Sunset Shootout

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’, we gonna do what they say can’t be done, we’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there, I’m east bound, just watch ol’ brand it run. Nice one, Jerry Reed, one for the truckin’ boys, foot to pedal, pedal to floor, let the rig roar.

Lightweight and fun, but from an earlier, gentler age, like Bernie Sanders and Woodstock.

It never works out quite like you expect it to, does it?

The end I mean.

You chance your arm roller-coasting your rig down Sunset Boulevard at dawn, from source to sea, for the slightly less iconic Pacific Coast Highway shot with the morning Sun on your back, and where do you end up?

The totally unromantic Los Angeles Harbour, Longbeach, on a patch of dusty grass under a flyover surrounded by concrete and machinery, with the Sun setting over a shimmering Pacific hidden behind several miles of port sprawl.

But that’s trucking for you. It’s real. The drab industrialism has put food on the tables of countless people. The residue is an acceptable part of the process, unless you’re sipping cappuccino’s in a fancy cafe in Washington, bought and paid for by some climate change taxpayer funded boondoggle, so on the trucker’s tab, so to speak.

It could have been worse. After seeing the Sun rise out of the Atlantic from Ocean Drive Miami two months earlier, I was looking for the Sun sinking into the Pacific after the ride down Sunset. And the last trucking stop we stayed at before we drove through the mountains and down into the Los Angeles bowl seemed a good place to check on the Sunset plan, but local knowledge said we’d be caught by the LAPD, dragged from the truck, and held face down on the road in front of Hollywood while they read us our rights.

They say he who pays the piper calls the tune, but my suggestion we give the LAPD a run for their money didn’t meet with warm approval from my man. He took some serious convincing. I told him we’d make history, no one had ever probably done it before, Jennifer Lawrence would be waiting at the Sunset PCH junction with a sexy giggle and a big kiss, George Clooney would hurl insults at the police, and join us cheek to tarmac to share our pain, egged on by the bizarre Tarantino, who’d take stills for a rough remake of Smokey and the Bandit in three chapters of graphic violence, Miami Drop, Manhattan Transfer, and the grisly showdown with the authorities in Sunset Shootout. At least we’d leave it all out on the road.

‘I’ll do it for a USD 500 bonus’, Gonzales replied pragmatically, ‘and you can pay the fine’.

Another less dramatic source of info said zero tolerance would probably extend to a USD 1,000 fine if we got caught. Travel very early or very late, he said, which both come to 3am to 6am, which scuppered the sinking Sun selfie plan with our truck and trailer in the frame and out onto the airwaves before decommissioning. When you’re doing a Trump 2016 Palin race recce, you want feedback from real people, not the sensationalist, fear-mongering media. Besides, what would the first question have been at the Miami Drop photoshoot? Mr. Anon, Mr. Anon, in whose name are you doing this?

It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission. I’m more of a free spirit than a free agent. I’m sorry Mr. Trump and Mrs. Palin, it was probably a stupid thing to do, will you ever forgive me? I just had to know if the mainstream media’s depiction of you reflected the views of real people, when approached by an outsider in a truck with not a camera or microphone in sight, or simply their own fear and prejudice fed back to them with lashings of political correctness. And I think we all know the answer to that one; except those who’ve caught the deadly PC virus who are still, despite your best efforts, in denial. There’s none as blind as those that won’t see. Someone needs to develop a vaccine.

So are people more likely to reveal their true voting intentions at a focus group, or in a truck stop cafe chatting to me with a bored Gonzales looking out the window, and the Trump 2016 Palin trailer parked safely out of sight?

To a certain degree it depends on the line of questioning. When confronted by an awkward question, most tend to shy away from taking a stand, so it’s important to recreate polling booth conditions, where the person feels it is them and their private choice; so that, like their vote, they know the conversation that reveals deeper allegiances stays within these four walls.

So no names, no locations, no pack-drill. That is what I agreed with Gonzales right at the beginning. We’d use his favourite cartoon character from his youth as his nom de road, Speedy Gonzales, which amused both of us as we meandered from one truck stop to another. ‘Where are you going?’ They always ask. ‘To the White House to see Obama’, was the staple reply, and then the conversation either started in earnest if there was genuine curiosity or finished abruptly. I was christened El Gringo by Gonzales, so we’d feel at home in the Sanctuary Cities of the Democrat’s new Wild West.

It reminded me of my undercover travels with a string of pack animals in Italy. If asked the question, my stock reply was ‘I’m going to the Vatican to see the Pope’. When the media sent a sleuth to track me down, to uncover some suspected scandal or cover they hoped, I discovered later when I handed myself over for interview on my terms that once the sleuth and his cameraman got on my trail, every person they came to said ‘he’s gone to see the Pope!’ I was quietly satisfied, as his elusive quarry, that the investigative journalist couldn’t hide his exasperation when he told me this. ‘Why?’ he asked me quizzically. ‘Made it easier to get my caravan parked up for grass and water’ was my unholy reply.

So I’m happy to discuss the lovely people I met while scouting trucks in Miami, like the wounded veteran furious with Donald Trump for having a go at MaCain until I pointed out why MaCain had given Obama such an easy ride in 2008, or the classic no nonsense Mama behind the post office counter off Ocean Drive who was up for Bernie since, she said, it was in her interests, until I pointed out she had chosen the wrong one if she preferred to work for a living. And I’m happy to discuss the people I met at the end of the journey, like the female Mexican owner operator with ten trucks who told me confidentially that women were better truck drivers than men. To think I could have landed some fit focussed female truck driver, but hired the mean, moustachioed Gonzales!

But what goes on tour, as they say, stays on tour. Especially as far as Gonzales was concerned, since he and 75 others got into America illegally in the back of a truck 25 years ago, and he still has no official papers. When he saw the graphics go up (after rental money had changed hands), he nearly had a heart attack!

That was when I decided to go old school and ditch the media plan. I learnt old school off Robert Louis Stevenson, a family relative, who explained very clearly in ‘Travels With My Donkey’ how important it was, if you wanted to add the travel dimension to a journey, to cut yourself off from the outside world; or risk receiving news that might end your journey just before you got what you needed out of it. An exercise in self-discipline in this day and age, where you are expected to be forever on the end of the digital line like a fish in a pond. This would have to be a clandestine mission as far as the news brokers were concerned.

I can say Gonzales was as happy with the new ground rules as with the rogue ingredient that I told him I’d mixed into the Trumpaholics MAGA Charter cocktail, that Mexicans build the wall as well as pay for it, since a Great Wall Of America would mean muchos work trucking in building materials and supplies. Gonzales liked working.

But not illegal immigrants, I told him, not if I have anything to do with it, and not El Chapo or Sean Penn. A position he agreed with wholeheartedly, since he thought Penn was a fake and a fool, but he admired Trump for calling out the Mexican government for letting El Chapo escape, and he agreed illegal immigration was out of control and not just about work anymore.

So, El Gringo, what did you learn on your trip, what wisdom have you to dispense to Trumpaholics Synonymous since Trump is presumptive nominee now and unlikely to have the time to entertain us for a round of golf at Mar a Lago? What do we get for our backing, apart from your nice blogs?

If you’ve got your shit together, you can earn USD 200k a year trucking.

And if you’re a freedom loving American patriot, know your Peterbilts and Macks from your Volvos and Internationals, like you know your Trumps and Palins from your Obamas and Clintons!

The jury’s out on Pence. Is he a fighter?

I don’t care, white or black, Mexican, Latino, Afro-American, Hispanic …. quack quack we all have our own plumage and call, it’s racism off a ducks back, if something bad happens to me, don’t cry, baby, they’ve set me free, you invent Rap, you brand it black, you turn your back on where it’s at to make some flash, you change the rules to suit your mules, when you turn back, you’ve got socialism, that’s your game, but some white loser’s got your Rap! Seems fair to me, I’m R&B, it makes me happy, I love Rihanna, she’s a capital girl, but pound for pound who’s the best Rapper around? When the tornado meets the volcano, for angry men who love the way Megan Fox lies, nuddin’ beats it. With a nod to the Sugar Hill Gang, who drank Rap at the source, and turned out something delightful, if you’ve got 14 minutes.

Is there anything, apart from breaking views, that makes me need to vent vicariously through Eminem, like one billion other You Tube viewers, before letting the Sugar Hill Gang carry my rage away? After little white fluffy clouds, if I’m riding down the freeway, I get mad when it’s snowing white trailer sides, all that fresh, white, virginal advertising space, just waiting for the right mood messengers to brand it.

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