Leaves are falling all around,
It's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I'm much obliged
For such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go,
The autumn moon lights my way.
I've never been too good at volunteering information. Or small talk. Spontaneous dialogue is not my forte. Given the choice between talking and not talking, I'd generally choose the latter.
But as I prepare to enquiver my quills here at Intrepid Media, I'm struck by the same obligation others have felt to give some kind of parting commentary. Seeing how this is, as many of my columns of late have been, an 11th hour endeavor, any semblance of cohesion will be as unexpected as me quoting Led Zeppelin lyrics.
In other words, I'm gonna ramble on.
I've traveled quite a bit in my life, from Ewa Beach to East Berlin. I have a restless spirit, which I count as a boon most days. It gets me involved in things a more placid person might not have time to notice. I paint this lyrical picture of my condition because it's more romantic than saying I have a Type A personality. I work myself to death, drive too fast, bite off more than I can chew. But someday I will outpace it all. Like Indiana Jones running away from that big round rock.
Wait. I meant to talk about traveling. But I ended up talking about movies. Isn't that how it is, here at Intrepid? Everything comes back to movies. Or it did; nowadays it all comes back to television. I've written ten columns about TV in the past four years...only six about movies. This despite the fact that I only regularly watch three TV shows. I'm determined to think less about this medium. So should you. Turn off your TiVo and spend some time outside...
Gas prices are down again. I remember paying less than 60 cents per gallon. But I'm not complaining at $2.05, because it's not $3.19. I can fill up the car, put the family inside and drive, and it's still the most cost-effective way to travel. And the most fun.
I used to love to fly, and I have done so many times post-9/11. It's still ridiculously safe, but it's also ridiculously expensive. And while there's nothing quite as breathtaking as the glide path between Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier on approach to SeaTac, at the heart of that particular wonder is the inescapable perception of scale. I am so small. This plane is so high. Those mountains are so big. Indescribable is nice in small doses. Everyone should be awestruck several times throughout their lifespan.
But too much awestruck leads to jaded. So get on the ground. Get out of the city, get off the highway. If the only reason you're in that car is to get from Point A to Point B, then you're missing at least other 24 points that I can think of.
People say that the Internet provides a more open place for people to communicate, because it offers a level of anonymity that's not available elsewhere. That's ridiculous. The open road has been providing anonymity to billions of travelers for centuries. Who knows you when you're on the road? When you walk in to some tavern after a day's drive and straddle a barstool, you're no one in particular. It's liberating. Every new town is your Vegas, if you want it to be.
Speaking of barstools, some advice for the road:
When you're looking for a place to eat, avoid the familiar. Chain restaurants are evil, Borg-like things. Find a place off the beaten path. Look for lots of cars. Or semis. Or cops. There should be paper menus that double as placemats, and you should always be able to get a fried egg sandwich, black coffee and pie.
Hard truth: Do not eat at any Chinese restaurant in South Point, Ohio.
Conversely, when you're looking for a place to stay, avoid the unknown. Staying at an independent motel is like playing Russian roulette with one empty chamber. Instead, do five minutes of research at Bidding For Travel and snag four-star hotels on the cheap via Priceline. When you stop for the night, you don't want to open your hotel room only to find the carpet smells like cat pee and the air conditioner doesn't work.
Hard truth: Do not stay at any motel in South Point, Ohio. In fact, you'd do well to just avoid the whole damn town.
Don't drink soda when you drive. Just makes you jumpy. Drink water, maybe tea or lemonade. Caffeine will make you pee. Drink sparingly. Save it for the end of the road, for pizza and a beer. Or crabs and a beer. Or barbecue and a beer. Road food, can't beat it.
Hotel sex is the best sex you will ever have. Whether you've been on the road all day or you've just driven 1/4 mile from your office for a nooner, this is indisputable. If you can't think of a reason to get away, there it is.
Okay, I think that's enough. I have no deep cosmic revelations for you. Randomly? Boycott Citgo. And George Lucas. You're free to wear sunscreen, but you're also free to go inside during the heat of the day and maybe take a nap.
And if you're one of the handful of people still reading this column, and you're not an Intrepid staff member, or an Intrepid premium member, don't just click on to some other site when you reach the end. Take five minutes and register. It costs nothing, and no salesman will come to your door. Bother to contribute. You could find yourself almost instantly four years hence, looking back along a road you can scarcely recall having traveled, but with a lingering sense of satisfaction that in those anonymous ramblings, you've had quite the trip.
I know that's how I feel.
If the media is the eye on the world, Russ Carr is the finger in that eye. Tune in each month to see him dispersing the smoke and smashing the mirrors of modern mass communication. The world lost Russ on 2/7/12, but he lives on.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.22.06 @ 8:37a
DO NOT BOYCOTT CITGO!
Hugo Chavez is right about shrub! Buy his gasoline.
I do not want to think about your "enquivering" your "quills." I hope that doesn't mean what I think it does.
9.22.06 @ 9:12a
I've talked with native Venezuelans who are terrified by Hugo Chavez. Don't let your political blinders get in the way of recognizing a legitimate threat to the ever-tenuous stability of Latin America. If you don't like Bush, that's fine. But don't confuse Chavez' diatribe-filled rhetoric with the same name calling you seem determined to engage in on a regular basis. This isn't some late night TV show monologue with a fat Latino funnyman working the crowd.
9.22.06 @ 12:43p
I get my information from my friends in Venezuela, whose families have been there for over 200 years, who are pro-Chavez. These people have every reason to be against him because they are, by any standards, upper class, but they LOVE him. They are terrified of shrub and this administration. And please don't insult me by talking about my "political blinders" as if I don't think about issues but simply follow some party line. Yes, it's true, most of the time I agree with whatever the Democratic Party line is, but not always, and I reserve the right to disagree with it when I find the facts I have disagree with it. The tyrannical "stability" of some of Latin America needs a threat every now and then. When our government participates in a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government I think it's our own government which is evil. TO THE CORE. And please don't talk about fraudulent elections in this, the country of ultimate fraudulent elections.
9.22.06 @ 12:55p
9.22.06 @ 12:56p
I see your sunset, man. I see it.
Hotel sex. Heh.
And now for something completely different:
Chavez is fanning the flames of a world war. Honestly, what good can come of his constant baiting?
9.22.06 @ 1:10p
I never loved to fly and I still don't love it. Yet, I hate driving. So: trains are nice.
Russ, I still remember the first Email you sent me when you signed up for Intrepid, lured here by my movie fanaticism and constant nattering on Coming Attractions. They're gone, but we're still here.
9.22.06 @ 1:24p
Mmmm...trains. Someday we'll think a bit more European and we'll get our act together and have fast passenger service all over the country on clean electric maglev trains...as long as no one parks on the track.
CA is gone and MBTV is now TWoP. Smoove B is serving up malt liquor in that velvety lounge in the sky, but Intrepid, well, we're still here.
9.22.06 @ 11:22p
I have to agree on the hotel sex. I never liked flying, even pre-9/11, so I don't do it. I know this limits my chances of joining the mile high club, but I'll accept that sacrifice.
9.25.06 @ 12:46p
Chavez is fanning the flames of world war.
Trying to, but he's too weak to back anything up. Any guy that interrupts state-run tv every single night to make a 'presidential address' has his own shit to worry about. Talk about about a two-bit punk who got rich on oil, he ain't worth our time.
Russ, man, bummer. Jeez. Won't be the same.
9.25.06 @ 2:23p
Thanks for the laughs, Russ.
Take care and watch out for glowing spinal columns.
10.1.06 @ 9:11p
Hey, I am *fully* cocked.
10.2.06 @ 10:11a
Your views are interesting, Laura, but my friend Jeff has a different perspective. My friend Jeff has been career military since college. He was in the Gulf, he was in Bosnia and he's been in Iraq and will go back again.
He wishes he didn't have to go, but he knows that's what he signed up to do, regardless of who the commander-in-chief might be. He didn't get into it for the free college tuition or to avoid jail or to get a big fat pension. He goes because he believes that no matter where the American military might have to go, serving his country is the least he can do. He does not expect to sit around and play cards on base all day, or throw a few sandbags on a rising river from time to time.
Maybe my friend Dan can talk about why, after he left active military, he's still an Iowa National Guard commander, and spent three months last year helping people from Hurricane Katrina clean up, a duty he said was worse than the Gulf War. My friend Orville, also career military, can discuss why he teaches at West Point, travels to Columbia and Venezula to find oil alternatives and, oh yeah, fought in the Gulf, Bosnia, and Afghanistan.
I've sat in a room with all three of these men while they discuss why they were still in the military. It had nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans, and everything to do with their personal values and dedication to their country. Yes, they leave their families and security to do it and it's hell. I'm sure your brother feels the same way, and understands the risks. But as my friends have said, when it's your time to go, it's your time - and that simply means leaving the military and finding a good job stateside that doesn't require having a gun pointed at you.