Sun Ra - Column for 9/3

Fourth and Ten

Well, I am now in Arlington, Virginia, having spent the last week driving across the country from Los Angeles. My ass has spent so much time in the seat of my truck that I have bedsores. And, I observe, it is actually late on Monday, the day this column was supposed to be ready.

And it shall be! Hell, although it's ten P.M. here in Virginia, it's only six P.M. out in California where is based, so I've got plenty of time to hammer out this column and get it in before the magic line of no return comes around. If, of course, I can think of anything to say. This means that you should prepare yourself for the sort of potpourri that has become common among Cant columns of late.

And what's up with all these columnists missing their columns? I am seeing *way* too many "No Column" pages recently, in their glaring whiteness so reminiscent of those stripes on my feet covered by my Birkenstocks. You know what I'm going to do, don't you? Oh yes. I'm going to implement a "guest column" feature, and DEMOTE some of these people. Which, frankly, will kill their writing impetus (yes, Frederick, or make it stronger) and reduce Cant back to the handful of writers who will survive to the "My Year's Best Column" feature in December. So watch it! I want to see something, *anything*, rather than these blank spaces. Shit, look at this column.

Another thing on my mind recently, as I crossed the vast, empty spaces between the shores of this country, was the naming of groups of people based on where they live. Okay, that was obtuse - what I mean is, look at the plethora of suffixes we have for groups of people from different places. California-ns, New York-ers, Los Angele-nos, Seattle-ites, Kzin-ti, etc. I can think of at least a dozen inhabitant suffixes right now. (Test yourself! Go!)

However, there are still places we drove through that left me puzzled. Barstow, for instance. What do you call people from Barstow? Barstovians? Barstoways? Barstoids? Frankly, I like Barstoids, but only because it sounds like a really unpleasant and embarrassing medical condition. "I'm sorry, Mr. Shafler, but you really should have used that creme I prescribed. It's too late now - your hemorrhoids have totally prolapsed into barstoids, and I'll have to remove them. Nurse, fetch my garden shears."

Weird names aside, it was an interesting trip. On Monday, the movers (whose competence, frankly, was far lower than we would have liked) came and packed up the half our our stuff we hadn't packed. Due to there being only three of them, two more-or-less professional movers and a serious mouth-breathing potato-head, it took until eight p.m. before we were alone in an empty apartment. To avoid morning traffic, we drove to Ontario (the far other side of Los Angeles, not the province in Canada. That's *next* Monday.) and stayed in a hotel. As it turned out, the most expensive place we stayed.

Tuesday we drove to Las Vegas. I had been to Vegas in 1994, but I was as impressed by the new resorts as Kathleen (who hadn't been there) was. Paris, New York New York, Bellagio, the Venetian... wow. That's some serious thematic decorating. We stayed at the Stardust - frankly, we should have stayed at one of the places just out of town for $20, but it was nice being on the strip even if it cost four times as much.

As was a theme for the trip, we saw only a small amount of stuff before we left the next day, crossing the Hoover Dam and staying at the Grand Canyon - a short walk away, and for less than we stayed at the Stardust. I highly recommend the Moswik (sp?) cabins if you visit the Grand Canyon. Which I also highly recommend. It's fucking fantastic. Also, they have released some California Condors there, and we got great views of them flying a few dozen feet away from us. We are considering honeymooning there.

Oh, and on the way to the G.C. we stopped at a Texaco, and the attendant pointed out how bald my tires were. And they were. So we had them put on new ones, to the tune of $500. Frankly, it was worth it. We saw a half-dozen cars with blowouts and two overturned semis, and I was on the 46,000th mile of 45,000 mile tires. Thanks, fate, and thanks Bill of Kingman, AZ - even if you charged too much (unproven) and forgot to put back on one hubcap (proven).

Then we drove through Indian country across Arizona and New Mexico to Albequerque, and stayed at a nice place (the Luxury hotel) for $40, the lowest yet. The next day we visited Santa Fe, another place I'd like to go back to. It rained while we were there (yes! Rain in New Mexico, in August!), and as it turned out we were to see much more rain on the trip. Still, Santa Fe was neat.

Friday night, after more long hours of driving, we pulled into Amarillo, Texas. We ate at the restaurant famous for offering a 72 ounce steak, which is free if you can eat it and all the trimmings in an hour. Over the last forty years, 32 thousand people have tried and five thousand have succeeded. No, I didn't try. I did, however, order the 12 oz. filet mignon ("The Governor's cut") rather than the 8 oz. filet mignon ("The San Antonio Lady's cut").

Then a long-ass drive across the rest of the top of Texas, all of Oklahoma, and western Arkansas, down to the little town of Hot Springs. If you are ever going to Arkansas, go to Hot Springs. It kicks ass. We went because of the recently-in-paperback Stephen Hunter novel Hot Springs, which is great and you should read. Anyways, the town is built against a mountain which seeps pure, 145 degree F water. There is a row of 1920s bathhouses (of which one is still active), and all the public fountains emit the hot water. It tastes fine, and we had fun bathing in the various pools at one of the bathhouses. Also, the town features some great architecture. Anyways, I recommend it. We may go back there, too.

All that was left was two days of ass-whupping driving from Hot Springs through the rest of Arkansas and western Tennessee to Cookville (nothing there), and the 700 or so mile drive from Cookville here to Virginia. Our stuff will be delivered to our house in Maryland on Thursday (it's Monday night).

And I'm tired. So I'll sign off here, and see if my "post on the day of" feature is working. Have a good day.

Columns by Sun Ra