Canada’s Soul: St. John’s to Port Aux Basques

After three days at Will’s house in St. John’s, I began to hitchhike back west.

June 14, Ride One: St. John’s to Kelce Groose Turnoff (Brown Rabbit) Old and young guy, dog hair all over the back seat.

Ride Four: Argentia Turnoff to Marystown Turnoff (Red LTD) Scottish guy, still wild, music just as wild, “Watch yourself down there. It’s back woodsy.”

Ride Nine: Frenchman’s Turnoff to Fortune (Red Schneider truck) “LSD is shit.”

With the ferry service to the French island of St. Pierre Miquelon cancelled, I hoped for a ride on a trawler, the Marguerite, and stayed overnight in a cheap motel and watched Butterflies Are Free. The Marguerite left without me. I hitchhiked back up the peninsula and then across Newfoundland.

Ride One: Fortune to Grand Banks (Turquoise Ford) Wanted to do something for me…”If I wasn’t married.”

Ride Five: Trans Canada Highway Turnoff to Cornerbrook (Old blue car) Eldery lady spoke of mongoloid mentally retarded boy; offered me a little red bible.

Ride Six: Cornerbrook to Stephenville (Old green car with no back seat) Doug drove (getting married in two weeks) with Pat (intense, speed user) and Brian (hard drinker) in the front seat; all moose and salmon poachers, each been to jail a few times, went to the dump looking for bears; drank four beers by the time they dropped me off at the ferry.

Ice Friday: Salinger’s Holden Caulfield

“You ought to go to a boys’ school sometime. Try it sometime,” I said. “It’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddamn Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddamn cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the Catholics stick together, the goddamn intellectuals stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddamn Book-of-the-Month Club stick together. If you try to have a little intelligent–” “Look,” I said. “Here’s my idea. How would you like to get the hell out of here? Here’s my idea. I know this guy down in Greenwich Village that we can borrow his car for a couple of weeks. He used to go to the same school I did and he still owes me ten bucks. What we could do is, tomorrow morning we could drive up to Massachusetts and Vermont, and all around there, see. It’s beautiful as hell up there, It really is.” I was getting excited as hell, the more I thought of it, and I sort of reached over and took old Sally’s goddamn hand. What a goddamn fool I was. “No kidding,” I said. “I have about a hundred and eighty bucks in the bank. I can take it out when it opens in the morning, and then I could go down and get this guy’s car. No kidding. We’ll stay in these cabin camps and stuff like that till the dough runs out. Then, when the dough runs out, I could get a job somewhere and we could live somewhere with a brook and all and, later on, we could get married or something. I could chop all our own wood in the wintertime and all. Honest to God, we could have a terrific time! Wuddaya say? C’mon! Wuddaya say? Will you do it with me? Please!”

Canada’s Soul: Across Newfoundland

June 11, Ride One: Grand Falls to Clarenville (Manual pick-up)  Very friendly moose hunter, stories of the ‘screwdriver murders’; the difference between Newfoundlanders and Mainlanders is “a matter of trust”.

Ride Two: Clarenville to St. John’s (Small white pick-up): Stopped at Finney’s Pond to fish and could not get back up the hill. Ride Three: Hiked up the hill with Will and Bob and hitchhiked into town with a drunk driver. “Pass me a beer, yeah? You’re welcome to one too.”

Spent two nights at Will’s house where I was given their son’s bedroom; he had to sleep on the couch. Spent much of the time listening to Will talk of his search for the Sargasso Sea as he did crosswords and his wife, Helen, rolled cigarettes.

Canada’s Soul: On Being Alone

While camping on Prince Edward Island at Cavendish Beach for two days in 1983, I reflected on “being alone”:

Solitude is a necessary state, that I feel that all men should experience for some intended period of time. But also, it must be noted that man should not be in this state for too long a period, lest he lose his sanity.20161203_180038

Man is an insecure beast – so be it. The fact that we are aware of our existence does not prove our existence. It only clarifies our insecurities. Man in his comfortable and unnatural state has time to reflect on more than the today. Man cannot enjoy life as it is, because he worries of the future. And so do I.

I hitchhiked from Prince Edward Island to the North Sydney, the ferry terminus to Newfoundland, seven rides in all, the last driver who told me that he preferred female hitchhikers because “you never know what might happen.”20161203_175640

Canada’s Soul: Halifax to Cavendish, PEI

After a night in Halifax, I continued east. June 7, 1983, Ride One: Halifax to Bedford, NS (Brown Cadillac) Middle-aged man, “Fuckin’ Toronto.”

Ride Two: Bedford to Fall River (Department of Nova Scotia Transportation truck) Big hippy with red headband.

Ride Three: Fall River to Amherst (Blue Trans Am) Al Smith took me to his cabin where he expressed his belief in the sanctity of human life, a wish for people of different cultural differences to get along and a love for “big tits” (which he illustrated by showing his collection of porn in the woodshed).imag2131

June 8: Ride One: Amherst to Carelton, PEI (Blue Custom Deluxe truck) Dwayne claimed to have been in 19 separate car accidents, one where he killed “an old lady”.

Ride Two: Carleton to Charlottetown (Red Oldsmobile) Driver tried to live in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax, but it was a “no go”.

Stayed in Charlottetown for the day where I visited a cemetery and was told by a friendly middle-aged woman in heavy makeup: “It’s the oldest cemetery around. It ain’t got no name.”

June 9: After four rides and a 2-mile walk, I arrived at a campground where I bought supplies (jars of peanut butter and jam, loaf of bread, package of cookies and case of lemonade for $8.39) and stayed on the beach for two days.20161203_175845

 

Happy Holidays, if I Don’t See You

Hey, happy holidays if I don’t see you! I hope your fast goes well. Happy New Year’s, Valentine’s and Easter too. I hope that this new president doesn’t depress you or global warming and these terrorists, yeah, I hope they cut it out, and people, you know, get a fair wage for their work. Happy birthday too, and I hope your mom’s funeral isn’t too bad and that cancer of yours gets better. I mean, if I don’t see you.*

(*-Original concept, Edward Emerson)

Ice Friday: Kerouac’s “On The Road”

It was a magnificent car; it could hold the road like a boat holds the water. Gradual curves were its singing ease. “Ah, man, what a dreamboat,” sighed Dean. “Think if you and I had a car like this what we could do. Do you know there’s a road that goes down Mexico and all the way to Panama? – and maybe all the way to the bottom of South America where the Indians are seven feet tall and eat cocaine on the mountainside.” “Yes! You and I, Sal, we’d dig the whole world with a car like this because, man, the road must eventually lead to the whole world. Ain’t nowhere else it can go, right?”

Canada’s Soul (1983): Toronto to Truro

I spent the summer of 1983 “in search of Canada’s Soul”, or as my parents saw it, hitchhiking around the country. I set out to keep a journal, documenting every ride, idea and expenditure…and I actually did that.

The trip began June 3, 1983, a rainy morning, at the eastern outskirts of Toronto:

Ride One: Toronto to Ajax (Blue Rally STX Van). Driver told me that “Hitchhiking is against company policy.”

Ride Two: Ajax-Highway 11 (Beige VW Rabbit). Driver gave me a Medallion cigarette.

Ride Three: Highway 115 to Ottawa Turnoff (Red 1977 MGB) Driver’s daughter does Pepsi commercials although she hates the stuff.

Ride Four: Ottawa Turnoff to Cornwall (1979 Thunderbird) Driver, a Catholic priest from Poland, said that Canada is “free and nice”. He doesn’t want anything more in life. 20161203_175412Ride Five: Ottawa Turnoff to Montreal (Brown 1977 Dodge Dart) Tim Paquette smoked me up. “My fingers tingle and life goes on.” He offered a night on the town and a place to sleep. I accepted.

June 4, 1983:

Ride One : West End to East End of Montreal (Brown bakery van): Driver told me, “You’ll get murdered.”

Rides Two, Three & Four: (Forgot makes of cars, too tired)

Ride Five: Victoriaville Turnoff to Quebec City Turnoff (VW Rabbit) Nice French couple who spoke no English at all. Saw a moose.

Ride Six: Quebec City Turnoff to St. Jean Port Joli Turnoff (Large old car)  All loving and Catholic. “We learn from what we see, not hear.”

Ride Seven: St. John Turnoff to Riviere Du Loup Turnoff (Blue Chevy Van) Driver going to Gaspe to his boat and Greenland. Told hitchhiking stories from his youth, being “fucked by horny broads” in Nova Scotia, bad acid in Wyoming for hitchers who then ate their ride.

Ride Eight: Riviere Du Loup Turnoff to Highway 17 (Camper Van) Nice old WWII veteran full of war stories.

Ride Nine: Highway 17 to Truro, Nova Scotia (Mack truck cab) Ed Haggerty, a non-unionized driver who had logged over four million miles. I saw the signposts turn into cyclists due to exhaustion.20161203_175615

Embarrassing Letters II: My Response

My parents gave me all the financial support I would need for my 1983 hitchhiking trip. I sent the following letter after the trip, in November:     

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hello, it’s me, it may be cliché, but time certainly goes by very quickly. I find it amazing that I’ve been alive for nearly twenty years – that’s a long time for me – a lifetime in fact.

Throughout my life, or at least the at eight years I have rebelled against so many things ranging from private school to civilization. This may have all seemed ludicrous and counter-productive to you, but I think that I have achieved much in my personal development. Now, I see a very unpredictable future for me, but that’s the way I want it. I am happy. I love writing, filming and creating.

I don’t want you to be upset if I fail (not that I plan to) or drop out (again, not that I plan to), I refuse to enter any life that is not artistically creative. For me to achieve anything that I will be satisfied by, I must leave the norm, the average ‘desk job’; otherwise I will have failed my liberal goals. I doubt that this is what you will have wished for me, but there it is. I am what I am, and I won’t pretend to be anything else. (I feel that the Canada trip was brilliantly successful as it opened my mind to so many things and has motivated me to write a book of some sort.)

What can I say, I intend to stay in an artistic and undependable (sic) field, and I thank you for your love and help. So there you have it, no bullshit (there isn’t a suitable word), just honesty.

McP

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: the Anti-Trump

Ranting isn’t enough. Neither is reason nor wit. We need more. We need vision. We need fury. We need the Anti-Trump. antitrumpWhile the comedians do try – Bee, Colbert, Oliver, Noah – they always fail in looking for a laugh, such as Trevor Noah’s recent quip to alt-right spinster Tomi Lahren’s stating, “I don’t see color”: What do you do at a traffic light?trevor-noah

Elizabeth Warren is on the right track: Trump is not draining the swamp, nope. He’s inviting the biggest, ugliest swamp monsters in the front door, and he’s turning them loose on our government and our economy.elizabeth-warrenBut her rhetoric is too measured, too precise. The Anti-Trump must stare into the hateful void to find the words to break the spell.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie seems to have the right stuffThe election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. chimamanda-ngozi-adichieNow is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning. (The New Yorker Magazine, Nov.30/16)

Yes, now is the time.