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Summit Up: Where the Golden Age of radio haunts noobs

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Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column taking health tips from a 325 pound rapper, reserve police officer, actor and basketball player.

Sure we enjoyed the mysterious, alchemic properties of Icy Hot long before Shaquille O’Neal started using it. But it’s a real testament coming from such a hulk of a man.

His joints are much bigger and have gone through quite a bit of torture – especially with the mixed martial arts action they get.

Meanwhile we’ve busted our knees enough times to get arthritis from a winter stroll.

After a long, hard day bumping trees and zagging through bumps on the snowboard, we reach for Icy Hot.

Despite a plethora of products ranging from the patch to the roll, sleave, spray, power gel and more, our preference is always the classic Icy Hot Balm.

It is to be liberally applied to clean skin. After about 20 minutes, the burning coolness penetrates the dermis and relaxes all the tendons and muscles and whatnot beneath it.

We’ve been using the stuff for the past 13 years and have no complaints. Sure it smells strong enough to clear a room, and you never want to take a hot shower immediately after applying the stuff, but these are minor side effects to be expected of such a powerful relaxer.

***

So we’ve got quite the California road trip coming up in the next few weeks and are trying to brainstorm the best ways to pass 15 hours of driving through mostly desert terrain.

There won’t be many billboards, so the alphabet game is probably out.

We’re not real sure whether it’s reasonable to expect desert livestock. Frankly, it’s been a while since we were anywhere beyond majestic purple mountains or city lights.

Ah, the desert.

A place of spiritual attainment revered by the likes of Jim Morrison and countless religious figures.

There’s something magical about staring down a strip of pavement bordered by soft brown waves that ends in what appears to be the reflection of a watery oasis.

And the warmth – oh, how we do enjoy a breath of warm air when the rest of the country seems to be celebrating spring in a pollen-covered frenzy.

As for entertainment on this voyage, we’ve been seriously considering purchase of one of those audio books on CD.

Like maybe we could get some kind of freedom tingles from hearing Jack Kerouac or Ernest Hemingway during a voyage across this fine country.

But how do they pick who reads the audio book? It would be a real bummer to get stuck listening to some guy with a lisp or a monotone voice trying to channel the ideas we’ve always revered on paperback.

It could ruin them.

Maybe it would be safer to just go with some of those radio programs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

“The Shadow” was one of our longtime faves from the days of riding cross country with our New Mexican uncle and chewing beef jerky, and drinking Gatorade.

The mystery programs like “Suspense” and “The Whistler” were the best.

Imagine riding in the back of a Dodge sedan down through a pitch-black night. The road is vacant and the speakers lightly crackle as a sinister voice comes through with the characteristic distortion from days we can only understand in a shadowy black-and-white mindscape.

While a shiny, new audio book could run $50 or so, there’s a website, http://www.oldradioworld.com, where you can download the classics for free.

And these aren’t going to be read by some celebrity impersonator. They come from a time when the radio was the cutting edge of entertainment. They were the celebrities.

Plus this way we’ll save money for good eats and souvenirs once we get to California.

The tough sell will be getting the young 20-somethings carpooling – thanks to Internet message boards – on this adventure.

We figure in our lives we’ve never met a stranger, so why not take a 2,000 mile road trip with a couple of them?

Just when they start to lean back in our seats and drift off toward dreamland, we’ll pop in an Alfred Hitchcock story and get their spines tingling.

***

Long-distance road trips can be an opportunity for camaraderie or the development of anxiety and disgust.

Fortunately, we’ll be the ones holding the keys. If any one of these strangers starts to weird us out too much, they’ll be hitching through the desert with a black eye.

But seriously, we feel pretty good about things working out just fine. As long as they’re not prejudiced.

The most important part of surviving a trip of this kind is to ensure the brain is constantly stimulated – either by caffeine, conversation or country music.

It’s when things get real quiet that the mind starts to play tricks. Suddenly the road moves in the opposite direction, the lights fade and the gears cease to shift.

It’s Sunday, and we’re tenderizing our muscles with Icy Hot for the long road ahead.


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