Caught in a whirlwind of activity since I got off the train in Raleigh. I didn't carry my notebook with me, have time to jot anything down, or have a chance to read Moby-Dick in what seems like several weeks, but in fact is just a day or two. I changed trains in Washington DC, and had a couple hours to walk around. Their station is huge, very fancy, and full of activity. It's right in the middle of everything, it seems. I went walking down the street and was within sight of several huge monuments that are overly familiar, but which, of course, I've never been very interested in. It was all very creepy in person—and overly quiet, very weird—the sound of a guy playing Jimi Hendrix songs near the strain station was very welcome. I sat by a reflecting pool—I almost always like fountains—and smoked a cigarette, taking care to not even leave my matches on the ground when I left, for fear of arrest.
The train down to Raleigh, then, was a bit of a drag, being a smaller, less spacious variety, and after being on the train a full three days I had about had enough. The smoking lounge here was really funny, being part of the cafe car with certain, designated smoking TIMES—like half hour periods every two or three hours—so I sat in for a couple of smoking times and listened to everyone talk—about smoking, of course, and also various tragedies, maladies, revenge, and hospitalization.
When I reached Raleigh, at least seven cab drivers descended on me, and wouldn't leave me alone until I explained, to each of them, that I was waiting for someone to pick me up, and if I had them drive me to where I was going, even if I knew where that was, when the person came to pick me up I wouldn't be there. This explanation seemed to satisfy none of them—they must have thought money was an issue and I was bidding for the lowest offer, or perhaps I was waiting for some regular, favorite cab driver—some despised rival of theirs.
Jim arrived before too long—we had never met, but we were the only two there besides cab drivers, so we had no mix-up. We went back to his apartment and talked—Joyce was meeting Sarah at the airport—Sarah had missed her first plane. Finally, they showed up. Sarah had picked up the mini-van at the airport. There was some kind of mix-up, naturally.
The next day, Sarah, Joyce, and I went to breakfast at Watkins Grill, a good ole' country diner, and a good way to start off any stay somewhere new. I got a good feeling, and a cheap breakfast steak, and some fine grits. I strained myself from making any jokes about “Does Dale Earnhardt drink coffee here,” etc. as Joyce said it was a NASCAR hangout. I didn't want anyone to misinterpret my sense of humor, me being a yankee and all.
Later we met Steve from the CLC film group—he's going on the tour, and we had to drive out to the airport car rental place to get his and my personal information recorded on the database. Naturally it was a hassle. Then we started countless journeys back and forth from the theater where the films would be, then to the bar in Chapel Hill, 30 minutes away, making arrangements for the opening night party. In the meantime, we kept ourselves occupied speculating, wondering, and talking about people behind their backs. It would prove to be one of the primary diversions of a shindig such as this.
The preparations consisted mostly of putting up a huge banner in the theater, and one in the bar. The banners announce the “Fuel Film Tour” and some of the sponsors. Later, there promised to be more banners with more sponsors. Putting up banners is harder and more time-consuming than it would seem. Later, a representative from Conde Nast, one of the sponsors, a pleasant woman named Despina, showed up to make sure things were running smoothly. She got to see that the banner in the theater was up, and also see two of the three people who attended with opening showing of American Job leave the theater after about a half hour. Two nice southern ladies in their eighties. They saw me and recognized me and said, “You're beautiful—but that movie is terrible.” I guess if I was taking the role of the traditional actor, hearing that they thought I was beautiful would probably be enough—but as it is, I'm not that concerned with my beauty. I was considering giving them a pep talk, but I thought there is no reason they shouldn't hate the movie—me being here to encourage them shouldn't change their minds. I hate the art business. Anyway, once you start getting into the habit of trying to explain everything, the next thing you know, you're old.
Later we saw Delicate Art of the Rifle, the CLC movie, and I met the rest of their core group: Dante, Todd, and Alicia. I guess Alicia had designed the T-shirts and posters we will be taking with us to sell in each city, and I must say, as a not-fan of posters and T-shirts, these are quite nice. If there is anything left of them by the time we get to Portland, I'll probably have developed some kind of uncontrollable fondness for them and choose to own a few. As far as the movie goes, I liked it quite a bit—it's very unusual in pacing and style—I won't go into it now, but I think we'll all have a lot of explaining to do. I don't want to come off as pretentious, but when I consider this whole thing, it could appear that what we are doing is taking difficult art to the strip-malls of America, and it could turn out to be a folly of the highest order. We'll see.