Wilbur Harrison had a hit with KANSAS CITY. My schoolmate, Joe Fielder, traveled to the Paris of the Plains in 1965. The police caught him in St. Louis. He escaped through the bathroom window and my 14 year-old friend reached KC the next day, where he ordered a steak and then rode a Greyhound back to Boston. His parents were relieved by his return and asked why he had runaway to Kansas City.
"Because they got some crazy little women there and I'm going to get me some." Joe quoted from the song. His parents grounded him for the summer. Later at school Joe told me that KC had no crazy little women, but he couldn't think of anything else to tell his mother and father.
"They were no pretty women."
"It was all a lie." Joe shrugged like he knew all the answers to every question about girls.
Three years ago I drove through Kansas City with Brock Dundee. The Scot was filming a movie about a sculptor close to death. We drove through the Power and Light District at dusk.
"I don't see any pretty women." Brock was a fan of the song KANSAS CITY.
"Some things don't change." The song was as much a lie in 2009 as in 1965.
Most of the cities of the Midwest are hollow shells, but not so Iowa City. This small town on the Iowa River hosted the campus of Iowa U. My old friend James Rockford lived on a farm twenty miles to the west, on which he grew marijuana instead of corn. Brock Dundee and I rendezvoused with the elder statesman of the hippie era at the Deadwood Tavern, which was the city's #1 dive. We drank beer, rum, smoked a joint, talked with coeds, and at the 2am closing James suggested that we go to Riverside.
"Riverside?" My Scottish friend thought it was another bar. He liked his drink.
"It's not a bar. It's the future birthplace of James T Kirk." Rockford broke out a vial of 1978 Bolivian cocaine. He was a true gourmand.
"You're shitting me." I've been a devout Trekkie since episode one and poured a pile of powder on my hand. No one at the Deadwood noticed my huffing the mound.
"Nope, it's waiting for his birth." James smiled with the knowledge that nothing could stop me from where no one I knew had gone before. We bought two six-packs of Tecate and flagged down a taxi.
"No sense in getting DWI'ed on a mission of such importance." James wasn't called 'the colonel' for nothing. The taxi driver thought that we were crazy, but said it wasn't the first time drunks had given Riverside Iowa as a late night destination.
"Nobody in the world would know about Riverside if it wasn't for James T Kirk. The town holds less than thousand souls. They don't even celebrate March 22. I'm a Trekkie too." The driver lifted his hand in the Vulcan greeting. I
The taxi traced the English River to the small town park. The greeting plaque welcomed us to the future home of James T Kirk. The driver stopped by a statue. Another marker proclaimed his future birth. I breathed in the night air thinking this town made James T Kirk, the captain of the USS Enterprise, was he was. I was that drunk.
"How you feel?" James asked, as my Scottish friend drank a beer with Rockford.
"Like I went to Jerusalem." In fact this was even more holy than Jerusalem. Jesus was a myth and James t Kirk was a myth in the making.
"I thought you would, now how about going back to your hotel for some serious drinking."
"You got it." James lived out here most of the year. He didn't speak to outsiders much. His wife would hate him tomorrow, but none of that mattered because he had brought a Trekkie to the Holy Grail.
Live long and prosper.