Monthly Archives: June 2011

Delta, Iota, Epsilon….Delta

Best Experienced With:    Noah and the Whale;    L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N

(Please right click on the link below to open the suggested background music to this morning’s examination of how to not handle poor customer experiences)


Below is the letter I sent to Delta Airlines this morning in response to their form email asking for feedback on my “delayed” flight from Memphis to Minneapolis on June 23, 2011.

Dear Daniel C,We are very sorry that your flight was delayed on June 23, 2011. Your feedback on this experience is important to us. We ask that you please provide feedback on your experience using the survey at the link below. The survey is between 4 and 12 questions, targeting your specific circumstances, and should only take a couple of minutes to complete. We thank you in advance for your feedback and again offer our deepest apologies for this inconvenience.

Dear Delta:

You just sent me another survey saying:  “We are very sorry that your flight was delayed on June 23, 2011. Your feedback on this experience is important to us”.  Thanks for asking how my flight 2275 from Memphis to Minnesota went last week!    Saying my flight was simply “delayed” is like saying the Cleveland Cavaliers “didn’t have a great season” last year.    Both descriptors vastly understate the awfulness that was last year’s Cleveland hoop team or my extra time spent in Minneapolis last Thursday.

“Delayed” would mean I got home Thursday night as planned and did not have to reschedule and miss several Friday meetings.  My trip back to San Diego was “really, really, really, really really, super delayed” because instead of walking into my house at 7:45 p.m. Thursday evening, I walked into my house at 3:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon.    To put this in perspective, that’s the expected life of a Mayfly.

In a perfect world, my flight would have gone like this:

Flight: Delta 2275
Departs: 1:50 pm from Memphis, Tennessee
Arrives: 3:56 pm at Minneapolis – St Paul, Minnesota
Seats: 03C
Meals: Refreshments
Gate: See Airport Monitors
Flight: Delta 1787
Departs: 5:05 pm from Minneapolis – St Paul, Minnesota
Arrives: 6:52 pm at San Diego, California
Meals: View menu options
Gate: See Airport Monitors

Instead, it went precisely like this:

11:30 a.m.:  I arrive at Memphis airport and check my bag.   I always check my bag because you have these wonderful, large baggage storage areas under the place where I sit every day.   Furthermore, I believe in a fast boarding process and those with carryon luggage tend to slow down the throughput.    Finally, I check a bag because I am often gone for four or five nights and I bring along several suits.   I have a lot of suits and enjoy wearing all of them, wrinkle free.   Those tiny carryon bags will mess your suit up if you wear a size 50 suit.   FYI.

12:40 p.m.:    Flight shows that it will now leave Memphis at 2:25 p.m. instead of 1:50

12:42 p.m.:    Noticing there are several flights from Memphis to Detroit, Salt Lake City, and Cincinnati available, I ask the gate agent if she really believes we will leave at 2:25.   My connect was one hour with the 1:50 departure.    Gate agent assures me I will have plenty of time to connect in Minneapolis.    I ask what the load looks like on the 9:55 p.m. from Minneapolis to SAN and she says “over sold”.     I ask again if, since we have other opportunities to get me home, perhaps we should reroute me.   Also explained that I would willingly give up my upgrade and sit in a middle seat on a rerouted flight because I had been travelling all week, each week, for the previous month and very much wanted to get home Thursday night.    She assures me that we will be fully boarded and taxiing at 2:26.

Looking at the group in the boarding lobby, I pointed out the group of fifty or so high schoolers and bet her twenty dollars that we would not be boarded until 2:45 and there was no way I would make my 5:05.   Once again I requested to go a different route home.   She said that she could not put me on a different flight because the Memphis to Minneapolis one still showed that I could make my connection.

2:10 p.m.:  We begin boarding

2:45 p.m.:  We finish boarding (kids slowed us down significantly)

2:55 p.m.:  We take off

4:52 p.m.:  We land

5:03 p.m.:  I walk off plane to see that I have missed my 5:05 p.m. flight home.

5:10 p.m.:  I head to Sky Club and discuss my options with a very nice woman working the front desk there.    She explains that there is no way I will get on the 9:55 p.m. flight home and that she will put me on standby for both the 9:20 a.m. and 11:18 a.m. on Friday.   Further, she calls immediately and puts a note in the record to pull my bag.   She suggests I wait for an hour and then go pick up my bag.   She also gives me a bag of toiletries in the event anything goes awry.     As I leave she assures me that since my flight landed only ten minutes ago, Delta would be able to get my bag to me on baggage carousel six.

6:20 p.m.    My bag is not on baggage carrousel six or anywhere near the baggage area. After a twenty minute wait in line at baggage services near baggage carrousel six, I get to the front of the line.   Below is the exchange:

Me:  “Hello, the woman up at the Sky Club requested my bag get pulled because do to your flight being late from ATL to MEM, I missed my 5:05 flight from MIN to SAN.”

Her:  “Your bag is not down here”

Me:  “That is very clear to me.   Were my bag here, I’d be in a taxi heading to a hotel instead of having this wonderful conversation with you.   I waited in line specifically to ask you if perhaps you could find where my bag is and when it might get to here.”

Her:  (sighs) “I guess I can call someone”.   Calls.   Talks for a bit.   Asks what the other person’s last name is, then asks how the other person’s mother is.   They have a nice conversation for a few minutes while I wait.   None of the conversation has anything remotely to do with the two of them solving my bag challenge.

Her: “They say they it will probably be here in 20 minutes, so you should wait 20 minutes”

Me:  “Wait 20 minutes and then get back in the 15 minute line…or wait 5 minutes and then get in the 15 minute line…or stay right here in front of you for the next 20 minutes?   Can you please be more precise?”

Her:   “Well, I’m getting off work right now so you will have to wait in line again”

Me:  “What are the odds they are going to get my bag to me?”

Her:  “What do you mean?  I can’t tell you if they can find your bag”

Me:  “In other word, if you have 100 people in this exact same situation, of that 100 people, how many folks would actually have a bag show up here at baggage carosell six?”

Her:  “Ten”

Me:  “OK, so in the future, if you get that same question, the answer is ‘the odds are 10% that you will get your bag.’   Or, you could say ‘one in ten’”   Both would be an accurate answer to my question ‘what are the odds’.   Does that make sense to you?”

Her:  “Sir, I have to leave”

Me:  “Not yet.    May I please have the name and number of the person you called so that I can call them after you leave and see if they found my bag?   Otherwise, I will just get in a cab right now and leave.”

Her:  “Sir, you can give me your number and I will call them.   I cannot give you that number.”

Me:  “But you’re leaving”

Her:  “Someone else will call and then call you.”

Me:  “Here’s my card.   Now, please walk me through the process and how it is going to unfold.    Who will be calling who in how many minutes and then when will they call my cell?   Please bring that person to me so that I can meet them and get verification that they are going to call me when you leave.    Want to make sure we are all on the same page.

Her: “Let me get my supervisor”

She goes and gets her supervisor.     I once again explain what the woman in the Sky Club told me to do and ask if perhaps I can leave, go to a hotel, and they can bring me my bag so that I do not have to sit in the airport any longer.

Supervisor:  “We only deliver bags that we lose to homes or hotels.”

Me:  “Well, clearly you have lost my bag”

Supervisor:  “Sir, your bag is not lost.”

Me:  “Oh, good!   Well, please tell me precisely where it is, I will go get it and then I can change out of this suit when I get to the hotel.   I’ve been in this suit for twelve hours and would like to throw on some shorts.   This is great news.   My bag is not lost!”

Supervisor:  “Sir, you know that is not what I meant.    I will personally call you in twenty minutes and see what we can do.”

Me:  “Well, it’s been twenty minutes already, so how about you call right now?”

Supervisor:  “Please go wait over there, there is a line behind you.”

Me:  “You’re going to call that person and then call me in twenty minutes?

Supervisor:  “Yes, Mr. Mulligan”

Me:  “Thank you”

7:20 p.m.    Supervisor and first woman to whom I spoke disappear, never to be seen or heard from again.

At 7:30 p.m., realizing my bag was never showing up, I left and found a cab.  Had the cab take me to a Walgreen’s where I bought a blue three dollar tee shirt, a brush and some hair product.   I did not buy toothpaste because I thought there would be toothpaste in the little bag that your folks gave me.    Then, at 11:00 p.m., I was standing there in my blue Walgreen’s tee shirt looking at the toothpasteless bag of toiletries wondering why the heck Delta would enclose a small plastic bag of clothes detergent, yet no toothpaste.

If you miss a flight, you have between eight and ten hours to sleep and such before heading back to the airport.    How can you possibly hand wash and dry something in a hotel sink in that time period?   Is there some sort of quick dry material that I am unaware of?  If so, please email me a link to this material because I will wear a suit, socks, shirt, and underwear of that quick dry material the next time I fly and avail myself of your small plastic bag of laundry detergent when you get me stuck somewhere again.

Back to the toothpaste.   Or lack thereof.    If you recall, I was standing at the sink in my blue Walgreen’s three dollar tee shirt looking down at my dry Delta toothbrush.    In case you want the full visual there is a script “Minnesota!” on the front, underlined across the entire word.   My suit and blue dress shirt were in the bathroom where I had steamed them somewhat to remove the travel scents.     Thus, they were somewhat moist.   I threw the suit and shirts back on, put on my dress shoes and walked down to the front desk of the hotel to get some toothpaste.

Given that I have flown over 100,000 miles on Delta virtually every year for the past eighteen, figured you would want to get a very precise answer to your question “how did we take care of you when we made you miss your connection in Minneapolis and then could not get you on the next flight that evening”?    None of multiple choice answers on the emailed survey truly captured the twenty wasted hours of my life.

Most of us that have challenges flying each week forget about them when we get back home.    It’s like childbirth, I would imagine, although I never procreated.   My sisters all have children, though, as do most of my friends.

You should fire the genius who thought it was a good idea to send an email two days later reminding us of the awful experience we had.    The only reason I am sending you this is an email popped into my box asking “how did we do”.    How about you take me off of that “how did we do” email push when you mess up my travel?   I’d rather forget about it and think about next week’s adventures.   Attached to this letter you will find the other twenty-six surveys I have received since January 1, 2011 asking me to explain how my experience was after a “delayed” flight.     That’s one per week, on average.

Finally, through June 24th this year, you have gotten me home late half of the weeks I have flown.   Half.    While that type of batting average might get you into Cooperstown, it’s not a strong average for getting me home after a long week.    That’s how my experience was.

How was your week?

Best Regards,

Dan Mulligan

Diamond Medallion by August, 2011 (at 113,000 miles for 2011 through today)

Million Miler

PS:  That gate agent in Memphis owes me twenty bucks


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Dead Poet (singular) Society

Best Experienced With:          Deer Tick;     Art Isn’t Real

(Please right click on the link below to open the suggested background song to this evening’s treatise.     Stand on your desk and sing loudly and proudly “I know of a city of sin……and that’s the place I want to meet you in”.  Indeed.   That’s another damn fine song.)

Mr. Walt Whitman never just went through the motions…….

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills; 10
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


Respectfully Yours,



The Dotted Line

Good night

I miss you, too


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Raptor Jesus, Olin & The Moon, (ampersand) Trigonometry

Best Experienced With:          Olin & The Moon;   Terrible Town

(Please right click on the link below to open the suggested background music to this evening’s examination of dino Jesus and maff.   And if you live in So Cal, go see Olin live some time.    And if you live elsewhere, go to iTunes and download their music and then buy me a beer sometime.   You are welcome.)

We hate being quiet, we’d rather be loud.      Amen.


I’m going to go with……forty-two.    Yep……42.      It’s always forty-two.

With a hat trick in Pulitzer Prizes…….Mr. Carl Sandburg, with more maff.

Arithmetic:    Carl Sandburg; 1878-1967

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win if you know how
many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven — or five
six bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand
to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and
you can look out of the window and see the blue sky — or the
answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again
and see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then
double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger
and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you
what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have to multiply — and you carry the
multiplication table in your head and hope you won’t lose it.
If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you
eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the
other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody
offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say
Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?
If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she
gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is
better in arithmetic, you or your mother?

And they can all go to hell.     That’s a good tune.

You are welcome.   Thanks for joining this evening for Raptor Jesus Night.      Come back soon.


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A Letter To Oliver Kloseov…..on love and marriage




Best Experienced With:          Dire Straits;         Romeo and Juliet

( Please right click on the link below to open the suggested background music to this evening’s treatise in a new browser window.   An open letter to a good friend’s question on a successful marriage, set to one of the finest love songs ever.  The eternal question….. “You and me babe, how about it? ”    Indeed.)

Some folks choose to surround themselves with attractive people as bait fish and others surround themselves with troll-like looking people to make their beauty shine through.    Some choose to surround themselves with sycophants in an attempt to avoid intelligent debate and still others surround themselves with contrarians to keep the conversation lively.   I choose to surround myself with ridiculously smart people because ridiculously people have the best stories.   Smart people are also a free source for “word of the day”.

Had the good fortune to meet one of these ridiculously smart folks years ago at a job that we will blind here as Acme Anvil Company…the only place Wiley-E-Coyote will purchase anvils.    This gentleman, further blinded with his pseudonym Oliver Kloseov, and I often worked late at the Acme Anvil Company Dallas office and we had tended to have very robust conversations about business and relationships.   I recall one late evening when he asked “are all women crazy” and I replied (very misogynistically) “yes they are…however if you look at it as a graph of craziness versus your love of them, you can determine the line of diminishing returns and make the correct decisions based upon the data”.     Older and wiser these days, I would like to recant that answer and modify it.    All 6.7B of us are crazy and the same graph holds true for men and women.

Oliver K, seriously overqualified and underappreciated in his position at Acme Anvil Company left there and got a full ride to Penn’s Wharton School.  He has since carved out a fantastic space for himself in this world.   A space I watch with great interest and zero creepiness through Facebook each month because when I write, several faces always come to mind.  One of the faces always present is Mr. Oliver Kloseov.  If I can make him think and if I can make him laugh, then I have most certainly nailed down the far, far, far right tail on a Gaussian distribution.   That tail is the true target audience for Mind of Mully (classic) and Mind of Mully Biz Haus Shoppe.

Read a Facebook message from Oliver K last week which, among other things, asked; “What are the most important things you think for success in a marriage? We got the disagree, talk, and hug part down…”    Clearly, they have seventy percent of the secret to a successful marriage nailed down with the “disagree, talk, hug it out” offense.      The open letter to Oliver Kloseov below is one man’s opinion on the remaining thirty percent.    A man who choose to remain blissfully single until thirty-eight, and remains blissfully single again.   A man who lives with five cats.

A man whose best friends from college, three sisters, and mom/dad remain happily married decades after saying “I do”.  I am the Joe Buck of marriage…a student and rabid fan of the game, yet a non-player of the game.    While this letter is for Oliver K and his beloved, the rest of you are welcome to read along.   Later on there will be a bonfire, marshmallows and a sing-along to Olivia Newton John.    Let’s begin.

Dear Oliver Kloseov,

You found someone to hang with forever and ever and ever!     Fantastic!    That leaves just one of us to continue the offense of hanging out in random psychologist offices, looking for our personal version of Natalie Portman’s Samantha character from the movie Garden State.   You have my word that I will remain holding the torch in that quest and will continue the pursuit in perpetuity.    It is a quest I intend to pursue with great vigor and intensity.

Very much looking forward to seeing you again and meeting your betrothed on August 27th.    It’s been far too long since we have laughed like hyenas together.    Pescadero, California looks like a most excellent location for a wedding!    I am going to bring a guitar along on the train ride, mostly to busker for tips along the way, but also so that on one of the evenings we can croon together at Duarte’s there on the main drag in Pescadero.    We are going to sing the song you cued up there above for your fiancé/wife (depends upon which day we take over Duarte’s and sing this lovely song to her).

Pescadero!   Mostly white painted buildings, dating back to the wreck of the ship Carrier Pigeon in 1853 when the Pescadero townsfolk recovered white paint from the Carrier Pigeon wreck and put the shite paint to good use.    Forty-one years after the Carrier Pigeon shipwreck, in 1894, Duarte’s was founded when Frank Duarte bought a barrel of whiskey over in Santa Cruz and dragged it on back to Pescadero and sold glasses of whiskey for a dime.    Am certain that all 643 permanent Pescadero residents, as well as everyone joining you two for your nuptials will truly enjoy drinking more pricey whiskey at Duarte’s when we sign this song to your beautiful fiancé/wife (depends upon which day we take over Duarte’s and sing this lovely song to her).

In the event I am unable to learn to play a B chord by the end of August, we also might sing her Use Somebody by Kings of Leon.   Let’s play it by ear and you choose when we get to Duarte’s?

It has, indeed, been far too long and despite the years and the distance, I remain tickled pink that we have stayed in touch.    Mostly because you are the type of person who would ask a friend to opine on “what are the most important things you think for success in a marriage?”   Before weddings, most folks are all wrapped up in seating arrangements and center piece selection.    You are reaching out to friends and asking their opinion on the keys to a successful marriage.  (clapclapclapclapclap)

The answer to “what are the most important things you think for success in a marriage?” is as follows.

Everything you need to know about being a great partner in a marriage, all the things critical to success in a marriage can be garnered by carefully examining roles and characters played by Brad Pitt.    Brad Pitt characters and, of course……… Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki Tikki Tavi .

Avoid acting like any of these Brad Pitt characters while married:

  • Louis de Point du Lac from Interview with a Vampire
  • Jeffrey Goines from Twelve Monkeys
  • Chad Feldheimer from Burn After Reading
  • The preppy guy in Less Than Zero
  • Early Grayce from Kalifornia
  • Floyd from True Romance
  • Patch Boomhauer from that episode of King of the Hill
  • Heinrich Harrer from Seven Years in Tibet

As often as possible, act like any of these brad Pitt characters while married:

  • Tristan from Legends of the Fall
  • Joe Black from Meet Joe Black
  • Achilles from Troy
  • Benjamin Button in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Aldo Raine from Inglourious Basterds
  • Floyd from True Romance
  • Rusty Ryan from Ocean’s Eleven
  • Rusty Ryan from Ocean’s Twelve
  • Rusty Ryan from Ocean’s Thirteen
  • Rusty Ryan….in general

See?    Everything you need to know about being a great partner in a marriage, all the things critical to success in a marriage can be garnered by carefully examining Brad Pitt characters.   Yes, the Floyd character was supposed to be on both lists.  Mostly because Floyd is my favorite Brad Pitt character of all time.  Joe Black may seem like he would fit into the first grouping, being Death and all; however, Joe had a deep fascination with understanding love and asked wonderful “love” questions throughout Meet Joe Black    When Joe Black asked Quince how he knew Alison loved him, Quince replied; “Because she knows the worst thing about me and it’s okay.”     That is one hell of a great answer.

Brad Pitt theorem is proved and closed.  And what of Rudyard Kipling and Rikki Tikki Tavi?     You could substitute “ great husband” or “ great wife” for “man my son” at the end of Mr. Kipling’s most famous poem, If.    That’s one hell of a great poem, explaining a solid offense for a successful marriage.    It’s not Rikki Tikki Tavi, but it is one hell of a great poem.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

While “If” is a fine Rudyard Kipling work and does define the things necessary for a successful marriage, the best Kipling example of successful marriage can be found byclosely examining the mongoose Rikki Tikki in Rikki Tikki Tavi.   Refresher.    Rikki Tikki was washed out of his house by a flood, ended up close to death near a family ’s home in India.    Man and boy (Teddy) find Rikki, nurse him back to health, and adopt Rikki Tikki.  Rikki kills one cobra (Nag) and makes that cobra’s wife (Nagaina) and enemy for life.

If you cue up the You Tube video below when you finish reading your letter, fast forward it to precisely 3:36 into the video and watch it until 6:03.    The boy sitting at the table at the beginning?   That’s your relationship/marriage.     Rikki Tikki is you.  Nagaina is anything that gets in the way of you two having a ridiculously successful marriage.

As you two roll through the next four or five decades as a married couple, please mentally picture that mongoose jumping up and down, making that chirping sound, and fluffing out his tail to make it look bigger and then attacking whenever anyone or anything gets in the way of your marriage.    Nagaina might come in the form of your pride, your job, old friends who don’t fit into your new chosen path….there are many Nagainas.    Kill them quickly.    And if you leap straight into the air and make that chirping sound, that will add to the entertainment value.   Exponentially.

Brad Pitt, Rikki Tikki, and, as I texted you last week, Nekked Saturdays.   Because all the good things contained in this letter can be undone in a heartbeat if you fail to make the time for Nekked Saturdays every month for the next three thousand months.      Keep that in mind.   See you at the end of August.

All my best,




Stuck around for the bonfire, marshmallows, and sing-along, did you?    Grab a carpet square and find a pointy stick.    The sing-along will be to Olivia Newton John’s “I Honestly Love You”.    For twenty-five years, I have waited to see someone up on the altar grab the microphone from the pastor or officiator at a wedding and start belting out this tune.    I may get married for a weekend just to cross that off my list.

Olivia Newton John’s “I Honestly Love You”

Hey look….someone brought a doggy.     Someone get the doggy a marshmallow…brown it nicely.


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Jack Kerouac, Van Morrison, & Hunter S. Thompson


Best Experienced With:          Van Morrison;      Why Must I Always Explain

 (Please right click on the link below to open the suggested background music for this evening’s hat trick homage in a new browser window)

There’s a certain amount of righteous indignation, cautious irony, and emotional hypocrisy to Jack Kerouac, Van Morrison, and Hunter S. Thompson.                Together, they create a beautiful, sacred hat trick

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”  (Jack Kerouac)

“I’d been pouring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months, even reading books about the pioneers and savoring names like Platte and Cimarron and so on, and on the road-map was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I’ll just stay on all the way to Ely, I said to myself and confidently started. To get to 6 I had to go up to Bear Mountain. Filled with dreams of what I’d do in Chicago, in Denver, and then finally in San Fran, I took the Seventh Avenue Subway to the end of the line at 242nd Street, and there took a trolley into Yonkers; in downtown Yonkers I transferred to an outgoing trolley and went to the city limits on the east bank of the Hudson River. If you drop a rose in the Hudson River at its mysterious source in the Adirondacks, think of all the places it journeys as it goes to sea forever — think of that wonderful Hudson Valley. I started hitching up the thing. Five scattered rides took me to the desired Bear Mountain Bridge, where Route 6 arched in from New England. It began to rain in torrents when I was let off there. It was mountainous. Route 6 came over the river, wound around a traffic circle, and disappeared into the wilderness. Not only was there no traffic but the rain come down in buckets and I had no shelter. I had to run under some pines to take cover; this did no good; I began crying and swearing and socking myself on the head for being such a damn fool. I was forty miles north of New York; all the way up I’d been worried about the fact that on this, my big opening day, I was only moving north instead of the so-longed for west. Now I was stuck on my northernmost hang-up. I ran a quarter-mile to an abandoned cute English-style filling station and stood under the dripping eaves. High up over my head the great hairy Bear Mountain sent down thunderclaps that put the fear of God in me. All I could see were smoky trees and dismal wilderness rising to the skies. “What the hell am I doing up here?” I cursed, I cried for Chicago. “Even now they’re all having a big time, they’re doing this, I’m not there, when will I get there!” — and so on. Finally a car stopped at the empty filling station; the man and the two women in it wanted to study a map. I stepped right up and gestured in the rain; they consulted; I looked like a maniac, of course, with my hair all wet, my shoes sopping. My shoes, damn fool that I am, were Mexican huaraches, plantlike sieves not fit for the rainy night of America and the raw road night. But the people let me in and rode me back to Newburgh, which I accepted as a better alternative than being trapped in the Bear Mountain wilderness all night. “Besides,” said the man, “there’s no traffic passes through 6. If you want to go to Chicago you’d be better going across the Holland Tunnel in New York and head for Pittsburgh,” and I knew he was right. It was my dream that screwed up, the stupid hearthside idea that it would be wonderful to follow one great red line across America instead of trying various roads and routes.
In Newburgh it had stopped raining. I walked down to the river and I had to ride back to New York in a bus with a delegation of schoolteachers coming back from a weekend in the mountains — chatter chatter blah-blah, and me swearing for all the time and money I’d wasted, and telling myself, I wanted to go west and here I’d been all day and into the night going up and down, north and south, like something that can’t get started.”

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