If I had been able to upload pictures daily while in on location, my first post would have been “WELCOME TO NORTH DAKOTA” with this directly below:
We got in, got our bags, got our car, and while I was smoking a cigarette my earrings literally fused with my flesh. Literally. After an hour and change of driving, we arrived at our hotel in Grand Forks and found ouselves bathed in the gentle aura of chlorine and steam. Scattered throughout the main lobby of the hotel were three-person hot tubs, all of them filled with middle-aged vacationers of one type or another, a sight at once very odd and strangely heartening. Next trip I’m totally bringing my bathing suit. After a moment to take in our surroundings, we set out for dinner, whereupon Buford completely confounded our waitress with his martini order and I was presented with the magnificent beverage pictured above.
The next day, we continued our journey north to Devil’s Lake, and this was about the size of things:
I’ve never been more thankful to not be in the driver’s seat. All the credit goes to our Buckethead (sound). He really bore up in the face of adversity. That picture doesn’t even do justice to the treacherous slickness of the roads or to the complete white-out we were in at the time, but Buckethead handled it all like a pro.
Judging from my logs, it was that same day that I first met the subject of our film, and also the day that Mr. Solutions (DP) nearly lost his face. This was the scene of the crime:
Pretty, no? If I had to freeze my cheeks off, I daresay that I’d choose that particular patch of road. The weather, to this point, had not exactly been forgiving. Every morning we would stop at this coffeeshop in town to juice up for the day (large skim cappuccino with whipped cream and seven equals, large dark roast with two shots and milk, medium cappuccino with a shot of foam, one breakfast blend with skim), and on our second morning the owner of the cafe walked outside with a cup of 130 degree water. He tossed the contents into the air, and we watched in awe as the liquid instantly changed to crystallized steam, sending jets of ice and vapor high overhead.
Things in this part of the country aren’t what you’d call “tightly packed”. It was a 20-minute drive from our hotel to our subject’s house, and that’s without wind, ice, or darkness, so we spent a lot of time in the car conspiring against Kneadful Things while eating candy and jerky. Early on in the trip, Mr. Solutions and I discovered a mutual appreciation for all things gelatin-based, and as such stocked the van with a king’s share of sour patch kids and gummi worms. A trip to the dentist is now officially in order. The jerky portion of our diet veered toward the extreme: Teryaki Jerky, A1 Jerky (highest-rated, PS), local jerky, mass-produced jerky, spicy apricot jerky, even ham jerky. But Pusser took things to another level with this purchase:
Three days later, we would open the bag and sample the mysterious snack which can only be described by its name. For the edification of the unwashed masses, eating pork rinds is kind of like consuming an entire Big Mac, a large fries dipped in mayo, and possibly also one of those apple pie things, all in one crispy, oily mouthful. In a word, motherfuckingdisgusting.
Speaking of gross, let’s talk about 24-ounce cans of Budweiser and Clamato:
I discovered this liquid gold on a hasty post-dinner booze run, while zipping from the wine selection to the chilled 6-packs of Hefewizen. Yes, it’s nasty: cheap beer, clam juice, tomato, and lime, swathed in aluminum and barely carbonated, but the shock value of swilling such a putrid concoction in polite company is worth the price of admission, gastrointestinal or otherwise. I made such a show of liking the stuff that now I actually kind of do. In fact, I’m drinking one right now.
When not conducting radical experiments with alcohol, I stayed busy getting myself into trouble. We spent a lot of time shooting exteriors, and as such my presence was not immediately required. But sitting in the car just seemed boring. While Mr. Solutions and Buckethead were busy at work, I’d traipse around our location and explore, usually at my own peril. For example, right after taking this picture:
I found myself stuck waist-deep in snow. Although the lake is frozen, the drifts are decidedly not. I thought I’d learned my lesson, but the next day, as we rolled off some long shots of our subject walking down a dirt road, I was once again caught off guard by the depth of the ground cover.
It would not be the last time I braved the elements in pursuit of a good picture:
Just look at Mr. Solutions toiling away in the background, as I stand barely clothed, reveling in a little wintertime exhibitionism, all in the name of art. The structure behind me, FYI, is the first place you should look if I ever fall off the grid. It’s a bar in the barely-there town of Hamar, ND, with a trailer attached in the back. I could live a nice life in that trailer, stocking the bar with Ketel One and only leaving the house for nutritional supplements of pork rinds and jerky.
But really, we’re all risk-takers. Here witness Buford and Mr. Solutions, filming in the middle of the road in the middle of a snowstorm:
and here, Buckethead, whose dedication to well-pressed shirts is unsurpassed:
And obviously, we all whipped it out that day at Kneadful Things. Notice how I’m about to vomit. This is only course one – the abominable pizza, toxic patty melt, and Brownie of Death are all still to come.
Honestly, though, I mean, this is getting pretty long, so let me just leave you with a few iconic images.
What our subject faces during interviews:
All of us, except Buckethead, before our road trip to Fargo:
And finally, Pusser, herein undone.
I could believe that Boston might seem dull after a return from NYC or LA, but I never expected to feel so hollowed-out after a return from North Dakota. It’s bizarre. I can hardly wait to go back.