Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Finding the River

Roaming Ohio by car is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I love driving the freeways and the two-lanes and watching the land change from hills to forests to fields; passing through one-stoplight, two-tavern towns and cruising through underpasses that dive beneath cityscapes.

If I’m alone, my mind really gets cooking, so I made some very sparse notes from a five-hour round trip drive today, hoping to put the inspiration to use at home tonight. And with all that time in the car, just me and several CDs, there is some real wandering in the works tonight. I’m just going to break this up into a couple different pieces, since the thoughts kind of popped into my head as I was driving, with little or no connection between any of them.

Part 1: Past perfect tense

Friday night, when I went to a wings-and-beer place around 10 p.m. to meet up with some friends I used to share a newsroom with. Only one of the group is still at that particular newspaper. I realize the nature of the news business is that practically everybody is looking for their next big break almost constantly, but the shame of this situation was that when I looked around this table, I saw a hell of a good news/sports/editing team – and there were others out of the picture too, both in terms of the paper and our get-together. Point is, we had a damn good staff gathered at this place, but all of us wound up leaving around the same time, because of the way certain aspects of the business were handled.

It was such a relatively short window of opportunity, too, because just as the group of us was becoming kind of tight-knit and reminiscent of my days in the Orlando Sentinel’s composing room, when we’d work until 1 a.m. and then go hang out at Denny’s until 3 or 4 in the morning, things at this paper grew unbearable for most of us. Hanging out Friday night at BW-3 made me miss the place – at least, it made me miss working with this bunch of people – and it pissed me off to think that things could have gone so freaking well if only folks in higher places had had their acts together.

Part 2: If I’d only had wine to go with it…

The drive home tonight was the best: It was pretty hot & humid all day, but by about 6:15 or so, I was on the freeway, and it was cooling down just enough that I could put the windows down and enjoy the summer. For me, that meant running through a cycle of
music that moves me, mostly by pulling me back to places and times and people long gone and unreachable. Hell, yes, there’s a lot of cheese here – one of the CDs I mixed is called “Drive Alone, Bring Crackers” for that very reason – but dammit, zipping up Interstate 71 with the day’s heat slowly giving way as the smell of turned dirt comes in off the fields and mixes with the scent of cooling blacktop, it’s a fine thing to be carried back a ways, even if you’re riding the goofball-80s-rock train.

You know what, I’ll even dare to type up the frakking track listing from Drive Alone, Bring Crackers, with the following disclaimer: What’s odd about this list is that many of the songs, when I think about them, didn’t seem “important” at the time when they
were popular. They were just there. It’s only now that I realize the odd memories and emotions that have stuck to them over the years. So here goes:

  1. Pat Benatar – Shadows of the Night
  2. Meat Loaf – Paradise by the Dashboard
    Light
  3. Lindsey Buckingham – Go Insane
  4. John Waite – Missing You
  5. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Dreaming
  6. Dennis DeYoung – Desert Moon
  7. Phil Collins – Against All Odds
  8. Bryan Adams – Heaven
  9. Night Ranger – When You Close Your Eyes

And you know, no matter what you think this song list says about me, with the exception of Night Ranger, who put on a free show at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Ribs Burnoff a few years ago, I have seen absolutely none of these artists in concert. In other words, when it comes down to plunking down actual money, to quote Bloom County’s Steve Dallas, “I have SOME scruples, dude!” (And for my friends who are readying to disassociate themselves from me because of this list, remember: I know who owns the Spice Girls albums.)

Anyway, following the 80s fromage-fest, in went the early-college-years Alphaville CD, from which I plucked Summer in Berlin, Big in Japan, and (of course) Forever Young. This was followed by my own “The Only 4 Asia Songs You’ll Ever Need,” which are, naturally, Go, Don’t Cry, Only Time Will Tell and Heat of the Moment. After that, there was a quick turn to Johnny Cash for When The Man Comes Around and his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt. I closed out the trip with selections from REM’s Automatic for the People, including Drive, Sweetness Follows, Nightswimming and Find the River.

All that, and I also got to see a majestic peregrine falcon staring over the highway from a huge bare tree branch, and pick up a half-dozen White Castles, which I always associate with road trips, because the only times I eat ’em are when I’m driving around central Ohio.

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July 16, 2006 - Posted by | 1980s, Music, Ohio, Travel, writing

1 Comment »

  1. We are such an awesome group of people! And an awesome news/sports/editorial group! (Could I write awesome one more time???) Darn management! So good to see you!

    Comment by Laura | July 18, 2006 | Reply


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