Friday, March 6, 2009

South of the Border

(written 12.22.07)

Whereupon Mathew, Jeffery, Hunter, and Lydia journey to South of the Border.

I believe one of these jackasses when they tell me it would take around 45 minutes to drive there. Ridiculous, I know, but it takes almost three times that long, and I am piloting Mathew's car, which is for some reason excessively boring to drive. Sonic Youth on crappy speakers with abundant road noise and Jeffery's beatbox accompaniment along with a weird morning phone conversation with my boyfriend all make me feel sassy, so I decide to be in a difficult mood for awhile, and decree that everyone in the vehicle should also as big of an asshole as possible. Not an easy task for these mild-mannered other three, but Mathew at least does okay.

For all the times I have driven I-95, I have never had more than the most fleeting urge to check out this monument to American absurdity, a roadside attraction on the border of North and South Carolina with plastic animals bolted to pavement, giant sombreros, and tens of thousands of indoor square feet of party favors, plastic poop, giant sunglasses, glass dolphins, Jesus sculptures, and paper mache fruit. Billboards warn of its approach every half-mile starting from forty miles or so in either direction. Threats of its impending destruction (implosion?) have been made in recent years, so when Jeffery proposed that we make a movie there, I'm mostly game. Who knows if years down the road I'll be kicking myself for not having gone to see it when I had the chance? Hunter's brownies transform the whole ordeal from mere kitsch into a joke of grand proportions, or it would have been quickly intolerable. Instead, it becomes a scene of the essential absurdity of Americana, distant past and distant future at the same time, a horrifying representation of civilization's swift ascent/descent into the era of globalization and the tacky shit that suddenly we could decorate our world with for practically free.

I become something of a joke myself, when at some point I realize that I have been so busy filming with Mathew's camera I hadn't noticed mine disappear off of my arm. Mid-scene filming a musical interlude of Jeffery's, I recognize its absence and run out the door of Chinese-crap-mart to our last stops. Oh, there. On the ground, next to the four-lane road, at the feet of a giant gorilla that threatened to topple when I earlier climbed into its outstretched arms. Its bared teeth had obviously kept the few other passersby away, no doubt out of gratitude for our shared affections. Whew. The sun is now dropping quickly, so we know we have to get as high as possible over this place before it's too late.

I run back in the store and the others are finished with filming the future relics of garbage dumps not yet opened, so we journey onward toward the ten-story giant sombrero elevator to heaven. About halfway there it occurs to me that my cell phone is nowhere on my person, and vaguely recall hearing something thump on the ground when I had tried to mount a giant donkey in front of the last store. I'd looked around and not seen anything at the time, not even thinking to check my pockets, but when I run back to see if it's there, there lies the phone, open at its feet. Ha. These animals are obviously screwing with me. We walk on, into the store surrounding the base of the giant sombrero-vator, and buy four one dollar tickets to heaven. An old lady is the elevator operator, and she says she'll stay until we are ready to come down.

We arrive at the roof with all belongings apparently intact, in the center of the grand phallus mexicanus, the confetti-colored beacon atop the Empire State Building of the I-95. We run around the caged brim, watch a train travel next to the highway and far into the distance, and take loads of pictures while the alpenglow makes us all turn a deep pink. The wind is whipping so hard Hunter's hat flies off, and we all hold ours down tighter. Wait. Where is my hat? I scroll back through our pictures to see at what point it disappeared off my head. The old lady in the elevator tells me there's one on the floor. Luckily it doesn't stick.

The sombrero birds begin swirling around the hat brim, while we stand only a few feet above their outstretched wings. The highest point for miles and miles around, and noisy birds from every direction are all flying straight at us as the sun dropped below the horizon completely. Grand. I sleep the whole way home.

UPDATE: To witness the awesome power of SOB via YouTube (if you think you can handle it), go here to watch the intrepid tripvid produced, filmed, in-camera-edited, and soundtracked by my cohort Jeffery: SOUTH OF THE BORDER! I highly recommend that you click on the "more" below "About This Video." Also, please rate and comment if inspired to do so. Those prone to seizures are discouraged from viewing.

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