Pete and I finished the first-ever virtual live-streaming broadcast cross-country road trip on August 18th. It took us 9 days and 40+ hours of driving on Google Maps to complete the trek. I got food poisoning from Burger King and Pete almost lost his mind, but we persevered and made it to Richmond, VA from LA.
Fancy us; we were interviewed by NPR Weekend edition for our “vacation.” For the NPR audio interview go to http://bit.ly/GMRTNPRA. And for the NPR article see http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111921898.
We’ll be back up this Friday, August 21st at 2pm PST to take a tour of Richmond, and we’re slated to take a trip up to Maine soon. Stay tuned.
It has begun! After five hours of intense driving on Google Maps, Pete and I have finally arrived at the famed Bellagio Hotel in Vegas. Got a fancy room and are lying low for the evening. I’m beat. Driving on Google Maps has turned out to be almost as hard as driving IRL.
We’ll be back up tomorrow at 9:30am PST for some Bloody Marys and fun around Vegas. Tune in here or at http://www.googlemapsroadtrip.com .
and we got shout outs from:
Like so many of you, my friend Pete Baldes and I wanted to take a road trip together this summer, but he lives in Richmond, VA and I live in LA. We tried and tried to make our dreams of the classic American cross-country journey come true, but because of finances, schedule conflicts, and time constraints, we just couldn’t make it work. You know how it is. But then we had an idea: What about a virtual road trip that exploits the wonderful technologies of Google Maps and ustream. We could definitely make that happen.
So on August 10th, 2009, at 3pm PST, we’ll leave my house in LA and drive together to Pete’s place in Richmond. We’ll “virtual drive” across the country by continuously pressing the Google Maps arrow keys eastward, and we’ll broadcast the entire experience live on http://www.googlemapsroadtrip.com . This means you’ll be able to not only see and hear us as we travel, but also join us in a real-time chat room. Just think of it as an invitation to hop in the backseat and ride along with us for any part of our adventure that you like. We’ll take your suggestions on what to see and where to go as we trek this great nation, and ideally we’ll all get to know each other a little better.
We’ll stop for a shake at McDonalds in Flagstaff, get dinner at Olive Garden in Roanoke, play mix tapes, get in the inevitable argument, visit historical sites and old friends, stop at crummy motels for the night, etc… Just remember: This is real-time, so when we stop to eat, we’ll actually eat, and when we stop to sleep, we’ll actually go to bed, and if you’d like us to visit you, we’ll actually call you as we near your house, and you can virtually take us around your hood.
This is everything that we’d do on a real road trip, except we don’t have to leave the house, pay for gas, or worry about getting speeding tickets.
If you have suggestions on what we should see along the way — or if you would like us to stop and visit you — please e-mail me at email@example.com
Looking forward to spending some quality time with YOU on our road trip! Can’t wait!
Marc & Pete
p.s. The chronicles of this epic road trip will also be available at http://www.thefastertimes.com/travel
My Trip across America is Complete!!! Tune in for the last episode! A game show involving a 9 foot tall ice pyramid with a briefcase frozen inside, a water chugging competition between two 9 year olds, and a crazed girl throwing mayonnaise. This is not to be missed!
As you may know, I signed my name on a US map and then drove that route. Along the way I “improved” 19 towns that fell along my signature’s path.
For this particular “improvement,” I went to Memphis, Tennessee and asked the locals “Whaddaya Love?” Turns out that Tennesseans are very loving people.
I absolutely encourage you folks to do this very project in your hometown!! Tell me about it if you do!!
restaurant: We started at “Life’s Too Short” for a fishbowl filled with Margarita and a Diet Coke, We later ate at “Earwax” in Bucktown.
occupation: David – Freelance writer and professor : Nikki – Freelance writer : Martha – Developmental coordinator
birthdate: David Alm – 8/26/75 :
connection: Marisa Olson (SF) called me with David’s phone number -> David Alm
Shotgun e-mail/ Chicago Craigslist posting -> Nikki -> Nikki invited her girlfriend Martha
ordered: “Life’s Too Short” – Dave, Nikki, and I split a fishbowl filled with Margarita and Martha enjoyed a Diet Coke. “Earwax” – David ordered a black bean burger with chips and salsa, Nikki got the turkey reuben and fries, Martha ordered the veggie hash with tofu instead of egg, and I got a grilled cheese sandwich.
We got off to a good start at “Life’s too Short” with a fishbowl of Margarita. It was impossible to pour, so I cut a hole in the side and David did the honors. Martha said to me, “You’re the kind of person my parents warned me about.” I think it was the whole carrying a knife experience she was referring to.
It just so happens that Nikki, a recent Harvard Grad and a soon to be law school student, had a boyfriend in college named “Marc Horowitz.” That’s pretty weird. He was a republican into business magazines and finance. She took him New York to meet the parents, and after dinner Nikki’s folks took em’ to a condom store in Greenwich Village. Many a bag of condom was purchased that evening. They broke up shortly there after.
David talked about his home Town, Rock Island, Michigan, famed in Leadbelly’s music and Kerouac’s writings. Martha talked about growing up in lovely Minneapolis, and apparently David used to live there and write for a business journal. A place called Cyber-X, a Minneapolis-based-meth-lab, was mentioned and duly noted as the “last gasp of the punk spirit.”
We got into a long conversation about the plights of documenting life and art. David talked about curators role in organizing new media and performance, and Nikki’s talked of her struggle about being somewhat removed from her subjects that she writes about – being on the outside looking in rather than on the inside looking out.
Got into a debate about wether Tom Friedman’s work is hack or not. His work includes a miniscule piece of gerbil shit atop a podium in a gallery, a showcase of stolen balls from around the museum, a piece of blank paper that was supposedly stared at for something like 300 hours. David said this work invoked an uplifting spirit, and that was what the viewer could walk away with. Nikki made the point that “the only art left is nuance.”
Nikki talked abit about this last Boston Marathon that she joined at the 16th mile, she proceeded to strip down to her underwear, and completed the race. Like the true rebellious soul she is, rejected the end ribbon and photo opp. I described the very first race I ran – a 12k at the ripe age of 13. I had no running shoes and there wasn’t any money in the cookie jar. My mom insisted I wear my baseball cleats!?!?!? So for 12k, clicking the whole way to the finish line, I raced in my cleats.
Nikki mentioned a project that I inspired her to do. She has been observing the “lesbian nod,” a subtle nod lesbians give each other in public. So she has taken it upon herself to document all of the lesbians she sees and make a “journal entry” of for her lesbian sightings project. I suggested she run up to her subjects and introduce herself, opening herself up to the chance and the countless directions of new experiences.
We moved swiftly to the topic of sex – swapping stories about past lovers and girlfriends. I mentioned that I had a girlfriend recently who thought I was gay – it really upset me. Dave topped it with his account of a Valentine’s day dinner, a home-cooked one at that, that he shared with his now ex-girlfriend. In the middle of the meal, she asked him if he was gay, out of the blue, blindsided. He was upset too.
I somehow managed to change the subject, and talked about the very first company I founded – “Ghostbusters and Cleaning Service” – at age 10. I made a stamp with my logo, business name, and home phone. I then handed them out to all of our neighborhood in Sumter, South Carolina. My mom screened the calls at 3am with much dissatisfaction. I would go over to the call the next day after school with a home-made ghost trap, a broom, mop, dustpan, and a homemade “ghost finder” which consisted of a smoke detector and other random household parts. Most home owners had no idea how to receive me. I tried to upsell them on my cleaning services, hardly any takers, and only a few bucks in tips for the short duration of the enterprise.
We briefly discussed the phenomenon of people reinventing themselves based on outside opinions and lumping experiences together to form a perception of self. Not worth mentioning too much about.
We left the bar, and headed to Bucktown to eat at “Earwax”, a restaurant and video rental store.
We figured out that we all have close San Francisco ties. Martha used to live on Golden Gate Ave, a few blocks from where I currently live. David stayed with an acquaintance on Haight and Steiner, a stones throw from me, and Nikki is visiting in a month or so.
We talked about vegetarianism. Martha has been one since seven. We’ve all tried it, and failed with keeping up.
We got into a discussion about the ever-fast fall of the Dot-Com era. David had a lot of good input based on his past experiences as a business magazine writer. He says it was partly due to all of the Venture Capitalists funding companies that were cutting out the brick-and-mortar from the business model, and using a new one that works on products being directly served to the customer through the internet, no more retail storefronts.
Nikki said that online shopping has its positives that lie in the Marxist principle of more choice for the best product at the lowest cost. David says this may be true, but what about weighing in the joys experienced during the physical act of shopping – trying on a shirt for example, seeing the products three-dimentionally before you purchase.
Internet – Is the internet just a link to a link to a link with no end in sight, only a means to a means, to become so expansive and invasive that it renders itself useless? Somehow, this all led to a brief discussion of Mayor Willie Brown’s downfalls.
We then took the conversation straight to sports – Nikki’s involvement in an all women’s rugby team. She plays flanker and will be going head-to-head with the Minnesota Amazons. Good luck!
We explored the new “reality-based” marketing techniques that are being employed by larger companies. Martha brought up the example of people that are positioned in bars as “outgoing people.” They approach the unsuspected and talk to them a bit, then ask them if they would like a sip of their “new” drink. Then the “marketer” offers to buy the “unsuspected” one of their drinks, offering a slight spiel. I talked of a similar experience I had at blockbuster around the corner from the hotel. An employee came up to me and asked if I needed any help?!?!? I was a bit thrown off, blockbuster employees actual being concerned about their customer ‘s experience? I asked for his movie recommendations – they were horrible, and I declined his help. He then asked me if I would like to take home the Lord of the Rings Trilogy for a low-low price. Bad technique – no thanks.
Why is it that Spielburg continues to have bad, sappy endings to all of his movies? We couldn’t figure it out.
We ended the evening with a brief discussion about how museums are reinventing their marketing plan and layouts, making it easier for consumers to spend more money in museum gift shops and on special exhibits.
After our 4 1/2 hour long dinner, David drove us to our respective locations.
waiter/photographer: “Life’s Too Short” – anonymous : “Earwax” – the incredible mike (photo taken by Martha)