On October 5, my friend and confidant, Chyrese, accompanied me to Occupy Portland, on a pair of vintage Schwinn cruisers sporting a pair of hand dyed batik pirate flags. We marched with thousands through the downtown streets, chanting, cheering, and singing for the 99%. The 99% that get what scraps are left after the 1%, sitting at the head of the table, finish their gluttonous feast. Though it may be a bit late in coming, it is a movement that is absolutely essential in the fight for humanity. And I found it rejuvenating
In October, 1979, I was riding in the back of a ’64 Ford Ranchero with Jeffery and Dark Star, our new mixed breed puppy, returning from a Liberty Cap hunting expedition in Newport Oregon, an adventure turned calamitous when gale force winds turned our pup tent into a Triceratops dinosaur mother giving birth to a Buick. It was a particularly successful and fruitful expedition. Now, Southbound on I-5, fifty mile an hour winds, generated by the top speed of the Ranchero, tore the make shift black plastic canopy from its moorings on the bed of the small car/truck, and waving about some fifteen feet behind our ride, was threatening to slap the faces of quickly approaching motorists. We laughed hysterically as we attempted to reel it in. It was a particularly fruitful expedition.
Jeff and I had arrived, putting good use to our thumbs, in Eugene Oregon in early October. We were dropped off late on a Saturday, on the side of Franklin Boulevard, at the University of Oregon Campus, one block from a popular night spot. Last I remember, that same building that housed the bar, had become a fitness salon, trading debauchery for body building, whiskey sours for bottled water, short skirts for spandex, giggles for grunts, and sweat for sweat. Some things remain the same. The building sat on the banks of the Mill Race, a narrow stream that ran through town, from somewhere on the outskirts of Springfield to the mighty Long Tom River. Once, in the late sixties or early seventies, as the Mill Race was nearly crusted over by runoff from the Weyerhaeuser Mill in Springfield, some local activist lit it on fire. It burned for days. But in early October, in 1979, the place was a party destination, it was a dance hall, a saloon, it was a house of sin for one more night. Its last night, by order of the OLCC, the Oregon Liqueur Commission. Naturally, two thirsty thinking lads from the flat lands of the Midwest were drawn to the riotous cacophony, like moths to a flame, a weary gold miner to a brothel, horses to water. These horses needed no coaxing, and the water was on fire.
Sitting there, in the entrance way, right by the front door, was Little Whirling Girl. Months earlier, at the Great Northern Bluegrass Festival in Crandon Wisconsin, Jeff and I had encountered her, spinning up dust in the middle of the dance bowl. I think this was the very first time I saw Jeff dance, really dance. He got the groove and tore one of his own. Whirling girl remembered too. By closing time, and that took an angry police presence to bring about, we had witnessed near fornication, glass shattering competitions, boys swinging from the chandelier in their boxers, girls swinging from the chandelier in their panties, line dancing on the pool table, group puddling on the floor, fifty shot glasses lined down the bar for a group throwback, free mood enhancers of all sorts, a couple of arrests, and all the while, a little whirling girl lovin’ on both of us. Peculiarly fruitful it was, as adventures go.
When we awoke, in a field by the University Pottery Kilns, the rain had soaked us and our gear. Hmmm, never noticed. We ran for the cover of the kilns, dried out a little, got coffee from some little mom and pop place, smoked, and waited for fairer weather. When it came, we struck out for Willie’s Farm, a sort of hippie commune out in Jasper I had crashed at in early July. We got a ride right down the driveway from the communes LSD supplier, seems they were preparing for a Purple Jesus Party. Well, right there, in the middle of the driveway, was this old broken down Ford Ranchero, and not a soul on the place had wheels or knew how to fix them. And in walks Jeffery, a bit of a homespun self learned mechanic. By that afternoon we had discovered the entire drive train laying under the chassis, bolted it back in, checked the timing, gave her a quick tune up, primed the carburetor, and fired her up. You would have thought we had cured greed or something, sprinkled some faerie dust on Willy himself and brought him back among the living. It was a miracle, a magic carpet, and Jeffery was at the helm. He had become an instant legend, and we were welcome for as long as we dared linger. We were fed, housed and loved, and the fruit ripened in the orchard.
We stayed on long enough to build a kind of covered wagon on the Rachero, partake in a little Purple Jesus ritual that included most of the hippies from the Eugene Springfield area and beyond, take on a new family member by the name of Dark Star, (1/4 St. Bernard, 1/4 Pit Bull, 1/4 Doberman, 1/4 Labrador, and all Piss and Vinegar), visit Cougar Hot springs, hear the numerous accounts of the death of Willy in a dune buggy accident, play in the band, and strike out in search of magic mushrooms with Barb and Steve, the whackiest pair of self proclaimed troubadours I’ve ever met. We found ourselves, much later, crawling around on all fours, (when possible), in a swamp, in the wind and the rain, talking to tiny elves that disguised themselves as mushrooms, trying to lure them into our little Styrofoam cups with unintelligible murmurings, and some time later, witnessed the first known natural birth of Detroit Steel by what is now, in it’s state of decomposed sludge, providing the necessary fossil fuels for her own child. It has been a oddly successful expedition.