Right this minute, I'm in the middle of what I call World Tour '07, an annual (except for 2006, which ended on a sour note on the first day) road trip of around four thousand miles. I used to claim that I took these trips to get away from the stifling heat; people subsequently pointed out that most of the time, I went to places that were even hotter, so I've dropped that particular argument. You can read the trip log anytime: these are little bits of something that I didn't think would fit, or didn't remember to post, or for some other reason I didn't add to the log.

Commercial radio is in a sadder state than I thought.
One of the few things I've heard that was at all worthwhile was a program by Jim "The Critic" Voight on Charleston's WAVF ("96 Wave") on Sunday morning. The Critic's choices were interesting enough; more to the point, he was willing to defend them against potential audience complaints. Then again, this was a Sunday-morning show, and nothing in the station's regular playlist makes me think that this is anything other than a weekend anomaly, and that the station normally doesn't sound like that at all. (In their defense, it's better than anything I'm likely to hear on Oklahoma City radio.)

Most of the "oldies" stations, meanwhile, have shed everything from the earlier years of what Casey Kasem always called the Rock Era; so far I've heard only two that hadn't, and one of them was on AM. It is, I suppose, no accident that neither of these stations — WAIZ, Hickory, NC, and KWCL-FM, Oak Grove, LA — is owned by any of the Major Group Owners.

The Mexicans are coming!
Well, actually, they're here, and no one should be surprised by this. I didn't quite realize, however, how many of them have landed in seemingly-unlikely places like Angier, North Carolina, where I stopped to do a couple of loads of wash and found bilingual signs and a largely-Latino customer base. No particular problem, I hasten to add, but it was decidely unexpected. Angier, a town of 4000 or so, even has a Mexican-style tienda in addition to the usual local grocery store.

People don't want to hear about how much rain you had.
Especially, you know, if they're under the threat of water rationing because of drought. Florida has posted billboards urging that lawns be watered only twice a week. The amount of rain that fell on me while I was there seemed pretty impressive — more than once I had to get off the road out of sheer fear — but evidently it's not enough.

No, this is not a sports sedan.
Through the first two thousand miles, Gwendolyn, my seven-year-old Infiniti I30, proved herself to be a cheerful and efficient consumer of highway miles, delivering about 28 miles per gallon and no mechanical glitches to speak of. But while she can handle the twisty bits up to a point, and she has no trouble getting out of her own way, there's still a couple of things that keep her from sports-sedan status: she's really too big (if not too heavy) to maneuver with industrial-strength panache, and her engine is driving the wrong wheels. Maybe if she had AWD — but no, then she'd weigh a hundred pounds more (at least) and get worse gas mileage. I'll keep her as she is, thank you.

Is that seat saved?
I go through this every year: at some point I'll look over at the passenger seat, which is occupied only by a Rand McNally Road Atlas, and wonder what it might be like if it were occupied by an actual person instead. The fact that I am only subject to carsickness when someone else is driving usually drags me back to lonesome reality. Still, it seems to me that women enjoy road trips at least as much as men do, and there might actually be (though I doubt it) someone who can put up with me for fifteen days instead of fifteen minutes. Not that I'm going to keep the engine running while I wait.

The Vent

  17 July 2007

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