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Draplin Design Co., North America
October 23, 2005
DDC:GAA:FT: 10232005:L07:D40
Posted at 10:33 AM


Memphis to St. Louis isn’t too bad of a stretch. Maybe 300 miles tops. But of course, we like to get dirty, so, we made things ugly by veering off here and there.

We left Memphis sometime around noon, after a hearty breakfast meal a couple clicks away from the Sun Records studios. We said our “goodbyes” to Memphis…

191. “Sun Records Recording Studio.”
192. “The big Les Paul Gold Top outside of the studio.”
193. “More Sun.”
194. “Leaving Memphis…”
195. “Ryno breakfast.”
196. “Over to Arkansas…”

…and jumped the river over to Arkansas, and caught back up with the 61 heading north.

197. “Lost In Translation: Keep A Good High & Mighty.”
198. “An old watering hole.”
199. “Watering hole innards.”

Ryno had a little treat up his sleeve: Dyess, Arkansas, Boyhood home of American Hero Johnny Cash.

200. “En route to Dyess.”
201. “Dyess Bicentennial Monument.”

But you sure wouldn’t know it. No signs, no statues, no murals. Just a run-down share cropper town out in some mean fields. We found some old place, relying on Ryno’s memory to guide us, as, he had been here about 7 years back and found the little house, complete with dirty kids running around it, lots of broken-down cars and sharp things to get cut on. We ran up and down a number of dirt roads and settled on this one. So here you go, the “quite possibly” boyhood home of The Man In Black:

202. “Just maybe the boyhood home of the Johnny Cash.”

Out of Arkansas and into southern Missouri we went.

Missouri is “firecracker country” so of course, I bought couple brick of Black Cats for the ride back to Minneapolis. Even lit a couple off in the car. Just for fun. Kinda dangerous, actually. Light the little fucker, throw it in a pop bottle, then throw it in Ryno’s lap. Fuck him. Blown up fingers. Great fun.

Up that highway we went, with little to report. Ryno is a sporting man. He’s always up for a challenge. I put him to the test:

203. “5 bucks says you can’t eat 10 red hot dollars in a minute.”
204. “14 seconds to go, you asshole!”
205. “Red hot aftermath.”

Sonofabitch barely missed the first bet, and went over by about 2-3 seconds. So, we went “double or nothing” and he prevailed, and beat the clock. 20 red hot dollars in about 122 seconds. Wow. Talent. Raw talent. Washed it all down with a warm slurp of some Faygo red pop or something.

206. “The last bale of “Cotton Bale Country”

Closer to St. Louis, we veered off for St. Genevieve. Of course, we had to do some “Walking on Main Street, getting to know the concrete.” We “held back the waaaaa-ter…” for about an hour over some supper at a little I-talian joint downtown. All over a Son Volt song that has been near and dear to us for a decade:

From “Tear Stained Eye” off the epic “Trace” by Son Volt, 1995:

“Walking down Main Street, Getting to know the concrete
Looking for a purpose, From the neon sign

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

Can you deny there’s nothing greater
Nothing more than the traveling hands of time
St. Genevieve can hold back the water
But saints don’t bother with a tear-stained eye.”

207. “The River’s wrath in St. Genevieve.”
208. “The store ran by the dreamiest gal in town.”
209. “Walkin’ down main street…”

No trip up the Mississippi isn’t complete without a pitstop to Festus, Missouri. Home of America’s greatest bar band, those “Bottle Rockets.” It’s little downtown zone is good from some “Brian Henneman thought.” There was some talk up looking up Tom Parr, but that died off quick. Ryno and I could possibly be the old people in the whole world wondering about Tom Parr, the Rockets’ old rhythm guitarist.

210. “I do love St. Louis.”

We even had our share of heartbreak in St. Louis. “Slo Tom’s” corner bar in South St. Louis was closed for the night, much to our dismay. We were hoping to watch “Gary play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ on his Peavey guitar…” but came up empty-handed. Nice sign on the joint.

211. “Let’s go down to Slo Tom’s, Let’s go down to Slo-o-oh Tom’s…”
212. “We can watch them fools fall offa them stools…”

Feeling lucky, we headed over to East St. Louis to the Casino Queen. I had to play a couple hands of roulette. Just had to. I could hear my numbers calling me. Found the tables on the third level, and in no time, dropped a c-note. Fuck. Took a breather out on the deck overlooking the Mississippi River and downtown St. Louis and went back at it.

And this time around, you motherfuckers, luck was on my side:
01. 9 bucks on “24”
02. 6 bucks on “24”
03. 5 buck on “34”
04. and a handful of other beauties.

Walked out with a couple hundred extra bucks, and a “trayful” of watered-down cocktails in Ryno’s gut.

We got off that damn riverboat and onto the Interstate outta town. Settled on some no-name hotel that coulda been an Comfort Inn or something brand name at one time. Kinda of surprised us that the place had wi-fi, but maybe only in the lobby, as the reception was “scant at best.”

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