Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Maybe it was the toke of Sterling Forrest Green, but when I passed into Indiana I got an impressive chill, of sorts. Once in Indiana you've fully left the East behind... it's a diferent culture here; the people are hard-working and steely-eyed Midwest friendly. Money is a loit harder to come by in this part of the country, and signs of poverty start to show up in odd ways and places. The hairy dude standing hopefully on the highway entrance ramp, trying hard to get me to stop and give him a lift... dirty looking, loaded with duffel bags. That rusty pick-up truck in a rest stop out of which piled some fiercely redneck people with beer cans and filthy clothing. Some fat woman with a far too small shirt rolled out almost onto the ground shouting, "I don't know who the hell you think I f*&^ing AM ..some sort of dirty bitch!" then climbed into the filthy back of the filthy cap. Another equally squalid dude fell out with a beer in his hand and shouted, "Well, what the hell,,, you want ME to drive??" They rolled off down the interstate in a cloud of blue smoke.
Different out here. Lots of hardf working farmers.... and people who grew up with farm-work ethics. Pragmatic to the finish.

The sun was getting low as I neared Indianapolis, and there was something… low-slung and hard-eyed about the look of things... in a cool way. No nonsense. Stringy and Practical...LEAN. I saw one particular street-rod go past me that was low and mean looking, painted flat-black with a roof only four feet off the ground, and that sort of ...illustrated my feelings. Lost off an exit in the city, I had two different guys blaze past my on snarling Japanese motorcycles ( get tired of seeing only Harley’s out on the highways); both helmet-less, both looking serious and businesslike. Indiana…no more signs of East Coast culture here… Chicago ios the magnet, and you’re deep into the vast Farmbelt of America now, oceans of corn, achingly frugal farm houses full of simple-living people that live for football and their local Christ Tabernacle church. Churches everywhere, all flavors and then some. Signs by the side of the road, “Will YOU go to HELL?”.. or, “JESUS LOVES YOU EVEN THOUGH NO ONE ELSE MAY”… “JESUS is LORD”, or simply, “REPENT NOW!”...."BURNING HOLY FIRE EVANGELIST TEMPLE" with one small white-washed building. 
I got lost on the outskirts of Indianapolis, and was looking to change lanes when a low-slung cop car roared past me… a new Camaro I think it was, done up in black and white with a huge five-point sherrif’s badge or something on the door, and I realized this is John Dillinger Country. No wonder so many Depression gangsters either came from Indiana or disappeared into it; it’s huge and empty and covered with nameless, tract-less, seamless country dirt roads that wind into rural Oblivion. In 2010 the cops are still using bad-ass touring sedans to run down the gangsters.

At the western edge of Indianapolis I was exhausted and talking to myself. As the day goes on, my stops become more and more frequent until it's overwhelming; I'd found my limit and decided to call it quits for the night around 7:30PM… in a little burb named Crawfordsville that had: a Motel 6, a cheapo Holiday Inn, a truckstop, and a McDonalds. When I packed my gear inside the room there was a gang of six men with their shirts off, most tatooed, looking silent and ragged and drinking beer on milk crates by the door to their room. They all shut up and watched me get off and unpack silently, while some serious country music played. At first, being tired and a little wary, they seemed somehow threatening to me, but later I made some small talk and they seemed okay. Turned out they were all migrant workers from Kansas… in town to do some construction job. But they looked really BEAT; sunken eyed and scrawny… not druggie-like, but famished; calloused and burned dark from too much outdoor work and these weren’t no office workers, no sir. They didn’t say a whole lot, just drank their beer to the music but they didn’t bother me neither, and when they drove that big rusty pickup out on the morning they thankfully left my Suzuki behind.
But it goes to show that this is what America is back to again since the Depression: men scouring the country for any work they can get to feed their families back home, driving in rattly trucks and living six to a Motel 6 room.

Later I went over to the “Blue Bar” at the Holiday Inn and at the bar met one guy who’s uncle comes from Poughkeepsie, had been over there may times. Another drunken chap at the bar, humorous guy named “Chaz” from southern Indiana… knew a lot about geology and Literature… said the Catskills and southern Indiana mountains look exactly the same because they were made by the same glacier. Ahh.. Hm. Then we got to talking about the Grateful Dead and look out, broither, we were off and running, as he has been to quite a few Midwest shows… said Deer Creek was always awesome. We closed the bar together after playing Duanne Allman’s endless (20 minute) masterpiece, Mountain Jam, TWICE in a row, and the fat chick helping the sullen, even-fatter bartender, threw us out, almost bodily, at midnight. I gave the guy a piece of paper and my e-mail address. Funny guy... the kind of people you hope to meet on the Road and learn about what Life is really about in other places.

On the way back to the hotel I noticed a shuddering feeling in my front disc brakes. Concerning.

Back at the room I turned on the TV to find cheap porno raging. Good for a laugh… why can’t more expensive hotels provide that?

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