Essays: On The Road And A Little Off

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   TOURING FRANCE 2004 - Part Three

Nashville, September 1, 2004 - - "We have to hurry," The Doc says, "we don't have much time and we have to drive 700 kilometers to Bretagne today."
"Yeah, Doc," I say, "there are all kinds of Bretons starving for culture
over there in Plozevet."
"Yeah, man. It's an Entertainment Emergency."
"You got it, Canal Boy," I say.
"Canal Boy? Canal Boy?"
"Yeah, Canal Boy. Kind of a Dutch superhero. You know? Like one day there's a big storm on the polder, and little Rob is swimming in the canal, and the lightning strikes the electrical tower and it falls into the canal and VOILA!"
"Canal Boy is born?"
"Hmmm. More like created. But, yeah. And whenever there's a water
"Canal Boy springs into action."
"Yep. And then all the people say 'Thank you, Canal Boy.'"
"Aw, hell, it wasn't nothin', Panama. Glad to help."

It is in this kind of literate conversation that The Doc and I indulge
while in the process of seeing France through the windshield of our
Renault Megane. Ultimately we arrive in Bretagne and check in with the festival people.

In Bretagne every year is the Plozevet Cultural Festival. This year they
got tribal dancers from the Kamchatka Peninsula, singers from Easter
Island, and the real primitives on the bill: some American guy and Canal

Last year when we were here I noticed that they do a kind of Celtic
dance...Celtic is as big here as in the States, only it's been here a lot
longer. This afternoon The Doc and I played as part of the festival in a
restaurant packed with tourists off of three Setra tour buses. Nice old
retired folks. We did some Willie Nelson songs to friendly though
somewhat sedated reception.

Back to the Celtic starts out pretty sedtely early on in the
festival, but by the final night the Bretons have worked themselves into
a psychedelic frenzy and, holding hands, commence to weave Celtic knots with their dancing, reminiscent of the stuff the floating commune used to do in the middle of the night back in the Beaux Arts garden.

We have been staying at the home of Mary-Lou, waiting for them to return from the road. Therefore The Doc and I are somewhat surprised to find Felicie, alone and a week early back at the house. It has not been a good week for Jean-Luc. Their van broke down the week before and they rented another for a week while theirs was being repaired. Then, just last night, Jean-Luc came down with what turned out to be appendicitis, so now he's in the hospital.

This also does not bode well for my plans, as Dick and I had been
intending to record in France with Mary-Lou this time over. I email Dick
and cancel, and then The Doc and I turn to doing what we can to make
Jean-Luc's life easier: we will drive the rented van and the Renault
back to Nevers, then drive the Renault to Paris where I will catch an
early flight home. We go visit Jean-Luc in the hospital, then Felicie,
The Doc and I set out for another grinding drive across France.

We get the van returned, then on the spur of the moment drive another
twenty-five kilometers south back to Tomahawk, where this year's
adventure began. Once more Serge and Claudine feed us. I ask to pay and Claudine says, "Mais non. C'est un cadeau. Bon voyage, Panama." Ah, those selfish French.

We drive three hundred or so kilometers north to Paris, drop Felicie off
at her sister's, then the Doc and I put up once again in Michael's
office. Next morning I get on the plane, drop a couple of sleepers, and
don't wake up until we are in Chicago. Two hours later I arrive back at
Nashville International (yeah, right) Airport.