keepin' it crunk, from my hood to the trunk.
Tursday, March 28th, 2002
I've been at my new home here in lalaland for a week now. My car is parked on my new street. My brother has moved on, heading back towards his college in Minnesota with other friends. I've stocked my new bedroom full of new overpriced, overstyled IKEA products, jacked my computer into our house network and DSL line. I've stacked my cookbooks in the kitchen, hung clothes in the closet, tacked posters and prints to the wall. Toothbrush in the bathroom. And today I bought new glasses, the first pair I've warn in years.
But I've got one more story to share before we call it quits. A mere six hours after I left home on February 24th, I took my first breathalyzer test. That's right. At midnight on that first day, I parked outside of Robyn's apartment on the mostlt unparkable side of the street. She and I hugged hello, took a tour of the apartment, cracked open a couple cans of Coors, sat down, and decided that I should move my car. We climbed into the Land Shark to drive it around the block and repark it.
What's that, a three minute operation?Well, during that loop around the block, I was pulled over twice.
The first time was understandable. I took a right turn at a red light without first coming to a complete stop, and 30 seconds later the flashing lights of the po-po pulled into my rear view. The copper asked all the usual questions: Who are you, where are you going, where have you been, who is that, license and registration please, is this your car? What's all this stuff?
"This is everything I own, sir," I replied. "I'm moving to California."
"Really," he said. "No kidding? Do you think this boat will make it out? Heh heh heh. So whaddya got in the back there?"
Bored-ass upstate cops, man. Can't you see into the back seat? Christ. I'm carrying 200 kilos of cocaine, officer. "My stuff," I shot back. "Like... this comforter, and this guitar, and a big box of books."
"A big box of books, eh? All right. Hold on for a couple of minutes." He walked back, climbed into his cruiser, ran my info, and returned before we grew impatient. "You guys are all set," he assured us. "I'm not even writing you a warning. Just... you know, red means stop pretty much all over the country. It's not hard to remember. Drive safely, now."
We drove on, relieved and laughing. We cruised the length of Robyn's street, and spied an open space on the other side of the road. I did a resonable K turn in a vacant intersection, a maneuver seen only by a different police car parked one block to the north. I drove back toward the space, and put on my blinker as if to paralell park. But before I could back into the space, the nice occifers "pulled me over". I was already stopped, of course.
These gentlemen seemed to be even more bored-ass, but lacked their copper colleague's sense of humor. They started right in, one with the fast talk, the other with the flashlight. "Who are you, who is she, what's all this stuff, license and registration, where have you been, where are you going?"
I didn't bother to ask them why they had pulled me over, because I didn't want any trouble. I thought they might be in cahoots with the last fellow we encountered. Still, they had no reason to be talking to me. "We're going right there
, sir. I'm on vacation. She lives in that apartment, right there. We're here."
"I see," he mumbled, staring me in the eye. "And have you been drinking tonight?"
"No sir," I said.
He snapped back with a quick "Excuse me?" It was then that I remembered the two sips of Coors I'd taken before we came outside. I explained this to the nice man. "I thought I smelled something," he said. "Step out of the car."
So ten seconds later I'm standing behind the trunk of my car, emptying my pockets, keeping my hands out of my pockets so they can watch them. Officer Flashlight holds up the breathalyzer machine. I'm told to blow into the tube until it whistles. I blow and blow until finally we're treated to a fait, dying goose sort of sound. I lean back, satisfied, while fella examines the LCD readout attached to the tube.
He's trying to tilt it so I can't see, but I'm so tall that I've got the angle advantage. I look down and the red numbers: my Blood Alcohol Content is, literally, 0.00.
Zero-point-zero-zero. This amuses me to no end, but I resist laughing. We are told we can go on our way, and we do. We back up six feet into the space, clim three stairs, wave the officers goodnight, and walk right into Robyn's apartment.
Best breathalyzer ever. +
Tuesday March 26th
Sherman Oaks, in the valley
When the call came at just after ten p.m., Joshua and I were sitting down to a spread of the finest Beluga and bubbly. I quickly swallowed my salty snack and lifted the reciever, "Hello?"
Boys, I am home," said the mysterious drawl.
"We'll be right down," went my clandestine reply. Josh and I rushed down to the street and cast about for signs of the Granada. There it was at the end of the block, stalled in the midst of a three point turn.
Grinning from ear to ear, the two of us waited as Ryan turned the engine over, moved a few feet, stalled, and repeated said sequence three times until he had travelled the thirty feet back to us and a parking spot nearby. Ryan parked somewhat haphazardly, flung his door wide and greeted Joshua with a hug and hello. I went around to share a similar welcome with Jeremy; then we switched Gantzes and repeated same.
As we began to unload Ryan's material life from his car, two girls in a Corolla flew by hooting and hollering. Obviously, Ryan's reputation preceded him, and the ladies had taken note. Eventually, everything of value had been dumped into my living room, and my apartment was abuzz with raucous personal jokes dating back a decade and conversations about the roads of the American Southwest, all murmured around mouthfuls of fluffy Tuscon pancakes.
Back in the fall of 2000, I approached Ryan about filling the vacancy left by my homeward bound brother. I was in a bind, and it was unfair of me to ask him for so much. At the time he declined; after all, he had a golf course
to build, summer meals to make, and a family to love. This past Christmas, however, while drifting about the greens, Ryan mentioned his desire to finally leave Plymouth in search of something more. He had had plans set in motion for months which suddenly deteriorated, so without pressure this time, I invited him to come to Los Angeles. Try it out for six months or so, and see if life with Joshua and myself proved worthwhile.
Nearly four months later, and here he is: sleeping in what used to be my den, on what used to be my bed. To know Ryan is to love Ryan. Those of you who read Sixfoot6 regularly do so because you recognize his intelligence and warmth, two things I am glad to have back in my daily life.
Back in high school, Joshua and I used to dream about the day the three of us would live together in Boston, see the Pixies at The Rat, and enjoy life without parental supervision. I called that dream apartment the S.S. Utopia. Some nine years later, and we've finally set sail. +
March 20th, 2002
Los Angeles, California
Ryan D. Gantz
(Los Angeles is what's happening.)
Jeremy and I spent a few hours lingering in Tuscon
. I love that town, with all its heat and hodge-podge architechture; suburban barrio sprawl with an artsy and soulful epicenter. We grabbed breakfast in a grill called Grill, drank coffee served by a fly waitress. We kept Jeremy's giant pancakes all day, for a snack. We explored the aisles and piles of instruments and equipment locked inside the Chicago Music Store, right downtown on Congress Street. Everything downtown is on Congress Street.
The vinyl on my dashboard burnt to a crisp under the punishing sun. I left the car parked in the same space through the heat of the early afternoon, and even longer once I locked my keys inside. After hunting around a dumpster looking for wire and string to solve my little problem, I watched a group of middle school girls talk trash until two of them started fighting in the alley. One of them ended up in a puddle minus her shirt.
We drove north, to Phoenix, and visited my old stomping grounds in Glendale. It's still hot as hell there. We blew out of town at 5 pm with subs and lemonade, and chased the sun west over mountain after mountain toward the southern California border, listening to Mogwai. A beautiful sunset, criss-crossed with the vapor trails from L.A. bound jets, rolling downhill at 85, one last drag before I begin my smoke-free lifestyle.
Trapped between the busted-ass Rocky peaks at the edge of Arizona sits a town called Quartzsite
, an old gem-and-rock mining town that is barely a town. It's a swarm of temporary passers-through, parking lots of campers, RVs, neighborhoods of mobile homes with permanent fast food joints, over priced gas stations pimping petrol to the old and the poor and travelers ready for another state. Historically, people rode into town, mined some Quartz, and eventually moved on. In a gas station convenience store packed with a saddening array of underbelly Americans, I grabbed a rubber cowboy cactus to thread down my car's antenna.
We're safe and sound now, just off Magnolia Boulevard, in the always sunny San Fernando Valley. I am home now, in the apartment I share with Joshua and Andrew, friends I grew up with in Plymouth, the town where this drive began. Starting mileage: 67038. Finishing mileage: 71520. I miss the road, and I miss everyone. +
tuscon motel six
we blew out of carlsbad and drove fast and hard, hoping to make it to white sands
national monument before dark. and we did, at about 5:30 in the early evening, with the sun preparing to set. as the granada rolled over the sandflaked road, we hooped and hollered a little, glad that the park wasn't closed.
and as the sun slipped behind the jagged rockies, we stood and sat and laid, in the 65 degree air, on a giant white dune of gypsum. we looked across at acres and miles of ripples and shadows and sandy contours, soft and barefoot, until the last echoes of daylight faded from southwestern skies. +
Driving since Feb 24th
Read all about it.
Copyright 2002 by Ryan D. Pants and friends.