In December 2013, secretly riddled with terminal cancer but in stridently active denial, Michele St. Pierre rode with Richard Finegold down Interstate 5 toward Southern California to visit her mother. As I write this today, in 2015 (from a booth in the corner of Roseburg, Oregon’s Elmer’s Restaurant), I am retracing a large portion of their trip (to the tune of about 1,500 miles) while reconstructing circumstances surrounding her death (and its immediate, violent aftermath). It has given me vivid recollections of this trip’s meaning… a meaning I discovered in 2006 and republish here, in honor of Michele’s memory.
The Hubcap Diamond Star Halo
I spent more than 14 hours behind the wheel the last few days.
Driving interstate in America invokes poetry. The popular artists of my generation were those on whose watch, and under whose influence, occurred the near fatal wounding of our culture. Nevertheless, there was an almost universal recognition among them of a kind of magic they all experienced on our great highways, observing the home of the brave as it passed beneath their floorboards, borne forward on wheels empowered by the energy of abundant “fossil” fuels.
America the Beautiful. Accessible to every man. The fruits of a nation’s freedom on display like a giant cultural buffet as we drove by, engines humming.
Bob Dylan fashioned the American Highway into a metaphor for desperation, sacrifice, opportunity, and enterprise in his great Highway 61 Revisited. And from the casual, easy hedonism of the Beach Boys’ car songs through Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild, to the Doors’ eternal Moonlight Drive toward Death there was a constant refrain in our music about the American soft parade of powerful cars, travel, and mystical roadways. We are in such constant movement that our meeting places are, themselves, part of our roads to somewhere else. It is a niche in the American psyche.
I sped south on I-5 behind a twenty-something, cowboy hatted youth in a red CRX with a “War IS Terrorism” bumper sticker. His car, however, didn’t display the second half of that proverb, the necessary corollary: “Surrender Rules!” I assume he was ignorant of that inevitable conclusion to which the Left continually leads us. It is identical to the orthodoxy of the Republican Left: appeasement and compromise as the road to success. The Democrats call it “Peace.” The RINOs call it “Unity.” They’re both wrong. Thankfully, his driving was far superior to his thinking and we flew past Boeing Field, Tacoma, and on towards Thurston County, tracking like lasers past the “anti-destination league” vehicles, easily exceeding, despite our haste, 30 MPG.
Feeling the overwhelming pulse of technology and horsepower on the American road is like standing near the ocean or near the runway roar at a modern airport, a thing of masculine beauty from which the UN mindset cowers.
It was in the early 1970s that the American Communist Movement turned its attention from an “anti-war” to an “anti-enterprise” focus and invented “Environmentalism,” that creative hybrid of paganism, socialism, and junk science. It was meant to destroy us. For more than thirty years, by their dominance of public education and the old media, they have advanced. They daily labor to “get us out of our cars,” and curtail the engines of our prosperity. And well they should, for the Great American Highway is the cardiopulmonary system of American Liberty. It is power and freedom that continually breaks the shackles from our limbs and fuels our growth. The American Automobile is Independence. Mass Transit is the holy grail of the collectivist, a political shrine for the liberal, the “progressive,” the Marxist.
“Environmentalism” depends, for its success, on a kind of mass ghetto hypnotism. It requires mental images of an imaginary world: one almost entirely covered by pavement and tall buildings. That delusion can only be peddled to those sheltered citizens who never escape the city. But a drive down Interstate 5 is an instant antidote to that mystical spell. Although it connects, in series, the great population centers of the West Coast, I-5 is a symphony of open space whose theme cannot be mistaken: The entire footprint of Man upon America is a series of tiny specks. The Land is bountiful and vast. The Government ought to begin to give it back to the people. There yet remains before us an immense frontier of prosperity, like a New West awaiting our discovery. Waiting for the New Men.
Liberals disdain our “Cowboy Diplomacy,” preferring instead, methods of double-dealing and treachery. The cowboy is the quintessential American: free, enterprising, self-confident, masculine, straight-shooting, and defiant of the hazards of the frontier.
There could never be a French cowboy. Yet cowboys roam the highways of America… in primer grey Corvettes, Ram Chargers, and Mustangs. Straddling the incomparable hulking American V-twins, in chaps and boots, chrome pipes rumbling.
My heroes have always been cowboys.
Let us, once again, strap six-guns on our hips and throw off the shackles of Big Brother Government, the long train of abuses, injuries, and usurpations that have as their direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
Let us overcome the Liberal swarms of Officers sent hither to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Let us throw out the corrupt Judges who subject us to an authority foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; their Acts of pretended Legislation.
Let us end the reign of Environmentalism and legalized murder that saps our strength and endlessly expands so as to render U.S. Government, at once, a fit instrument for introducing absolute rule into our nation.
They have plundered our industries, ravaged our families, ruined our schools, and destroyed the lives of our people, having given their full allegiance to the works of death, desolation, and tyranny.
But on the American Highway one can still feel the beat of a heart of bravery and independence. It is the rhythm of nobility and justice. Therein sounds the deathknell of the spineless poison falsely called “liberal” and “progressive.” American morality is the powerplant of Liberty. It is not dead, but sleepeth. Let us awaken again this great engine of Freedom, kick-starting it to roaring life. Git’ yer motor runnin’. There’s a nation to restore.
God Bless America.
Written and published July, 2006 by Doug Parris