Sunday, March 05, 2006

North by Northwest (Via Detroit)

The following account comes from my friend John. It begins what I hope will be a series of colorful, and perhaps a bit off-color, travel narratives from Patrick, Evan, me and our friends. Hope you enjoy; and thanks, John:

“Have a good travel-day!” Thus I left Charlottesville airport. This compound was unknown to me, and I departed for Boston excited to explore this newly discovered unit of experience. I liked the airport, its plush carpets especially, and I was sad (as I usually am) when we proceeded to replace our removed shoes after security--a moment for me when the our collective edifice of buttoned-up self-control seems particularly fragile. Ease your feet off in the sea... Little else to report. The small Indian looking man didn't go on to blow up our plane. I mention this only because he was looking very serene kneeling on his airport chair and--short of Ghandi, and I doubt he flew Northwest--no one is that happy at 6.10 in the morning unless they're expecting shortly to be greeted by Allah as a valiant martyr and rewarded with twenty virgins. But this said, a good number of people get up at similar times to do yoga, willingly, under devotion to no other brutal doctrinal code than being health conscious and American-including none other than benallaroundtheworld HIMSELF, who after kindly picking me up at the ungodly hour of five am went off with his little mat to go and pretend to be a cobra or whatever the hell they make you do. And besides, I too would have had a serene look on my face had I known the twenty-first century nirvana awaiting our plane in Detroit?

As the rickerty plane rattles its was through the clouds, I stare down to the darkness below, the pinprick streetlights inserting here and there little dimpled pockets into the landscape. I entertain myself wondering what John Clare, writing his poems in the 1820s, who found the prospect of his village's church spire from a distance so enthralling--and terrifying--would have made of this, while at the back of the plane my fellow infrequent flyers' shared wonder as they press their noses against the tiny panes reminds me that we're not all so disillusioned in 2006. And just as I am having my Whitmanian vision of all the people about to start all their days, we rise up a layer into the cloud and the messy spillage of life is pressed down upon as by a square of kitchen towel and dabbed into nothing--or, depending on your perspective I suppose, everything.

“Welcome to Motor City!” I did not understand my flight attendant's phrase, and did not want to, but whatever the reason Detriot has retained this ugly moniker, its airport is quite glorious with no motor oil or grime or smog to be seen. Not like London, but don't get me started on that. It's a bright day, giving a buttery tint to the burnished steel that elegantly runs the length of Detroit's showpiece airport, and the whole place is clean, streamlined, and if powered by motors they are, like the sprightly machinery of a Pope poem, little hidden discreetly whirring ones. Passing underground, I step on a moving walkway surrounded with all encompassing panels of bright red light and spacey music, changing to green, then blue, then purple, adding to my sense of travel-day metamorphosis I feel like I am passing through the gaudy flames of one of Blake's visions, but rather than letting my flesh completely melt away I settle on pretending I am in Japan and gaze on in pseudo-wonder, feeling like one of Sofia Coppola's spoiled heroines having a vapid “moment.”

I have to eat before taking in the full sights however, and despite the ravenous impulse that kicked in on seeing the first food establishment I came across, I concluded that 8am was too early for a seven dollar bacon cheeseburger, travel-day or no. By what twisted logic a bagel filled with a circle of egg product and topped with, yes, bacon and cheese has been made to seem a more natural breakfast choice I will never understand, but apparently not even I am invulnerable to its commands. What, by the way, is everything bagel? I mean, everything WHAT? Everything? EVERY thing? In some quasi-autistic way I find this concept quite terrifying, though it is appealing as an image for the universe.

I am not certain whether a strict dictionary antonym for "dynamism" exists, but until I find out I would like to propose the Einstein Brothers Bagel Co. at Detroit Airport. After having my order taken with a level of disinterestedness that made me wonder whether I was placing an order or commenting on the weather, my bagel then sat untended on a chopping board, bereft of its aforementioned contents, for several minutes as I sat waiting at the end of what can only with heavy irony be called a production line watching its links get progressively weaker.

Mistaking the arrivals for departures board--ROOKIE MISTAKE!--I stroll to the completely wrong end of the terminal thinking my gate has been changed, though this gives me a legitimate reason to then take the internal train that whizzes from one end back to the other; it looks like the things that set landspeed records in the desert, is cherry red and gets me back to the gate where I was waiting with just ten minutes to spare. I have seen the future and its name is Detroit.

The centrepiece of this pleasure dome built in air travel? A jumping fountain, projecting in every direction individually traceable spurts of water to make a kind of tubular ice sculpture crisscrossing its way through the air, these wibbering strings of rubbery ejaculate prompting the captivated smiles of many passers by--though I fixated on the goofy grin of one cute young man in particular--before just as quickly disappearing

flip flap flop
flip flap flop



Blogger Evan said...

oh my!

10:07 AM  

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