Samsonite, Wandering

November 26, 2009 – Room 234, The Cavalier Hotel, Virginia Beach

Good news! The streets are largely deserted in the off season, and there is no shortage of parking. I caution, however, against relying on satellites and gadgetry to feed you during the late months, as this will lead to fits of impatience and angry hunger. (Divided technological thought process: “There should be an app for that” = a wild lunge toward Problem Reaction Solution. I don’t believe %95 of what Icke says, but this part kinda makes sense. Twenty years ago, we were all afraid of Big Brother. Today, through FB, Twitter and some sexy rebranding, we’re pretty much doing BB’s work for him.)

More good news; when you finally discover an open establishment, they’ll wait on you hand and foot, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Which, I suspect you are.

My room appears to have been decorated by a grandmother on a mescaline trip; brain-pink trim laced with orderly floral arrangements and conch shells interwoven with strings of pearls. The beds are high and firm like the breasts of a prom queen, and the blankets are made from a substance first discovered at the Roswell incident of 1947, a lightweight textile nightmare that slides off the bed in the night and leaves you shivering against the icy rampage of the air conditioner from hell. (Two settings. One of them: John Carpenter’s “The Thing.”)

None of that mattered when I threw back the curtains and opened the sliding door.

After a few deep breaths, I dragged a chair from my room out onto the balcony in order to take in the midnight ocean breeze and the steady hiss of the surf.  There’s something majestic and stupefying about the heaving saline muscle of the ocean that fills me with a childlike sense of awe and wonder, and generally chills me the fuck out.  Each time I lay eyes on my mistress, I’m reminded of the first time we met.

It was the week of Thanksgiving, November 1987, at the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. It was dark, and I could smell her before I could see her. I’m not sure how you’ll take that.  Anyway, I took a tentative step down a set of wooden stairs and she rushed into the light, slapping me in the face before she ran away laughing. I was left standing there, dripping wet and very much in love.

Three things I love about travel:

1. Living out of a suitcase.
1a. Luggage and travel gear.
2. Fresh towels daily.
3. Sometimes a Great Ocean.

Life lived out of a suitcase is a teaching tool. For the duration of the assignment/gig/vacation/visit, you are only what you bring with you, existing in a neutral environment, painting from a transparent pallet, standing before a blank canvas. A reduced footprint searching for WiFi, craving decent coffee.

I fantasize about roaming the Earth in this manner; wandering from place to place with a duffel bag of clothes, a camera, and a quality laptop capable of withstanding a few knocks. Your mission: move to the weird part of town, take up temporary residence in some poorly furnished shit-hole of an apartment or worn-down motel, photograph the buskers, capture the local color, and move on in the night when the time is right.

The gear is unimportant, and best left to personal taste.

Fresh towels daily. No-brainer. Good name for a punk band, or perhaps a t-shirt. The ocean part I’ve already mentioned. Moving on.

Jittery rivers
flow from magic silver urns.
Can’t sleep, can’t shut up.

The next day: wandering the aisles of a war toy trade show, beset on all sides by card tables laden with “find ’em, bag ’em, and tag ’em toys.” If I didn’t know better, I’d say the threat of terrorism was largely non-existant, a money-making scheme concocted in the secret squirrel boardrooms of big corporations and further disseminated by middle-weight, middle-aged Aqua-Velva  motherfuckers in brown loafers and embroidered polo shirts. Armed with vocabularies full of power verbs, these strange specters get paid handsome sums to prey upon the fearful and law-abiding.

White man speak with forked tongue: “The bogeyman is out there waiting, but for a few billion dollars, we’ll help you bring him to justice!” There is money to be made here. Flight simulators, giant gun turrets, gas masks, gyro-stabilized death spitters, and every manner of catalog system are present. Know your enemy, test tomorrow.

Blessed is he who, in the name of common fucking sense, shepherds his own way through the valley of the merchandise of darkness, leaving the ink pens, mousepads and logo-ridden plastic crap where he finds it. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and minor annoyance those who attempt to poison and defile my luggage with free coffee mugs, advertising campaigns masquerading as art, and assorted plastic malarkey best left to rot on a pier somewhere in Korea.

“Hey, didja get over to the Armed & Hammered booth? Lots of free stuff!”
“No, thanks. Not really my thing.”
“”Well, don’t you want some? It’s free! Give them as gifts!”

Color me stupid, but nothing says, “I place less than zero value upon our friendship” quite like the gift of a light bulb-shaped foam toy emblazoned with the logo of a consulting firm. Maybe I’m wrong here.

Skipping ahead through the week: as it turns out, Hotel Fail had no pool, and no laundry facilities on the premises. This made me sad, but the WiFi was free. The empty streets of this typically topless town are laced with “No Swearing” signs (Q-Berty grumbles and the International No), and shops of teen rebellion, the same old song and dance: butterfly knives, pot plant belt buckles, and tasteless t-shirts. (“Swallow or I’ll shoot it in your eye.” Clever!) News update: she sells sea shells by the sea shore.  The sticker on the bottom, however, reads ‘Product of Philippines.’

When the curtains came down and the show was over, I packed my things and left. A few hours later, I was standing twenty-five feet from Amanda Fucking Palmer, giving a polite back massage to a beautiful girl who makes everything seem okay.

One day, Schrondinger’s Cat will die for real…


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