As a ridiculously naive adolescent I thought of getting a tattoo of my favorite line by French surrealist writer and poet Arthur Rimbaud: “my wisdom is as scorned as chaos”… well in most ways we grow old, but in some ways we never mature… so here I am decades later, still tattoo free, (I will be the last musician on the planet not tattooed or pierced… it is my destiny!) and I find it now the time for the obligatory “plagiarize or simply steal if necessary” blogging moment. My 14 year old brain was right and will always be right. Steal from Rimbaud because you can’t go wrong … besides, the signs are everywhere.
O! The vast highways of this god forsaken country, dotted endlessly with primary colored gas stations. Our shrines to shiny new SUV’s sucking fuel; build another on-ramp to another Arco, another Union 76, another Texaco with a KFC attached. For Christ’s sake, there can never be too many! Just remember, one day, I want my turn at greed and ingenuity! But first, where is the cheapest gas station? I must save three cents to every gallon! That’s 36 cents a tank full. If you add it up, that’s $1.44 from Seattle to Los Angeles. Or a 20 ounce cup of coffee at a 7-11! But then again, these are just numbers, simple math.
From that time to here, I can still see the old me in my rear view mirror! I remember the those beautifully crafted black and white Ford Crown Victoria highway patrol cars trying to lure me into a felony, they can’t stop me, I’m invisible, I have the entire 5 Freeway on my shoulder, at my hip, caressing me, pushing me, telling me to fly home like a homing pigeon over the battle of Verdun in 1916. Everyone is too busy killing each other to notice me overhead. 362,000 French and 337,000 Germans, nearly 700,000 men will die at Verdun with perhaps a million wounded, and I’ll fly over them like it’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in Central Park … but hey, please ignore the blathering of my brain, these are just numbers, and since there are no dollar signs in front of them … not enough people cared back then, so why care now.
I should point out the incredible wealth I have in my trunk: six baloney sandwiches on home made bread tucked away in a brown paper bag along with my favorite road staple of bananas and honey roasted nuts. I observe these riches with warm gulps of AM/PM Mini Market coffee sweetened with that sickly vanilla flavoring. But this is how it’s done on the highway alone in the middle of the night. In exile here, somewhere in northern California, in the dim moon light I see the continuation of the mighty 5 Freeway running dead south like a river flooding a damn, the rush of the wind blasts past my dangling arm, till it starts to sting, and the sound of a new trouble. Is that noise coming from my engine or is it just my teeth grinding. Everything I see or hear is vaguely colored gray, the only thing I really know for sure is the dramatic news of the day on NPR, and even then I’m not sure that’s real. My paranoia is quite an inventor and deserves better than what my brain has to offer.
I’ll blame it on the countless hours I spent hiding at the age of twelve in my tree house where I perceived the world from high, the comedy of it all, and my naked next door neighbor sunbathing her just published Playboy centerfold body. I could blame this entire dialogue, my lack of focus on fatigue and boredom, the appallingly bad radio reception I get in my Corolla, (actually it's a perfect match for a musician like me… white noise with just a hint of melody, below the ambient melancholy of the tires howling), but I’ve always known the truth. The truth is my wisdom is as scorned as chaos. What is my nothingness compared to the stupor that awaits me, or you?