Big Country Little Car Tour II, Day 1: Brooklyn NY to Akron OH
It took an hour just to get out of the state of New York. Not far into Pennsylvania, I ran into the drenching rain we'd waited on for days back home. Visibility dropped to 20 feet and I had to tailgate a semi just to see in front of me. That went on intermittently through the top of the Appalachians, white-knuckle downpour driving, alternating with hill views set off by eye-level clouds, and the occasional copse that disappeared into itself four trees deep. I had to force my eyes back to the road and not stare too long into the treeline, "lovely, dark and deep." What's back in there? Stills and bones; rusty ribs and missing girls.
As I dropped down towards Ohio, the sun returned — a different sun from the one I've hidden from in New York for the last week. I remembered the summer of '91 and the last stop on any one of my pool-testing routes, how harmless the sun felt on the drive home with the work done — sweet, even. A Coke tasted the best at that time of the day, the time when the sun came at you as a friend, from the side, no heat, just a nudge. I used to put my Sambas on top of the cooler and drive barefoot. "That's not legal," Smitty used to say, "and if we get pulled over I'm-a tell 'em I told you." "And I'm-a tell 'em," I used to say back, "that my actual dad has dark hair and doesn't hog the whole soft pretzel."
Into Akron, "the Rubber City," and its hotel ghetto. Louisville has a layout like that, all the hotels clumped together next to a restaurant park of Bennigan'ses and Burger Kings and whatever imitation Italian is going on. My Radisson is next to a property called Le Crystal Pointe, an assemblage of depressingly anonymous late-'80s commercial property architectural fillips that brings to mind the wedding photos used in true-crime books.
The Radisson itself has its best years in the rearview; I've now stumbled over the loose lino tile in the elevator three times. The bedside clock has no power cord. And if the Radisson doesn't want to have a restaurant, it doesn't have to have a restaurant, but…it has a restaurant, with tables and the allegation of room service and everything, so it needs to…have the restaurant. The microwaved samoha I had for dinner seemed well-intentioned, but maybe have one other non-lamb thing on the menu? And maybe prepare it fresh, and not in the microwave, which I could hear dinging and which sogged out the whole dish?
I fared better (literally) at the ballpark, with a Miller Lite and peanuts. The Aeros have a nice little outfit down there; I sat and watched helicopters taking off and landing from the roof of the hospital. The Thunder, in town from Trenton, played patiently around the Christmas in July promotion and various sumo-outfit bat races and whatnot. The college kids working the game discussed their hangovers the way you discuss family members. Santas gathered behind home plate.
Akron has an odd atmosphere; it feels empty. Not a lot of people around, the ones I see not going anyplace in particular. I've also noticed strange style mash-ups, violent collisions of NASCAR and hip-hop which left no survivors. Many many ill-advised cornrows.
Next stop: Milwaukee WI.
Tags: Big Country Little Car Tour bored now hairdon'ts vegequarianism