In the fall of 2002, in the company of a dog named Charlie Chaplin and an architect named Michael Meredith, I set out to drive a 1960 Chevy Apache 10 pick-up truck, at 45 mph, from far west Texas to New York City: 2364 miles through desert, suburbs, forests, lake-spattered plains, mountains, farmland, more suburbs and the Holland Tunnel. I got to know both of my travelling companions during a brief period living in the town of Marfa, Texas, which is also where I found the truck, parked in front of the post office: boxy, banged up, covered in sky-blue house paint, the half-smashed windshield a lattice of stars and linear cracks, like a flag. A Mexican man in his sixties walked outside with his mail and drove it away. Then I found it parked out by the cemetery. Jesse Santesteban, the owner, showed me where he'd signed the engine compartment like an artist, and said I could take a closer look. The doors had handmade wooden armrests, and the seatbelts were fashioned of canvas and chain link. An orange shag carpet covered the floorboards. I offered him $1200 cash. He handed over a green plastic keychain that read 'Laugh, live, love and be happy!' and warned: 'Don't take it over 45 or it'll throw a rod.' A friend later explained: 'That's a polite way of saying the engine will explode.'
LRB 17 July 2008 | PDF Download