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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

F250. Peacock. Snow. Don & Valerie's. Marfa.

Katherine Northrop: The Field the Drive-In Was in

                                                                                                                                                     David Branch photo
The Field the Drive-in Was In 

—what are we here? The hive mind
answers hive-ily, their suggestions
make for us, make for us: brzoom, as
high-school boys, cunt-struck.

“Oh we were young, oh we banged around the world,
holding our arms out, hoping for what?”

All the while, something, my love, bore down on the boat, a power
quick and sickly, cut-throat.
But we happened,

we happened, drawing each other out,
reading newspapers, novels until the marina
swooped back into view.

Across the water, shimmering:
powerful, calming, and regular as credits—

                                                         -Katherine Northrop     
                                                                        First published in Agni 80

Generations of Fiat 500: Amsterdam

Thanks to Guido Goluke.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sunset, looking north, Pinto Canyon Road.

1964 Dodge D100, Marfa

Today same temperature in Marfa and Portland Me (37F). Snow in the mountains south of Alpine. Clear blue sky by 5pm, sliver of a crescent moon, waxing. It's actually 15 degrees warmer in Maine tonight, but raining.

Chevrolet C10 and the Pinto Canyon Road, Presidio County

                                                                                                                     All photos Basha Burwell
We reached Marfa after an arduous travel day that started at 300AM in Maine and included a mad family dash through Houston airport to catch a flight for ELP, and a wonderful three-hour drive across the desert with our chere amie Valerie. Glad to get here. Spent our first night ever in our house. Pat Rogers had parked our Chevy outside the Texas theater on Highland Avenue. At 700AM H & I walked over in the dark and brought the truck home. Yesterday evening was glowing when we headed out on the Pinto Canyon Road.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lobsterboat 'Charlena" Brooklin Maine, and the warm seas of Maine

We head to TX tomorrow for Christmas, and some desert light. This may be our last post of the year from Maine, and what better than a lobsterboat? Charlena is about 65 years old, and going strong, though retired from the lobster biz. There was  an intersting piece in the NYT this week on warming waters and the fisheries in the Gulf of Maine.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gulf 1937 (Black and white)

Thanks to Larry Nordell for this. I don't know anything about the photograph. Winter 1937 and somewhere down South. Georgia? Birmingham, Ala.? If you can read more clues, let us know. The careful probably instinctive way the men are posing for the camera... I'd say the black guy is precisely twice as far from the white guy as the two whites are from each other. He's standing at attention, the other two 'at ease'.

Morris Minor 1000 Estate

 The car is being rehabilitated at Sean McKay's shop, Affordable Performance, on the Naskeag Rd. Becky  Smith sent us one from London last summer. And Craig Manning spotted one amongst the Trabis of Berlin. Then there was the Morris Minor van "straight outta Devonshire" that we spotted in Maine this fall,

Blackwell School. Marfa, Texas

Ratten: The Volvo Review

They have a collection of these at Alan's Auto, the Volvo shop in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Larry McNeil: "Real Indians"

Real Indians, negative made in 1977, platinum photograph made in 2014. Photo by Larry McNeil  

No Cupholders: 1961 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight & Supersized America

It's funny how the overabundance of food plays out in contemporary American life. Most obviously in the obesity epidemic. It's dispiriting, to arrive back in the US or Canada from a less voluminous country like The Netherlands, say, or Italy, where the population is relatively slender. Another aspect that I've noticed: people seem to expect  food and drink to be provided almost everywhere these days, in every setting involving more than a one-on-one meeting. Parent meetings at school, for example: there is always someone deputized to provide "snacks." Like we can't do without food for an hour.  At many business meetings there is the tray of gigantic muffins--often studded with chocolate--- and the box of Starbucks coffee. 
Cupholders proliferate in cars, and people are feasting or gobbling on their way to work. It's Food, 24/7. The current cultural mania about cooking and baking and restaurants is part of the larger story of overabundance...
I've noticed that when classic cars and trucks--any vehicle made before the 1980s--are being test-driven in the old car magazines  the writers, knowing their audience of super-sized guys, will usually make some reference to the difficulty of fitting in behind the steering wheel. The older the car/truck, the narrower and tighter the fit. Trucks from the 1930s? Fuggedaboudit.
And don't get me started on the bottled-water thing. I see this supposed need to constantly "hydrate" as faux-science perpetrated by corporate giants of the bottled water biz.
Anyway, no ungainly cupholders in this Olds. It was a sleek machine. Though maybe not quite so sleek in real life as in the advertisements. GM art of the era really pancaked the cars.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Downtowns (Helena, Montana)

At Autoliterate we yearn for the downtown experience. 'Downtown' these days---does that word have any suggestive zing, other than in NYC, where it implies the varied regions below 14th Street? Hell, Burlington VT used to have a lively mixed-up downtown, most of it along Church Street. Montreal had a hell of a downtown along rue Ste-Catherine. Portland, Maine's downtown was Congress Street. Thousands of towns from Nova Scotia to California once had lively downtowns; most are decrepit now. Partly due to changing technology, partly due to some terrible planning decisions-or more often, lack of planning decisions. We need to reinvigorate these districts somehow. Not just turn them into dubious "arts districts" or tourist zones.  Helena Montana had a downtown in the Fifties. Thanks to Larry Nordell for passing along the photo.

Monday, December 15, 2014

1937 Ford one-ton

from Alex Emond: "This rusty sculpture is in a yard in Bracken, Saskatchewan.  Very nice...a bit of a fixer-upper. The lines, the shape, the beauty of the rust. One fine pile of junk."--AE