This is something else. Part of the appeal to me of keeping this blog going, amid insurmountable debt, depleting free time, college workload, etc. is the opportunity to immortalize things. Sure, generally they’re banal and of not much interest to the general public, but it feels inexplicably good to put pieces of myself, my past, out there for the world to bare witness to. My landmark article 25 Years of Me is both a fan favorite and personal accomplishment for me. Now, I’m too young to start thinking of my legacy yet, not the type to thumb through tombs in decrepit old libraries pondering what will be thought of me long after my time has expired here on earth; but, while Review the World still has a heartbeat I plan on continuing sharing of myself honestly and genuinely because that’s what this project is all about.
So, let’s talk about Gatlinburg, shall we? Back in June of 2001, my then girlfriend Molly, friends Steve and Didge (short for 7 Digits—it’s a long story) took a trip there for a getaway weekend. Now, first and foremost, I need to warn those who brave the videos below, these were shot for our own amusement and preservation, never were they intended to be shared, especially en masse, with the entire world. Watching this home video back now—wow. In the past eight years so much has changed. The only one of the three that I still speak to is Steve, and had he not recently had a child with my cousin, speaking candidly we’d probably not talk all that much, either. In the video, us guys, and embarrassingly myself predominantly, sometimes speak in a high-pitched shorthand vernacular that’s no so much colloquial speak but just damn annoying. I apologize ahead of time but make no explanation here. The video is as it was originally shot, frame for frame, as I took nothing out.
As I said, a lot has changed since then, for me, for all of us, but it’s a lot of fun, even if just momentarily, to drift back to a more simplistic time, when freedom seemed to be abundant, and the future was a big, beautiful mystery.
The first section has a lot of variety. It starts out with my alarm blaring at 8:00AM as I shot the first second of footage before even leaving my bed. Steve picks me up, and then we’re off, picking up Molly and later Didge. We take care of some last minute things, drive through our hometown of Hamilton, OH, seeing a few interesting characters along the way. The drive to Tennessee is captured including a pit stop for lunch. The video ends with us arriving at our hotel, the Family Inn, in Pigeon Forge, TN. We get lost trying to find our rooms.
Next, we hop a fence and take a swim in a restricted pool area. Later, we take a drive down the strip in Gatlinburg to get our first glimpse of the city’s nightlife. Lastly, and one of the more memorable incidents, I get a call from next door only to discover Steve had completely broken his bed. Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy when I showed up with the camcorder laughing hysterically.
So, someone was sent to look at Steve’s shattered bed; in the meantime, we headed out for some late-night arcade action. In some footage that best exemplifies our trip, you see us all playing different games, the highlight being Steve’s two battles with Uncle Fester and his electrifying challenge game, as well as an ancient old man peering over Steve’s shoulder in one of my favorite visuals. The video ends with the morning of our second day, as I document the wildness of the previous night and we start off for another day of adventure.
The first-half of this part shows us just making our way from lunch to downtown Gatlinburg and exploring on foot. The second-half was kind of a fun thrill for me, as, I essentially brought my camcorder with me on a free tour of the amazing Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. I’m not sure how it translates, especially to someone who has never been there, but for me, it was one of the trip highlights getting access and filming freely inside of there.
The fifth part has a lot of good stuff on it. First, we set off to the World of Illusions. Now, firsthand, this place was incredibly cheap and ridiculous, which is sort of charming in retrospect, but at the time, we walked through it making bad cracks and obscure inside jokes throughout the entire thing. Next, we walk through some nearby stores, including one particularly dank grocery where I find a “packaged woman”. Lastly, we meet, amuse, chat, and harass a guy working at the Hard Rock Café. Oddly enough, several years later, I was back in the area and he was still working the door there.
This is probably the most odd portion of the video, as we took an alternate route back to our parked car and walked for what felt like eternity. To distract myself I let the camera roll a lot of the way and documented our disgruntled journey.
We then played a scary amount of putt-putt (or miniature) golf. There is one thing you need to see, the rest, well, skip it unless you’ve got an inordinate amount of time on your hands. What is it? I got a fucking hole in one on my very first swing on the first hole! Now that I could watch all day…
Yes, I’m afraid so, more from the same long, arduous game of miniature golf. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a blast when it was actually transpiring. But, if you sit through this whole thing, well, you’ll earn yourself some sort of ribbon of RtW super fan legitimacy.
The last portion shows the epic (well not really) finale to the miniature golf game. It also shows Steve and Didge braving skydiving of sorts. Lastly, we say our goodbyes to our seedy lodgings, hit one last arcade for some farewell gaming, and hit the road back to Ohio.