Wednesday, June 19, 1996 - The Michigan Daily - 5
600 miles to
I recently told someone that I was traveling
cross country this summer. I think his reply was
omething resembling, "Wow, I've always wanted
o see the West Coast." But when I proceeded to
ell him that I was embarking on a two-week tour
f the continental United-
tes, sans any particular
ination, he frowned and
tied to caution me on my
This reaction to my pro-
osed cross-country epic is f
o uncommon. Most think I
long with my old roommate,
tm crazy to pack up a tent, a
B radio, a pile of CDs and a
ew T-shirts into my un-air GREG
onditioned Chevy and PARKER
bark on a two-week,
nbeck-esque journey down Route 66.
Yes, I know that Route 66 doesn't exist anymore,
ut we're going to find it, staying off ofthe Interstate
hat usurped the glorious Route in the late 1950s.
After we get our kicks on Route 66, we're going
o spend maybe an afternoon in Los Angeles, head
p the coast to San Francisco, and then quickly get
ack on the road, taking Interstate 80 all the way
ack to Michigan. Estimated round trip mileage is
,600 miles, all of them without air conditioning.
figure the trip will take 14 days. Even Los
ngeles and San Francisco. It works out to eight
ours of driving per day, countless navigation
rrors and around 200 gallons of gas. To top it all
ff, we're camping most nights.
The whole point of the trip is the drive itself.
at better way to see America? This is especially
e for Route 66, for the highway encapsulates so
uch of the essence of America. America is the
oads driving down 66 in search of a better future
n the West Coast. America is "The World's Largest
all of Twine." America is an open-windowed
vy on the desolate desert road, with unexpected
mbleweeds and wild burros. America is crossing
he Continental Divide. Route 66 is the American
ream, and America is Route 66.
Some of the original pink concrete roadbed of
oute 66 exists to this day. Much of it is under-
sed, and more of it has been paved over or dis-
arded completely. But enough of Route 66 exists
o garner what it must have been like to make the
ross-country trip without interstate highways.
ers and art deco hotels dot the way, and there
many tourist traps as well, for the later evolu-
ion of Route 66 included many stops for middle-
lass families that made the trip west as tourists.
Much of these tourist traps are simply ruins
ow, as are many of the original hotels, diners and
ervice stations that once dotted the Route 66
oadside. These ruins, perhaps the Pompeii of our
wn civilization, remind us of a time much differ-
nt from our own. It is precisely these ruins that
re leading me down Route 66. For this is
lmerica's past, and it is a past I cannot ignore.
ut just as important as the ruins are the living,
thing towns that I will pass though. I plan on
topping at most of these towns to get a glimpse of
what "Main Street USA" actually is. I want to have
unch with a farmer atla tasty joint called Pop Hicks
Restaurant. I want to eat a pulled-pork bar-b-que
andwich at PJ. Bobo's in Chandler, Oklahoma. I
want to cross steel-truss and concrete bridges with
ed-brick decks, and I want to stay in a tepee at
Wigwam Village in Arizona. I want to chat on the
B with truckers and farmers. I want to see America.
o my friend and I are taking my Chevy and
we're heading west. We'll be accompanied by
Seger, Springsteen, Dylan and Simon along the
way, but in the end it will just be two college guys,
he open road and America.
- Greg Parker can be reached over
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I feel like the burden of 37,000 sons and daughters has
- University President James J Duderstadt, upon announcing his resignation last fall
Daily distorted hate
TO THE DAILY:
I am pleased to see The Michigan Daily place
a high priority on reporting the recent hate
crimes at Markley and my address to the
Michigan Student Assembly. I am also distressed
and furious that the Daily completely and reck-
lessly distorted the events and misrepresented
my statements concerning the issue. Because a
number of people have been harmeg by this spe-
cious and utterly deceptive article, I am obliged
to respond and make my position certain.
I made extremely clear in my address to
MSA that the support that I have received from
my RA and RD, as well as everyone else who
has helped me with this issue, has been com-
mendable and genuine. I have repeatedly been
told by housing staff members that if there was
anything further that could be done to assist me
that I should feel no hesitation in asking. I want
to be absolutely clear that those whom I have
encountered in housing, and especially my RA
and RD, have shown the utmost support and
have been unfairly libeled by the article.
My discontent with the University's response
deals more with the broader issue of prejudice.
The University has stood firm in defending my
right to resist and combat the homophobia that I
have encountered and has taken the necessary
steps to ensure my safety. I have felt, however,a
general apathy in response to homophobia and
prejudice against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
The quote I gave from the residential director was
the best and most concrete example of this indif-
ference which extends across the University and is
not necessarily localized in the residence halls. (I
later learned that that was not what he meant at
all, and he has made clear that he is very much
"on my side.") The idea that staff are to "remain
neutral" on the issue in order to "get the two sides
talking" implies that this is a two-sided issue and
that homophobic persons have a legitimate point
and protected interest. I highly doubt, however,
that this is the position that the University would
take if this was an issue of racism.
It seems to me that there is a very clear and
prevalent double standard in attitudes here; this
is why I implored MSA to address the issue.
The University seems to treat homophobia and
prejudice against the gay community as a less
serious, less imminent and less destructive form
of prejudice. The issue of homophobia is simply
not receiving the same treatment as issues such
as racism and sexism. It is as if the University
believes that since homophobia is present in the
attitudes of more people than other types of
prejudice that it is somewhat more legitimate.
The University should and must make it clear
that prejudice against bisexuals, lesbians and
gays is wicked, unjust and antithetical to the
University's vision of equality, and that homo-
phobia will not be tolerated in any form.
I want to also make clear that this problem is
in no way due to a lack of support or commit-
ment from the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Programs
Office (LGBPO), the Affirmative Action Office,
or other components of the University that deal
specifically with issues of homophobia. On the
contrary, these groups are true assets to the
University and have consistently shown more
energy and commitment to forging a better
future for our community within the University
than could ever be expected.
Furthermore, I recommend that the Daily
reconsider its own mission of providing accurate
and objective information rather than the one-
sided tabloid-style hype present in last
Wednesday's article that hurt several people
including myself. Thank you for your attention
to this very serious issue.
High tuition limits
access to 'U
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing in reference to your editorial
condemning tuition hikes ("The tuition ques-
tion," 6/12/96). When I graduated from U-M in
1969, 1 could not have imagined that my eldest
child would be entering a private university
(Rice) in large part because it is so much less
expensive than Michigan. I am not talking
about the final price after aid, but the "sticker
price." I submit that in order to compete with
other universities of substantially equal quality,
Michigan will have to limit its tuition increases,
including those for out-of-state students, or
agree to accept students of lesser academic
In fact, the anticipated difference in tuition
over four years between Michigan and the most
expensive private colleges is not a great one for
out-of-state students. As Michigan appears to be
one of the few public universities without severe
financial problems at the moment, I think it
should consider the fact that even many of these
private schools are in the process of re-evaluat-
ing their tuition policies. Soon, I am afraid,
Michigan's out-of-state tuition will exceed the
tuition of an increasing number of quality pri-
As I found out, this might end the Michigan
tradition for some families.
I guess I'm not your standard American. As
of two weeks ago, I had never been to a base-
ball game. Never even really paid attention to
games on TV. This seemed to truly offend peo-
ple -like it was some kind
of sin or something. It was
right up there with the fact
that I've never seen any of
the "Star Wars" or "Rocky"
movies. However, I am
proud to say that I have par-
tially redeemed myself - I
have been to a baseball
I was sort of reluctant to
go. I admit that I know ERIN
nothing about baseball. I MARSH
have no idea what a "sev-
enth-inning stretch" is, I am not exactly sure
where a shortstop stands, and I need help
remembering the words to "Take Me Out to the
Surprisingly, however, my ignorance did not
hinder my enjoyment of the game. Because you
see, there's much more to baseball than the
game itself. There seems to be an entire culture
that goes along with it.
The people-watching is great at Tiger
Stadium. Baseball seems to draw all types -
high school kids and old, old men and families
with little children. There are yawning toddlers
and business people wearing their starched,
pressed jeans and large, ruddy, shirtless men
swigging beer and hollering obscenities.
What struck me most about the odd con-
glomerate, though, was the common happiness.
I don't think I have ever witnessed an event that
made people so sheerly joyful. The peace was
tangible - aaah, it's Saturday. It made people
oblivious to the congested traffic, the health
hazards of the bratwurst, the worries awaiting
them at home, school, work.
Generation gaps shrunk until the space was
no longer discernible. Middle-aged men walked
around with nachos smeared all over their faces;
cute little kids ate hopelessly drippy ice cream
cones with the same blissful expression. I
smiled at them all. It was sappy and cheesy and
disgustingly optimistic. It was absolutely pre-
cious. I loved it.
Crowd-watching also made me a little senti-
mental, though. Seeing families with children in
tow made me think back to the days when I ran
madly and determinedly on short little legs to
keep up with my parents. I remembered what a
great feeling it was to be scooped up, squealing
with delight, and be carried around on strong
shoulders. For 20 irrational seconds, I wanted to
be four years old again.
But I had the privilege of perspective - my
place in life allowed me to see a lot more than a
child could have. I could look up and appreciate
the calm clarity of the sky, the rich red clay of
the diamond and its contrast to the emerald
field. This particular day at the ballpark was
absolutely beautiful - it was breezy and balmy
and a yummy temperature. It was quite possibly
one of Michigan's three perfect summer days. I
kept humming Paul Simon lyrics to myself:
"...the nice bright colors...the greens of sum-
mer .makes you think all the world's a sunny
I reveled in the easiness of camaraderie, the
comfort of family and the perfection of com-
panionship. I then felt some sort of understand-
ing - baseball is a much sweeter thing than just
a game. It's a space reserved for pure happiness.
We need more of those.
--Erin Marsh can be reached over
e-mail at email@example.com.
6-- omone ru