Finding The Real America While Driving To Visit Mom

Jan 27, 2012
Originally published on January 27, 2012 7:32 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, a road trip excursion with commentator Andrei Codrescu. On his way across the country, he found himself driving right off the map of memory.

ANDREI CODRESCU: We drove 2,500 miles to see my mother. We drove through five states, mostly on interstates. But when we couldn't take the boring highway that unrolled like the crawl on CNN for thousands of dull infinities, we took the smaller roads in the interior of the United States of Amnesia and found many forgotten Americas; some forgotten already one hundred years ago, some forgotten 50 years ago, some forgotten five years ago, some just forgotten.

And we drove through towns that are being forgotten as we drove through. We were quite possibly the last people to remember them, including the locals who had already forgotten where they lived because they lived along an endless crawl at the bottom of their screens.

For 2,500 miles I kept checking the Google maps on my Apple device, as if it knew better than the highway where we were going. And between directions, I read that in China my device was being made as we drove - by 230,000 employees, many working six days a week often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant; over a quarter of them lived in company barracks earning less than $17 a day. The scale is unimaginable, an Apple employee said. And so are interstates in the United States of Amnesia, where the crawl went on at the bottom of every screen.

And when we finally reached my mother, we were in Florida, the state whose official flower should be the opium poppy and Disney World is an unforgettable memory. Now what is it exactly we forgot?

BLOCK: That's road warrior Andrei Codrescu. He's the author of "Whatever Gets You Through the Night: A Story of Scheherazade and the Arabian Entertainment." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.