Monthly Archives: January 2003

1/21/03 Day 31 of the


Day 31 of the Breathing Excitedly in the Thinnest of Air Road Trip of Emotional Salve

Taos, NM to Southern New Mexico

This is the first time I’ve ever written a blog anywhere other than my own belly in bed, but Tessa and I are sitting at Longevity Caf in Santa Fe, a brilliant place full of Kidney Tonic Pills, Vegan Soup Shavings, and piles of dreadlocked lesbians waxing wiccan about their “psychic bursts”

1/20/03 Day 30 of the


Day 30 of the Rape and Violation of My Sacred Belongings Road Trip of Now I Fucking Well Know Better

Santa Fe, NM to Taos, NM

We got a rude awakening from my Uncle Chuck this morning, who banged on our door and alerted us that our cars had all been ransacked during the night. I dashed out into the blindingly red Santa Fe sunrise to find all our car doors open, and stuff strewn about. At first, I didn’t think anything was missing, a delusion we held onto until about an hour into our morning procedures, when Tessa came back inside and told me that my guitar had been stolen.

It slowly dawned on me what else was missing: my canvas backpack, which not only contained my sinus medication, but also three pairs of my favorite shoes: some leather Campers, some trs expensive Gel Kayano running shoes, and most heartbreakingly, MY NIKE VINCE CARTER SHOX BASKETBALL SHOES IN CAROLINA BLUE. This last of these was a hard blow because I looked for these shoes for about six months before I found them.

Also in the backpack was a sweater my Dad had just given me, and a fabulous North Carolina sweatshirt with the old fashion interlocking “NC.” Combine that with my NC basketball shorts, and you’ve got a burglar that is now outfitted with some of the best Tar Heel stuff you can get. I can only hope he roots for us on Wednesday, the fucking bastard.

The guitar was a real pity, because it was blue, gorgeous and I found it with Sean in midtown Manhattan. It had an aural brilliance, a way of singing the upper register, that was unlike the 150 other guitars I tried over the months. I can only hope the burglar plays some Joni Mitchell songs for his friends, the fucking bastard.

After talking to the cops, filing a report, and calling our insurance company, we said goodbye to my Aunt Lee (whose car was pillaged too) and drove down the hill to the main street by the river. But a few subconscious seconds later, I was having the feeling that I’d seen some of the trash on the side of the road before. I screeched the car to a halt, and found a pair of my boxers, two T-shirts, and four socks. Down further, I saw one lone Gel Kayano running shoe very out of place in these parts. The hunt was on: Tessa and I scoured the town all the way to the Santa Fe river and found two more pairs of boxers, another shirt, my orange bandana, and most unbelievably, the full pair of Campers and the running shoes!

We were lucky, relatively last night on a whim, I had taken the scanner and the printer inside to archive Uncle Chuck’s pictures (see entry below) and also a bunch of electronic stuff I didn’t need: the Palm, the XM Satellite Radio, and my cell phone. Still, it is a total violation.

And it would seem worse, except that I’ve been trying to let go of how much “stuff” means to me. I’ve noticed so many crosses on the side of the road on this trip, places where people have died in highway accidents. They’re all over Interstate 5, Interstate 40, even in downtown areas. I imagine the street cleaners and Adopt-a-Highway folks leave the memorials alone, these crossed iron bars or PVC pipes festooned with plastic flowers and a single name. It’s a sort of tacit respect, and a belief that seeing these things make drivers slow down. One sticks with me: on a hillside in Death Valley, I came upon a turn where a big cross was stuck in the ground; beside it, the tiny cross of a small child.

Where the Santa Fe river flows past St. Francis Avenue, no doubt right where a stolen pair of my boxers floated by early this morning, there is another cross, and it served to remind me that although my Carolina basketball shoes are a sentimental attachment, it hardly matters in the scheme of things.

1/19/03 Day XXIX of the


Day XXIX of the 2000 Pounds of TNT Detonated 50,000 Years Ago in the Arizona Desert Road Trip of Don’t Forget Winona (Arizona)

Needles, CA to Santa Fe, NM

MAN, it’s hard to write these things in the road! Yesterday’s blog (below) was delayed all day because the motel in Needles connected me at 1400 BAUD. That, for those of you playing the home game, would have been considered low-speed even in 1993. So slow that the Web wouldn’t even come up, and when I tried to check email, Earthlink scoffed at me, beat me up, stole my lunch money and threw my violin case into a tree.

Still, it’s a lo-fi kind of place, here in the middle of the desert. I tried to use Wi-Finder to look for a wireless connection in northern Arizona, but alas, there is none. No Starbucks wi-fi, no hotels, nothing. I know that’s not why people usually come to the Painted Desert, but I gots business to take care of, yo.

We did some business, however, at the great Meteor Crater outside Flagstaff. Not one to be swayed by many detours whilst on message, Tessa actually needed little convincing to visit Earth’s largest intact meteor crater, and a good time was had by all. I learned that 20 consecutive football games could be played on the crater floor, and now you have too.

the wonders of nature! at the Meteor Crater (Stupidest Picture of the Week Award)

We were trying to make it to Santa Fe for the Raiders/Titans game, since my Uncle Chuck is a lifelong Raiders fan, but we pulled with just enough time to see my Aunt Lee and Rosie before they went to bed and a sleepover, respectively. Uncle Chuck is a great guy, full of amazing stories, but totally lacks ostentatiousness. He stayed up well past his bedtime going through old pictures with me, most of them I’ll scan later tonight.

Aunt Lee has lost very little of her radical feminist edge, thank god, and it manifests in her daughter Rosie, who remains the Relative I Like the Most Who I See the Least. She’s going to be super cool, you can just see it in some people. 16 years old but so full of confidence and a damn good idea about how the world works. I think my sister Michelle and her would get along famously, so I’m going to talk her parents into a New York trip.

me (obscured by weird “night settings” on camera), Tessa, Rosie and Uncle Chuck

Note to travelers: visit the Dairy Queen on the west side of Albequerque, before you get into town. It is staffed by a husband-wife team in their 80s who seem to have a running argument originating in 1937. I would consider Tessa and myself to be very lucky to have such a fate.

1/18/03 Day XXVIII of the


Day XXVIII of the Vast, Gorgeous, Azure Tension of Two Worlds Colliding Road Trip of Rousseau-like Romanticism

Mt. View, CA to Needles, CA

It didn’t particularly make sense, but Tessa and I decided that if we spent a month driving to the other side of the country, we had damn well better get our toes in the water. So Mom and Steve took us to a beautiful part of Half Moon Bay, where we took off our shoes, went into the unbelievably frigid Pacific, and made Chopin the Dog fetch a giant piece of lumber into the riptide until he eventually told us to fuck off.

The Pacific felt great, by the way. I think it’s something primeval, something all adventurers need to do; sense the tension that is naturally created when two distinct parts of nature meet, and YOU are the liminal. The Atlantic is certainly vast and beautiful, but the Pacific stretches out beyond our imagination there is truly nothing out there until Hawaii, a quarter of a world away.

I lie now in a motel room in the nonsense town of Needles, CA, which is known to me only because Snoopy’s brother-in-law Spike lived here in the Peanuts cartoon strip. We made that turn, you know, the one that says you are on your way home. We head east from now on, and even though we have another god-knows-how-long on the road, getting wet in the ocean somehow filled me full of subconscious accomplishment.

1/17/03 Day 27 of the


Day 27 of the Mold Spores Attaching Themselves to the Memories of Ancestors Long Gone Road Trip of Furious Scannin’

St. Helena, CA to Mt. View, CA

A quick (except for the Bay Bridge how do you San Franciscans deal with that shit?) jaunt from Napa and we were at my mom’s place, where I am exhausted from zero sleep, but still stayed up long into the night doing what I did at Dad’s

1/16/03 Day XXVI of the


Day XXVI of the Some Picture Albums are Better Left Uncracked Road Trip of Long-Abused Epiphanies

St. Helena, CA

We spent the evening doing laundry, packing up, making investor packets and rooting through all of my dad’s archival pictures for scanning.

Sometime I think the unfathomable dorkiness of my youth is a bit of a convenient whitewash of the complexities of childhood, but then I see a picture like this:

Amy Wellso, Zorkbutt, Leonard Rose and my dad, circa 1979

1/15/03 Day XXV of the


Day XXV of the Millions of Sperm Dying from What We Call Simple Leisure Road Trip of Poetic Juxtaposition

St. Helena, CA

We had a break between two meetings today that allowed us to go to Meadowood for a round of physical activity (I ran 1.75 miles, which is pretty huge considering my utter lack of movement since we went skiing) and then we collapsed into the hot tub. The jacuzzi at Mammoth bleached my Carolina shorts from God’s Sky Blue into a weird 1887 gray, so I didn’t spend too much time ruining more clothes. Plus, there’s something about being Welsh that makes hot tubs a good experience for about five minutes before I start to feel both angry and faint.

We spent the evening at the Witt’s house just down the mountain from Dad; they live in a modern architectural dream made of forced earth. They had ordered a bunch of dungeness crabs, and we spent the evening digging food with our hands, something I haven’t done since my silly lobster meals back at the Purple House. As I looked out the window to the suddenly-clear night skies, I realized that Tessa and I may be broke in fact, totally in debt

1/14/03 Day 24 of the


Day 24 of the Faint Rumblings of Wanting to Live in the Town You Visit Road Trip of Beseeching Our Elders

San Francisco, CA

I should say last night’s rumblings of discontent coming from the other side of the bed (no, not Chopin farting, although that too has been a problem) was assuaged by Tessa and I playing a game of Brax, which is apparently an ancient version of checkers. I lost handily because I didn’t read the rules, a deep-set metaphor for pretty much everything I did up to about 1985.

We rose early to truck into San Francisco to meet Tessa’s friends Michael and Thilde, apparitions from her Houston life who have set up shop in Fog City, far away from the maniacal family lunacy that seems to be the end equation of (Texas + $$$). Thilde is the survivor of a botched carjacking some years ago, where she was shot point-blank in the chest outside an ice cream parlor. Having started med school, she saved her own life by knowing exactly what to tell the parlor employees (direct pressure, cold towels, which hospital to call) which made me wonder how I would have coped if it had happened outside my own high school ice cream job. Nothing like that ever happened to us; the biggest emergency we had was when Josie Paolucci bled into the Black Walnut and the shift manager thought the flavor was haunted.

From there, we lucked out and caught up with Dave Ball and Farah Brevli, two of the smartest folks we know on this great planet of ours, already out getting coffee after taking their baby Zaid to the pediatrician. Dave and I immediately did what many of us from the Lodge do descend into a deconstruction of the days when we were morons. I was Dave’s “big bro” at the fraternity, and I always felt like I let him down a little bit. I could have come to his defense more often, and given more sage advice about the rough waters surrounding several Lodge personalities, but I was so bursting with shit at the time, I could scarcely tie my shoes.

Eric Gribbin apologized this summer for a hoops incident I hardly remembered from 1989, so I passed on the favor to David I said I was sorry for the “Big Bro/Little Bro” hoops tournament in which I remember being a butthole… but he didn’t recall any of it. Still, it’s good to keep your side of the street clean, even if all the work you’re doing is subconscious. I feel amazingly blessed to have all the friends I still have from back in those days, and even though Dave has hesitations that he doesn’t have that many, I think both of us realize that time and maturity has cut away much of the underbrush that made our peers seem judgmental in the past. Pretty much all of us remember everything quite fondly.

Anyway, I don’t like talking of past friends as such a done deal. I am always looking to the future, when I can gather all of us smart folk, old friends and new, together in some utopian spot where we can take care of each other’s kids, embark on lengthy road trips, and churn ice cream with solar power. I am determined to get us all together again, even if our wedding acts as a small reminder of how many fabulous human beings with whom we’ve broken bread.

But more on that later. After seeing the Ball/Brevli clan, we dashed to a meeting with the Gamble part of Procter and Gamble, a fabulous older man named Launce who we’d approached as an investor. He asked us many questions that I hadn’t thought about since the early days of my involvement with independent film, obvious queries into how much we think the movie is worth, how we picked our lawyer, even how Tessa got from studying Latin (or how I got from being a violin major) to making movies. It was a great, albeit exhausting, retrospective of what we’re actually doing, something that will serve us well as we meet more of the heavy hitters.

We got stuck in a traffic snarl on the way back to Napa, so we broke out the Scrabble game for the Palm

1/13/03 Day XXIII of the


Day XXIII of the Surmountable Odds, Brave Faces and Ulterior Desires Road Trip of Connecting Eyebrows

St. Helena, CA

We’ve had a rough go of it today; Tessa has hit something of a wall with this movie-producing stuff, and I don’t blame her. When we dropped her off at the Kinko’s in Napa with a pile of investor packets to xerox, she looked so unhappy that I had to turn around and make sure everything was okay. It didn’t help that we saw Frida tonight, which got us thinking about the nature of what we want to be doing instead of what we are doing.

Put simply, neither of us like raising money, and in fact, Tessa can be really hurt by it. She’s much more at home in a simpler artistic life, like the lone poetess exemplified by our lovely Ann Humphreys down in Chapel Hill, or even our ducks-in-a-row non-fiction friend Colin Beavan in New York. The problem with making independent films is that you spend three weeks making the movie, and four years raising money around it. We’re so far away from the creative process right now that it’s hard to remember when we were actually exercising that part of the brain. Tessa expressed a desire to get a real job, which, as I am desperate to tell her from experience, opens up its own gaping maw of turgid depression.

Believe me when I say we’re actually pretty good at courting the financial end of this movie. Nobody engenders more trust and has more cogent things to say to absolute strangers than Tessa, and more amazingly, she actually means it. I think she would gladly talk to most potential investors even if money wasn’t in the picture. And I can always be counted on to deliver a zinging bon mot every ten minutes or so.

But she has reached a point where she doesn’t know where she’s going to get the energy anymore and we’re only halfway through with our trip. Like me, she needs to be creating something right now, and there aren’t any outlets. I’d feel the same way, except that I have this very blog, right in front of your eyes, to expunge creative torment. The best I can do beyond that is to help her produce in any way possible.

Before we went to bed, I reminded her of one thing: we are attempting the hardest thing to do in all of art. I would put the writing-directing-producing of a commercially-viable first-time independent film up there with the completion of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Both required an amazing sense of perspective, four years’ patience, the occasional lack of belief in what the hell we were doing, and impossibly sore backs. We have to find value in attempting to do something very few people try because it is just too damn hard. I don’t think either of us had any choice in the matter; we had to aim that high, and as Tina Modotti said in the movie, to do so even in the face of knowing what we know, is both radical and romantic.

1/12/03 Day XXII of the


Day XXII of the Clanking of the Best Wine in the Best Glasses in the Entire World Road Trip of Digging Past the Phylloxera Bacteria

St. Helena, CA

Well, they don’t call it Napa for nothing. After a great brunch, where we gorged ourselves on the brunch menu at Brix, I came back to Dad’s to do work but instead slept clear into the late afternoon. I was so disoriented by the experience that I bolted upright in bed yelping “whaddya mean?!?” after Tessa sneezed on the couch.

I got my act together in time to accompany the troops to a lecture at Meadowood concerning the life, times and watercolor angling of Winslow Homer. Sound boring? It wasn’t, really but it was a cool study in the life of someone who was gay (as was our lecturer) but nobody (including the lecturer) would actually come out and say it. We got to sit with Daniell, the speaker, and talked for a long time about the state of art in America, and why certain people think San Francisco sucks.

my favorite Homer of the night: “Fog Warning” or “Goddamn Well Better Get Back to My Boat In Time”

We met a few cool people at the party, one of which is the “Gamble” part of “Procter & Gamble.” My dad keeps beating him at tennis; it’s nice to know he isn’t cowed by a couple of billion dollars coming at him with a backhanded slice.