Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dallas to Nashville 12/12/11

When departing Dallas, you should plan a route that clears the Dallas-Fort-Worth-Metropolitan Axis as rapidly as possible, like escaping the gravity well of a dying star or the blast radius of a dirty bomb. Then begin travelling in the direction of your destination.

From the interstate, 90% of America is effectively the same hedgerow, interspersed with the same strip mall. I suspect strip mall architecture, like the 747 and the BSD kernel, is one of those mid-twentieth century engineering stop-gap measures that has seamlessly slid from temporary stand-in to workhorse to cultural motif.

The highway interchange connecting Houston to Texarkana smells like cabbage and natural gas. Surely no one is surprised by this.

Arkansas is bigger than you expect it to be. It might be a tardis.

The nickname of Arkansas is "the Natural State." In the sort of ironic move one expects of the United States, it has devoted its southern half almost entirely to poorly regulated heavy industry.

There is a young man in Little Rock driving a Honda Prelude that must be a full decade older than himself. At the remarkable, seemingly impossible, speed of ninety-five miles an hour, its heavily modified and egregiously abused exhaust system emits a brutal, death metal vocal solo sound like a buzzsaw being mounted by an amorous yak.

Walt Whitman and I love this young man quite tenderly, and we admire his courage, even if it is born of ignorance.

Somewhere in the Arkansas alluvial plain, there is a place where massive aerials and giant steel signs bearing the ancient brand XXX sprout. They bloom in the same shade of red. There may have been some cross pollination. Please don't touch your dials.

Tennessee smells of paraffin.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

In which I pretend to be Carver 2

"Anyway," she says, "I should go. Work tomorrow"

"So what," I say, "it's seven."

"Seven there," she says, "ten here, and Dan just got the baby to sleep and he hardly ever sleeps."

The baby.

"Get some rest, be well." I say. She hangs up.

I open another beer and stare out into the rain. The drops hit the wet concrete of the alley behind my place and flash like sparks in the streetlight. Like static on the untuned screen of reality.

I think about the path of each drop falling to the pavement. Once, I heard on public television that things only happen the way they do because we see them the way they are. That somehow everything that could happen has, that there are other universes where the static pattern of rain drops I'm looking at is different, because the drops all fell a different way. Public television said that all those other universes are only a tiny distance away from us, but the direction to them is one we can't ever see. It's hidden down deep in the world, smaller than we can know.

There are other versions of me, I think, looking at other patterns of rain. Near to me as my own blood.

I wonder if I stare at the rain long enough, the pattern might shift without me knowing it, might switch over to some other scrambled channel.

I stare for a long while.