Friday, October 30, 2009

Witz Pickz: Drive-By-Numbers -- Days Nine through Eleven (DC to New Jersey and New York)

It took me eleven days, 3600 miles, two Days Inns, not enough Sonic milkshakes, one parking ticket, more Subway sandwiches than I'm comfortable with, one extremely informed drunken conversation about nuclear proliferation, and at least twelve instances of being caught dancing to Since U Been Gone while driving-- but I made it to New York City.

To be honest, I felt like the trip was over when I made it to DC. I mean, after all that driving from Austin to DC, I was only four hours from NYC, it felt like the northeast, the territory was familiar, and the odds of being deliveranced dropped off dramatically.

Days Nine through Eleven: Washington, D.C. to Brooklyn, NY

5 - Hours spent in a DC coffeehouse waiting for my friend to get off work. With all of DC to explore and the entire afternoon to do so in, I decided to kill the day writing a post, catching up on gchat, and sitting stationary in one downtown coffeehouse. They had free wi-fi, which led to me wondering what the proper etiquette is for length of stay compared to amount purchased. I think a dollar an hour makes sense, or one product per hour, but I have no real logic behind that. In my case, since my computer and bag were not able to be seen from the counter, I bought one frolatte (frozen latte-- oh how clever will we humans get) for 3 dollars and spent the entire damn day in their establishment.

8 - The numbers of pictures I ended up with on my camera at the end of the trip.

118811 - The palindrome on my odometer that I managed to capture with my digital camera. Apparently, that's the type of cross-country driving occurrence I wanted to share with you all. BUT, do note that there are TWO palindromes in the picture occurring simultaneously-- the odometer, and the trip meter...pretttttty cooooool:

12.5 - The percentage of pictures I took of a FUCKING PALINDROME!

3 - The number of songs I got stuck in my head that probably prove I'm a sociopath. Do normal people ever just get "Ba Ba Black Sheep," "If I Had A Hammer," or, "Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo" stuck in there head for no apparent reason???

"What's your favorite musical genre?"
"Oh, mostly Nursery Rhymes and American Folk Standards..."

35 - The percentage of foliage I appreciated or at least the percent I actually believe I am capable of enjoying. I like leaves, in the fall they are pretty, and I love the feeling of the Northeast in October, but I don't think I'll ever appreciate leaves to the extent that people call them FOLIAGE. My final four hours took me through some very nice, forested areas, as well as some delightful New Jersey tolls, and I remember thinking, "Well, this is all very nice-- I should take a picture or something so other people can appreciate it," but I guess it didn't look the same backwards and forwards, so I just kept on driving... New York City. Successfully. Alive.

If Reading My Blog Provided the Same Amount of Entertainment As Watching the Movie "Road Trip," Then I Think Someone Owes Me Some Money,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Witz Pickz: Drive-By-Numbers -- Days Seven and Eight (Austin to DC)

You haven't lived if you haven't driven 1600 miles in two days, alone, in the rain, in traffic, with nothing but your ipod and the threat of getting pulled over to keep you awake. You also probably haven't contemplated road-trip suicide...

Days Seven and Eight: Austin to Washington, D.C.

Miles: 1583 (each and every one a gem)

3 - Signs asking, "If You Died Today, Where Would You Spend Eternity?" Each time I saw one of these signs, I had the same thoughts. 1) That's a fairly pessimistic sign to have on a highway when I'm driving 85mph in the rain next to a car with a guy who's eye fat appears to be covering his eye holes. 2) Probably wherever my body landed. 3) In a ditch in West Texas. 4) Given the choice, probably City Pizza in Hartford, Connecticut.

17 - Number of times I listened to my own band (A Victory Nonetheless) on my ipod. Just in case this blog wasn't narcissistic enough, I sang along to MYSELF, air drummed along with Turbo, and threw in some air guitar along with 24-Hour Jim for good measure. Fortunately, all of that only put a minor dent in the hours I had to drive.

6 - Both the number of times I went to Subway on the trip AND the number of teeth that the woman who worked at the Days Inn in west Nashville had!

2 - Terrifying people I met. The second one came in the form of a 20 something guy in a beat to hell van late at night at a Tennessee gas station. He looked like if a rat had traded his ability to sing for human legs and spat at my car while making eye contact with me as he got out of the passenger seat of the van. I didn't know if it was because my car was from California, because I am Jewish, or because he just had to spit at that exact moment, but he had Gas Station Stabbing written all over him, so I got the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

The FIRST creepy guy I met at Subway. I needed to use the outlets at his table to charge my phone, so he invited me to sit with him. After talking for a bit pleasantly, he randomly told me that Memphis is the murder capitol of the USA along with Detroit and that I should be careful. He then told me I was very brave to be going cross-country on my own, followed by asking, "Is that your little car out there with all the stuff in it?" Suddenly, I realized I'd told this guy quite a bit about my trip and myself. I thought back to what I knew about him. His name was Larry, he was recently divorced, he was eating dinner at Subway even though he lived nearby, and he was engaged to a woman he met on Christian Minglers dot com. I decided that yes, Larry probably WAS a serial killer, but he more than likely only killed women, so I was prooobably alright. "If you died today, where would you spend Eternity?" Certainly not in tiny pieces strewn across the Mid-Atlantic States, so I decided to get out of there and drive as quickly as possible past Memphis.

1 - Craziest shit I've seen-- I can only describe what I saw as a "Birdnado." As I drove through Arkansas (The Natural State, incidentally, which seems about right-- nothing about Arkansas looks like it's had plastic surgery of any kind...or braces...or a high school education), I saw something tearing around chaotically by a rundown house in a field. My initial thought was that it had to be a tornado or wind of some kind. It was a massive streaming, arching tunnel of movement. As I got closer, however, I saw that it was actually hundreds of birds, following each other and moving in a giant cluster, probably eating bugs (or, as I really thought in my head: battling the forces of good by taking on the form of demon birds). Basically, imagine someone asked you to picture the scariest bird related image you could-- that's what I saw. I drove away knowing that the world is a much more frightening place than I thought.

1 - Night sleeping in a giant king-sized bed with three pillows arranged in the form of another person next to me for company. You guys have done that, right? The road can be a lonely place.

Sonic Good,

P.S. I meant to post this the other day, but right before leaving SF, my friends and I watched an episode of Storm Stories (logically) and heard this magnificent quote: "The thing about Texas is that if you hang around anywhere very long, someone in a pickup truck is gonna come by with a chainsaw." Wow-- maybe I was brave to drive cross country by myself...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Witz Pickz: Drive-By-Numbers -- Day Four through Day Six (Las Cruces to Austin)

First off, yes, I'm alive! It occurred to me that not blogging might imply road-death, and was worried about the influx of emails I would get inquiring as to my safety. When that didn't happen, I realized that not posting regularly is probably an issue and that one day it might lead to my doom as I wither away with broken legs in a canyon or ditch somewhere while somewhere someone sits asking, "When the hell is Witz gonna post about how he embarassed himself this week?" So, for those of you passive worriers-- I'm alive. Meaning this scenario didn't happen:

"Oh no, my car broke down!"
"We're here to fix it."
"Really? I didn't even call anyone yet!
"We've been keeping tabs on you."
", you don't look like Triple A..."
"We're Triple K."

It turns out that while things might look scary on paper, I-10 is a major interstate and I wasn't the only person driving from Point A to Point B on it. It's what makes America great and what makes it terrible-- ubiquitous mainstream culture. At times it's depressing and awful, but during the stretch from San Diego to Austin, I fully appreciated the safety of the highway, the regularity of the gas stations, and the resources provided by chain stores. I bought a much needed shirt at Old Navy, got wifi at Starbucks, and found what I needed at a Radio Shack, all in one plaza in Nowhereville, New Mexico. To the numbers:

Days Four though Six: Las Cruces to Austin and The ATX

Miles: 670

Speed Limit: 80 - Ok, so 75mph was awesome, but there comes a point when a speed limit goes from being amazingly liberating to being condescending. Sure, if I was driving a Corvette or Mustang I'd have unleashed the need for speed on that open road, but when I'm driving a fully packed Subaru Outback that maxes out at about 87mph before shaking wildly, it's just mean-spirited taunting.

Balorhea: 1 - There's only one place named Balorhea, but that was enough to have me giggling like a five year old. If you haven't laughed already, no jokes I make will get you to, so I'll leave it at that.

Dead Armadillos: 14 - I counted no fewer that FOURTEEN dead armadillos on the side of the road as I drove through Texas...which was great, because I'd never seen an armadillo before and these were completely stationary and mostly intact. I know that should be kinda sad, but armadillos have the unfortunate case of looking like something out of Super Mario Brothers, and so they just leave me wondering who jumped on their head. The answer is that a multiple ton truck landed on their head at 80+ miles per hour. I bet most of them had a hemi.

Austin itself was a great time, and I got to see both The ATX (my friend, who's Witz Pickz nickname only now becomes an issue) and Dani Law, as well as a good friend from High School, Roy Shivers. I do have a few stats though:

4,305: The number of college kids I saw on east 6th Street aka Dirty Sixth that I felt the world could do without.

2: The number of Mesquite Smoked Beers I was able to drink before feeling completely grossed out. Shiner makes the beer and it basically tastes like you dumped some bbq chips into your mouth and then took a swig of beer. I'm pretty sure if you eat Bacon Chocolate while drinking Mesquite Beer, Willy Wonka shows up and grants you three wishes (one of which probably being to make your insides stop feeling like they want to be your outsides.)

1: The number of turtle races I saw at a bar. Nothing says, "Classy night out" like a bucket of turles being dumped out and watching as they haphazardly charge towards freedom in a race they have no concept of. I think this is what the Kings of Leon song, "The Bucket," is about. My only real thought was, "If someone drops some ooze in that bucket, shit is gonna get nuts!"

J. Dilla vs. 36 Armadillos - Who Wins?,

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Witz Pickz: Drive-By-Numbers -- Days Two and Three (Santa Monica to San Diego to Las Cruces)

Days two and three took me from Santa Monica through San Diego to my current residence at the Days Inn in Las Cruces, New Mexico. After ten hours in the car today and the last two nights on couches, I feel like a ten year old kid in a luxury hotel for the first time. TV, AC, heated pool, hot tub, and TWO queen beds!? I'm pretty sure if I push the two beds together, the sky is going to open up and a bright light is going to ask whether I want to wait a while or if I'd like to go to Heaven right then and there.

Day Two: Santa Monica to San Diego

Miles Driven: 135 miles

Number of Extremely Specific Parking Meters: 1 -- A quarter gets you 12 minutes, a dime gets you 4 minutes and 48 seconds, and a nickel gets you 2 minutes and 24 seconds. That seemed noteworthy.

Number of Attractive Exterior Sides at PETCO Park: 0

Number of Reasons I'm Ridiculous: +1 -- I was consciously attracted to and hungout in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego because I really like the band The GasLIGHT Anthem. What is wrong with me.

Hours Spent Smelling EFFING DELICIOUS Due to Use of Yogurt Vanilla Honey Body Wash I Found in My Friend M-Rob's Shower: 6

Rabbit Sightings: 4 -- In a shamefully desperate attempt to keep me from leaving, San Diego delivered no fewer than four bunnies (the real kind...which makes it even hard to type without feeling embarassed) to me while I was on the UCSD campus. This is how great southern california is-- NYC has a rat problem, but San Diego has a BUNNY infestation.

Day Three: San Diego to Las Cruces

Leaving San Diego this morning marked the beginning of my eastern progress, 690 miles of progress to where I am now, and thus began the official countdown of:

2 -- Days Until I'm on Fire in a Ditch in West Texas. I'm going to Austin, which means some quality time through the part of Texas known for high school football, poverty, and extreme conservatism and bigotry. All of my friends agree that the odds are pretty good that I'm going to be raped, murdered, and hate-crimed in no particular order. Two of my friends went so far as to predict that I will find my doom in a ditch (jinx, you owe each other cokes!). Let the countdown begin.

75 -- The speed limit for almost the entire drive. At least I'm rushing to my doom. My 16 year old self got extremely giddy when I saw the speed limit posted, and I immediately thought about driving 120 (I know that's not logical). Unfortunately, without my ID (which will make "Nameless" a nice touch to my Texas obituary), the amazingness of the 75mph speed limit ended up only making me feel completely safe going 80mph.

2 - Border Patrol Checkpoints. I was inspected twice by border patrol and both times they waved me through pretty quickly. I guess white-jewish guy wearing a Stanford t-shirt, listening to Cloud Cult, and eating a Subway sub (making that 3 subway lunches in 3 days, but improving my visits to bathroom voyeur ratio to 3:1) didn't set off any of their mental alerts. My second encounter did allow for a quick pleasant exchange of my plans, leading to the border patrol officer telling me to, "Have fun," and me horrifically responding, "You too!"

3 - Hypothetical Road Signs. New Mexico wants to inform us of everything, but commit to nothing. I repeatedly saw these three signs:

"Dust storms may exist"
"Zero visibility possible"
"Report possible drunk drivers"

The existence and uselessness of those signs baffles me, but also makes me with they put up signs like, "Tsunamis Impossible Here" or "Sasquatch is a Myth." These were only topped by other New Mexico signage. First, a sign saying, "State Penitentiary Nearby: PLEASE do not pickup hitchhikers." You know what, I bet it's ok just to say State Penitentiary nearby. If people pick up hitchikers there, they're idiots, and saying "please" is just plain absurd. If someone wants to pick up a Prison Hitchhiker, they're not gonna stop just because you asked nicely.

Finally, New Mexico has random 20 mile spans called "Safety Corridors." They're safe because they have signs telling you not to drink and drive and the speeding fines are doubled. Which means that in reality, they are Scary Corridors where I think I'm going to get a speeding ticket AND they make the rest of the highway TERRIFYING CORRIDORS. I was under the impression all major highways were more or less safe, but apparently, all but 20 miles of New Mexico is a goddamn death trap. Good thinking, people.

Oh yeah, and 1 -- My First Sonic of the Trip.

"Ok, you ordered a crispy chicken wrap, fries, and a chocolate shake?
"Will that be it?"
"Alright that'll--"
"And a grilled cheese."
"...A crispy chicken wrap, fries, a chocolate shake...and a grilled cheese."
"Anything else?"
"No thanks-- it's just me in the car."

Ten Hours to Austin Tomorrow...

"State Penitentiary Nearby: Please Do Not Invite Wanderers to Sleep in Your Extra Queen Bed,"

Monday, October 05, 2009

Witz Pickz: Drive-By-Numbers -- Day One (SF to Santa Monica)

It's official-- I've left San Francisco to drive across the country to the land of pizza, bagels, and more than likely, a combination of the two: New York City. Since I felt like making things interesting and instinctually foresaw a Donner Party death if I passed through the rockies, I decided to take a bit of a different route, which I have been referring to as the "Wrong Way, Asshole" route. Other people might call it the southern route, which is why I write this today from a cafe in San Diego after spending last night in Santa Monica, or as I call it, "The Place Where I Should Stop My Road Trop Because It's Beautiful and Fun and There's NO FUCKING WINTER EVER." Here are some stats from the first day:

Day One: SF to Santa Monica

Number of Driver's Licenses: 0
Because Life hates me (certainly not because I'm irresponsible) and because there wasn't a 100% chance that I am going to die nameless, in a ditch, on fire in West Texas (more on that later), I managed to lose my driver's license Saturday night, which was great, because it was pretty much the ONLY THING I COULDN'T AFFORD TO LOSE. Like, my car would be slightly worse, but otherwise, the thing that legally allows me to drive 3500 miles across the country the day before I am leaving to do so is number one on the list.* So, the trip already has an extra element of danger, which as we all know, only improves the plot.

Miles Driven: 385

Number of Songs on my iPod: 7155
Number of Songs I Listened To on Random Shuffle: 132
Number of Everclear Songs on My iPod: 12
Number of Everclear Songs Played on Random Shuffle: THREE. My iPod effing LOVES Everclear. Sure, they have a bunch of hits on that one album, but holy crap. I have 60 Blink-182 songs and I didn't hear a single one, but Father of Mine popped up only eight songs apart from Everything to Everyone? But you know what? It was awesome!

Number of Subway Sandwiches Eaten: 1
Number of Subway Female Bathroom Attendants That Don't Speak English Who Stayed In the Bathroom While I Peed at a Urinal: 1 -- That's a 1:1 ratio so far! I did everything in my communicative power to demonstrate my intentions and get the girl to leave for a minute, but she just smiled, nodded, said, "Ok," and pointed towards the urinals! Very few things are more awkward than standing at a urinal, with a subway bag around your wrist, a backpack on your back, and a Subway bathroom girl listening a few feet away-- but by deftly managing to not pee on my lunch and on account of the girl not leaving, this did prove my lifelong belief that I am spectacular at peeing and people both know and want to witness this fact. Either that or the girl was shocked and appalled when I actually peed with her there. I didn't stick around for a reaction.

Number of All-You-Can-Eat Sliders Consumed: 8 -- For dinner, my friend Peterageous and I found an amazing infinite sliders for 5 dollars bar. I know, I know, I should have done better, but coupled with the 2 for 1 beers, Peterageous and I went toe to toe on eight chicken sliders and called it a night. We probably would have done better if we hadn't also eaten rice that came with it and apparently was created by someone who once thought, "You know, rice is great, but you know what I wish I was eating at the EXACT same time? STRING BEANS."

That about sums up (heheh, that's, like, a road trip blog format math pun) the trip to Santa Monica. I'm sure in future posts I'll be accruing more things like, "Strands of H1N1," but for now, things are going alright.

Ya Know What Was A Stretch? Making People Spell "I Cup"...,

*This is obviously excluding necessary body parts. In this case, however, I'm referring to lost property, and although it would be both amusing and harrowing to call someone and say, "Dude, you're not gonna believe what I lost last night-- MY LEGS!" it's neither socially acceptable, nor remotely the appropriate way of spreading the driver's license wins.