Big, dumb and broad, USA 1988-92

Many years ago I set forth on a voyage, apparently in the trail left by the great American explorers Lewis and Clarke. Unfortunately I’d never heard of them, and being 1988 and pre-Google, I just had to assume they were some sort of distant relatives of Burke and Wills. Well, you know what they say about assumptions. And relatives.

I always thought I would eventually pen a galloping, classic tale about my great US journeys in which I touched the soil of 42 states (and Canada and Mexico). East to West, West to South, South to North, Coast to Coast and everywhere in between. From New York to Seattle, to the tip of Key West and back. Or if you’re a fan of the 1970’s disco era, “From LA to New York, from New York to LA… hey hey…” (Yes I did consider leaving that line out.)

But lets face it, fast forward 25 years and almost everyone I know has either been to the US, is from the US, or is actually currently in the US, so I’d hardly be describing sites unseen. Vegas? Golden Gate Bridge? Central Park? You’ve been there and done that. No, it was a great time, but it was my time, and most of it would be as exciting to others as a slide night after a trip to the dentist.

However all is not lost. What I did gain was a unique insight into the lives of everyday people. I met America’s rich and poor, black and white, cheerful and tragic, and discovered I was not only green by name, but green by nature. You don’t get to share a can of soup and swap stories in the dug-out of a tee-pee with a guy straight out of prison when your staying at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

tpMike had been living in this tee-pee at a campground since his release from prison. I thought his patriotic display was admirable given he’d been a guest of the state for several years prior.

So what I will write about over the coming weeks and months is these people and some of the situations I found myself in through that time, as they come to mind. I’ll try to weave a central narrative, which is just writers speak for “keeping it real”, but we’re talking life, death, and a few scary moments somewhere in between that I still think about occasionally to this day.

Sort of like an ’80s version of Louis Theroux, but shorter, and with a mullet.

In the meantime, here’s a snap of the shopfront of my dentist…


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