Read more Mad Dog
on the Road!
Dog On The Road
Part IV - Beer, Beads and Border
by Mad Dog
America isnt a franchise. Real America isnt a chain. Real America is staying
in a room at the Voodoo Museum instead of a Motel 6, even if its up to you to leave
your lights on.
|| Theres a lot to
see in this country. Trust me. In 3-1/2 weeks Ive put 4,378 miles on a rental car
which looks startlingly like something my father would drive, except of course he
wouldnt put a plastic Jesus on the dashboard or wear out the scan button on the
radio. And he would have returned it on time.
Probably the first thing you notice is that no matter how large or small, the main drag of
every town is lined with the same businesses. It doesnt matter whether its
exit 86 of the Interstate Without Scenery (which winds its way through every state of the
union including several, like Utah, which while technically a part of the United States
serve no discernible redeeming social value) or State Street in Bristol, which is so
confused that one side of the street is in Virginia and the other in Tennessee. As soon as
you hit it youll know it: theres a McDonalds next to Wal-Mart next to
Texaco next to...well, you get the idea.
I have nothing personal against these
placesafter all, some of the best gas I ever got came from two of
themits just that Ive been there, done that, and if I could find them in
the boxes Ive got stashed in my trunk I think I even have the T-shirt from a couple
of them to prove it. But get past this homogenous strip and you can still find the real
Real America means theres nothing
like it anywhere else. Real America isnt a franchise. Real America isnt a
chain. Real America is staying in a room at the Voodoo Museum instead of a Motel 6, even
if its up to you to leave your lights on. And in this case you might want to.
you wander back to your room at 2:00 am you realize theres no truth in advertising
law in New Orleans or theyd have to change the name of Bourbon Street to Beer and
|| Call me brave, call me
stupid, but yes, I spent two nights at the Voodoo Museum on Dumaine Street in New Orleans.
To the general public the museum is three rooms of wall-to-wall relics, historical
memorabilia and shrines that have more in common with a thrift store than your typical
temple. To me it was a place I called home for a couple of days. Its not mentioned
in the AAA Tour Book (unless you specifically request the Occult Edition). Its also
not mentioned in guides to New Orleans. Well, it once was, but since they did it against
the museums wishes, the publisher is now a frog which spends its life under a tree
in Congo Square. Just kidding, actually she sells Daiquiris to-go on Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Street is probably the most well-known
street in New Orleans. During the day its a quiet combination of restaurants,
T-shirt shops and hotels. At night the streets closed to traffic and opened up for
on-the-street drinking, which may help explain its transformation into a haven for
testosterone enriched college-age males who fill the street loudly chanting for women to
show their, well, breasts.
Some of the women, who obviously mistake
this for a request to go hear the symphony in concert, actually do so in return for a
string of Mardi Gras beads. This isnt as bad a trade as it seems, for it wasnt
all that many years ago that some Indians traded all of Manhattan Island for the same
thing, and they probably didnt have to lift their shirts to clinch the deal. As you
wander back to your room at 2:00 am you realize theres no truth in advertising law
in New Orleans or theyd have to change the name of Bourbon Street to Beer and Puke
been through customs many times in my life and theyve never searched my body, my
bags, or the 10 year-old I paid to stick the Cuban cigars down his pants.
|| Like fast-food row,
theres a Bourbon Street in every city of any size, though of course its often
scaled down and usually lacks the exhibitionism, but thats only because Mardi Gras
beads arent indigenous to other parts of the country. You can even find streets like
this in those Mexican tourist sites known as border towns. A Mexican border town, for
those who have never seen a California coming-of-age movie, is an American border
towns evil twin. Like Cuidad Acuña is to Del Rio, Texas. The main street of Acuña
is amazingly like Bourbon Street except the signs are in Spanish and each block has three
discount dentists and two drug stores that will sell you any drug ever manufactured,
whether you have a prescription or not.
Maybe it was the possibility that I had some penicillin I shouldnt have that caused
me to have my first encounter with a border guard. Now Ive been through customs many
times in my life and theyve never searched my body, my bags, or the 10 year-old I
paid to stick the Cuban cigars down his pants, which not only made him look a little big
for his age but probably helped him get his first date. It might have been the satisfied
look on my face from eating some of the best tamales Id ever had, or it might have
been my being honest and telling them that I dropped into Mexico for a quick lunch (which
was true, I swear it!), but they made me empty the trunk, they walked a dog by my car, and
Im sure they ran a computer check to make sure it really was a rental car I was
driving and not my fathers car that Id stolen.
So the next time you drive into a new town
and see a line-up of the same stores you just saw in the last three cities, take a right
turn and go two or three blocks. You never know what youll find. Hell, you might
even discover a quick way to earn some strings of colorful beads. Trust me, they make
©1997 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
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