October 23, 2009

I feel like if you are in a small town there is not so much dating as there is the following: “I am a diminutive whiteboy in a tight plaid shirt and black stocking cap. You are a girl who shops selectively at Urban Outfitters and looks enough like Zooey Deschanel when viewed through a foggy shower door or someone else’s glasses who has a different prescription I do. We have to be together.” And then you just are.

We light out for Columbia, MO from Iowa City. We get kind of lost a couple times but the radio is choice. After a Vanessa Williams-style slowjam that may or may not be by Vanessa Williams, a female announcer breaks in with a farm commodities report: Hogs are mostly lower, she says. December wheat is mixed. It all sounds sort of Pagan.

Hang out with me for more than a day and at least once you will see me frantically paw through my backpack, looking for something. A lot of times, whatever I’m looking for is in there, hidden by filth. Sometimes, it’s not. On Tuesday afternoon, it’s not in there. I’m looking for the book I’m reading, “The Cold Six Thousand” by James Ellroy. I think I must’ve left it in the hotel in Iowa City. Before departure, I was going through my bags looking for something, and in the process, I took all my stuff out, and when re-packing, I forgot to put the book back in, effectively trading the book for whatever I was looking for, which was never actually lost in the first place. It is doubly frustrating because I was about a hundred pages from being finished and Ellroy’s books, though I love them, are always pretty labyrinthine and I tend to lose the plot completely by the end, and I was proud of myself because so far I was understanding everything and keeping track of who everybody was and who wanted to kill who and fuck whose wife, but now when I pick the book up again with a lapse in reading momentum I am almost certain I won’t understand anything. Bummer.

We pull into the hotel in Columbia and check in. The hotel has three or four floors and the hallways are glassed in, so that I can’t help imagining blood pouring through them “Shining”-style when I look up at it from the street. Looking down from the hall-wide window near our room, I can see the roof of a Papa John’s. On the roof there are a few random, loose green letters and numbers that seem like they were once on a sign: 8 7 Q U M I Y. It’s like the start of a really low-stakes, pizza-centric “Da Vinci Code.”

We eat lunch at a Jimmy John’s next to the hotel. As I am filling my cup at the soda fountain, a salty older guy with a cane is at the counter. “I drive two hours for this sandwich,” he says to the clerk. “Actually, I do a lot of other shit in town, but I always be sure to grab me a sandwich.”

Later, I see a man with a poorly-done anarchy-symbol tattoo on his arm. It is like, dude, do not apply the principals of anarchy to your anarchy tattoo. Tattoos should be structured and orderly. If you hope to effectively communicate your support for anarchy, you are going to have to employ a tattoo artist who basically plays by the rules. He be punk as fuck and think “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” and all that, but he should be a total uptight reactionary when it comes to things like color and shading.

We are invited to perform in a stand-up show that night hosted by the lovely, bearded Dan Friesen. It is an awesome little bar, all black-lights and pulp and horror memorabilia. On the back wall, there is a Star Wars poster, the one that has all the Mos Eisley bar characters and reads “You’ll Never Find A More Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy.” I had it on the wall of my bedroom when I was in middle and high school. I love that poster, and I won’t front, if it showed up on my doorstep tomorrow, I would hang that shit, homeboy. No apologies.

The show is a blast. I freestyle-battle a kid, because that is how I establish dominance when I am in a new and unfamiliar setting. After the show, I talk to people, including Jesse, who tells me she transfers from Ruby Tuesday to Ruby Tuesday kind of based on whim, because they can’t refuse a transfer who’s already trained. This, I say, is a weird kind of awesome freedom, that you can be tied down to a job and what it entails, but you can pretty much do that job anywhere you feel like. I also talk to Joseph, who’s in the National Guard but also in school, and tells me he’s one of the four percent of eligible people who actually use the G.I. Bill (eighty-eight percent say they will when they sign up, eight percent eventually apply, and then four percent actually follow through and go to school. I don’t know if these figures are accurate, but this is what he tells me.) The bartender’s name is Pants and he apparently won an award for being the second-best bartender in Columbia, and he rightfully should’ve been awarded first place, but the other guy cheated: his buddies wrote a computer program that stuffed the online ballot box in the other guy’s favor. I fully believe Pants deserves the title. He makes us one of many delicious shots he is known for, all of which have pun names. The one he fixes us on Tuesday night is entitled “No Pants Is An Island.” (All these weeks later I am kicking myself for never asking if he had one called “No Pants Left Behind.”)

Outside, it’s getting cold. When the fall chill hits me, there are ten Jason Anderson songs to describe how I feel. When I was back East, the first real cold was kind of depressing and death-implying, alluding to the long cold winter ahead. Now that I don’t live there anymore, it’s just nostalgic, and it makes me miss New York and the seasons.

Back in the hotel room, I check my e-mail while listening to “The Weather” by Built To Spill. In high school, my friend Chelsea, that was her and her boyfriend Jacob’s song. They got married and had a baby. Her brother is in a band in Portland with my friend Jack. I think on Chelsea and Jacob and their kid. I hope they’re doing well and I bet that they are. Once, when I was out sick, she called me that night at home to make sure I was okay. Landline to landline. She picked up the phone and dialed.

So: this is officially the one hundredth day of my "100 Days In LA" series. It feels a little weird to end it with me in Iowa, about to go to Missouri for a week. And, as people have pointed out, a lot of this supposedly LAcentric series saw me in a lot of other non-LA places. So: I will be extending the series indefinitely. I already have a proper ending picked out and everything. I already LIVED it, man! Thank you for reading/Facebooking/retweeting these posts. Please continue to do so even after the titles start to incongruously read "First 100 Days Of LA, Day 101" and stuff. And thanks, as always, for your nice comments.

Also, I want to take this time to wish my grandma Pat, one of the most faithful readers of "First 100 Days..." a speedy recovery from eye surgery.

Posted by DC at October 23, 2009 03:58 PM

I don't mind that I'm not named, but I do take offense to the lack of an El Rancho mention. You liked the nachos and you loved the mural, so don't front.

Posted by: Daniel Shar

I'm so glad you're extending this series, it's been very awesome to read. I am bummed I missed your movie & you guys when you were in Austin but I am loving watching you do all these awesome things! a book a movie and a large following on twitter? you have my dream life. I saved tons of stuff from college and I wonder if I have any old writings from our short story class... those dc pierson originals will be worth a pretty penny!

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