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GLUED TO THE ROAD: a hairline crack in the freeway of history

The rough guts of a story yet-being-written
poetic journalism by Rick McKinney
August, 1998

What you are about to read is a goddamn mess.

It's a travesty of journalistic justice, a lump of jumbled verbiage, a gob of spit in the eyes of literature, to paraphrase Henry Miller. And I don't give a damn. I can't. I don't have the time.

I set out to keep a running journal of this trip, to write everyday and file stories to the website every few days. Forget it. It didn't happen. For indeed, so much has happened and this road life has proved so intensely rich and distilled that I just haven't been able to keep pace with it.

So before we hit Portland next week for the Hawthorne Street Fair and Extremo's Art Car Parade, I must unload to you everything I've done so far, no matter how scrambled it be.

And it be scrambled.

I'll try and set the stage for you, to toss off some facts before you wade through the chaotic rambling observations of my mind.

First of all, this is a tale of travel, a tale of artists on the road in art cars in the summer of 1998. I begin with a few pre-trip ramblings, then hit the road, the computer as yet non-operational, writing notes in a steno while driving, attempting and failing to flesh them out during input into the computer weeks later, then suddenly finding myself so far behind on the story that I ask Tex to be my driver for the duration so that I can do nothing but write whilst we tack off the miles heading west.

At first there is just me. In Minneapolis at the Lynn-Lake Street Fair and the Intermedia Arts Art Car Parade, I meet up with dozens of other car artists. I give a speech at the symposium, the highlight of which is a poem I wrote that morning about my trip there. When we leave Minneapolis, we are 9 vehicles inhabited by a total of eleven people. However, Jan Elftmann in the Cork Truck is only with us as far as The World's Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin, MN. So technically, we are a caravan of eight: 7 cars and one bus.

The characters are as follows (and I have given everyone a pseudonym just to confuse things little more than they already are):

The artist Seven from Bisbee, AZ, driving his car IFSM, or Interactive Functional Sculpture Mobile, accompanied by his canine helper & friend Baby. Seven ought be a hero to all handicapped peoples, traveling for several months on the road with multiple health problems and without the use of his legs. I first met Seven in Bisbee in the spring of 97, where I interviewed him for the Bisbee Daily Review. Included in this jumbled mass of road notes is an interview with Seven on the philosophical and historical significance of ART, the American Road Trip in which we now are immersed like cherries in a whipped cream pie.

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