The Road Between Oxford, Mississippi, and Grand Bay, Alabama
Jack Is Thinking About a Guy Who Talked a Lot in a Bar
Jack Was Drinking Tea Instead of Alcohol
But boy, I mean, never has drinking—never has the appeal of drinking been so… in such sharp relief for me.
Here I am drinking hot tea…
This is why people drink in bars…
Because, ehhuhhrrh, the jabbering becomes—the jabbering produced by the alcohol becomes more tolerable if you are… either a jabberer such as I am, or a soulful monk… like Frankie Gun, who just lets the jabber soak in like a sweet, sweet wine. [Laughter.] What? No. Lets the jabber soak in like the vinegar on the sponge served to Christ on the cross. There you go. How do you like that?
Vinegar on a sponge.
I remember in Sunday school, somebody said, yuh-wuh-wuh-yuh, you know, I grew up Southern Baptist. That was my learning. And… we spent a lotta time really worrying about things like… I remember someone saying that no, that was not vinegar. They didn’t, they didn’t—someone was trying to be nice to Jesus. They, that, that, that word “vinegar” has the same root word as “wine” in the original, uhhhhhhh, Greek, or whatever language that particular testament was written in. Uh… weren’t all the gospels written in Greek?
[Road roar. Sniff. Road roar. Road bump. Road roar.]
“This… this vinegar on a sponge was really some… nice grape juice. They were tryin’ to be nice to Jesus, really.” Which is a strange thing to remember, because the cruelty of the crucifixion, of course, was enormous, and the—one of the main focuses of our constant meditation.
I’m passing a giant cross as I speak these words.
Uhhhhhhhhhhh, not a, not the nicest cross I’ve ever seen. And it’s in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express. A gigantic aluminum cross with a… kind of a roof on it, like a [short laugh] birdhouse. I know it’s not a birdhouse. It’s, it’s gigantic. I mean you know, I, I, a, a, an egret could… are egrets huge? [Short laugh.] An ostrich! [Laughter.] A, a, a, a condor! Could live in that. If it were a birdhouse. It had sort of a little peaked roof on the top and it was—seemed to be made of perhaps aluminum, and it seemed to be in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express, over which it towered.
Hello! Uh… the… I filled up the recorder. I don’t know how much time I have. I’ve deleted a few old recordings. Uh… that’s why I suddenly… well, you don’t know that I was suddenly cut off.
I was just listening to a Christian slant on today’s news.
I had to stop and pee in the woods!
I… scampered across the highway, and… there was just no help for it. And, uhm, over a ditch filled with sludge and into briars and brush and, uh… there I stood. And suddenly I realized I was aiming toward a secluded cabin! Th—a—unh—ramshackle… a shambolic… cabin. Who knows if some… fanciful [laughter] uh, backwoodsman of yore was peeping through his tattered curtains?
But no incident occurred. I made it back across the road safely.
Here’s someone selling fresh eggs.
That’s a… quite a… quite a chicken they have. Not a… not a real chicken, a… a m—metal chicken.
On TCM the other night they were showing the old Disney live-action movie The Incredible Journey, which is about a cat and a couple of dogs making their way across the Canadian wilderness, and…
A domestic cat. And domestic dogs.
And I was, you know, I wanted to change channels, but I couldn’t stop watching it, and I thought, well, there’s… I mean Disney was dead by this point, but the Disney company, or any good… company… uh, any good maker of, of visual entertainment… uhh… they give you something you wanna see that you didn’t know you wanted to see! Like a cat jumping across rocks! In a river! A housecat jumping across river rocks. I didn’t know I wanted to see that! But I really did.
I kept watching it even when they, you know, obviously forced the cat to fall into the river and be swept away, and the dog jumps in and tries to save the cat, all of which I know was phony and, uh… you know, sentimental, and wrong in so many ways, and perhaps, you know, “Okay! We need the other cat. Uh, we lost cat number one.”
I’m not—I hope that’s not true. I don’t know what the animal rights situation was with the, with whatever the SPCA was doing for movie animals at that time.
But that cat was really goin’ down that river!
I mean I’m pretty sure.
Then the two noble dogs wait patiently for the cat to return. “Surely the clever cat…” The narrator says somethin’ like that. “Surely the clever cat would find his way back. He was their good friend.” [Laughter.] You know.
And then, uh, then the dogs wait patiently and the one dog really looks like, “Hey. When’s that cat comin’ back?” [Laughter.] He’s got a real… real intense… he’s the Marlon Brando of, of dog actors.
Not the Marlon Brando! More like Paul Muni. [Short laugh.] I don’t know. No, more like, uh, who’s… not like either one of those guys? He was the—like, uh, you know, Tyrone Power. Th—that’s good. He’s the Tyrone Power of dog actors. And the reason I say [stifled laugh] Tyrone Power… I don’t know why I say Tyrone Power. Except that Tyrone Power was never far from… being Tyrone Power. And this dog was obviously not playing another kind of dog or anything. He was just being himself, I guess! He was just a super-intense… dog.
When the recorder stopped working I was just flipping around on the radio. There was Huey Lewis. You know, I would not ordinarily listen to Huey Lewis, but I was… uh… you know, I was… in… at the mercy of this radio, and, uhhhhh… and I was thinking, “Yes! The heart…” He’s saying, “The heart of rock and roll is still beating,” and from what he’s seen, he believes it.
I was saying this out loud: “Hmm! He makes a good case.” [Laughter.] Uh, mmm! Is that anecdotal evidence? Because he’s only naming certain cities where he’s seen, uh… heard people playing rock and roll… Mmm.
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Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.