Get your Kicks

5 Feb 10

All right, jump in and put on your seatbelts, we have a great project coming up. Esteemed artist, Katie Flower and I are planning a collaborative project that will hopefully contribute to a series of artworks concerning travel and markers in America. I have been reading Who needs a road?, the story of a group of writers of a travel magazine in the Seventies, that decided to circumvent the globe in a Landcruiser. Also on my reading list some months ago was Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. If you have not read this, it is a man and his son traveling in search of the apex of modernity. (I won’t ruin it for you.) At about the same time, I read Kerouac’s unedited On the Road.

Katie and I have had many conversations relating to what has been lost in modernity. In America, we are unable to stick with what works. We constantly have to replace X with the higher tech Y.  Both being from the St. Louis area, we began talking about the infamous Route 66. Through the filter of our Tourism and Culture, class we began discussing the idea of the marker and what shelf life it holds. We had been talking about the “Mother Road” for a few weeks when we questioned the nostalgia that it brings up for most Americans and began sharing stories from our own areas of “supposed” markers on Rte. 66 and the reality that remains today. For example, there is a classic steak & seafood joint that popped up in the highway’s heyday that is still a stop for road-tripping motorist near my last residence. They do not have seafood anymore and they stopped serving steak as well. Actually, the only food that you can get there is chicken wings on Monday night and the steakhouse looks more like a place to get your ass kicked than one to enjoy a refreshing glass of iced tea. Katie mentioned old drive-ins that for some reason are still marked but are parking lots or cornfields now. After hours of related stories we decided that we must make a “modernist” road trip on this former vein of America to see for ourselves what is actually there worthy of a marker.

Planning for the piece has already begun. We will spend one day on a shake-down from Chicago to St. Louis receiving blessings from our friends. Once in the metro, we will pack our tent, sleeping bags and supplies to head on out the highway. We will be documenting with video, stills, and audio and journals. We will have a person shooting video for most of the trip while we drive and choose sites. If a sight is no longer there, we will speak with locals to identify a replacement for the site no matter how off the wall. It could be where thier ’59 Buick broke down in college. Sites that are somewhat there, we plan to adapt to it’s original use. If there was a drive in theatre, we will park in the lot, and watch a movie on a portable DVD player. If the restaurant building is still there, we will sit on the property and eat. There are many, many variables to this piece and will change as it goes. As it stands, on Spring Break, we will depart Chicago, and drive to Los Angeles (in hopefully 5.5 days) and record all of our experiences. We are purchasing a Route 66 travel guide; vintage 1976, and use it as a basis for meanderings. We will also be posting our stories on this blog as well as our Facebook accounts for friends and family to follow. We are still working out transportation between three possibilities: Drive convertible Ford Mustang and have someone return it later as we fly back, or drive a rental car and fly back, or purchase a cheap automobile, drive to L.A., back to Nevada, having my friend sell the car after we fly back home. Sound crazy? It’s not like were are circumventing the globe! (which has not been completed by automobile in the last 35 years). Check out Katie’s blog next week for more details!

Thanks for reading.


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