Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


My Photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 26 years--we're recycling. I've published 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS (2012), and 2 collections of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). Novel # 3, KARIN, will be out from Pantheon (US) and House of Anansi (Canada) in March 2016. More of my book stuff at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I've been teaching at Colorado College, Wichita State, and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right. It's free. Never an ad, never a sales pitch.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Anti-Infotainment: the 1957 Chevrolet Station Wagon & Autoliterate Book-of-the-Year winner

Weather report from Michael Moore, on San Francisco Bay:
"Well damn, it IS so cold here a person has to put on a [light] jacket over their sweatshirt to walk comfortably along the water in the morning, but by afternoons, t-shirt weather, a guy can ride his bike around town and turn up stuff like this... somewhat rotten '57 Chev on the jetty [I like the seagull and the furry dice in the first one, but that second pic REALLY gives a sense of our ambience...] yesterday; that would be Mount Diablo in the distance beyond the refineries of Martinez ... "--MSM
As our Texan-Quebecois friend, The Idiosyncratic Gearhead, says: Friends don't let friends use infotainment; neither the word, the concept, nor the hard- and software. 
In that spirit we're happy to announce the winner of this year's Anti-Infotainment Prize as Autoliterate's Book of the Year for 2014: Earl Swift's auto-biography of a '57 Chevy wagon 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Three-Decker, East End, Portland Maine

More examples of the genre up here.

First Street '54 Chevrolet

Michael Moore spotted it in the Bay Area, where the sun shines, and the color green exists. We posted a sedan in Maine last summer.

John Balaban poem: After the Inauguration, 2013

                                                             Negro Church, South Carolina    Walker Evans photograph

After The Inauguration, 2013
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.”
Epistle to the Hebrews, 9:22
Pulling from the tunnel at Union Station, our train
shunts past D.C. offices and then crosses the rail bridge
over the tidal Potomac blooming in sweeps of sunlight.
Except for me and two young guys in suits studying
spreadsheets on their laptops, and the tattooed girl
curled asleep across two seats, and the coiffed blonde lady 
confined to her wheelchair up front next to piled luggage, 
it’s mostly black folk, some trickling home in high spirits,
bits of Inaugural bunting and patriotic ribbons
swaying from their suitcase handles on the overhead racks,
all of us riding the Carolinian south.

Further on, where it’s suddenly sailboats and gulls
on a nook of the Chesapeake, the banked-up rail bed
cuts through miles of swamped pines and cypress
as the train trundles past the odd heron stalking frogs,
or, picking up speed, clatters through open cornfields
where, for a few seconds, staring through the dirty glass,
you can spot turkeys scrabbling the stubble. Further south,
past Richmond, something like snow or frost glints off a field
and you realize it’s just been gleaned of cotton
and this is indeed the South. As if to confirm this fact
to all of us on Amtrak, some latter-day Confederate
has raised the rebel battle flag in a field of winter wheat.

At dusk, just outside of Raleigh, the train slows
and whistles three sharp calls at a crossing in Kittrell, N.C.
Along the railroad tracks, under dark cedars, lie graves
of Confederates from Petersburg’s nine-month siege, men
who survived neither battle, nor makeshift hospital
at the Kittrell Springs Hotel, long gone from the town
where our train now pauses for something up ahead.

Nearby in Oxford, in 1970, a black soldier was shot to death.
One of his killers testified: “That nigger committed suicide,
coming in here wanting to four-letter-word my daughter-in-law.”
Black vets, just back from Vietnam, set the town on fire.
Off in the night, you could see the flames from these rails
that once freighted cotton, slaves, and armies. 
                                               Now our Amtrak
speeds by, passengers chatting, or snoozing, or just looking out
as we flick on past the shut-down mills, shotgun shacks, collapsed
tobacco barns, and the evening fields with their white chapels
where “The Blood Done Sign My Name” is still sung, where
the past hovers like smoke or a train whistle’s mournful call.
                                                                                    -John Balaban
                                                     in New York Review of Books, March 19, 2015

Chevrolet Maple Leaves & Toronto Maple Leafs

From Alex Emond:
"These Maple Leaves predate our flag by decades, as does our hapless Toronto team, 'the Leafs' --they can't spell and they can't score. What would Walt Whitman say--" Check out those leafs of grass"? I don't think so.
Every so often, I come across examples of the Made in Canada version. The first Chev was down in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan and the green one was up in Morse, just off the Trans Canada, east of Swift Current.  Cheers"--AE
 More Maple Leaves here.  More hapless Leafs here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Amsterdam Diary: Thieves, Rain, and a Steam Yacht in R. Vecht

from Guido Goluke, translator & intrepid cyclist, in Amsterdam:
"Beste Peter, fr
Today I wheeled out a last empty book case out of my work room, with a blue washing-up bowl with brush and liquid on an empty shelf. I dumped the case on the sidewalk, to be picked up by the garbage squad, and took the washing-up basin home. So now I am a pensionado for real. 
This morning I took the road bike out for a spin through cold rain and lashing winds – Dutch winter weather – and it felt different. Because I was riding out without work awaiting.
    The first week after my return [from the US] has been hectic. Burglars cleared out two storage boxes downstairs, not mine, so extra locks and burglar proof steel had to be put on our doors. Then K. caught flu, needed antibiotics and sailed closely past pneumonia. Then I cleared out my work room and started reinventing our flat as a comfortable space for two. And it is looking good! Then a thief grabbed my bicycle case which I had put ready to take to a recycling shop. The thief was spotted by security cameras. Lying didn’t help and the bastard had to retrieve the stolen case from the harbour way out west, where it was already waiting for shipment in a container to West Africa – filled with cameras, bottles of vegetable oil? Upon securing the stolen case I took it to the recycling shop anyway.
    I hear you are still gripped by frost and snows. Here icy cold rain and low hanging clouds remind us that winter is not over yet. During the wet ride today I have felt colder than in Maine or New York. Except for that day I took a walk along the ocean when a wind was blowing.    
    Warm are my feelings though of my days with you in Maine. And every evening I don my green shirt from LL Bean’s and feel good about my time in the US.
    Best to you all, 
p.s The yacht in the River Vecht, as a non-plussed old timer in a modern habitat.

Russell Lee photograph: 1938 Chevrolet

Oilfield Workers On A Break. Kilgore, Texas 1939
Russell Lee is best-known for his documentary work for the FSA (Farm Security Administration) during the Depression. Maybe you have seen his famous series on the homesteaders in Pie Town, New Mexico.