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The Road to Marfa: Famous Road Trips.

Photo from Super 169.

Road trips have been a part of American history since they were possible – “Every American hungers to move,” wrote John Steinbeck. Whether it’s a trip mostly for the destination, or a trek just for the sake of it, road trips do something to the soul.

I have been very lucky in my life to take many road trips – some alone, some with great friends, and some with a meowing cat in the backseat (or hissing over my shoulder at the oncoming traffic).

I’m very familiar with the roads from Indiana to Louisiana, many routes through Florida, and have ridden in the car countless times through Kentucky and into every corner of Tennessee. I have reveled at otherwise boring sights – passing through Birmingham, Alabama (the only highlight of a 15 hour trip), the faded T-Rex in Tennessee alerting passersby of Dinosaur world, and the coming and going of familiar restaurants and pit stops that so quickly become comforts of the road.

One of my most memorable road trips was from Austin, Texas to Oklahoma City – it was nothing but tall rock, cattle fields, and pickup trucks barreling down dusty farm roads – I felt like I was living in a Nicholas Sparks’ novel, aside from the occasional casino that would pop up every twenty miles or so.

Because road trips are such a part of being American, they’re a part of our literature, and our culture. And I wanted to share some of those more well-known road trips here.

On the Road

“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac is a classic literature piece that really captures the spirit of the American road trip. Published in 1957, the most famous road trip in American literary history features two friends: Sal Paradise (really Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty criss-crossing the country during the 1940s, including a trip south of the border. According to a map of their travels, they likely would have driven right through Marfa!

Traveller

In 2015, country artist Chris Stapleton released “Traveller”, an album he wrote after taking a soul-searching road trip. In 2013, Stapleton’s father died, and he’s told multiple news outlets that he needed to regroup. So, his wife bought a 1979 Jeep and they flew to Arizona and spent 10 days driving it back home. Stapleton has said that the album’s title track was inspired by seeing the sunrise over New Mexico.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

In 1983, we were introduced to the charming Griswold family when they pack up their station wagon and head across the country to the Walley World theme park and partake in many adventures. Today, this movie remains to be a classic, and an interesting reminder of what life on the road was like pre-smart phone.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

We were graced with “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson first as a 2-part series in “Rolling Stone” in 1971, and then it was released as a book in 1972. It became a movie in 1998. It is a story based on two road trips Thomson took to Las Vegas on journalism gigs. Aside from the road, there’s lots of drugs and hallucinations, and although it’s difficult to decipher the real from the imagination, it makes for a memorable tale.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

While this 1997 hilarious film (it’s one of my favorites) doesn’t revolve around a road trip, it’s vital to the plot. Lifelong friends Romy and Michele decide to travel from Los Angeles to Tucson for their high school reunion where they plan on fooling their old classmates with a detailed story about their post-high school success, complete with fancy rental convertible and home-sewn outfits. Somewhere along the road, they concoct their story, and get in a pretty nasty fight. It’s funny, relatable, and their road trip puts them in a classic diner with memorable one-liners.

Paper Towns

In 2008, John Green graced us with “Paper Towns” in book form, which later became a movie (in 2015). Set in Orlando, Florida, “Paper Towns” is the story of Quentin Jacobsen — a less-than-popular high school senior, who has spent a majority of his life being obsessed with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman (the legend).

“Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose six-syllable name was often spoken in its entirety with a kind of quiet reverence. Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose stories of epic adventures would blow through school like a summer storm…”

Quentin has only admired her from afar, until she steps into his room one night in need of his help with a revenge mission. He’s as close to her as he’s ever been, but before his ultimate dreams come to fruition, she’s off on one of her adventures, leaving the town wondering where she went.

But just like before, she leaves clues behind. Quentin and his friends go in search of her clues, heading on a man hunt (in a soccer mom van) across the country to find their six-syllable, legendary classmate.

Crossroads

I mean how can I even consider leaving out Miss Britney Jean Spears and her on-screen debut in 2002?? I cannot. It was not a great movie, possibly not even a good one, but it involves three teenage girls taking a road trip across the country (in a convertible) in search of themselves. Aw.

And there you have it! What are some of your favorite books, movies, or even songs that reference life on the road? I’d love to hear them! Tomorrow, I’m talking what to pack, or at least, what I’ve got piled up ready to go…

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BBC: ‘Most Talkative’.

Hello! I know I’ve sort of been keeping the blog strictly to book and music reviews lately – I am just not quite ready to blog about things much deeper, yet. I am also very happy to have had some time to read said books and listen to some new (new to me, anyway) music that I can share with you if you’re looking for recommendations. I promise the day will come when there will be more of a variety of things here, like there once was!

But, let’s get into it! I actually didn’t “read” this latest book, but rather, I listened to it during a road trip about a week ago. It still counts, right? I think I’d been putting off reading this book, because it’s the last of the Andy Cohen books – I’ve now read them all!

So yes, the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture” by Andy Cohen. Here’s the description from Amazon:

The man behind the Real Housewives writes about his lifelong love affair with pop culture that brought him from the suburbs of St. Louis to his own television show

From a young age, Andy Cohen knew one thing: He loved television. Not in the way that most kids do, but in an irrepressible, all-consuming, I-want-to-climb-inside-the-tube kind of way. And climb inside he did. Now presiding over Bravo’s reality TV empire, he started out as an overly talkative pop culture obsessive, devoted to Charlie’s Angels and All My Children and to his mother, who received daily letters from Andy at summer camp, usually reminding her to tape the soaps. In retrospect, it’s hard to believe that everyone didn’t know that Andy was gay; still, he remained in the closet until college. Finally out, he embarked on making a career out of his passion for television.

The journey begins with Andy interviewing his all-time idol Susan Lucci for his college newspaper and ends with him in a job where he has a hand in creating today’s celebrity icons. In the witty, no-holds-barred style of his show Watch What Happens Live, Andy tells tales of absurd mishaps during his ten years at CBS News, hilarious encounters with the heroes and heroines of his youth, and the real stories behind The Real Housewives. Dishy, funny, and full of heart, the New York Times bestseller, Most Talkative, provides a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the world of television, from a fan who grew up watching the screen and is now inside it, both making shows and hosting his own.

…And in case you’re wondering, the audio version is read by the author, which is fantastic! I cannot explain just how much I love Andy Cohen, and I’ve enjoyed reading all three of his books, and loved being able to see him live with Anderson Cooper.

I have always admired Andy because of his humble beginnings – he grew up like most of us did, and he climbed the ranks old school, and made it big in his 40s. In “Most Talkative”, he explains how TV shaped his life (preach it) and it’s easy to see how his obsession with daytime soaps paved the way for one of his most successful endeavors: The Real Housewives franchise.

The book is also filled with laugh-out-loud moments, from pranks he played on his family to his all-too-real run-ins with celebrities. He even shares his coming out story.

I’m recommending this book to Andy Cohen fans, of course, but also to reality TV fans, and aspiring journalists everywhere.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Ramona Blue” by Julie Murphy.

Farewell, Hef.

Hugh and Barbi.

I woke up this morning and saw the news that Hugh Hefner passed away, at 91.

I know there are many mixed feelings about him, and about the business he conducted during his life, but I’ve always admired him as the leader of the sexual revolution, a cutting-edge publisher, and an activist for women’s rights, civil rights, and equality.

In college, I cheered when “Playboy” came to town – complete with its writers and famous photographers. I had my photo taken as part of an audition for a college issue of “Playboy”, and although I didn’t make the cut, I was interviewed and featured in the Baton Rouge newspaper, and had an op-ed on Playboy.com and in my college newspaper (shoutout to “The Reveille”!).

As I said then, I’ve always associated “Playboy” with some of the most beautiful, iconic women of our time: Anna Nicole Smith, Vanna White, and Madonna, among many others. “Playboy” celebrated sex in a way that made it socially acceptable for women to admit they enjoyed sex, and they enjoyed it before marriage.

The magazine highlighted social issues over the years and was used as a platform to highlight the AIDS crisis, support gay rights, and announced its support for abortion eight years before Roe v. Wade. Hefner funded the reward money to resolve a civil rights case and established a foundation that supports rape crisis centers and the Kinsey Institute.

In my bathroom, I’ve got a small collection of framed “Playboy” covers from the 60s and 70s, including one that features one of Hefner’s girlfriends, Barbi Benton, playing a game of chess (with bunny pieces, of course). Benton was famously featured in the magazine four times and was trusted at the center of the “Playboy” enterprise. She even founded the Playboy mansion west, it’s most famous location in California.

In 2006, I traveled to Los Angeles for the first time and was lucky enough to take a trip to Playboy Radio, where models of all sorts were interviewed for the radio show. It was just another side to the industry Hefner created.

On the way to work this morning, a radio show I like was trying to decide if Hefner was generally a thumbs up or a thumbs down for women. I’m sticking to it and saying he’s a thumbs up. Yes, I’ve heard about some of the things that happen at the playboy Mansion, but I’m chalking that up to environment and culture. People will be people.

I’m thankful for Hefner paving the way in publishing; for celebrating women’s bodies and our right to have sex like men. I’m thankful for his contributions to social justice.

Stay cool, Hef.

‘So Cosmo’: BAHAMADRAMA.

Another installment of ‘So Cosmo’.

Austin is hopping from SXSW, and I partook in a little bit of the fun yesterday (read: I broke my diet to drink a frose – frozen rose – and eat a Frito pie)! I also stopped by an iconic Austin spot, Jo’s Coffee, and had their signature drink, an “Iced Turbo” and it was fantastic. But, today I’m reminded of my age, as my back and legs hurt tremendously. But, it was worth it.

So, last night on “So Cosmo”… now the relationship is on like Donkey Kong between Diandra and Evan. Oh la la! Diandra is working on an article for “Cosmo” about how she posed nude for the first time. Note: when she posed was when she was in the Hamptons – and she’s not nude, it’s implied (bubbles are covering her bits).

Regardless, she shows Evan the picture, and in return, he rips his shirt off right in the office (WHY do I not work at Cosmo?!).

In other news, there is a scheduled photo shoot for the magazine in the Bahamas, and a massive hurricane is coming. The backup plan is Miami, even though that doesn’t really look promising, either. So, now the team has to come up with a third plan, which is Coney Island.

However, Diandra and Evan are already in Miami… so that’s interesting. But even when the boss calls them to hop on a plane ASAP, the chances are pretty high that they’ll stay another night.

They hit the night scene, and it’s pretty cute, not gonna lie. They do have separate rooms, but it appears they only used one…

The only other question about the shoot is… who is going to do it? Because the best fitness shoots involve a fitness model, and Diandra was supposed to do it, but can she? Can she hold a squat in the proper position? Guess we’ll have to see.

Part of the shoot is on the beach, meaning Evan and Diandra are literally doing single-handed planks in the sand. Ouch.

The other part of the shoot is a fashion spread on the boardwalk, and it looks cute with all of the retro rides and bright colors.

Back at the office, some of the editors take a look at all of the pictures. They are feeling the pressure because this is the first photo shoot they’ll be showing their new editor. Steven takes a hard look at the pictures of Evan and Diandra, and it turns out they look really great.

James jokes that they’ll probably be putting D on the cover next year… but who knows!

The preview for next week’s episode looks like more drama between Evan and Diandra, and I think this whole thing is getting tired. Le sigh. Come on, Cosmo!

‘So Cosmo’: Is He Truly Into You?

Joanna and Tiffanyyyyy.

Hey, hey! We’re on the downside of the week, and I’m feeling good. And yep, last night was episode 5 of “So Cosmo”. Honestly, the more I watch this show, the more I like it… so let’s get into it!

The episode started with some of the staff members doing a sexy workout – literally a workout that was supposed to work the sex muscles. Naturally Evan was there, as was Diandra, where it was also announced that Cosmo has a house in the Hamptons just for the weekend – so, that should be REAL interesting.

Later, Evan and Tiffany go indoor rock climbing. Alone. And this bugs the shiiiiit out of Diandra. Later, the boys on Fire Island were talking about it, and they conclude that this was Tiffany’s idea, despite the fact that she doesn’t ever workout. #Shade

At the rock wall, Evan is topless. Tiffany claims Evan promised her 1-on-1 workout sessions and that she needs to work on her ass. Hmm.

Later, Diandra is at a friend’s house having wine and sushi while wearing a silk robe. Because what else? And as she is scrolling through Instagram, she sees the picture of Tiffany rock climbing. And this is not a happy mood.

That weekend, some of the staff heads to the house in the Hamptons. Steven, Tiffany, Leah (who weirdly brings her husband and 2-year-old), James…and Evan and Diandra. THIS is awkward.

Tiffany and Evan decide to workout (ugh); naturally, Evan is topless, and Diandra is back in her silk robe looking pissy.

Adam decides to have a photo shoot with Diandra, and some bubble bath… and as they are filling the tub, here comes Evan and Tiffany on their way to the steam room together.

Outside at the pool, Steven arrives with a box of sex toys… and then Tiffany makes this big show about how she’s going upstairs to put on her “pajamas”, and she makes certain Evan knows it. Umm girl…

Tiffany and Evan are now the talk of the Hamptons, and I am actually more upset about this than I probably should be. This is just shadyyyyyy.

The next morning, everyone wants to know where Evan was to host the AM workout. When Tiffany comes downstairs, everyone is all, “Was Evan in your room?” And she simply says, “Yeah, I needed a cuddle buddy.”

Later, Diandra is chatting it up with the fashion assistant, and basically says this Evan shit is driving her crazy, and that she really just wants to KNOW what is going on between him and Tiffany.

Tiffany acknowledges the awkwardness in a confessional – she basically says she knows Diandra is starring her down and going crazy, but she doesn’t care because Diandra had so many chances to get with Evan, and she didn’t. Damn, ok.

After dinner, Tiffany and Evan head into the steam room. Diandra goes insane, and storms up to the steam room, and listens outside the door and can hear Tiffany talk about how it’s so hot she might not even be able to wear a swimsuit.

Soooo Diandra busts open the door, and the two aren’t in the steam room, but rather just standing in the bathroom, fully clothed, and the entire thing was a prank to make Diandra realize just how crazy she is about Evan.

Evan and Diandra have a talk and she admits she was jealous of Tiffany. And then they make out, and it’s pretty cute.

And then every single person in the house puts on a sheet mask, because Cosmo.

BBC: ‘Superficial’.

Whoop – it’s Friiidaaaaay! I’m excited for the weekend because my dance studio is hosting it’s semi-annual showcase on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to the performance, and seeing all of my other friends rock their dances, too.

Each weekend I’ve been spending some quality time reading, and I hope to get a few hours in this weekend, too, because I’m just loving all of the books flying off my reserve list at the library lately. So, let’s talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries” by Andy Cohen. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

The megapopular host of Watch What Happens: Live and executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise is back, better than ever, and telling stories that will keep his publicist up at night.

Since the publication of his last book, Andy has toured the country with his sidekick Anderson Cooper, hit the radio waves with his own Sirius station, Radio Andy, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher despite his mother’s conviction he was not intellectually prepared, hosted NBC’s Primetime New Year’s Eve special, guest edited Entertainment Weekly, starred in Bravo’s Then & Now with Andy Cohen, offended celebrities with his ongoing case of foot-in-mouth disease, and welcomed home Teresa “Namaste” Giudice, from a brief stint in jail. Hopping from the Hamptons to the Manhattan dating world, the dog park to the red carpet, Cardinals superfan and mama’s boy Andy Cohen, with Wacha in tow, is the kind of star that fans are dying to be friends with. This book gives them that chance.

If The Andy Cohen Diaries was deemed “the literary equivalent of a Fresca and tequila” by Jimmy Fallon, Superficial is a double: dishier, juicier, and friskier. In this account of his escapades―personal, professional, and behind-the-scenes―Andy tells us not only what goes down, but exactly what he thinks of it.

So, basically after writing “The Andy Cohen Diaries”, Andy said he just kept writing about his life, daily, and pitched it to his publisher, even though they said they didn’t want it. But of course, they published it and that’s how this book came to be.

On the one hand, if you’re an Andy Cohen fan, or really just a fan of pop culture in general, this book is punctuated by a lot of events you already know about – Joan Rivers’ funeral, Sarah Jessica Parker’s look for the Met Ball, and the outcome of the World Series.

But of course, Andy gives us a look into the parts of his life that we wouldn’t otherwise know: the extensive renovation of his New York City apartment, the start of his relationship with #BrazilianAndySamberg, how his XM radio channel was born, the idea for touring the country with Anderson Cooper, and his summer adventures following The Grateful Dead with John Mayer.

Per usual, there were a few scenes in the book that had me laughing out loud – a la, Andy making the hugest deal ever out of Sean Avery and his “overbuttered” pancakes.

This book was a little slow to start for me, but I soon was hooked. However, I will admit that I love Andy. I’m not sure this book would translate to the non-fans, but check it out – especially if you love Bravo!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is, “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty. I think this one was on my reserve list for at least three months – until now!

Aside from dancing all weekend, I’ll be doing lots of cooking/meal prep. Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see what’s on my stove. Have a great weekend y’all!