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Draplin Design Co., North America
October 19, 2004
DDC 50: Day 30, Woke Up In Cape Girardeau...
Posted at 10:50 PM


Waking up in Cape Girardeau, one thing is for certain: I�m tired of staying in shitty places. Hell, I�d rather just sleep in the back of Big S, cuz at least I know his history, and can trust his surfaces. The shithole we stayed in last night had a carpet lovingly stained with “who-the-hell-knows-what.” The wall closest to my bed was stained from�we speculate�the bracing of a foot during a moment of heightened intimacy. Hard living.
Of course, the gal we tried to sweet talk into a deal took no mercy on our sorry asses and put us in the saddest of the rooms. My bed smelled of puke. The �non-smoking� room smelled of smoke. The bathroom tub had the most gruesome silicone caulk job I have ever witnessed. AC? Hell no. We had to crack the windows for any offering of fresh air that would enter that death hole.

Now, I�ve stayed many night in a many a questionable establishment.
I�ve battled roaches and flies and silverfish and even a couple inquisitive, rowdy neighbors, but man, I�m done with the �fearing for my life�and being afraid to �touch the carpet without a pair of socks on.� We were in it for the shelter, plain and simple.

It was nice to pull out of the �Town House Inn.�

- - - -

St. Genevieve is a river town that is constantly threatened by river floods. It�s all the setting of Son Volt�s classic �Tear Stained Eye� where Jay starts out with the lyrics, �Walking down main street, getting� to know the concrete.� I�ve been singing along to that song for over a decade, and to strut along St. Genevieve�s main street made all those lyrics, images and daydreams come full circle. It�s crazy how lyrics can have an effect on you. For me, they remind me of chapters of my life, of new beginnings or fears, or succinct feelings.

�I would meet you anywhere.
The western sun meets the air,
We’ll hit the road.
Never looking behind.�

Whoa, the best. Freedom? Leaving? Devotion? Whatever the deal, it�s Farrar�s words that have compelled me to get lost in the Mississippi River countryside on this leg.

At the end of downtown there is a post that illustrates the river levels if the levee wouldn�t have held at different threatening times. In �93, the water level would have been around 12 feet of water! So goes Farrar�s lyrics go, �St. Genevieve can hold back the water�� to stand there, humming that tune, thinking of this little town underwater�so amazing.
I had to see it, and did. A beautful little downtown in a beautiful little pocket of small town America.

When I left the nest in 1993, our original route out to Oregon had us cruising down along the bottom of Lake Michigan, past Chicago, hooking onto 80 and across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. But, if I remember correctly, the Mississippi had swelled so bad, certain sections of 80 were closed down, forcing us to go north through Michigan�s Upper Peninsula, across Wisconsin, beneath Minneapolis to connect with I-90 to take us west. Our inaugural trip west. Became a man on that trip.

- - - -

01. “We followed these signs all the way up.”
02. “A beautiful rendering of the word, “Mart.”
03. “Beautiful decay.”
04. “I’d love to throw a couple balls at this joint.”
05. “This way to the DDC, some 2500 miles West by Northwest.”

- - - -

Up that Mississippi we went, up to Festus, the home of those Bottle Rockets. We took a cruise through town, select cuts from their epic �24 Hours A Day� album guiding us. I love the Bottle Rockets, and always wondered about Festus, Missouri. I finally got to see it. Man, I have lived.

- - - -

UNCLE TUPELO TOUR: �Hometown, sametown blues. Same old walls, closing in�.�

Into the St. Louis vicinity, and east over the Big River over to Belleville, Illinois, the home of Uncle Tupelo. I had to see it. I�ve been listening to Farrar and Tweedy for over a decade, and had to see their hometown just once, to get a feel for where they grew up, the conditions, the landmarks. This was the land that spawned Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and Wilco. Three of my top ten bands. We passed through Belleville, I sat down for a trim at a little barbershop and then we headed out towards Millstadt, Illinois to see the town Farrar chose for his recording studio called �Jajouka,� after a Moroccan musician town.

Millstadt was what-is-to-be-expected for a rural, farm-country town.
It reminded me of my hometown of Central Lake, but without the trees.
We drove around a bit, looking at warehouses and quiet buildings, wondering, �Is that the one where Farrar records his music?� I�m a fan, and coming here was a bit of a tribute to the tunes that have compelled me for so long. This trip has takenme through Oklahoma City to pay tribute to those Flaming Lips, through Amherst to pay tribute to J Mascis, and now through the greater St. Louis countryside to pay tribute to Farrar and Tweedy. I�m sure Westerberg will cross my mind as I roll around Minneapolis. It always intrigues me, especially in the fall.

Upon some research, it turns ourt Farrar moved his recording headquarters into downtown St. Louis, to cut out 20 minute commute. Now it�s in a section of town called, �Dogtown,� tucked away in some warehouse building.

I would love to meet Farrar. Get a handshake, tell him thanks. Thanks.

- - - -

Coming out of Uncle Tupelo country we crossed over that Mississippi yet again, and did a quick cruise through downtown St. Louis. Upon heated discussion we �made the call� to head north to Chicago. PJ had to get back to work, so we jumped on I-55 north and hauled up to the City of Big Shoulders. PJ was behind the wheel, I was behing the �sawing of logs� snoring. And up we went, getting into Chi-cawgo somewhere around 8pm.

I did a little work, answered some emails, had a quick bite to eat and called it a night. So much adventure, so much time.

I am a thankful man.