My Trip with Flip
A roadtrip with my old friend, Philip Willkie, January 5 to January 26, 2016. Not exactly Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, but fun, exciting, enlightening nonetheless. Phil picked me up at Love Field, Dallas and we went immediately to Dealey Plaza. Actually being there answered some of my questions about the Kennedy assassination (there’s no way someone could have shot from the Grassy Knoll and gotten away with it and wouldn’t Zapruder have flinched from the sound of a shot that close to him?), raised new ones (why didn’t Oswald shoot when the car was coming toward the Texas Book Depository when he would have had a much cleaner shot?), allowed me to shoot video from the same angle though one floor above where Oswald shot from, but still left me completely undecided about what really happened.
On to Houston and some great art shows – a revelatory Rothko show that clearly revealed how long it took Rothko to be come Rothko, a stunning Kehinde Wiley show with his magnificent portraits, still not loving his floriform backgrounds painted by assistants (Workshop of Kehinde Wiley?). Finally got to see the Rothko Chapel, a big disappointment, the Cy Twombly paintings next door are much more exciting.
Big Bend National Park, where I saw over a dozen species of birds I’d never seen before, though I had to return in May 2017 to see the Colima Warbler. Magnificent scenery and the “mighty” Rio Grande (o Rio Bravo, dependiendo de que lado de la frontera tú estés de pie). The truth is you can walk across the damn thing without getting your ankles wet. And people do and go right back to Mexico. I talked to an old guy who rode his horse across the river and went back home when he was done. There is no problem here. So FUCK Trump and his stupid useless wall and his xenophobia.
In Marfa, we stayed in the same hotel that James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson stayed in during the filming of Giant. I actually liked Donald Judd’s 130 identical steel and glass indoor boxes. His outdoor concrete boxes only look interesting from a distance, but seem dull and pointless up close.
White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns are mind-bogglingly beautiful. And I got to film in Monument Valley, just like fucking John Ford!
The final revelation was Chaco Canyon. There’s a thirty-mile dirt road to get in and we got lost leaving. I don’t drive very often and a stick shift even less often and Phil’s constant worrying that we would never find our way out as the sun set and it got darker and darker didn’t help, but we did end up exactly where we wanted to be in spite of everything. I wouldn’t call Chaco Canyon beautiful, it’s stark and empty, but has a transfixing sense of belonging to it. The buildings have a fierce beauty to them, They managed to build 5 story buildings from about the 8th to the 13th centuries with precisely cut stones and huge logs to support the upper floors. They used 200,000 logs and there’s not a tree with 200 miles of the place and how did they get them there? And what was the purpose of those inner rooms that are impossible to get to? Mysterious and inspirational.