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Tuesday, January 18, 2005



There is the idea of the endless drive as romance and then there is the endless drive as mourning.

In 1971 we drove through the night to Vegas. My mother dozed in the back seat of the car and my father drove. Between St. Geroge and Vegas we switched back and forth between the Dodgers and a station playing Joe Cocker doing "A Little Help from My Friends." The signal cut out because of the power lines. He explained it and used it as an introduction to tell the story of how he travel for Merck and later Merck, Sharp, and Dhome for 12 years. The great power poles would approach and he'd say that the signal would cut out and it did.

I was 13.

For the next two days I was allowed to stay up late and see the world only grown ups could see.

Six months later my mother would be dead.

It's is not the romance but the relief. My mother was at peace on that drive, the peace that escaped her in her last few weeks and my father was The Expert! In the many times we've gone from LA to Vegas and back in the dead of the night their memory has always been there to remind me of where we came from and question who we are now.

Americana speaks not only of the restless traveler but the eventuality of the grave.

TPB, Esq.

And how powerful is it that the eventuality of the grave can be presented, by way of Americana, in so many different ways? It is the eventuality of riding off into the sunset, gutshot yet proud, like "Shane." It's the communal stillness of highback Shaker chairs in which sit the deceased of Grover's Corner (Our Town). It's the brutal consumption of Ahab by the sea. The saddest element of the Americana mythos, to me, has always been the fact that it's also the way Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway died after intense success: alone and somewhat discarded. That last enduring mythical theme is probably why Sunset Boulevard is so chilling, even though success was denied to Holden's character.



Hi there, old friend.

I'm just chiming in to say I miss your voice. For me, images aren't as resonant as words, and when the format switched, I stopped checking in so often (because the navigation issues kept me from finding the posts, like this one, where your voice comes through).

This certainly isn't meant to sound as though I'm telling you what to do with your blog. I think it's cool that you switched formats, and think you're right that the medium is fluid enough to be many things.

But maybe when you get the redesigned site you'll make a category or something for the moments you have text-heavy entries. I for one like those glimpses of your mind that your words provide.

Happy New Year.



"the shell collector" *was* brilliant-- i'm so glad to see it made someone else's reading list, as i've been pressing it on others since "the hunters wife" and the title story made the "best american" collections. just picked up his novel "about grace" and i can't, unfortunately, recommend it as highly. perhaps it'll improve towards the end, but for now it's reading a bit too much like inferior versions of various stories/characters cobbled together.

anyway, welcome back.

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