Basket case out of Carolina

March 20th, 2007 | Uncategorized

If one has to be stranded, Charlotte was a nice enough place for it. But there was something deeply disturbing and disorienting about my forced sojourn there. I was starting to feel like Ishmael on the becalmed Pequod. Yesterday, thank god, the wind picked up, and I blew out of there.

You know you’ve been traveling too much when you find yourself awash with relief and familiarity upon arriving at O’Hare International Airport. I think I saw Dave Eggers there, on Concourse B. They have this recorded announcement they’re always playing over the loudspeaker which I was fortunate enough to capture for you here on video. The guy says over and over again, “The department of homeland security has raised the national threat advisory level to orange.” But the way he inflects it, it sounds like he’s putting “orange” in ironic quotation marks.

Anyhow. I finally arrived at my intended destination, New Mexico. I’m so happy. Look. Sunrise over Albuquerque. (Or, why I live in Vermont where billboards are against the law.)
sunrise in NM

One more thing. The department at the University of Tours that brought me to France in January put up the various papers people wrote about Fun Home on their web journal. “Drag as metaphor,” “Image as Paratext,” among other delightfully wonky academic takes.

19 Responses to “Basket case out of Carolina”

  1. Alex K says:

    Never again will you sing along happily to James Taylor!

  2. mlk says:

    whew! you MUST be travel worn if arrival at O’Hare was a relief and comfort. that’s like finding security in going down Alice’s rabbit hole!

    my mom was born in NM. if you’re at University of NM and see Mitchell Hall, think of me — it was named after her grandfather.

  3. Ian says:

    At least you got to Alberquerque. That’s more than Bugs Bunny ever did.

  4. astronomick says:

    Hooray, Albuquerque! I hated the billboards too, and the parking lots, although now that I’ve moved away I don’t notice that as much anymore. The sky and the mountains are too distracting.

    Heh heh, Mitchell Hall. I spent many, many hours in that place.

  5. Alex K says:

    About those papers presented at Tours — yes, delightfully wonky / academic.

    But in turning over every image twice, they do valuable work. One touches on the position of “speech balloons” within a panel — what elements of a view are blocked? Was the elimination of such-and-such a component an authorial choice, and, if so, what does it tell us? Another dissects the use of panels without dialogue to mark the passage of time, the limping embarrassment of not-speech. Yes!, I find myself saying; that works, that fits!

    I find the essays wonderfully insightful. I enjoyed watching nimble, clever minds playing with FUN HOME and (who knows?) perhaps even showing AB herself connections that are perfectly, deeply valid, although AB may not knowingly have set them up for analysts’ discovery.

    Don’t worry about “spoilers”, though. The essayists list only twelve ways of looking at this blackbird; we know there are more. They haven’t exhausted FUN HOME, not for me. I believe that it will continue to reward me as I become able to explore it further. It will grow as I do, receding before and around me.

    “Further up and further in”; all that land that lies between the lamp-post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea… And through the back of a wardrobe, between the covers of a single book.

    Reading is a wonderful thing.

  6. payton says:

    I think that “the voices” at O’Hare are all robots. I know that I’ve heard the woman (“unattended baggage will be vaporized”) at several other airports, including Denver last weekend.

  7. Deb says:

    LMAO! I understand the feeling well, when San Francisco International feels like home………and I had to burst out laughing at the Homeland Security video. I’ve heard that so many times… cracked me up hearing it again. Billboards are against the law in Oregon too. At least along a highway or interstate. Enjoy the desert. I hear it’s a very spiritual place but just don’t get that feeling by looking at the blog picure of Chevron out the window.

  8. The Cat Pimp says:

    I love Albuquerque, billboards and all. I get there, have a sopapilla and then drive to Taos as fast as my little rental car will take me.

  9. Maggie Jochild says:

    On weekdays, a blog journal at Daily Kos appears under the heading “Cheers and Jeers” that is a must-read, a real treat. The author is a FABULOUS gay man called Bill from Portland Maine, and his take on daily events is always incisive, snarky, and hilarious. His round-up usually includes the following (this one copied from last Friday:

    And from the Department of Hopeless Security:
    Days the color-coded federal terror alert system has been in place: 1,824
    Days spent at terror alert level Blue or Green: 0

    Check him out at

  10. kommishonerjenny says:

    the “orange” guy sounds so cheerful! like the next thing he wants to say is “please keep your arms, legs, cotton candy, and sweatshirts inside the vehicle!”

  11. Andrew B says:

    Well, better Ishmael on the Pequod than the Ancient Mariner on his ghost ship…

    Alison, thanks for posting that link. Some of your nerdier fans (he says, adjusting the Scotch tape that holds his glasses together) are interested in that kind of thing.

  12. Annie in Hawaii says:

    Nice to hear that they don’t allow billboards in Vermont either. We can thank the women of the Outdoor Circle over 70 years ago for making that the law of Honolulu county!

  13. Debbie says:

    I grew up in Charlotte…

    Trust me… you didn’t miss much.

  14. kate says:

    I guess if you’re a TSA announcer, you’d really desire announcing a red rather than an “orange” (damn it)–poor guy. I love his accent.

  15. Maggie Jochild says:

    Yeah, I loved his accent too, though I couldn’t place it. Can someone identify it?

  16. miguelito says:

    I grew up in Charlotte too, and Debbie’s right: you didn’t miss much–just a lot of chain stores and some appalling sprawl. (And a lot of SUVs with pro-Bush bumper stickers.)

  17. Burque G says:

    Whoa, that picture was taken about two blocks from my house! That’s kind of creepily cool.
    Welcome to Albuquerque.

  18. Cindy says:

    I can’t stop hearing that as “unintended baggage.”

  19. Rubicon says:

    I grew up in Albuquerque…in fact I got my first DTWOF book (Hot, Throbbing DTWOF, I recall) at Sisters and Brothers (now, sadly, defunct) You should try the pasole at the Frontier, the onion rings are pretty good too.