Jul 5, 2008


Bellingham, Washington – The pup Pooka holds steady through the bottle rockets. But when the Roman candles shriek, she whips down the dock and right into my pseudosib Edward's house.

Once again, I've retreated to the lake for the Fourth of July. This year, my reporter pal Jessica joined us, adding another convert to gas-station pizza.

Only in Fairhaven would a wood-fired oven churn out thin-crust, right beside the pumps. And a wee post office counter. Not to mention Vienna Cleaners and King Frog 24-hour Photo Lab, which I somehow overlooked until now. Probably because the wine cellar's so well stocked.

All this in the space Texaco wastes on slushies and twinkies. Those unimaginative corporate creampuffs.

As we nosh pizza on the dock, we can't help overhearing the neighbor Arnie-Artie*. He ambles landward with two large tanks, dodging towel-draped tweens igniting fireworks. "I guess I'd better get the gas off the dock."

C'mon, buddy, it's not rocket science.

Or is it?

*Some initial confusion resulted in Arnie-Artie's singular nickname. After a year, we finally overhear him addressed as "Arnie." A little magic and mystery leaks from the world ... tragic.


  1. Anonymous9:15 AM

    i've always thought of it as "arnieartie," one word. although that is pretty hard to read.

    and how have i never noticed the cleaner or the photo developer on my weekly gas station pizza run? i am ashamed, deeply ashamed. even if i never have needed a cleaner or photo developer.

    the bald eagle is out there this morning, again sounding way too much like a squeaky toy to take seriously.


  2. I want gas-station pizza now too!

    There was a fabulous Mexican restaurant attached to a gas station in Texas. I went to it in 2002, during Turbo-Tour. Found it in Roadfood. Must look that up again and see if it's still out there.

  3. I am intrigued by your mention of gas-station pizza and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Also, there's a fantastic roadstop place on I-35 between Austin and Dallas that is the first and only spot in the world that has led me to utter the phrase, "I'd like to stick that Hot Chubby in my mouth."

    I refer, of course, to the Czech Stop, which serves a delicious spicy kolache known as the Hot Chubby. If you're ever in that neck/nech of the woods...

  4. ERH: I like "arnieartie," however unintelligible (much like the man himself: speak up, dude: don't mumble and try to run me over with the speedboat!).

    As for the iggles, I have just five words: Stepped on the rubber hotdog.

    No gravitas.

    Some national bird.

  5. Marie: when you visit, we shall gorge on gas station piazza. I realize a meet-up in Uruguay is more likely, but perhaps the convenience of petrol, dry-cleaning and organic crust will lure you west?

  6. MxDx: Are peanut butter cupcakes and Dr Pepper poundcake more in the Czech or Texan tradition?

  7. Czexan tradition, my dear Ax.

    Exactly the sort of capitalist indulgence the Russkies wouldn't have wanted their bloc-mates to have. Except with a Texas twist, which is to say with Dr. Pepper. And bigger.

  8. That sounds like a great gas-station. The French and Italians know how to do a gas stop properly as well. We stopped in one in Northern Italy that had a restaurant and you could buy a suit of armour as well as an interesting selection of swords.

    It took great will to resist doing so and I'm not sure we made the right choice.

  9. I have seen a petrol station in the Cotswolds, which housed a petrol pump, a hairdresser, the post office and a newsagent. Local life revolved around the place. With current petrol prices, the hairdresser's probably gone bust and long hair's en vogue.

  10. M: If only McCarthy had fought back with Hot Chubbies. Mid-century cinema would have been much improved…

    Louche: maybe it's for the best. One can't just chuck the armor in the washing machine like the Spidey suit.

    Sascha: when folks complain about petrol prices in Britain, they're bemoaning the equivalent of $9 per gallon. Kinda puts our $4.30 whining in perspective, eh?

    What's up with this, by the way?

    3.785411 liters per gallon (US)
    4.54609 liters per gallon (UK)

    Can't we all just get along?

  11. Henry and I will come out there.

  12. Yes! And bring some of those lovely dosas while you're at it!

  13. It really was fine pizza.

  14. Amanda, slushies are never a waste of space.

    Just hook it up to my veins!!

  15. Oh DB, all that dye can't be good for you...

    Latest gas station report: add in Western Union, DVD rentals and a box-fan-sized business center, but no sign of Vienna Cleaners or a Froggy photo lab. When queried about product diversity, the clerk enigmatically said, "sure, we might have those."

    Uh. OK.

    Maybe the staff's loosing track?

  16. Surprisingly awesome wine cellar for a gas station -- not that I could tell a vintage bordeaux from box wine if I were blindfolded.

    But it sure looked neat. And such pretty labels.

  17. MMD: of course you could divine the difference – bottle versus foil pouch. Course, if the cheese-packaging crisis is any indication, you probably wouldn't get into the pouch anyway...

  18. Pook&I are honored to have made a guest appearance on the blog. We long for gas-station pizza, the open road, tent flaps and untouchable baby seals.

  19. We must trek north again soon, darling! And this time, I'm getting a better pix of Pooks.