July 07, 2009

There is a stretch of highway outside of Phoenix on the way to Los Angeles where the roadside design motif is Enormous Babies. There is a field that contains a giant two-dimensional depiction of a baby sitting and playing with toy construction equipment that at this scale is the size of actual construction equipment. A few miles later, a swap meet advertises itself with a huge two-dimensional toddler in cowboy garb. It could be that there is a mad and brilliant artist holed up in the desert out there whose obsession is vulgarly oversized infants and selling his wares to local businesses is the only way he can finance his secluded existence full of elaborate ways to filter his piss into drinkable water. Or the idea of a big flat baby on the side of the road occurred to two rural Arizona business owners around the same time completely independently. Either permutation is acceptable and amazing.

McDonald’s in Quartzsite is teeming with people trying to get breakfast the day after the Fourth of July. It is like Grand Central Station except with syrup-infused breakfast sandwiches instead of trains to Long Island. A very skinny very pretty blue-haired punk girl brings a tray of full of food over to her boyfriend. There is a teenage boy with a full-forearm tattoo that says VOLKSWAGEN. Somehow I eat nine dollars worth of McDonald’s breakfast food in the front seat of Dominic’s car.

They are having a Freestyle Festival at a casino in Highland, CA on July 23rd. A lot of the heavy hitters are going to be there: Lisa Lisa, Stevie B, Expose. I don’t think I can go which is a bummer because I can’t think of a more fun way to spend a weekend than wandering around drunk at an obscure casino in the surreal and sweltering desert watching aging freestyle quasi-stars do their thing. If you are going I am jealous of you. May you end up at a baccarat table across from the key-tarist from Cult Jam.

Later that day, while sending an e-mail to somebody in New York, I realize that while at some point it won’t be summer, at no point will it ever be winter, not really. And as soon as I realize this, a deep gladness forms inside of me. While New York winter is what makes spring and summer so wonderful by contrast, it is also makes the first time you open your window and it’s a little chilly in, say, September, so very terrifying. It’s coming and when it comes it will not end. It’s kind of like a boring but stable relationship versus a tumultuous but passionate one: one is reliable and safe and comforting, and comfort is really hard to say no to. The other has an undeniable veneer of romance, which is alluring when you have the energy, but in practice is pretty maddening and exhausting. One makes you worry you will die by getting lazy. The other makes you worry you will die by getting killed.

I will probably never have to break out the big coat. Even more importantly, I will never put away the big coat with a sigh of relief only to have to break it out again a few days later to go out into a wall of pure winter pain. The seasons will not lurch jaggedly into one another. They will slide one into the next like a long-haired soft-rock producer is manipulating them on a big expensive studio mixing board while nodding his head in time and saying "far out" over and over again to no one in particular.

Posted by DC at July 7, 2009 01:27 AM

That McDonald's in Quartzsite used to have the most amazing ceramic diorama encased in glass (my best approximation for what it was) of a bar scene. Featuring an old bartender & a slovenly middle-aged dude gawking at a well-past-her-prime woman dressed in a skanky dress, it was like Bukowski had commissioned R. Crumb's hands, unsteady from working in an unfamiliar medium, to re-create a scene from a dive cowboy bar in the far east valley.

I have no idea how your average McDonald's would have ever found it appropriate to have it around the mischievous eyeballs and grubby hands of Happy Meal-hunting tykes.

It was glorious.

Posted by: jose

Just a few weeks out of New York and already you forget its transit infrastructure? Grand Central Station trains head to Westchester and Connecticut, PENN STATION trains head to Long Island.

A man who forgets where he comes from is a man not worth his salt. And no, I will not realize that you are actually from Phoenix and that you are actually much closer to that place than you were before.

Posted by: Matt

That second-to-last paragraph was quite amazing. It reminded me of why this is the only blog I bother to read.

Thanks for answering that cooking question!

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