Read Rich Aucoin’s Tour Diary as He Bikes Across America: Volume 4
Death, decay, and renewal on the road from Amarillo to Oklahoma City.Photos: Rich Aucoin Music Features Rich Aucoin
Back in April, we started following psych-rocker Rich Aucoin as he began the coast-to-coast U.S. tour for his new EP, ‘Hold’—which he’s doing on his bicycle. Read Volume 1 here, Volume 2 here and Volume 3 here. Aucoin will check in with regular updates from his journey, which is set to wrap up June 29 in Brooklyn.
Volume 4: Amarillo, Texas to Oklahoma City, Okla.
In case anyone was wondering if bottles filled with people’s urine on the side of the road was a thing, it is. I pass dozens of these every day—sitting here for future generations in plastic time capsules of douchebaggery.
This is my final stretch on Route 66, which runs from Santa Monica, Calif., to Chicago, making the hard left turn north in Oklahoma. I’ll be curving off and heading further south toward Little Rock after Oklahoma City. It’s been very eye-opening to see “America’s Main Street” running through the bedrock of the American town, most of which have a museum dedicated to the Route 66 ideal with preserved relics from its heyday. Here’s one with “The Largest Route 66 Sign in the World”.
It’s not all nostalgia on Route 66, though. Some places have embraced the future while preserving the aesthetics of the past. In Shamrock, Texas, the Conoco Tower Gas Station and its accompanying U-Drop Inn Cafe have been refurbished to their 1930s prime…
…but with the added element, thanks to Elon Musk, of now being a Tesla recharging station instead of a fossil fuel station.
Next door to the station is an amazing gem of a record shop, Spinning Jenny’s, like one would expect to see in the hip neighborhood of a major city. Instead it’s nestled in Shamrock, population 1,910. Between the station and this record shop, it’s well worth the five-minute detour for motorists speeding by on the nearby interstate, which bypasses the town. I hope this shop does well. I love seeing people getting into whatever they do for the right reasons and/or for the love of something. With any luck, this station/music hub will bring more people to this small town, and other small towns can find similar ways to pull people from the pace of their monotony on the freeways of America.
Remember that it’s all luck: We can only try to give ourselves more chances to obtain those fortunate breaks. Anyone claiming to have accomplished something others consider great from their sheer will power is either in some narcissist delusion or failing to see all the variables surrounding them and their position. Many people we consider successful fail at giving an exact roadmap to their success, because it was a messy, uncontrolled experiment.
This sentiment is not meant to devalue hope and determination but rather to put it in perspective, especially while we reflect on our own failures to meet our expectations. Realizing that there are factors we cannot control, and pressing on anyway, is the best we can do in our various quests to achieve whatever it is we want in life. It certainly helps with mental health to juxtapose the voice that we all entertain, the one that pokes and prods at our failures. Though this voice is necessary, when balanced it provides a healthy self-consciousness to our newfound ideas and ventures.
I am reminded of this kind of luck continuously as I encounter death on this ride every five minutes or so. So many animals in various levels of decay who were unlucky in their forced interaction with humans and their technology. It’s been so much lately that I feel like half my breath is of death.
Being in touch with this really grounds one to the reality of mortality and also to the precarious nature of being around these vehicles we’ve created which can easily take life.
Oklahoma City was the halfway point in this journey. Played two shows and was accompanied by bandmate Neil Fridd, aka Terror Pigeon. It was nice to see a familiar face after so much alone time. I crashed hard after the shows. too. If you’ve been to one of my shows before, you know they take a lot of out me.
This has been a difficult tour with lots of lows, which I’m trying to analyze while focusing on the highs. Crossing the halfway point brings with it a certain shift that I’m hoping will yield to more of the highs than lows in my mindset crossing the eastern states. Stay tuned!
Playlist for this section:
1. U.S. Girls: “Mad As Hell”
2. Janelle Monae: “Pynk (feat. Grimes)
3. Anderson. Paak: “Bubblin”
4. Terror Pigeon: “Girl”
5. Micah E. Wood: “Club Song”
6. Jennifer Castle: “Tomorrow’s Mourning”
7. Jon Hopkins: “Neon Pattern Drum”
8. Beach House: “Dark Spring”
9. The Octopus Project: “Small Hundred”
10. Meth Dad/Cherub: “Witness”
And catch me on this tour:
5/24: Nashville, Tenn.: The East Room w. Soft Bodies, Black Moon Mother, Brainweight
5/31: Knoxville, Tenn.: The Birdhouse w. Meth Dad, Majesty
6/20: Washington, D.C.: DC9 w. Terror Pigeon, OG Lullabies, Electric Grandmother
6/23: Baltimore, Md.: The Crown w. Terror Pigeon, DYYO, Micah E Wood
6/26: Philadelphia, Penn.: PhilaMoca w. Terror Pigeon, The Obsessives
6/29: Brooklyn, N.Y.: Knitting Factory w. Terror Pigeon, Ellevator, Cutters