Travel Diary: Snowville, Utah, Et. Al.

Snowville, Utah
This blog is dedicated to Ian, Scott, Glenn, Tyler, Pam, Bonnie, Morgan and Jonathan, confirmed readers and friends. Thanks for following me on my journey.

I had driven from Eve’s house in Fort Collins, Colorado into the Rocky Mountains on Tuesday of this week.
Old Fall River Road in the Rocky Mountains:

The Rockies are stunning. I took the Old Fall River road and I saw a glacier and at the top of the summit there is a tourist trap filled with trinkets and a hot cup of coffee which I needed after touching that glacial ice. I spoke with a family from Illinois whose son had lost their digital camera in a stream and the father was wading through the rapids like a rainbow trout to retrieve the device. I was shocked that he would go to such great lengths. Are human beings akin to trout?

I gripped my camera a little tighter after witnessing that particular travesty.

Driving in my tiny Toyota Echo, I really got a chance to witness firsthand the mountains in the upper portion of the state. I decided to stay off the interstate and drove down Highway Forty through Grand Lake at the southern end of the Rocky Mountain Park, into Steamboat Springs (which is a quaint resort town), Craig (which is like Slidell), and stopped in this really small town called Maybell for the night. I stayed in the Red Rose Motel. No thrills here. I could not find a place to stay in the bigger town of Craig and I still had five hours to go until I reached Salt Lake. I needed a place to stay so thankfully there were vacancies in Maybell which is about 6,000 feet up and boasts no more than a few buildings, an intersection, a convenience store and the rough tumble of the Colorado highlands.
Highway Forty in Colorado:

When I woke up in Maybell I felt refreshed and at peace. I was able to see where I was in the daylight and I was ready to get back on the road, but I wanted to take a photo of Pamela, the proprietor with her dog in front of her large sign. I said my goodbyes to Maybell, skipped breakfast, but I got hungry once I went west awhile on forty and stopped in Dinosaur, Colorado and ate an omelet in a particularly local dive. The people who had been staying next to me in the motel in Maybell where there too, so I guess we both had the same trajectories.

I wrote some postcards and thought it would be cool to mail them from lovely Dinosaur which boasts a really ugly statue of a triceratops.
There were many finds of dinosaur fossils in this area and you can spend hours in Dinosaur National Monument but I declined but I was disappointed that I did not find the huge dinosaur statues that you may have found at one time on Route 66 which I remember from a Pee Pee Herman movie.

As you can tell from the pictures here, the drive is fun and beautiful. I probably stopped at least fifteen times, got out of my car and looked around and noticed the prairie dogs and foreign flora that you do not find in Louisiana.

I made it to Salt Lake City just time for Pioneer day, July 24th. My friend Jono was not in town, so I staked out the place myself. There were fireworks that I watched from the roof of the Monaco Hotel in downtown Salt Lake. I met a drag queen named Maya but I declined her invitation to be my tour guide. I just did not have the money to pay her for her services!!!!!!! She was nice though and I gave her my Bourbon Street cigarette lighter. She said she was a party girl and she was attempting to get down from a really high high. I nodded and became tentative. It is unlike me to be so shy, but I was!

I had a burger and fries in a downtown private bar. In Utah, apparently, taxes are high for establishments that serve alcohol because of the Mormon influenced government. So, many places are private and you need a membership to get in but I payed the five-dollar temporary membership and enjoyed a light beer with a slice of orange. I met this guy named Nate who sells insurance but is interested in Taoism. He reflected with me about his wife which I obediently listened with feigned attention. He recommended a book about the end of the world called 2012 by a guy whose last name begins with “Pinch.”

Armageddon bored me and I drank a little too much and so ambled my way back to the hotel.

My room is deliciously painted in greens and yellows. I really liked the feel of the place.

This morning I left Salt Lake and am now in a Wendy’s in Tremonton, Utah where the people are friendly and the women wear pioneer veils.

I am hoping to make it to Ruy’s place tonight in Corvallis, Oregon.
More news when I get there.

P.S. I have more pics but I misplaced my camera's USB connector! So, until then ...


Travel Diary: Fort Collins, Colorado

Well, I made it Eve's house, finally. I am hogging her internet so I can post this blog tonight before I go to bed. We had dinner tonight with her lab partner; Seth cooked. Isn't he nice?

I saw the Rocky Mountains from a distance for the first time. I had pulled off the interstate to drive down a gravel road so I could get out and stretch my legs. A deer, or what I thought was a deer, was sauntering along, not paying me much mind. I looked up into the orangcicle sky and could see the shadows of the Rockys in the distance. Wow, that was breathtaking, even from such a great distance the range dominates the sky as if someone had colored the mountains into the blue with a dark grey marker.

I now know why I took this trip. I was looking for something peaceful akin to what I saw today. My life has been so hectic internally and externally I needed an excuse to see beauty.

The elevation up here makes the air thin so it is harder to breathe until you get acclimated.

Tonight we went to the drive-in. It was great. The tickets were only six dollars and the screen is tiny against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

Here are some pics:


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.


Photo Essay: Life Writing Inspired By Familial Images

Organized around a series of photographs taken in Louisiana, Greig Roselli writes a photographic essay evoking themes of home, childhood, desire, and loss.
  1. Landscape
 Figure 1. "Schwinn" 2005
Landscape Shot With Schwinn Bike
I took this particular landscape shot in front of an old slaughterhouse; now it serves as a greenhouse-cum-chicken coop about ¾ miles from the Abbey church where I live. I call this shot a “landscape” using a very simple definition: there are no people. One can have a landscape with people but I think their backs would have to be turned away from the camera, more like mounds than actual people. In this photograph, there is only the sense that “a person has been here” — the already noted bicycle and circular garden hose coiled like a snake and the potted plant point to this. The bicycle sits there as a kind of emblem — or at least that is how I envisioned it when I took this photo — to stand in for someone who was there but has left the frame of the photograph. Maybe there could be a part two for this photo with a figure standing in the place of the bicycle. I show people this photograph and they seem to gravitate toward the bicycle intuiting its connection to an individual person.
True Story (Sorta)
“Whose bicycle, they say?” and I say it was mine and I make up a story about how this was the bicycle I used to ride to work on and my friends would laugh at me because it was a woman’s bicycle. I would shrug it off and say that it made no difference as long as it got me to where I wanted to go. I parked my bike across the street from the restaurant where I worked, behind an air conditioning unit. I used to work at a seafood restaurant and my job was to prepare the crayfish and crabs for boiling. We would pour the creatures, their claws like thousands of pleading arms, into the seasoned water, get the heat going, and once they were boiled, we would serve up portions to the customers. After the shift was over — around midnight or one o’clock — I would drive back home on my bike even though there weren’t any streetlights; I would just pray a “Hail Mary” or just sing really loud to scare away the ghosts. This is a true story; I mix up the details in the telling. It was true that I would ride a bicycle to work, but it was not necessarily the same bicycle in the photograph. The story seemed true enough; it was not as if I were fabricating a story; the bicycle was an emblem for me; the bicycle told many stories. Considering myself a storyteller, I would tell variations of stories from this one photograph, taking elements of different aspects of life and bring it back to the bicycle: for example, my bike was a green Schwinn and it had been stolen one year when I was thirteen and I didn’t get it back until I serendipitously won a brand new bike at the county fair. It never did feel the same; or the time I rode my bike in heavy traffic without glasses; that was a tad bit dangerous; All of this was true, but they were superfluous to the artifact of the photograph of the bike taken above for that particular bike in the picture had no particular emotion for me. It was an old bike lying around the abbey that I had used that day to ride to the greenhouse. I took the picture with the bike in mind, though, and when I developed the photo I scanned it into my computer and applied a kind of matte effect that you might have noticed. I wanted to give the picture a painterly effect. I wanted to squeeze out the realistic parts of the photo — and yes I know this sounds excessively Romantic — but I wanted the picture to stand for something ontological: whether it be innocence or the journey or even experience. I think the Romantics did try to do this in the paintings attributed to Romanticism. But, they did it with Greek mythology. For example, the story of Daphne turned into a tree or a nature scene with dryads and nymphs at a still pool; the scene was too perfect; it was a landscape in a Platonic sense of the word. For, me, perhaps, that is what I was trying to get at in my “bike” photograph and which is why I made so many variations on the story without much moral dilemma. I wanted an image to stand for some kind of eidos that included my experience but somehow rose above self-absorption. For who cares about the story of someone’s bike unless it mimics something about life. The mimetic of the bike suggests the desire for freedom — the stories I told were certainly about freedom or the loss of freedom — so it was kind of a reification of desire I was looking for (which is only a dead desire according to Adorno) — a packaged photo that I could pull out to re-tell the story of an experience (my experience) but in the way of an artist.


Talk at Tulane University: Salman Rushdie in New Orleans

   Salman Rushdie came to New Orleans last night to speak to a large assembly at Tulane’s Dixon Hall. If you don’t know already, Rushdie is a novelist known for Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses. He was placed on the Ayatollah Komeini’s “to kill list” because it was thought Satanic Verses defamed Islam. The fatwa against his life has been subsequently lifted, but it has not lifted the chatter that has circulated around the author and his controversial persona.
People Condemned Rushdie's Novel Satanic Verses Without Even Having Read It
    At the event, Rushdie spoke about how people condemned his novel without even having read it, going so far as to recount the story of a man who had publicly protested his book, but later on, read the novel, and exclaimed, “What was the big deal?”  “Asshole,” Rushdie said. “Why do people who condemn books never read them?” The people who want to get rid of books are the same people who say, “I am not a book person”!  That is the ludicrousness of the world, writ large. Rushdie also told a story about how Stephen King called up his publisher after having read Satanic Verses and realizing it was a great novel, told the publishers if they refused to put Rushdie’s book on the shelf then he was going to demand they remove all of his book from publication and call ten other best selling authors and demand that they do the same!  Rushdie laughed when he told this story saying, “And now, my book has outsold theirs!  There is no justice!”
According to Rushdie, A Novelist Writes "Fictions" But Tells More Truths than Politicians!
    He spoke frankly about politicians and how they do not tell the truth.  He said the novelist tells the truth because he is not ashamed to say in the beginning that his story is fiction! He spoke about the uselessness of fiction.  He said he was tired of the Utilitarian argument that novels have to be useful if they are to be read. Whatever happened to unadulterated pleasure? Alice in Wonderland, he said, is not a useful book. Its sole purpose is to create pleasure.  God forbid, anyone have a little pleasure!
       Perhaps, people are threatened by pleasure.  Are we really like the Puritan who thinks in his heart and is distraught that somewhere, somebody is having fun?
       Perhaps the role of literature is to open up the world just a little bit and to expand the cosmos.

Rushdie Makes Jibes About President Bush (And the Conservatives in the Crowd Squirmed A Bit)
     Rushdie was witty last night.  He made us laugh. He jabbed Bush. And he made the conservatives in the house queasy.  I saw a politician in the audience, but I cannot remember who it was (maybe it was Melinda Schwegmann): We don’t have many Salman Rushdie’s in our culture today, though.  Gone are the days of the public satirists. Perhaps, you can still find them on Youtube in the likes of Chris Crocker or on television with the Daily Show but the likes of Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain are few and far between.  It is like when they asked Dorothy Parker to speak about Horticulture.  “You can lead a horticulture but you cannot make her think!” (You have to say that joke out loud to get it!).

A Man's Daimon Is His Ethos
    I thought it was interesting that Rusdie was in New Orleans.  I think this was his first visit and I am glad I decided to attend. It invigorated me to hear a public intellectual speak who did not mouth the same tired babble over and over again.  I actually, got up and asked him a question. I had read an essay he had written on Heraclitus in Granta and he said his favorite quote from Heraclitus was "A man’s daimon (his character) is his ethos (or his fate)". So, I asked him, “What is Salman Rushdie’s daimon?”  He answered with another anecdote about him and his sister which I really do not recall the details because I was so nervous standing up there at the dais. It’s kind of nerve-wracking to ask a public intellectual a public question!


Book Review: The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald

Pairing image with text in a narrative is contradictory: the flowing voice of the narrator with the frozen, almost totemic, images, is a strange combination.  The experience of the novel is oddly anti-nostalgic. The recounting of memory, of four different German expatriates, in Sebald’s The Emigrants, the text reads like a journal entry, as if the reader has stumbled upon a found notebook, scribbled with memories, and affixed with images, almost as if, negating the idea of a novel.  The images gesture toward a heuristic, as if they are supposed to add meaning to the text.
    For example, the image of a train track, with a copse of trees in the background is coupled with “In January 1984 news reached me … that on the evening of the 30th of December … Paul Beryter, who had been my teacher at primary school, had put an end to his life” (27).  Floating above the narrative voice stands the image of a train track, taken at ground level as if the photographer were lying on his stomach on top of the rails.  The track curves a little to the right and vanishes out of view where the school teacher, apparently, “had lain himself down in front of a train” (27).  The “photographer” is the character, a stolen shot, of his own death.  Looking at the image, the punctum is the shot of the skewed line punctuated with the narrator’s voice.  The meaning of the passage is inextricably linked with the image itself.  Removed from the pastiche of story, the image is not a referent to the story; it could be inserted into any other narrative of train tracks in the woods, and take on another meaning, altogether.
    But, here, as if purposely placed to evoke expression, like the drawing of Beyaert’s classroom (33) coupled with the expression in the text of recognition of another classmate who schooled with the narrator under Bereyter’s instruction.  The two, “immediately recognized each other,” both separately reading in the British Museum, coincidentally looking up and noticing one another “despite the quarter-century that had passed” (33).  The drawing of the classroom seating plan somehow is supposed to evoke the chance meeting of the two students, and their discussion of their dead professor.
    The plan of the classroom, assigned by Bereyter as a classroom assignment, apparently an exercise in drawing space to scale, becomes a memento of both the student’s meeting together by chance in the British Museum, and also, an object representing their shared time in the same classroom in 1946.  The images are not seemingly “pictures” of the past. They are rather representations.  For example, the photographs of the school children seem to be archival, meaning that they are not autobiographical.  The narrator says, about the pictures, apart from his own shared experiences (not pictured) that he was “scarcely distinguishable from those pictured here, a class that included myself” (47).  But, you are not supposed to point him out.  Nor is the stern teacher in the background supposed to be Beyert.  It is as if the history is lost but the images remain.


Poem: "favor"

when you open your mouth it sounds like you’re going to say something horrible,
but instead, what comes out
is less worse than its preface:
your face all in a contorted mass,
because you are half-afraid what you’re going to say
will be muddled
the efficacy of your hold will be lost.

so you do that preface thing


with your face:

pull out your hands to the corners of the room,
your mouth opening to the scale of an italian frescoe,

downsizing your chin a bit —
almost wanting to be interrupted —
so that I can perhaps fill in the void for you

“i need you to take him to the doctor’s”

“i can’t find anyone else”

and it wouldn’t matter so much that he is asking for my time —
I have lots to give,
plenty of deferrals to stave off the tedium of whatever you want to call it

but it is in the tenacity of his stare,
the half-gaping mouth
and the reluctance to just come out and say it
that fuckin’ stuns me