On the road: the summer of me | AspenTimes.com

On the road: the summer of me

Barry SmithAspen, CO Colorado

Irrelativity is on the road as Barry tours his solo shows through the U.S. and Canada this summer. This dispatch is from Pleasanton, Calif.Im sitting in a little place called Super Burger in Pleasanton, Calif. Its 8 a.m. on Sunday. I generally wouldnt be up this early, but I had to get up before the repair shop opened so the mechanic wouldnt discover me sleeping in my van. Before me sits a truly horrible breakfast, so bad I didnt eat the hash browns. Things have to be bad for me to leave fried food on the plate. But Super Burger is the only thing open at 8 on a Sunday morning, at least within walking distance of the repair shop, where Im currently living. Im due in Fresno, about 150 miles away, later today for my last performance of this four-month tour, and as of this writing, Im not sure how Ill get there at this point it all depends on what the mechanic says.And yet, I cant help but think, This is the life.I mean, here I am, on tour, out on the open road, Kerouac with a Visa card and a MacBook, having adventures in garages all across North America, meeting mechanics and tow-truck drivers and Highway Patrol officers that Id usually never get to spend any time with, having uplifting conversations with AAA dispatchers, learning firsthand just how expensive a solenoid is, even though I still dont know exactly what one is and dont dare ask. Just buy the new one, put it on the card and focus on the air miles Im getting. And, between such adventures, I get to perform these little shows that people sometimes actually come to see.I wasnt exactly Mr. Sunny Side of the Street yesterday, as I cruised down I-580, bidding farewell to my lightly attended one-night performance in San Francisco, trying to focus on the greener pastures of Fresno, when my van just up and decided, once again, to stop running. Didnt I just spend a whole lot of money in Calgary so that this wouldnt happen again? Maybe, since it was in Canadian dollars, the repair was only good for Canada? I coast to the side of the freeway and wait for the adrenaline to leave my body.I pull out the video camera, as Ive been doing all summer, point it at myself and begin talking into it.Well, here I am, broken down, again. Theres the highway, heres me, here I am. Thats about it I could just as easily have lifted that bit of video from various spots of the footage Ive shot all summer me, with the camera pointing at myself, talking about being broken down somewhere. Not exactly the captivating, behind-the-scenes stuff I was hoping for, but its hard to be your own documentary crew. Im hoping that my friend and collaborator Arman can make something cool out of these 45 (!) hours of footage Ive shot this summer. Somehow I managed to talk him into editing my rough footage into something watchable. I remember him saying, If the van breaks down, you have to keep the camera running. All summer, Ive been mailing him the tapes as I fill them with exciting footage of me handing out fliers and taping up posters and, yes, with the van broken down. He, in turn, has probably spent the summer reassessing his friendship with me.Maybe theres something good on those tapes. Maybe Arman can find a story there somewhere, something interesting about this summer easily the most memorable of my life and maybe next year, I can tour the country playing the finished film, along with a slide show of me making the film, and then I can do a Q&A afterward, talking about me making the film about me while I toured Canada performing shows about other me-centric things Ive done.Me, me, me. Jesus, this has been the summer of me. I think I might have had enough me for a while. I sincerely hope so. For my sake.Too early to think about all this, though. Still have one more show to do. Just one more, so very close, so very dependent on a skilled and honest mechanic to get my jalopy running, just enough so that I can limp home, take a nap, enjoy some pre-snow time in the mountains, then start thinking about whats next.Anybody in the market for a used van? Its got character


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