Introduction

I am of the generation whose identity was firmly defined by the lures and mysteries of THE ROAD. Nothing is quite as exciting, to me, as the steady whine of the road beneath the tires of my car / truck as I head out of L.A. on my way up Route One or Highway 101 or even the dull repetition of Interstate Five as it careens through the brown-ness of the western San Jaoquin Valley.

My memory of road trips past is tied to vehicles past, as if a particular car or truck can act as a marker along memory lane. The road is so intrinsically interwoven into my history, that I often canít recall the person I was involved with at the time, but I can remember with ease the vehicle I was driving and the many adventures that I had whilst in said vehicle.

Unfortunately, I took a slight detour during the nineties, distracted by women of various makes & models... But, realizing my error have once again sought the easy comfort of a good traveliní tape, some new sunglasses, a full tank of gas and an inclination for a change of scenery. Just me and a million other drivers... Move over road-ragers, Iíve got Tom Waits on the tape deck and Iím headiní out. See you in two weeks.

This particular two weeks had an actual itinerary that involved visiting old friends, meeting new ones and doing a little poetic business on the side. No risk of boredom here!

RD Armstrong, August, 1999

About the author

RD Armstrong, a self-styled Road Scholar, reluctant gypsy and vagabond, has spent many of his years on the "coast route", choosing, whenever possible, to get from point A to point B via car and/or truck. In this case, the vehichle was an Ď88 Nissan Sentra.

Raindog, as his friends know him, also is devoted to the craft of writing, both poetry & prose and has numerous chap & little books, including Bone (with Todd Moore) published by his Lummox Press in early 1999 as part of the LRB series.


A Jouney Up The Coast (excerpt)


SANTA CRUZ

Crisp morning Santa
Cruz 	5 a.m.
Left Long Beach
10 a.m. yesterday
drove up 101 "just 4
Old times sake" --
Not much old times left
on 101 except the
rough and tumble
rural  areas which
will probably never change
until  they are gobbled
up by "progress"
Noticed said progress
outside San Luis Obispo
where, as a lad, I got
stuck hitch-hiking back
to L.A. late one starry night
in spring of Ď72 (no car)
and had to hike --
no hitching at 3 a.m. --
from San Luis to the sea		10 miles
Took all night but
I was young and determined.
(I didnít know any damned better).
Area is all built up now
was empty space
land and trees.

Stayed with poet Will Taylor, jr.
and girlfriend and cat and bird
in Santa Cruz.  	A likable
young man with a
common love of Buk 
and the poem
the honest
crisp line.

Santa Cruz reeks of the 
almighty "vibe". JS warned me
about it & now Iíve seen
it  walked among it  	even
sat down and drank with it.
Just another town in 
NoCal.  Thank god Will and 
co. are good people
good enough to put up a 
stranger for the night
(something that was promised
but proved to be a rarity
later in the trip)
good enough to put up with 
all my stories and 		"old
man wisdom"

Taylor:		Santa Cruz 
via		Bakersfield
"by a fluke"
refers to me as his
"publisher"  and accords me
a respect that is foreign,
yet familiar -- a nostalgic
memory of past lives --

My skills as a publisher
are somewhat dubious
I am unaccustomed to 
this new title and the
ensuing acclaim.

I met Will at "LOGOS"
a used/new bookstore in the
good vibing heart of Santa Cruz
Unlike most independent (used) 
bookstores 	this one
thrives 	centrally located in 
this college town of young/old
readers.  I know Iím not in L.
A. anymore  where the cry
for "New!" never ceases.

Driving up 101
found myself drifting
into the memory lane on
more than one 
occasion.
Many treks up and 
down this highway --	
this stretch of road
in the fine company
of the comrades of
youth --
friends and lovers
companions of those daze
so many years / miles ago
and now I fly solo 
(so low).
Funny how certain landscape 
features trigger certain
memories
like dreams re-activated
by the piano roll of 
time
the
subconscious mind tips open
the dusty old photo album
and out tumbles pictures
from another time --
Karen and her Ď58 Chevy
four door		bruising tank of a car
riding north through Paso Robles
in the heat of that summer
101 a two-lane country road
in those days 			Karen long gone
now.
Thought of her much
this first time on 101
in a dozen years easy.
Look forward to the sad dumb beauty of 
these memories as trip unfolds
after house uncurls itself and 
the coffee pot is empty.

ROUTE ONE

Two lanes winding
out of desolate coast
lined with sheer cliffs
flat gray drops
into sheetmetal patina sea
cliffs topped with scrub
and bush and wild grasses
wildly rioting at roadside
or freshly mowed and baled
like a KS wheatfield.
Little towns of Davenport
Pescadero, Half Moon
Maltera and Venice Beach
"Whereís the sunglasses?"
Even San Pedro (park)
"Am I going south or north?"
Pass a gutted and wind-blasted
concrete shell of a house --
it has no access
no explanation
just stands on the 
weathered pedestal of sandstone
perched on top of a hill
over-looking Half Moon Bay.
This stretch
winding
up to the outskirts
of SanFranís suburbs
leads a caravan
away from the isolation
of the rugged coastline 
and into Daly Cityís "little
boxes" made of ticky-tack
once a novelty
now the common 
denominator.
Bumper to bumper
on Saturday a.m.?
Four day weekend		oh yeah		forgot.
Every motherfather is out 
last minute errands or
leaving to be with friends
for the "red glare" that
no Mureen can cure.
All these important people --
as Mike Jensen puts it --
must reach their
destination before the 
mass of us	must push 
and claw their way
every mile wearing on
them like a D-Day marine.

Itís everywhere
this insistence
this assertion
this I
Not just in evil olí L.A.
Do I risk personal injury
if I point this out?

Climbing away
from the coast into 
gray skies		one 	reaches
	the sky		line	and
skirts
		the clouds
with the 
rural landscape:	straw blond and flattened dull green
trees	the beauty of shades of gray

Suddenly a bend reveals
a herd of suburbia as 
frightening and sudden
as a herd of pastel buffalo sweeping
across the hills of South SanFran
dividing into the upper
meadows of Daly City and
the lower industrial flats
of the Cow Palace and SFO.
SanFran lays spread out
before me like a 
blanket spread out
over bumpy ground
ready for a July Four picnic
that great American icon
of leisure time 	and 		success.


ONE OH ONE

Then
itís the rush
to merge
the mad race
of the city.
Sudden and
surprising
The City
(old hippie name)
rises up
through cracked
concrete --
as if by magic --
and compels
me to face it
on its terms
play by
its rules.
But is this really
SanFran or just
more development?
Could be part of L.A. 	easy
Then the towers rising 
out of trees as green as 
the eyes of envy
the reddish-orange towers
of the "Golden Gate"
a visual password
as familiar as Hewell 
Houser confirms
that this is
definitely
The City.


Little Red Book (LRB) series etal

Part II of the LRB catalog...: Other LRB currently available
Part I of LRB Catalog: More of the same
Remembering Bukowski by A.D. Winans: LRB #9, excerpts
Scar Tissue by A.D. Winans: LRB #6, excerpts
Meat Eater by Bill Shields: LRB #5, excerpts

RD "Raindog" Armstrong

lumoxraindog@earthlink.net
LUMMOX Press c/o PO Box 5301
San Pedro, CA 90733-5301
United States