Monday, August 5, 2013

Map Ref

Continuing the Wire thing, one of my fave songs is Map Ref 41N 93W but I'd never bothered to find out where that is exactly. The lyrics don't tell us, nor does the book, but of course google does. Turns out to be here, an utterly unremarkable bit of countryside a few miles south east of Des Moines, Iowa. Why? I went back to the book, and turns out that Graham Lewis wrote the first half of the lyrics on a flight from LA to NY. So perhaps he nailed the opening couplet "An unseen ruler defines with geometry an unruleable expanse of geography" as the plane passed over said banal spot. 
I'd like to imagine a lone figure, Bill Bryson, whose first published lines were "I come from Des Moines (Iowa). Somebody had to...", standing by the side of the road wondering what to do with his life, looking up at the plane at that precise moment and thinking, "Travel, that's it!"  But it's wishful thinking - he was living in Bournemouth at the time.

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