I just got back from a trip moving from one coast of America to the other, accompanied by two friends. For the past week, I’ve been documenting the trip on The Tusk’s Instagram account. Here is a collection of the best posts, which I don’t think will amount to some super-meaningful piece, but maybe I can get some kind of pretentious commentary out of it.
Because I mean, life on the road is hard, y’know? You know when you’re on the road, and the club owner tries to stiff you, and he’s like, “I didn’t think you would be playing that rock and roll shit, this is a classy establishment,” and you’re like, “Fuck you, man, I’m an artist?” Or like, you take a waitress back to your hotel room and you’re like, “God, this is all so meaningless,” and she’s like, “Yeah, I mean you made that pretty clear, at no point did I think I was entering into some serious relationship with you,” and then you’re like, “Oh, so I’m just some sex god up there rocking out to amuse you, and you think you can just use me afterwards? Well guess what, I’m a human being with feelings,” and she’s like, “Listen, man, you don’t know anything. I had to clean the toilets the other day. I’m thirty-eight years old. I have three kids. The janitor quit and Mr. Jefferson asked me to clean the toilets, no overtime, and I did it. You’re a child, living out a childish fantasy.” And then you’re like, “I don’t think your bad situation gives you the right to not have any empathy for me,” and she’s like, “Well you didn’t clean any toilets today.”
Justin and I bought generic trail mix from Target. He drove out with me three years ago when I moved to California, and if we were pirates with a flag, that flag would have generic trail mix on it. The one I bought this time was too caramel-y.
This infernal device at our first stop in Mt. Shasta, CA, called me a poor lover. That’s the last time I ever fuck a machine.
We considered starting a cult and taking over Mt. Shasta, where they sell crystals at every store. I regret not doing that.
Mt. Shasta poetry from John Muir and some other dude.
Apparently this is a thing.
On road trips my dad used to go, “Scenic grandeur, kids! Check out this scenic beauty! This is America!”
We stopped for dinner in Soviet Russia, where beef serves you.
My bud and Tusk co-founder Lizzy was gracious enough to host us in Portland and also pose with a sword that says, “Princess Power.”
Then I brushed my teeth seductively.
If you’re in Portland, you’re a fool if you don’t go to Voodoo Doughnuts and eat the weirdest thing. A fool!
Pendleton, Oregon is a quaint old-timey Main Street of a town where they also have a big jail and the prisoners make jeans. That jail is also where One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes place.
America is a kind of multiverse. There is so much space that whatever you think of, it is happening somewhere, no matter how ridiculous it is.
In Colorado, we got mixed up in some of this kind of thing.
The next day, we went to Carhenge, which is exactly what it looks like: an artful, ancient-themed arrangement of Detroit’s ruin.
With storm clouds gathering above it.
And behind, a fire burning.
She and I have been to two of the three major -Henges in the world (the other was Foamhenge in central Virginia.)
Terence Malick should totally set a movie here.
Then we did this. I strongly urge you to go to Mount Rushmore and see the lighting ceremony at nine p.m., in which a video extraneously explains who everybody in the sculpture is but also a gruff old park ranger makes a beautiful speech about how each of us is capable of the greatness of Washington, et al, because they had their own personal failures and shortcomings just like we all do.
In the statue, Lincoln looks concerned, which seems justified to me. A lady behind us was going on about how they should put Reagan on there, so maybe Lincoln is worried about having to sit next to that guy. Teddy, uncharacteristically, cowers behind the others– maybe he fears history’s judgment. Jefferson, that William and Mary-educated, Deist snob, is the only one to hold his nose above us. Only George looks really proud. A while ago, Tom Batten wrote on our site about, as a kid, thinking Washington’s face on the dollar bill was that of a judgmental, angry God. Here, George has none of that Old Testament bitchiness.
Imagine these guys at a party together today. Jefferson is like, “When is Franklin showing up? He’s always late and these dudes are a snooze.” People are giving Teddy shit for posting his hunting pics on Facebook.
If you go to Rapid City, South Dakota, there are statues of Presidents on every corner and there is an excellent haunted hotel (We were unable to Instagram any ghosts.)
The Corn Palace was under construction. Inside, a teen showed us a video explaining what the Corn Palace is. He also pointed to images like this, which are made of corn and depict white settlers sharing peace pipes with Native Americans:
Then I ate one of these:
In Iowa City, they have a kind of Walk of Fame with little plaques on the ground celebrating writers associated with Iowa’s culturally huge MFA Creative Writing program. These plaques are pretty blurry, though, as you can see.
You can picture those writers at a party, too– Raymond Carver has already passed out, Flannery O’Connor is hobbling around making fun of everybody, Cheever’s soaked in pool water and no one knows why.
A local store sells notebooks that look like cool alt lit chapbooks. They also sell this:
The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the highway equivalent of when someone invites you over to their apartment that they’ve lived in for years, but then they ain’t got no chairs and you have to sit on the floor, and also you have to leave out the fire escape, and there’s no stove or microwave and your friend offers you a grilled cheese sandwich and “grills” it by rubbing it between his hands really hard, and you’re like, “Dog, it was actually kind of rude for you to even invite me over if the place was going to be like this.”
It rained a bunch, which really made me eat my words re: East Coast weather v. West Coast weather.
But then the last five minutes of the trip the radio played “We are the Champions,” so.