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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Road Trip and TangentialThoughts

We were driving back from the Nowhere Else music festival in Ohio last weekend. One could go to  many tangential places, real and imagined, with that thought—where do you go when you are leaving Nowhere Else? But that’s too easy a prompt so I won’t go there. But we did take some tangents, at least in thoughts, along the way.

Of course we played music from a variety of the musicians we’d heard. But a car road trip is also a  particularly good location and time, conducive  to chatting and tangential thinking. Why else do so many movies and novels make use of the road trip to move the conversation and dialog along? 

Such plot devices and the movies and novels that utilize them would be a good topic of conversation if one ran out of thoughts. But we had no such dilemma. Close proximity, time, nothing to do but drive and talk. One idea just leads to another. Some are on straight lines, some are tangents.

We talked about the concert highlights, the songs and groups we’d particularly loved. The additional ones we wished we’d heard. How one song leads to thoughts of another  song or another musician. The brain seems to want to flow from tangent to tangent.

How interesting the Nowhere festival had combined art and music.  We contemplated how much fun it would have been to stay another day, join the nature walk with Linford, the song-writing workshop led by Joe Henry, the drawing workshops, and then stay for another afternoon and evening of music. Too bad we hadn’t planned for that extra day.

But there we were in the car heading home through Ohio to Kentucky. And we had our share of tangents of thought. We had seen a rainbow after the skies had cleared following Lucy Wainwright Roche’s performance during the thunderstorm. The last music festival we’d attended had been in Maui at World Whale Day. Maui is famous for spectacular rainbows and we’d made a habit of counting how many we’d seen. Rainbows in Ohio are no doubt rarer but obviously still occur given the right conditions and a little magic.

Which made us think of Joe Henry’s mention of magic at his recording studio in the basement of his home in California. He referred to his home as the “old Garfield house”. Neither of us knew anything about the Garfield house other than to assume he wasn’t talking about “Garfield the cat” of the comics. I speculated the Garfield to whom he referred was the actor John Garfield since houses in California often are named for the famous actors who built or lived in them. My spouse said he’d been thinking of  President James Garfield, though neither of us thought he’d had any connection to LA.

So, we consulted that miracle of modern life.  Even when you have just left nowhere and still aren’t anywhere, you can research almost anything. I typed in “Garfield house” and “Joe Henry’ studio” on my smart phone and learned my husband was closer to the right answer than I. 

The Garfield house, where Joe Henry’s magical studio is located, is so named for Lucretius Garfield, the widow of President James Garfield. The house owned by Joe Henry is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places and features a basement studio where a mind-bogglingly diverse collection of artists have recorded a dazzling array of hits.

If we were keeping score I’d have to give my spouse one point for making the President Garfield connection. But we weren’t keeping score, just passing the time and the miles.

At that point I’d looked up Joe Henry, his studio and the Garfield house. But somehow we circled back to John Garfield the actor, my wrong guess. John Garfield  has his own mind-boggling list of movies to his credit. 

My spouse suggested John Garfield was the actor who played Nick Romano in the Humphrey Bogart movie,  “Knock On Any Door”. I’d had the advantage of seeing a photo of John Garfield whose ruggedly handsome face was not the pretty boy actor who had played Nick—his  most memorable line was “Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse.” I would get one point if we were playing for points as it was John Derek, not John Garfield, who played Nick Romano; he who lives fast, dies young and leaves a good-looking corpse at the end of the movie.

We continued to chat about what we thought were some of the highlights of the festival. The unique blend of voices, different musicians and singers, each bringing something special to the day and evening. Birds of Chicago still resonated in our minds and the car stereo.  Then we changed to Over the Rhine and the Band of Sweethearts. Though we’ve heard them a number of times, they are always  a particular delight: the magical quality of Karin’s vocals blended with the mix of songs she and Linford have written and the solid musical performances of the entire group.

We found ourselves laughing about Karin’s encounter onstage with a June bug, one of a few large insects that had joined the celebration under the tent after dark. 

My spouse said he thought there was another name for this type of flying beetle that we’d used back in Missouri where we’d both grown up. Again I researched on my smart phone.  June bug, of course, is a cute name for a menacing-looking bug. I learned the so-called June bug is from the genus phyllophaga. I found lots of other names for June bugs, such as May bugs, New World Scarab beetles, and June beetles. But I could not find a name that rang in the hidden recesses of recognition from our Missouri childhoods. But it didn’t matter. 

June bug research also reminded us of the little  2005 movie of the same name, without the space between the two words. “Junebug”, and the rave reviews from critics like the now passed Roger Ebert,  propelled Amy Adams to the “A” list of actors. Thus, we were able to digress into Amy Adams movies, movies about insects and lots of other only tangentially-related topics. A great way to pass the miles and the time on a summer road trip.

If you happen to know any other names for June bugs, the insect not the movie, or grew up in Missouri and recall what name they were given in that part of the country, please add in the comments. Or share your own tangential thoughts. Happy road trips. 

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