The Man With The Plan.
Ouuuuch… I planned to hit the ground running, but running turned to slowly walking with my head in my hand by the time I got to the bathroom at the inn. I was up late finishing the first painting and a bottle of wine on an empty stomach can take its tole. I’m not a fuckup. I’m just a slow learner. Brush teeth, sink bath, Advil, water. More water. Coffee. Road.
I arrived in Gander on time to meet Stan, a guy my friend had also solicited to help with the moving of this heavy and multi-part artwork. She has a knack for getting people to do free labour for her. Burners are like that. I find this both admirable and annoying. I arranged to meet Stan at the van rental parking lot because I have to return the one I have. I arrive there first. He finally pulls up in a tan VW bus with a jerky stop-go stop.
‘Heeeeyyy’, he says with smoke swirling around his head. He looks like Shaggy from Skoobie-Doo, but older, long after the Mystery Inc disbanded and became married with children. All the stereotypes stayed intact.
‘I don’t think your van is going to be big enough to pick up the artwork.’ I explain.
‘Nodda problem. bro. it can fit on the roof’
This is going to end badly.
We drive to the airport where the boxes are waiting. Several staff discuss the best way to attached the boxes to the vehicle and finally decide on the use of a forklift, a tarp and the better part of a spool of yellow nylon rope. Everyone pitched in to help except one guy who stood nearby silently vaping and judging. I was judging too, but I at least knew how to tie a few helpful knots.
The way back to Twillingate was slow. The car rocked back and forth with the top heavy load and a few times I could feel the car go up on two wheels.
“Whouldn’t it be cool if the van went all sideways and we drove part of the way on two wheels.’, Stan mused aloud.
No, it would not.
I remarked that Stan the man with a plan in the tan van was an old Sesame Street skit I remembered and liked as a kid. Stan laughed and processed to tell me about how his dad met Jim Henson when they were at the University of Maryland together and how he went on to work for Henson into his Sesame Street years. His mother and father are named Dan and Franny and they inspired the skit.
‘Yeah, bro. This is the tan van!’, he says, ‘I sorta inherited after my dad died and my mom moved back to the rock because her family is from here. I’ve had this thing forever. Her name is Tanny. We drive her down to Bonnaroo every year. Not sure if we’re going to make it this year though. Last year she overheated in the wait to get in and we had to push her to get repaired. It was a bummer.’.
His laugh reminded me of ‘The Dude’ in the Big Lebowski. That sort of laugh a stoner guy makes when he’s laughing, but forgets what he’s laughing at and then realizes he’s kinda laughing at nothing, but mostly he’s just making a sort of slow stunned moan, but then finds that funny too. This happened a lot the entire ride back.
We unloaded at the lighthouse as a crew was attaching a winch at the top to pull the bull up. I had to get back to the airport to catch my flight so Stan drove me back. We stopped for lunch and I shit out my hangover and I got my flight to Paris. So much for iceberg watching. I really have to go back.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been to Paris, but when I go I’ll make it a point of heading to the closest bakery and wolf back a croissant or two. I held off this time though because I’m staying with my friend Jackie who works at Pierre Hermé. It was perfect timing because she was getting off work so I met her at the store and tried a Croissant Ispahan for the first time. ohmyfuckinggod. Lychee and raspberry and candied rose petals. I want everything to taste like this.
It was pissing rain and we both got pretty wet trying to find a place to have a drink, so we just went back to Jackie’s place which was nowhere nearby. A hot shower and a glass of wine warmed me and helped us to settle in for a bit of catch-up. Jackie’s been in Paris for two years now learning to make pasties, her tiny kitchen is neatly and densely organized vertically up the walls to the high ceiling. She was living with a french guy named Gilles for the past six months, but things weren’t working out which I said that was good because if it did work out and they got married to bring them a pail of water. Jackie stared blankly. I think she was tired.
It was getting quite late and Jackie had to work early so she left me a spare set of keys on the table and and left me to work though the night on my new painting. She turned out the lights as she went down the hall. The room felt quiet and still and the wine soothed my travel fatigue. Rain fell rhythmically on the skylight above me and the view from Jackie’s living room was inspirational. Paris in the rain at 2am. I let out a deep sigh and opened my case and set up a little place to work. I may have left my brushes on the table at the inn in Twillingate so I only had two brushes to work with. I’ll pick up more tomorrow. I could hear Stan’s voice repeat in my head… ‘bummer.’
While setting up, in my bag I found a small heavy box wrapped with a fat elastic bands. It let out a low and clinky rattle when I shook it. Inside were six glass bolts with rubber washers and what looked like a steal core in each of them. I had no idea what they were for or how they got there. Twenty minutes later I got a text from my electric-bull-art friend asking if I had seen any bolts, that they were custom made and she needed them to have the sculpture assembled. Fuuuuuuccccckkkkk.
Around the World In 30 Days is a somewhat fictional travel journal and fundraising art project which runs May 2 to May 31, 2016. To find out more about the project or to request a city to be painted, follow the link here. If you would like to follow along with the adventure, you can joint the event page on Facebook, subscribe to this blog at the top of the home page or see image updates on Instagram. Please feel free to leave comments by clicking the comment icon at the top of this post.