Road Trips Are For Fighting

and Courtney Love is still in charge

ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.

Spoiler alert: Producer James Spring went on a road trip around Mexico with his brother. James was determined to document every detail of Mayan culture. His brother wanted to party and surf. There was an incident. One flew home. The other didn’t leave Mexico for years. They didn’t talk for decades. But then James made a radio story and they both discovered that The Incident wasn’t the thing they weren’t talking about after all. Photo credit: Dan Gold, Valladolid, Mexico.

SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO

I don’t love road trips. There was the time my family drove down to the Oregon coast from Seattle, sure we’d find a place to crash once we got there. We were fueled by my father’s excitement to be off the island we hailed from—WE! CAN! JUST! DRIVE! TO! ANOTHER! STATE! We ended up driving the over 200 miles all the way back home—exhausted, shut out, silent—because all the hotels were full.

Then there was the time my very tattooed Korean girlfriend and I drove my friend’s car to her through the midwest that I had never experienced before, and haven’t returned to since. We were told no way, keep driving, as we pulled into the only gas station for miles in the middle of the night, the little red gas pump light already flashing. The big frowning men crossing their arms and shaking their heads at us didn’t seem to appreciate our bumper stickers or unorthodox haircuts. We made it to the next gas station then drove all the way through to Colorado without stopping to attempt to find a room that would take us.

And so it was with the ears of my anti-car trip self that I went on this 26-minute journey with The American Life contributor James Spring: Not All Who Wander Are Lost… But Some Definitely Are.

I usually listen to radio stories while I’m doing other things—watering my plants, cleaning out my inbox, carrying my dog around the house like a baby—but within the first few minutes of Spring’s storytelling, I stopped everything I was doing and listened.

It’s about two brothers in Mexico on a road trip gone wrong. But it’s also about how our siblings can never really protect us from ourselves, or from our families. It’s about obsessive documentation, running away, and other coping mechanisms. It’s about forgiving the worst version of ourselves. It’s about how for the broken but healing makers among us, a recorder and a creative project can make hard and long-overdue conversations possible. Heads up listeners: this story includes descriptions of childhood abuse.

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SOMETHING TO READ

If you were also plucking your eyebrows into oblivion, and stomping around in Doc Martens and babydoll dresses through the 90’s, this stunner of a profile on the unmatched Courtney Love for Violet magazine is for you: And the Sky Was Made of Amethyst.

The spectacular photos by Laura Bailey are worth the click alone, but then there’s Love on the page in her unapologetic and sharply observant glory. Like this on mental health management and Los Angeles life:

“The only time I felt respite from the hurricane was when I was acting. Otherwise, it was an unending cycle of madness. Before I moved to London, the only break from that grind was to be a movie star for two years. I thought my face would fall off from phony smiling. I love acting, but I hate fake smiling.”

Or this on creating an all-girl band and taking back the softness that is usually erased in her public image:

“Men are great. I’d die without them. But they can fuck off in my creative, secret space. I prefer women in that area.

I’ve always presented as very tough and been fine with that. I’ve had to be tough. But in terms of my own psychic space, I’m not. I’m so dainty, I think. That’s why I got sick. And why I’m getting well. I’m owning my frail.”

Enjoy and spread the word—Courtney Love isn’t back. She never left.

SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO

If you’ve also been spending the last 18 months sharing a limited floor plan with your loved ones 24 hours a day, while occasionally gazing into the kitchen of your neighbors whose hands you could reach out and hold through your window if they were inclined to such public displays of connection, you might also be fantasy browsing Redfin in your spare time, dreaming of a bit more space. If that’s the case, I recommend giving @cheapoldhouses a follow on the good ol’ Instagram.

A 1894 Victorian in Illinois with leaded glass windows and a built-in window seat in the parlor for $45K? You bet. How about the 200-year-old Cherry House in Ohio with 13-foot doors and a three-story open spiral staircase? It could be all yours for $75K. Happy shopping and day dreaming!

HOT DELTA SUMMER

That’s a wrap on issue 53, friends. Thanks for listening, reading, holding on.

Stay cool and safe out there, misfits. Climate change and the delta variant are thriving this summer, so throw on your nap dress and fan yourself on your fainting couch like a sweaty Victorian ghost. You’ll not only feel chill and glamorous like Courtney Love, you’ll also be preparing for your new life in your cheap mansion.

See you next Thursday.

K.

You can find ROCK PAPER RADIO on Instagram and Twitter @RockPaperRadio.