During more than 6 years of living as a nomad, I have been on road trips in the USA 5 times. In total I have spent more than 8 months driving around the US. I have lost count of how many miles I have driven, but I think there is a gas station named after me somewhere in New Mexico. I am deeply in love with driving around the spectacular American South West. The freedom of roaming around in a car visiting stunning National Parks and quirky small towns with funky motels speaks to me deeply. You can be in a desert in the morning and on a snowy peak a few hours later. You can meet characters and see all this americana that through cinema was part of mine and many’s childhood. On some days I feel like I could live like this forever in the US. But, there is trouble at the mill as the saying goes.
It is becoming harder and harder to be allowed to enter the US as a tourist and spend a truckload of money. Grotesque but true. “Yes officer, I have been here 5 times, yes I was here for 88 days in 2014 and I spent an enormous amount of money in your country and we are back to do it again now so what exactly is the problem!”. I am sick of the treatment at LAX immigration and the obvious profiling that goes on. Not that other countries are better, I have seen the same in Australia, Denmark, the list goes on. Truth be told, I have the ludicrous luck of having the “right” skin color so I get by easier in any immigration in the world so I don’t know what I am talking about. I can only know how bad it is by seeing it reflected in others, such as my girlfriend Charlene.
Like in Australia where an officer split up people coming through immigration, you either got to go left to exit right away or right for an extra security check. When he learned I traveled with Charlene I was told to follow her to the right. There was not one white person in our long line and as I looked back the officer continued to sort whites from non-whites, no exceptions. Another example I witnessed: a group of 4 Danes in front of us wait in line in 2014 at LAX. They all have Danish passports. They are artists going to Los Angeles to play and record. I overhear them kid each other in Danish about ” haha who will it be today” – they have been here several times before and they know at least one of them will be hauled off for questioning. And yes, one of them instantly gets detained and he yells to the others “hey get my bag guys, it was me this time”. Why? Profiling. They had Danish passports but are all of Middle Eastern descent.
With the evil cartoon character Trump looking like a scarily strong contender for the Republican nomination, I fear for the future of the US. And the world, really. The man is clearly dangerous on a global level, already. US road trips will be a thing of the past for us, but that is the least of it. At least, we will always have the magical Mad and Magic Raving Roadtrip memories, the movie and the pictures and we can just spend our money somewhere else, we are privileged to have that freedom having two of the best passports in the world, Danish and Singaporean. The problem is Donald Trump is so insane he even makes Ted Cruz look almost normal. I have followed American politics for 20+ years and I am in love with the idea of USA. Obviously, people have the right to vote for whomever they want, but I would hope that come election day people will choose a candidate that displays intellect, empathy and political experience. Like most of the world looking in on this, I am stunned and hoping it is a nightmare we can wake up from. That goes for my own country too. The debate about and treatment of immigrants and refugees in Denmark is at times approaching Trump levels.
Back to the 2016 road trip: Charlene and I touched down in LA in mid January 2016 after an excellent Japan Air (highly recommended) flight from Singapore. We spent a few days in Palm Springs before picking up my sister in LAX and embarking on a 2 week epic road trip! Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Saguaro National Park, horseback riding, Slab City, Salvation Mountain and more. Last but not least, we invented our “band” U3 (epic photos here, again, sorry Anton!). Truly, amazing amounts of fun! Despite it being winter, the weather was great for the entire 2 weeks. Even at Grand Canyon, we had a nice warm day (there was snow and ice though, so everyone got the pleasure of seeing me skate around in very slippery boots!). The advantage of winter is almost no tourists anywhere. In Williams, Arizona, we actually had one night where we were the only people in the entire Super 8 motel!
I shoot more freely on road trips in the US than anywhere else. All of these road tripping scenes that unfold in front of me are somehow part of my DNA, so a deep personal connection to what I see means the camera guides itself by instinct. The scenery is naturally cinematic and so is my framing. I am shooting for no one but myself and what follows is a quirky selection of images from 3 fantastic weeks in January 2016, our latest road trip.
I hope there are more US trips to come, but most of all I hope we all stop being so afraid, remember our common humanity and empathy and demand better from our politicians – and ourselves.
The title is of this post is from a Shirley Maclaine quote: “The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.”
All images shot with Fujifilm X-series cameras, mostly X-T1 and a few X-Pro2 images.
Awesome post!! Love road trips in the US. My longest is 8 weeks and 15000 km driven 😉
Thank you Jesper!
Funny how you say you shoot more freely in the U.S. I feel that way when I travel elsewhere…
When I say freely I just mean that: I like to be there, I like what I am seeing and really like shooting it and usually in the US I am not on assignment, so it is one of the places where I could not care less what people think of the photos, they are 100% for me and all these in combination does not happen that many places in the world.
A really nice set of images, FB. I hope you and Charlene are always free to roam some of our wide open spaces to make them.
As far as the rest goes, I’m no fan of Mr. Trump, but he’s a symptom or a product of deeper things, not a cause. Worse yet, he’s now, given our system, almost inevitable as a candidate for President and the swath of disaffection in the American middle class that he’s riding could eventually take him to that office. His likely opponent is as bad, in different ways.
Historical precedents abound suggesting that the election here and the Syrian refugees’ impending clash with low birth rate, long established European socio-political cultures is likely going to prove to be some kind of inflection point in this Century. Ask me (oh time lord dude) next Century what it all meant… oh yeah, never mind, I won’t be here.
Peace and best wishes to you both.
Hi Greg and thank you for your great comment. I do agree, it is all a symptom, and he and others like him around the world can float to the top and ride this wave of disaffection and paranoia in these times. I fear the wave is just starting. I do wish too my Tardis actually worked and I could see a 100 years from now what this all will mean and end with!
It is becoming harder and harder to be allowed to enter the US as a tourist and spend a truckload of money.
Obama been in power now for a little while now, has nothing to do with Trump. Has to do with bombings in countries where war will always exists. Even if we were there to make a difference, those in power in those countries don’t want change to give power to women and children. Love your photos but don’t mix politics with your art. Cheers
Hi Paul, thank you for your comment, glad you like my photos. I will however continue to write anything I want on my blog.