dust until after I’d left Augusta, GA. I have received so many comments and wonderful invitations from people in the Central Savannah River Area that I have had no way of accepting. I still get them. Everything from trips to abandoned mills in Horse Creek Valley to guided tours through the neighborhood James Brown grew up in, complete with a stop at the brothel he lived in with his aunt. I really want to do a similar exploration of the dusty corners of New Mexico, Arizona, and elsewhere, but post it in real-time. All-in-all, I’d like to post more and maybe if I sit still for once I can do that. More photos, more obscure history, more abandonment, and, of course, a few creative writing exercises here and there.


In the meantime, it’s Nebraska tomorrow followed by a couple days in New Mexico. Then a trip to LA and a jaunt to the eastern Sierras. After that, a few days in the Bay Area and a drive back down to Albuquerque. I have no idea how many tens of thousands of miles I’ve logged in the last year. I’ve gone from point A to point B by planes, trains, ferries, bamboo rafts, horse-drawn buggies and an elephant. But, as a friend of mine used to say, “I think I’ll take it on up to the house now.” And, as Townes Van Zandt said, “New Mexico ain’t bad, lord, the people there they treat you fine…”

All photos taken in Chaska, Minnesota, USA.