I get my kicks on Route 36… and 18

The easiest way to get from east Kansas to central Colorado is to hop on I-70 and just drive. It’s also so boring it makes your heart sink down to your toes, out the floor of the car, and wind up as roadkill somewhere around Colby KS (perhaps at the Colby Oasis where one can find huge fake palm trees and a Starbucks). So coming home this time we took the backroads. Takes longer, but way funkier. And along the way, we saw lots of signs of highway fandom — messages in our guidebook that if we went north a few miles then west another mile we could see the sign for the Old Old Highway 81, for instance. Those old roads are a funny mix of rural tranquility and sad decay, but they sure have their fans. So I’ve been looking for road fandom sites.

Most are either informational sites or travelogues rather than interactive discussion spaces, which seems a bit of a shame since it makes it hard for the buffs to cohere. It seems like the east has the best sites:

New York City Roads

Scenic Highways of New England

Philly Roads

But I found some nice midwestern ones too:

The Indiana chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association

And, hooray, Highway 36 across Colorado and Kansas, which really does look like these pictures.

And some nice art photography sites based on lost highways:

Ghost Highways and Stations

Edgar Praus’s photoblog

Route 18 in Kansas doesn’t seem to get a lot of web-loving, though, so here’s a contribution or two:

Zurich, Kansas:

Zurich, Kansas

Paradise, Kansas:

Welcome to Paradise

Cornfield in the middle of nowhere, Kansas:

Dragon on the Plains

If you know of any outstanding highway fandom sites, send them my way!

Fans vs Pranksters

I’m sure you’ve all been breathlessly following the Spice Girls reunion news (to say nothing of the nonstop drama of Posh and that husband of hers moving to LA), but maybe you missed this little blip:

The five-member skank-power band has asked fans to vote online to decide which city will be added to their 14-date world tour and promised they would play wherever got the most nominations; however, they probably weren’t banking on the fact that a huge number of Spice Girl haters would get in on the fun, nominating them to invade the war-torn city in Iraq.

To their credit, they say Baghdad is in the running and if it’s a top vote getter, they’ll go there. Of course, they may have to play acoustically given the electricity issues there, and I’m not sure it’s right to inflict them on a country already so devastated, but on the other hand, setting cattiness aside, the good people of Baghdad deserve some fun, years and years of fun, and if this happens and brings them a little bit of it, then the pranksters will have done more good than they meant to.

It does raise the issue of how to manage online voting in ways that get fans involved without feeding the antifans. There’ve been a lot of efforts to solicit fan input on everything from where to play, to which songs to play, to which songs to be on records, and, oh yeah, which character to kick off the TV show. The things that seem to work best at excluding antifans involve small barriers to participation – a $1 annual fee or registration. But those things exclude fans too.

Speaking of which has everyone been following the DailyKos (free to post) vs Bill O’Reilly ($5 to post) drama? I will steer clear but if you care at all about the tensions between the top down right wing media and political machine vs the bottom up online leftie grassroots, it’s a doozie.

Update: No Iraq for the Spice Girls, Toronto got more votes. Or so they say. Interestingly, this article attributes the Iraq votes to a fan-movement in Iraq rather than to antifans.

I still exist!

It’s been a little quiet here these last several days as I’ve been winding my way back home from Colorado. But I’ll be back soon! Don’t go anywhere! Well, ok, click over to a more interesting website for now. Or go weed the garden. But come back later cuz as soon as I come out of my ‘rats! there are no mountains here’ funk I’ll be posting away again :)