This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

What I Did on My Summer Vacation


Opens on the vacant desert. We see a scorpion cross the sand then run across asphalt. It pauses. We wait. Suddenly, the frame is filled with a beat-up silver pickup truck heading away from the camera down the arrow-straight road.
From a distance we see the truck appear from the right, then take a full thirty seconds to cross the frame on the road The landscape is barren, save for huge yellow bushes, the precursors to tumbleweeds.
Road stretches to the horizon, but is moving away. Pan down until settling on the hood, looking past the cracked windshield into the cab. Windows open, hair going crazy, two nicely tanned, nicely sunburned gringos gaze ahead. Driving is Christopher Fox Graham. Riding shotgun is Michael KuKuruga.
Pan up along the metal pole of a road sign. Highway on the left of the frame. Halfway up, the silver Toyota roars by down the straightaway.
The sign reads, "Puerto Peñasco, 50km."

Cue video montage of the silver Toyota slicing along the highway.


Christopher Fox Graham as CFG
Michael Anthony KuKuruga as KuK


with Donna
Rick as Big Rick
and Lenea as Fire Girl

Co Executive Producers
Christopher Fox Graham
Michael Anthony KuKuruga

Directed by
A. Whim

Sunday Night, Tempe

CFG on the road. He heads to KuK's empty apartment covered in graffiti poured on the walls from a dozen different nights of drinking and conversation. At first glance, fhe apartment looks like the interior of a New York City Subway bathroom. But poetry covers the walls. Art from spray paint and sharpies. Philosophical pronouncements. Haiku. Portraits. Abstract art.
CFG walks in without a key; KuK never locks his door.
CFG walks to the bedroom, "KuK!" he shouts.
KuK wakes, dresses, and the two hit the roads of Phoenix, talking about nothing as the hours pass. At hour 2 1/2, CFG says, "you want to go to Mexico?" KuK is wary, finances have been thin lately. "Why do you want to go?"
"Why not? I have nothing better to do."

Monday Night, Tempe

CFG rolls home after a long day at work. His brother Brandon is waiting. He piles in and the two head to The Vine tavern. Inside, KuK and his neighbor Ashish are shooting pool and had half a bottle of wine before heading over. CFG and Brandon join them. CFG plays a game with KuK against another pair, one of whom is a dead ringer for Hootie. Blowfish are no where to be seen. CFG and KuK win one game by default as Hootie's partner grazes the 8 ball into a pocket.
A pack of people enter, and KuK knows them all. Their leader is KuK's best friend Kevin. He says, "everyone I know in Phoenix is here"
CFG tells him that there is a Chinese proverb that says if all a man's friends show up at the same place, the man can expect to die the next day. This freaks out KuK. After the joke has bee made, CFG reveals he made it up.
Brandon has one of the bartenders nearly disassemble the ATM, claiming he dropped his card into the machine. The bartender apologizes profusely. After 20 minutes, Brandon finds the card still in his wallet. He tells CFG this very quietly.
Brandon takes over as KuK's partner and the two run the table, game after game after game.
An Interior Design Major catches KuK's eye and he sets off. He's like a flirt-shark picking up on the single drop of estrogen in the water. She tells him that he's cute.
CFG hits on the bartender by asking her, "how may times a night does someone ask you out?" After her tentative reply, "depends on the night," the male bartender asks, "hey, can I use that line?"
The interior design major is replaced by an Italian with great eyes. KuK starts flirting almost immediately. Her name is Donna.
The night ends with a flawless round of pool won by KuK and Brandon. Outside, KuK keeps to conversation going with Donna. She gives KuK her number on CFG's phone. The boys pile into Brandon's car, ride the 1/2 mile home and drop off Ashish. KuK picks up his clothes and the bottle of wine and Brandon drops them off at CFG's. En route to the apartment, Donna calls. and talks to KuK.
CFG makes himself a bagel, KuK puts in "the Score", unsure if he had seen it.
45 minutes later, Donna calls again. She and her friend Rachel aren't busy and Donna enjoyed the conversation. The boys take up her invite and head to her place. KuK takes point, CFG is wingman. The girls are on the patio, smoking and drinking. The girls Donna's friend Rachel is hammered. CFG keeps her talking despite the shallowness of her conversation. Such is the role of wingman.
Rachel's contacts Schmuck 'n' Buck, as CFG calls them, show up with weed. She offers, the boys decline, preferring to remain on the deck with Donna. The girl is amazing. Dark italian eyes coupled with a dry wit and an engaging conversational style. She's a Public Works Major who'd rather be in Architecture. The conversation winds late into the morning while Rachel and Schmuck 'n' Buck remain inside watching "Johnny Bravo".
The boys ask Donna to join them en route to Mexico, but she declines because she's just met our heroes. Despite that, the boys know the trio would get along famously.
Dawn rises.
CFG says he wants some sleep before they embark. KuK says, "why don't we just go now?" The boy is brilliant.
KuK and CFG part company, walking Donna to her car after the 5 hours of getting to know her. The audience sighs.

The Weekend
Tuesday Morning, Tempe

Clean skin and new clothes. The boys bounce out by 6:30. They score gas and grab fruit and a loaf of bread at a grocery store. CFG hands $40 to KuK saying with a grin, "this is your allowance." They are advised to get smaller bills by the cashier at the grocery store.
The boys cut south down I-10, then head into Casa Grande and its southern towns. They have gotten lost twice before crossing over I-8. CFG tells KuK that he is not the first driver to whom CFG has said, "sure I know where we are, uh, just keep going."
CFG had no idea where he was.
The boys cross into the Tohono O'Odham Reservation. No cars, no towns for nigh-odd an hour. The boys talk about anything and everything. KuK sings a host of Irish drinking songs he learned through repetition from one of his few CD. Though CFG says little regarding this, he is greatly amused
They stop for 1/4 tank of gas in Why, Arizona. Why not.
They slide to the border and cross into Sonoyta.
They cheer.
5 kilometers into town, they realize that they forgot to get smaller bills, so they swing around. Border Patrol offers no real help, and doesn't check the car. KuK gets a stick of gum and breaks a $20. The cashier gives him shit for it. He refuses to sell CFG anything when he sees the 4 $20s he has.
For the 2nd time in 20 minutes, they enter Mexico.
They cheer.
They cut through town, KuK giving shit to CFG every time he goes over the speed limit. Paranoid CFG falls for it every time even though locals and tourists alike routinely violate the limit. Wayne Newton is running for Gabornador de Sonora. He and his competition have posters everywhere. But Wayne Newton stares out at us like Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, or Sonny Bono, like a Republican Hollywood invasion of the electoral process.

The boys hit the frontier and accelerate down the road, winding through the desert.

To combat unemployment, the Mexican government has commissioned the construction of buildings in the desert, then refused to complete them. Also, the government has placed expiration dates on many buildings ordering them to be demolished or partially demolished in the desert for no reason whatsoever. Such the viewer believes. It seems people are paid to move and or sweep dirt around as well. The boys find this the topic of some humor for most of the drive.

The road seems to never end. Straightaways. Heat pours in, cooled only by the speed with which our heroes travel. They have not turned on the radio all day.

On the flat horizon looms the outposts of the town. The few billboards offer no corporate logos or American restaurants. Just bars, cheap motels, and local businesses own and operate the 15-foot postcards beckoning the boys into the interior. A faint smell of the sea blows loosely across the sands.

Unsure of where to go, what to see, the slim Toyota cruises down the main strip. While we have no idea to where the boys aim, we sense that they have almost arrived. They arrive at the Old Port, along a single lane road that wraps around a rocky butte. They cut slowly down narrow streets and pull over in front of a local school just as students are breaking for lunch. Maneuvering down the streets toward to sea, the audience's pulse begins to race. Noonday sunlight glares down and the dull roar of the sea breaks on the rocks.

For a moment, the boys hang back watching the waves crash. KuK, excited like a child, throws up his arms as though he commands when they'll break. Ear to ear his grin lights up the shore. To outsiders, the boys look drunk on joy.

They saunter down the small strip of stores, selling trinkets, clothing, and other non-necessities to tourists desperate to waste money 'proving' to friends, family, and co-workers that they actually came to Mexico. KuK and CFG are not fooled, though every shopkeeper that calls out to KuK seems to draw him in. He must consciously say no or risk entering shop after shop after shop, all selling different versions of the same tacky crap they've seen Phoenicians carry back from the border.

As suggested by two sources, they boys leave the port, searching for Manny's Beach Club, supposedly a jumping beach bar on another main strip in town. Still relatively lost, the boys pull into an RV park hoping for directions. KuK scrambles out and scores a local map in English and directions to the bar, less than two hundred yards back. Rolling in, they hop for hundreds of beach bums, tourists, and locals enjoying the noontime lunch hour. Instead, they find a barren restaurant open to the sea, floored in sand, and populated by less than a baker's dozen of Americans. They wet their feet and ankles in the sea, then return to Manny's

The audience sees that KuK finds this all horribly amusing, while CFG is frustrated, hoping that this initial failing will not repeat. While nothing is spoken, they both quietly hope that in the next ten minutes, 600 people will magically appear.

The waiter offers drinks, KuK and CFG both order margaritas, hoping for a salt encrusted jewel of a drink the size of their heads. They are greeted with two small 6oz plastic cups of what appears to be lemonade. There is a faint smell of tequila and a stronger smell of disappointment. They order food, also expecting sustenance measured by the tonnage. However, the audience is one step ahead and prepares to laugh at whatever humor the screenwriter produces. They are not disappointed as the portions would qualify as an appetizer north of the border. CFG begs for a Taco Bell. After blowing $17 on a meal worth $5, the boys leave discouraged. They vow to avoid every American-owned restaurant or tourist target in the town.
The audience quietly cheers their choice.

The boys head north to Playa Bonita, vacant of a buzz. With KuK now on the map, they snake their way through the town's small streets, but KuK can't seem to locate the roads CFG shouts to him. Turning right at a dead end in front of a large, 5-story modern hotel they are flanked by a huge berm of white sand. Camera pans from the right side of the truck over the berm to a huge curved beach line of white sand. KuK and CFG head back the way they came to a closer parking spot, then make their way to the sea.

Locals line the beach selling trinkets. Few are buying.

KuK, giddy like a schoolboy strips to his shorts and makes a mad dash into the surf. CFG having forgotten both shorts or swimming trunks, strips to his boxers and runs afterward. Roughly 200 people line the beach. Children and young adults play in the waters while adults sit idly under rented tents. Aging drains the love of the sea from adults.

Video montage. Beach Boy songs play while the tourists frolic. Perhaps a dozen women provide eye candy to our heroes.

After roughly an hour in the sea and on the sand CFG and KuK dig up their money and valuables buried in the sand beneath their clothes, and head to the aforementioned resort and grab a table overlooking the beach. After a few cigarettes, KuK introduces himself to another table of six Americans, roughly their age. This crew is currently in their own film, "The Mismatched Adventures of Coworkers IV: Mexican Fiesta". KuK get directions to a bar on Choya Bay, far to the west. The boys consult. CFG smokes two of KuK's cigarettes in the style of William Faulkner. The audience notes the resemblance for future films starring his character. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper will seize on this in their review. KuK now starts up a conversation with a woman using the observation, "you have an oral fixation."
CFG watches in awe.

The boys make their way to Choya Bay by cutting through the shantytown barrio north of the beach. Without getting pulled over by the Federalis or hassled by locals, they find the road west. They pull into a area of new construction; large luxury homes and American-owned resorts. They pull down a cul de sac overlooking the sea, tip the seats back and nap.
Camera pans down the shoreline to the roaring surf.

The boys wake around five. CFG has woken a few times, read a little "Fast Food Nation" in between, and gone back to sleep. Both groggy, the boys start up the truck. The Reef, though large and with ample parking, has only 3 cars out front. A bust, they head back into town.

The audience senses something is amiss. Is a conflict brewing?

CFG is at the helm, but keeps turning down uninteresting roads. At an alto sign, they switch seats and coast south. Back in the Old Port around, they wander out, looking for a place to eat. Starting north and working south, most of the shops and restaurants are closing up. They find a discotheque entrance, but it too is closed. They settle on the upper floor of a beach front restaurant wherein they are two of ten customers, and the only non-couple. The audience senses a general sadness in the air around the boys. KuK gets a Dos Equis, CFG a Pacifico.

What happens now? Will they head home? Has this been a bust?

After light talking, KuK asks CFG if he wants to head home. CFG is a little taken aback. He hadn't considered such, but if KuK wants to head back.... KuK says no, he thought CFG wanted to... Without packs of college kids or gaggles of girls in skimpy suits, why stay? What happens to our heroes? the audience wonders.

From below comes a bellowing voice. Up the stairs comes a tribe of Americans. The waiters set up a table for 15. KuK and CFG watch eagerly. The females of the tribe are in their forties, tanned and demure, the males are obese and loud. The man who sits closest to our heroes has "US MIL" tattooed to his left shoulder and has the tan of an Anglo who has slept on the beach every day for three weeks. The kind of lobster red you'd shuck a shellfish for.

His booming voice deafens the patio. The boys just watch. A conversation begins between this bear of a man and the boys about Puerto Peñasco. He first arrived here 14 years ago and hasn't been back in six years though he used to head down 4 or 5 times a year. Though nothing is said, all agree he owns this town. The boys ask where to go, he lists places left and right. He complains bitterly that tourists have ruined this town by buying into the price-gouging so that now goods and services cost more here than in the States.

Cue sunset.

The conversation continues. He leaves his table to join us while KuK smokes a cigarette. He does two hits of snuff and offers. The boys have never done so before but take two hits each. The tobacco almost instantly clears their sinuses and the boys can feel the nicotine in their system. He speaks of his sons, one whom he kicked out at 18, and the other who married too young, and where in town to get some tail. "For good bitches, go to the Pink Cadillac." As they part, he holds out his hand, "name's Rick." He has one of those hands best suited to wielding a claymore or a battleaxe. CFG feels like he is ten-years-old again. The boys head down stairs and find three huge dune buggys parked right on front. One obviously belongs to Big Rick.

The boys checkout some of the bars Rick mentioned, but as he said, many are closed because today is, after all, only a Tuesday. They buy a bottle of rum and settle on "Around the Corner," a frat bar. They take rum shots and head in. They shoot a game of pool, KuK runs the table and CFG orders food. No one is present besides two bartenders and a single customer hitting on one of them. Yet, everything feels fresher, newer. The enchiladas are twice the size and 1/3 the price of Manny's. The audience quietly cheers.

As they pay the bill and head outside, a girl appears. Demure, petite, and polite, she has a hemp necklace, short black beachworn hair, and terrific smile. She catches their eyes and holds longer than a glance. Undeterred and without pause, they approach her. She has a unique accent that CFG trys to place. Lilting intonation, soft vowels, and several strong consonants hint French as her primary language. Lenea reveals that she is from Quebec by way of Vancouver, Brittish Columbia. Her profession is fire. This throws the boys off until she explains that she spins fire at circuses, renaissance festivals, and other such events. She runs a company in Vancouver creating and selling fire sticks to other performers. She's spent the last six months touring Mexico with a circus and uses her profession as an ice breaker because she is unbelievable shy. Fortunately, the boys are not. She supplies the quote of the night, "fire is very important part of my life right now." However she mentions a boyfriend and this breaks the boys' hearts. Despite no real intense contact with a gaggle of girls as in their recent cameo in "the Real Cancun", sweet Lenea has made the trip. They depart for the beach.

Back at the resort, the hear the booming sound of fireworks reverberating. They maneuver through the building and wander down to Playa Bonita. They sprint down into the surf and race each other along the shoreline until CFG unsuccessfully tries to tackle KuK. Boys will be boys.

They watch the pair setting off fireworks on the beach and drink more rum. Video montage. Cue audio.

Heading back through the resort, they have now finished the aforementioned rum and look at a pair of free passes to Babes Topless Bar. Based solely on the humor of poorly translated English, the boys enter. They order Dos Equis and sit through twelve songs by four girls. After each song, a triumvirate of bouncers and hosts ask if they want a table dance for $10 or a 'private room' dance for $25. Although curious what a 'private room' would entail, their better judgment keeps them voyeurs. The invitations become more frequent and invasive and the boys decide to bounce out.

Shortly down the street, they stop at an outside restaurant run by a boy and girl no older than our heroes and an woman in her late 30's. They fumble over the language barrier with wide-eyed smiles and score a quartet of tacos, topping them off with fresh vegetables and various spicy condiments.

They drive back to the rich development and pull into the same cul de sac as earlier in the afternoon. They lean the seats back and sleep off all that booze and dreams.

Dream sequence.

Wednesday Morning, Puerto Peñasco

Dawn comes early and low. There are no mountains nor trees to block the first rays and the boys wake periodically, adjust in their seats, and drift to sleep again.

Around eight, they are woken by an American, that "you can't camp here." They acknowledge his presence, but aren't exactly 'camping,' as it were. Their logic, however is lost on the man, so the boys start up the truck and head back to the town.

Across from the resort are a line of shops built to gouge Americans. They park nearby and KuK uses the hotel's facilities. CFG heads to Max's espresso house. Coffee here is more expensive than in the states, but CFG orders a cup. A tiny Indian woman with a huge hat walks by, offering sombreros and wooden trinkets made in the southern states of Mexico. CFG believes that with such a headdress, she must be the Queen of Rocky Point. The audience agrees.

KuK arrives and they converse about a whole host of topics.

A five-year-old Mexican girl appears, grabbing KuK's chair and holds up a handful of necklaces and bracelets. Her mother is shortly behind. CFG buys a small simple bracelet from the mother more as a souvenir than real adornment. Also, the girl is adorable.

The conversation turns to family. They've each had their own unique troubles. Perhaps because of his reading material, CFG muses to himself that the blended family trees of Americans are convoluted at best, depressing at their worst. Bloodlines and marriage trees connect scores of souls, yet, there is a profound hollowness in American families. CFG admires the simpler, stronger structure of families in this new country. This is the deep, meaningful part of the movie wherein the audience feels they have learned a lesson about their lives. At the academy awards, this inner monologue will earn CFG the nomination, though not the win, for best actor. That win always goes to a character with a drug/alcohol addition or handicap. But, it is a honor to be nominated, they say.

KuK misses his family, both close and extended. CFG concurs. KuK scores a bagel and both leave without being charged anything. There are more tourists to gouge this morning.

They walk to the beach and sit on deck chairs on the sand overlooking the sea from above a cliff. A huge thatched shade reminds them of a Corona commercial. As such, CFG disappears and returns with two Coronas from the hotel. It is 10:30 AM.

Cue commercial endorsement. "Corona Extra. Miles Away From Ordinary." (

They head to the Old Port, looking to fulfill CFG's postcard fetish. He's also searching for something turtle related. Long story.

The boys search up and down, watching tourists by the same crap at every store. Shirts, toys, jewelry, glass, ceramics, etc, etc. Capitalism is an animal and tourists are blindfolded, hogtied prey. The boys try to offer advice on bartering to a pair of girls as a way to flirt. Speaking of prey....

Later, KuK finds himself fascinated with a blonde in sunglasses. Unable to leave the port, he decides to approach her. "I can't leave Mexico without asking you for a kiss."

Although he plans to ask this, he decides not to, thinking it may come off less innocent than his intention. He settles on conversation while CFG takes wingman.

They head east up the hill and stumble through shop after shop. At the peak is a four story shop packed with ceramic crafts of a thousand different styles lining the floors, the walls and the rooftops. On one corner they have passed for two days is a demolished building. Local children have been sitting out front, waiting for the bus. Spray painted on the side is "for sale". CFG muses what he would do if he owned it. Across the street is another abandoned building with an open window. KuK, fascinated by the echo starts shouting through the window. The resonance is almost 12 seconds and has overtones. KuK shouts, screams, and yells into the window while the boys listen to the echo. Schoolchildren across the street laugh and yell back. CFG finds three postcards to prove he came to Mexico.

Deciding not to get hosed on beer at the resort, the boys pick up a six pack of Dos Equis from the same convenience store from which they purchased the rum yesterday. For less the resort's 2 Corona's they score and entire six pack.

They grab the same seats as the morning and bring with themselves the remaining fruit purchased yesterday. After a time and long discussions about 20-something male life, they maneuver down to the beach and KuK gets one last long, great swim with CFG adjusts his bracelet.

They are just boys in the world of men.

After much discussion, they decide it is time to head home. It is early afternoon. They look one last time for food, but find nothing appetizing as they head out of town.

Realizing that they have a two hour drive, four bottles of beer, and half a bottle of wine, all of which they must abandon before crossing the border, they imbibe the contents. Everything Mexico feels like 1950. Sleeping on the beach and not getting hassled by the police, free conversation with strangers, beer, and driving with the windows open. They feel free for the first time in a great long while. Free and sunburned.

With a healthy buzz, they roll into Sonoyta and stop for food within sight of the border checkpoint. Four locals, two male, two female operate a small roadside stand, similar to the one the night before. They serve the boys one last meal, like crossing the border is synonymous with walking the green mile. Twenty-something José runs this operation and sits with the boys, trying to again overcome the language barrier. Neither KuK nor CFG speak a word of Spanish. CFG does make a crazy attempt to speak German, but he always does so after a few beers. This foolishness makes him admirable as a character, endearing him to the hearts of the audience.
They finish their meal and CFG pays $10 for the $4 meal, instructing José to buy Cervesa for his staff.

As the head for the border, KuK says CFG did a great deal for his karma. True, the audience concurs.

Border patrol asks the tanned boys what they've brought back. CFG replies "postcards". The agent takes their driver's licenses, KuK gets nervous, but nothing goes down. They cross the border without hassle and head north. KuK chides CFG, mainly because KuK hasn't bought cigarettes all day, "trying to quit" he says. But all in good fun. They stop for gas, switch drivers and head north through Ajo. En route, they agree that each is an excellent friend and has enriched the other's life. This declaration does classify this movie as a buddy road-flick, but gives a warm, fuzzy feeling in everyone's belly.


As sun falls, our heroes roll into Tempe. At KuK's place, they embrace like brothers parting ways, and CFG boards his truck for the lonely ride home.

Cue sunset.

Roll credits.

Big Rick____________________________himself
Brandon______________________Brandon Dame
CFG__________________Christopher Fox Graham
Donna______________________amazingly herself
Hootie____________possibly Hootie, of the Blowfish
KuK________________Michael Anthony KuKuruga
Fire Girl_____________Lenea from British Columbia
Schmuck and Buck__________________themselves

No comments: