Arts & Culture

A Nice Jewish Boy Returns To New York #1

Jesse Fox is a Contributing Editor here at Jewcy. He drove across the country from San Francisco to New York despite temperature and gas prices. Here is his diary. Read More

By / July 21, 2011

Jesse Fox is a Contributing Editor here at Jewcy. He drove across the country from San Francisco to New York despite temperature and gas prices. Here is his diary.

DAY 0 – San Francisco, CA

“Are you excited to move back to New York?” This started every conversation tonight at my going away party. My answer went something like, “Probably. I mean, yeah, kinda. Sure, I guess. I’m mostly just focused on not dying for the next two weeks on the road.” Then came the flitter of an eye rolled and the subsequent change of subjects.

I can tell they thought I was avoiding the question but I was actually running through possibly bucket kickers while speaking to most of them. Here is a portion of the list:

1. Tire pops on the highway and I careen into the medium or incoming traffic (this is actually something I’m always fearful of when I find myself driving faster than 50 mph).
2. Car overheats in the desert and I die of thirst or thirsty scorpions.
3. I cut off a biker gang, and they Altamont my face.
4. KKK.
5. Accidentally stumble into a bad area. I have no idea how dangerous New Orleans, El Paso, or Memphis are but from what I’ve heard I expect nothing short of pre pre-Ninja Turtles Manhattan.
6. Drive towards a mirage in western Arizona only to be consumed by a Sarlacc.
7. Overdose on a combination of a Red Bull and Pepto.
8. Axe to the head from a stranger who is letting me surf his/her couch.
9. Bugs.
10. A drifter that looks like (or possibly is) Tom Waits tricks me into a murder-suicide pact.

Also, I was avoiding the question.

I didn’t want to spend the entire party repeating, “Yes, I am excited to move back to New York but in the way a bulimic is before a meal. I lived in California for over two years but it was like studying abroad – technically it’s real life, since your going to school and all, but it mostly a drunken sabbatical, in which you get to make out with an Irish guy/Australian girl visiting Florence. New York is an ex-girlfriend who I spent two years idealizing that now wants to get back together and I start remembering her bitchiness, awful taste in television, and rent rates.”

This trip is a perfect distraction. Well, unless I die.

I first had the idea to do the drive exactly eleven months ago. After a year and a half in Los Angeles, I was prepared to make my exodus back to the place of my origin. Primarily, it was a way of avoiding the anxiety dreams associated with having to sell my car in a short window of time. Then I was offered and subsequently accepted a job in San Francisco. Amounting to not much more than an extended detour, I’m leaving tomorrow for my perfectly distracting trip.

The route I’ve settled on is:

San Francisco – Los Angeles – San Diego – Tucson – Marfa – Austin – Houston– New Orleans – Memphis – Nashville – New York

This is known as the “Southern Route” for those who discuss routes frequently or look at maps occasionally. The River Styx metaphor, though obvious, is apt, as I’m looking at an average temperature of about 206° with 109.4% humidity (I’ve actually avoided looking at the weather forecasts out of fear, thus the hyperbole). My only counter-attack is aggressive hydration and a wardrobe of jorts and old basketball jerseys from my childhood.

Regardless of sub-Mason Dixon schvitzing, it was the obvious way to go for one main reason: food. Well, food and the way of life that surrounds it. It’s arguably the most culturally rich, albeit sparsely so, section of the country. The truism of the liberal, coastal elitist’s fetishism, and condescending othering, of the Great American South is not lost on me, but neither is how awesome BBQ is. A little bit of former and a lot bit of the latter seems palatable and delicious.

I’ll be driving my muted-white 2005 Nissan Sentra. I named it “The 19th President of the United States Rutherford B. Hayes” two years ago apropos of nothing. I resent the car for being a money-bleeding jerk and myself for that insufferable name. (Side note: If anyone is looking for a car in the New York City metro area, I have a road-tested, bright-white 2005 Nissan Sentra. It has a hilarious name, is not a jerk, and bleeds zero money. Contact me at

I’m not sure what to expect and I have less idea of what I’m going to write. The hope is to offer a few words about the weirdness and/or the lack thereof of these here Unites States. If anything, I’ll be able to edify myself and the interested on what to expect in terms of money spending, BBQ/gravy induced weight gaining, musk caused car devaluing, accent decipherin’, deliverance avoidin’, moonshine bootleggin’ and other borderline offensive clichés. I hope to learn something about my country and myself. Also, I really hope I don’t die.