“I’ve been from Tuscon to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah”
— Willin’, Little Feat
I’ve stood where Rocky stood with a Pat’s cheesesteak in my hands and run up his steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, too.
I’ve nodded my head like Clark Griswold before the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. (It’s just as funny in German.)
I’ve searched (and maybe found) the ruins that inspired Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” in Essaouira, Morocco, making my family trudge through a boatload of mud in the process (mud at 5:45 here).
I’ve brandished a shield at Ait Ben Haddou where parts of Gladiator were filmed.
I’ve been standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona because of “Take it Easy” by the Eagles, and I’ve felt a thrill from a road sign for Tucumcari, a before-that-moment cryptic lyric in the Little Feat song “Willin’.” I’ve gone “Across the Great Divide,” and I’ve gone “Up on Cripple Creek,” too, just like the Band sang about. I’ve taken a ride on the Marrakesh Express.
What is it about a place that I’ve seen in a movie or heard in a song that makes it so special to me?
Is it a shortcut connection to fame? Am I living a piece of history? It always adds a layer of meaning to the moment, as nostalgia for the past and living in the present overlap, and I’m in the middle of it.
A place makes me feel connected to the past in a way that a page from a textbook never could. So when I walked where Plato walked and beheld the Parthenon, I was deeply moved, even though my first glimpse left me disappointed.
Whatever it is, I am so grateful that I’ve gotten my kicks on Route 66, and I need to revisit Highway 61.
What places of pop culture have you visited?
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