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3:00 p.m. - September 25, 2005
Rockin' To....Toledo?
I drove to Toledo this morning. Yes, Toledo, Ohio. I am attending a regional user group conference for the software we use at the college. The region is Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, so Toledo is the best possible place.

Excitement plus. I’ve traveled to Cedar Rapids and Toledo within three months. Perhaps this can be a recruitment poster for Advancement Services everywhere.

“Attend conferences in exciting locales, like Toledo and Cedar Rapids. Thrill to the drama, as you determine if something is a gift or not. The tension mounts as you value the stock gifts. And don’t forget on Fridays, you face the peril of your database. Can you clean it up without crashing it??”

It makes no sense for me to fly to Toledo, so I drove. It’s not that far, and I do love to drive, and you can meander there without a problem. (You realize that for a while the slogan for Indiana’s tourism board was “Wander, Indiana”. I prefer to meander, myself.) So I picked a route that avoided interstates, and headed northeast to the place Corporal Klinger made famous. This time, though, I played good soldier and took a College car instead of driving my own car. So I was off in a sexy, stylish, manly….Buick Century. God, I felt like I should be wearing white shoes and black socks with one turn signal on looking for the early bird specials.

Like this entry, I decided that a travelogue would be appropriate, with the appropriate tuneage, so awaaaaay we go.

Thorntown, Indiana (“Dr. Love” by Kiss) – This weekend was the “Festival of Turning Leaves”, however today it seemed to be the “Festival of Soggy People on their porch waiting for people to come by and look at the leaves, which haven’t turned yet, because for some damn reason it’s still summertime here”. The townsfolk have seemed to take advantage of this festival, as they all have scheduled their garage sales for this time as well. Instead of pawning off your rejects on your friends and neighbors, pawn them off on total strangers!

Oops! Outside of Thorntown I saw rollers and got pulled over. I immediately got my license out and the registration for the car, and had them ready for the cop. The entire conversation:

“Did you know your speed?”
“I probably was going fast – I was just on the phone to the wife.”
“Do you want a ticket?”
“No, sir.”
“Well, watch your speed then. Drive safe, and have a good day.”

It was a local Thorntown cop, but I felt soooo lucky. I’m lighting a few candles as we speak.

Three miles down the road, another cop had pulled someone over. Yikes!

Bakers Corner, Indiana (“Anytime” by Journey) – A sign on a church said “Keep your temper. Nobody wants it.” Normally, the sayings on these churches are rather lame, however that did elicit a chuckle, perhaps a guffaw from me.

BTW – as for the song that was playing – I contend that in this era of Journey (1978 or 1979), Neil Schon had THE best Jew-fro in the history of rock. Better than Slash. Better than Lenny Kravitz. Better than the drummer for Grand Funk. The best, period.

Turning onto US 31 (“Rock Me” by Steppenwolf), I noticed a billboard for this website. US 31 is probably the most boring and maddening highway in Indiana. It’s a four lane highway that has NO turns from South Bend to Indianapolis and is just cut through the country so you see no towns or scenery. Anyway, the billboard promised something odd and off the wall – the site, not so much.

I also saw two more cops. So I’ve seen four cops in the middle of BFE land in Indiana (and I’m talking deep BFE here) within a half hour of each other. This is Sunday morning – the good people are getting ready for church and the drunks are sleeping it off. I didn’t make sense!

Near Tipton, Indiana (“Journey to Tyme” by Kenny and the Kasuals) the famous “Eat Here and Get Gas” restaurant appeared on my right. Hah, hah. That’s a side splitter, that is. Heee, er….yeah.

South of Kokomo, Indiana (“Automatic Mojo” by Meat Puppets) – There was a farm on the right that had swans, llamas and alpacas. A sign on a fence said “Enjoy the Alpaca Lifestyle”. You can write your own jokes here, folks.

(Although if you want to email me with your idea of the Alpaca Lifestyle, please do so! I may post them later! My vision of the Alpaca Lifestyle is an alpaca with an ascot, wearing a smoking jacket and sipping on a mimosa while waiting for the houseboy Raul to finish his egg white omelet).

Hemlock, Indiana (“Damaged Goods” by the Gang of Four) – A sign advertised “50% off Burning Bush”. Now would Moses feel ripped off, since he probably had to pay full retail for his burning bush?

Fairmount, Indiana (“I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister) – Another small town, another festival. Fairmount is the birthplace of James Dean, and they have a three-day festival honoring him every year. There’s a car show, and a museum, and…and…and…I don’t know what the hell you are supposed to do for three days in that town in honor of an actor who has been dead for almost 40 years and only made three movies.

James Dean is legendary because he died so young. He didn’t have the long decline. I can think where he could have been going for the same roles that Brando went for as he got older. Can you imagine an older James Dean in “Last Tango in Paris”? Hot butter, indeed! Anyway, he never got to make crappy movies, never threw a phone at the press, never acted like a Baldwin brother. (Pick a Baldwin, any Baldwin). That’s why he’s revered.

BTW - Dee Snider of Twisted Sister wants to let the world know that he wants to rock. (ROCK!) He most definitely wants to rock. If anything changes, I will let you know, but as of now Dee Snider wants to rock.

Entering the Village Pantry in Fairmount, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges was playing in the car. I can safely say that that’s probably the first time that song was played in that car, for sure. I did debate as I was going to walk out of the car, do I turn off the stereo before I open the door, or do I subject the local yokels and the James Dean fans to the demented mewlings of Iggy Pop?? I chose the less rock-and-roll option, sigh.

Upland, Indiana (“Ten Fingers” by the Pursuit of Happiness) – Taylor University is located here in Upland. They are a Christian school, and I know some graduates from Taylor and they’re very nice though a bit Stepfordian. However, Taylor has so many rules for their undergraduates to follow – they can’t drink, no dancing, no movies, no public displays of affection, and no men in the women’s dorms at all, etc.

I would think the people who attend that institution would already be of a mind to avoid the temptations of the body, mind, and spirit. So why the rules? There are several Christians who attend Wabash, and they all seem to live a good, decent life in following our ONE rule. (Yes, just one rule, it’s the Gentleman’s Rule. “A Wabash man will conduct himself at all times, both on and off campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen.” That’s it.

Bluffton, Indiana (“Bad Times by Lubricated Goat – and yes, the singer does sound like a lubricated goat) - In the convenience store here, there was a shrieking noise whenever the front door was opened, a noise when the bathroom door was opened, and when someone wanted to pump gas out front. My gosh, if I worked there I’d go insane, and it wouldn’t be a slow insanity either. After a week I’d probably want to bury a hatchet into all those alarms.

Preble, Indiana (“Tell It to Carrie” by the Romantics) - The Preble Inn says they have the “Best Ribs in Adams County.” You know, that’s probably quite true, but isn’t it like saying you have the best Thai food in Ottumwa, Iowa, or the best sous chef of any Denny’s.

The Ohio Border (“Monday” by Wilco) – Ohio welcomes me. Well, right back at ya. And Dee Snider called to tell me that he wants to rock. (ROCK!)

Convoy, Ohio (“Across the Tracks” by Nils Lofgren) – Mercy sakes alive, I’m in Convoy. They are having Convoy Community Days. I guess it’s the official weekend for small town festivals. I don’t know if they’re having a C. W. McCall sound alike contest or anything like that. My 20 wasn’t in Convoy for that long, good buddy.

Cecil, Ohio (“Cracklin’ Roise” by Neil Diamond) – There was a country café that had a sign with a message board underneath. The sign claimed the place was “Randy’s Home Cookin’ Café”. On the message board, it said “TJ’s Café”. Well, which is it? Did TJ win the place from Randy during a spirited game of Texas Hold ‘Em??

(By now, the Cleveland – Indianapolis game was on the radio, so I was listening to that the rest of the way to Toledo.)

Providence, Ohio – The weather on this trip was less than stellar, to say the least. The skies were always cloudy and it rained on and off. On the right, there was a living history museum, where folks dress up in authentic period costumes and act like they live in, say, 1856 or so. Well, it must totally stink to have to be out in the rain, wearing the outfit of an Amish farmer, where the glue holding the fake whiskers could become loose at any moment.

Defiance, Ohio – I was in radio for a while (and I will be doing an essay on that soon), and I have an ear for what makes a good commercial. You know what doesn’t make a good commercial, when the CLIENTS insist they do their own commercials, especially when they:

1. Read in a total monotone
2. Insist their precocious moppets are in the commercial as well.
3. Write their own jokes in the copy.
4. Read…in a total….halting…manner….like they were….Shatner. Spooooock!

Toledo, Ohio – Stopped at a red light close to the hotel. It’s raining and the street is wet. I see the green light and step on the gas. The tires squeal. Yes, I have squealed the tires of a Buick Century. Just call me Starsky.

I made it safe and sound (and dry), and am ready to take on the world at this conference. I’m the agenda chair, so it’s kind of my baby. I need to be sure and be lucid or at least fake lucidity, tomorrow morning when the conference opens. The trip was nice, even though it rained, and it again proved to me that if you take the road less traveled, you’ll definitely find something worth remembering, even if it is the best ribs in Adams County, Indiana.

PS – Dee Snider just called. He still wants to rock. (ROCK!)


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