Friday, January 17, 2020
Thursday, January 9, 2020
We pit-stopped at the Maverick gas station. FIRST STEP TO ADVENTURE, according to their signs. They also had murals of cartoony versions of the local landscape all over the place, even in the bathrooms. A sign on the cash register warned: VAPING UNREGULATED THC IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH.
There was no parking at Zion National Park. My Lifetime Senior Pass got us in, but we couldn’t stop. Not only were all the spaces around the park filled, but the spaces in the park were filled, too. People staying in the town outside could take a shuttle bus in if they wanted to hike, but we were stuck on the crowded road, only able to stop briefly at a few overlooks.
We were stuck in a a traffic jam, behind German motorcyclists, being fed into tunnels, getting slap-happy and eating Lorna Doones amid the natural beauty and road construction.
Later we went to Coral Pink Sand Dunes, hiked the Martian landscape with yellow plants, and the delicate footprints of tiny, unseen creatures. You have to remind yourself what planet you’re on.
And since we were last there, shiny, new St. George-type dystopian hotels had popped up in and around Kanab. The dastardly neosprawl threatened the funky tributes to the mythic/Hollywood Wild West.
I took more pictures of the murals at the Glaziers Market (part of one I later found out is based on a painting “The Holdup” by Charles M. Russell). And once again, the Lone Ranger watched over us at the Aikens Lodge.
We had Outlaw Burgers at Houston’s Trail’s End, where holsters--with guns--decorated the back wall. Even though a sign warned PLEASED DO NOT TOUCH, an employee told me I could strap one on for a selfie if I wanted. I passed. A Chicano brandishing a six-shooter in a restaurant full of white people, in Utah . . . I didn’t want to risk it.
The next morning, we found that all the restaurants in Kanab with “breakfast” on their signs and menus were still closed at 8 a.m. So we drove past the mountains gnawed on by the oil and natural gas industry, while huge ravens patrolled overhead.
Across the road from a sign announcing buffalo, elk, and alligator jerky, we finally found the Thunderbird Restaurant, “Home of the Ho-Made Pies.” Their Utah-style breakfast burritos were more like wraps, and had lots of potatoes.
On the way to Bryce Canyon National Park, turkey grazed in the fields, and we passed another Galaxy Diner that had a statue of Betty Boop in front of it. In other fields, bison grazed.
Finally, in Bryce, we were hiking amid the hoodoo fairy castles along a trail aptly named the Fairyland Canyon Trail. We were so dazzled that we got lost. Luckily, we were rescued by a nice couple who had Sixties rock playing on their car’s satellite radio. They had gotten lost the day before.
There were PRAIRIE DOG CROSSING SIGNS. I even saw a prairie dog cross.
At the end of the day we settled into a charming, pre-fab log cabin at a motel in Torrey, across the street from Rustler’s Restaurant. A young woman with an Eastern European accent brought us steaks. Muy Americano.
Friday, January 3, 2020
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
It's launch day for American Monsters Part Two, edited by Margét Helgadóttir. It's part of the Fox Spirit Books of Monsters series. This volume covers North America, Canada, USA, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands.
There are stories by Cory Doctorow, Tobias S. Buckell, Federico Schaffler, Lewis Shiner, and many others.
Oh yeah, one of those others is me.
My contribution is “Cuca,” in which a female masked wrestler has a life-changing experience in a nexus of monsters in Aztlán (AKA, the Southwest).
Join the monster fest now!
at 4:33 AM
Friday, December 20, 2019
Read a scene from Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin in Chicanonautica, over a La Bloga.
I'm trying to finish it:
It's got Indians:
A funny Chicano:
And a space capsule:
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Soon we were in Utah, approaching St. George through a valley and town named Hurricane, where velociraptor lawn statues were for sale.. There was no ocean, but the rocky peaks for miles around were strewn about as if they had been tossed around by a hurricane. Some landscapes make poets of us all.
There were also the usual Mormonlandia sights: farmland, cattle, little towns. As we got closer to St. George more and more of the buildings looked brand new, and pre-fab. New freeways were under construction. By the time we reached St. George it looked like a freshly-printed Mars Colony patterned after California’s urban sprawl. All the usual corporate franchises that you would find anywhere in America were present. You could parachute consumers from across the USA there and they would find themselves surrounded by the familiar.
Dystopia was in the air. I kept expecting to see Philip K. Dick’s ghost wandering the streets. I made a note to put a town like St. George in my Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars novel.
We didn’t want to eat at any of the franchises, so we ended up cruising the tangle of shiny, new streets that spewed from the freeways like asphalt spaghetti. The town was like a cancer growing out of the ancient Mormon, utopian core--though now the cancer had grown larger than the original organism.
It’s the Trumpian dream in action: Let the post-modern robber barons run amok. Maybe they can convert the entire planet into liquid assets. Then they can go off in snazzy spaceships to launch a program of galactic liquefaction. We don’t need no stinking aliens. We are the invaders. We are the menace.
In the older, Mormon section we found an artesian pizza joint, called Riggatti’s.
After dark, the hotel seemed like a spaceship deep in the void.
At 7 a.m. the next morning (daylight saving time) it was still dark. The full moon rose over the Barsoomian rockscape of Hollywood’s Wild West, now being carved up to make room for the brave, new post-urban sprawl.
In the complimentary breakfast room a little brown employee materialized when I was frozen in confusion over the Kafkaesque coffee machine. Another hotel guest,an old guy with a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN cap and a white Fu Manchu moustache that curled halfway down his chest.
I had trouble finding the elevator that seemed to be an afterthought in the cramped hallways where I found the dystopian snack machine. First it appeared only to have snacks, but wait! The entire front opens like a refrigerator, revealing drinks. I would have never figured it out, but another guest who did was so excited he ran out into the hall to tell me.
Welcome to America, the Land of Do-It-Yourself Dystopias.
As we negotiated the tangle of throbbing, young freeways, I realized that St. George was not only the gateway to Salt Lake City, and the National Parks, but Las Vegas. That’s why all the hotels.
Emily said,“Next time we’re staying in Hurricane.”
Friday, December 6, 2019
Thursday, November 28, 2019
You can get the wrong idea about how Emily and I live from reading this blog. It looks like we spend all our time on road trips, having fun. Sorry to say that it is not the case. We wish it could be, but it just plain ain’t.
We both have day jobs. Writing far-out imaginative fiction doesn’t pay much, unless you get hooked up with a corporate entertainment outfit, then, of course, they want to control everything. Also, writing takes time. Spare time is an alien concept.
So when the time came for our 30th anniversary, we decide to steal a week to go celebrate with a third honeymoon. We couldn’t actually do it on our anniversary, but then we learned long ago that life is easier if you don’t beat yourself up over silly details.
We had to get out of town, out of this crazy state, but Arizona is a big place. Getting out of it takes a day or so. So we headed for Sedona.
Sedona is so different from Phoenix that it makes for a good weekend getaway that we do often. It is the home of Latin Inspired Cuisine, where brown-skinned citizens and old fashioned Mexican restaurants are recent additions. I used to feel like part of an affirmative action program walking among the Anglo tourists, but times have a-changed.
There was a place called Butterfly Burger. Hmm. Proper exploitation of insect protein could solve the planet’s hunger problems. How many butterflies does it take to make one burger? Maybe if could breed caterpillars to grow to cattle-size . . .
One of our favorite restaurants offers cactus tacos. I haven’t tried them. Just can’t make myself order vegetarian when real, carnivorous tacos are available.
A sign advertised Salt Rooms. What the hell are Salt Rooms? Probably something like the expensive crystals that they claim suck the “negative energy” out of you.
The next day was Indigenous People’s Day, which, according to the Surrealists is the day that the Indians discovered Columbus. I woke to a lot of hypnagogic visions flickering inside my eyelids, inspiring me to grab my phone and work on my novel. Out our window, the sun rose over a jagged, silhouetted mountain, and we could see and hear Oak Creek from the balcony.
On our way to the Coffee Pot for breakfast, we passed a place that offered Conscious Meals. I imagined them screaming as you bit into them.
Then we left Sedona, go onto the 89A, and in Flagstaff, to our horror, discover that the cool gas station with the metal dinosaurs and other statues was abandoned and fenced off. A lot of our favorite places are being closed down. Whither goest thou, Aztlán?
We did a pit stop in Fredonia, with it’s old school, funky tourist junk. I was reminded of Freedonia from the Marx brothers movie Duck Soup. Groucho’s character, President Rufus T. Firefly has a lot in common with Trump. That and a hangover from my morning hypnagogia produced a sci-fi vision. Alien robber barons land, want to convert the entire earth into liquid assets, people cooperate because they think it’ll make them rich, only in the end, they get liquefied, too.
There was a lot of roadkill along the 89A.
Also new murals on abandoned-looking structured in Navajo country. Outlaw culture refuses to die!
Finally, we turned onto Highway 389, where we’ve never been before. Through the Kiabab Paiute reservation, and onward to Utah.
Friday, November 22, 2019
Get ready for shopping:
The President is sympathetic:
And how's that wall going?
Our Twenties are going to roar:
Thursday, November 14, 2019
When leaving Española, we almost took a detour to Taos, which sounds like an Elmore Leonard western. Maybe I should steal that title for my own. Yup. Something inspiring about this landscape. The Land of Enchantment.
"We’re going around the eastern flank of the supervolcano,” said Emily.
We stopped for a restroom break, and bought ice tea and water at a charming, non-corporate, middle of nowhere gas station/convenience store called Margarita’s, It was run by a talkative old guy, radiated back-country charm, and had a bar attached. The condom dispenser offered patriotic products.
There were a lot of pizzarias along the highways, getting into the Indian reservations. I wonder if they add green chile to make their pizzas New Mexico Style?
As we approached Farmington, we saw oil wells, refineries, casinos, even a horse race track. Also farmland and beautiful mountains. What more can working people want?
Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, and other Mexican revolutionaires looked over us as we had dinner at Tequila’s in Farmington. Our motel had more Native American patrons and employees.
Finally, we were heading home . . .
What century is this? Did we find America in Aztlán? Who was the president?
And a Koch brother died.
On Highway 64 going toward Shiprock,we passed a massive automotive graveyard. Soon we were going through the Big Rez, toward Arizona, always mindblowing. Real wide-open spaces . . . spacey . . . space . . . geological wonderland . . . modern day Native Wild West . . .
Suddenly, Emily swerved to avoid killing a reservation dog.
When we returned to Phoenix’s urban sprawl, flags were at half-staff again.