Cairo, Redux

If you want to go on a road trip with me there are only a couple requirements:

  1. You must be able to accommodate your dietary needs at places like Circle K, McDonalds, and Flying J Truck Stops without commentary about things being bad or good or gluten this or that.
  2. You must be able to “get ready” within five minutes.
  3. You must refrain from saying, “Oh this is so great, I need to come back here.” Because that is annoying since you are already there, in an awesome place.

That being said – you know where I really want to revisit? Cairo, IL.

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I thought about going back there the whole time I was there.


I took the five mile detour after being on the road for nine hours so I was a little too bugged out to do any serious exploring. The tired mind comes up with the kind of young-gal-in –abandoned-building murder scenarios that would make Rob Zombie barf.

So I want to go back. Maybe with Rob Zombie. Maybe with you, should you fulfill the above set of requirements. You should also know that there is a second set of requirements that go further into musical taste, conversational aptitude, and apocalyptic survival skills, but let’s just see if you can concoct a peanut-allergy, vegan friendly meal out of the cold case at 7-11 first.


The Drive-by Photo Tourist

I plan on making a camera, a front car bumper camera that captures the events of the low road at 192 frames per second. So that the next time I drive from Michigan to Tennessee or from Tennessee to Michigan I will have visual documentation of the distinct variations in road kill along that particular North/South route. Michigan deer is far messier (I drove over fifty yards of entrails and blood coming up I-69 near Coldwater and then encountered four other blood-splattered sections before Lansing) than Arkansas armadillos (they just hang out on the side of the road stiff, like footballs with claws, moving only if caught by the wind of an eighteen-wheeler) but both are alluring animals- dead or alive.

I’d like to have a camera covering the low road because I pretty much have the high road under control. I am able to take pictures, text, administer eye drops, and sharpen pencils while driving.

I was in Northern Indiana by the time the sun started to come up and turn Muncie into a setting straight out of a Dutch landscape (or an Enya CD cover):


There is no other way to see the midwest farm country. I know this because I grew up there and all the farmers got up early not just because it is a good time to milk cows but because it looks cool.

And it is all about looks in the end. It was a little over a year ago in Badwater Basin when Bethany and I discovered our true vocational calling, capturing sunsets in our hearts. Sunrises are sunsets somewhere so these count too:



Roadkill to hippy in one entry. I’m available for your next dinner party.


If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula

look about you.

Made it to Fowlerville very late last night. What pleasure to drive out from under the trees of Midtown Memphis, through the sunflowers of east Arkansas and the purpled-flowered brush of lower Missouri and the pro-life signage of southern Illinois – punctuated by a forty-foot cross in Effingham (a rather funny name for a place with a huge cross– that is if people are pronouncing it like I am; EFF-in’HAM) and then a ramble onward through the flat gray roads of the only interstate highway system in the USA that has more Arby’s than McDonalds – Indiana, all just to be greeted by my favorite state sign of all time MICHIGAN: GREAT LAKES GREAT TIMES. Every time I drive under it I think, no DUH.


(photo from Arkansas)

I’ll be back in the Volunteer State soon. Until then…



Five new Vista Videos are up on Vimeo. I can’t believe more people aren’t joining in the fun. (That may be a passive aggressive statement but rest assured that my videos are 100% visually aggressive)


Clearly Labeled With Care

I love little labels on handcut white paper:





I may one for myself and use a straight pin to attach it to my lapel now that it is nearly blazer season.


Great Days in Art Theft History

From my favorite fast facts website:

It was on this day in 1911 that the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The theft was pulled off so well that no one even noticed.


My New Orleans: Bearing False Witness at Marie Laveau’s Tomb

I enjoy voodoo as much as the next saint-worshiping Catholic so I was thrilled to tour the St. Louis Cemetery Number One on our visit to New Orleans.


Those people you see there? They are on a proper tour. Katie and I were doing our own delirious tourist thing in the 120degree heat. We’d taken one of those giant air-conditioned bus “Super City” tours the day before and felt we had enough information to go on by ourselves.

Marie Laveau, a very popular voodoo priestess, is said to be buried (entombed?) in the Glapion family crypt. It wasn’t too hard to find because it is the one marked with a bunch of handwritten XXX’s and small offerings at the front. As soon as I saw all the coins, candles, lip balms, hotel room keys, and the single pair high heeled shoes, I regretted not gathering more information (a rare regret from this map/voodoo/crazyladies/info/history fan).


After I snapped this pic a few Euros came up and started their own photo session so I wandered off to the side so we could all pretend we were taking unique photos. I went just far enough to observe my little sister watching a middle-aged woman in a bright African-national-color-themed shawl walk up to the tomb, snacking on a bag of Wise (or similar off-brand) cheese-powdered corn chips, survey the offerings and turn to the small group of Euros and ask, “What’s this mix?”

According to Katie, their accents made it impossible to explain to the cheese doodle woman that this was the grave of a Voodoo Priestess and covered in XXX’s of blood or whatever. They gave up and walked away. This is when I walked up and gave Marie Laveau my minty CO Bigealow lip balm. I put it near a melted candle and two Holiday Inn Express room card keys.

The woman asked me, “what’s the deal with this?” And I, using information from my tour the day before, catechism, and a paper written about folk religion I wrote my first year in community college, made up a hodge podge story about Marie and Voodoo offerings. I was inspired by her attention AND her constant chomping on the cheese doodles so I said, “for example – if you leave her some chips and ask to never go hungry, you will always be food fortunate.”

She looked at the mix of stuff near the tomb and said, “I need money…. those are cute shoes though.” She said the last thing like she was debating on looting the offerings.  “..real cute shoes.” (note the strappy pumps in the above photo)

Then she turns to me and asks, “But if you are Christian..this stuff is bad, right? You don’t need this.”

I look at her with my best, “that’s between you and the lord” look and she paused, circled the shoes one more time, then reached into her snack bag, grabbed a handful and threw the cheese-powder-covered-crumbles over the entire display of offerings at the base of the tomb, like bread crumbs over a casserole. 

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It was quite a disturbing gesture, even more so when she did it again the second time with even less pomp and grace, like there was a section of the tomb she had missed or some pigeons she wanted to kill.

Things are probably different there at night. You can Voodoo in private. Night visitors most likely don’t ask questions and probably carry better snack food.

I’ve heard that if your request to Marie is granted that you have to return to New Orleans to thank her.  I’ve been nervous ever since I inadvertently encouraged the woman in the shawl to spread her cheese doodles on the resting place of the beloved Marie Laveau. But things have actually been on the up and up for me. Maybe Madame Laveau likes my lip balm more than anything.


Info and a list of cemeteries HERE and HERE


(above photo is from a different cemetery than St. Louis Number One – I can’t remember the name)



Picked up last week during ‘ssippi river tour:



More Maps!

I may not live in LA anymore but I am intrigued by this: Mapping L.A. - Los Angeles Times.


Did you know that LA has 113 neighborhoods? (that does not include Pasadena or Culver City, mind you)

My precious old hood:


I’ve been looking around the web for a Mapping Memphis equivalent. I found THIS but it doesn’t give you the census dirt on each hood.

This Past Week Rocked.




Gems and stones from The Pink Palace Museum.


Mapping out my Love

Collector and obsesser.

I’m headed back on the road for a couple days. I hope to update with HWY 61 stories – if not – go ahead an peruse this GOLDMINE of a SITE for map, lit, and road trip lovers!





Bodie, Revisited

A vintage postcard picked up at the Prospectin’ Supply Store:


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And a Vistas Video:

Ghost Town & BOOMTOWN!  (I especially like the TIMELINE on that site)


Thursday’s Child…

…has far to go. I’d always thought that line meant my life was fated to a long series of sisyphusian struggles. It wasn’t until I found this pendant at Charlie’s Ore House Prospecting Supplies and Antique store in Randsburg, CA that I finally understood:

ThursdaysChildFar to go, as illustrated by the umbrella and suitcase in the little girl’s hand, means Lots of traveling.  I’m very pleased with the prospecting supplies I picked up that day.

Randsburg, CA:


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The Gaze: Performing Independence, Career Porn

A few days ago a friend posted a succinct interpretation of the appeal of Entourage, calling it “career porn”.  It got me thinking about why I love The Real Housewives of New Jersey/Atlanta so much.

Of course, some things don’t need to be explained (even less explanation needed around 2:50):

But I figured out that part of the appeal in watching these women is that they are performing a hyper-consumerist version of feminine independence for us through the live-action interpretation of an extended Beyonce video. 

It’s like if the second wave of feminists would have been sponsored by MAC and Channel, they wouldn’t have burnt their bras, they would have just bought prettier ones. These housewives aren’t the timid, bored, mousey marms of the past! They have power! Mind you it is only spending power so, since prom and the wedding day are over, the only way to exhibit any kind of personality or individuality is to create charity events and luncheons that require extensive wardrobe preparation, but they are not to be messed with. At least that is what they love to say.

In fact, that to me is the ultimate appeal of these shows, nearly all of the women at one point talk about how they can go off, or nobody messes with them, or soandso better not f with me.. (no one does this as well as Caroline from RHONJ) and you really never know what they are talking about or why they feel the need to assert their toughness to a bunch of other suburban moms.  Eventually you do get the idea that they feel some kind of phantom threat deep in their souls – possibly that feeling of eternal emptiness one gets when they are performing for everyone but themselves. And we do love to watch misery. (Mad Men coming August 16)

TV Time is Still Tops

How we spend our time. 


I’ve clicked through most of the graphs but I didn’t see a section for reading KayeKILLA.


Items and Issues of Great Interest to Aspiring Minds (and fans of the olden days)

Twitter has inspired a bunch of micro-communication related articles. Big whoop you say? Well dig on this article that discusses 160/140 character epistles of yesteryear.

The Anglo-American Telegraphic Code:


And ANOTHER article that attempts to validate social media’s place in high-culture discusses the similarities of John Quincy Adams short diary entries to microblogging:

adams_brief__weatherI found this article in the Commercial Appeal. I still read a hard copy paper here and there – I like how the ink gives me “I change my own oil” hands. 

When I googled the article to find a link to share I found tons and tons of articles about how Adam’s actual diary is going to be tweeted or twitted (I always think of Roald Dahl when I write that) starting today thanks to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

I do love an old fashioned daily-record diary. I am still thinking about a few entries by some frontier women on our recent trip to the Autry Museum and some of the great examples used in The Worst Hard Time. I love how, in contrast to our modern angsty-internal-exposure style writing, diaries used to list the facts: made wheat bread, cleaned gun, Jeb came for dinner.  (Although now that I think about it – when this information comes in the form of a Facebook update it is quite annoying – what is the dif?)

My own interest in JQA’s diary is not necessarily that he would have been a twitter but that he, like me, was an eloquent weather writer:



Lastly I want to share my favorite toast that I have assimilated from the southerners thanks to Oxford American’s Best of The South Issue:


CONFUSION TO THE ENEMY Sure, the toast was originated by a crazed segregationist but Mark Winegardener argues that he uses the toast because it is too TUFF to retire and to further confuse the people that should be confused.


New vids up:



The above word looks a lot like leprechaun to me, but I don’t feel that lucky because I’ve been fighting a funked feeling the past couple of days. Some people call it post-vacation blues. That may be the case, but I think it has more to do with seeing items for sale like this FrogOSphere (available at Brookstone):


My list of things that automatically depress me on sight include:

  • Parents grabbing children by their arms
  • Mis-buttoned clothing
  • Old people deciphering and discussing fast-food menus
  • Coupons

AND NOW on the List:

  • The FrogOSphere. You only need to feed them twice a week and change the water twice a year.

As Emma said (about the lil frogs), “Probably not the life they had hoped for.” That is really the essence of all depression isn’t it?

Let this video help ease you back from a long weekend: