Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interstate 65

Monday July 29th, 2013 – Ft. Walton Beach, FL/Fox Lake, IL

   I heartily challenge anyone who thinks they might want to become a professional entertainer of any kind to spend 24 straight hours in a car before they ever get their first gig and then come tell me if they’re still interested. I’d bet at least 95% or more would be out of the pool immediately.

   This is not a pursuit for the squeamish, and sometimes it becomes a grueling marathon that has nothing whatsoever to do with actual performance ability. It boils down to being able to arrive at gigs consistently to keep getting paid. We basically become truck drivers hauling a load of jokes.

   When I started, I couldn’t get enough of the road and all the extra perks that went with it. I was constantly seeing new places I’d never been to, and the spirit of adventure became intoxicating. I actively looked for any and all work as far from my home base as possible. Those days are gone.

   These days I dread having to travel long distances, whether by land, air or sea. I’ve been most everywhere, and even if I haven’t there aren’t many places that can dazzle me with a totally new gimmick I’ve never seen before. A long car ride is a long car ride pretty much any way it goes.

   I left Fort Walton Beach, FL last night after the show at 11pm Central Time. It’s never easy to fall right to sleep after a show, so I can always count on a couple of hours of alertness before my head starts bobbing behind the wheel. I’ve learned to pull over and rest when that time comes.

   I knew I was in for a hellishly long scoot, so there’s nothing to do but relax and try to enjoy the ride. I brought a couple of self help audio programs and my iPod to help pass the time, and there happened to be some good radio stations to keep my attention as I headed west on Interstate10 to Mobile, AL where I’d catch Interstate 65 and head north. GPS? Who needs that? I’m a road dog.

   Interstate 65 is a highway I’ve been on quite a bit in my time. I’ve driven it from end to end as I have most of the major Interstates in America. I always get a charge out of seeing an Interstate from end to end. It’s kind of like completing a book series or baseball card set. It brings closure.

   It also brings perspective. Most major highways transverse the continent and offer a wide array of anything and everything from urban to rural to regional and everything in between. Interstate 65 is a perfect example of this. It stretches from the deepest South to right outside of Chicago.

   It goes through Nashville, Louisville and Indianapolis – three places I’ve worked often through the years. I have good friends in all those places, as well as favorite thrift stores, restaurants and all kinds of local flavor. I could live in any of those cities tomorrow and find my way just fine. 

   Alabama is another story. I’ve never liked that state, and after splitting it down the middle one more time today I’ve still not acquired a taste for it. I’ve always had horrible shows there, and if I never go back nary a tear will be shed – at least by me. I don’t feel a synergy and never have.

   Even their barbecue stinks. They don’t put sauce on it, and I’ve never liked that. I love a sweet tomato based sauce, as they do in Kansas City or Memphis. Memphis has a ‘dry rub’ style that’s delicious too. Alabama does it their way, and I’m not a fan. Oh well. I’m sure life will continue.

   If it doesn’t, at least I can say I explored my home country. Taking this long trip brought back memories, most good. What it didn’t bring was a desire to keep doing it. But if I have to, I will.

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