Sunday, November 07, 2004

November 7, 2004
Woke up to light rain. Always a nice way to start a Sunday. Drank coffee and read the paper. Much about the Democrats and their malaise, or their disbelief. Great quote from Sam Rayburn, used in association with the election results of 2000 and now 2004: "There's no education in the second kick of a mule."

Got a new poll up: Have you ever taken a scenic train trip in the American West? Yes/No. Vote here.

On Friday I had lunch with Michael Wallis, the so-called King of Route 66. His book on the Mother Road has sold close to a million copies. He's since written a book on Pretty Boy Floyd and now he's turning his attention to Billy the Kid. He came with his son John and we ate at El Encanto and talked about all things Billy. Michael lives in Tulsa, flew in and his son is driving him on a big tour of Arizona Billy sites, including Globe, Clifton, Bonita, etc. Almost the same exact route we'll be taking on our Maniac tour next April.

I took the opportunity to ask him about the unstoppable, mythic attraction of all things Route 66. It's kind of hard for me to understand since I grew up on the damn thing and don't quite get how and why it has transcended almost everything in the culture. When I was in Tombstone last week they had Route 66 shirts for sale on Allen Street. When we were in Heathrow Airport in London last December they had a Route 66 diner in the terminal.

Michael summed it up like this: "It's the allure of the open road." Wow! so simple and yet so true. See, I remember the poodle skirts and the '57 Chevys and the Sno-Cap Drive-in, but I also remember the tragic wrecks (one section of 66 east of Kingman was known as "Death Alley") and the petty, conniving, cheap tourists and the Okies with no money and the blacks pulling in on the outside drive and asking me where they could stay and I said, "Anywhere you want to," and the black man said, "Is your father here?" and I went and got him and he told the guy that his family could stay at a little motel next to the Coronado Courts. And this was in 1964!

Anyway, Michael also told me that if you think the Route 66 phenom is big now wait until next year when Pixar releases Cars, a movie about Route 66 and a ficticious bypassed town called Radiator Springs. A NASCAR car (voiced by Owen Wilson) gets pulled over by a '49 Merc cop car (voiced by Michael Wallis—he has great pipes) and Wilson's car is taken to the local judge car (voiced by Paul Newman), and on and on. If their other movies, Toy Story, Monstors, Inc., Finding Nemo, including the Incredibles, which opened Friday, is any indication, Cars is probably going to be huge. Michael told me Pixar contacted him about being a consultant when the project was first dreamed up and they rented a fleet of Cadillacs and travelled 66 with him showing them all the legendary mileposts, etc.

I guess Charlie Waters and I need to get hopping on our Route 66 epic, The Exits. Or, maybe we should just chill, and wait.

"All things come to him who waits, especially things not worth waiting for."
—Old Vaquero Sayingg

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