.. by Mike Palecek
"Is it too much to ask?
I want a comfortable bed that won't hurt my back.
Food to fill me up.
And warm clothes and all that stuff.
Shouldn't I have this?
Shouldn't I have this?" — Mary-Chapin Carpenter
SUPER 8, INDIANA, USA — KGB.
A fantasy football team.
Killer Giant Ballerinas.
I am in Indiana, drove today from Cleveland to Bloomington's Boxcar Books, now headed toward Pittsburgh.
Yesterday I was a guest of the Cleveland Drinking Liberally group at Sullivan's Irish Pub on Madison Avenue.
I met Frederica and Dan, parents of Leonardo, eleven months old today [Monday]. Leonardo was born in Italy and has been in this country for two weeks. She is a doctor, he a "computer geek."
As we slowly make our way out of the bar, on the fancy wood flooring, past the cheering staff of Sullivan's Pub, Frederica and Dan point out to me things about Italy and the United States and democracy and stuff that make me think.
How do I find I-70? Is that east? That west? Is this my nose? My ass?
Yeah-yeah, says Dan.
I love that yeah-yeah. I started hearing it out this way. I'm going to keep listening for it.
The day before, I met with a Drinking Liberally group in a very northern suburb of Detroit, Ortonville.
I stayed with Ron and Nancy Wasczenski.
Well, I pulled up, into the long drive, the woods, the very nice house, with equestrian barn things around, affluence.
I did not feel like this was my place. Remember, my comfort zone is sitting on the sofa with a yellow and red afghan pulled over my head.
Well, I got settled and the guests filtered in, sampling the horse douvers.
I was nervous, wondering how this would ever work.
But when it came time for me to speak I stood in front of the hundred-foot-wide TV in the downstairs recreation room with the bar and did my thing.
I talked about how Bush did 9-11 and the troops are just serving the empire and about sending a crossed-out tax form to the IRS before I left home.
Thank you for your time. Shuffle the papers.
Any questions? Comments?
Pause. Silence. Thousand one, thousand two.
"Have you seen the video Loose Change?" someone said.
And we were off, talking about conspiracy this and controlled demolition that and had a great time.
Marianna, who is a native of Montreal, and used to teach at the Flint performing arts high school, and now is a liturgical music planner for a local Lutheran church, said one of her students was a brother of Osama bin Laden.
Marianna would like to be a freeway blogger, she scoots over toward me on the sofa and confides, but she is afraid of being deported.
I had mentioned during my talk my previous difficulties in getting into Canada. I wonder if I put up a sign against Bush I could get deported to Canada.
No. That's not how it works. You are a dumbshit.
Yes. That's true. I'm sorry.
Doug, of Marianna and Doug, used to work for GM. He is now an antique dealer and does not miss GM.
He talks about how when you close a certain foreign car door, when it gets close to being closed, the car kind of takes it from there.
With a GM product, Doug says, it's "bam-bam-bam", okay, that fits now.
We all laugh. Doug makes us laugh a lot. He is a good guy. These are all good people now that I don't have to talk and can just sit and listen.
Doug knows Michael Moore, went to school with him, they were in chess club together.
Doug and Marianna have funny stories to tell about traveling in Europe, boating in Prague, shit like that.
Doug also works each week at a soup kitchen in downtown Detroit. He mentions the meth addicts that stop by.
"At least we're doing everything we can do."
Before they leave for the night Marianna takes my email address and says they might be able to give it to MM in L.A. sometime.
The Killer Giant Ballerinas are Ron's fantasy football league team.
KGB took the league championship last year.
Ron — Waz — is a modern renaissance man. He has a nice house, family, property. He is an accountant. Hockey referee.
He is also an artist, a liberal, maybe bordering on radical.
On his wall are original charcoal works of art: Mark Fidrych, the Big Red Machine, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart.
He is compassionate, passionate, connected.
Someone who could run for office, network with the local Democratic Party big whigs, and also hoot and holler and get home late from a Black Oak Arkansas concert.
He is a Michigan boy, played hockey, football, eats McDonald's by the bucket full, can drink beer with either hand. Knows all the eff about Chomsky and Zinn and whatever else liberal crap you got.
He lets me into his home to talk about my books, talk bad about George Bush, drink his beer, eat his shrimp. He cares. He's trying. He's doing good things. He's going to do lots more good things.
He says that he met Joe Wilson of Valerie Plame Wilson at some function.
Joe said: "There are no tinfoil hats. These guys can do anything."
Do-do. Do-do. Do-do. Do-do.
I am impressed, but I'm glad to be gone.
I'm always glad to be gone.
Remember my comfort zone? I always feel lucky to talk to the people I meet. I don't know what they think about me, but I am happy to be able to say what's on my mind.
And I'm also always very happy to get back into the rusty, brown Honda and put on the headphones and dial up the Dixie Chicks or Steve Earle to celebrate the freedom of the road, being alone, on the way, going somewhere, else.
Well, I took I-75 Sunday through the heart of Detroit, past Comerica Stadium.
I was able to get the Twins-Tigers for a short time on my headphones.
I can't help but stare right and left at the city, at the neighborhoods.
Poverty is interesting. Affluence is boring.
I wonder about what goes on in that house, down that street, in that park. I drove around Kansas City in the black neighborhood I was going to read in, Milwaukee, Minneapolis. I just don't understand why we allow
poverty. I just don't get it. Some people live in these types of neighborhoods and we all just accept it. I remember doing a story on Mexicans in Minnesota who lived in a goddamn compound, like a prison camp, for a portion of the year, just to work for one of the canning companies. Geezuz-eff! What is wrong with us?
Look out for the big-effing truck.
And I want to write something that saves all the poor people.
I know they don't need me.
I still want to write that novel.
A good book could bring George W. Bush to his knees.
A novel has the potential power to save the world.
Maybe not my novel.
But maybe yours.
Think about it.
Today I drove from Cleveland to Bloomington and got skunked at Boxcar Books. I was headed to Pittsburgh this evening, stopped on the Interstate somewhere. I can only hope I'm out of Indiana.
It was one million degrees in Bloomington this afternoon.
The drive from Martinsville down to Bloomington on 37 South is really pretty cool. The trees are beginning to bud. I used to rely on Ruth to tell me things like that. Now I have to notice that shit for myself.
I spotted a Big Red Liquor store. Reminded me of Nebraska.
I think all the fervor spikes the temperature a bit.
There was this billboard promoting the upcoming National Day of Prayer, May something-or-other.
"Americans Unite In Prayer."
Nah. Eff that.
Unite toward what? More war? A longer wall along the Mexican border?
Big Red Boo-ya?
Put George W. Bush in D Unit behind the walls in Terre Haute Penitentiary for lying to us about WMDs and getting 3,500 Americans killed, for murdering Paul Wellstone, and for attacking his own country on 9-11-01. And give him a fourth count for just being a dumb-eff.
Praise the Lord. Pass the red T-shirts.
I went walking around Bloomington before my sucky gig at Boxcar Books.
It was another funky area, like in Madison, Ann Arbor, Lawrence.
In all these towns I like to take a little walk if I can, because I will never-ever see any of these places again. Ruth has assured me.
And so I wore my "Worst President Ever" T-shirt over to the University of Indiana campus and walked around.
Nah, just some old guy with no job walking around where he doesn't belong in a black T-shirt on a scorching hot day.
But, back here in the hotel zone on the interstate, wherever I am, the woman who took my money for gas said her boyfriend would like my T-shirt and where did I get it. Then the woman who checked me into the motel said, "I like your T-shirt."
God Bless Indiana, I think.
Next stops for The American Dream Book Tour & Protest Across the USA:
May 1, Pittsburgh Drinking Liberally, Claddagh Irish Pub, 2600 Carson Street, 7 pm.
May 2, Buffalo, Talking Leaves Books, 3 pm; The Center For Inquiry, 730 pm.
May 3, Rochester, NY, Drinking Liberally. Monty's Korner, 8 pm.
May 4, New York City, Bluestockings book store, 7 pm. [172 Allen Street, Lower East Side]
May 5, Staten Island, ETG Cafe, 3 pm.
May 6, Providence, Rhode island, AS220 Performance Space, 8 pm.
www.amazon.com (search: Mike Palecek)
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