Born and bred as a Southern Californian, I have always been fortunate live near the beach. I enjoy the surf, sand, sailing, mountain biking, golfing, sushi, everything SoCal has to offer. And then I got married and moved to of all places – Brodhead, Kentucky and lived there for 1,183 days. But who’s counting?
The following journal is a collection of my e-mails to friends and family along with some of their more memorable response (indented) during this sojourn into the land of Bluegrass. It is the only thing that kept me sane. . . well, that and alcohol!
I’ll do my best to provide the corresponding fotos that went with my emails.
Cheers – DiGi
8/19/98(Prior to my departure)
RED ALERT! RED ALERT! RED ALERT! RED ALERT! RED ALERT! RED ALERT!
BRIDGE TO THE TRANSPORTER ROOM… PREPARE TO BEAM AWAY!
Hey Dudes, its time for that inevitable announcement… MY DEPARTURE DATE!
LABOR DAY WEEKEND (or the Tuesday thereafter)! I’ll be on my way for 5 fun filled days of driving across country towing a trailer (or towing my Jeep, don’t know which yet). Oh what fun it’ll be to pack, then un-pack. Not!
The house is sold. The bills are paid and yes I am now gainfully employed once again. Ah to be back in the WHOESALE mortgage biz! To have to wear a suit and tie! To have to suck up to customers! Bummer! I’ll start work with New Century Mortgage in mid-September in that great bluegrass state of Kentucky.
I’ll keep you informed of any changes. E me! Adios, Dave!
9/16/98 – 1st entry from Kentucky
Unbelievable…we made it! Its Wednesday September 16, 1998
I’m home… it sounds strange but it feels good at the same time.
Arrived at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday missing the intended time of 12 noon. The truck ran great except we kept overloading the circuit breaker for the right-side truck and auto-transport trailer running lights. Turns out that the cigarette lighter plug and additional power port were on the same circuit. Fine during the day but at night with the lights on it just couldn’t handle the radar detector, phone, refrigerator and CD player. Hmmm… I wonder why?
My cousin Ted and I left Huntington Beach at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and made our first stop in Newport Beach at 10:45 a.m. (had to hit Longs Drugs for some Maalox, stomach was stressed!) We made great time (and mileage) on the 1st night, making it to Las Cruces, NM by 3 a.m. (with the time change) over 800 miles. Yes, Las Cruces and not Albuquerque (wrong freeway) like I originally thought. Made it to Helotes, TX (San Antonio area) showing up at my Aunt & Uncle’s house a day early but that was OK with them. Got to see Cousin Laurie and her family. Stayed till Sunday. Wanted to get an early start but Aunt Angie is too wonderful of a hostess and we ate very well! Left by 3 p.m. bound to stop at Houston to meet for a bite with Cousins Ron & Stephen. Afterwards ended up just outside of Baton Rouge, LA for the night. Lots of rain and wind! Up and out early the next morn, quick breakfast at the Waffle House (so-o-o Americana) and jam through Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, getting all the way to Bowling Green, Kentucky (Cover your heart with your hand when you say that!). Left yesterday after breakfast at the local Holiday Inn and the rest is history.
Took Mary, Ted and me from 1p.m. to 8 p.m. to unload. Got up this morning and took Ted to Cincinnati airport for his flight. That makes 8 states in all: CA, AZ, NM, TX, LA, MS, TN, KY & OH; with a total of 2765 mile to the house and another 244 round trip to the airport. YIKES!
It’s 10:55 p.m. as I write this having just gotten the computer up and running. IT’S BEEN A LONG DAY!
I’ll have my new phone lines in after the 23rd Wednesday. My line will be 606 .*.* with the modem fax line being 606... Email remains the same: DiGiemail@example.com
The address is: Rural Route *, Box 606
Brodhead, Kentucky, 40409
‘Nough for now, I am beat. Time to shower and bed, ah what a concept. Adios amigos – Dave!
9/22/98 week won
Well HEY! HEY! HEY! It’s been a week already – can’t believe it. Things are moving right along. Found some very nice stores – grocery, Best Buys, etc. Just as everything starts to feel normal – BOOM!
I stop at a place and some old codger wanted to know "What that thar contraption on top of my Jeep was for. . . .?
it’s a fricken BIKE RACK you moron! ARGH!) Oh well!
Here are the new phone numbers for me:
Pager (Local) 606..* (numeric) This is voice mail
Pgr (Toll-free) 888..** (numeric) This is nationwide
And the address (Just in case you don’t have it) is:
Highway ****, Rural Route *, Box 606
Brodhead, KY 40409
The phone line should be up and running by late Wednesday. Ta-ta for now.
Adios – Dave!
9/18/98 E from Apu (Jeff N)
Oh, my brother,,, I lament the great passing of my most esteemed friend
and fellow hunter of the wild beasts and other moments of history!
The wadi is not the same as it once was. Why just yesterday, the
fingers began the dance of significance across the keys, tapping out
the code of brotherhood, 960-_ _ _ _. Oh the pain! Oh the agony! Oh the
realization that… my brother no longer resides near my tent!
And what is this Broad Head Cut Icky? I just finished ready portions
of the interlude between the bathroom and the round’ish office, you know
the one. Quotes were given and they were similar to what we used to
urge on our camels to the next great gusher of a wet’er waterhole!!
Broad is what he said for her to do to his head while the kunt was
icky? Something about the other infidel JFK saying the same as his
spine was hurting against the hard cold walls of power? I do not
know… so confusing this culture of instant mutual gratification… not
like those nights with Joel’s lambs??? You must remember that… we came
we conquered, we enjoyed and then we ate them with cous-cous, HA! This
man from near your homeland ark can us(?) ark as we know from the
original sin, can because we can and us because he likes with more than
Oh this country that forgot it’s manners.
Question? How is it with the 13th wife now that you can enjoy the
earthly pleasures in person? HA…
Also I have many more names of infidels recently delivered to my humble
home. I must forward them to you for conversion to the faith.
Time to go my brother, go forth and prosper and remember:
What did the one cow say to the other cow in Salmund Rushdies (oh how I
like to bastardize this mans name!!!) home land? OK back to the joke.
“What do you think of this mad cow disease?” The other says, “I don’t
know, I am a helicopter!!!” HA, HA, HA
More soon from your faithful Brother- Apu
9/24/98 Reply to Jeff (and everyone else)
Salutations to my brother Abu… Oh how your letter brought a warm stirring to my spirit here in the new camp. Dawn is breaking here in the new camp. The incessant barking of a beast (dog or jackal I know not which) kept my sleep fitful. Oasis it is not, my new camp here in the land of tobacco as I am still boggled by the doings of these infidels. Have they no culture, no education, no sense of reality other than what they gleam from their leader, Jerry of Springer? Alas they have not. All is not the underside of a cow (though I be looking at many from my tent flap as I pen this) as I have conversed with some who show a ken beyond their horizons.
However this pidgin dialect can be troublesome, yesterday I was down at the bazaar (in the village of Super Wal-Mart) and as I was paying for my purchase with my Money Card I asked the woman if I could get some cash back. Her simplistic reply was “Read the sign.” referring to the card machine in front of me which was asking at the time if the purchase amount was “OK?” I said no as I wanted above the amount. The machine then instructed me to inform the clerk to hit her debit key. This started the whole process over again! When I questioned the woman about this, her reply was “Read the sign.” I asked if there was anything else I had to key in and she replied “Read the sign.” Naturally the box repeated as before the amount of my transaction I was to agree to pay for. I hit ‘No’ and ONCE AGAIN it instructed me to inform her to strike her ‘Debt’ key. Ah yes… back at the beginning. This time I asked her if there was anything else SHE had to key in and of course the reply was, “Read the sign.” Once more around the bases. As the machine asked for the 5th time if the amount was “OK?” I relented and said “Yes” planning on obtaining rupee elsewhere when to my utter surprise the machine responded with “Would you like cash back?” I pointed this out to the woman and asked why she hadn’t informed me of how their process worked? She stared at me blankly. I proceeded to tell her how all the other shops and markets ASK their customers if they would like cash back and her reply was "Yeah? We tell ‘em to ‘Read the sign.’ "
Oh but if only I had my shotgun…
REMEMBER .. WE MUST CONVERT! Do forward the information on those children of dogs so we may bring them into the faith (not to mention, make some rupee in the process).
Oh wonder of wonders, yesterday I spotted the most elusive Mercedes Benz, it is my 3rd sighting of one since I’ve arrived. A blond native was driving this one. Other than my lovely wife there are few natives of the feminine persuasion worth noticing as they all have a predilection towards the rotund. Summers here are not for watching tan lines. Good news, I have acquired a new communications device, it is a Nokia 6120 that one can conceal in the palm of one’s hand, it has a 200 number memory and all that good stuff. I hope all received my new numbers from my earlier writings. Just in case:
Home: 606.*.Fax: 606..* Mobile (Voice mail): 606..*
Strange land this Kentucky, where one has to dial one’s own area code at times to make a call. Where road-kill is left to rot on the side of the road. No not a rabbit or even a possum but a very large pitbull has been feeding the maggots for several days now, a large grease spot spreading as its carcass decays in front of someone’s home. Have these people no duty, no common sense? BY all the stars in the sky… REMOVE IT! At least alleviate the stench from one’s own house. Can they be THAT different from us? Weird.
Time for me to break camp my brothers & sisters and to join the hunt.
More soon my friends.
Allah Akbar! Dave!
9/24/98 E from Mark B
The killer awoke before dawn. He put his boots on and. . . walked on down the hall.
He took a face from the ancient gallery and put it on and . . . . walked on down the hall.
He came to a door, and the people inside smiled and waved for him to come in.
A sign on the door read " push", so he pushed, but the door would not open.
He pushed again and the door still would not open. The people continued to smile and wave.
He took a chance and pulled, in spite of what the sign said, and the door opened.
Looking down at the AK47 in his right hand and the screwdriver in his left, he decided to take the fucking door off its hinges with the screw driver— this time.
To be continued. . . . .
Remember: Pulu si bagumba, Gilligan
We are progressing. All my numbers are up and running still takes awhile to get used to ‘their’ way of doing things. Do you know we don’t have 911 or even 411 phone service yet?! Phone books… how quaint. I have to dial my own area code for a city that’s only 12 miles away and in the SAME area code?! Frustrating?…. Naaw!
Answer me this (in the guise of Rod Serling) your traveling down a one-lane highway…
The weather still hot & muggy even though its after 6 in the evening. You can easily see for 3 miles up the road before it turns into the woods. You’re doing 70… way up ahead about 1000 yards or so, you spot an old pickup which has been sitting on a side intersection, sitting, waiting, not moving, still sitting, waiting, nothing yet… Moments are ticking by, maybe they’re waiting for someone. NOW! You’re 30 yards away and it pulls in front of you! Shit! What kind of idiots are you dealing with? Brake, slow it down, quick check the on-coming lane, its clear! Whoosh you go around! You can see the truck rock on its springs as you swerve around it. Do they have any idea? Did they even notice you?
ROAD RAGE? Let’s see.
The pickup an old dented Dodge out of the sixties, 2×6 bumpers (showing signs of nicks and splinters), the paint, a chipped and faded white with nicely contrasting tobacco stains running down the driver’s door. Speaking of which, the driver offers a toothy grin, her face lined and weather-beaten, didn’t notice a whole lot more as my attention was captured by the shotgun and 30-30 sitting in their racks behind her head.
ROAD RAGE? I think not.
Where else but Kentucky can you be serviced by a gas station attendant who is SMOKING as he pumps your gas? While he’s pumping, you can walk inside and they’ll have a bunch of Ice cold singles in a cooler right by the door? We’re talkin’ BEER here! So long as your not in a ‘dry’ county. Gives a whole new meaning to “Drink & Drive”, doesn’t it?
Well enough for now – Adios amigos, Dave!
9/28/98 E from brother Rob
Quick break from my typical nightly toil. (I’m working on a report for Caltrans— I-5 near Disneyland— lawsuits, etc.;That’s California!)
I could’ve warned you about “Waffle House” as I tried it one morning whilst in Baton Rouge the last time. Yuk! There is also some really good food there but only the locals know about it and they hide it up some pretty obscure side streets.
How did (are, will?) you fare with Georges (hurricane)? Let me know.
Love ya bro,
10/02/98 strange land
Friday evening, 9:38 p.m., In Birmingham, Alabama the wife should be about finishing with her setup (fully enclosed 10×10 booth) for tomorrow’s art show. Quite a process she goes through, putting it all together. She’ll be back Sunday night.
Some reflections of this place.
Strange land I’ve fallen into, so diverse it boggles the mind. I know I’ve told you before but it still hasn’t set in. There’s Highway 25, this is the road that parallels Interstate 75 for the lower half of the state, it’s the same highway (one lane each way [you know, the dead dog road]) that I take back and forth between home and the I-75 onramp.Abject poverty seems to be alive and well in Kentucky. I see a family every day, actually a very slim girl with large dark eyes, skinny, short dusty brown hair, maybe 13 to 16, (woman-child) pretty & plain at the same time (impressions at 70 mph) an older brother who’s maybe 26 to 30. A 1973 metallic blue Pontiac (dented & dusty) Firebird with a hood scoop. JC Whitney. And a small one room shack (there are so many of them) that I’m assuming is one room since its no bigger than a one 1½ car garage. There is so much garbage piled up on the front porch that there is no room left to sit. Old washing machines, the remnants of what seems to be some kind of heating or duct system. Old tires, buckets, hoses, just junk that makes the place look like it just came out of Hooterville on Green Acres. There is a permanent sign up that say “Yard Sale”, written in crayon on cardboard. You can see a card table set up. See the car up and down Highway 25 at different times with the brother in it. In the afternoon I see her in it, door open and window down, head bobbing, playing the radio. Surrounded by trash but with a smile on her face listening to the music. Your heart wants you to stop, see if there is a way to help them without offending however reality dictates drive-on less you be shot on “a-general purposes” or be persuaded to marry the young’un and meet with your future in-laws. “Why hello there Brother In-law!” Drive on.
Strange, now not more than a mile away there is a driveway. Not just any driveway but one that is surrounded by a beautifully manicured acre of grass. Stone and wood fences on the perimeter and even a pair of live peacocks roam. At the entrance there lies two carved marble lion heads. Jaws agape in greeting. The drive is one long upward curve to the left that disappears into the trees at 150 yards. During the winter when there is snow, the drive remains a shiny wet black. Steam rises above the asphalt as it melts due to the in-ground heat system. Can’t even see the house from the road. Too far away. See the gardeners occasionally though – good job guys.
Do I make sense?
Still these people! Where the hell in the book does it state that a yellow light means “Stop”?! To date I’ve had 3 close calls while driving. No one wants to continue through an intersection once the light turns yellow, even when they are sitting in the MIDDLE of the damn thing! Seems like the only ones that I’ve had luck with so far have been the State Troopers. Very nice and friendly. Came over the rise on I-75 doing at least 80 and all he did was wave and give me the slow down sign (hand splayed, palm facing down, bobbing up and down). Maybe when everyone sees the California plates they just assume I must be nuts and give me a wide berth.
(Whoa, quick break to poor myself a dollop of Ficklin Vineyard Tawny Port, aged 10 years and bottled in 1996, very pleasant. And speaking of… found a Liquor Barn with an excellent selection of California wines. I highly recommend the Nalle Zinfandel, 1996 from Sonoma County.)
A very strange land.
There are more churches here than God himself would know what to do with. It is amazing (and I say that not with grace). The churches are rivaled by very few. The only enterprises that might give them a run for their money (no pun intended… well maybe) would be the Tobacco Shops, Tanning/Video stores and of all the most bizarre, Hawaiian Shaved Ice franchises. The are little kiosks that look like garden sheds from the back yard and they show up everywhere. From in front of Lube and Tune shops, True Value Hardware stores, Home Depots, even at out of the way off-ramps where there is nothing else. Churches and Shaved Ice, is there a correlation there? I wonder does God wants us to be in Hawaii? One can only hope so. These people do take their religion very seriously, as seriously as their football. All you see on cars is either “Jesus” (In fish form) or “Go Big Blue!” The only prayer I have to offer is, “Dear Lord, please protect me from your followers, Amen”. Very strange indeed.
Well it is 11:15 p.m. already and I’ve regaled you enough.
Until next time…stay tuned… same Dave channel, same Dave time! BIF! POW!
10/06/98 E from Nick
Read your E-Mail the other day, most of the “back hill” people you describe become brick layers and somehow end up at Larry’s Building Materials.
Santa Ana winds hit here today, It is very hot and windy right now. Swarms of termites are flying everywhere because of the weather. A couple of fires have started in the Riverside area and near Laguna Canyon.
Margie’s Birthday was last Tuesday she turned 42. We had a little birthday party at my parents house on Sunday for her. I bought her a corduroy jacket that she seamed to like very much.
I still haven’t been to Surf Taco since you left, although in this weather I could sure use a picture of 2XX.
I may go there after writing this or to Dukes. Not much more to report here, works still very busy and takes up all my time. Hope to here from you this week, signing off, Nick.
Well now would you believe??? We’ve adopted a dog(well… I did as Mary was out of town)! Actually he showed up here on Sunday after the rainstorm checking out the property. He’s about a year old dark brown-brindle with black stripes (dingo looking) that seems to be made up of Heinz 57. Weighs in at 40lbs or so. There is some hound in him with some Australian sheep and maybe some bull terrier. His lower jaw is a little crooked so that one of his fangs sticks out giving him a lopsided grin. Hence the name…. Fang-Dang-Go (or FangDingo). He is very well mannered not given to bark or lick but still very friendly, liking to lean up against you and be petted. Well see if he sticks around for awhile. Already taught him to sit and lie down (or maybe he already knew how and is just humoring us).
Weather is starting to change, looks like storm heading our way –rain, hot, humid –oh boy can’t wait… NOT!
Have I mentioned “porsches”? Not the kinds that do 0-60 in 5.3 seconds but the kind that everyone here seems to sit on (with out the “s”). It an amazing fact that part of the daily existence and entertainment here is sitting on your porch and watching the world go by. We’re talking patio chairs, dinning room chairs (vinyl [usually avocado green] with rips, tears & cigarette burns on ‘em), hassocks, benches, Barca Loungers, old sofas and love seats, milk crates, school chairs, pews…. It doesn’t matter in fact the norm is typically an eclectic mix of anything you can plant your butt on! Adults, kids, young, old (don’t these people have jobs? Or at least a TV?) Pets, etc., Tuesday, Sunday, holidays, workdays, EVERYDAY! It’s extraordinary the amount of people you see just sitting there, staring out at the road watching life drive on by.
Speaking of driving, its time for me to get on the road. ’E ya later – Dave!
10/12/98 (Happy Birthday [Columbus Day] to MOM, miss her!)
Tales from KY, Satanic barns …
If you asked me what a “Barn” looks like and having grown up in California my answer would undoubtedly be similar to most of yours. A large wooden structure with a pitched or slightly rounded roof (painted red of course), double doors (usually ‘Dutch’ style with white cross moldings) and whose walls have been weathered to a fine natural light gray or have been painted / white-washed either white, red or gray. Maybe a fine looking cupola on top with a “Rooster” weather vane along with a block & tackle rig for lifting hay bales above the doors. A great place for keeping cows, horses and hay.
Am I right?
‘Fraid not, it turns out that these are tobacco barns used to dry out the crop hence the black paint, it retains more heat from the sun and speeds up the drying process. The ‘wing slits’ promote air circulation to further the drying. The ‘blood-red’ is due to the applying your normal everyday red paint to already black doors. Boring explanation I know but they do look cool.
Tobacco is still very much alive and somewhat well in KY as far as growing it goes. The pattern of acceptance is changing as more and more restaurants offer Smoking or Non-smoking areas. Many stores and offices are becoming completely Smoke-Free. In the lager grocery stores such as Krogers (the eastern alternative to a Pavilions or a new Luckys), the shelf space devoted to tobacco products is quite small and has been relegated next to the automotive section. Never fear however as there are still plenty of smaller mom-n-pop grocers like the “Foodland” here in Brodhead that devote a full aisle to their manna. We’re talkin’ Warren County Twists, Wild Duck Naturals, Axton, White Mule, Cumberland, Futurity, Canon Ball; if you can chew it, smoke it, pinch it, snuff it or pipe it, they got it. And remember this is just a local grocery store! Mary has opted not to put up her “Tobacco Kills” sign on the front lawn, smart move said I.
Well ‘nough for now, think I’ll go out and have a cigar. Adios – Dave!
10/21/98 Road work and other snippets from the journal:
Hey there tribe, coming up on 2 weeks since my last entry. I don’t mean to harp on these KY’ans and their driving ability (or lack thereof) but it’s an amazing thing to watch. Here’s a “Typical”, I’m going up interstate 75 (2 lanes each way with a large grass median in the center) and it’s posted that all traffic is to keep to the right lane except when passing. Obviously this doesn’t apply to little ’ole me does it? Any way things are moving right along (me in the left lane doing 65[posted] to75, them in the right at 50 to 60) when Cletus, driving his ‘K’ car decides that he needs to pass the Peterbuilt in front of him and without so much as a glance in the rearview pulls into my lane. Oh that’s right… he didn’t even HAVE A GODDAMN MIRROR! Wait! We’re still getting to the fun part. This road idiot increases his speed by a blazing ½ mph! It took us almost 12 minutes to pass the truck – truly amazing!
I have procured several maps now to help me in my travels ‘round the state along with a book that gives me the origination of the name of the towns and ‘burbs I pass through. Many roads are referred to by number only, i.e.: highway 210, this usually works fine ‘till I get into what I call the “Year” numbers like highway 1986 and as I turn down the road I’m thinking “Hey… good year!”
Here’s one all you civil engineers will enjoy… it seem that the concrete forming machine the highway workers use to build the divider between yourself and the on-coming traffic has one minor flaw. When the divider first begins at ground level, it builds not just an upward slope but one with a curve to it, so that the beginning of a spiral forms. I prefer to call ‘em, “ Kentucky Launching Ramps” , guess they believe that it’s better to throw you on to your roof in your own lanes rather than have you hitting one of those irritating (and ugly yellow) shock absorbing sand/water barrels.
Say, who want to go for a drive in my convertible?…
(Update: remember the station I told you about where the attendant is smoking a cigarette while pumping your gas? The name of that gas station is FIREBALL Gas. I kid you not! Think that could be a might prophetic, hmmm?
Very few low riders spotted in KY, those so far have been old brown and chrome MonteCarlos with skinny (extended outside the wheel-wells) tires owned by white over-weight “Qwikee-Mart” cashiers with acne. The ‘Euro-Nippon’ look (lowered, suspension-tuned Hondas, etc. with large white-dialed tachometers and trumpet exhaust) is starting to show up here at some of the colleges but by-n-by it is still the Pickups that rank Number One, followed by vans then Cherokees.
Well fam & friends, I’ll leave you with this – What’s the last thing a Redneck says before he dies?“Hey y’all watch this!”
God I love that one, adios-Dave!
MORE TO FOLLOW