Arts & Culture

A Nice Jewish Boy Returns To New York #2

Our young (Jewish) hero finds himself baking through the Southwest. Read More

By / July 26, 2011

Day 1: Los Angeles, CA

LA doesn’t feel like a vacation destination as I always find myself picking up from when I moved away–same restaurants (the Thai food is worth a trip to LA alone), same people, same feeling of begrudged pleasantness. Hell, I’m writing this from the coffee shop in which I used to write every weekend–I even parked at my old apartment. It feels like more of a continued goodbye to the state of California, than a part of the journey.

As I say that goodbye to my friends here, I consider thanking them for liking me despite my incessant threats of moving. I spent fifteen months here yet never moved in; my walls blank, my license affixed with a New York address, my mattress aired (regardless of discomfort, there is a certain type of freedom afforded to people who don’t buy real beds).

LA is the easiest of easy targets but let me use this time to say it’s a wonderful city with wonderful people and has really super duper great Thai food.

Day 3: Tucson, AZ

Ok, we have a problem.

The trip is only three days old and I feel awful. I find myself counting every mile, “256…552, 753…804, 805, 806, only about 3,500 to go.” I’m bored of my boring, nowhere near Sal Paradisian, thoughts. Anyone who said that the road was a place of self-discovery must have been high on Benzedrine–oh wait, they were.

Nothing has helped pass the time. Music has been the biggest disappointment. I bought four albums at the LA Amoeba records store–Bon Iver’s Bon Iver, The Antlers’ Burst Apart, Tune Yards’ Who Kill, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists’ Tyranny of Distance–thinking that I’ll be able to dive into the heart of them and come out of it with a heightened understanding of the artists and myself. Yet, I determine the problem is songs end too quickly and draw attention to the passing of time, or lack thereof. I listen to each once and intend on never listening to any of the four again out of spite.

Instead, I just sit there sweating and wondering how it is possible that my car neighbors are still awake. I look into the window of every shipping truck that passes in an attempt to glean survival techniques.

“Are truck drivers jerking off constantly?” is the question of the day. Three hours of heated debate and I determine they must be. It probably kills time. Maybe its a method of motivation–a reward for every, let’s say, 500 miles driven. Obviously, I feel inspired to take a hard (pun not intended) look at myself and wonder if I could pull it off (pun intended). Though I’ve been pantsless since crossing the scorching Arizona border, I decide that any attempt at such would assure instant death, like a teen couple after a horror movie sex scene.

It was too big a risk considering that in my estimation I almost died twice already:

1) Driving the short distance from LA to San Diego after an exceptionally spicy dinner at my old favorite Thai restaurant. The cocktail of chewable Pepto and Red Bull was powerless against nighttime’s sleep induction. Somehow I arrived in San Diego alive and with a black tongue (the fun side effect of mixing caffeine and antacids.)

2) It was 119 degrees in Arizona. That is roughly the temperature of a standard pot roast cooked rare. I’m not sure of the heat needed to cook humans to rare, but 119 can’t be far off. My air-conditioner had no chance; I grew more edible with every mile. All I needed was a couple more hours and some basting before the desert people would have been able to enjoy a delicious meal of Roast Jew.

For now, I am decidedly alive, though with a spotty patchwork of pale, tanned, and burned skin.