Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


My photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ford Econoline Pickup & Dodge Deora

Last year our southern Saskatchewan correspondent Alex Emond found this nifty little Econoline pickup in downtown Gravelbourg. South Saskatchewan is high and dry, like West Texas, and excellent terrain for old trucks.

Dan Picasso just sent us some excellent Econoline iconography, including this drawing of a customized E-line that looks like someone borrowed the little Saskatchewan truck around 1969 and sleeked it out:

Also from DP: these images of the Dodge Deora,  a concept vehicle from 1966-67 that Chrysler put together using a bunch of ideas and spare parts, including a rear window from a Ford station wagon. The Deora, sadly, never made it into production.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beals Island Lobsterboat

Sunday saw the third annual Temple Tiny Regatta, in Center Harbor here in Brooklin, Maine 

TTR tradition means wearing as much nautical regalia as you can scavenge and sailing the smallest boat you can find as fast as you can, without smashing into too many other people doing the same thing. I like the lines of this classic Beals Island lobsterboat, which had come across from Rockport for the day.
When I was a kid in Cape Porpoise, Maine in the Sixties this was pretty much the vernacular style of work boat, often powered by a Buick V8. Lobsterboats run diesel now, and like everything else in American life they have been supersized. So it was nice to see the Janette Lamson looking so sleek and nimble. According to her owner, Alec Brainerd of Artisan Boatworks in Rockport,  
"She was built by Vinal Beal along with his son Osmond on Beals Island, Maine in 1963/64. I was told that it was the first boat that Vinal & Osmond built together.  She's skeg-built, cedar on oak, with glass over the house and deck. She's 33' long, 9 1/2 ft wide, and has a V8 455 Olds engine. (The perfect marriage of Maine and Michigan!) The Janette Lamson will be available for bare boat charter by the week once we finish a few interior modifications."--AB

Sunday, May 27, 2012

49 Ford Deluxe (& that desert light)

                 Smoke Creek Desert, Washoe County, NV.
"While drilling a well in 1995 we took advantage of having an articulated loader on site to move this '49 Ford Deluxe coupe onto railroad ties stacked in the remains of the the corral at Parker Ranch so the new owner of the property could get to the house. If only to tear it down and build a new one. The Ford, though elevated, remains oriented exactly as it was when blocking the driveway.

"Like most things in rural Nevada this little monument is shot full of holes - and that IS a woodrat nest up inside.  True ratrod...or woodrat highrise?  You be the judge."--MSM

Saturday, May 26, 2012

1939 Ford Truck Santa Barbara County

A sunny day, mid-booktour, at Carpinteria, Calif. back in April. HBB and I had been building sandcastles at the beach, then encountered this 1939 Ford truck a couple blocks back from the ocean.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The O'Briens & the California Woodie

from my novel THE O'BRIENS (Pantheon. New York. 2012):

"Their summer car, an old Ford station wagon with a wooden body, was up on blocks in the coach house. After changing the oil and spark plugs, filling the radiator and tires, and charging the battery, he drove to the shape-up yard at the bottom of Nopal Street, where he hired two Mexican day labourers and a concrete finisher. Bringing the men back to the house, he set them to work demolishing the old seawall while he started drafting his plan for the new one..."

"On the first of April they all went up to Arya Vihara for a picnic. The Lincoln had a cracked oil pan and was in the garage getting repaired, so they took the old station wagon. Mike drove. They started along Foothills Road, past fields of flowers at Carpinteria. Climbing Casitas Pass, he kept the station wagon in second gear, worried that the frail old engine might throw a rod..."

"She suddenly remembered him in California, rushing and cool, sensitive. In a white T-shirt and dark glasses, at the wheel of their old station wagon. Steering over Casitas Pass, one hand on the wheel, one slender brown arm propped at the window."

Carpinteria Homies

Out there on the South Coast of California--otherwise known as Santa Barbara County--things get tribal. BB caught this in Carpinteria. Down-Souther for Carp homeboys means anyone from Ventura south, to Tierra del Fuego.  Hey if locals aren't responsible for damage to down-Souther cars, then who is the culprit? Could it be all those beach-vacationing Scandinavians?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ford F-1

Jose Martinez found this wonderful unit, a c.1950 Ford F-1, in Camarillo, CA. Speaking of patina--or "rascular density"--this be the real thing. Though I expect that, by now, there are certain body shops in California that will skillfully paint your Escalade to look like this, for a price.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Arizona Iron and Rascular Density

         Don't like the "patina" word--it's worn out--but this is the real thing. The photographer  Jose Martinez sent me these of a late-Forties Ford F-1 in Flagstaff, Arizona. Like West Texas, Arizona is habitat of the weathered old American truck. Here in downeast Maine, if it's old, it's either rusted, without plates, and attached to a snowplow blade--or meticulously primped.
          And here's a speedier version of the same truck:
Check out the Mercury M-3, a 3/4 ton (Canadian) version of this truck on a post back in July 2011. Found it in Nova Scotia, but it had spent most of its life in high, dry south Saskatchewan.

And a note re. "patina" from our Alberta/South Saskatchewan correspondent, Alex Emond:  
"I hope to photograph some rare and beautiful trucks around Ponteix, Sask.., and I'm going to also look for a better word than "patina" and "funk" isn't quite it. Ernie Roy used to refer to this nebulous quality, always positive, that he called "rascular density" when he totally dug the shit out of something. The greater the density, the higher the praise. "Chronological Sheen" might sunstitute for "patina"...? I'm working on it ... Cheers."  --AE

Friday, May 11, 2012

from New Mexico

All images ©JW Burleson 2012

"Mutant Truck, Pepto Sky"                    

"Ocate, N.M. Flatbed"            
"Storm Approaching Ocate, N.M. "
"North San Ysidro, N.M."
"Retired Power Wagon, Encino N.M."

"Villanueva, N.M."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

takes a girl to drive a truck, part 2

Michael S. Moore responding to last Saturday's Autoliterate post re. girls, boots, trucks:
"First off, it's not where the boots are bought, it's where they've been. Here's Her's.
"She sez there's at least 180 miles on them, walking, and that was just last summer...dunno where they came from, but it does appear they spent some time on the Smoke Creek Desert.  While I'm at it, here's Her Truck (ran when parked; one of these days we'll have to find someone around Walsenburg comparabe to your Marfa guy and get it back on the road.)----M.S.M

Monday, May 7, 2012

John Wall Barger & blue Dodge

I just read this poem in a brand-new collection from Halifax poet John Wall Barger (currently living in Hong Kong), his second collection, Hummingbird (Palimpsest). It’s a gutsy, detail-packed, colorfully lively collection of what could loosely be called "travel poems"--set everywhere from New York and Mexico to Taiwan, India, and Italy. The following is in the sub-genre of childhood on-the-road poems.  Notice that a couple of passages are in italics. And, yes, "de-sert" (with hyphen) is part of the poem. The book also includes a couple of Greyhound bus poems, and one set on a Mexican bus." --Brian Bartlett

from the haunted doghouse
from our high shuttered house with the gutters & frogs barking --
between my parents in the blue truck
on the grey highway
we rattled like a bag of tools, an army tank
-- the insides of the blue truck
shiver at my two feel like green bean sprouts
under the DODGE wheel
shiver, wink, spark
like fireflies, gold vines, frog guts, frantic.
Dad rolls down the window,
spits away! The road hacks & coughs right back.
Out back under the mackinaw
are my Tinker Toys & Lincoln Logs. Telephone poles
are stickmen with broken kites.
Dad flattens his fingers
on radio buttons, one knuckle
a triangle, I've been through the de-sert
on a horse with no name, now his sore pinky taps
my knee, my mother Jean winces at it,
sews some more, It felt good to be out of the rain . . .
Her hands on needles & canvas
are warm carrots --
she smells like sunlight, mint,
she smells quiet today,
glad maybe to sew our future tipi home in Nova Scotia.
Away empty doghouse!
Away crooked rope swing!
Far from here anyway, this blue truck,
this boundless bobbing line
of electric thread,
my left eye fixed on a crystal nick
in the windshield.

                                                                  --John Wall Barger

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ferrari. Porsche. Speedway. This is not a truck post.

Okay, I'm supposed to be on a book-tour, tirelessly promoting my new novel The O'Briens. And I am: I've been talking, reading, and selling The O'Briens for the past week in New Jersey, in Pennsylvania, and all around North Carolina. Heading to Toronto next, for a couple of book events on Wednesday and Thursday. But, thanks to some book guys who are also car guys, today I rode through the green hills from Winston-Salem to the Virginia International Raceway in this innocuous, totally bland, ho-hum, meek, bud-vase-friendly little econocar:

(Ferrari cognoscenti will already have identified a _ _ _.) More on the little red imposter next post. At VIR I was able to clock some race laps (riding shotgun) in this Porsche:

                                                                Ho-hum, another day in the book trade.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nova Mar Vista

Saw this Nova (1970) on a walkabout, rainy spring day, Mar Vista, L.A.

The Dodge truck has posted before, but every time I see it--in Mar Vista--I want it.
Another Mar Vistan. 3/4 ton. 1972? For sale, too,

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Brilliant Careerism, part 14

The Michael Silverblatt/Bookworm interview that I taped in LA a couple of weeks back was aired yesterday, on KCRW. You can find the podcast here.  We both admire the films of Terence Malick.  Michael is passionate about books, and a "Bookworm" interview really is a conversation.
         My new novel The O'Briens has gone into a second printing. The Canadian paperback is out (in Canada). And Random House has just done a new printing of my first novel, The Law of Dreams.
         I'm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this morning, heading to Winston-Salem this afternoon. This evening I'll be signing books, 6pm-9pm at the Associated Arttists Gallery Hop event in downtown W-S. Tomorrow I'm reading at Barnhill's Books in Winston-Salem, 5pm.
         Of course while in Southern California I kept an eye out for machines, and came across this brilliant pair of Impalas, '63 and '62, in Santa Barbara.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

rat rod: the 1945 Chevrolet pickup

I love this 1945 Chevrolet pickup, which belongs to Michael S. Moore. Rebuilt with a rat-rod aesthetic: unfinished look; bare essentials. Meant to be driven, not merely shown. And Moore proved that by driving the machine from Colorado to Califoria in the winter.

"Built by James Gardiner of Brokenlight Customs in Berthoud, Colorado, over the winter of 2010 - 2011.  

" it was sufficiently together to drive from Berthoud to California in February of last year...I flew to Denver, picked up the truck the same afternoon, and left the next day after James made some adjustments to the linkage.  First night, over the Rockies, was spent in Fruita, CO; I then crossed Utah and stopped in Ely, Nevada.
"Third day crossed Nevada, stayed in Reno, visited friends and set out for California only to have 80 shut down by a blizzard...

"...while I was breakfasting in Truckee...the truck's too low to for chains so I snuck into California over Yuba Pass...below 5500' it rained, all the way to the Bay Area." --M.S.M

A note on rat rods from Dan Picasso:

"For many years I was affiliated with fellows building this very type of Hot Rod- a great deal of importance was placed upon using period-correct and arcane speed parts, wheels, tires, instruments, engines such as Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick and so forth [avoiding the ubiquitous Chevy smallblock] and embracing the inevitable [rust] as opposed to spending thousands for perfect paint-  as a reaction to the creeping decimalism of modern hotrodding which was becoming a rich man's game.

Naturally this aesthetic became popular among the gold-chainers, and consequently the prices on our parts and cars rose to the extent even the crusty stuff became expensive.  Kind of like how funky neighborhoods populated by artists, writers and musicians without a pot to piss in were gentrified and taken over by the moneyed set, and the vanguard types had to leave.  Sic semper argentum.

Feh."  -D.P.