This piece launches a new (e.g. sometime, occasional) blog category, we’re calling Motel(s) Hell, which of course is tongue-in-cheek. Mostly. Sort of. I think.
We recently spent time as semi-nomads (a natural state for us) over in the Eastern UP for five days, including hotel stays in Noobs (Newberry) and Iggy (St. Ignace), the latter to meet our pals Don and Jay Emerson, who were coming off their annual yakking and ship watching sojourn on Drummond Island. (He’s ex-Navy, can’t help hisself). Last year our friends drove 5 hours to Alberta to visit us. This year we decide to sort of split the distance and to meet them at the bridge on Sunday, which we did.
What follows is an accurate, blow-by-blow account of our two-night stay at the Quality Inn Mackinac Bridge on US 2 – directly across the road from Clyde’s Drive-In.
The stay commenced with our arrival, after driving all the way to Pickford to sign book stock, thence to the Rudyard Coop, onto BJ’s in Trout Lake, and finishing business in Brevort. Lonnie went into the Quality Innn to register us and was handed a letter to sign, which she did dutifully. The letter (and here ISYN) was addressed to our dog. The letter was in sans-serif font, very dimly printed, and nearly invisible to read. It began, “Dear Furry Guest, and went on for several short paragraphs, with rare punctuation and poor syntax. The final three-sentence paragraph read: “Please don’t get on the furniture or beds, no matter how comfy they may look. These are only for your people to use. If you do, it will take another bite out of your wallet. Sincerely, Lead Dog.”
It should be noted, we paid $10 per night for El Mutto and our beloved dog neither pays, nor carries a wallet. And while our dog is named Shaksper and can spell a handful of words, he can’t write or read a lick. He can count to one (like Trigger), but his skill has no place in this sad and pathetic moment. God save us from twits.
Lonnie made reservations weeks ago and asked for a room with fridge and microwave. She was told only one such room in the inn with such amenities and we said, “Great, book it.” She also informed the inn at that time that we would pay for our friends’ room. “Not a problem was the response, which turns out to be a code phrase for “Whatever.” Lonnie called last week to reconfirm all and it was all confirmed. “All set,” she was told. At least they didn’t say “Good to go.”
All right, foolish us. We should have asked if this one of a kind (OOAK) room was on the first floor, but we did not, and it’s not. Shame on us, and with apologies to my brothers-in-law, for using their band name: It was a case of woulda-coulda-shoulda. It also turned out that the OOAK accommodation was only half right. The fridge wasn’t working, a fact the inn acted like it did not know, and perhaps they didn’t. And there is no ice in the nearest ice machine, which was — drumroll — down one floor.
Lon called the front desk to tell them our fridge not working.
“And,” she adds, “there’s no ice in the nearest ice machine.
Another huh and the on-duty dude (on dudey?) from the front pops up to see us. “Is the fridge set right?” He asks with a hint of accusation.
Says Lon: “It’s set where it was set when we got here; we haven’t changed it.”\
He says, “I think it’s supposed to be all the way to the right,” and then he looks and says, “Huh, it is. I guess it’s not working.” Understand: the choices on the temp control are left or right. There are no indications of high or low anywhere, and no markings whatsoever, and so one is are left to guess. Righty tighty lefty loosy or the opposite, or neither? Nobody knows. One assumes one would arrive to finds the thing set to operate. But no, tis dead dead dead. The motor fan is humming, but no cooling coming through.
Our front desk guy now says, “Well, you can use the fridge in our kitchen.
Hmm: This is down one floor and a 100 yards or so south toward the Mackinac Bridge. Lon says, “Uh, no thank you. How about you get some ice for our soft cooler?”
Says the boyish deskman, “There’s an ice machine.”
She says, down a floor, and as I told you on the phone, it’s empty.”
“Huh, how much ice?”
She gives him the soft cooler and off he goes, back a while later with it half full of ice, just as we wanted it. Ahh.
“Well, what about later?” she asks, “or tomorrow, if we need more ice?”
Answer: “I won’t be on duty, you’ll have to ask whoever is. He adds, “Sorry,” And boogies, exiting stage left, followed by bear. Wait,wait, I’m confused. That was a stage direction in THE WINTER’S TALE, and this is supposed to reality (albeit coming off rather surreally).
This is deep summer in Da Yoop A.T.B. (Above the Bride)You have to understand that, up here it can be minus 50f, and you will not hear a single remark about the temperature, nada, but let it nudge 80f and you will quickly here schemes ranging from suicide to homicide. But likewise you will not hear any local talk of taking a swim-dip in Lake Superior because that would surely bring a serious case of LSD for any fool who tries. (LSD means “ Lake Superior Dick.” Think of major organ withdrawal, a small animal seeking a cave near the spine for as long a hibernation as may be necessary.)
Back to the altitude situation (2d floor vs 1st): In the baggage drill from the Ford (the new vehicle has not yet earned a name of its own) it is 58 stairs per round-trip with baggage. X 10 reps = a baggage drill of 580 stairs. In high-80, humid weather. Sweet. A person my age counts such things, for the law-suits to follow, but we complete the mission without heart stoppages and then recon the swanky digs with a white-glove walk-through. Items noted:
- Light bulb burned out over the sink.
- The heat lamp is burned out.
- A partial, nearly depleted TP roll hangs sadly on the holder, and there is no extra roll in the room or anywhere we can find.
- A promo card in the Jaques (Pronounced Jakes, which once upon a time meant Loo) proclaims how the shower curtain is curved for more space…and also has a sheer panel to let in more light. From what, two less light sources? A = B = ZZ?
- I also noticed that at the north end of said ballyhooed shower curtain, at the south end of the rod, a screw is loose, hanging and verging on giving way to to gravity. Note to self, put no weight on shower curtain rod.Yipes.
- Towels are advertised for sale. The bath towels are standard non-deluxe hotel size, which means twins of our dish towels at home. And they think people want to buy such junk? Chain think here, HQ Marketing-Think. Stoopid.
- The towel rack has two rods on the rack, which is hanging directly over the toilet. The top one is broken and flopping down at 20-30 degrees. Being that gravity allegedly does not apply in the Mystery Spot some miles west of Iggy, it certainly applies here at thae bridge, and the towel rack sagging directly over the toilet makes one a bit apprehensive.
- The heat lamp is not working. When one turns it on it emits a sound somewhere between bare feet walking on broken glass and cannibals hacking bone and muscle into some sort of edible gruel with machetes. Tres
- There is no password needed for WiFi in this establishment. This fact is, of course, nowhere in evidence in the voluminous pile of paper we get at check in, or anywhere in the room. When our rescuer comes up from the front desk, Lonnie asks, “What’s the password,” and he says, “There isn’t one. I’ll set it up for you.” He goes to the iPad and starts tapping away. I time the op at seven minutes, start to finish. He is muttering to himself the whole time and repeating steps multiple times, which to his credit he finally completes, turns and says, “There you go, all set.” Hell, it’s HIS system and it takes him seven minutes and multiple tries to get on line? Boy. And, it turns out to be slower than dial-up. Could it be our second-floor location.
I went down to the Ford to fetch some forgotten item and outside the back door encountered a pair of bikers, a male and female, both heavily tatted, both in faux leather Hells Angels outfits, and both armed not with pistols, brass knuckles, saps, knives or whips or whatever for gang warfare, but each with a plastic spray bottle and they are busy spraying rocks in the margin along the motel wall and the male says to me, “Goddamn Petroskey stones, Dude.” Okay then. Why is it we never see anything but white people on motorcycles? At least in the Yoop? Most of them 50-60 + in age and gray or white-haired.
Back in the room, Lon calls down to El Fronto again. “Can you replace the fridge with one that works when people check out tomorrow, and light bulb, and heat lamp?”
“Not a problem.” I hate this phrase. Thus far we have nothing but problems from the Motel Staph. We see no initiative, no motivation to solve anything, only to get shed of the customer. Must be that we are live humans and how yucky can that be compared to dealing with electronic FACEBOOK kinds of personalities?
Next morning MS Lonnie takes the dog for a walk. When they are gone, I turn on the TV. You got it: Not working. Call the front desk. I’m told “Sometimes it takes a while. “ I counter with “10 minutes?”
A woman shows up and begins badmouthing Charter as having no commo. She decides it has gone off line for no reason she understands or which Charter cares to explain. She undoes the box from the TV. Then the TV from the wall, then plugs it all back together again and the TV comes back on. How is the customer supposed to know to do this?” I ask. She shrugs and leaves.
Lonnie and Shaksper return just as Donna and Jay arrive. Their room is (SooPRIZE!) not ready, so they come to our digs – at exactly the moment when two females arrive, lugging a replacement fridge and a lightbulb.
Jay watches the fridge lady who is moving the two cubes around. “How do you keep track of which one is the new one?” he asks her.
She says, “I think it’s the new one on the bottom?” and that’s the one she installs. Bulb girl announces we have a new bulb. Lon asks about the heat lamp. Head shake, “Just that one bulb.”
Then Lon askes Fridgelady, “What’s the correct setting for the fridge?” Answer: “I don’t know. I just bring up what they tell me to bring up.” And as Jackie Gleason would say to Norton, Away they go.
Guess what: Our new fridge operates with same lack of cold as our old one and Jay says, “I’m pretty sure she put the old one back and took the new one out. She seemed pretty confused about which one was which.” Fits the theme, I thought.
Lon calls the desk: The new fridge is not working. And we’re going out to lunch.”
“Huh, we’ll look into it while you’re gone.”
We head downtown to the Galley for a fine lunch and afterwards trek over to Book World. Jay and I are in the early stages of writing a non-fiction travel-history-buddy book we are calling SECONDHAND HIGHWAY: The Story of US -41.” We decide we ought to read Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD. I loathed this book when I first read it decades ago, cast it into my caca book pile, but I agree reluctantly to make another run at it because it will give us a point of reference and both of us being ex navigators (him USN, me USAF) we like to have a good base fix. I’m older now. Maybe Kerouac will ready better? We go into Book World and buy ON THE ROAD, and I ask the manager Sherie if she wants me to sign stock on shelves.
“Are you really Joe Heywood?”
“I was when I got up this morning.” She wants the books signed and also wants a photo of us together for her newsletter, etc. So we find good lighting for Shutterbug Lonnie and about the time we are in the brief shoot, Miss Donna pops around a book shelf and the manager says, “You must be their daughter.” This of course raises some howls of pure delight and of course this joke will stand for eternity. Daughter indeed. Miss Donna is, of course, pleased to no end. Will add a brief biographical note here. Once upon a time in her teaching career Donna had students who could not pronounce Emerson and as a result she morphed into “Miss Enema.” So now we have an enema for a daughter. Is this a great trip, or what?
Returning from dinner that evening we find that our electronic keys have been disabled, so I make my way to the front desk and am told, “Wait, I have to deliver a cup of coffee.” When he comes back, he says, “Wait I have to do something else first.” Finally he comes over to me and I hand him the card. Needs recoding. He says nothing, takes the card taps in the new code and hands it back without comment.
Next morning, another 580-stair baggage drill. Lonnie then heads to office to check us out. Female desk agent again. Lon asks about the billing on other room, that she talked to the desk chief yesterday? Says today’s in-charge, “Well he didn’t leave me any note on the billing arrangement, and your friends checked out and paid for it.”
Okay in line with all else here, on course, drifting aimlessly.
I won’t pretend to tell others what to do, but as for us staying at that place again? Think of the odds of a snowball surviving more than a pitch in Beelzebub’s eternal underground baseball game.
This turista stuff is hard duty and it ain’t for no sissies. Mostly.
To quote my dear old coon-ass, East Texas colleague, bass tournament partner, and hunting friend, one Charles George “The Snooker” Snoek Esquire, “Are we having fun yet?”
Here’s a photo of the Enemas and the Heywoods.
Nothing heavy, just some thinking on a nice August day. Take a break, smoke ’em if you got.em. All right, cards on the table up front: I wrote down the source of some of what follows, but can’t read my own handwriting, and neither can Lonnie. Sigh. If I ever figure out the source, I’ll come back and add it here, meanwhile, on we go. Wait, time out, course change, as I began typing it hit me, this is from my old pal Michel de Montaigne, who more or less invented l’essai, the essay, and hugely influenced a huge gap in Shakespeare’s writing. He lived in 16th Century France but still seems pal- close.
My pal wrote, The excerpt is from On Books and proceeds as follows:
“I like historians who are either very simple or outstanding; the simple, who have not the wherewithal to mix in anything of their own, and who bring to it (the subject) only the care and diligence to collect all that comes to their attention, and to record everything faithfully without choice or discrimination, leave our judgment (the reader) in tact to discern the truth.
The really outstanding ones have the capacity to choose what is worth knowing; they can pick out of two reports the one that is more likely. From the nature and humors of princes, they infer their intention and attribute appropriate words to them. They are right to assume authority to regulate our belief by their own; but certainly this privilege belongs to very few people.” Here I lodge a small protest: He seems to suggest that historians invent quotes for historical sources, in which his concept of history shifts to fiction. Perhaps there was no difference back in his day, but there is now, or ought to be.
Back to La Première Essayiste, “Those historian in between (which are the commonest sort) spoil everything for us. They want to chew our morsels for us ; they give themselves the right to judge, and consequently slant history to their fancy; for once the judgment leans to one side, one cannot help turning and twisting the narrative of that to that bias. They undertake to choose the things worth knowing, and often conceal from us a given word, a given private action, that would instruct us better ; they omit as incredible the things they do not understand, and perhaps also some things because they do not know how to say them (in good language). Let them boldly display their eloquence and their reasons, let them judge all they like ; but let them also leave us the wherewithal to judge after them, and not alter or arrange by their abridgements and selection anything of substance of the matter, but pass it on to us pure and entire in all its dimensions. »
Whew, this sounds like some prominent, political-leaning news outlets these days, and virtually all political rhetoric, which seems to work hard maneuver us to conclusions favorable to the party line – this approach pursued by all parties, left, right and otherwise off-the-wall.
All this jogs my mind regarding the matter of so-called collective memory where memories are gathered around some signature event or events, for example, 9-11. The collective memory is loosely defined as accumulated invidual memories of hundreds and thousands, etc, and largely formally untallied and collated, yet made into a generalized statement by some authority, which then often persists and moves down even into history books despite never being vetted for verisimilitude, and which enters the pantheon of national belief in the form of social myth (urban myth?). Take for example the history surrounding the Blitz in 1940 London. Most accounts and history books describe these events, bombings and people in urban London diving into tube stations and other public spaces to avoid the bombs, and in joining willy nilly there somehow occurred some sort of social solidarity in which class boundaries disappeared. This is presented as fact, but actual facts show “not so much.” For one thing, the rich and poor did not suffer equally or even run equivalent risk, not by a long shot. The working classes and the poor, housed in industrial areas took the lion’s share of the pounding, and suburban areas where most of the middle class reside, was relatively untouched. Further, a survey was done in London or Londoners in Nov 1940 at the height of the blitz, during the 57 straight days and nights of bombs, and result from that showed that 4 percent of Londoners used the Tube (subway) as shelters, and another 9 percent used other public shelter. The remaining 83 percent used private family shelters, left the city (the majority did this), or felt no need to go to any shelter and remained at home to take their chances. Even in those public shelters where some mixing occurred, it was reported that all was not copacetic and social harmony was fragile at best. And this the stats etc, point to a very different conclusion than the more commonly reported and accepted notion that everybody drew closer because of German bombs. The facts simply don’t support that conclusion, much as warm and fuzzy remembrances might want that to be the case.
And there are different kinds or forms of “collective “ memory. Official memory is a vision of the past, approved by the state or some influential public authority. By comparison, “popular memory” grows a less directed set of beliefs, but every bit as purposeful. While official history comes from officials, popular history comes from citizens through all sorts of cultural vehicles, eg, books, poetry, film, art, etc. Popular memory seems to form when private remembrance intersects public representations of past events.
There’s an old saw that news is the “first cut” on history, which is true to some extent, but first news, driven by that old bugaboo competition often accounts for total and inexcusable inaccuracies in the facts, not just flawed, but sometimes way off the tracks in the “Bozone.” It then falls to historians over time to sort out the first cuts, and blend official accounts with popular accounts to figure out what the heck actually happened. By definition these attempts, as sincere as they may be, will often be incomplete and in error. The truth sometimes takes decades or centuries to sort out, even where major significant events are concerned. Think about the A-bombs used in Japan. We are just now beginning to come to grips with that massive event in life-taking.
Writers of history and fiction have to tread carefully with nonfiction’s effort far more demanding than those of us who make stuff up. In my world, the only test is can I get you to believe and accept the story I’m trying to tell. The nonfiction history writer has a much more difficult row to hoe.
Let me end with some thoughts on the further complexity of official and popular histories. There seem to be several levels of this, ranging from the First order, which is our personal history, that one known only to us (as much as we can understand it, and with full understanding that psychologists suggest most people re-invent themselves as long as they live.) The point is that this sort of history stays private for the most part, and is rarely revealed
Next on the ladder is our family and close group memories and histories, the stuff only those in the fam or group know, and much of which is never shared outside the group.
Next up is the neighborhood, town, school, military level of official and popular history, all of which is known to one extent or another in official histories and popular tellings.
Add to these that some historical matters are never or only under pressure revealed. I think of the Tuskegee syphilis studies of black men, who were left untreated so doctors could observe how the disease affected and eventually killed them. Too forever for that truth to emerge.
Historian are faced with monumental challenges in sorting out what was real and not so real, and what was truly important and not just officially spooned out pablum. History teachers are faced with like challenges in figuring out how to talk to and guide their students.\
History and just the facts: Easier said than done.
The usual routine here, writing and drawing and reading with occasional fishing. Here follows some of the summer drawing output, all these in marker, Swiss watercolor crayons, and color pencil. Great fun to experiment, try new stuff, new subjects, but somehow my mind usually turns back to fish. Gotta do something with time, eh?