Not the Squelchers' primary habitat, mind (although having previously lived within that bubble, I can state with authority that discomforts are forever relative), but the actual utility room of my parents' Adel, Georgia manse. Confused? So was I, owing to the hour (1:45 AM) and the cumulative fatigue of a 32-hour commute from Hannover to Paris Gare de l'Est, Gare du Nord to Charles De Gaulle Terminal 2, from Gate E28 to Cincinnati, from Delta Gate A5 to Jacksonville International, and then two hours with Shave stalwart starlet Pat Spurlock across ribbons of Interstate (with a Henry Rollins spoken-word album creaking in the background as a sure-fire soporific) to home turf... As we pulled into my folks' place, I sheepishly remembered that I'd left the keys to all its doors inside. No waking them, what with Scooter Store ads blaring at top volume and double-paned windows blocking all but apocalyptic outbursts... We managed to find an unlocked portal in the adjoining laundry room; Patrick squeezed inside, opened the main door, and with his assistance (I was too groggy to be of any use), I set up camp on a sun-bleached chaise. A tattered tartan blanket served to ward off the larger mosquitoes, and before Herr Spurlock's car was clear of the driveway, I was gone... Woke at 7, dropped the first load of fetid tour duds in the washer at 7:10, and sat contentedly on the back stairs until life stirred within. (Sent the black Sketchers kicks through the "heavy" cycle twice.) Retrieved the morning paper and walked through the front door; mom was so shocked to see me that she dropped dad's Alzheimer meds on the bar top. It's good to be home with the folks.
(The Cool Palm at work on the morning of the 27th...)
(Tendrils bisect the masonry...)
(No Confederate banners seen in the whole of Deutschland. It was good to be away from hillbilly haunts...)
(A still from Claudia's copy of Piotr Uklanski's brilliant 1999 photo-essay The Nazis. Above, you-know-who. The tome depicts "the power of media representations that have substantially shaped and distorted our collective idea of historic evil." C's fave pic is of Leonard Nimoy.)
(The Austrian actor Leon Askin in my favorite image from Uklanski's collection; in addition to his loopy seven-year portrayal of Hogan's Heroes' General Burkhalter, Askin enjoyed a long and relatively varied career on American television and, occasionally, on film. He appeared on The Monkees, Daniel Boone, Honey West, The Outer Limits, I-Spy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, Three's Company, Diff'rent Strokes, Billy Wilder's great 1961 Cold War comedy One, Two, Three, Airplane II: The Sequel, Young Frankenstein, etc.)
(Second class on Deutsche Bahn beats the hell out of economy on the majority of American air carriers...)
(I switched trains at Karlsruhe for the evening slog into Paris...)
(A videographer fails to resist a confluence near Strasbourg station...)
(Charles De Gaulle's Terminal 1, 3:20 AM. The night shift's whirring, wrenching, creaking and craning made half-sleep truly delightful.)
(A staircase at CDG 1. To its immediate left, a mob of backpackers slept with unusual urgency...)
(I arrived at my gate at CDG 2 just after 6:30. Other than myself and a smattering of staff, the hall was deserted. Seated above, a second, equally hapless passenger. He wandered in at 7:15; by then, the shops were buzzing with frantic activity. One 50ml bottle of Vittel set me back 2.90 Euro. Gotta love the dollar...)
(Storm clouds remained on the horizon; the previous day's play at the French Open had to be postponed because of the intense weather produced by the system. I got fairly drenched myself going from Gare de l'Est to Nord...)
(Soothing architectural motifs rule.)
(An Air France flight crew assembled for their morning conference. Attendants in red work only with business class passengers...)
(E28 at 8:25; only three hours to departure...)
(Ahh, the clutter of home. CVG beckoned, but just barely. The taxiing outlines look as if they were drawn in chalk... )
(In pointed contrast to their warren of gates at De Gaulle, Delta's digs in Cincinnati are located at the Bond Hill DMV. What the Hell, home is home.)
(The awe and splendor... Two hours before takeoff, 27 hours in transit.)
Ran to the bank after 8:00, all the while marveling at the strange sensation of being back behind the wheel. I'd not driven for seven weeks, and I never missed it, not even for a second. (Europeans have a better way.) Staggered out of the F-150, plugged in the laptop, then allowed my mind to unspool...
Photos are updated through May 1. Scroll down, look for pertinent post titles, etc. Much more to come.