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Draplin Design Co., North America



Got up, poached some internet from the front office and were on our way up and over the Cumberland Gap into Tennessee.

250. “That Gap.”
251. “The tunnel over into Tennessee.”

We pulled off into the little town of Cumberland Gap for some breakfast.

252. “Downtown Cumberland Gap.”

Not too much to report here, other than Ryno looking up at the waitress when asked what he wanted and saying, in his best Lonesome-Dove-Road-Hard-And-Put-Away-Wet voice, “Not much too hungry ma’am.”

Not much too hungry? Where’s he get this stuff? It ain’t easy being a cowboy. Especially one who lives in the city. All he needs is the belt, holster and pop guns. Start chewing too, ya dick.

253. “Real pretty…
254. …out here.”

Crime has swept the Smokies, too.

255. “Now you’ve gone and done it.”

Rolling out of the mountains onto this little palace of treasures, but, to our dismay, closed up and for sale. One can only wonder what sort of mysteries and jewel were behind those doors.

256. “The Lonesome Pine Trail Trading post.”
257. “Lonesome type.”

We finagled our way out of hill country and down to Knoxville. This was the home of University of Tennessee, Johnny Knoxville and YeeHaw Industries. We planned on meeting the latter.

258. “Good logo for a school. Nice state outline usage.”

Now, years back, when I was just jumping out of school at MCAD, my friend Adam Michaels was considering an internship at this folky little letterpress outfit in Knoxville. This would’ve been the spring of 2000. At that point, I already knew their work from design annuals and rock poster circles. They were known for their amazing hand-done type, Finster-esque ramblings and gorgeous, backyard illustrations. Well, just about a decade later, we got to meet the characters behind it all.

259. “Yee.”
260. “Haw.”
261. “The front door into a cavern of printed amazement.”
262. “YeeHaw Kevin giving me the lowdown.”Thanks again for the good words.
263. “A giant wrestling poster. Must’ve been five feet tall.”
264. “Amazing ceilings.”
265. “Packed walls.”
266. “Another packed wall.”
267. “Kevin and Bryan from YeeHaw.”

It was a great tour. Maybe an hour or so. Kevin took me upstairs and gave me the complete lowdown on their history, how it all started, how they acquire type collections, the sorts of jobs they do, and how they aim to keep it all fun. And, man, they sure do. Here we are, three animals coming through the door and they drop everything to welcome us and show us the joint. So good. Thanks fellas. And, to the kid doing the woodcut of the fiddle, “We got yer back if you ever come to Portland.”

“Come on back again, and next time, stay with us. We’ll make tacos,” is what YeeHaw Kevin had to say as we left, rich with a collection of posters and goodies from their proud portfolio of work.

EVERYONE: Get down there and buy some stuff. So good. One of the best things going. Really.

With our minds blown, we left Knoxville and headed south toward the hills, and, specifically, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are just ike any other oversaturated tourist town. Wisconsin Dells, Daytona Beach, Mackinaw Island or Niagra Falls. Same bunch of crap. But, as time and corporate control squeeze out every last drop of unpredictability, now you’ve got these megastructures that reek of the worst parts of Vegas. Super restaurants, chains galore, chumpy attractions. I mean, I’m sure it’s not different than 20 years ago, but, the modern touch to these hillbilly hills just seems, uh, unfortunate. We rolled through Pigeon Forge with mouths agape, taking in all the crass restaurants, trinket shops and attractions. We stopped at “Hillbilly Village” to stock up on provisions.

268. “Gifts, souvenirs.”
269. “Missing Gary.”

You climb out of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and cross over into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Instantly. Great, indeed. A great stretch of road.

270. “Majesty.”
271. “A tunnel.”
272. “The Smokies.”
273. “One we won’t forget for a long time.”

Through the mountains we went, to some of most beautiful views we’ve ever been treated to. We rolled back into “civilization” in Cherokee, a reservation high in the mountains with a healthy tourist economy and bustling collection of trinket shops. We stopped at a couple, checking out the t-shirts and rebel flags and all that. Not too much else to report. There were some beautiful signs along that stretch outta town. We stopped for a couple.

274. “The Pink Motel. Beautiful.”
275. “Granny’s Restaurant: A powerful arrow.”

Out of Cherokee we sped, over to I-40, and east to Asheville for the night. We locked down some shelter and cruised the gut for awhile, checking out the college kids, college kid hippies and a drunk little person until we found a bar, got hammered up pretty good. We clinched the big night out with a late-night death meal at a Waffle House, and sacked out into a deep, mysterious Appalachian slumber.

Beautiful country out here in Appalachia.

- - - -

The other night, moments away from passing out into a deep, hopeful slumber, I watched a video on the Country Music Channel that made me want to kill. It was Brooks and Dunn or something, you know, these aging fucks with Hollywood haircuts and neatly tailored Hollywood Cowboy duds and tight faces from multiple chin tucks. Fucks. Anyhoo, the song touched on EVERY “good ol’ boy” cliche’:

01. Pickup Trucks
02. Grandpa’s Hands
03. Church on Sunday
04. Down in the Holler
05. Nascar
06. Tastee Freeze

Fuck. So, take a bunch of youthful models, place in them slick duds, in some revved-up monster truck, down some “country” Southern California backroad, and, well, there ya go.

First off, no one looks that good. The people this shit is targeted to are anything but some faceless Adonis from some Los Angeles modeling agency. Second, film the thing in Tennessee, not goddamn California. Ever notice how the Dukes of Hazzard had these scrubby mountains in the background and scorched looking grasses and stuff? (Yes, I watched it as a kid down at Ronnie’s house down the street.) There you go. Hollywood’s version of “down in the holler.” Garbage.

I guess what I’m getting at is, man, so many things completely suck out there, it just, can overwhelm a motherfucker from time to time. Fuck Brooks and Dunn. Fuck Hollywood. Fuck Nashville record execs. Fuck plastic surgery and dyed beards. And finally, fuck the Dukes of Hazzard.

Oh yeah, while we’re at it: Fuck Toby Keith.

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