Archive for the ‘Barfoed Does America’ Category

BDA: Santa Fe and the Southwest (10/11-13/10)

April 18, 2012

This and the Grand Canyon. We’re so effing close.

You may have heard that vicious drug cartels roam the wilds of New Mexico and that immigration unrest is tearing the south of Arizona apart. While I don’t have the stories to confirm either of those things, I can tell you that the American Southwest has some of the most expansive views in the country. It’s not like wide-open spaces don’t exist in other parts of the country. They just somehow feel more epic out west, like the world has expanded tenfold at the same time the distance between you and your Maker has been drastically condensed. You could reach out and touch Him, which is a very real possibility if you don’t keep your eyes on the road!

Although by this point in the trip I’d more than worn out my Boss-heavy “Americana” playlist, it took on new relevance as I drove through New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. Ghost towns? Endless highways?That moment when the dark creeps in and you’re driving down some weirdo side road for 50 miles with depleted gas reserves and the possibility that you might not make it and those lights trailing you suddenly go out? That last part isn’t so much Bruce, but still — America, man. It’s out there!

You’re reminded, too, just how isolated many of the region’s cities and communities are. We complain in Los Angeles about the time it takes to get from Santa Monica to Downtown. SMALL POTATOES when about 100 miles separate one Southwestern pit stop from the next. They’re practically frontier outposts — places to hitch your stallion for the night and trade whatever animals you managed to trap/kill along the way. I’ll start apologizing for these cowboy references when I stop feeling them so deeply in my soul.

Keep reading!

BDA: Austin (10/4-11/10)

March 20, 2012

Lifting Fog is nearing retirement, but standing in the way of digital shuffleboard bliss are 9-10 stray posts I’ve been sitting on for at least a year (if not years plural), including the last batch of “Barfoed Does America” entries. Just HUMOR ME WHYDONTCHA.

I. Prologue

I was maybe 30 miles into Texas, just pass Beaumont, when a cop pulled me over for speeding. “Where you headed so fast?” Officer Packer asked. “California,” I replied, trying my hardest to sound like a Steinbeck character. He looked me over. Peered through the windows of my car. “You off to school?” “School?” “Yeah, school — all your stuff there packed up, dorm room stuff.”

He was right — I DID own a lot of things more appropriate for a college freshman than an adult! And in that moment, halfway across the country with nothing but my license plate tying me to my previous identity (except all the French New Wave DVDs in my car, shirts that said “Haddonfield Swimming & Diving,” and the fact that I was still terribly, terribly me), I thought what the hell — let’s have some fun with this.

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BDA: Limbo, Limbo, Limbo

November 22, 2011

If we accept the fact that personal blogs are, at their core, self-serving beacons of ridiculous narcissism untethered to anything resembling reality, then this return to the Barfoed Does America well needs no apology or explanation. We’re good!

“Beards,” “Sunsets,” and “Chicago” are all nouns around which previous entries in the Barfoed Does America series have revolved. Today we add one more: “Limbo.” Not the party game, fascinating a 500-word exploration that might be, but the state of being. Limbo isn’t uncomfortable; it’s not anything, really, except maybe the absence of defining edges. It’s the middle, Purgatory, that sensation you get when you’ve been living out of your car for two weeks and feel more at home driving a stretch of unfamiliar highway than you do at any of the places you’ll sleep, including the room you left way back when (…two weeks ago). Limbo is perfect room temperature and feels like it has been and will continue to be this way forever.

(From there I suppose you could say Limbo is like a “goldfish’s memory,” but that level of metaphorical inception is practically unconscionable. Let’s not say EVERYTHING we’re thinking.)

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BDA: “Chasing Sunsets” and other Short Stories

July 7, 2011

Everything we do in life starts from an idealized place. “This date’s going to go really well!” we tell ourselves before finding out the other person is a Nazi, or leper. “That guy in front of me will definitely use his turn signal properly!” precedes the accident we get in two minutes later. “It’s okay, I can hold it!” And so on. While the other shoe never really dropped in any way on my trek across America, I was forced pretty early on to reconcile my vision of the trip with its reality-based limitations. Mostly this took the form of abandoned projects:

  • The License Plate Game. Or more specifically, the version where you collect photographic evidence. I had gotten New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut before realizing somewhere outside Santa Fe that I’d missed my chance to snap Delaware, and would probably never see it again. All together now: “Ugghhhhh, Delaware.”

More dashed plans after the jump!

BDA: Austin City Limits, for the Musically Challenged (10/8-10/10)

April 13, 2011

People infinitely cooler than I are right now packing their bags (or bindles, I don’t know what’s in right now) for Indio, CA and Coachella: a weekend of KILLER sets from an impossibly great lineup of musicians. But you know what else is cool?

If you’ve been reading Lifting Fog with any regularity over the past few years (which means you’re a relative, or you hate-check us), you know a few things:

1) Music trends are not something I can even pretend to know anything about. One time I tried to like Black Kids (the band! The band!); ten years after “What’s My Age Again?” I still sometimes listen to Blink-182. Meanwhile DJ Steve is named “DJ Steve” and GOD. DAMMIT.
2) Crowds I find generally unsettling, especially when there are unisex jeans involved.
3) “Oh, that? It’s from a Wes Anderson movie.”

The words I would use to describe my musical acumen, “not hip,” are already themselves the product of another time. Want to hear about “not hip”? Last fall I emailed a friend about this cool new mash-up artist, Girl Talk, who she should “really check out.” Girl Talk has of course been around for going on seven years now, and that I only found out a few weeks ago. So I’m very much NOT YOUR GUY on issues of contemporary coolness.

But in spite of that, or possibly because of that, I’m pretty sure I had a better time at Austin City Limits than any of the 100,000 other music-lovers in attendance. What was likely for all the cool kids just another cool weekend in cool city was, for me, an incredibly unique new cultural experience. Something totally off the beaten path. …And guess who just beat the hipsters at their own game!

The all-too detailed story just after the jump!

BDA: #BarfoedDoesAmerica

February 23, 2011

I am not what you would call a masterful Tweeter. DJ Steve? With his pictures of snack packaging and philosophical musings (sample: “I dare anyone to not want Wendy’s right now”)? Practically Twitter’s poster-child. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, advertising Lifting Fog posts (when available ROFL) and complaining about library noise. On occasion I might link to a video from 2006. I’m a premature grandparent struggling to figure out what the buttons do.

And yet…fate so often conspires to throw us headlong into those very arenas we’re least skilled in. Woefully unprepared, we just make do. Bratty teenagers get pregnant; I’m driven to Twitter to collect my cross-country thoughts.

More apt wordplay after the jump!

BDA: The Hostel Life of Barfoed and Dancing Bear (10/11-12/10)

February 8, 2011

North Korea WikiLeaks Ricky Gervais Egypt It’s been a while! Certainly beyond time to start honoring stray New Years resolutions. Did you know that “Restore Lifting Fog to its former glory” has been featured on my list (of course there’s a list) a record three consecutive times?

Just over four months ago I drove an orange handbag on wheels 4000+ miles from Southern New Jersey to Los Angeles, CA. After touching down, I began to recount my adventures: the urban, the automotive, the follicular…then I stopped, as is Lifting Fog’s wont. (What, you’ve got a problem or someth-) Left unexplored in that blogging vacation? A vast array of stories as big as the American territory and/or spirit (whichever is bigger, Pulitzer committee) that, whether you want to read them or not, are about to be revived. For me, for you, for all of us, let’s tesseract back to October and do America ONE MORE TIME.

Like a cake-eater, I spent my first non-friend-aided night of the trip in a hotel. Or a Best Western to be precise, but still — personal shower, complimentary breakfast, and a wall safe. Very not rock ‘n roll (in Nashville, of all places) and sort of defeating the point of the trip, too, which in many ways was about making myself uncomfortable. Not “take this unmarked substance!” uncomfortable, but a conscious effort to try new things. If I could go six long days without watching television (…interpretations of “uncomfortableness” vary), then I could also spend my next solitary night in a place that didn’t have a parking attendant. Or hell, heat.

Keep reading!

BDA: The Trucking World (As I See It)

November 16, 2010

Have you ever peed in a Pilot bathroom? If you answered “yes,” you have at one point thought about — or come CLOSE to thinking about — the American trucking industry. And you might be interested in today’s post. (Even if you answered “no,” would it kill you to keep reading?)

Truck drivers are the [insert appropriate medical analogy here] of our national economy, endlessly traversing our country’s highways to deliver merchandise we use on a daily basis. Those Bratz dolls and Fuji apples we take for granted? Only there because a trucker drove them there. They work almost invisibly, their deliveries completed out of sight (or before business hours) such that we hungry consumers don’t interact with them directly. So they’re not only [insert medical analogy here], but also tooth fairies and Santas and whoever does the dishes in my apartment. (Read: They’re magical, possibly fictional beings.) To study them in their natural habitat — the road — presents an uncommon opportunity for us to learn more about these mysterious creatures.

Keep reading!

BDA: New Orleans (10/1-4/10)

November 5, 2010

Having seen most of Treme when it aired earlier this year on HBO, I felt well prepared for my weekend in New Orleans. (I knew, for instance, that street musicians HATE “When the Saints Go Marching In” requests.) But busking, you learn, is only part of a much larger culture that encompasses exotic cooking, voodoo, and HOLY SH*T the biggest alligators this side of Peter Pan. Readers, welcome to Flavor Country.

A little preamble: It’s just about 1000 miles from Chicago to New Orleans on two days of driving, and that north-south divide makes itself known in a number of ways. The way Pilot gas stations gradually give way to a blanket of Love’s(s); the growing emphasis on Sweet Tea at McDonald’s (…which I’ll never understand). There’s that moment where it just feels right to start blasting Skynyrd.

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BDA: Beard Log

October 31, 2010

TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK. Hear that? It’s the digital bits of code on the corner of your laptop screen alerting you to another hour spent in Farmville. It’s a Garfield clock’s hands continuing their relentless march toward forever. Calendars. Sundials. Innumerable shapes and methods charting our hours, days, and years on earth, quantifying mortality; counting down to death.

…Growing a beard is another way to mark time’s passage, not to mention a fun road trip activity!

Keep reading!