Places and Traces of History

“I’ve been from Tuscon to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah”
— Willin’, Little Feat

Katz's Deli New York CityI’ve sat in Sally’s chair at Katz’s Deli (but I didn’t have what she was having).

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.)

Billy Goat Tavern Chicago signI’ve eaten a cheeseburger at Billy Goat Tavern like John Belushi served up on Saturday Night Live. I knew enough not to order a Pepsi.

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).

Castles Made of Sand Morocco

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?

Related post: 47 Years of Great Rock

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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25 Responses to Places and Traces of History

  1. Totally entertaining post! As for me, I live in Texas so I’ve got all of Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt and some Janis Joplin covered.

    • Marcy says:

      I’ve only been to Texas for a short trip to a wedding, so I didn’t get to explore at all. I would love to go back.

  2. Bee says:

    Would you believe that I’ve lived in Chicago nearly my entire life and have never been to Billy Goat’s??? Unbelievable, right?

    • Marcy says:

      You gotta go! It was really cool (and felt kind of sketchy) to enter it from the street below the street. What is up with having a street under another street anyway?

  3. Erica Schatz says:

    I envy your traveling!! You’ve been to so many awesome places!! I, too, love visiting places in movies and TV no matter how big or small.

  4. I’ve eaten “What She Had” – but it was the vegetarian version, so no orgasm. And I grew up near Boston, so the whole dirty water thing…and Cheers. Does that count? This was fun to read!

  5. How awesome! Out of those, I’ve only done the Rocky thing. I’ve also been to the restaurant in Sideways (and many of the wineries)

  6. I have been to Tuscon, Tucumcari, Tonopah, and Tehachapi! I looooove to travel. I travelled from the west coast to the midwest last summer, paralelling the snaking renmants of route 66. I visited the Old Farmers Almanac and hubby and I, nerds are we, waited for when the webcam takes the hourly shot…called his mom and she got a screenshot of us. Lol.

    • Marcy says:

      It’s cool you’ve been to all the T towns in Willlin’. There should be some sort of badge for that. I’d like to ride more of Route 66. That’s so neat about the Old Farmers Almanac–I haven’t heard of that.

  7. That is very cool. Hmm. I’ll have to think. It’s funny, we were just talking about Rocky last night with our kids. The only reference our younger two had of Rocky was that “Eye of the Tiger” was a routine on Just Dance.

    • Marcy says:

      Lol, that’s what my kids knew about Rocky too, but I think it was from the Rock Band game. We watched Rocky with them after we went to Philly.

  8. Gina says:

    No Pepsi…Coke! I’ve lived in Chicago all my life so I know Cheeseborgers!!! I loved this post! So fun to read.

  9. Chrystal says:

    I don’t know if this is considered pop culture, but I’ve been in the cave that inspired Mark Twain’s books about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. We only live about 2 hours from Hannibal, MO where Mark Twain grew up. I’ve also been in the cave where Jesse James supposedly hid out here in Missouri. It was also used as a ball room at some point. That is Meramec Caverns just about an hour from where I live. I love historic places period.

  10. beverlydiehl says:

    After I don’t know how many stints in bumper-to-bumper traffic, driving Ventura Highway ain’t as wonderful as the song makes it out to be. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, but never thought of it from the POV of a song. Good times on Route 66 though, and more than a few kicks.

  11. LOVE this post. My most fun pop culture thing (as a major Beatles fan) was crossing Abbey Road. Also ran down the sidewalk where they’re being chased at the beginning of “A Hard Day’s Night” and wandered through the Marylebone train station where they escaped.

  12. While on a mini-bus tour of Scotland, our guide took us to the platform featured in “Trainspotting.” Of course, we later learned that our the guide was not above exaggeration, half-truths and outright lies. Even if it had been the actual location of the filming, it really wasn’t that exciting. Visiting ancient cairns, kissing “harry coos” (highland cattle) and drinking in the pubs were the things I enjoyed most.

  13. This was so much fun to read! One of my favorite places was to go to the town and restaurant that inspired Fried Green Tomatoes.

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