Showing posts with label road trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label road trip. Show all posts

11.7.19

Video Installation: Striking a Pose at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey

Adam Driver plays a bus driver-cum-poet in the movie Paterson 
In this post, I document a recent visit to Paterson, New Jersey to see the Great Falls. 
On the way to our mutual friend's wedding, my friend and I stopped at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. It is an exciting site because in Paterson (back in the day) engineers (with the support of Alexander Hamilton) discovered a way to harness the sheer power and velocity of the falls by converting moving water into energy using a series of waterways and hydropower. The falls are the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi - by volume ( but for me: it is just really relaxing and beautiful). The town of Patterson has a lot of history and impressive architecture - and there is a third reason - Adam Driver - he plays a New Jersey Transit bus driver-turned-poet in the movie Paterson - where in one scene he makes a pit stop at the Falls to conjure up some inspiration. I don't claim to be an Adam Driver; however, I am certainly one to espouse the practice of making art from the everyday details of life.

Where do you go to sit and relax (and perhaps get inspired)? Do you have such a place? Or, do you have to find it?

19.10.17

Recollections: College Visitations back in 1998

At Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana circa 1998
Throwback to that time in High School when I visited Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana on a college visit.
I visited Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana when I was a Senior in High School. Mom drove me. We spoke to the professors in the Liberal Arts department and I asked them questions about their philosophy program.

I did not enroll in the school - I ended up becoming a seminary student at Saint Joseph Seminary in Saint Benedict, Louisiana.


However, Centenary symbolizes the trajectory I could have taken if I had chosen to stake out my own way as a college student on my own terms.


26.7.17

Video Post: Feeding Ducks in Robertsdale, Alabama

Ducks hang out in a parking lot in Robertsdale, Alabama
Off of US Highway 90, my mother Pamela, my older brother Bradford, and I stopped at an old, dilapidated building with a sign out front that read "Interdenominational Church." We fed the ducks. Greig (that's me) conducted an interview.

- Posted on BlogPress

20.7.08

Travel Diary: Ellis, Kansas Monday July 20, 2008

Dear Travel Diary:
I started out on this journey on Saturday. I am just now settling down for a few minutes to write about it so far. Things only got interesting till I got to Cloutierville, La. 
     There, the ancient gas tanks are only programmed to charge you at the least two dollars for gas so you have to double your cost which proves to be an interesting conversation at the check out counter. "Honey, can you believe it when it gonna be ten dollars. The machines ain't gonna handle that." A rather large woman with short-cropped hair laughed at her own joke and showed me how to get from Cloutierville back to the interstate. She said they were going to get new gas machines soon, "but, hahaha," she said, "I don't wanna be around when my boss gotta buy a new machine."
Exit to Cloutierville, Louisiana
     I was happy to get out of Louisiana and didn't even stop in Shreveport at the local sex show but apparently, this woman from Alabama loved it. 
Nor did I go to any of the casinos in Texas that were promising big money and big fun, What is it with the Texans and their notion of "large"? Everything is bigger in Texas, apparently.
       I drove past Dallas and did not even stop. I had already been to the grassy knoll. I drove all the way through Oklahoma and stopped in a little town right before Kansas called Blackwell. Here is a picture:
Gin at the Hotel
      I must have gotten there really late because the Hindi-speaking owner was sleeping and when I woke him up he came to the door with a shotgun, but all in all, he was nice because he gave me some tea and told me that his hotel was the best. Also, his dog kept on sniffing my leg and the man did not like that because he kept on looking at me as if his dog were telling him something he didn't know. But I made him happy by buying a forty dollar jar of gin and I went to bed. I told him I was so happy to be almost in Kansas and he said, "why? are you going to casino in Kansas?" I said, "No, I was going to Oregon." He said, "you must be a smart guy because you only answer in half-truths." Yes, he knows me well, even better than my lover. Oh well.
Really Cool Lake in Kansas
       I slept in a hotel room that faintly smelled of curry; drank some of my gin and woke up at around 10:30 to get back on the road.
About noontime I sped into the direction of a really cool lake in Kansas that I swam in and had lots of fun: here is a picture:

       Being from Louisiana, any sense of elevation is a thrill because down in New Orleans, the only time you get to go up a "hill" is when you take a risk and go over the Huey Long Bridge.
Ellis, Kansas
     Now, I am in Ellis, KS. It is a small little town and they have a train museum that I may go see after I post this blog. I am sitting in a Travel lounge with a Subway and a Play Land Zone attached to it. There is a door built for children. It is funny to watch adults and children try to go through it.
     My camera ran out of juice so I cannot get a picture of it.
I am supposed to be in Fort Collins, Colorado by tonight. I still have to get my Dorothy-ass out of Kansas and get on to Colorado. I am on Interstate 70 going West. Then I pass Denver. Eve, here I come.
          Best,
          Greig

15.7.07

Google Maps and the Christ Haunted Way to Jackson, Mississippi

Read about a backroads car trip from New Orleans, Louisiana to Jackson, Mississippi.
Figure 1: The route I took on a recent backroads car trip from New Orleans to Jackson
    Obsession with the world’s best search engine and an itch to travel led me to plan a trip for myself earlier this summer with Google Maps.  With Google’s clever map service I can actually get satellite imagery of my own backyard, sans the barking dog, by typing in an address and presto -- after a couple of seconds, an overhead satellite image appears on the screen. Like electrons swirling in a vacuum, maps are possibilities, discovery.  Looking from above like a god over a cosmic machine, I can see the earth’s surface, tops of houses, beaches along rivers, even the shadows cast by buildings. The ripples of water over a lake. Matchbox cars parked on the sides of the streets. If you peer closely, even mailboxes. The odd thing is, I noticed, after playing around for an hour or two -- the streets are empty, hardly a person in sight, which causes me to believe that the planet is vacant.  Where are the people? Inside, hooked up to high-speed internet? Well, why not? It is delicious information accessible to the layman. It feels intrusive, yet enticingly fun; almost too powerful for the ordinary person. Without even being there, without the aid of an airplane, from a chair, I can pan over a river that follows a paved two-lane road. When I click on the Hybrid button it indicates in startling yellow that this is Highway 17 (See figure 1). Wow.  Well. That’s awesome. I check out my friend Tony’s apartment.
   I can’t peer into his window with Google, but it’s pretty darn close. There are limitations to this voyeuristic peeping tom engine. Limitations. Restraint. I am restricted to the US and a little bit of Canada and Mexico and an outline of the rest of the world. As of this printing, you can’t get a bird’s eye view of the Louvre or the Great Wall. And, even in the ole US of A, you can’t see everything crystal clear. There are coordinates that Google won’t allow you to see. Either the satellites didn’t take pictures of these regions or Google technicians haven’t gotten to it. Or maybe Uncle Sam wrote them a letter, saying -- whoah now, you can’t be showing the tops of those oil refineries or those top secret coordinates. When I scroll over those areas with my mouse, it’s all a gray ambiguity but I can outline the details of every housetop in the French Quarter in New Orleans and survey the breach in the levee caused by Katrina along the industrial canal. I enjoyed the aesthetic of taking note of the design of the roofs, a strange patchwork of L’s and Z’s built on a solid uniformed grid. Strange.
    It is interesting what Google purveys to the common user and what it shuts out; maybe it’s arbitrary. Some of the satellite images are discolored and difficult to zoom into, but urban areas are crisp and easily zoomable. I can get a great shot of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Lower Manhattan. I can even zoom over the roof of my own house. While I’m in it! It becomes a tad solipsistic: here I am with a laptop computer outside a coffee shop wirelessly tapping into the world wide web, looking from above, exactly where I stand. As I get a bird’s eye view of where I stand here, I stand before me, looking straight out into the parking lot. I look up into the sky to catch a glimpse of the satellite that took my picture. All I see is blue sky, clouds on the edge of the horizon. No sight of the all-seeing eye. I found out later Google Maps is not a real-time camera. The images are created by still Landsat satellite images.
    And most practically, I was able to map out a trip to Jackson, Mississippi without using interstates.
    I wanted a Christ-haunted trip through the old south. The back lanes of rural Mississippi. I wanted to see the white starched steeples of every church even before I drove by. So I packed some notebooks, a pencil, my Power Book G4, a flashlight, trail mix, a few books and a bathing suit in case I wanted to swim in the Bogue Chitto River or the Pearl and I set off in mom’s car. I was on a mission to find the South I had read about, her regal lords and ladies, whitewashed churches, myths and images of Eudora Welty, Beth Henley, Lewis Nordan, Walker Percy. Even O’Connor (not born in Mississippi, but I am sure that her characters populate its hamlets).
    And in reality, there they were. I saw ‘em. On Sunday I was there. And saw. Looked. Wrote. Every town I drove through was like a queer recursive. In Tylertown. Georgetown. Monticello. Florence. Pearl. Lexie.
    I started out on Highway 437. It’s called Lee Road by the locals because supposedly General Lee marched down it with his troops. I stopped at the corner store to fill the gas tank. As is usual with corner stores, there is a dumpy matron positioned behind a counter who serves you without a smile, suspiciously eyeing any stranger who walks in; I wasn’t a regular so I didn’t get a cordial “hello,” just a stare. I was in and out of there but I did notice on the way out the cover of the Times-Picayune: Local Gas Stations Fudge Tax Rates. Through no fault of their own, it seemed, local corner gas stations were overcharging tax on goods without realizing it. 
    From seven in the morning until three in the afternoon everyone was in church. Every time I drove by it was a different stage of worship: the gathering at the steps; the Sunday waltz inside the main doors, the big-bosomed belles pulling themselves out of their cars in time for service. By half-past one I was still seeing the same scene, becoming a little afraid that I would be caught inside this never-ending reel of praise and worship. On Sunday along Highway 27, the only “hopping” places are the churches. If you aren’t in church you’re reminded of Jesus on every corner. Jesus saves. Jesus the Lord of All. Have you read your bible today? Jesus over Tunica. Get right with Jesus. It is a constant reminder inscribed on every inscribable pulp, branch, and tree. Names of the churches stick in my mind: Abundant Life Church. Starlight Church. New Life. Living Word. King Solomon’s Church (White and small with a big propane tank out front with a graveyard on the side). Cornerstone Church. New Bethel. Saint Paul the Apostle (that was the one Catholic church I spotted). Some churches were plain white clapboard edifices while others were veritable theaters, replete with jeweled studded bas-reliefs on the sides which at night lit up in neon like the downtown cineplex. All the Baptist churches had similar architecture. Reddish brown buildings with a simple white steeple. The differing characteristics were the size and the extent of the stained glass windows. In one town, the largest Baptist church I saw, boasted tall windows detailing the life of Jesus in stained glass. Graven images, I thought. But no. These windows are didactic, not worshipful.
    Also status. The name of the pastor printed in large letters on the front. People ask, “Which church do you got to?” At the Catholic church, the priest processes out with a handful of children at his side, the electric organ bubbling away orthodox tunes while boys sitting next to me snicker and yawn. At Greater Starlight Church there is a menagerie of color and light, the pastor not processing out but skipping, jumping. Not chaotic. It is very organized. As if everyone knows their role. The older folk get into it much more, while some of the younger people fold their arms. In one church there is a coffee shop just outside the sanctuary so you can get your joe on the way out, just before picking up the kids at Children’s church. Clever. One church proclaims: Make your family apart of our family. Doughnuts and jam available in the parish hall after Mass. Signup sheets for vacation bible school.
    I swear I was waiting to see Manly Pointer come out of church with his hard top bible and shitty grin, gin underneath the flaps of his books. But I didn’t seem him. Nor Hulga. Everything looked clean and decent. But I didn’t check the contents of folks’ bibles. The dilapidated Hard Times junkyard was certainly O’Connoresque. As well as the propinquity of the bars to the churches. The downtowns were unchanged; old store fronts. Some closed up with boards while others still open for business. 
    Walking the streets of Jackson on a Sunday afternoon confirmed my suspicion the South is still alive. A car stopped at an intersection I wanted to cross. The window rolled down. A beefy African American woman eyed me down. “Wanna come to my place?”
    “Ummm. No. Have a good day,” I said.
    I walked around her car. And walked through the park. I realized the city was mostly dead. Everything was closed on a Sunday. But the park was full of people. And the few cars circulating traffic were ladies looking for a quick fix. I was not really in the mood to pay out cash for a quickie, especially with a beefy lady. And none of the blokes in the park looked that attractive. So, I found my mom’s car and fled Jackson and headed for the burbs. Ate Chinese food. Found the interstate and avoided the Christ Haunted route.