Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time Keeps Ticking Wherever You Are


From the Museum of Toilet Seat Art, San Antonio

Beyond some more pictures, I can’t add much to Rob’s epic and wonderful post on our Texas trip of 2008, but it did provoke some thoughts about these trips in general—and let me just say that I’m writing this on the plane to Las Vegas for the start of a new one.

This year is the tenth of what has become Baseball Byways, though it took a while to find its true form. What’s interesting to me in looking back is how they crystallize moments of great chaos and great stability. Even as my life has changed over the last ten years, baseball has remained more or less the same. This is one of those qualities that many sentimental writers wax on about, but the seeming timelessness of the game—or at least the inability of steroids, Tony LaRussa, and Bud Selig to destroy it—is one of the reasons we can keep turning back to it, even as jobs, houses, and marriages come and go and come again.

At the Orange Show, Houston
In the case of the Texas trip, I was already in the middle of one transition, having only just moved back to New York after finishing grad school yet without a real job yet. While we were in Midland, things took another twist as I sat on the car one morning and did a phone interview for what became my current job in Chicago—a job that doesn’t come open very often and, for better and worse, suits me way too well.

The incredibly uninteresting childhood home of George W. Bush, Midland
So part of the trip for me was thinking through what a new job and a new city would mean—and in many ways helped to have those long empty drives to just let things settle. I’m not one of those people who can consciously sit down to think things through. It happens more passively—and driving back and forth across Texas is pretty goddamn passive, especially when you’re not the one at the wheel.

Joe Allen's barbecue, Abilene
These trips are searches for novelty and idiosyncrasy, but they are also a kind of evolving obsessive catalog, grounded in a very clear continuity of experience. Can we make it to every minor-league team and every minor-league park in our lifetimes? Is there enough interesting variation among them that we can find something to say about them all? So far, the answer is yes—or at least we think it is; your mileage may vary.

Dan Flavin installation, Marfa

The late, lamented Forbidden Garden
In the Cathedral of Junk, Austin, one of the most peaceful places I've ever been
The stockade fence in Dallas through which Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot JFK. 
Alley Oop installation, Iraan
Metal T-rex, raging at the sky somewhere in the nonplace called DFW

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