Kelly Pendergrast - blogging infrequently, San Diego

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hi Holly!
Thank jeebus we've got another lady on board - more of the XX goodness, more media drama, 1/3 (or is it 1/4) more bloggers than yesterday, and, well, just someone to pick up the slack. My slack.
But I've been busy!

(Ok, actually I just spent the last hour downloading five different cover versions of The Smiths' "Please Let Me Get What I Want").

You know us art students - it's just work work work and no blog.
So I'm breaking the silence with another "I live in America now" style rant, but hell! at least it's not a Gun's 'n' Roses song...

So, since arriving here, I've been revisiting some books that I read as a younger person - things like On the Road and Generation X. These are things I loved reading at the time, but now I can hardly believe they ever meant anything to me, being as totally embedded in American landscapes as they are.

For me, though, all these writings existed before America did. On the Road existed before Route 6 was a reality - Sal Paradise could have been traveling around Timbuktu for all I was concerned. Palm Springs existed because that'’s where they lived in Generation X, New Orleans was invented so A Confederacy of Dunces could have a suitably sticky setting, and Vermont was only there because Captain Beefheart put it in a song.

Of course, when I first read On the Road, I WAS indeed on the road; but trapped with my family in one of an endless succession of muddy campsites, holding the book in one hand, pumping up my parents velour air mattress with the other, creating an imagined geography of America in my head. I was a little bit right and a little bit wrong.

But now I'm here. And I guess it's a real place. Fortunately (if somewhat embarrassingly) I had never read any Joan Didion (another writer of American places) before now, so now I'm reading Play it as it Lays and I get to really feel what she means when she's crazy evangelising about the LA and SoCal freeways. I'’ve been on those freeways too! I've seen the exits and the on-ramps, and I know that those 7-11s are actual places where I could stop and buy soda if the desire struck.

Also, it is now evident to me that California is the most hilarious place in the world - because it seems like a state that was invented in a delirious haze, ecstatic about cars and straining towards some half-arsed idea of utopia. LA to San Diego is a procession of privatised utopias separated by a sea of roadway: Disneyland, Hollywood, Scientology, Sea World, Mormon Temple, Beach, Beach, Beach. The best thing about it is that there's so much space which isn'’t really anywhere - it's the grey in-between of the freeway.

I never thought I'd like like it, but I do.

PS All this and I'm going to a Q and A with David Lynch next week!