Where We Went This Year! (22,000 miles of driving!)

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Tempe

Driving down from Los Angeles, the thing that struck me most about the terrain, as it got increasingly desert-ed, was the flood of memories that came back to me of my time spent living in Phoenix for three years. Nights driving through the red rocks in my pickup (yes, dear readers, I had a Nissan quarter-ton with mag wheels & a boomin’ stereo) listening to music and smelling the desert air. The mountains on the horizon that all look like fallen elephants, their rough, pockmarked skin cracking in the ungodly heat. The first comic impressions I had of the vaguely Warner Brothers saguaro cacti (missing only Wile E. Coyote to make the picture complete – “you mean they really look like that?”) which later gave way to the equally comic impression that I might, at some point, ever really feel at home there – and not merely familiar – which is an entirely important distinction to make.

When I lived in Phoenix, I worked as a clinic assistant at Planned Parenthood of Central & Northern Arizona, and I also served as assistant director for the Positive Force Players, PPCNA’s critical-issue teen theater company. We did skits about drinking and driving, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, STD’s, etc. And now here I am, on the national tour of SPRING AWAKENING, And as we pulled into Tempe, staying at the very same hotel (The Twin Palms – directly across from Gammage Auditorium) where I stayed the prior year with the tour of TWELVE ANGRY MEN, thought I to myself, “The more things change…”

Tempe was a good time. I got a chance to see my friends Darlene Long & James Hoenscheidt, both former actors with the PFP, that I worked with in Phoenix. They’re all growed-up now and living adult lives with kids, mortgages, and the like. (I still remember when Darlene was getting in trouble for writing “SLUT” in weed killer on her nemesis’ lawn. You gotta respect that kind of ingenuity…) Darlene’s now a dispatcher for the Scottsdale Police Department. James is a stand-up comic and a dad – two professions which surely enjoy a certain symbiosis.

Of particular note was our Saturday trip to my ol’ standby - the F1 Racetrack, where even the most manly of drivers can look like dweebs in their go-karts & jumpsuits. Darlene, James, Angie, Alon (our cellist), and Marques (our drummer) came along & we burned some serious rubber for a couple races.


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