Thumbing A Ride, Brain Toads and Assorted Night Creatures

I like Iggy Pop in theory, not in practice. I like the IDEAL of the POP, not the reality of our peanut butter and blood smeared shock and awe purveyor of grotty melodic punk. There is one exception: The Passenger. The Passenger is every night not spent sleeping, but instead crawling city streets looking for adventure or a kick, trouble or excitement. It is neon lights and street fist fights between wan faced boys on street corners. It is 53rd and 3rd with DeeDee Ramone tryna turn a trick, but realizing he is not even the one that gets picked up. It is greasy slices of pizza and rancid coffee, it’s donut shops and rain-smeared sidewalks, clothes stuck to you, water in your eyes, and steaming subways full of human traffic and lost souls. It is The End. “Ride the highway west…” but that is an entirely different song. If Iggy is pure Detroit, city grime and on foot grinding towards the next episode of danger and violence and trouble, then Jimbo is the lost highway. Morrison is pure California, mescaline and peyote, tequila and blue buses that open their doors to day trippers, ghostly, white, see-through, Baron Samedi in the driver’s seat reading a copy of Cannery Row, while all the other lost boys and girls, open armed welcome you onto the long ride to nowheresville.

The blue bus pulls away down towards the volcanic flats, or the hilly old gold rush towns, or towards the Nevadan desert where your best friend has a sister who lives in Reno. There is always somebody who lives in Reno, and they exist purely in possibility, in thought and inaction. I drove through Reno once. I can guarantee it exists, though I can’t promise any of the inhabitants do.

The final rule of the road is “Be careful who you pick up,” Not so many people hitch rides nowadays, both passenger and driver unwilling to risk a fatal interaction. I once gave a native young woman a ride, she was my friend, I kinda knew her. I drove her to McDonalds and she bought me a coke. The possibility of getting a Passenger with toads crawling in their brain and “sweet family” dying in some twisted out of time Manson scene never seemed much like a movie I wanted to creep into, so drove on by, with a wave or a sorry or a bye bye goodnight, hope you come to no harm and do none in return.

Once you get on that blue bus, once you ride that night train, you are not guaranteed to be set free, set down at a bus stop, perching on the bench, heels against concrete, back against a scuffed graffitied screen waiting for your connection to come, but then again, the night rarely lets go once it has hold anyway. Just remember the West is the Best and steer steady till the morning light rises in the east.

I guess I’ll take the highway till the end of the night with Morrison, what else is there to do?

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