Presenting Tom Judson's Canned Ham Tour
BY Tom Judson
August 20 2009 12:00 AM ET
John Steinbeck had his "Rocinante"; Joel McCrea in Sullivan's Travels had his "land yacht"; Ken Kesey had the "Further" bus. I will shortly join this illustrious and Quixotic fraternity on a road trip of my own in a modest little number I've dubbed "Canned Ham," a 50-year-old camper I just finished restoring (that entire process is documented on my blog ). And like the above-mentioned trio, I too will have a partner who'll be riding shotgun: my cat, Mickey. She will be my Charley, my Veronica Lake, my Merry Pranksters all rolled into one furry gray ball.
The reason I'll be traveling the country is to perform my one-man show (also called Canned Ham ), but my hope for this trip -- nay, this journey -- is to see the country as I have not done before. I've twice toured America with Broadway shows ( Cabaret , 42nd Street ) and hopped around a bit making personal appearances when I was known as "Gus Mattox, world's oldest porn star." But the sights on those kinds of travels are usually limited to whatever lies alongside the interstate spur between the airport and the downtown Radisson.
Now I'm on the lookout for attractions a bit more esoteric and local: the Uncle Sam memorial bridges, the world's largest wheels of cheese. I plan to sample the delicacies at the Maggie's Krooked Cafés and the Trolley Stop bakeries of the land. And I want to get to know the Bonnie-the-barbers, the Steve-the-Radical Faeries, and even plain old Joe, the guy at the end of the bar.
I've been looking down at America from 35,000 feet for too long. It's about time I see this country from the POV of that scorpion skittering across the hot asphalt of Route 66.
Since I've -- gulp -- never towed anything before in my life, I decided a short test run of the Canned Ham was in order. My friend Cass Morgan was chosen as the guinea pig for my first trip. You, dear readers, are the guinea pigs for this first column. I hope you'll feel free to respond to what you find here -- I can be reached at [email protected].
I'll be checking back into Advocate.com once a month with updates from the road.