Driving Along A Highway In Missouri

Alright, um, it is 19:28 on June the 10th, 2004. I just drove by a mailbox that said Paul Brewer on it. I just drive by mailbox #175. I look over to the left, I’ve got hills, I’ve got the rolling hills of central eastern Missouri. Lots of trees.

But also rain. So, a grey sky is what I see. The road is pretty windy, and it’s wet. In some places there’s been some standing water. Um, no cars either in front of me or behind me right now. Although, I have had cars both in the front of me and behind me.

I saw a little blue sky out there in the distance off to the southeast. Which is basically the direction I’m heading. Take a look at the compass…goin around a curve. Been in the car for at least thirty-six minutes. That’s the time I’ve got. I’m heading south right now and it’s 68 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Um, my radio is tuned to 900 AM. It’s a, ah, Royals game, between the Royals, and the, ah, Montreal Expos. I see a sign that says “Zelch for Sherriff.” Actually, when you drive through one of these towns up here, um, there are some signs leading up to the town—at least, this was the case when I drove back, um, not last Sunday, but the Sunday before that. The, I don’t know what that date was…what was that date? No, that was, a…Monday that I drove back. It was Memorial Day, I think it was the 31st. Let’s see. This Monday was the seventh…well, was it the second, is that right? Geez. This Monday was the seventh. Last Monday was the second. No, it wasn’t. I’m subtracting five. Which is how you tend to think these days, the week’s five days, you know? The other days don’t count, cause…you don’t have to do anything on those days.

Umm…last Monday was the 31st, Memorial Day, it was May. Alright, goin through the town of Drake. About to…meet a junction with Route 19. I see signs for Swiss and Rosebud. Goin around a curve. Actually headed northeast, now east around this curve. It’s quite a curve. Ah, and also running for sherriff, I guess against Zelch, is, ah, I think Randy Epshorst, so that must be the race. It must be Epshorst versus Zelch.

Anyway, you drive through this town and, ah, they have little signs that say, “Turn to,” you know, “101.7.” Or something. There’s a cop coming up here…. No, it’s not a cop, it’s a Lincoln Town Car, I was wrong. Yeah, Randy Eps-, Es- Horse, Horst, E-s-p-horst. Ah, it’s stopped raining, my wipers are going. The sky, to pretty much the whole east, but moreso the southeast, is clearing, it’s a really nice blue behind the clouds. The kind of blue that you couldn’t get tired of looking at. And some of the clouds are really nice, too. It reminds me of this cloud sketch that I saw in The Wall Street Journal the other day. By some English painter, I don’t remember the name. He was a landscape painter with, I believe, oils, and, ah, the article featured some of his sketches of clouds, but, the funny thing was that, you kinda caught the drift that these cloud sketches the he had done were maybe now more en vogue. Or, more of interest. I mean, that’s what was in the paper.

Aww, nice, just, field of grass. Not cut. Grass not cut. It gets yellow toward the top. There’s a little more green in the, in the bottom of it. But at the top, that grass is, is just yellow-brown. You know, sort of the color of hay. And some of it’s been cut. You can see, but it’s been cut, and it’s been bailed. So it might actually be hay. Whatever hay is. That’s off to the right. It’s been cut, it’s been bailed. The bails are about six feet high in circumference. So, they’re like a six-foot circumference circle. And they’re about, I don’t know, four, five feet long. Six feet high, six feet wide. Which, because it’s a circle, is the same thing. But…cut, like a cylinder four or five feet long.

Umm…I just love this road. This drive…is…so placid, it’s serene. It’s makes me think of Grant Wood, a Grant Wood painting. A painting that was captured on the title page, the cover, some call it, of a copy of, ah, Winesburg, Ohio that I had. Now! Off to the left: bales in the distance! Oh, it’s been bailed. It has been bailed. Some of this great grass has been cut. But it’s been harvested. It’s been harvested, but the bails are lyin’ all over, like dead buffalo. You know? Like in Dances with Wolves. But off to the right, now, ah, uncut with cows in it. Ahh, it’s by a little road that says “Rothemeyer,” Rothemeyer Road, I guess.

Um, looks like something on the road up here. It’s ahhh…a couple bunnies. Just a couple bunnies on the road. They scatter. What I want to say— Oh! Now a bunny’s back on the road, I can see it in the rearview. There was a cow on the road, as I was, ah, before I even had that, ah, little cylinder of my own. And, a bird just flies off the road. There’s, there’s some birds out now. Ah, well, I don’t know if it’s rained here. Actually, it hasn’t rained here. It’s dry. The roads are dry; it has not rained here. So, I probably went through, see I’ve been headed east, or southeast basically the whole time. That means that I went through a weather system there that was moving north? Northeast? I guess that’s the way weather tends to move through here. Kind of in an east, northesterly fashion.

Look over to the left, a clear-cut area goin’ straight out, that power lines run up and down. Kind of a nice look, actually. Um…just straight trees, forest—but a swatch cut down the middle with a bunch of power lines. Poles, multiple lines up and down between the poles. Probably, probably, I think it was, like, two poles wide, maybe more, so it was, ah, a serious river of electricity, it was it was, basically. Electricity is like the water of a machine. If a machine doesn’t get electricity, will never get any more electricity…it’s dead. You know, dying from water is just…the recognition that you’re never gonna get any more water for as long as you live. Which means…you’re dead. I mean, basically.

Some of these clouds, though. Anyway, I didn’t see any “Zelch for Sheriff” signs. Ahh, I guess the race is over. The signs, the signs advertising the race have not been taken down. But the signs that told me to tune in the radio station are gone. You know, there could have been an election the Tuesday after memorial day. That’d be a good day for an election, I guess. Or it could have been this Tuesday.

Ah, it’s Thursday. And…you, you might wonder why I’m drivin’ home on a Thursday. You know, ahh, don’t you have to work on Friday, John? Not this Friday, strangely enough. Alright, now we’re going through Rosebud and the sun has come out in my rearview mirror. In the west. I’m headed east. So I won’t see the sun. I will not be looking at the sun. Unless I catch it, probably the only time I head west is when I wrap around an overpass or something…an exit. When I…am goin’ down Towne Hall Road I’ll be headed west. Otherwise, I don’t head west at all. So I might not see the sun directly. By the time I get to Towne Hall, it’ll probably be…I don’t know.

Cop car! …But I don’t think anybody was in it. You know what I’d like right now? I’d just like to drink a little bit of, ah, scotch or whisky. Just have something to sip on? I shoulda brought my…flask. Maybe I can have bring Brook, bring Brook my flask. Brook bring my flask. But on the side: “Gerald 4 miles, Union 25, St. Louis 70.” I’ve been driving kind of slow. Ahh, the speed limit is…fifty-five right now, and I’m doin sixty. A big Dodge Ram just went by and had a four wheeler in the back, the trunk.

Ohhh…don’t know what I’m thinkin right now, what my wants are. I could easily get myself off right now. I would enjoy that. Umm…if I had had another cylinder, I would probably burn it, just for the hell of it. Zelch for Sheriff. Sooo…

You know what you need is like a fridge for your car, so that can go out, you can go to the store, that’s on the way to somewhere, so that you can keep your groceries in your car, and they wouldn’t get warm or spoil, while you were out for an hour or two, wherever you had to go. What’s the point of that? I don’t know what the point of that is. I guess my point is that people make trips out specifically to go to the grocery store. When you go to the grocery store, you can’t do anything after you go to the grocery store but come home, because you got to put the stuff in your fridge. So what I’m sayin is, you should be able to go to the grocery store without the requirement that that be the last stop of your trip. ‘Cause sometimes you don’t want it to be the last stop. It might not be on the way to do it, to do it last. So what people end up doing is going out, specially, to the grocery store, you know? I guess I catch it on the home. But a lot of people make a special trip for the grocery store. Each Saturday morning, Sunday morning I’ve done. I mean, who, ya know, who wants to go to the grocery store after work? It’s always such a hell-house after work. You should be able to go at the beginning of work, put your groceries in your car fridge, work, and then come home at the end of the day. All you have to do is take them out of the car, you don’t have to shop. How much more willing, how much more happy are you shopping in the morning. You know?

Goin’ through a nice, little town right now. This is Gerald. I see a kind of…square silo that say “MFA” on it. MFA is actually a gas station around here. I don’t know what MFA stands for. Missouri Farmers of America? Missouri’s Future…Antiques? Ahh…MFA. Masters of Fine Arts. Umm, they sell oil, though. I don’t know how MFA…you know, I wanna say Marathon. Marathon Fuel Association. Missouri Fuel Association. Missouri Farmers Association.

Umm…I have lost my radio feed completely. Maybe this was the town that, ah, told you the station. It might’ve been. Gerald, actually. Might’ve been the town that told you to tune the radio…. But I don’t see those signs anywhere. Here, either. So, alright, down to one lane up ahead, I don’t like the look of this….


Union, population, seven thousand, seven hundred, and fifty-seven. Did I go through Beaufort? I think I went through Beaufort without actually even realizing it. Because I’m in Union. I missed the turnoff to Ebel’s place. Not that I’m going there, but I usually make a mental note of it, alright. I got static. I got some flute music coming out of eighty-eight one. I like it. I like this kind of native flute, Native American flute. This is very pleasant listening. This is a good listening experience. I was just thinkin about all the urine that we get rid of. Even our own waste, our own feces. Isn’t that good fertilizer? I mean, aren’t we actually getting rid of something that we could make pretty decent use out of? What would happen if I pissed in a cup and used it to…moisten the soil around my plants? What if I did that once a month? It doesn’t need that much, but maybe a little bit wouldn’t hurt it. Maybe a little bit’d be good for it. There’s some stuff in our piss that’s not bad. Now, you wouldn’t want that to be coffee piss, necessarily. You’d want it to be good, clean piss. No alcohol in it, no nicotine in it.

Now, that’s kind of an interesting area. The effect of nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol on the water supply. ‘Cause we piss it out. Where did I just hear somebody saying that you piss it all out, or “Pissed all out.” I just heard somebody say that. Most of it is pissed out. Pissed out, pissed out, pissed out…. God, where the heck was that? Who said that? It kind of caught me off guard. Was it Ken? Was it Bob? Was it Brook? Was it my dad? Was it Ray? Who said something about pissing something all out? I don’t know.

Also in the background of this flute are, ah, just nightlife…crickets, frogs, sounds like what you would hear at my house, actually. It’s pretty nice. It’s such a gentle sound, the sound of the summer night, man. You can just open up your window and hear it. It’s free. What’s free? Dreams are free. Rain is free. The sound of crickets outside, and the sound of frogs…is free. Wal-Mart? Wal-Mart costs money. Wal-Mart’s not free. But…there’s a lot more people in the Wal-Mart parking lot than there are listening to crickets. How do you explain that?

You explain it by saying that people enjoy, people physically enjoy, people have a physical addiction to spending money. The only reason people want to get so much money is so that they can spend so much money. Spending money, man. There are few times when you’re not doing it. When are you not spending money? You know? When…you’re not running any electricity. When you’re not driving, when you’re not burning gas. I mean, driving…you’re spending money. I’m spending money right now, ‘cause I’m burning gas. And because I wanna have another tank of gas after this one. When I listen to the radio am I spending money? Ahhh…that’s a tough call. I had to buy the radio. If I want to keep listening to the radio the rest of my life, I’m going to have to buy another radio. I might have to listen to that commercials. I consider listening to commercials spending money. Because I don’t get anything out of commercials. I’m allowing myself to do something that is 100 percent useless, 100 percent non-beneficial. In order to…get something else. This song is by the Cherokee Elders…“Flames of Fire.” By somebody, I don’t know. “Flames of Fire,” though, I got the album. And the name of the song I forget now, Cherokee something. This is KDHX. This is their Indian, their American Indian…

I see a field with bales in the distance. And, ah, I don’t know. I’m enjoyin’ my ride. There’s been a little more traffic than usual and right now I’m behind a lot of cars. I’m pretty close to 44, though, so this is to be expected. These are pr’y the last hay bales I’ll see. I’m behind one, two, three, four, five, six, seven cars. With a pickup truck out front that’s holding everybody up. But 44’s coming right up here. Cross over Birch Creek. Yep, got the junction of 44 coming up, and highway AT. It looks like it’s saying junction of 44 at…. And then it doesn’t say anything else. So you’re like, well where is the junction? Junction 44 at what, tell me! No, folks, that’s highway AT, A-T. Ah, to the left. If you want to highway AH, A-H, go right. AH and AT. I’m about to get on 44.

I don’t know if I can make it home…without pissing. I don’t want to, but I might force myself to. This next part will go by fast, but I mean, I gotta piss. Piss it out. Who said, “Piss it out, you piss most of it out anyway.” Something like that. Fuck, who said that?

Song called “Crazyhorse,” pretty interesting lyrics. Made me think of Gerald Torres’s essay, “Who Owns the Sky?” Ahh…’cause it was talkin about how, ah, it was saying, who can sell the stars, or, who can sell the air? And that Torres essay talks about how, ahh…I think that essay was getting at how they talk about selling air pollution credits? You can pay to pollute? Basically, is the way that the law is set up now. Credits, trading. The government basically sold the sky, to people who pollute the sky, and…I gotta get on 270. Where is that? It’s coming up. And…the public didn’t get anything for it. So, it was the public that owned the sky in the first place. If the government has sold credits to pollute, then they’ve basically sold right to the air. People buy a portion of the air, and when they pollute they can say, well, it’s my air. I can do whatever the heck I want with it. If I want to put sulfur dioxide and mercury in it, I can do it. And you can’t force me to undertake the expense…. I mean, why not take $87 billion to just, fuckin pay everybody to upgrade their system, ‘cause they’re not gonna do it on their own, ‘cause they don’t want to spend the money. That would be useful. You would clean up the air a little bit, clean up the water. It’s possible…they just have to upgrade but they refuse to do it.

Or, they say, you don’t have to upgrade if you spend…if you spend the money to buy a new facility it has to be upgraded. The people want to build new facilities but they’re doin’ it part-by-part from within the old facility. So it’s just little blips on the radar screen. So they don’t have to take the extra expense of building a new facility that meets new standards. This Indian music is…not bad. I really would like to take a piss. I should not have had two O’Doul’s before I got on the road. This is John Trudeau’s voice over Indian music in the background. It’s not bad. I guess this guy’s name is John Trudeau.

A cartoon with a tobacco lawyer. The judge is saying to the tobacco lawyer from the bench, “The court orders you to talk out of both sides of your mouth.” And the tobacco lawyer, the defendant’s lawyer, says, “Well, that’s what I’ve been doing.” I will not…

I will not explain that joke. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. No explanations, though. I did just hear a, umm…what is that, not R.J. Reynolds…Phillip Morris commercial, that was talking about how parents are effective in reducing risky behavior in their children. It was the Phillip Morris Research Center or something. Well, hey, the stands are, ah…you know, there’s quite a few cars out here at this Gateway Grizzlies game. I gotta tell ya, this is, ah, wow…. That lot is full, folks. Take the Moussette Lane exit. The Grizzlies are packed. And they were on the radio here. I think they’re playin’ the Jeff City-area team. So, I don’t know. That place might be interesting. You could probably get some decent tickets to a game like that. And, ah, get a few beers. You know? Might have to do it. Might have to dooo itttt….


It’s, ah, it’s six thirty-five. It’s Thursday, July 1st, 2004. I am passing through the town of Rosebud, Missouri. I just had a cop on my tail for about ten good minutes. Umm, I had a funny one, probably about twenty-five, thirty minutes ago. I kept my speed pretty low, I’m drivin’ straight, drivin’ well, listenin’ to Keith Jarrett. And I made two stops to take photos. Acted on an impulse, really forcing myself to do it, ‘cause I’ve wanted to do it, ah, for quite awhile. Stop on Route 50, which I’m on, and take some photos ‘cause it’s gorgeous country out here. It’s a hell of a drive, goin’ from Jeff City to Highway 44. And they are doin’ some construction on Route 50 these days. So…every time I’ve been on it in the last…three weeks?…I’ve been stopped. And it looks like the stop is comin’ up.

But I am relieved to have that cop off my case. Because…it wouldn’t be pretty. But really, I’m, ah, I’m drivin’ well and, ah, my speed’s good. I’m coherent, you can hear me—obviously. It’s just a beautiful evening. I found this one shot, I don’t know how it’s going to come out on the photo, but it was heartbreakingly beautiful. I had to stop. I went past it, I turned around. And then I stopped at a cemetery that was getting some decent shadows and some nice 6:30 sunlight. On a Missouri summer. Those photos were in black and white. The first place I stopped I would call “Hay bales with tree.” What happened there? I ended my color roll. Four-hundred color. It’s a manual camera. And, I believe I took two photos there with black and white—at the first stop? And then, I don’t know, maybe four photos at the cemetery. Some out of focus, which is…how I like to take about…twenty percent of my photographs. Especially if it’s a landscape.

Ah, that’s it. No Cardinals game tonight. Major bummer. Cubs already played…major bummer. Might be able to get the Braves on 750 out of Atlanta. Interested to see if I will get anything else. There were a lot of games today. Looks like I’m gonna hit some road work soon. Early. It’s, ah,

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