"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Friday, August 04, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane

Alas, I must bid Mrs. Toast a fond au revoir, at least temporarily. Due to the fact that she (unlike me) is gainfully employed, her boss unfortunately expects her back at work next Monday; she has therefore hopped a flight from New York back to Texas. However, this leaves me unencumbered to drift aimlessly about the eastern portion of the United States by myself for the next several weeks, restricted only by my oxygen needs and credit card limit. Ah ... the freedom of the open road, with no schedule or obligations, travelin' and a-livin' off the land, just me and you and a dog named Boo, how I love bein' a free man and I ... no wait, that's a really bad 70's song. Never mind.

Speaking of old songs, however, today I crossed from New York back to Massachusetts, driving the length of the Mass Pike on the way to visit friends in my old home town of Hamilton. This route, which passes through the lovely village of Stockbridge in western Mass, always conjures up two musical golden nuggets for me -- the first being by James Taylor:

  Now the first of December was covered with snow
  And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
  Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
  With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go

  There's a song that they sing when they take to the highway
  A song that they sing when they take to the sea
  A song that they sing of their home in the sky
  Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
  But singing works just fine for me

  Goodnight you moonlight ladies
  Rockabye Sweet Baby James
  Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
  Won't you let me go down in my dreams
  And rockabye Sweet Baby James


The second tune that comes to mind is the classic 18-minute opus by Arlo Guthrie entitled Alice's Restaurant, the rambling tale (set in Stockbridge) of a Thanksgiving feast gone bad which morphs into a biting satirical commentary on the draft and the Vietnam war. The song has always been near and dear to my heart due to a similar experience I had during that era, when I was nearly conscripted into the Army myself while living in the Virgin Islands. My shameless shenanigans during my pre-induction physical exam (conducted in San Juan, Puerto Rico), while not sufficient to have me placed on "The Group W Bench", nevertheless disqualified me for military service. The full story of this fiasco is simply much too embarrassing to relate here in the blog, but for those of you who have read about some of my previous antics in this space and may occasionally wonder about my sanity, all I need to say is "use your imagination".

After spending a few days here tromping around my old homestead, my next stop will be to visit another friend in upstate Maine (state motto: "Nearly Canada"). On Saturday August 12th, I will be a guest on the Radio Timtron Worldwide program, broadcast over 50,000-watt shortwave powerhouse WBCQ - The Planet, and hosted by my friend Tim -- another boyhood pal. The Timtron is a ham radio operator known quite literally all over the world, and is quite a character. He's a bit, er, "eccentric" (but in a loveable sort of way) and perhaps one of the few people in the world who can make me look more or less normal by comparison. WBCQ is also available as a streaming audio feed over the Internet, so any readers who might be curious can catch this once-in-a-lifetime event "live". It should be quite interesting, and I'll post further details as the date gets closer.

Yes, the Toastmobile has already covered nearly 3,000 miles so far, and many more adventures still await down the road ... so stay tuned!

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