Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Art by the Slice

After bugging the general delivery lady at the Quartzsite p.o. for days we finally went to the source this morning and picked up our canvas roll at the UPS in Blythe. Now I can roll it out on the desert floor and paint, ala Kerouac, maybe I will begin to sell it by the slice. Art by the Slice. "I'll take a foot and a half of the blue and brown roll please."

Ah, yes, art by the slice...

Monday, November 20, 2006


A strange phenomenon is Quartzsite. A sprawling, packed trailer, rv city. A kind of wierd commune of middle class and lower middle class elderly. Dusty, to say the least, the fine earth talcum rises with the arrival of more rv'ers everyday. The main strip is one long flea market. We have been camped out far in the desert at a nice location next to a wash, with weird purplish moutains in the distance and cactus all around. Very peaceful at night with the stars so bright over head--diamonds in a dark river. The meteors are incredible and one I saw last night looked like a motorcycle headlight was goin to crash through our window. Huge.

Lately we have been visited by coyotes and the night before last one sat ouside the rv and made hair raising noises trying to lure Hank out. We realize it is probably a female, inviting him for dinner. of course he does not know he will be the main course and pleads to get out. It is truly amazing how Hank can perturb animals to aggressive behavior. In Homer Alaska he stared at a sea lion until it attacked us and actually dove it's enormous girth up onto the dock after him. Hank just stood there waiting and ready with his glowing brown eyes until I jerked him away. On another occasion it was a mama moose that nearly hooved him to death but he stood just out of range and tormeted her with barks. This was actually a good thing as the moose was advancing on J while she walked from the cabin to the car.

Business is slower than slow on ebay but we do have a benefactor who keeps buying my art if it is priced right. We are thinking of moving since there is not Walmart within 80 miles and we need it for supplies. The desert is wonderful to paint, with no enervating neighbors but we need to be near supplies so we may move soon. Hope we don't have to as I love the solitude and being able to simply lay the canvas out on the desert floor to paint on.

Our fighting though has been abysmally bad lately and J is thinking of getting an apartment in Albuquerque. The moths and flying things she calls "the green things" and "the ant things" torment her as she is trying to read in the comfy little back bedroom. Heavan to me is hell to her in this regard. Of course we always seem to be okay with money coming in so we'll see.

Carla dnd Micheal are doing wonderfully with their window painting and they are doing great on ebay. But Phoenix is giving them shit about their rv, an older model that Micheal painted with his big murals of a tropical beach on one side and the fishing boat tossing in the waves on the other. Apparently a persnickety camp host at the campground they are staying was circling their rv the other day when she was talking to J over phone. "Is something leaking from there?" he said. "It might be a little condensation," said Karla. Before it was something about making sure to clean up their dog poop. That is how it goes with the older rv set. The nomadic souls who really live on the road. The retirees who look at their rv as an extension of their middle class lawns hate us for our lifestyle...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Rolling down the winding dark snake from Flagstaff with one headlight operational and Hank guiding the way with craned neck at the windshield we finally got to Phoenix at around 8pm. Got on 10 west in the city and brought her in for a nice landing at the Flying J a few exits up. I was weary and vibrating but not in a bad mood per se, until the abysmal FJ connection would not let us check my ebay bids (paintings), email or anything. We will not be paying for it again. At best it is poor but at night sometimes it is impossible to get online. We decided not to get the buffet even though it looked good and drove around looking for fast food. Drove through a Churches Chicken, a place that neither of us had ever tried but the drive-through menu was too difficult to navigate without ordering the meal combos and it seemed a tad expensive so we drove around until we found our old standby Wendy's. I was tirading by then about everything and at a stop light said, "Mmmmm. There's that old Phoenix smell, grass and golf shoes."

J was going down with my bad mood but she kept trying to uplift me with positive observations and in the Wendy's it just got worse. Finally, at the point of tears I shut up, but it was too late. Her good mood had been ruined by my black abysmals. We slept well at least, in spite of a lingering gasoline smell that permeates the back of Jodie's Revenge. We woke up together at about 6am and cuddled and rekindled our love vows so hopefully everything will be cool today as we make our last leg of the journey to Quartzite. We're both excited about this but I nearly ruined the morning when she asked if we should take a shower here and I told her we didn't have to. In the desert you can take a sand shower. Just rub your body down with sand. It's wonderful...I stopped myself from further sarcasms though...

We left Carla and Michael in Flagstaff where he has to paint some windows for a chain of grocery stores. The holiday season is great for Michael. He has been doing it for many years and has a nice cross country clientele built up.

Money is tight but all we need is a mailbox where we can have canvas sent and an internet supplier to upload paintings. It is going to be okay. Practically free rent and I can't wait to write about Quartzite, which has become quite a phenomenon among the RV community. It is unbelievably good fortune that we have this RV to live in and work out of. Getting here and trying to do this living in a weekly motel would have been hellish.

Here's a poem for the day...

Your nipples are mesas
my fingertips running
and dancing on top of
our laughter is
the wind's laughter

Monday, November 06, 2006


Jodie's Revenge was purring along nicely...if you think of the "purr" a Sopwith Camel airplane might make...about thiry miles from Gallup, when a sudden deflation in power signalled that I was out of fuel. I shouldered it and got the little red 2.5 gal. plastic gas tank and rode with J up to a Chevron ten miles up the road. Got the gas, drove back 14 miles to an exit after J told me she would not take the cop turnaround because of some people who she knew that had died in a crash when she was a kid doing that. I dumped the gas in and tried it but for some reason it would not fire up. Tried and tried to no avail and finally had to hook up jump cables with J's vehicle. Tried some more and frustratedly we decided it was not enough gas to register so we made the trip again. This time it started. Made it up to the Chevron and while I was filling we saw Carla approaching in her turquoise Cherokee with her flashers on. This was quite a thing since we had left Albuquerque a good two hours before them. She was having transmission problems she said. Too much fluid. A Minute later in rolls Michael with their 32 footer with the fishing boat named Pheadra (their daughter's name) painted on the side (rumbling through a green wavey ocean)...I just looked up from this and there it is in the parking lot just outside this (Flying J) restaurant! A beautiful mural that covers one whole side.

So we convoyed it toward Gallup, where we would stop and get coffee. Gallup is always a strange place to go through for me since I was actually put in jail there, only overnight in the Indian drunk tank, and hung out there for a week one time with a Dene (Navajo) woman named Sandra, a memorable experience, partially detailed in the short story linked to the right (Jack magazine).

The Indian drunk tank was an awful sobering experience, not to mention shiveringly cold. Filled with about thirty or more men in various states of toxicity, most of them flopping down to sleep on the cold cement. And there was an air of violence, electric and sickening, and I did my best to look as Native as I could, to blend in, but it was soon apparent that I was the only white dude in the place. So I did my best to be friendly (not too of course) and got in a quiet conversation with a guy called Kachina Man and his friend Bill. According to Bill, Kachina Man got his name from carving Kachina dolls that he sold to tourists. We hit it off okay and agreed to pool our change for some morning medicine. Then a short Native guy was brought in, built like the proverbial fire-plug with short clipped blue black hair, he was in a drunken sleep walking state and began urinating on the groups of passed out Native men. Nobody awoke to his amazingly good fortune but it seemed that he had a keg for a bladder and he kept wandering and peeing, peeing and wandering. Finally Bill got up and escorted him by the arm to one of the 8 inch rail-like benches that ran the entire thiry by thirty concret box of a cell. But the guy tore his arm away and continued on with his urinations. Bill tried again and the little man became hostile so Bill socked him, a sickening couple splats, and the guy got a horrified look on his face, horrible to witness, as he staggered to the cell door and began screaming for the guards to help him. No one came of course and now he was wandering around bleeding on everyone. Kachina Man looked at me and said, "There have been guys killed in here. The guards don't give a fuck."

"I thought they called this Protective Custody," I said to the amusement of everyone in earshot.

In the morning we filed out past a mean looking Mex guard. When I passed through he grabbed me and tossed me agains't the wall saying, "What the fuck are you doing in here?" searched me and sent me on my way.

It was Thanksgiving day. We wandered down the hill with a stream of men and women, freshly released, to a little liquor store. Bill and Kachina Man had waited for me and outside the store we pooled our change. Enough for a bottle but they said the place wouldn't serve Natives that early so I would have to buy it. "What the fuck, is this the old west?" I said, much to their amusement.

The stern, hateful white man with shiney glasses sold me a bottle of a beautiful ruby colored fluid with the word wine on it but I could tell by the men's expressions that it was a nasty brand. They shrugged and we finished it after one go around. I was among real drinkers and felt an affinity but now we had no more money. They told me about a free mission turkey lunch across town and we wandered thataway. On the way we stopped in an alley where a big Navajo guy with a milk jug of water was doing something with a can of hairspray. I watched curiously as he poked a hole in two opposite sides of the can and then began drizzling the shit into the half full water jug. They all took a sip. Then came my turn. I had to do it, partly out of curiousity and partly to fit in. It tasted horrible and landed with an expanding whump in my stomach. My eyes watered some. The big Navajo guy told me a friend of his exploded his stomach by lighting a cigarette right after he took a drink one time. We wandered on.

Outside the mission place a line had formed. Soon it was our turn. Inside was a fantastic feast of real turkey and all the trimmings dished out by nuns in habit. They filled our plates and we had a seat at one of the long tables filled with Indians. We were digging in when the black clad priest told us to bow our heads. We were going to pray. The hail Mary. Kachina Man started it out:

"Hail Mary full of grapes." Everyone in earshot burst out laughing. You could tell he had not intended it but the priest eyed him with the look of hellfire damnation...

Yesterday afternoon J and I pulled off to let the dogs pee and RV cool. I figured my gas was good and it was only another 30 miles to our Flying J destination in Winslow.
When I tried to herd them back in they resisted. Wanted to go with mama. But since her vehicle is full only one could go. It was Hanks turn. I brought Lucky to the side of the RV. She pretended she couldn't jump up. I lifted her. She spread her paws against the door. Finally I got her in and we left. Five miles from the Flying J I ran out of gas.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Westward Ho

Morning in New Mexico truck stop. We are ready to embark to Arizona. Had a nice breakfast with Michael, Carla and Lola yesterday at this really hip little restaurant in Albuquerque with incredible sculptures, a fantastic magazine rack, the best coffee, a hamburger the likes of which I will not see again in awhile. But the had a funny aftertaste though, formaldahydey, weird, so I set it aside. Put a little damper on my burger but I soon got over it. We all shared stories and for some reason I decided to share the one about me falling in the toilet and getting stuck when I was a wee tot with a desire to crap like a man, looking with childish disdain at the tiny baby pot next to the toilet I climbed up onto the real one and fell in and was stuck for awhile until my mother located my screams and pulled me out like a cork. I think this story segued from Michaels story of their child's traumatic experience with a propane toilet, swirling flames that bespoke the everlasting swirly that await Karl Rove and his ilk.

Then we drove back to the RV to get my van and put it in storage. A mess, as I realized the RV was leaking badly from one of the holding tanks. Not the gray water tank either. Some people were standing around in an RV next to it looking at it. So we hurried to the storage locker and almost couldn't get the van stored as my registration was stuck to my social security card and my insurance was lost somewhere. When we got that settled we headed back to Jodie's Revenge. I insisted to J that we move it since all sorts of scenarios of mega-tickets and losing the RV choked my over-active, over coffee stimulated brain. So J sighed, told me I was being a ninny and suggested we take it to Lola's where we had a date to pick up our trailer hitch and other sundry items Lola had for us. We made it to Bernalillo before I pulled over and told J it was running funny. Jodie's Revenge was eating up the hills this time (before it was a problem going up hills) but going down it whined and bucked and seemed to lose power. So we parked it at Raleys grocery store. J said she was going in for corn dogs while I let the dogs go potty. They were a shakey mess too, all the while driving looking at daddy, sweating and cursing behind the wheel from their perch on the shotgun seat and doghouse. When J came out with her bag of corn dogs we got in her car and headed up to Lola's, another thirty miles away.

We got to Lola's in the dark and she met us outside her RV. There was a pile of useful stuff, like a tiny sewing machine, a little oven stove, a lawn chair, a heater and I lashed that to the top of J's SUV and we talked for awhile. We both felt an ache to leave Lola behind since she is such a rare person and we will miss her. Suggested she come with us but she has to work some things out by herself. She mentioned how one of her dreams is to get a little piece of land where just people of like mind can live there, the same thing J and I have been talking about for years. I hope this can happen someday.

Jodie's Revenge ran like a dream on the way back so hopefully that is a portent to our westward venture. So, I must say goodbye to the Silent Scope video game that blares every minute--amid rifle shots and yells of pain, sexy music, a little virtual TV reporter--"A sniper must be unemotional, extremely patient and judge things correctly...not to mention having an excellent aim. He must finish his job with one shot. You have been selected. Go and complete the mission as a sniper for our special unit." Sexy music up with AVO: "Wow!"

A black woman, truck driver behind me looks over my shoulder and says in Kenyan accent: "Who is the woman who is going to read all that...she must be very important."

I tell her it's a blog detailing my travels around America.

Big smile. "So you are going to write a book about America."


"Just be sure to mention the black woman in the truck stop..."

"I will."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

John McCain, a flushed turd

Keep thinking about the John McCain attack on Kerry for his flubbed line. It was as if all those years of integrity, in life and as a POW, whether you agreed with him or not, were flushed. The one thing he had going for him, that crossed all political lines, is that people believed he was sincere. Now that is gone. He is just another turd politician, willing to say anything to project his party or himself and Americans once again feel duped by these crumbs.

Weird Day

Strange day yesterday while riding around in Jodie's Revenge, it kept bogging down so we could only make five mph sometimes, especially on hills. Finally I got out and tapped on the fuel pump with a large nail and it ran okay. Got plated and registered and now we are ready to move on.

Last night at the Flying J I saw a Drew Carey lookalike and, sitting at the counter was a spitting image of Hunter S. Thompson, hat and all, smoking a cigarette and commenting on the insanity of the TV news above him to a big white haired biker dude. It was uncanny and I'm fairly certain it must have been his ghost. Where else would you see a Hunter S. Thompson ghost but in a truck stop in New Mexico commenting on the pre-election blitz over coffee, cigarettes? J saw him too and was also amazed.

The Drew Carey lookalike was walking through the parking lot. J said it had to be intentional.

We realized Lucky's purpose for the RV. Guard rug. We discussed a scenario where a potential thief opens the unlockable door (key broken in lock) and Hank lauches out of the vehicle. The thief steps in, free to steal all kinds of things like paint covered clothes and chipped plates when, in the course of searching he trips over Lucky who is planted in the middle of the floor. There is a little puff of dust from her matted fur as he trips over her and is rendered unconscious. When she is "activated" her butt twitches a few times and she sprawls out in the middle of the floor.

Bitter truck stop coffee
the lights of Albuquerque
embers smolder

A ragged man approaches
for loose coin
I have none to give

Shoulders hunched
tired eyes
heart brain
all diseased

The television shit river
rolling through our pre-conscious
hard to swim across