Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Great American Roadtrip 2.0

Me in San Fran at 17

There are two concepts that more or less explain a lot of the reasons I do the things I do. The first is my inherent transience: even when I was a child I consciously flitted from place to place, activity to activity. Permanence and staidness bore me. A suburban kid with an urban heart, I was (of course) attracted to Beat literature and subcultures that promoted a vanguard lifestyle. I crave the freedom to explore. This is why I was such a wayward teenager, constantly fighting with my parents for more, more, more. More independence, more flexibility, just more room to be myself and learn whatever the fuck that means. I've always had this innate drive to pursue finding myself in foreign places. It lends itself to a marked escapism, but it also means I have a charged sense of adventure that helps me to experience the most incredible things. This drive, coupled with my love for Beat literature, seems to be constantly enacting momentum on my life, pushing me westward towards California, but to San Francisco in particular, a city that I love even more than - yes, I'll say it - even more than New York. This love is the second concept that defines me. Until I moved to New York it was all about San Francisco. I spent most of my summers there, hours upon hours in the 2nd floor of City Lights with my legs curled under me talking about how Naked Lunch changed my life with various fellow Beat aficionados. Every single birthday or holiday that warranted any kind of gift meant that I was asking for a plane ticket to San Francisco. My parents struggled to fund my love for it, and I would forgo anything and everything if it meant being allowed to hop a plane out west.

With this in mind, and with the growing technological world and gas prices sky rocketing and the upcoming presidential election, my friends and I have decided to go on a cross-country road trip: an impromptu one, since we just decided and came up with the plans over the past two nights. Part of me knew that I would not be able to resist going to California before I left for Paris. I spent last summer in L.A., but I haven't been to San Francisco in 18 months, and it really does feel like a part of me is missing there. With this road trip, I hope to reclaim a lot of pieces of myself: my drive for adventure, my cliched teenage desire to live like Jack Kerouac, my need to see America as it is, now, on the edge of a recession, on the precipice of one of the most important presidential elections this nation has ever seen.

We are going to do this road trip the millennial way: what it would be like if Jack Kerouac had a Twitter while he was penning On the Road. Only we will take ourselves less seriously, and probably will not "tweet" things like "Allen Ginsberg is trying to hook up with a 17 year old boy again and this peyote is so strong I'm seeing yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." But we will record every step of the way, for anyone who is interested to view. We're creating a Word Press account, which I'll link to from here in the coming days, for us to keep our writing and videos and photos. We'll create a Twitter account that we can update from our phones and we're going to interview people that we meet along the way. I'm going with my friends Kyle, who is a video editor, and Alyssa and Susanne, who are artists/photographers. We're going to make this road trip into a multimedia extravaganza. We're also going to take a specific angle in each city that we hit. For instance, one of our stops is New Orleans, where we're going to do a volunteer day and talk to people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Another one of our stops is Denver - during the DNC - so we'll be able to gage the political climate by talking to people in a relatively red state about what it's like to have the DNC there.

In this way, we hope to learn about ourselves by learning about other people. And we're going to do it in this highly technological very connected millennial way so that people who don't fit into the tiny car we're taking can participate along with us. We're also doing this DIRT CHEAP. I'm bringing about $350 with me for the entire trip, including for gas money, which we calculated via miles and MPGs and is going to add up to about $700 (divided by 4). We have places to stay most nights because we planned it so that we stop in cities where we know people, but in random places like Salt Lake City and the Grand Canyon we're staying in a Motel 6 for $50/night. (Maybe we will even see an episode of Intervention being filmed)

I've never done ANYTHING like this before. I'm very excited, but also terrified.

Below is our tentative schedule. If there are any J&J readers in any of these spots along the way, let us know so we can meet up with you:

Aug 16: Philadelphia to Cleveland
Aug 17: Cleveland to Chicago
Aug 18: Chicago to Des Moines
Aug 19: Des Moines to Denver
Aug 20: Denver to Salt Lake City
Aug 21: Salt Lake City to San Francisco
Aug 22: Stay in San Francisco
Aug 23: San Francisco to Los Angeles
Aug 24: Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon
Aug 25: Grand Canyon to Las Cruces, NM
Aug 26: Las Cruces to Austin
Aug 27: Austin to New Orleans
Aug 28: Stay in New Orleans
Aug 29: New Orleans to Birmingham
Aug 30: Birmingham to Raleigh
Aug 31: Raleigh to Home

-Jess

9 comments:

the almost said...

This sounds very cool! I too was enamored with the Beats...so I look forward to hearing about your travels.

I'm in Santa Fe, NM which is WAY better than Las Cruces...FYI.

LOLSAM said...

1. you're so pretentious.
2. i love you.
3. i could never do this - i get so sick of cars and everyone gets tired of my complaining.
4. colorado is surprisingly liberal this election (thank god, er, goodness) - i'll be interested to hear what you hear from people.
5. it's so crazy that katrina was such a disaster that it's STILL affecting people.
6. please fuck a mormon in SLC.

Jess and Josh said...

ugh
i think the worst thing about being pretentious is when you don't even realize you're being pretentious.
which is what happened to me here.
blah.

Anna Apocalypse said...

Longtime J&J reader. If you need a place to stay in Chicago or want to hang out, let me know. Also, I love the Beats too, Jess.

-Anna
skipsontherecord@gmail.com

Ellen said...

J&J reader here in Berkeley but it sounds like you've got the Bay pretty much covered...

pop quiz kid said...

I'm from B'ham.

Get drinks at The Garage. It's cheap and dive-ish and the outdoor patio is littered with awesome architectural salvage. Down the street is music venue The Nick, Birmingham's "dirty little secret."

The must-see landmarks are Sloss Furnaces downtown, and the statue of Vulcan, which is like, the second largest statue in the U.S. after Lady Liberty. And has a totally sweet ass.

Marshall said...

I hope there's plenty of ballin' in honor of St. Jack

megisonyeauu said...

it'd be fantastic if i ran into you in chicago but while your there, spend your night/s in and around the north side/boys town. fantastic shopping and some interesting gay clubs.

-erin said...

say what's up in LA!