June 21, 2002

Truckin' June 2002, Vol 1, Issue

Welcome to Truckin' my new monthly E-Zine! This month's issue features the debut of several new writers, as well as a piece I wrote for Japhans all over the world. Relax, enjoy, and please tell your friends about this new site. Thanks for all your support. Salukis!

1. Subway Quotes by Tenzin McGrupp
2. The Cheshire Grin by Señor
3. Desperation by Inasa J. Carter
4. The WHAT Lounge? by Armando Huerta
5. Fukuoka, Phishy City by Tenzin McGrupp
6. Sisters Do America by Lori Blandford
7. How High Can You Try by Señor
8. The Catch Up Conversation by Tenzin McGrupp

June 19, 2002

Subway Quotes

by Tenzin McGrupp

Top 4 Quotes I heard on the subway in the last week:

4. "He's smart and cute, dresses really nice and he likes musicals, but no, he's not gay." -overheard on the No. 1 Train by two Columbia U co-eds talking about her date the night before

3. "Yo, if I was homeless, yo, I'd do something stupid to get thrown in jail. Then I'd get a place to sleep and three meals to eat, yo. But the only bad thing is that you have to become a woman. And that hurts, yo." -from a group of kids on the A Train

2. "New York is a safe city, and I have no complaints, excpet the night I was shot for no reason." -from a lady who was talking to a group of European tourists on the No. 1 Train

1. "Oh my goodness, is that shit coming out of his shorts? And I thought he just smelled bad." -young woman to me on the No. 1 Train

June 14, 2002

The Cheshire Grin

A Vietnam Story by Señor

The shit really hit the fan in Hanoi but the trouble had been brewing since Hoi An. Everything was going great. I'm in a beautiful country, traveling with a beautiful woman named Hang, the weather is glorious… life was good!

Hoi An is a picturesque Vietnamese village located some 20 miles south of Danang. Hoi An is famous for beautiful beaches, enchanting laid back atmosphere, and dirt cheap shopping. That’s right, the main streets are lined with tailor shops after tailor shops, where one can buy an Armani suit or Versace dress for $10 US dollars. Ten bucks! But not even the deal of a century could get me to buy a suit. You see, I just recently quit being "a suit" and the last thing in the world that I wanted to do was buy a suit.

Hang and I are driving from Hue’ to Hoi An. The previous night we shared our first (which also turned out to be our last) passionate night together. But, now we were acting like two school kids with crushes. I have to admit, it was kinda sweet. Unfortunately, things changed suddenly just as we arrived in Danang. For the next several hours Hang alternated between completely ignoring me and giving me attitude. I am not sure which I preferred! Now I imagine I must have done something to set her off, but for the life of me I have no clue what that something was. In Hoi An we rented a moped, in silence, and headed off to the beach. Half way there I decided enough was enough! "I’m on vacation, I don’t need to deal with this bullshit!"

After the beach I planned to take a taxi to Danang Airport and catch the next flight to Hanoi. There Hang and I would part ways. Hang, off to her home and as for me, well I would be free to pursue happiness in peace! I told Hang the plan and she thought it was a great idea. As a matter of fact I hadn’t seen her this happy in hours, which of course just pissed me off even more!

By the time we got to the beach Hang was a different woman. Actually she was the same woman she had been the night before. She was smiling, laughing, holding my hand, kissing me… this chick is schitzo!!! I decided to enjoy the moment while simultaneously I looked forward to our parting of ways. Happy Hang did not stick around for too long. At the Danang Airport she wouldn’t even sit near me, much less next to me. On the plane she wouldn’t talk to me. As the plane was landing at the Hanoi Airport, I decided to make a bee line for the taxi stand and be done with Hang for good. That was not meant to be. Hang, now speaking to me again, convinced me that it would be better if we took a bus together to downtown Hanoi. There I could take a taxi and she would be met by her brother. Why I listened to her when I could’ve just gotten the hell away from her, I‘ll never know!

By the time we reached downtown it was almost midnight and I had no idea where I would stay for the night. Much to my surprise Hang took her brother’s moped. Yes, they all have mopeds over there! So Hang told me to hop on and told her brother that she would be right back. I thought, "Should I go with her? I am the adventurous type, what the heck!" I hopped on and off we went. Hang told me that she would feel awful if I had to take a taxi so late at night. She knew of a nice hotel that she would take me to. This must be the Sweet Hang.

Fate intervened with her good intentions. The hotel was closed for renovations. What to do now? I asked Hang if she could take me to another hotel. Apparently this was the wrong question to ask! Hang turned around and told me to get off the bike. I got off the bike while Hang calmly explained to me that her brother was waiting for her so she couldn’t possibly take me anywhere else. Off she went and there I was stranded in the middle of nowhere at close to one o'clock in the morning.

I picked up my backpack and began to walk back toward town. As I walked I just couldn’t prevent a smile from appearing on my face. Before I knew it I was grinning from ear to ear. You see, despite my current predicament I realized that I had finally gotten rid of Hang!

The Cheshire Grin by Señor is the first story in a collection of travel stories from his recent trip to Southeast Asia.


by Inasa J. Carter

I go outside... I need to see him. But he's not there. And desire creeps in heavy, weighted. I smoke in desperation, wasting and hungry for a glimpse, a glance. A flicker between us. Eye candy becomes a solid, scraping addiction... something I must have, even if for a second. The last smack, one line, one drag, one tiny sip of presence before me... I think about the things I'd say if I had to say something, which I don't, because he knows as well as I that there's nothing between here and there. Just a glance, the density of the moment always hangs between us like the thick and shimmering icicle just about to snap.

Inasa J. Carter is a writer from New York City.

Fukuoka, Phishy City

by Tenzin McGrupp

14 June 2000

Holly walks through our car on the bullet train with a grin on her face. “I lost my boyfriend,” as she shrugs her shoulders, “He got out at the last stop, went to go buy something on the platform, and the doors closed on him, and the train left without him.” Poor Holly, her boyfriend got off and never made it back on the bullet train to Fukuoka.

Our train arrives at Hakata Station in Fukuoka exactly one minute early than scheduled. Fukuoka is Japan’s largest and most populated southern city. A majestic port city, it is closer to Seoul, South Korea than it is to Tokyo, which gives Fukuoka a more international flavor, especially with a fair amount of American military around, the locals are more used to GAI-JIN. Señor and I walk through the busy Hakata Station and we find a crowd gathered around a stage with a live musical performance by a band and these tiny kimono wearing dancers. As we pause to check out the scene, I am aroused by the flavorful smells of baked goods. I turn around frantically, trying to seek out the origin of the smells, the aromas, the tantalizing treats that are making my already hungry stomach growl for more attention.

I find the bakery a few steps away called TANDOR. Upon entering the bakery you are walk among rows of baskets of baked goods, all various sizes and shapes, of fresh baked breads and pasties and cookies. The large brick bread making ovens are located right behind the check out counter, where all the workers are tiny Japanese girls who wear the most adorable white and red uniforms and lovely white gloves cover their tiny hands. They greet you with big smiles and sing a nice happy song to you as the customers pay. I have no idea what they are saying but it makes me smile anyway. I buy a loaf of garlic bread, a few rolls, a couple of chocolate doughnuts and three containers of orange juice. The portions are so small in Japan, that I have to buy almost double the amount of food that is presented to me. I lug my overstuffed backpack and my baked goods to the counter and the check out girl smiles and is overly enthusiastic about my sale. I bow my head and say, “Arigato!” And she smiles back and bows.

Señor and I walk out of Hakata Station and find our way to the subway, as I catch my first glimpse of downtown Fukuoka. It’s very sunny and warm, and this is the most sun I have seen since I arrived in Japan a week ago. I bask it up for a few moments before we walk into the subway and take a ride to the area of town where Phish is playing. We were suggested a hotel by the information desk at the train station, and like every city we traveled to on this trip, we never once made a reservation, we would just show up and take our chances finding lodging. Risky, but that's how we were doing this trip. As we exited off subway and started walking in the wrong direction, I stop to ask a local where our hotel was, he tells me I am going the wrong way and gives me the correct directions in perfect English! The Fukuoka locals are definitely more friendly down here in Sourthern Japan, and alot more willing to help with directions, as compared to the serious brush offs we were getting in Tokyo.

The hotel is overbooked, we unhappily find out upon arrival. But the manager recommends a cheaper place just a few blocks away. He even calls to make reservations for us! As I make small talk with the nice fellow, I find out that he’s not only well versed in English, but fluent in French as well. He worked at the Japanese Embassy in Paris for a decade, and I chat with him briefly in French, before thanking him and making our way to the next hotel. I’m pleasantly surprised by the friendly, curious energy and the laid back, Sunny California attitude of the locals. I’m really enjoying the vibe in Fukuoka and start to hope the vibe finds it’s way to the show later that night.

We check into our small rooms, shown to us by a very small and round elderly lady at the front desk who had been expecting us. I drop off my stuff, write a few lines, take a quick shower, make a quick inventory of my narcotics, Yen and tickets and head back to Hakata Station to meet Beano. He had separated from us in Tokyo and went to check out the mountains for a few days and skipped the Nagoya show. We are all excited to reunite, and when we finally find him, we’re all pumped and start to focus on Phish! On our way back to the hotel, Beano tells us stories about staying in a RYOKIN, a Japanese style hotel and a funny story about his bus ride from the hotel to the JR train station. We drop off his gear and head right for DRUM LOGOS, just a few blocks away, the venue where Phish should be starting up in less than 2 hours.

For the first time all trip, I kinda get us lost and Beano and Señor don’t have a clue because they have instinctively been following me the entire trip. I didn't want to tell them we were lost, so I just keep walking. I’m starting to feel the beginning effects of the shroomies I took before I left the hotel, and I hope I don't start booming too early, while I'm lost. I’m very confused because the street signs are all in Japanese and the map I have isn't very good, so I finally stop on one corner and confess to Beano and Señor, “Guys, I can’t find the venue.”

As they look at the map, I notice Mike Gordon (Bass player for Phish) walking down the adjacent street, and I quickly say, “Well we can always follow Mike to the show.”

And I pull them off in that direction. We keep following Mike about 20 yards behind, until I see a few phisheads loitering about, then I know I’m going in the right direction, onward to Drum Logos. In Japan, they let you into the show by ticket number so we had low numbers and scurry right inside and get a good spot for the general admission show. It's larger than the last venue in Nagoya, but smaller than the Zepp in Tokyo. Señor meets two Deadheads living in Southern Japan and it's their only show of the tour. I meet a couple of kids from the Navy (they barely shaved) and they ask me for some LSD. I tell them I’m not holding and they explain to me how they get drug tested, but not for acid. Interesting. Good to know my tax dollars are being spent on random psychedelic experimentation for our soldiers throughout the world. G.I. Joe keeps asking me if they are going to play WILSON and I keep telling him (and showing him the setlist from the Nagoya show) that they played it last night.

I notice this show might have the most Americans in attendance. Most of them I haven't seen on tour. They is a lot of military personnel and Yanks working in Southern Japan which accounted for the new American faces. Zobo is with Aki and Kimi and they find us and sit down. I also see Dan and Marie from San Francisco and all three girls named Heather on tour, as the lights go down and the boys start out dark and I fire up the hashish and toke with Beano.

Carini is one of my favorite Phish songs to hear and I love the frantic and dark Phish to begin the night. Cities was fun because Zobo was making me laugh the entire song and Trey changed some of the lyrics to: “It's only the noodles... It's only the noodles” Gumbo was well placed and unexpected, and Heavy Things is a Japanese favorite and makes the crowd go a little crazy. A edgy Split Open & Melt closed the heavy, contumacious and dark set. When the lights came back on, Beano and I made a beeline for the Beer Line as I scribbled down the setlist:


A Japanese kid in line behind me recognizes me and says with a warm smile, “Tokyo show?”

I nod and agree, trying to remember who he was then I recall he had been wearing a Dog Faced Boy T-shirt at the Zepp show, and I then I exclaim, “Zepp Tokyo. Great show! Seiko!”

He gets excited and laughs and I chuckle as I am slowly becoming a celebrity, being recognized left and right by random Japanese tour rats. We make our back to Señor and he’s smoking with Aki and Kimi and they are getting very shitty. I turn to Aki and say, 2001.

His eyes get all wide, “Really?”

“Yeah bro, it will make my whole tour.”

Aki agrees and passes me some homegrown Osaka cannabis. Before the second set starts I put the vibe out. 2001, 2001, 2001. I keep thinking it aloud. 2001, 2001...

The set begins with Back on the Train > Twist > Jam. The Jam was a very odd spacey jam which then segued into Walk Away. Our lost member of Phish, Page was smoking during this tune. I almost forgot about Page this tour. He was just chilling back, grooving and waiting for his moment. Slowly Walk Away jammed into 2001! I turned to Aki and he just nods his head and gives me a huge smile! I nod back and get lost into the spacey grooves and loops of 2001. Phish peaked at this point and closed the set to the satisfied and funked out crowd. The Twist was 18 minutes long! And I finally got my Japan 2001.

Trey walked onsatge for the encore and someone yelled, “SLEEP”. Trey laughs and jokingly says, “We haven’t played that this tour. We were going to play another song, but we’ll play that. Two songs. We’ll play two songs!” as he holds up two fingers.

The crowd erupts as Phish accommodated a rare request from a Japhan in the front row. I’m not a big fan of Coil, but I focus on Page the entire song, and just watch him play for the last 15 minutes of the show. Page is on a different planet tonight and he does me right, as I finish up jotting down the setlist:

Set 2: Back on the Train > TWIST AROUND > JAM > Walk Away > 2001

Encore: Sleep > COIL

Happy, smiling, elated, over joyed, full of the Fukuoka vibe, we wander out of Drum Logos, only to find Asselope Greg selling one of his Antelope T-shirts.

“McGrupp, buy one. $20,” he yells to me.

“I’ll buy two of those overpriced shirts for 2000 Yen,” as he pretends to ignore my offer, “Well fuck off!" What an Asselope!

We look for a veggie friendly restaurant to eat in for Beano and settle for a Yakatori place on the corner. Every time someone enters and leaves the restaurant, the chef bangs a drum that is located above the bar and yells something out loud. It’s too funny. I can’t get enough of it. I’m booming just a little bit, so I still have the giggles, and I don't know what to eat so I just point to stuff on the grill and they serve it to me. Great eats, which are basically just veggies, chicken, beef and stuff grilled on sticks. Nothing special, but it sets us all right. We have a couple of beers and I’m not tripping anymore as my previous altered state enters into drunk mode. We leave the restaurant, as they bang the drum, and we laugh and take pictures before we stumble off towards our hotel.

At night the local restaurants, bars and hotels leave their recyclable goods on the street for a pick up and Señor and I find a few empty kegs and we start tossing them around and about the empty street. I pick up one over my head as Señor takes a picture. Yeah typical stupid, drunk Americans, doing stupid stuff overseas. We are what we are, drunk wandering the streets of Fukuoka at night.

I re-wrote this short story, to celebrate the Second Anniversary of Phish's 2000 Summer Tour of Japan.

The WHAT Lounge?

by Armando Huerta

In early May of this year I was flying from Warsaw to Prague in Business Class (natch) on LOT Polish Airlines. One of the benefits of that, besides a faster check-in, is the use of the Business Class lounge. Nowadays, with check-in being required so much further in advance, while I wait for my flight I often look forward to sitting back in a nice leather chair, glass of something or other in my hand and a complimentary magazine to flip through. (Usually something I wouldn't be caught dead buying like Paris Match, HELLO or some other Euro-trash rag) Now, don't get me wrong, I am not above mingling with coach/economy/steerage trash but when presented with an alternative, I pick the latter. I'm all about alternatives... music... cuisine... lifestyle... but I digress.

There is something enticing about going into a privileged and restricted space instead of sitting on a pleather chair next to some dribbling baby while watching the family across from you package and repackage their home cooked meals into grease soaked cardboard boxes kept closed with red twine. When you're in a business/first class lounge you minimize exposure to the sort of person who takes time off from their oh so difficult crossword puzzle found in the back of an in-flight magazine to scratch their genitals with the pen they were using. Not to mention people in wife beaters and flip-flops. Granted, we are not on the maiden voyage of the QE II but it's hardly Daytona Beach people. A little decorum please…

Never having flown LOT out of Warsaw before I wasn't privy to their lounge. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. After hoofing it to the end of the terminal I came upon a blacked out glass door with Fantasia in neon lights overhead. Now, I know that Europeans are far more progressive than the puritanical bible beaters that populate the United States, but even so, I was stunned to find out they had strip clubs in the airport! Alas, it wasn't a voyeuristic palace of flesh but the rarefied and privileged business class lounge I was so desperately seeking.


Are you fucking kidding me?

As I was buzzed in I prayed that indeed the name was derived from the whimsical Disney movie with water lugging brooms and dancing hippos. Unfortunately the only hippos in there were overstuffed businessmen straight out of a New Yorker cartoon. They were about as graceful and cute as a naked hermaphrodite riding a seventies bike with a banana seat. Course... my eyes weren't directed at them but to the center of the room. Hard not to when you have strobes pulsating greenish light onto a pole. Not a Pole my friends but a pole! Unfortunately, before I could find out if the buxom, ridiculously blond lounge attendants were going to put that pole to use my flight was announced. I will never know if right after I left "Cherchez La Femme" began to blast on the speakers and an over the hill stewardess... I mean flight attendant, came out swinging her hips and jiggling her honeycombs with the nipples fetchingly concealed by pasties stamped with the airline logo. Maybe that's a good thing...

Armando Huerta originally from Brazil, lives in Boston, MA.

Sisters Do America

by Lori Blandford

Lori interviews herself about her most recent journey, a road trip across the United States with her sister. Starting in Buffalo, they visited Chicago, Denver, Jackson, Sun Valley, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Where did you go?
Cross country.

With who?
My sister Lisa, 23, the middle of we three Blandford sisters.

Why your sister?
I never considered taking this trip with anyone else. She's laid back, has excellent and the same taste in music, knows many of my friends, and I knew it would make my parents proud. And worried.

Why didn't the youngest sister go along?
A road trip that involves natural beauty isn't really Loni's cup of tea, shall we say.

Did you fight?
Mostly passive aggressively and mostly about driving styles. She's an ass rider. I also spent a lot of time as the passenger on the right side of the white line. Do you know what I mean? There was this one episode in Yellowstone when she was actually driving in the left lane of a two lane highway!! I guess that would put me as a passenger on the left side of the yellow line, which is scarier than rolling over those ridged warning lines. We sure know what those feel like. However, she is a good driver! Lisa's her name, speed's her game.

Why did you choose this trip?
It was on my list. I kind of see it as a "know thyself" thing. I have traveled quite a bit internationally but did not feel that knew MY land very well. Every time I say that I think of Woodie Gutherie.

Why in 2002?
Well, my sister Lisa graduated in December and was able to take the time off from her restaurant job. I have five weeks vacation and was anxious to get away for two. I wanted to show her some of my favorite cities and visit my friends in their cities. After 9/11, it seemed more important to explore America than the foreign places. For me anyhow.

How many miles did you drive? It felt like 9 gagillion at some points, like between Chicago and Denver, which we did in ONE day: 1100 miles! The official number was 4900 in 14 days. The change oil light was on for about 3000 of them.

Whose car?
We rented a 2002 white Pontiac Grand Am from National Car Rental. We named the car Cracker but it never really stuck.

What did you snack on?
Well, my sister did a great job of shopping and provided us with an array of cereals, her homemade trail mix, raisins, peanut butter and some whole wheat bread, and a few chocolate chip cookies, she couldn't bring the whole box because of my self control issues. And enough water to survive nuclear fallout.

How many CD's did you bring?
Well, I don't think we have an exact count but it was about 150. We never fight over music which was swell. We did get sick of our music however. We were very excited to break out the Pauly Mix once we entered the Pacific Time Zone. He made us a mix with instructions that it only be listened to once we arrived in PCT and we always follow instructions.

What was your favorite place?
Jackson, Wyoming.


Did you see any Jackalopes?
We were always just a minute behind a sighting. They're quick!

Who da ho?
I da ho! There is legal prostitution of natural beauty in that state. It's breathtaking.

You visited National Parks?
Yes, the national parks were one of the trip's objectives. We spent time at Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Craters on the Moon.

Yellowstone? Did you see Old Faithful?
Yes. Some roads in the park were closed the day prior because it had snowed so much but we were able to drive through without a problem. You go to the Old Faithful Visitors' Center and see what time the geyser is predicted to erupt within 20 minutes of the predicted time. It's exciting, I guess. It was very cold.

Did you miss NYC?
Not exactly. It was so exciting to have so many adventures ahead that missing NYC never really occupied my mind. Driving with NY plates was interesting because many people would comment and would automatically equate NY with NYC and that frustrated Lisa. She was like, "People! Hasn't anyone heard about the REST of New York State, like Buffalo? Hello!" I wore this blue hooded sweatshirt that has BROOKLYN written on it, and in Denver a woman only charged me for 10 bagels instead of 11 because she was from Brooklyn too.

Tell me about Whirly Ball.
In Chicago we stayed with my friend Keith. We played the drinking game Asshole with his friends and then headed out for a late night game of Whirly Ball, a game I believe to be indigenous to the Chicago area.Two teams of 6 are in bumper cars, each equipped with one of those scoop whiffle ball rackets. There are two basketball nets and the object is to whiz the ball through the net while riding around in bumper cars. It's quite violent. When we were leaving, we witnessed a teenager boy getting jumped and very beat up in the parking lot. For the rest of our trip, Lisa and I would punch one another, wrestle around and play Whirly Ball Parking Lot.

You celebrated your birthday in Chicago?
(Laughs). I'm a Scorpio. That means my birthday was NOT on May 18th, however we did celebrate it. My sister, Keith, his girlfriend and I enjoyed a delicious meal at this lovely Italian bistro close to Keith's place. We'd finished our meals and I ordered coffee and then smile when the soothing jazz is faded into a boisterous Italian rendition of Happy Birthday. A small, clapping, staff birthday train, you know the kind, makes its way across the restaurant… to me! Keith told the hostess it was my birthday and now the entire restaurant was singing to me! It was the best birthday ever. And the tiramisu! Maron!

Keith talks in his sleep?
He was the most gracious host and gave up his bed for us. Yes, the poor thing stayed with his gorgeous girlfriend instead. Well, the second night the three of us, Keith and Blandford sisters, stayed in his double bed. I was the meat. He has this touch lamp on the side of his bed, and throughout the night he kept grazing the light and it would turn on. He was also talking about ice cream the whole night…

You met Tony Blair on this trip?
Yes, and I kicked his ass in croquet! My smart, spunky, sassy girl Mary lives in Denver with her man, Bill-love. We visited them in and immediately noticed their croquet worthy backyard. As a thank you present for their five-star hospitality we took a trip to Target, oh the wonder! And we purchased the Eddie Bauer edition croquet set, which was the most expensive. One of Bill's friends is a conservative chap named Tony and he happens to fake a magnificent British accent, and is nicknamed Tony Blair. Ya, he was winning in croquet the entire game but with great skill I made a comeback and proceeded to send him far, far away. I won. I beat Tony Blair in croquet. I had quite a crush on Bill-love's other friend, um what's his name? He had like 3 first names and was so nice, cute and sweet and I just wanted to take him into the bathroom and smooch him and stuff. I should have recommended strip croquet. He would have been naked.

Where was the best hotel breakfast?
Portland, at the Silver Cloud Inn. They had a waffle iron, fat free yogurt, granola and skim milk, a rarity on the hotel breakfast circuit. Perhaps we were infatuated with the breakfast because it basically rained the entire time we were there and we needed some joy.

Was the weather nice in SF?
Beautiful. We were able to really enjoy our time there. We stayed with my super pal Geoff.

Geoff's toilet seat was broken?
There was a large crack in the toilet seat, yes. I made a joke about it and the next day his housemate Ryan comes home with a used toilet seat he scored from his construction job. Lisa and I sat making great efforts not to laugh as Geoff told Ryan how preposterous bringing home a used toilet seat was while Ryan expressed his dismay at Geoff not making ANY effort toward getting a new seat. Lisa and I talked about sending a pink padded toilet seat to Geoff at his office. But, well, ya we meant to.

You drove drunk?
I'm not sure if I was DWI worthy but the afternoon in Napa definitely caught up with me. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I was super stoked from the whole experience. I stumbled upon an interest I was able to enjoy on a new level. Wine. Yum yum.

What don't you ever want to drive over again?
Mountains. Those things are terrible. They're great to ski down but SCREW the driving for miles up and down and all around them.

Lori Boogie Blandford is a traveler from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Editor's Note: Tony Blair is the Prime Minister of England.

How High Can You Try?

A Cambodian Story by Señor

Buy, sell or possess illegal drugs in Singapore or Thailand and get the death penalty. No exceptions, no alternate interpretations of the law: Death. Upon arrival at Don Muong International Airport in Bangkok, you are greeted by a sign that makes this absolutely clear. No tourist can claim ignorance.

Such stringent penalties are not the same through out all of Southeast Asia, although government attitudes about drugs are similar. Cambodia is an exception to every rule, where lawlessness is the law and corruption is King. Get busted for marijuana and it’s gonna cost you. No, not your life, just many US dollars. Unhappy about that? No problem! If you pay the government enough you can buy yourself the position of Drug Tsar. Your word then becomes law until someone comes along and ups your ante.

With this in mind it should be of little surprise that while in Southeast Asia I chose Cambodia as the place to experiment with drugs. It all started off pretty harmlessly with a trip to the pharmacy for some Valium. I thought it might be nice to take some Valium and go sit on the beach during sunset. The adorable Cambodian woman behind the counter apologized to me and explained that Valium is a prescription drug. She could not sell it to me. Lucky for me "Honest" Abe Lincoln was on my side! Five extra dollars was transferred from my wallet to the pharmacist’s pocket and I was off to the beach, Valium in hand, to soak up the sunset.

The next day I decided to charter a boat to take me to a beautiful deserted island off the Cambodian coast. What exactly I needed to get away from, I’m not sure, but for a whopping two dollars I figured what the hell! So me and the local boat driver venture off on our journey. About an hour into the trip we come across another boat and this Indian looking fellow with a British accent hops onboard. I thought nothing of it at the time. I was happy to have the company of another English speaker. He seemed to be a pretty good guy. Finally we made it to our destination and this dude breaks out a phat bag of kind and offers to smoke me up. It’s as if he read my mind! These are the times joints were made for! We puff down until we were zooted and he asks me if I want to buy some off him. My own stash? Fuck yeah! No sooner do I pay the guy, does this bastard produce an ID and badge. He’s an undercover narc! I’m screwed! Well not really, you see he doesn’t want to arrest me. He actually likes hanging out with me! I’m afraid Abe Lincoln ain’t gonna do the trick this time. I throw down two Ulysses S. Grants. My new "friend" now smiles and bids me farewell. He was alright, he even let me keep the stash! Before he walked away he handed one of the $50’s to my boat driver. They shared a laugh and he was gone for good.

I wasn’t sure what lesson to take away from this experience. Did I learn that I am a lucky son of a bitch and I better start laying low? Or as long as I got $$$$$$ I’m bound by no law in this country.

I’d heard of Happy Pizza but not yet sampled the goods as I chose to learn the latter lesson. Apparently if you go to the right pizzeria and ask for Happy Pizza you get a pie with kind buds baked inside. I tried my luck and after eating a pretty good tasting pie, I was WASTED! There I was in this exotic land amongst a foreign people who speak a foreign language and I’m tripping my balls off! I wandered around for a while and wound up in a karaoke bar where an unbelievably sexy woman sat down next to me. She spoke to me the only English phrase that she knew, "Would you like a massage?" Ordinarily, I’m not the kind of guy to turn down such an enticing offer, but under the psychedelic circumstances it just wasn’t gonna happen. All was not lost. For the next few hours through pointing and repeating this young woman taught me Cambodian. I could now say, Cho kai muy (Cheers), Sua s'dei (Hello), Sohk sabaay te (How are you?) I could now count from 1 to 5! Muy, Pii, Bei, Buan, Bram and of course I could now say, Sri sa'at (You are beautiful!) I’m not exactly sure what really happened that night, but to my best recollection that’s the way things went down.

This positive experience just whetted my appetite for a little more hardcore experimentation. Aw kohn!

How High Can You Try? by Señor is the second story in a collection of travel stories from his recent trip to Southeast Asia.

June 07, 2002

The Catch Up Conversation

by Tenzin McGrupp

“You know,” she paused, “In Boston there was a bar that you would have loved. It's called Bukowski's and they have this contest. If you drink all of their 99 beers, you get a customized glass mug with your favorite writer's name engraved on it.”

“No shit? Charles Bukowski is the man. Wait, 99 beers in one night?”

“I know. You introduced me to him. And nope, it’s 99 beers over time.”

“How far are you up to? Do you get like a card stamped or something like that?”

She laughed, “I never did it! But you would have...and I always thought of you when I was in there. Yeah, you get a card. You check in when you go. They sign you off on a little checklist. “


“Yeah. If you're ever there, you should do it.”

“I think I’ll be in Boston sometime before the summer ends, so I promised my buddy Brad I’d come up before he starts work. Sweet. I’ll take a look perhaps?” I paused for a moment, then muttered, “Sounds like you think about me a lot?”

“McGrupp, I think about you everytime I pick up a pen. I have thought about you all the time over the last 4+ years.”

Startled, I retort, “But that is slightly unhealthy.”

“Why is it unhealthy?”

“Too much of McGrupp is a bad thing. I’m great in small doses, usually 250 mgs.”

‘“Well, on Wednesday night, I'll get my fix. For a short while, at least,” she reassured me.

“Yeah, you know I love talking to you, it’s always good dialogue, I might steal it for a screenplay.”

"It's all yours baby."

“Seriously no bullshit, I can’t wait to see you.”

“I can't either. And I'm only sorry I didn't hunt you down sooner. I could have really used to have you around when I got out of the hospital. You've always been so good to me, McGrupp.”

“Yeah. If I knew you were in the hospital, I would have dropped everything to come see you. I’m shocked to think that 3 weeks after I found your e-mail address, we will be seeing each other in NYC of all places.”

“Amazing. I love it!” she said in her most excited tone.

“Yeah, is it a sign?” I thought aloud.

“What do YOU think it means?”

I racked my brain to say something witty. No avail. “I dunno.”

“I think you do. I think you have SOME idea in that twisted head of yours.”

To be continued...

What a long strange trip it's been...

From the Editor's Laptop: I hope you enjoyed the first issue of TRUCKIN'. Thanks to the generosity of the writers who shared their intimate experiences with us, we were all able to be transported and taken along for the ride across our vast country from Yellowstone Park to the corrupt locals of Cambodia, from the crowded subways of NYC to the sandy the beaches of Vietnam, from a Phish concert in Fukuoka, JAPAN, to Jackson, Wyoming, from an innocent peek into a strip bar in Warsaw, Poland, to Whirly Ball in Chicago and beyond. This is the just the beginning of my vision of self publishing! More to come, as more ideas are already popping up in my head. Thanks to the writers who submitted articles. You all did an excellent job. Next month's issue promises to be as exciting and diverse.

In the upcoming JULY issue, catch the next installments of Señor's Asian travels as well as some surprises from yours truly, Tenzin McGrupp.

In the meantime read my most recent experiment, E-Story 2: Ivan the Russian Cab Driver.

If you would like to comment or contact any of the authors, please send an E-mail here: CONTACT TRUCKIN'

Again, thanks for your support!