I think what probably made me start to warm up to him were the stories about his childhood and growing up in North Dakota which he intertwined with stories about different girls that he’s hooked up with, band members he’s interviewed, and anecdotes about the different sites that he’s visiting on his “epic” road trip. I still can’t say which girlfriend was which – they all just run together since they’re basically three different names with the same flippant personality. Apparently they’re a dime a dozen because pretty much every city he goes through reminds him of one of his past hos. He doesn’t write so much about the dead rock stars he’s driving around to visit so much as he writes about what they and their memorials remind him of, like his family and lady friends and such.
One of the funniest (and saddest, being an Arkansan) sections of the book is when he’s in a Comfort Inn in Mississippi watching Victory Television Network (VTN), a Christian network for the Arkansas area. I’ve flipped past this channel several times in the past and the people and programs on it are absolutely bonkers. This is some hardcore, Museum of Earth History-type (Google it or even better come on down to Eureka Springs to experience it!), Bible thumping, throw your hands in the air and praise Gaw-uhd Christian programming. So Chuck catches a movie on this channel and this kid named Steven’s biggest crisis in all the world is (not drugs or sex or gangs or anything like that) that he doesn’t want to save all the bad kids around him whose souls are going to hell, even though that’s what a good Christian should strive to do. So after struggling with this for a while, Steven’s minister finally convinces him to do some good and go tell the good news to his peers and guess what happens? Well, I hope I don’t ruin the movie for you, but he tries to convert a drug dealer who in turn “blows Steven away with a handgun” (see pages 98-100 for the full account). And that’s the ending of the movie. I might have to linger the next time I flip across VTN if there are more gems like this on there.
Now I need to go listen to Radiohead’s Kid A so I can see if it’s actually an inadvertent prophetic musical storyboard for the events of 9/11.