Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Embedded in Redwoods (day seven and eight)

Business first- in unabashedly uncryptic terms, i didn't mention some things we've seen, or done.
Powell's City of Books- a block wide bookstore. Shelves and shelves and shelves and shelves. I spent too much money there, and looked more like a prick than I normally do. Voila:

Also, we visited Forks, where Twilight is set. I don't know anything about the books/film other than the fact that Robert "OMGZ he is soooo fit LOLZ" Pattinson appears, and there's some sexist Mormon lecturing subtext. So seeing a sad little town with nowt else cash in its lumber heart to ride the money train is kind of heartwarming.

That's enough of that.

In two days we have driven almost 600 miles. My neck vertebrae are gradually retreating into my skull. I feel shrunken, wizened and ancient. The ancient redwoods clamber skyward, and I feel small for the first time. I could be at any point in history, and this would still look the same. Endless creaking wood. Needles layered up and layered up into cushionsoft mattress. Endless creaking wood.

They topple over us, greybrown bark of tattered patina stretching upppppp and further up. Tallland. Fatland. Highland. Infinite land. Over 1,000 miles covered and we're not even done with the west coast. We'll never do the west coast. The world is big, but America is bigger.

Oric is sad and dead. Some monsters rampaged through here. The shops wish they'd been destroyed. Carvings approximate a grizzly bear. Nobody's trunk is big enough to offer it a home. The rugged Oregon man pumps gas, patrolling the forecourt bearded and oily. No one dares intrude on his concrete kingdom. We cower on our noble steeds, meek, mute, and beholden.

The blue collar's hollers attract the waitress's attention. Demanding and slyly demeaning. We have paid our taxes. We want our beer. The lowly overweight Mexican brings me the onion rings I summoned with my mind. Magic. We return our dishonestly appropriated goods. My belly explodes with omelette's and bread and milkshake. My food baby gurgles, bloated happy greedburps. A grizzled hobo perplexed in overalls, watches the traffic down the street. The stars are his blanket, the sidewalk his mattress. He feasts from bins. He feasts.

The SF shore is cool, waves rolling in from somewhere out there, way out there, out in the Pacific, the deep blue. Sun rolls wind rolls breakers rolls sand makes dunes. Grass fixes. Tramps in the bus shelter howl a nonsense brouhaha into the chilled maritime air. They know not what they say. The road was pockmarked with survivors- weathered beards and anoraks, a bivouac and a rucksack. They are organic. They grew with the road. Some have a thumb out. Some don't. They are thirty miles from anywhere. They are nowhere. They are everywhere.

This suburb is an art deco spread. Pastel colours in complementary shades. Faded and splattered. Diners fill the corners with cushioned booths and fat fried dollops. Their formica tabletops are encrusted with decades of milkshake, mayonnaise and ketchup. The owner is very San Fransiscan, right? Cable cars clang by, horns tooting a passive aggressive welcome, Whirlwhizz shuffle. A trolley falls over, a wheel snapped off. The turquoise motel spins out and away into sunrises and sunsets eternal. The little boy plays a funeral march on his penny whistle.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Towtrucks (day five and six)

"We're not going to need the towtruck any more..."
Officer Ozawa

The car was seconds from being towed, and our sunbathing Couch Park vibe was totally killed. The cops are so unthinking. $40 our penalty for being stoopid.

Portland has no real attractions. There are no standouts. Character is not created by architecture old, or new, or outlandish. Still, an atmosphere exists. If Seattle was Coventry (errrrr...) then Portland is Nottingham. Edges of deprivation, but an essential arty/hipster/creative scene. You are no one if you don't have a tattoo and a dog. Or a dog tattoo. Or a tattooed dog. Vegetarian food is widely available. Coffee shops proliferate the corners of the leafy suburbs.

Hey! scenesters

The hostel is devoid of life. Everyone is locked away and the dorm lies like public school in the summer months. My downy leg spread their cutaneous fat over the crumpled maroon sheets. This house is a ghost house that no one is haunting. Terrordream arpeggios bay at my ears.

The kitchen is frequented by the traveller. He sold his worldly goods to travel the world. He sold his worldly goods so he could perpetually bore people with his stories. The stories that every traveller has. "Angkor Wat is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." Your insight is unique. I am enlightened. Can I see your snapshots?

Old man's complaints demand roadside star jumps.
Roadside star jumps demand outsider attention.
Outsider attention demands I touch my toes.
I touch my toes.
The road enters my cavity.
I am sore.

In the market a dog poses for dollar bills, its owner watching a few feet back, stern arms folded, drill sergeant legs & doughy steelback. Society's casualties wander the maelstrum , cribbing for coins, pity eyes sunken and staring.

So many poses...

The grass of central Oregon is a brown swathe of whisper dry flint strike spark burn burn burn infernus so close so close just wait. The Portland hipsters with their dogs and tattoos fade out into the haze of campgrounds and grocery stores. Their skinny jeans are illsuited to tented cities besieged by RVs and winnebagos, bear proof lockers a conscience salve. Espadrilles (sic) (sick) fill with sand and the pale slack skin reddens.

The towman returns to his wife and children, and sighs at the world. America carries on its cyclical travails. We continue journeying south.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Juan de Fuca and other stories (day three and four)

"The UK? That's in Germany, right?"
Sophia, the helpful Alamo lady

Car dramas are not fun for anyone. Each day has seen a near accident. Today, we nearly go off the road. ('We' is meant in the sense it's Sophie's fault. I don't trust her). Yesterday Oscar tries to cut someone up. What a twat.

This ain't the America you see pixellated onto your LCD/cathode ray screen. This is the wilderness bit. Roads strung between outposts set up for nugatory/trivial/forgotten reasons. Do these places exist outside of a place for people to count down the miles to, before they get onto somewhere else? We pass lone workmen strimming. Minor gardening on the roadside, twenty miles away from the nearest settlement. A task for Sisyphus.

You arrive into Aberdeen, and realise why Kurt Cobain wanted out. Aberdeen is a jumble of buildings looking sorry for themselves. Apologies in squares of concrete. The bowling alley feels the need to annouce that they are, indeed open. Port Angeles is a strip of motels and fast food by the water. Divetowns- nowhere, but somewhere for some people, no one people, but someone people to other people.

In the morning the car winds through pine forest with mountainside dropping down to the left. Gasp gasp gasp we do. It wears you out. Lucky Charms with a view. A sugar nirvana crisp aired soggy cerealed blissoutswoon. Sigh.

Mosses hang feathered beards on the wizened cedars. Dinosaurs stomped here first, their bones lie down there, deepdown, furtherdown, fossilised & waiting endlessly. A coastal sweep and we walk on ruby sands (grey seasmoothed pebblestones). Skeletal Douglas firs pick up sticks wave scoured and salt bleached and chipped cling to the edge of the continent. Zombie beach. The Pacific spools out until Russia. A slip of a plate and we all crash to the floor. Shattered.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

And then... Seattle (day one and two)

"It kind of looks like Coventry"
Sophie, on Seattle

Seattle looks like this:
As far as I know, it never got blitzed. And I'd quite like being sent to Seattle.
In a generic list format (I'll write some more interesting stuff when I think of it. I'm still cliche alert jetlagged) here is why Seattle is "quite nice".

1- The International Fountain- it does a show like the Ballagio in Las Vegas, on the hour, whilst tinny music plays on the tannoys. It's quite nice. Better than the Space Needle. You can see photos on the interwebs. It's just as good that way. And Baudrillard would say it's the same anyways.

2- Pikes Place Market- fish is thrown between the 'mongers, vegetables are piled in rainbows stalls, Sophie's fortune promises her death. Didn't say when though. Loads of independent stores, one of which sold a Paul Daniels magic book.

3- Utilikilts- where Jean Paul Gaultier failed, Utilikits will succeed. Kilts for the working man. Samuel L Jackson is probably a happy customer. The owners clearly enjoy marketing based on flashing your bollocks at the ladies.

4- The view from the Bank of America Tower- 73 floors up. Views are grand. The floor is shared with the traffic report radio station. Is that how they all do it?

5- They have a Lush, and it played Matt and Kim. I jived and talked about shampoo.

6- Monorail.

The first Starbucks is like every Starbucks that came after. I am a consumer. I am sorry.

There was absolutely no Frasier Crane merchandise anywhere. Maybe it's because they only filmed the Frasier Crane Day episode up here, I don't know. Poor Frasier. So little love from his home city.

Al from Home Improvement now presents Family Fortunes over here. Does this make him more like Les Dennis, or Vernon Kay? (Or Bob Monkhouse?) We try harder to understand baseball. O! The vaingloriousness of America, inventing all their own sports, just so they can be champions. The World Series...

The loneliness of Jehovah's Witnesses recruitment

Pioneer Square is where the vagrants hang. In a trans-Atlantic battle between the homeless, then the US would own it. They have ragged clothes. They have big beards. They have no social security. They have desperation. Everyone seems to pretend they don't exist. Tragedies of capitalism etc etc etc. It's just the same everywhere etc etc etc. It's still tragic etc etc etc.