What day is it? Is it Blurnsday today? It feels like a Blurnsday out there.
Time has ceased to have any real and true meaning – the days have become a blur of highway, movie scenes come to life, and the varied ranks of TNB. I’m keeping track of the weeks by marking off the vague offers of visa-superceding marriage I’m accruing from people I haven’t met and the one from someone I have (please note, ma’am, not only am I totally serious, but I’ll tell all of my friends that I think you’re really cool).
That being said, here’s what happened at the start of the week.
Duke Haney Rides Again: If you haven’t watched Duke’s book trailer yet, then there is absolutely nothing you should be doing right now except watching it. And reading this. Also, do you have enough milk? Make sure you have enough milk. If those three fronts are covered, then my friend, you’ve got it made in the shade.
TPAC had the wonderful pleasure of the Iron Duke’s company on our inaugural visit to LA, and I’m pleased to say that we were able to catch up with him again when we rolled back into town. Lenore Zion, Reno Romero, Zara Potts, Duke and I went out for gourmet hot dogs (I recommend the rattlesnake and rabbit) on our last night in Los Angeles, and found that the LAPD was setting off a charity drive by serving as hot dog waiters.
Thanks to Zara’s questioning, we now know that the standard-issue utility belt of an LA patrolman contains:
– two handcuffs
– pepper spray
– an extendable baton
– a flashlight
– a copy of Melville’s lesser-known classic, Moby Bruce
– Rich Ferguson’s email address – ‘in case we need backup.’
To Duke and the other TNBers who we reunited with and met for the first time, thanks for making the first stop on our cross-country trek such a pleasurable one.
Can’t Stop Here. Bat Country: The fact that the car rental office had koalas in it seemed to be auspicious. Heroically, I volunteered to be the passenger while Zara took the honour of being the first one of us to drive on the wrong side of the road. My bravery was apparent as we navigated the freeways out of LA while the GPS (soon thereafter given the traditional Australian name of Shazza) squawked directions at us.
That was some nice work there, Zara. Bullitt would be proud. Especially when taking into account that a) the blind spots in American cars is reversed, b) over here, passengers can’t see in the rearview mirror, and so Zara had to put up with me saying ‘Huh. I can’t see in the rearview mirror’ for the first two hours straight, and c) Shaz seemed to take smug satisfaction in pointing out exits when there were three lanes of traffic between us and it and there was less than a mile to slip over.
The Nevada Desert raised the heat in more ways than one. As we drove down the freeway in the searing heat, signs emerged from the baking sand to admonish us to follow Jesus, to honour the commandments, to not commit adultery. It’s a shame, because up until then, I was going to commit the shit out of some adultery this trip.
We pulled in at a tiny diner in the middle of nowhere, and our first taste of the road did not disappoint. Peggy Sue’s Diner came complete with a fortune-telling Elvis machine and original ’50s burgers.
Also, some dinosaur statues.
Apparently, dinosaurs were big in the 1950s.
The closer we got to Vegas, the more high-tech the signs and the less non-adultery oriented. Gun show signs competed with neon strip show advertisements, and calls to gamble and spend at any one of a dozen casinos.
I’ve heard stories about Vegas just emerging from the desert as you come upon it, and that’s about right. One moment it’s highway, and the next… welcome to Sin City.
Vegas, baby, Vegas: What can you say about Vegas that hasn’t already been said?
We stayed at the Venetian, where the air is so air-conditioned you breathe frost, perfume sprays out from ducts, and the bedrooms come with a paltry three flatscreen TVs (only one TV in the bathroom? I know, it’s total bullshit).
Sojourning into the city proper netted us stacks of cards featuring escorts whose going rates ran the gamut from thirty five bucks to over a hundred and fifty. For the sake of modesty, their nipples, vaginas, and anuses had been selectively censored with tiny glowing stars. Except for Lalli. What a slut.
Guys hang on street corners, feverishly passing these cards out to passers-by. When the stack of cards in my hand had reached an inch-thick, I started pointing them in Zara’s direction and saying ‘For the lady.’ They dutifully complied. Good for you, Vegas. Way to go into bat for tolerance.
We followed the tides of tourism down Sunset and back, taking in the Eiffel Tower (note: it’s not the real Eiffel Tower. You can easily become confused and disoriented and believe yourself to be in Paris), the fountains that sang to us in Sinatra’s tones, and back to Caesar’s. Which is where we were given bad directions by a security guard through the darkened, non-Sunset streets of Vegas, under bridges and through long pools of shadow.
At one point, I started to feel a whisper of danger and began wondering if we were in a bad part of town. The pile of human excrement on the pavement did much to allay my fears.
It was a relief when we got back to a main stretch and four guys in wifebeaters with tattoos on their muscled-up arms emerged from a parking lot.
They’ll either mug us or scare off would-be predators! I realised. That’s a fifty-fifty split! In Vegas, I like those odds.
We made it back to our hotel long after the sun had gone down and collapsed, exhausted, on the beds. The possibility of not gambling crossed our minds, but really, when would we be here again?
Next: The House Loses!