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Tom Judson’s Canned Ham Tour: Take 2


Dressed For Success

Middleburgh, N.Y. -- Since the date of the New York City premiere of Canned Ham and the posting of this column installment are one and the same, I am not yet officially on the road. But this feature is about taking the camper around the country -- and lord help me, I need the practice hauling it -- so I have been making periodic overnights and day trips. Cass Morgan, of course, was the subject of the first column, and shortly after that I dropped by Alan Cumming's place in upstate New York, where we taped an interview a la maisonette.

But in spite of the pleasure I've gotten from these jaunts and the increased comfort at towing they've afforded me (comfortable enough to rubberneck out the window when that cute guy jogged by), something was missing. I felt incomplete. Undressed. Almost naked. That was due to the fact that in the course of restoring the camper I had neglected to find suitable hubcaps. And gentlemen, we all know that the perfect pair of earrings can turn an outfit from simple to simply fantastic.

Oh, if only there were a place where one could choose from a multitude of hubcap styles. A place where the proprietress could -- with just a glance -- judge exactly what one needs to conceal one's unsightly lug nuts. Doesn't that place sound like paradise?

Welcome to Hubcap Heaven. Behind the imposing chain-link fence sit more than 10,000 hubcaps. Wheel accessories for everything from Nash Ramblers to Ford Torinos to Buick Skylarks can be found here. And Kitty, the doyenne of the establishment, does in fact know exactly where everything is, although she doesn't allow photographs of the yard. Pity, Kitty, because you've got quite a museum sitting there just off the road. After I gave her a glimpse inside the camper, which she thought was pretty sweet, she agreed to let me shoot the gate and sign and to use a vintage Chevy cap for a prop. The Ham itself wound up with a pair of modest yet tasteful Chrysler full-wheel covers.

And off I went!

Son of Kong

Craryville, N.Y. -- I like to imagine when they finished fabricating the Martindale Diner they sent the leftover aluminum to the Fan Camper factory to make my rig. This photo is too obvious for elaboration: vintage diner ... vintage camper ... cherry pie ... What more is there to say?

What makes an impression on me about the picture is my socks. Kristofer Weston, who directed me in a couple of leathery movies for Colt Studios, was constantly tucking my socks into my boots. And then I'd pull them back out. (True, those movies were technically Buckshot productions, but as far as I am concerned, Gus Mattox was a Colt Man.) We'd laughingly go back and forth over the issue until either (a) one of us would concede or (b) the socks, the boots. and everything else came off and the point was moot.

And you thought all that went into making a porn movie was setting up a camera and yelling "action!" Hah!

"This Car Didn't Climb Mount Washington"

Mount Washington, Mass. -- That dateline is so wrong: The fabled Mount Washington Auto Road is in New Hampshire, while this modest country byway I futzed around on is just over the Massachusetts border from New York State. I took the detour when I saw Bish Bash Falls noted on the same sign as Mount Washington. But after clocking the specified mileage I found no Bish Bash Falls, no Mount Washington, and at one point came perilously close to Connecticut. God knows how I'll ever find my way to California. I did, however, stumble upon this arrestingly handsome vista at the curious intersection of East Road and West Road. (Seems to me they should run parallel.)

I never did find the falls, but I really just like the sound of the name. "Bish Bash Falls." Say it aloud three times. It will make you smile.

Geometry For Dummies

Lee, Mass. -- One of the things I love about the Canned Ham's profile is its simplicity. It's nothing but a box with rounded ends. Photoshop aficionados will appreciate that a workpath of the camper can be created with just four anchor points. Therefore, when I passed the Lee Bowling Lanes, I decided the photo op was worth a U-turn, which, when towing a camper, is saying something.

A Soviet drone of a designer could have done no better than the lanes at Lee: gaze on the utilitarian splendor of the building; marvel at the "Is it 5 o'clock yet?" insouciance of the graphic. No acute angles were harmed in the making of this structure! Why, even the bowling pins seem to be pictured closer to spherical than they are in reality. Clearly, a compass and T square were the only tools disturbed in the artist's box when the Lee Bowling Lanes home was conceived (in about half an hour, no doubt.)

And yet, like the Ham itself, it's perfect.

And She Cooks Too!

Hudson, N.Y. -- "Hey, Trix! I'm going to feature you in the column. Anything you want me to plug?"

"Now that you mention it ... "

"Watch it, Trixie Starr."

"Just send those queens to my website, Yeah, that's enough. Or befriend me on Facebook."


"I'm in a Jane Austen mood. Get off my back."

"But what about your cookies? 'Trixie's Baked Goods.' Shouldn't I mention that?"

"Great. Another biscotti-baking, cream puff-filling drag queen in The Advocate. Really filling a void there."

"But you do it professionally."

"So does Mrs. Paul."

"Uh, I think ... never mind. Well, how about if I mention your bongo nights?"

"It's bingo, you muscle-bound lummox. Do I look like a beatnik? Please."

"Your Tupperware parties?"


"You seem to lose interest quickly. Even in the guests on your talk show. Me included."

"Everybody but you, Tim. Uh, Tom."

"You really came through when the first venue for Canned Ham fell through. It worked great at your club. How can I repay that ?"

"Well ... for starters you can level with me about somethin'."


"I got lipstick on my teeth?"

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Tom Judson