Archive for August, 2008

Across America: End of the Road

by Srevatsan

This is it, folks. The end of the road. A conclusion to a month of mind-blowing experiences, endless driving, miles of interstates and highways, many many gigs and impulse shopping.

We reached Princeton yesterday afternoon after catching The Dark Knight in IMAX in Philadelphia, started bunking in Dennis’s apartment on campus and got carried away by the cheap used DVDs at the Princeton Record Exchange. I’m thinking of heading back there, especially when you can get Tori Amos’s entire discography for less than twenty dollars..

Tomorrow will be our last night in New Jersey, before we spend the day in New York City. We were at the Six Flags Great Adventure today, testing our mettle with the crazy rides before the grand finale of the Kingda Ka, while also failing miserably at the carnival games. Went to Sleepy’s after the theme park to pick out a mattress for Dennis, which was where we met the sales rep Dionysus, a friendly and cheerful Greek who was happy to talk about politics, how he met his Indian wife in South Africa and that his two daughters are getting married (both above 25).

“I advised them, long ago, that if they got married before they were 25, I would be disappointed. And if they got married before they were 20, I would kill them!” he said jokingly, a great, booming sort of mirthful laughter. “It’s because you’ll more or less know what you want after you’re 25, right? So it won’t only be because of how beautiful her eyes are, or how well she dances.”

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Interstate Love Song


by melco

So much for love
guess i’ve been wrong
but it’s all right
cos i’m moving on
I’ve been traveling and wandering
alone on my own for too long
I swear I tried to convince myself
it would be much easier being alone
so if I was sincere
whispered my fears
would you still be here?
I don’t want to hurt you
never want to make you sway

So let’s waste time
chasing cars
stay for a while now
Just take your time
wherever you go
leavin’ on a southern train
only yesterday
you lied
And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we’ll make it anywhere
Away from here

and there’s no combination of words
I could put on a back of a postcard
no song I could sing
I’m miles from where you are
and all of these moments
just might find their way into my dreams tonight
like a shoebox of photographs
your words in my memory
are like music to me
madly madly madly

*

Washington this afternoon and Philly cheesesteaks in well, Philly. Only a few days left. 😦

Across America: Miles of Road


by ehpien

The above shows the part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, where we are right now. We’ve travelled more than one thousand eight hundred kilometres from Austin, Texas to reach Roanoke, Virginia (which I suppose is influenced by the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, which in turn inspired part of the history of the comic series 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso – just thought I’d add that little tidbit there).

We’ve crossed Arkansas in a day to bunk in Memphis, Tennessee, where we also went to the Lorraine Motel, around which the National Civil Rights Museum is built, or where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Next up was a three hour drive  northeast to Nashville, the Music City, also where a number of Christian record labels are located. As we made a slight detour to see the replica of the Greek Parthenon in Centennial Park, we stumbled across the Mecca of all respectable road trips:

And we laid hands upon the Holy Grail itself:

Our road trip is finally winding down to its end; next will be Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Princeton in New Jersey where we’ll help Dennis move in to his apartment, and then finally New York City. And then back to Singapore, where it’ll be another new beginning for me. I just love to see what God has for me next, to blow my mind with all kinds of amazing.

On a final note:

Across America: Adios, Texas

Today we left Texas behind as we headed northeast, Robin’s Road Trippin’ playing with the killer riffs of Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’ roaring over the stereo as we cruised our way through Texarkana and past the state line into Arkansas. Then there were no more vast plains and longhorn gathering under the shade of an elm tree, just endless rows of thick forest and trees that blotted out the skies; as we departed the Lone Star State I could not help feeling that I had left a part of me behind as well. As one mile become another in the opposite direction, I had already begun yearning to return there, once again.

Last night after another round of football throwing in the carpark, we drove down south to San Marcos from Austin, where This Will Destroy You was playing. Grinned like a schoolboy when I met them and got some CDs signed, got amazed once again at the talent in Texas when I watched Homer Hiccolm & The Rocketboys (from Abilene) play before TWDY – it’s kinda mindboggling that they aren’t signed yet.

Before we got to the venue, however, we went off on a slight detour to have dinner at the Salt Lick – twelve or so miles from downtown Austin, in a secluded area off the highway, and it was positively glorious. Wide open spaces, with the dining area in a large wooden one-storey house; the waiting area (we waited about thirty minutes before we were seated) situated in a small park with abundant benches, accompanied by acoustic blues & country music played live; the parking area a large lot paved with loose gravel with railings made out of planks and logs; all of it a true testament of Texan free spirit and unpretentiousness, coupled with the typical laid-back Austin charm and attitude.

Food at the Salt Lick is classic Texan B-B-Q, with home-made pecan pie and peach or blueberry cobbler if you still have the space for it. The succulent ribs are particularly astounding: huge, generous portions of moist and tender meat you can slice easily off with a knife, all lathered in tangy BBQ sauce. If you’re up to it, you can have the all-you-can-eat platter – just tell the waitress to keep ’em coming! You can even smell the BBQ smokin’ one kilometre up the road, just like we did as we played This Will Destroy You with windows down and watching the sunset. I couldn’t help feeling that Darrell or ZK would love the place and the food, even more.

Perhaps this phrase, which I noticed from a waitress’ t-shirt, sums it up perfectly: “I didn’t get to the top of the food chain to become a vegetarian”.

Across America: Austin, Again


Dell – “Portraits”

I am green today
I chirp with joy like a cricket song.
I am gray today
Gloomy and down like a morning fog.
I am orange today
Loud and messy like finger paint on the wall.
I am red today
Hopping mad like a playground ball.
I am black today
Strong and tall a great big bear.
I am purple today
Bright and happy like a butterfly in the air.

I’m a rainbow today
All the colors of the world.
I’m a rainbow today
All the colors of the world.
I’m a rainbow today
All the colors of the world are in me.

I am yellow today
I shine my light out like the sun.
I am white today
Soft and quiet like new snow.
I am blue today
Calm as glass and cool like the sea.

– Kira Willey, Colors

Be everything you can be. This is all I ask for in this life.

*

Second night in Austin. Laughed ’til my sides hurt in Tropic Thunder, gaped with envy at rows of BB guns that you can get for as low as ten bucks in splendid variety – even sniper rifles with scopes, pistols, handguns, twelve-gauge shotguns, MP5s and M16 replicas (!); threw a football with Shao among the shopping aisles in Wal-Mart; got a haircut and gave the stylist an education on the size and location of Singapore on the world map; drank a large cup of Jamba Juice’s “Heart Defender” which took me seven hours to finish; smirked in the background as the Vietnamese cashier (also an undergraduate at the University of Texas) at Best Buy flirted shyly, blushing, with Dennis; did the same with Shao after hearing about how the barista at Starbucks flirted with him and offered him a free donut; ate a giant Dagburger at Hut’s Hamburgers in downtown Austin and grinned when the waitress said “Bye y’all! See yuh again!” with true-blue Texan drawl; found out with glee that This Will Destroy You’s gig is only $5 at the door.

When I told the stylist that our road trip would be ending at New York city, she said:

“Oh, everyone wants ta go ta New York City. Big city, that. But thair’s no place like Austin.”

Across America: the.story.of Austin, Texas

My pilgrimage is now complete: I am typing this with free wifi in Austin, Texas. Arrived here before 5PM, a seven hour drive made five, slept a lot in the car and made sure I was at the wheel when we passed through the Austin city limits. Life seldom gets any better than this.

Dinner was had at a local and travellers’ favourite, The Iron Works, a BBQ joint set up in what was in fact an actual ironworks. The sausage and ribs will blow your mind and bust your gut.

Austin is, of course, known as a haven for musicians and live music; the live music venues here number up to two hundred, catering to several music styles. We strolled down Red River St and checked out Stubb’s, which was featuring headliners Vinyl Dharma, as well as The Story Of and A Faulty Chromosome, all being filmed by MTV2.

Stubb’s, a bar & grill which doubles as a family restaurant, is as unassuming and dressed-down as a venue can be, just like any other BBQ joint in Texas. When you enter, a rickety staircase leads you to the basement, where the stage is; the first floor halves out to give you a top-down view of the stage. It’s in-your-face, brilliant, as indie as it gets and absolutely glorious.

The Story Of’s set made my night. Luscious dream-rock with riveting melodies and diverse styles, captivating live performances by the members, music that makes you stand still in silence just as it can make you groove or headbang.

I almost don’t want to leave.

Across America: Arizona In One Day

I’m now writing this in Lubbock, Texas, so technically we’ve also crossed New Mexico in one day, as well as two different time zones. It was on my shift in the early evening (it only gets completely dark around 8.30PM) when we crossed the state line on Highway 380 into Texas, past Tatum, New Mexico and into Plains, Texas, which is really everything the word suggests – vast plains and endless acres of land owned by ranchers.

We reached Albuquerque in New Mexico just short of midnight yesterday, crossing the Rio Grande in the process (This Will Destroy You has a song named after it). Set off before noon to Roswell, the city which has solidified its place in popular culture, and checked out the kitschy UFO Museum. After that it was my turn at the wheel, three hundred and seventeen kilometres out of New Mexico and into Texas, the Lone Star State.

Tomorrow we intend to set off early, driving the seven hour ride to Austin, Texas, which is where, of course, Explosions in the Sky all started. Heh. And as the sun hits the western horizon, I’ll play The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place (which I actually got for Robin & Joy – hope y’all don’t mind 😀 ) on the stereo and beam like the fanboy I am as I head to where it all started.

The 23rd will see us at the Projekt Revolution gig (Linkin Park, Chris Cornell, The Bravery) in Dallas and what has me really grinning like an idiot was finding out that This Will Destroy You would be playing in San Marcos the next day. Which is almost as good as watching EitS. Almost. Now I just wish there really was a town in Texas called Dillon..

What I find myself enjoying the most is the actual road trip: cruising down two-lane highways, with no cars in the distance, nothing before you but canyons, hills, plains or mountains. A lens with the widest angle possible known to man would never be enough. When I’m driving I’m quietly marvelling at the sight, with no words that can be expressed; if I’m in the back, or in the front passenger seat, I’m leaning back to stare at the drifting clouds and skies in hues of blue I’d never seen before. It can be awesome. Inspiring. Breathtaking. Utterly beautiful. Amazing. And most of the times, for me, it’s all of those things at once.

If I could, I’d just keep driving and never stop.