Monday, January 14, 2008
Songs About Airports
--Flying into Houston, I notice a bridge full of cars directly below us. I look around and realize the highway snakes around the airport, making one feel like the extension of the other. It's a visual preview of the 'delights' the Houston airport has in store. I've been in Chicago, I've been in New York, I've been in the bizarre tramworld of the Atlanta airport, but none of them have anything on Houston's Bush International, less an airport than a lost set from Logan's Run, full of 70s-era sci-fi architecture, circular gate areas segregated from one another in a confusingly-numbered manner, narrow fluorescent-lit hallways that stretch on forever...In fact, everything in HIA stretches on forever. I find myself walking for what feels like miles through a terminal, directed to an escalator, which takes me up to a tram, which deposits me in another looong terminal, which takes me to the aforementioned circular waiting areas, but not before passing Stonehenge-like edifices covered in bright blue, Christmas-style lights, with fountains beneath. I wonder if I'm going to bump into Box at some point, and suddenly feel glad I brought that Iron Man trade paperback with me: the tale of a cyborg superhero negotiating a dystopian future of violence and political paranoia suddenly feels oddly appropriate.
--A bronze statue of Bush pere graces the airport, a kind of token celebration, but one undercut by its being hidden away in a dark, poorly lit corner by the escalator doorways.
--Scrawled on a bathroom toilet paper dispenser: "BUSH IS A COMMUNIST!"
--As I walk from terminal to terminal, I keep thinking of Richard Linklater movies like Slacker and It's Impossible to Learn to Plow By Reading Books, the latter itself a tale of a young man on a wandering cross-country journey. This might be because I just finished teaching a class on Linklater, or maybe it's because he's one of my favorite contemporary directors, and one of my cinephiliac associations with Texas (even if he's based in Austin, not Houston). Maybe it's the way the sunshine bumps off the cavernous white walls of the airport, or the humming drone of the aiport noise, which seems like the background chatter in one of his films. It reminds me of Jonathan's recent post about films and associations with places: mine's a displaced association, a displaced place (which is what an airport is anyway, I guess).
--Bumper sticker on an SUV in the Lafayette airport parking lot: "What Would Scooby Do?"