the road


I drove a car across the country once. It took three weeks and was financed by a rock magazine. Two years after the trip, a handful of people from California with exceptionally comfortable office chairs considered making a movie out of my experience. It was a very confusing process. Enthusiastic strangers with German eyeglasses kept asking me how I imagined this film would look, which I found difficult to elucidate; I assumed it would look like the video for Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway,” partially because of the lyrical content but mostly because I (sort of) looked Canadian before I grew a beard. That was not the answer they were anticipating. I was given a strong impression they were hoping I would say it would be a lot like Trainspotting, although maybe they were just trying to figure out if I could put them in contact with local drug dealers. They also wanted me to sign a 780-page contract that would give time control over my “life rights,” which meant they would have been able to make me an ancillary character in You, Me and Dupree.

I assume the hypothetical Road Movie I was not involved with would have been built on the most elementary of Road Movie clichés: where you’re going doesn’t matter as much as how you get there. But that philosophy raises at least three questions, some of which are equally cliché but all of which are hard to answer: What is a Road Movie, really? Why do so many directors (from so many different eras) long to make them? And what makes movement any more inherently interesting than—or even all that different from—staying in one place?

more from The Believer here.