Phoenix is happening

22 March 2013

I’m not sure if Phoenix is happening in the way that groovy cats would like it to be. That will be determined by tonight and tomorrow’s exploration. 

I do know that I am in Phoenix with The Hippo. (She may be advocating for a sobriquet change to Falcon, so prepare yourself gentle souls.)

The Hippo/Falcon is out attending to her board* duties while I sit in the hotel room clicking away at the computer keys to chronicle our travel carryings on. The sounds of Fiona Apple play through the tinny speakers of my computer. I purchased her latest offering, but opted not to bring it on this road trip. Perhaps soon. 

Travel – We have bits of a continental breakfast in our hotel. I pour a mix of caf and decaf into a styrofoam (we’re still really using styrofoam?) cup, anticipating we will patronize a coffee shop soon. We leave Flagstaff around 10:00 am. The electronic female-sounding robot who lives in The Hippo/Falcon’s mobile device guides us onto the interstate. I quickly realize the lack of adequate caffeine will not bode well for the drive through the windy, cactus-filled desert roads. We stop at a coffee shop that exists nearly everywhere in these United States. I order a large coffee. We hit the road again.

We listen to Ke$ha’s album Warrior. I bought it on a whim, but I enjoy it with only a small amount of shame. 

“We’re gonna die young!” That hasn’t happened, but I understand the sentiment. 

The Hippo/Falcon, with the help of the robot lady stuck in the phone, guides us to a barbecue joint she (The Hippo/Falcon) visited a long time ago. We learn it was on Bar Rescue, which is similar to Restaurant Rescue and Restaurant Makeover and Kitchen Makeover and those other shows except it is on Spike TV and deals specifically with ice cream stands. I’m only kidding. It deals with bars. You know, like the ones you can’t get on your phone in this remote part of the USA. 

We immediately identify ourselves as tourists when we walk in to the place and are instantly befuddled at how to react when NO ONE GREETS US AT THE DOOR. We see no sign giving us the usual binary (Please Seat Yourself:Please Wait To Be Seated). What do we do? Should we mosey on up to the bar, utilize the spittoon and order a cold sarsaparilla? I lead us to a table and we sit. A man finally speaks across the room. “Hey. How y’all doing?” The Hippo/Falcon and I both yell back that we are doing fine and inquire as to the same regarding this fine bastion of manners. 

The man is talking to someone on his cell phone. 

We hide our shame by looking at the menus, admiring the “cow hide” seat covers and muttering about something I don’t remember.

A server, perhaps THE server, comes up to our table. Besides an ability to pick up and drop off items at our table while never slowing below four miles per hour (16 kg) she has the special skill of looking like Kate Middleton if Kate Middleton lived in the Arizona desert and waited tables at Kid Chilleen’s Bad Ass Barbecue & Steakhouse (or whatever they renamed it following the Bar Rescue). The Hippo/Falcon does try to order sarsaparilla in a bottle, but apparently this is one item Bar Rescue deemed no longer acceptable. So we order barbecue chicken and Southwestern brisket.

Our barbecue is exactly what it should be. The slaw and baked beans kick my ass (in a good way). 

Full of slow-cooked meat and fast memories, The Hippo/Falcon and I drive onward to Phoenix. 

I don’t know how she tolerates me some days. I cannot stop marveling aloud at the sheer awesomeness of the desert. The yellows and sun-burnt oranges. The miles of cactus. The sheer feeling of dry beauty and immediate danger. The place takes your breath and moisture away at the same time. 

I remark the I-17 into Phoenix is one of the most beautiful interstates I have seen. It is true. It is wide and spacious and marked by palm trees and images of salamanders shaped into the rocks on the side of the road. 

Phoenix is happening to me. Let’s see if I can happen to it.

 

*I mistakenly referred to a conference as our trip impetus in a previous post. We are really here for a board meeting.

Only the parts that matter

24 October 2012 (still)

You, dear friend, know I went to Wendover with The Hippo and her family in the not-too-distant past. Please enjoy these photographs of a portion of our adventures.

I am in the car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am surprised to be in the car.

 

I am pleased to be in the car.

 

Could have helped the Donner Party.

 

It’s a sign. (Plaque)

 

Reward for making it over the mountains and across the desert.

 

I felt so welcomed, that I urinated in the urinal.

 

Barrier your soul to the desert winds.

 

First meal of the trip. Unable to eat again for 17 hours.

 

-JPR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best served warm

27 September 2012

This weekend, The Hippo and I begin watching Once Upon A Time.

Today is grey, cloudy and full of impending precipitation. Two women play tennis on the court next to my office. Soon their instructor arrives. He lobs a ball at one. She returns it. He lobs a ball at the other. She returns it. Thus, are professionals made.

I cannot stop myself from flipping off the Orrin Hatch billboard everyday. It irks me to no end. I want other motorists to know he is not worthy of office. I cannot let him stare smugly down, thinking we all adore him.

A Kansas City atheist group create a billboard calling for “Godless Government.” If only.

The god myth does much to ruin lives. Some persons say we should respect all religious beliefs, even ones disallowing women to wear pants or hold office or be of greater value than donkeys. I  cannot agree with this opinion. Oppression is oppression, no matter what cultist myth it hides behind. For me, tolerance for beliefs does not extend without question.

I meet a Libertarian who does not like either current US presidential candidate.

I eat a bean and cheese burrito from Smith’s Marketplace for lunch. My stomach begins protesting before I even swallow the first bite. I battle my way through, refusing to give up. (I’m sure this is what Winston Churchill had in mind.)

I also get a cookie with icing. The cookie has an icing spider web design with a plastic spider (which can be worn as a ring) at the top of the web.

I have eight minutes of lunch remaining.

I am getting sleepy.

I finish reading Grant Morrison’s Supergods. I think about technology, humanity and technologised humanity. I remember essays I read in graduate school calling modern humans cyborgs. We are part-human, part-machine, all superhero.

—–

Last night, the rain started. The Hippo says it woke her up at 4:00 AM. I hear it when I wake at 6. I feel calm. Rain is safety and childhood and comfort.

I, as always, want the rain and cloudiness to persist all day, all week, all year. I know this is impossible in the desert.

On the way to work, the car hydroplanes briefly in a puddle of water. A light on the car’s dashboard display indicates “Traction Active.” The Hippo tells me of the voice she hears when this light blinks into existence. She hears a soothing, slightly robotic Sigourney Weaver.

I see blue sky and my disappointment builds. I need to live in a grey, dark climate.

I step out for lunch into the cold air. I take it in like a friend who visits too rarely, but is always welcome. The sky is white with clouds like the sky levels in Super Mario Bros. games. The clouds are so low I imagine I will see one drifting beside me as I drive home on the interstate. I am alive. I live in a desert and I don’t know why.

I know exactly what to listen to on a day like this. I pick out Radiohead’s Hail To The Thief and King of Limbs and Richard Hawley’s Lady’s Bridge. I start with Mr. Hawley and find his smooth voice a perfect complement to the calm, still day.

I like dark, depressive music that explores sadness, hurt and tragedy and does not always come out the other side. I enjoy thinking about death and hurt because they feel so real and prevalent. They are to be welcomed and embraced, not ignored.

I continue reading where I left off in Foucault’s Discipline & Punish. Where Supergods was the story of getting outside of our bodies to become superhumans, Discipline & Punish is about getting beyond the body to break the human spirit instead – scars that are difficult to heal.

Instead of beating, quartering and hanging criminals, we prevent them from voting and driving and obtaining gainful employment. We judge their souls.

—–

Today, Memaw (my grandmother) has surgery to clean out her carotid artery. I talk to her yesterday and she is in good spirits. She says she loves me until the day she dies. And then, just as I think it, she says, “And beyond.”

I tell The Hippo as we walk to the elevator this morning. I lose composure.

Memaw comes through the surgery ok.

I buy krab salad from the Smith’s Marketplace deli. I ask the woman behind the counter if they will have the hot wings I like again. She has unbreaded wings that she will cook tomorrow. Now I must return.

I buy TownHouse crackers. The box has an Olympic promo and tells me to play a game called Throw For The Gold. From the box:

Rules

– What you need: 3+ players and a ball

– Pick 1 player to go first and give him/her the ball. Remaining players move to the opposite side of the yard.

– Player 1 tosses the ball toward the others and calls out a medal value for catching it. The values are Gold (3 points) Silver (2 points) Bronze (1 point)

The remaining players try to catch the ball before it touches the ground to win the medal. Player 1 continues making tosses until another player collects enough medals to add up to 10 points. They then become the new thrower, and the game starts over!

After reading the rules, I realise I only want to be the person keeping score as tossers lob balls at fools.

Summer Sanders is on the back of the box hawking her “Super Red Pepper Spread.” She is called a “Gold Medal Mom,” but I have no idea what qualifies her. Any fuck can make a vegetable spread.

A box of gourmet mini cinnamon rolls claims “Best Served Warm.” I initially want to have the job of testing this claim, but I think of other foods that may need to be tested as well – coffee, butter, pork. (“Pork is best served warm on account of I died when I ate it cold.” – Former-food tester.)

I have a sudden urge to pretend to be Mormon to get a job.

-JPR