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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Japanese Teenagers, Eliot Cutler, Franco-Maine, & The Blue Hill Fair

If you read E.B. White's Charlotte's Web as a kid, or read it to your kid, you already know something about the Blue Hill Fair, which happens on Labor Day Weekend. Maine's largest pig and largest cow are usually on display. Some of Maine's largest people too. Apart from  agricultural exhibits and the draft horse pulling competition, which are wonderful, there's a tawdry midway, and dozens of booths selling fried, wildly overpriced food. Kids of a certain age love the fayuh but the whole operation feels like a scam to me. The last time I remember money pouring out so fast was an afternoon walking around Paris. Eliot Cutler, the "Independent" candidate for Maine governor, was trolling the Fair, doing the meet & greet. He's a smart and accomplished man, but I'm afraid he's going to do the same thing he did 4 years ago--by splitting the Democrat vote he could throw the race to our Tea Party Gov, Paul Lepage. Lepage is a smart pol but wildly unthoughtful, with a lot of terrible instincts.  It's painful to watch a man as intelligent as Lepage willing himself into ignorance. It's all about anger, I guess. Some of it ethnic. There's a lot of buried anger in Franco-Maine. See my post on Biddeford. Lepage is from Lewiston, another Canadien mill town with some bad memories.  Anyway, here in North Brooklin we're hoping Mike Michaud, who has been our (Democrat) Congressman for the 2nd District, wins the governorship in November.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The 1962 Pontiac Bonneville and Parnelli Jones' 1964 Mercury Marauder

Never much liked what people think of as classic cars of the Fifties, the chrome beasts of '55-58.  Four years of chrome-laden slag mobiles, with certain beautiful exceptions--I always liked '57 Plymouths and '57 Fords. But 1958 in almost anything was a pretty horrible nadir. Actually the 1958 Chevrolet and Pontiacs were nice-looking, but 1958 Buicks? '58 Oldsmobiles? Depraved monsters of chrome.Then came '59--wow. Especially the GMs. Even Buick and Olds became beautiful, strange cars in 1959. 1959 to '65 are, for me, the great years for American cars. But so many car guys of an older generation got stuck in a 1950s time warp. Nostalgia---the word seems almost specific in our culture to Fifties-yearning. "Fifties" as a concept started in 1972, with Lucas'  American Graffiti--or maybe in 1969, with Sha-na-na,  and hasn't let up. Especially here on the East Coast, where a lot of small town car shows are still dominated by Tri-5 Chevys with their Chinese sheet metal and fuzzy dice, while the fairground sound system blasts tiresome 'classic' rock 'n roll, etc. 
If I were to get into cars--as opposed to old trucks-- it would be machines like the 1962 Pontiac Bonneville above, found on autospeed.
Or Parnelli Jones’ Mercury Marauder, here heading for the clouds at Pike’s Peak, 1964. (Image via Axis of Oversteer. I found it on Four Lean Hounds.)

The 1951 International Harvester L-130: Moutarde Saskois

 From Alex Emond, in south Saskatchewan:
"Here is that older International, warts and all, up in Kyle. There was no one home, not surprising on the August long weekend. So I was able to take some pictures. The interior is pretty tight and functional, nice bench seat. I'll be out that way again. What shade of mustard would you say that is--Grey Poupon?"---AE

Thursday, August 28, 2014

David Yezzi poem: Café Future

Café Future

The bunting they put out for the grand opening
never got put away, so every day

looks as if it might be opening day.
You inquire if Café Future carries pie,

and sure enough it’s right there on the menu.
A piece of rhubarb and black coffee, please.

The pie tastes like you’d hoped it would, but sweeter.
And though you’re wary of newfangledness,

you’ve never had a piece of pie this good.
You think you’ll make the Future your new place.

The long counter’s reflected in plate glass,
where sunlight pours in from the parking lot,

and the guy who’s looking back at you is you
and not quite you. The morning rush is over.

The chrome gleams with a perfect gleaminess.
The waitress’s smile lets you know she agrees.

It makes you want to stay and eat more pie.
She comes by, young-looking, like her own daughter,

and whisks your plate away. Another slice.
I know I really shouldn’t. Just one more.

That’s fine with her, she says. She’s on a double
and happy to bring you pie all day long.
                                                               --David Yezzi 

(The poem first appeared in By permission of the author here.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Schooner "Victory Chimes" on Eggemoggin Reach

If you've a chart in front of you, that's Conary's Island in the background. Wind's blowing from the southeast, tending south, maybe 11 knots. Also saw the (I think)  Lewis B. French :

1951 Chevy of Chama (Huerfano County, Colorado)

                                                                                                    Now that's patina. From Michael Moore's blog.
Some great trucks down there in Orphan County. And you'll find plenty more Advanced Design Chevy trucks up on Autoliterate.
                                                                                                                               Deer Lodge Montana 1983

Earthbound Moon & West Texas Fury

Lubbock Architecture's Fury. Photo from Earthbound Moon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

1946 Chevrolet COE tow-truck

Mercury M-1 truck

The truck was for sale at Kool Kustoms in Orland Maine. Mercury trucks were sold in Canada. Caught one in Nova Scotia-- a M-3--a while back. Only thing I don't like about this truck is the interior: those Chinese-leather seats. Would much rather see a good old fashioned investment-grade vinyl bench.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Artists' Cars: Mary-Louise and the Buick Skylark

"Art Cars"--vehicles festooned with concepts and gewgaws of one kind or another--are a tiresome genre. I speak as a car guy. There are exceptions, Shawn HibmaCronan's Ford Falcon van project, "Love, Inertia, and the Perfect Stance", being one.  On the other hand, artists' cars are sort of interesting. A few years ago, when I was on the art colony circuit---Yaddo, Macdowell, Ucross, VCCA--I noticed that artists, often enough out of NYC--tended to drive roomy, battered, nondescript Outer Borough street cars, vans, and pickup trucks. Those gravel parking lots at Saratoga Springs and Peterbrough usually had a scrappy, no-fuss, utilitarian air, filled as they were with the dented, unshiny cars that my people had bought with money from the last or first painting they'd sold, or a scrap of grant money, or a teaching gig. Or maybe they'd inherited the wheels from their grandmother because there certainly were a lot of grandmotherly cars: Oldsmobile sedans, etc. My sister Mary Behrens, another Colony habitué, used to drive a mid-Seventies Chevy wagon. I'm glad to see the artist Mary-Louise Geering keeping a proud bohemian tradition alive with her stylish early-80s Buick Skylark.

Native Species of Southern Colorado: The 1951 Chevrolet

The annual Resuscitation of the Truck, August, 2014, at Libre. And Advanced Design-era trucks have featured on plenty of AL posts.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

1953 Plymouth Suburban from Stonington, Deer Isle, Maine.

One of my favorite cars of the summer. Saw this 1953 Plymouth Suburban wagon in the parking lot of the grocery store at Blue Hill. It lives down in Stonington, the fishing town down the at the southern end of Deer Isle. About as non-suburban as you will find in the US of A. No plates yet, but very cool. Those red wheels and dog dish caps are perfect.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

1954 Bel Air, Duke City

from Michael Moore, in The West:
"Just occurred to me that I took pictures of the same car a week apart;
with a little love and attention THIS [Albuquerque, last week]-- 

"...could be THIS [Pueblo, today]; Right?" --MSM
[Yes...but I prefer the orange paint--Autoliterate]

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lubbock Architecture's 1970 Plymouth & Llano Estacado

Over the last year or so I've done a few Autoliterate posts on Llano Estacado. So you know I'm obsessed with that West Texas/eastern New Mexico high plains region. One way of working through an obsession is writing a novel. My third novel "Karin"-- which will be out in Fall 2015 in US & Canada --is a Llano Novel (though mostly set in Frankfurt Germany in the 1930s). Some key chapters happen in and just west of Lubbock. If you're wondering about the connection between nazified Frankfurt and West Texas, check this post.
I'm trying to ID this car: I'd say Plymouth Fury III, 1970. Stylish machine. That avacado-ish green was the tone poem of the Seventies. My Maine/Marfa truck is painted in a close but slightly different  shade. Track the Plymouth on Lubbock Architecture's Facebook page. (My novel also happens to feature a Plymouth out on the Llano).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

1959 Dodge Fargo pickup

Another from Alex Emond: ".. a gently battered old Fargo. I saw this truck in Kyle, Saskatchewan. A good looking machine, capable of highway speeds. I like it!" -AE [Fargo was  a Canadian marque; basically a Dodge that could be sold by Chrysler/Plymouth dealers ad mare usque ad mare]
I wonder if that paint is original. There's also this one-ton Canadian Mercury truck I saw in Nova Scotia a while back: an M-3, basically a Ford F-3, and a handsome machine.
Oh, and I found another reason to buy old trucks. Many of them. My 1975 GMC is spending 3 days on a Tommy Hilfiger catalogue photo shoot this week, and thereby earning her keep.