Hey ho, kiddos, 'Bo Leech reporting live from (not-so-sunny) Tampa, Fla., at the 19th annual meeting of the Original Hobo Nickel Society! I just wrapped up one of the most inconceivably educational and obscenely amazing weeks of my entire life, and although there was very little in the week related to "the music scene," or even music at all for that matter (although at least a dozen people asked me, "What concert are you going to?" when I told them we were hitching to the "coin show"!), I figured all eight of my regular readers would be wondering what I was up to. So, to make a long story short ...
As you may or may not care to remember, my friend Jim Dziura, a more-than-talented filmmaker best known for his brilliant execution of the Flogging Molly documentary, Whiskey on a Sunday (for which he received a platinum record from the Recording Industry Association of America), and I set out on New Year's Day with the intentions of hitchhiking to Florida and making a film about hobo nickels, a 100-year-old folk art tradition that entails defacing government property for fun and profit. (Ask me how!)
Our journey took us, to quote the Blind Seer in Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou, down "a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril." But just as in the movie, we did find a great fortune, and it was most certainly not the fortune we had set out to find.
Geographically we covered more than 2,000 miles of the "real" real America, from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque, N.M., on through Amarillo, Texas, and Oklahoma City, where we had to deviate from "Plan A" by cutting down to Houston, over to Beaumont and on to Biloxi, Miss., to Mobile, Ala., and then on in to Florida: Jacksonville, Daytona, Disney World (outside it, anyhow!), and eventually Tampa.
Physically we traveled by foot, passenger car, city bus, Greyhound, taxicab, big rig and, in a momentary lapse of both rhyme and reason, by van with a man named "Gordo" and five of his finest migrant Mexican workers, none of whom spoke a word of English. Although quite terrifying for a few brief moments, it turned out to be one of the most singularly unique experiences any two white kids hitchhiking through the Deep South could ever hope to experience.
And lastly, the greatest distance traveled, by a thousand miles or more, was in my mind. I left the comfort of my loving home, a true curmudgeon to the modern world. And much of what I experienced on the road could very well confirm what the Dead Milkmen taught me so long ago, that "life is shit" and "the world is shit." But in all honesty, the kindness, compassion and true spirit of generosity shown to us on the road by our fellow man was quite literally overwhelming. Sure, modern life is still crap, but I am pleased to report there is still honor amongst the hobos, be they Ho' Boys, thumb bums or rubber tramps. Just stay away from the "lot lizards"!
I'll be back next week with my standard drivel, but until then, go to a show! Like, for instance, the Myth of Modern Medicine, Leftmore and Six Generals on Friday at the Black Sheep; Laura Gibson, the Changing Colors and Constellation of Cars on Saturday at the Triple Nickel; or the Kiowa Sessions Vol. VIII, featuring Deuce, Juliet Kerlin and others, Sunday at the V Bar. I'll smell you later.
Send Reverb's prodigal columnist your news, pics and visions of the real America via email@example.com.