Then I went to meet Rita Bettencourt and took her back to the apartment. I got her in my bedroom after a long talk in the dark of the front room. She was a nice little girl, simple and true, and tremendously frightened of sex. I told her it was beautiful. I wanted to prove this to her. She let me prove it, but I was too impatient and proved nothing. She sighed in the dark. “What do you want out of life?” I asked, and I used to ask that all the time of girls.
"I don’t know," she said. "Just wait on tables and try to get along." She yawned. I put my hand over her mouth and told her not to yawn. I tried to tell her how excited I was about life and the things we could do together; saying that, and planning to leave Denver in two days. She turned away wearily. We lay on our backs, looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when He made life so sad. We made vague plans to meet in Frisco.
My moments in Denver were coming to an end, I could feel it when I walked her home, on the way back I stretched out on the grass of an old church with a bunch of hobos, and their talk made me want to get back on that road. Every now and then one would get up and hit a passer-by for a dime. They talked of harvests moving north. It was warm and soft. I wanted to go and get Rita again and tell her a lot more things, and really make love to her this time, and calm her fears about men. Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk — real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious. I heard the Denver and Rio Grande locomotive howling off to the mountains. I wanted to pursue my star further.
Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)
It’s important to keep this in context, because the whole thing is so Hold Steady anyways.
Golden with barlight and beer: if that phrase doesn’t evoke an image for you, this is not a band you want to know and you’re not someone I want to drink with.
Cole Slaw Blog on the Hold Steady
I’ll be seeing Finn & Co at the Showbox on August 18. Hyped.
This is great, but oh god why did you go to Elizabeth???
Because when I heard Gaslight Anthem was playing Asbury Park when I was going to be on the East Coast, I bought a ticket without thinking about how I was going to get there or how I was going to make sure I was in Los Angeles the following evening.
It ended up being pretty straightforward. Since I needed to be on a cross-country flight early the next morning, I wanted to stay near EWR, and since New York area hotels are hella expensive and I didn’t want to waste money on a room I would spend about three hours in, I ended up at this super shady Econolodge in Elizabeth. It looked like mine was the only room that didn’t have a drug deal going down in it.
It was fine though; I got the Bolt Bus from DC to Newark and then, because New Jersey seems to have the best inter-city rail system of any state in the union, it was a pretty simple task getting a train to Asbury Park and back. The bad part was that, if you remember this year’s Memorial Day weekend, the North-East had just been hit by an unseasonable cold snap and the Stone Pony’s great kick-off to summer festival season ended up consisting of standing around in a vacant lot in the freezing rain. Both the Hold Steady and Gaslight Anthem turned in good sets, though, having seen them twice without Franz Nicolay now, I think it’s undeniable Hold Steady have gone downhill as a live act without him. Even so, I’m glad I went; if I’d been in the area and had not gone I’d have always wondered what I missed.
Also, yes, this does mean that I went all the way to America, got so close to Manhattan that I could see the skyline with the naked eye, and didn’t cross the Hudson. I think when I told the owners of the hotel that I wanted to get to the train station because I was going south, they thought I was confused.