Tagged: #roadtrip2010

A year-in-review (sort of).

Spied on our cross-country sojourn: A pick-up truck, outside of Austin, Texas.

It’s been a weird year. I drove back roads across the U.S. Threw a fish across state lines. Stared at an artist in a museum atrium. Taught art yoga. Spent the summer watching a “reality show” about art. Rowed around Randall’s Island in a handmade boat. And joined a religious procession in the Andes. I’ve covered most of these activities here on the blog (or over at WNYC). But a few things have eluded me — either because I just haven’t had time to get them down in pixels, or because I hadn’t quite sorted out my thoughts.

So, in lieu of a year-end listicle (I produce enough lists throughout the year), a little bit of stream-of-consciousness ruminating instead:

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The Digest. 10.05.10.

Somewhere in the vicinity of Check, Virginia. April, 2010. (Photo by C-M.)

On real estate.

Open house, L.A. (Photo by C-M.)

In April, Celso and I drove cross-country, from Los Angeles to New York. We did the southern route, using mostly back roads: through the Southwest, into Louisiana and the Florida panhandle, before turning north and hitting the Blue Ridge Parkway into Pennsylvania. We shacked up with friends or stayed at the Motel 6. Along the way, we hung out with reality TV producers, small-town cops, artists, oil men and retired military. The whole trip took three and a half weeks.

Besides the economy, one of the favorite subjects of conversation — regardless of who we were with — was real estate. In each community, whether it was middle-of-nowhere Arizona or metro Atlanta, we’d hear about which homes were selling, and more likely, which ones weren’t. We got the lowdown on floreclosures, on the neighbors who had gotten in over their heads, on districts that were emptying out and others that were filling up. On the Gulf Coast, we talked about what Ivan and Katrina and Rita and those other first-name basis storms had done to the market. (This was pre-BP spill.) In Alabama, we stayed with friends who had been foreclosed.

In so many ways, this obsession of middle class American life imbued much of our trip. In L.A., we visited open houses, in an old African-American enclave from the ’60s that is being transformed by Hollywood types. We went on dozens of personal home tours, respectfully attending to discussions about wall paint and roofing. And in New Mexico, we hiked around a gated subdivision that channeled a rugged, mountain aesthetic. The area was wooded, the houses nestled deep into the forest and the roads were winding. But the rustic look was engineered. The place was governed by a strident homeowners association that, among other things, forbade the installation of above-ground propane tanks for cosmetic reasons. Barbecues as big as a storage shed, however, were a-okay.

Throughout the country, whether in blue states or in red, in burned-out refinery towns or genteel beach communities, the one subject that seemed to bring everyone together was property — it’s acquisition, it’s maintenance and it’s display.

Politics may tear us apart, but real estate brings us together.

Austin Frat Party Redux: The Maison Erectheum Group Photo.

The group shot. Taken well before the kegstands got everyone crunky. (Image courtesy of Fluent Collab and Santiago Forero.)

Remember that conceptual art frat party I went to Austin? Well, the group shot is out — and we’re in it. (And I think my hair is bigger than my head. (Dang humidity.) Anyhow, it’s all pretty darn collegiate-looking if you ask me. And all I gotta say is that New York could use more stuff like this (aka free beer and chips and salsa in someone’s backyard). Larry Gagosian, please get on it.

Thanks to the folks at Test Site for the good times (and the photo).

Photo Diary: Gettin’ rednecky at Mullet Toss 2010!!

“Rednecks” get crunky on lots of domestic beer at Mullet Toss 2010 on the Florida/Alabama border. Best viewed LARGE. In fact, this photo is so damn good, y’all better make it your desktop wallpaper. (Photos by C-M.)

In the event that you were wondering what the redneckiest of redneck events in these continental United States might consist of, I’ll fill you in: the Interstate Mullet Toss — an annual party in which the good folk of the Florida panhandle get together at an old honky tonk called the Florabama to toss mullets across the state line, drink lots of bushwackers and Bud and cheer on the local ladies during the bikini contest. Naturally, there’s also plenty of clothing removal and occasional fist-fighting. Though, admittedly, it’s not all straight-up rednecks. There are also redneck wannabes, redneck-watchers and rednecks-in-training. All around, it was an excellent time. And, for the record, I threw my mullet 38.2 feet. Not bad for a virgin.

Many more photos after the jump. Click on images to supersize. You know you want to see ‘em.

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