Journal 4 101
Day 108 Villa Ridge to St.Louis
today: 35 cumulative: 2,228

Face down on a strangers couch. A familiar feeling. Yep, this is my life. The first thing that I hear in the morning is Barney the Parrot telling some woman to F-off. I will not use her name. Woman X enters the trailer and drinks coffee with undisclosed male. "Hey undisclosed male, I’m gonna take some Valium, want one?" Undisclosed mle hesitates, then accepts. I make no judgements, I only observe. Maybe it makes their life easier, I doubt it though. Woman X just got out of a mental institution. She told me the story last night. Better living through chemicals? One of the great questions of our day. With so many doctors giving so many pills to control children and so many teens and twenties taking anti-depressants. And college kids popping pills to cure their ills of homework piles and what am I going to do in this world, and the expectations, and fears and the pettiness that defines our entire way of thinking, global economy. So I am thinking some of these chemicals are not so good, the ones that make us go into the acceptable (and preferred) coma of submission and walking straight lines, and not being too high and not being too low, just in the middle, the grey twilight, these anti-depressants and child tranquilizers I fear more than the giant black pupils of the college rave machine. So these are just thoughts as I lay here face down on this couch, dominoes in my mind, from one chemical to another and what are the ramifications of mass mind rape? Or mind expansion? What does one pill give that another takes away? Why does the sleepy hollow gang lean on these pills to cure their ills? To make the days not hurt so much? I have seen many pills on this trip. And I am not sure they are all bad, although they are certainly not all good.

"What is a mind, if not something to be messed with? What is conciousness, if not a state to be altered? I mean this quite seriously, quite literally, and if it helps to substitute for the phrase ‘messed with’ the word ‘clarified’ or ‘purified’ or ‘alchemized’ or ‘beautified, or beatified then perhaps my meaning is taken. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and there is much being wasted when one deliberately chooses not to explore the ecstasy of its deeper horizons." -Confessions of an Ecstasy Eater by Anonymous

Seratonin. Little round keys to the brain. I am fascinated with this idea. The chemical keys that unlock the secret doors to ecstasy, or to calm, or to rage, or to god. Pocket full of keys. Still face down on the couch. In and out of sleep. I dream I can see Manhattan and the Great Wall of China from the same hill.

"Hey Highway Dude, want some coffee?" Itchy Bob has prepared a huge breakfast of bacon and eggs and biscuits and gravy. Hot damn a reason to live indeed! "You are a good man Itchy Bob." Cosmo is in need of a de-ticking. I didn’t realize how many she had. I would say at least 50. So I set to work combing through her hair and pulling them off. Itchy Bob recommends a tick bath and helps me get it ready. Cosmo is patient, she stands in a bathtub covered with the green chemicals. At the end she tries to shake and I have to hold her tail and her neck to stop her. I am unsuccessful. She shakes all the way out, I am soaked. The Sleepy Hollow Boys have to go, they are going to work in the tops of trees with chainsaws. I don’t know if Valium and chainsaws and heights mix, but good luck boys. I have met good people in Missouri, and this is no exception. Walk past the cinderblock building at 7:30. There is no music this morning.

At the Villa Ridge’s "Sleepy Hollow" trailer park, 5 people stand around the back of a pickup truck drinking Bud Light from bottles. The sun has set. Everything is a shade of blue. Guns and Roses plays loud. Real loud. It is coming from a long cinderblock building split up into 4 apartments. An American flag hangs from the roof over door number 3. Walking by I ask how far it is to the next place to eat. "3 or 4 more miles to the Tri-county Truck Stop. Hey dude, what’s that guitar!?" Pointing to the Solid Gold Rock Star by Playco. "Found it on the side of the road, but I don’t have any batteries for it. They are amused, they want to play it, they want to know where I am going. They did not expect to hear the story that I just told them. "New York! Man, you need a beer. Someone get this man a beer!" Guns and Roses plays on some super stereo in door number 2. Someone is head banging. Their hand is raised in triumph, celebrating not being at work. A pocket full of prescription drugs. A case of beer. "Highway dude, you’re drinkin’ too slow!"

"Welcome to the Jungle
We got fun and games
We got everything you want
Honey we know the names
We are the people that can find
Whatever you may need
If you got the money honey
We got your disease."

A man in a Foreigner T-shirt made in 1989 brings Cosmo 2 steaks. "You need to meet Itchy Bob." Ok. "Hey man, you eaten yet?" No. "Well they’re feedin’ your dog I think they should feed you." Someone comes back from behind the cinderblock building. With Itchy Bob. "Highway dude, meet Itchy Bob." "You hungry highway dude?" Itchy Bob asks. "Giddyup," I say, "giddyup." "Well I just made me a 5 meat sandwich with 5 cheeses on it, six feet long, Ill cut you off a piece. Come on in." A drunk man named "Chill" nods with approval, "Itchy Bob has a nice place Highway Dude, he’ll set you up."

Approaching the city, crossing the freeway. Stop at a gas station. Drinking coffee and sitting on the ground with Cosmo’s head in my lap. A woman comes by and hands me a quarter, I don’t want to hurt her feelings, I thank her, and when she is out of sight I laugh. Despite all that I have said, I AM a hobo. LuLu pulls me over. Offers a place to stay, but I am going to be with La Luz de la STS. Also known as the Poison Flowers. Also known as three women that I met on the wrestling mat in Santa Fe. You have not known pure joy until you have wrestled 25 topless women in olive oil. So, tonight I will be meeting up with the wrestler Datura, also known as Joanna. A hug for LuLu, more hugs in the world. And I am glad we do not have the cart because there are no shoulders. There are white horses though. We stop to talk to them. I eat an ice cream sandwich. I walk. I notice a butcher shop that is also a car dealership. I walk again. Into the suburbs. And right on time Betty arrives with her neighbor, Blue Comet in the back of his truck. "Hey grandma!" And now the hills are gone and it is safe to take the Comet on the road because here in the suburbs there are big side walks.

Don’t forget to hug your grandma. Wave goodbye. Suburb stares. In the city. Waving children with ice cream cones. Hide from the sun and wait for Joanna. A Bagel shop manager goes home to get me a t-shirt with a picture of his dog on it, and 3 large grocery bags of food, so that I will not have to eat all of Datura’s food.

Next door at a bar and grill a little girl named Abby grabs me and asks, "So are you just here to find quarters under the machines to buy candy with?" She just found $2 in quarters. Yes, yes I am. But they know I am lying. Her friend Allison, with a little sass, says, hands on hips, "I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you put your dog in your cart and YOU pull her." Don’t worry, she’s going to have a few days off. I am pulled in, the mothers ask me questions. Two of the girls go out to talk to Cosmo, and there they will stay for the next hour telling people that walk by what we are doing and telling Cosmo about what they did at school and about what they will do this weekend. I meant to sit down and write in this place, but there are people here who want to know.

The Moms want to know what I am learning. So we talk like old friends about everything and my family keeps growing because another YES this is it too, people asking each other questions and a real dialogue, not just the surface scratching small talk. Am I afraid? "No, not anymore, that is one of the things that I wanted out of this. (but I am afraid of lightning)." I tell them that Americans are not following their dreams, they are following the formula. Incredible fear. And I tell about the other side of fear. I tell about the highs and the lows of the walk and of a life that is lived in this way. I draw a wave chart and show how high I have gone, the high that comes with big risks, the kind that come when you throw yourself to the dogs of chance and then ride them into the sunset. But of course in that cowboy gypsy dog race of higher and higher, there runs the risk of the fall, a shadow grows as we rise, to maintain balance in the universe, and not just down to start, the shadow grows as low as we go high. And so the fall can be bigger than we have known before. And the dogs have teeth, and they have been starved, and they are hungry.

Pointing to my drawing of the waves of ups and downs, of the tragic comedy that is life, Lisa traces the line that divides the highs from the lows, where there is no fluctuation, the zero line on a chart, "I want to walk that straight line." And I can’t believe she just admitted that. "I’m not sure if the high is worth the low," she says. But I tell her that it is easier to recover and that the falls don’t hurt so bad after a few because then you know about those great heights. It is not like Icarus. And again I see that that is why people are afraid to try, afraid to see the god in themselves waking up.

So we skip right to the big picture, what really matters, and lets hear what we each have to say about it. And I tell them that I am learning that Americans are kinder and more hospitable than I had guessed, but that they are also more afraid. Afraid of taking chances and afraid of learning, afraid to try, afraid to explore, afraid of others, foreigners, and other life styles. I have just walked through strip mall city, safe from other, safe from different, always the same, in every strip mall city in America, the ultimate predictability, the ice cream the pizza, the sports bar and grill, the Wal-Mart (evil empire), fast food life. And this is the fastest growing sector in America. Cookie cutter houses cookie cutter people, because if the cookies stay the same shape it is easier to predict trends and easier to control the economy, and easier to sell them products, because they are a product in themselves, and you know what to sell to them because you have already programmed that information into them. Predictable. And I will say that I too want more, and I want newer, a new computer, a new stereo, a new car, always behind, it keeps us buying. But these women are content with their lives. And I am content talking to them. And I am trying to observe, not insult. So for now all is perfect, and Ann says she thinks Gandhi will go to heaven. And like Gandhi, I too am glad there will be no religion in heaven.
And her little girl asks why would Gandhi not go to heaven, and indeed, that is the question, but I have beaten that horse into the ground already and I will not make you watch me whip it again. Next subject.

Ann says, "I am content." And I believe her. She has 3 children hanging on her. With all the things I hav etold her she has her own amazing story. ""I think there are other things…. THIS, (the children) this is amazing. Do I have a lot of needs, do I have any wants, this is enough for me." So I waver in these conversations, I feel at home with these people, I feel like we are neighbors and friends, but I want even more for them, I want them to see through my eyes, and I want to see through theirs, so I sit as long as I can. I want to see what you see, to take the best part of that perspective and apply it to my own life. I want to know the world, every mind in the machine, because you cannot change the machine without knowing its construction. The problems that I see are not in an individual, or even a group, they are in every part of this organism that is America, Amorica, World Power, machine. So what am I saying? I am saying that I don’t want to tell these women to live differently, I am saying I want to tell the world, and myself, MYSELF, because I still do not live right, I want to change the rhythm of the machine.

Joanna is here and I have to leave my new family, and so I take a big Turkey feather from my cowboy hat and I give it to Abby. And outside the other girls are gathered around Cosmo, petting her and telling her stories. Cosmo looks up. "Don’t worry pretty girl, we’re done for a few days. You can rest." I hug the strip mall Moms, I love them. There has not been a person that I have met that I have not seen some of myself in. I will be with these women and they will be with me.

Joanna takes me to South St. Louis to a big brick building, and then to the Upstairs Lounge. I think of New York, I have not been in a real city for a while. Techno beats. Booths and hip drinks. We are both tired and leave early, but I am inspired by the music that I heard. I want to call Brad and tell him (for the 74th time) that we are going to change the world!!! That we need to start building, building right now!!!! "Brad, prepar ethe foundation, yes, a 30 foot dome, lights like 1979. Call the spinners, pave the way. Yellow brick road to Santa Fe. To have a place ready for the people to gather, to dance and to wash away the plaque of the strip mall and the Wal-Mart economy axis of Evil. Ecstasy. Life should be ecstasy. I am planning a building to hold the beats. A platform for the DJs. I have built so much in my mind, now I just need my body to keep up. The Sistine Chapel should have a DJ once a week. God is a DJ.

Sleep in an old brick building with high ceilings, and the beat goes on. Thank you for the beats God.