In conjunction with Andrew Bush’s photo collection, and to further appease your voyeuristic appetites, I would like to share a story with you, which was passed along to me by my stepfather, a truck driver who enjoys whose vantage point allows him a birds-eye view of the most unusual of driver habits. As the story goes, Dan, my stepfather, was southbound on Interstate 5, sprinting his way toward the ridge route (better known as “The Grapevine” for you California Raisins fans). In tow, 1,000 pounds of 101 Dalmatians happy-meal toys eagerly awaited their delivery. The sun was breaching the horizon on the east, a not-so-friendly reminder of the sleep Dan disregarded the previous night.
As the sun eased the darkness from his truck’s cabin, Dan steadied his grip on the wheel, cautiously checking his mirrors. To his right, nothing; but, to his left, a swerving car, approaching rapidly. Dan, taking a deep breath, nestled his eighteen-wheeler up against the shoulder, as the sedan veered sharply between the median and centerline. He watched as the driver of the vehicle materialized in his mirror: a man who was splitting his attention between the road and something in his lap. Having spent the better part of his adult life on the road, there is not much that Dan hasn’t seen. As the driver pulled closer, Dan braced himself for what he thought was a couple of adults acting like young, hormonal kids. Instead, what he saw was much more disturbing, so much so, in fact, that Dan honked his horn, hoping to disturb the driver’s animalistic pleasure. I won’t tell you want he saw, but I will tell you it involved an affectionate dog—a Dalmatian to be exact—and a very, very lonely attention-starved sexually perverted needy driver.
The moral of this story (if you were looking for one that doesn’t involve bestiality) is akin to what you will find in Bush’s “66 Drives:” the effect of our car culture, though damaging to our overall sense of community, has provided us with some incredible stories that are utterly disconcerting. Bush’s photos are more about the tales they produce, than the subject they illustrate. They each tell a different narrative of life in contemporary history, narratives that sting of solidarity despite being shot on a highway system that ushers over 200 million drivers.
Transportation was once a social act—a communal undertaking. Prior to automobiles, travelers commuted in packs. In fact, the term Caravan, which we now associate with family vehicles, is derived from the pre-automobile era, during which travelers would form groups, or caravans, for safety when voyaging between large metropolitan areas. No longer needing safety, we opted for space, thus urban sprawl. With urban sprawl came the highways, providing quick, easy commutes to work and home. The loneliness depicted by Bush is just a by-product of that—it is a symptom of the general loss of community that can be attributed to highway commuting.
As I am writing this, I understand many of you will think that I am overstating the significance. But, consider my stepfather’s story and consider the stories told by Bush’s photographs. While you can relate to the subjects of the photos, what prevents you from fully identifying with the characters? What allows you sit back at a distance and laugh or scoff? Is it that they are not human? No. It is not that. Could it be the encapsulating two-ton bubble of steel and glass that prevents us from feeling connected? Maybe.
By Scott Warfe