Friday, May 12, 2006

Michigan and Ohio

Are drab and sullen at this time of year, dirty grey. Detroit was a good show for a lovely audience, but the amount of shit we take from pan handlers loading in and out defies belief. Today the sky is like varnish aged by smoke. The tour is winding down now, just two more dates and no more long drives, everyone is weary to the bone, just keeping on. I am full of worries about home, gazing out at these colourless stretches of trees, fields and farmhouses, too grey and flat and for even me to romanticise.

At a service station 20 miles west of Cleveland, I hear a conversation between 2 Burger King staff about 'a haunted castle' in Ireland which one of them is planning to visit, 'With sharks and alligators in the moat... and... and... and... lobsters with their pincers too'. We drive 4 more miles and I see a small lake to the left of the freeway that in every way resembles an ordinary natural lake, except for the 3 foot spume of water rising from the centre, clearly artifical and serving no apparent purpose. Last night someone asked if my name was really Alasdair Maclean. 'It just sounds so Art Nouveau'.

Heather's parents live right on the edge of lake Erie, which we visit after the Cleveland show and just before the onset of a filthy snowstorm. We take the dogs, Billy and Sadie, out to the lake shore, where the white horses are rolling in, driven by the bitterest wind I've felt since living in Edinburgh. The light is pale grey, dim with moisture, a few flakes of snow dancing in the air. The cold is incredible, but bracing. We are really winding down now, getting ready for the last hours and minutes in this country, the very end, the finale to an 8 week tour, perhaps the end of making music together at all. It's all so unreal and I feel beaten down and sad, somehow unrecognisable to myself. Dry, thick lines of snow snake over the highway like little tracks of polystrene beads, driven side to side by the wind. What a dismal day. At last, I have finished the first trilogy of Remembrance of Things Past.

The snow is coating the side of the freeway now, the light dimming by 4pm into a charcoal twilight, sad snowy woods and telegraph lines glimpsed through clearings that recede and fade. They look as grim as some Polish forest, interspersed endlessly with car parks and vast ugly motorpart stores like gulags. I really get a sense of the isolation of this country, the loneliness: scratching out a mark on these endless fields of snow, whose message to us can only be that we should leave as fast as possible, and go as far as we can.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your prose is gorgeous... Looking forward to hearing it set to music tonight in Memphis! I read this blog entry because I am originally from Michigan, and I couldn't have said it better myself... The saddest part for me is that the people there seem inconceivably content with that desolation and what little they have culturally: but I couldn't wait to escape!

Fortunately, the Midwest blossoms up nicely when spring finally does arrive, albeit after a seemingly interminable winter. Take comfort in the knowledge that you were spared from the relentless pursuit of the mosquitoes.

an anonymous Julie