Sunday, 12 July 2009

Opening the furnace door (day seventeen and eighteen)

The largest thing alive in the whole wide world. It weighs over a thousand tons. It's taken over 2,200 years to reach its colossal height. Old people come here to feel young. Tall people come here to feel small again. My heart feels full of youth. Blood lacks oxygen, it's woozy up here.

These old songs, they conjure it all back up again. The words still slip quicksilver quick from my flat and sharp tongue. Motorway yellers and hollers, vest wearing pick up drivers head shaking and growling from the inside lane.

It's close to desert now. Sand spills out and encroaches. One day it will invade and no one will be able to sweep it away. A sandstorm strips it down to plasterboard, smoothes the panels to a polished splinter free sheen. Everyday is like a beach day. Sandcastles in your bedroom. Floppy and sweltering. You burn some more oil to keep yourself cool. People aren't meant to live here, but that's the way America likes it. The US of A will triumph. Nature will be bowed to man's needs. The desert will become an oasis, and the golf course will be irrigated. Heaven forbid Mr Johnson would not be able to swing his three wood on a Sunday morning.

This motel is the kind of joint a hooker would use to entertain the lonesome businessmen. A no heart fuck on an iron mattress. Trousers down, wash your cock. Don't kiss me. No one kisses me any more.

I have been driving forever. All I can see is the upside down V of the road pointing to a distant vanishing point. Disappear here. Joshua trees are all prehistoric and spiny. Scrub repeating. A photoshop, or a copy paste. A computer render by a graphic designer with a severely limited imagination. Occasional truck stops are scattered along the highway. Petrol station, diner, antiques store, a few clapboard clapped out homes. Just a stop going on somewhere else.

Calico ghost town is the authentic turned fake. Once, this was real. Then dollar signs flashed with gung ho greenback. All these old miner's huts, patched up and air conditioned, with a concrete floor. Please do not photograph each other wearing our hats. Outside feels like a hair dryer. Odd spots of authentic equipment are rusting in fenced off sections, ignored amongst the milieu of money begging. All trace of historic and social value has been erased into a shame. Hundreds of miners lived here, nowhere. And the town died. All will come away having no idea about what it was like mining here, what family life was like, why everyone left.

The fast food joint feels like a Western, and we haven't even left California. A bulbous fellow is frozen in billowing dungarees, a distended abdomen folding over his lap. He's seen too much. Or maybe he never saw anything. Chewing the cud and bleaching out in these desert ovens. Those bones are well shielded.

Closer and closer to Vegas, the roads spread their fingers wider and wider. Swathes of desert concreted out, too hard to cross. Tactical casino placement 101- place gambling palaces in a locale where no one will want to go outside. Fact- Vegas contains 90% of all the world's neon (not a fact). The staff could fill a large village. Every inch of the hotel is driven to consumption. No one explains the rules. Just buy some chips, put it all on red, house wins. Erode your magnetic strip, what else are you going to do here? City of sin, city of sleaze. Hookers direct to your room. Your every need fulfilled. The citizens are hidden away servants, feeding the splurging bacchanalian masses. They don't know what happens outside of Vegas. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Nothing happens in Vegas.

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