On Day Three of a cross-country drive from Michigan to California, No. 2 son and I motored through the Texas panhandle, crossed New Mexico, and much of Arizona, encountering this ‘n that along the way, including:
Outside Amarillo there’s a “sculpture” that leaves a distinct impression on the mind, not to mention on the earth: It’s a row of old cars buried halfway deep in the ground.
The cars are all Cadillacs, and the artwork is known as “The Cadillac Ranch.” It was created in 1974 by some guys calling themselves The Ant Farm. They are referred to on one website as “art hippies.” The cars range from a 1948 Caddy to a 1963 (or maybe ’64 – there’s some dispute over this). When they were buried they sported their original paint jobs, but over the decades they’ve been covered with graffiti, repainted, covered with graffiti, repainted, rinse, lather, repeat.
If you’re a Bruce Springsteen fan, you probably know his song about Cadillac Ranch, called, oddly enough, “Cadillac Ranch.” A lot of music critics have described the song as “an exuberant, playful rocker,” and “pure rowdy fun,” and “one of Springsteen’s ten funniest songs.” All this in spite of the tune’s theme, which is the not-so exuberant, or playful, or fun inevitability of, ahem, termination.
Factoid: The cars are buried at a tilted angle that The Ant Farm said matches that of the faces of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, in Egypt. (And doesn’t that sound like some ripe graffit? – “Khuf U!”)
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On westbound Interstate 40, before you reach New Mexico, the last Texas county you roll through is named Deaf Smith County.
“Deaf” is pronounced “Deef,” although apparently, it isn’t; people nowadays say it as “Deff.” The name Deaf Smith belonged to a soldier and scout who suffered partial hearing loss, and who participated in the Texas revolt against Mexico in the 1830s. His given name was Erastus. I’m old enough to find this factoid quirky fun; my younger, hipper readers may need to do some googling to understand it: Deaf Smith has been portrayed by many actors in movies and TV shows over the years. But he’s so little-known that actors don’t need to look ANYTHING like the real guy. I say this because among his portrayers are the WAAAAAY-non-look-alike actors Frankie Avalon and Anthony Quinn.
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I got sort of jazzed when I saw signs for Tucumcari, New Mexico, mainly because I thought it was featured in the old Western film “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Turns out it was “For a Few Dollars More.” Which I’ve never even seen. Anyway, it also turns out that the name must’ve been used based purely on the poetic lurveliness of “Tucumcari”. . .because the town didn’t even exist in the period the movie is set.
Factoid: Tucumcari’s population isn’t even 5,000 people and yet it has a convention center. I wonder what’s the smallest American town with a convention center? And why?
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New Mexico has THE best-looking license plates in America, with Native American motifs in hues of bright yellow and turquoise, plus a black one sporting the image of green and red peppers, with the inscription “Chile Capital of the World.”
You think I’m overstating the attractiveness of these hunks of metal? Well, the New Mexico chile plate was voted the Best Plate of 2017 by members of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA), beating out 16 competitors from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan. I’m tellin’ ya, that chile plate is hot.
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Somewhere between the New Mexico “towns” of Montoya and Santa Rosa, I scanned the car radio and found only five weak FM radio signals. This made me wonder: what’s the “least-served” area in the US, in terms of fewest radio stations? And can residents there still get their fill of Springsteen, or Frankie Avalon?
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While driving, I asked Siri (the iPhone “assistant”) to capture various notes and thoughts, using voice commands. Reading back through the stuff captured on Day Three, I came across one that reads, “Unkindmrss oh ravens.” I apparently got a bit riled over that one; the next line reads, “You are a BUM Siri!”
But hey, if you’re ever at the Cadillac Ranch, and want to add some ripe graffiti, you’re welcome to use “Unkindmrss oh ravens”!