America: The Good, the Bad, and the Utterly Disgusting

Published: July 8th 2009
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3 Days of driving, music and porn in the Heartland
(with 44 tell the story better than I please scroll through the pics...they can be hidden on this site so you have to keep clicking next to see them all)

…1600 miles later and I’m in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ve been through here before but like so many other cities in this country, I was in and out for work and didn’t really experience the area. It seems like a nice enough “small-town” type city but it’s not dark yet and like the song says ‘the freaks come out at night’. If I have learned one thing over the past 3 days driving through America’s heartland it’s that this country is no safer, no cleaner and definitely no less strange than most of the countries my mother is frightened of. Oh yeah, I also learned that ‘Abortion is Murder’ and that ‘Christ Died for my Sins’.

Milshire Hotel, Chicago, Illinois. $40. Yup, $40 for a hotel in Chicago…should have been a sign right there! But I was worn out after driving from Omaha to Gary, IN to pay my respects at Michael Jackson’s boyhood home. I had been listening to the memorial on CNN and thought it would be a good idea to go by the tiny house at 2300 Jackson St. It was cool to be there but couldn’t stay long. That is not a neighborhood you want to be in after dark. A ghetto as bad as anything I’ve seen in Central America!

Anyway, I got to Chicago and scoped out the venue where Sunset Rubdown was playing. It seemed to be an affluent neighborhood so I checked out Google Maps and there was a hotel within walking distance. They had room available. $40. Sure, once I got there the neighborhood did not look so good, but after coming from Gary, it seemed alright. I checked in, went to the room and realized it was a shared bathroom. OK. Then I turned on the TV. It was one of those old ones that needed time to warm up…when it did the first image I saw was a close-up of double penetration porn!

That image cleared my head and senses a little and that’s when I started to smell the room. A stench worse than a bus in Burma! But I was already here…so screw it, right? I went in the bathroom and when I went to turn on the light a cockroach fell out on my head, hit the ground and scurried away. Still, I went on. I had already unloaded the car and hauled everything up the stairs and I had a show to get to.

I’m at the show, opening band is playing and I cannot get this sick feeling out of my head, out of my stomach. I need to go get my stuff out of that hotel! I look up the hotel on Trip Advisor. The first review is titled “I didn’t get killed in the 5 minutes I was there” and they just got worse from there!

There are no ins and outs at this venue, but I find a backdoor that is open and I sneak out. I tell the man at the front desk (once I get to him past the hookers, drug dealers and crack heads that are now in the lobby) that I’m staying with a friend. I pack my shit and get the hell out! Out front I see the homeless women I gave $2 to buying drugs from one of the guys who works on the hotel. I get to the car and realize I forgot my bathroom bag...I go back up and see them same guy making a delivery (crank, I'm guessing) to the room next to mine. I hear sounds in that room I cannot explain. I was supposed to share a bathroom with those people!!!

That night I slept at a rest stop in Indiana. I was safer there…even after getting hit on by some dude in the men’s room…than I was at the Milshire! God bless America!

To be honest, most of what I have seen on this trip has been that picturesque small town America you would expect...until you scratch the surface. I drove the covered bridges of Madison County (that were all graffitied inside), I saw Ronald Regan and John Wayne’s birthplace (with their cheesy gift shops), Iowa is so green from state line to state line (except for the McDonalds and Arby’s every 2 feet), and our highways are nicely paved and provide smooth driving (except every couple hundred miles where you slow to a snail’s pace because of construction where the workers are just standing there doing nothing).

I do love Priceline though. Besides Chicago I have found $150-200 hotels for $40-50 by naming my own price. I even stayed in the same hotel as the Jonas Brothers in Omaha…that was a thrill! Haha! I am now in the Hyatt Regency right across from Slugger Field where I’m going to see Dylan, Willie and John Mellencamp tonight.

I think I’m coming around to small cities. When I drove into Chicago I was so excited to be back in a ‘real’ city. It’s been awhile since I’ve been back to SF and I consider Denver a small city. But I really do appreciate where I live now. I will always miss living in a city, but don’t think I would want to do it again.

Well, that’s it for now. Back on the road again in the morning.

P.S. - Sunset Rubdown show was amazing! Son Volt show was boring as hell. Looking forward to the Bob Dylan show tonight even though I've never know him to be that good live...Willie Nelson is going to perform and I've never seen him.

Additional photos below
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8th July 2009

Sunset Rubdown
Who was the opening act? Moonlight Reacharound?
9th July 2009

You might have been better off stopping for a hitchhiker and staying at his place ;-)

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