TODAY MARKS THE 13-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE DAY I began what was, at the time, the craziest road trip I'd ever been on.
I was being paid to go barhopping across America for 100 consecutive days and nights by a big New York City book publisher, who commissioned me to write a memoir about my long, strange trip.
I didn't know it at the time, but the journey—both the 3+ months of barhopping and trying to write about it for the next 2 years—would shape my life for years to come. My failure to capitalize on the biggest break in my writing career would have a ripple effect on my world. Few people have heard many of the details of what I experienced, let alone read what I wrote about the adventure.
Which is why I've created this site. I'm gonna use this to, basically, transcribe my notes and journal entries—with random reflections and reactions from my perspective 13 years later thrown in.
The journal you see above you was where I kept a daily log of where I was, how far I traveled, who I met, how much I imbibed, etc. I also have a few other notebooks I jotted down my thoughts in. It's been years since I read this stuff. I figured I needed to record it for posterity sooner or later.
13 years later, the memories are still fresh.
Destination: Los Angeles, CA to Las Vegas, NV
Date: 7.8.97 (Tuesday)
Mileage: 19,051 to 19,327 (276 miles)
Imbibed: 2 free screwdrivers and 5 OJ's
6:10pm. Left the broiling Beverly Hills Adjacent apartment of Ms. P. The tears flowed freely when she left for work this morning. We've been putting this off for so long that it was strange.
Free flowing tears were not unusual back then. When I got the news that the Bantam deal was actually happening—news that should've been greeted by a joyful celebration—my girlfriend was simultaneously happy for me and distraught over the idea of what me going barhopping all over America would do to our relationship. Which, of course, was understandable. And a bit of a buzz kill.
The book deal was made at the end of March, but I wasn't able to leave until early July. Which gave us about 100 days to obsess and analyze the impact this project would have on our future.
It ripped my guts out to see her crying. "I love you soooooo much," she cried through puffy eyes and a moist, ruddy face. And then she was gone. I was left alone with the mutts at Lazer and Bunky's, left to input my changes in the King of Blind Dates script I've been rewriting for Blinky. (Blinky is, thankfully, out of the picture now.)
It never fails. Every time I'm heading out on a big road trip, I've always got a zillion things to take care of before leaving. And this departure was particularly stressful. We'd been dogsitting for our friends Lazer and Bunky in Manhattan Beach, where my mechanic Randy had a shop on Sepulveda. Plus I was rushing to finish up a polish on a script of mine that a cheesy East Coast trust fund kid said he was definitely gonna make. Blinky insisted I have it done before I left town, which I did. And after I got home 100 days later, I realized I didn't want Blinky anywhere near the script. (A few months later a production company in Arizona optioned that very same screenplay, armed with their promises that the movie was definitely getting made.)
Randy had told me that my car would be ready by this morning. Then he called to say it would be more like 12:30-1:00. By 2:00 I still hadn't heard back from him, so I called. Come on down, he tells me. It's ready. Twelve hundred bucks later, I've got my Big Red Box back—only to have her sputter and stall at Pico and Robertson, then at In-N-Out in Covina, and at the off-ramp to an AM/PM minimart just outside of Victorville. What the fuck, Randy?!
These were the days before I came to the conclusion that my VW bus was a male named VanGo. The 1st day car troubles were all too familiar though. Still, after forking out $1200 bucks you'd think the thing wouldn't be stalling less than 13 blocks from my apartment.
Car troubles would be haunting me daily for the first week of the trip.
It's 9:45 [a.m.) at Treasure Island, Vegas [the following day]. Got here at midnight. Called P. twice. Got the machine both times. Auspicious beginnings...