Hitchhiking for material: Luckily John Waters didn’t get shot


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Last month John Waters completed an eight-day cross-country trip. The film director and writer, known for his unique perspective, decided to make the trip an adventure: He hitchhiked.

Along the way, he was picked up by an indie rock band on tour, a pastor’s wife, a married couple and a 20-year-old tea party town councilman. Waters is planning to turn the story of his 15-ride trip into a book, ‘Carsick,’ for FSG.


“Everyone my age that I know was so horrified by this idea,” he told the New York Times. “Every young person I know said, ‘Can we come?’ ”

Waters made it Baltimore to his San Francisco apartment without incident. But another hopeful writer who undertook a similar hitchhiking adventure for material wasn’t so lucky.

Ray Dolin, a 39-year-old West Virginian working on a book he planned to call “The Kindness of America,” was shot on a rural Montana highway while waiting for a ride.

The Associated Press reports:

Ray Dolin, 39, was shot in the arm as he approached a pickup Saturday evening, thinking the driver was offering him a ride, said Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier.... A 52-year-old man from Washington state, Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, was arrested about four hours later near Culbertson. ... They [police] released no motive in the shooting.

Dolin, who told sheriff’s officials that he was writing a memoir titled ‘Kindness in America,’ is expected to recover from his injuries. He has worked as a freelance photographer; his father told reporters that his son was traveling across the country taking pictures.


‘My two greatest passions in life are travel and photography,’ Dolin writes on his website. ‘I believe that travel broadens one’s view of the world. Experiencing other cultures, meeting people from other communities, other countries, and seeing the beauty of the world has helped me understand that all lives are connected and individual.’

Waters was less idealistic about his travel experiences. ‘“You think maybe you’re standing by a highway for a long time, it’s a Zen-like experience,” he said. “It isn’t. It is a despairing experience to figure: No one’s ever going to stop. I’m here forever.”

Maybe Dolin and Waters can do some book tour dates together. Hitchhiking. Maybe.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg