1979 Intro

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May 132011

1979  “Threading the Needle”


A Yellow Bike Production


Chapter 1




In 1979, I read George Orwell’s 1984, at the impressionable age of 21, it was the beginning of my contemporary paranoia.  Conspiracy theories would soon follow.  Now in 2011, I start writing the tale of an epic year in my journey, 1979 stands alone in the years of my life, now nearly fifty three of them, and yet it was greatly influenced by the twenty preceding years and has largely colored all of the years since.  It was the year I truly cut all ties to a former life and struck out on a foolish yet brave, uncharted path.  I left my home outside Milwaukee Wisconsin and headed west in a high school friends ’72 Oldsmobile.  With the help of an “agent of monetary aid”, we struck out to make our fortune in the mountain forests of the Pacific Coast.  Now thirty two plus years later, I live in the Pacific Northwest, Portland Oregon to be exact.  I live in a modest, custom 1918 house on the Northeast side.  I call it my “goat barn”.  I pass myself off as a woodworker.  I dream of rebuilding an old wooden sailboat and striking out for warmer, sunnier digs.

In 1979 I read the late great author and prankster Ken Kesey’s book,  “Sometimes a Great Notion”, and found the opening history of the Stamper family as amusing then as I find it prophetic now.  Henry Stamper’s father, while building the infamous Stamper house, packs up and walks away from his family, his life, and the saturated, man rotting wet of the Waconda Valley, after finding his box of nails rusted beyond use.  So here I am, in Portland Oregon in the year 2011.  The summer of 2010 was all of about three days long, never once breaking a hundred degrees and only reaching the nineties twice.  So far this year, and it is now half way through May, summer and, indeed spring, seem like a distant mirage.  It is truly these times that try a persons resolve.  Depression sets in, suicide rates spike, vitamin D deficiency takes its toll, bees struggle for warmth and a fleeting shot at the flowers that rot in bloom, people ponder the cost of enclosing that outdoor veranda they built three years ago, the ground oozes like a saturated sponge, the chill sets in for the long haul, and among other maladies, people talk of that thing, the “crud”.  “Oh, I’m a little out of sorts today”.  “Zat so, whatcha got?”  “Oh, you know, the crud.”

I was told, shortly after relocating to the beautiful, ever green Willamette Valley, that Willamette is derived from a Native American word meaning “little sickness”.  Not, as one might hope, the valley of little sickness, but rather, the valley of many perpetual little sicknesses, the kind of elusive bug you’re not absolutely sure you’ve got but clings to your sole like a pair of wet socks.  For many it is simply allergies no doubt, and as, like myself, Portland is comprised chiefly of transplants from other climates, allergies develop over the years.  The first winter I spent in the valley, living in a small cottage on the Southeast side of Portland with my girlfriend and an old pal from Wisconsin, all three of us came down with some sort of “walking Pneumonia”, had to resort to antibiotics to get rid of it.  But for the most part, little sicknesses take the day.  Everybody brings their dietary traditions with them, and rather than adapting to the “climate”, suffer the consequences of a poor regional diet.  The indigenous people’s diet consisted of fish and roots, and before commercial fisheries opened and started selling all the fish to the rest of the world, regional seafood was abundant and affordable, and a terrific supplement for the lacking vitamin D from the ever lacking presence of sunshine.  And then there is “El Nino”, “El Nina”, and the lurking omnipresence of “Climate Change.”

Rambling I am, but how the mind wanders into the great gray mists of the “Pacific Wonderland”.  Well, here I am in the Willamette Valley in 2011, dreaming of other shores and exotic, half naked women combing other beaches for the treasures only “other” beaches can offer.  And I pass myself off as a woodworker.



Chapter 2

 1979  Comments Off on Chapter 2
May 132011

Chapter 2



If women were in charge, if somehow we had evolved as a matriarchal society, it goes without saying that things would be different.  Indeed,  hints and remnants of ancient matriarchies are still evident today, veiled as they are behind the posturing of loud and powerful men.  Our military strategy for one, would have little in common with today’s.  That is to assume we would need a military as such, in the traditional sense of the word.  Perhaps we would have no urgent need to send our children off to far away  lands to impose our will on other worlds .  Don’t get me wrong, I am truly honored that our men and women in uniform are out there willing to lay down their lives to protect me and those I love from whatever threats, real, imagined, or conjured, are out there.  There is no greater commitment or devotion to the people of a sovereign nation.   But if women were running the show, there might be a whole lot more talking things through, endless summits, meetings, and an infinite number of compromises and treaties, detentes and pacts, and a whole lot less blood.  Perhaps.

But if warfare was inevitable, what would battlefield strategy look like?  Lots of pointy things, implements of trajectory, devices that fire things from an orifice designed to penetrate, long cylindrical tubes arched skyward phallus like?  I think not.  Our weaponry would surly be more seductive and alluring, perhaps manipulative, and certainly more cunning.  The Sirens would sing and the traps would spring, and the prisoners would be forced to do all of the dirty work.  They would be garbage men.

And what of the uniforms?  Blending camouflage is out.  To be seen, in all the glory and color of a desert flower, sets the bait.  What then might be the result, if apposing sides in the conflict showed up in the same outfit?

I was a social misfit as a young man, and I suppose still am.  I had no “way with the ladies”, and I suppose still don’t.  Not that opportunities never presented themselves, they did.  Rhonda begged me to help her rob a bank in Waukesha, using the maze of train tracks and the predictable timing of the trains for our escape.  I may have misread her intentions.  Emily needed help with her math in the shed behind her house, I may have misread her intentions.  Cathy wanted to trade ski pants in the men’s room of a chalet, I may have misread her intentions.  There were more, but now at fifty something, with no prospects for romance, why torture oneself?  The point is, knowingly or not, I ran from every Siren song, unwittingly avoiding every trap, teetering on the precipice of the spring, and thus managed to stay free and roam the country for an extended period of young adulthood.  Being a pathetic romantic, had I fallen in love at a tender age…  Well, impossible to say.

The first time I had sex, it was with a friend’s older sister in Arizona, and to tell the truth, I was hammered drunk and she took full advantage of the situation.  Her ex Green Beret husband off an a business trip and returning the following day helped spice up the dish.  And then, in 1979, there was Anna Mae and the week of Mellow Yellow Experiments.  I’ll get into that a bit later.  For now, I’d just like to say, if she hadn’t hooked up with an older photographer at the Great Northern Bluegrass Festival in Crandon Wisconsin, and left my pal Jeffery and I to stick our thumbs in the air and set our sights Westward, a good half of 1979 would have looked a lot more like 1978.

Chapter 3

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May 162011


Chapter 3


1978 wasn’t actually a bad year, or even a slow year.  Much of it was spent floating around the Great Lakes region searching for myself in unlikely places.  Not seeing much redeeming value in our system of “higher education”, at the end of 1976 I managed to get kicked out of The University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire after a single semester.  For purely academic reasons.  I didn’t do anything wrong exactly, just never went to class again after one fateful canoe trip down the Chippewa River on the second weekend of the school year.  I still consider the adventure educational, just not in the traditional sense.

So on the world burned.  I hung around my home town of Waukesha until spring, hooked up with Scott, a fellow ex student who happened to be on that canoe trip, packed up my ’72 Buick Skylark full of tents, camping gear, fishing poles, a bow and arrow set, cooking implements, a few good books, and this rather illegal but fanciful crossbow, and drove North toward the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the big lake they call Superior.  We planned on finding some out of the way, off the beaten path hideout and “living off the fat of the land”.  We were clueless.  A week and a half later we found ourselves living off the generosity of the local jail house, caught red handed hunting and fishing without a license.  Perhaps needless to say, our chances of shooting or catching anything to eat were immeasurably feeble, and we were getting mighty hungry.  If we had had just a little more energy I’m sure we would have been dancing all the way to three squares.

In the slammer there in Ontanogan, we met a guy who knew a guy, and after five days on the inside had ourselves a quaint little octagon shaped cabin in the woods overlooking a beaver pond, and working for this guy milling Cedar logs and splitting them into shakes.  In return he brought us groceries and cases of Leinenkugels beer, from Chippewa Falls, on the banks of the good old Chippewa River.  Life was good.  Porcupines, whitetail, beaver, and even bear shared our little seclusion in the trees.  Some evenings, about dusk, we would run down to the Little Iron River, free a rubber raft from its ties, and paddle down stream in total darkness to Lake Superior.  Now it was getting on late summer and the Smelt were running.  A simple net dipped into the waters at the mouth of the Little Iron and we had a feast ready for the cooking.  This was simple enough as well.  Build a driftwood fire, nothing burns so sweet as sun baked driftwood on the beaches of Lake Superior, drip a little oil in a cast iron skillet, cut most of the way through from the back of the head of the tiny fish, pull off the head, the guts would follow, roll the little guy or gal in a bowl of flour, and delicately plop it into the pan.  Pop open a couple of Leinenkugels and kick back against a log for the light show.  The opening act, the stars.  The second act, meteor showers.  And the final act, the grand finale, the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, the mysterious dancing green and red ribbons of pixey dust, like clockwork, would come on stage just around midnight.  Life was good.  Then I called home.

Interjection 1

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May 212011


Interjection 1



It is now 4:00, May 21, 2011.  According to Family Radio president, Harold Camping, we now, here on the West Coast of America, have exactly two hours before the “End OF Times”. Those on the East Coast, including my daughter, have already experienced this incredible transformation.  Hallelujah!  The “rapture” is upon us.

So one is led to believe, and one really does need to be talked into this kind of load of crap, that all of the true believers souls will be transported to the kingdom of heaven, while the rest of us godless infidels are left here to parish in the fires of hell.  Hmmm,  let’s see, an eternity with a flock of mindlessly irresponsible bliss ninnies, or a few hours with my pals in the fires of hell…  I’ll take the spicy dish thank you.

Actually, if God or Jesus or whoever checks their passports to heaven, would simply come down here and remove these La La Landers, transplant them to wherever it is they want to go, get them Out Of The Way , and just leave the rest of us the “hell” alone, to try to salvage what ignorance, greed, pride, and fear has been trying to destroy since God knows when, why that’d be just fine.  We need to find our “story”.  See you tomorrow.





Capter 4

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May 222011



Chapter 4


In junior high and through high school, I had a friend, actually I had a few friends and a number of acquaintances, one of them, for lack of a better term, I suppose I would have to call my best friend.  His name was Istaak.  He was as certifiably cracked and broken as anyone I have met since, which is to say he was one of the sanest people I have ever known.  He told many stories, I imagine some of them were true.  One of those stories he related to me sitting atop an electrical tower, about two hundred feet above the earth, on a scrap of plywood we managed to haul up there and tie down.  The wind rocking us over the trees below.

He told me his parents came from the “old world”.  From someplace called Slovania or Slovakia, I know, but I’m pretty sure he said it was Slovania.  He told me his father was in the resistance movement during WWII, was captured and interred in a prisoner of war camp by the Nazis.  He told me he escaped on a pair of skis he’d fashioned from a couple of barrel staves,  schussing off into the Alps and fending off the blood thirsty German Shepherds the guards loosed on him by punching them in their mouth as they sprang for the kill, thrusting his fist down their throats and snapping their necks.  He told me he had the scars to prove it.  He told me his father used to hit him in the head with a metal rake.  And the wind rocked on.

So when I called home,  my parents home, from a phone booth in Ontonagon, and was told that Istaak had jumped from an electric tower the day before, and flew about two hundred feet to Earth and death, the goodness of life faded instantly.  It was my first encounter with mortality as a young adult, as a person that was suddenly able to comprehend and confront its permanence.  I remember the funeral.  I remember hooking up with some mutual friends for a kind of wake, among them, a guy we called Duster.  Duster would play a prominent role in my story in the coming years.  I don’t remember the drive back to Waukesha, leaving the comfort and the goodness I’d found in the octagon cabin and Lake Superior.  I don’t remember much of the entire next month, consumed as I was by guilt and grief I suppose.  I remember the last time I talked to Istaak and he told me of this strange sensation he was feeling in his tongue and in his head.  His brother Matt was there and laughed at him and poked fun at his older brother.  I figured this was simply another odd twist in the writhing, fantastical path of my “best friend”.  Perhaps it was something more.  And the wind rocks on.

I would return to the great north woods of Ontonagon in the months that followed, but somehow it would never be the same.  It would never hold the same spell on an innocent flat-lander from Wisconsin.  The octagon cabin was gone, chilly winds had started blowing, and Scott had gone one step too far into the mysteries of Carlos Castaneda and Don Juan, the “teachings”.  His “quest for knowledge” had run him up, taken him around the bend, never to entirely return.  Eventually, I beat a hasty retreat,  Stella Blue on my shoulder (a cat I had found on my hitch hike up there), thumb in the air, and I like to think, the wind at my back.

Chapter 5

 1979  Comments Off on Chapter 5
Jun 012011

Chapter 5


In 1989 I took my father to see the Grateful Dead at Alpine Valley on Father’s Day.  It was a good show as Dead shows go.  I helped him down over the concrete wall and right up to the stage at the feet of Jerry Garcia.  We were there for a good part of Throwin’ Stones before security escorted us back to the grass.  I hope to never forget that.

In 1977 I found the Grateful Dead, or perhaps they found me, or “it” found me.  Anyways, I felt like I found “it”.  The back door to never never land, the secret pass to the party we’re all invited to but lost the directions, the escape hatch from a world I never belonged to, a world that robs itself of meaning and replaces it with pretty little shiny things and warns you that “it’s all good fun until someone loses their soul”.  And there they were, on a rainy day in Waukesha.  I was driving around looking for something I was sure I’d not find there when I ran into Duster buying a six pack.  The six pack we shared while he played some music on his cassette deck, I think it was “Wake of the Flood”.   Huh, lookie here, look what I found.  Come to find out, the Dead were going to be playing in Madison in February of ’78.  And the wheels started turning.

Sometime in the late sixties, my aunt and uncle bought me two albums for Christmas.  One was The Raspberries, and the other was The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty.  I actually asked for the Raspberries album, don’t remember why and it’s not important.  I’m thinking one of the latent hippie salespeople at the record store was either exercising their delightful sense of humor or actually trying to share something they thought was special with some poor lost kid that wanted a Raspberries album for Christmas.  Neither my Aunt nor my Uncle had ever heard of the Grateful Dead and, if they had, surely wouldn’t have presented it to their nephew.  I listened to the Raspberries a couple of times, I wore American Beauty down to a skipping, scratchy sheet of cellophane.  Many years later I’d dig it out and learn how to play the drums to it.

Last year, March 20th, it was March 21st, the first day of spring on the west coast, my father passed away.  We hadn’t been close really for many years, I guess their was a rather healthy amount of mutual disrespect between us.  I had been a bit of a disappointment while he had traded his dreams for a ticket to the “money show”.  We were probably both right and both wrong, both at the same time.  I have been surprised by the memories that have resurfaced in the last year, good ones.  The place in my life that he filled will be forever empty save for those memories, I will never have another father.  I feel the loss and, at the same time, am able to celebrate the richness his being bestowed on my world.  And I admire his timing in the leaving.  He had Alzheimer’s, amongst other maladies related and unrelated, his appreciation for life had nowhere to go but away.  Time ground over him like a glacier, burying recent memories while it churned up long forgotten chapters of a young man, full of feeling, full of life.  He would get all choked up talking about his friends that never came back from World War II.  The last time I visited, I could see him looking at me sideways, a wisp of a sideways smile on his face, a childish glint in his eyes, reaching into the fog for a memory, and coming back with only the emotions left by forgotten things.  I was prepared for the leaving.  I was not prepared for the absence.

Message for Father Time, I have several ethereal dreams, would gladly trade for a few lucid moments with my father.


Intersection II

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Jun 182011

Intersection II



I like to think that there are two different kinds of people in the world.  Actually, to be more accurate, there are many different kinds of two different kinds of people in the world.  Which is kind of like saying we are all the same, or we are all different.  Like everything is either perfect, or everything is imperfect.  Personally, I like to air on the side of everything is perfectly imperfect, in a perfect world.   In a perfect world that is made imperfect by us “supreme beings”, that tend to make a perfect mess of things that would otherwise, inherently move toward a perfect balance.  Which is to say, everything here fits into the whole rather perfectly, save for us.  Humans.  Which says really nothing at all, perfectly.

So, back to many different kinds of two different kinds of people.  There are nose breathers and there are mouth breathers.  Didn’t your mother ever warn you that you’d catch flies with your yap hanging down past your privates?  There are morning bathers and there are night bathers.  Night bathers, well that’s obvious, want to wash off the collected dirt and debris left after a long day of sweat and toil, while morning bathers, well, what have you been dreaming about?  Then there are vegetarians and there are carnivores, peace lovers and war mongers, lovers and fighters, conservationists and gluttons, philanthropists and thieves, beggars and choosers, city folk and country folk, sailors and boaters, drivers and riders, politicians and anarchists (these might actually philosophically be the same), righters and wrongers (everybody comes armed with a good argument), rakers and leaf blowers (rakers becoming an endangered species, god rest their “do a job right souls”) and, among many others, finders and losers.  Of course there are any number of cross over traits that can, and will inevitably be found in all of us.  Take Robin Hood for example.  Now there must have been one conflicted soul.  Both a philanthropist and a thief,  a lover and a fighter, and a peace loving war monger, I wonder what he dreamed of.  But, as for now, I am at an intersection and I must make a choice.  Left, right, or straight ahead, or perhaps this is a multidimensional intersection and I have up and down to add into the mix, or I have the option of going ahead or back in time.  Too many choices?  That’s life.  For the purpose of this here “intersection”, I choose to focus on edgers and non edgers.

There are those, usually the man of the family, that wake up at six A.M. on a Saturday morning, have a cup of coffee, and head out to the great overgrown wilderness of their yard to tame the wilds.  Firing up the massive horse power of their gas or electric powered edgers, walk the perimeter of their yard, hacking back the creeping, meandering, concrete eating grassland.  They are obsessed with control, everything in its place and no further.  Abstract geometric patterns, unknown in nature, emerge triumphant.  These borders, like the borders between warring nations, are NOT to be crossed.  And then there are those, like myself, who, in a way, revel at the determination of the natural world, even if that natural world is some Kentucky hybrid that isn’t necessarily indigenous to the immediate environment.  We sit back on our porches and watch with reverence as natures will begins to take back what is rightfully hers.  Indeed, in a relatively short period of time, left unchecked and unedged, nature would render our advanced, squared off grid of progress, another decaying and crumbling archaeological mystery to be deciphered and pondered by future intelligence.  And that is a powerful thing.

Perhaps we are simply lazy, in my case, there can be no question about it, I don’t even like to mow my lawn.  In fact, I don’t even want a lawn.  If it can’t be eaten, or in some manner add some relevant amount of insect food, bird food, or just plain aesthetic beauty, I see no rational use in wasting precious resources feeding and watering it.  Dogs will, from time to time, eat grass.  Perhaps we should all have goats, I like goats.  Or cows, cows are easy going, kind of messy, and apparently contribute a great deal of green house gasses to the atmosphere, but they mean no harm.  The roots of the ornamental trees we plant, the climbing vines of ivies and berries, and the crawling, civilization munching rhizomes of of our graminoids, grasses, bamboo, and the like, in the end, will emerge triumphant.  And the “edgers”, forced into a corner of their own making, will cower, sputtering edger in hand, defending their futility, and I am simply defending my lazy ways yes?



Chapter 6

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Jul 142011

Chapter 6


Times are tough for a woodworker.  I work six or seven days a week, and at the end of the day, still have a pile of bills stacking up next to my keyboard that, well, I just can’t pay right now.  Such is life.  But I make beautiful things that people will enjoy for the rest of their lives, or so I like to think, and though I can’t take that to the bank, I can take it to heart.  I feel good about what I do.  I wouldn’t want to call it pride, I’m not necessarily proud of what I do and indeed, pride is a slippery slope that leads to a cold and frigid wasteland, serving no one and no thing, I simply feel justified standing in my own footprint.  My footprint being the use of material that was once a living, glorious tree, and my arrogant use of power, though I am leaning evermore toward the more friendly, and dare I say more accurate, use of hand tools.  Keeps the dust factor down as well and, well, before the world there was dust, and after the world there will be dust, so during the world must there be dust too?

In less than a month, unless the powers that be find some way of manipulating voodoo economics again, our great country will default on our own deficit.  that, I find mysteriously intriguing.  So the USA is a huge, multinational corporation right?, and all corporations operate with a deficit, or so I’m told, but must have operating expenses in hand to pay the day to day expenses of staying in business, such as payroll, or they simply go “out of business’.  So we must cut costs somewhere.  Who will not get payed this month?  Hmmm, how about the politicians, how about those that got us messed up in this here mess.  And who might that be?  An old adage reminds us that, “when you point your finger, you’ve got three more fingers pointing back at you”.  Yeppers, if you bought it, and it wasn’t made here, and you buy enough of it often enough, this here trade deficit is all yours.  Of course our government supplied the necessary trade regulations, or lack there of, that fueled the mad consumerism that sent us to the  super sized outlet stores, filled with goods built in countries with inhumanly lax labor protection laws, but nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to purchase that…  CRAP.  One might consider buying less stuff, buying better stuff, buying stuff that might last a lifetime if given the respect deserving of fine craftsmanship, and last but certainly not least, one might consider buying local.  That way, we don’t line the pockets of, oh shall we say for example, the Chinese, creating this massive trade deficit that forces us to borrow money from, just for example  say, the Chinese, that allows us to give financial help to, for example, Pakistan, so they will continue to be our ally in that particular strategic corner of the world.  Dust to dust.

Borders are nonsense, cultural disparities are beautiful, and the internet brings it all home.  Communication between the many disparate peoples of this planet, this universe perhaps, this wonder filled, mysterious universe we have, by chance, found ourselves wandering through, will bring us all to the edge of salvation.  And the time is near.  Not the time of destruction, not some Holocaust of devastation, not some “second coming, first coming, or third coming”, but to the inevitable evolution of a truly profound species, us.  We WILL survive, and we will do it on our own.  Corporations will go under, banks will close, armies will disband, profiteers will try to eat their money, and governments will collapse.  WE, will live on, trees will grow, wind will blow, birds will sing, fish will swim, buffalo will roam, wolves will hunt, and the sun and the moon, will rise again.  And the dust will settle.

If you want to be a woodworker, or if you just want to work with wood, start with some small sticks, make a simple picture frame, and discover just how “unnatural”, are right angles.  Carefully cut eight 45 degree miters, you’ll know they are truly 45 degree miters only when you carefully glue one to another, the next to these two, and the forth to the proceeding three and back to the first, and somehow wind up with something that simply does not exist in nature, a square square, or a square rectangle.  And when the dust clears, you will know you are human.

Intervention I

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Sep 092011

Intervention I


In two days the date will be 9/11/11, ten years after the day our world, and our country, changed forever.  The day we willingly forfeited many of our hard won freedoms in the name of “freedom”.  To call that ironic is a harsh understatement.  To call that a victory is a wild overstatement, in fact it would seem we lost that war before it even started.  And the many unanswered questions still haunt the waking hours, if not the hours of dreams, of every inquisitive, thinking person that dares ask.  Justice for the victims of 9/11 and the thousands of victims claimed in the aftermath may never be had.

The questions can only lead to suspicion, and there is enough of that to go around, even if the vast majority refuse to ask.  Questions like, how could a renegade band of tent dwelling nomads organize, infiltrate, and perpetrate such atrocities with such strategic precision?  How could our government deny knowledge of a plan to use commercial airliners as weapons?  How could they allow it to happen?  Why were all of our fighter jets sent off to “military maneuvers”, too far away to respond on that particular day?  How could a couple of untrained non pilots, that flunked out of small airplane training school perform mid air maneuvers that challenge the skills of our finest, seasoned pilots?  How can it be that, for the first time in history, not one, but two skyscrapers structurally fail and collapse due to fire?  How is it that both of them fall directly into their own footprint, a feat that takes years of planning and precise execution for demolition experts?  Why does a third building, not directly compromised by the collapse of the twin towers, also collapse into its own footprint?  Why are there so many eye witness reports of numerous explosions in the substructures of all three buildings?  With all the video surveillance footage in and around the Pentagon, why has not a single frame of a Boeing 757 zeroing in on the target been released, not even to the 9/11 commission?  How can there be virtually no confirmed pieces of that airliner in the wreckage?  Why is the hole in the side of the Pentagon too small for the nose of a 757, and where is the damage that the jet engines and wings surely would have caused?  Why was the debris from flight 93, that, according to the “official story” did a nose dive into a small hole in the middle of a field, scattered over eight miles of Pennsylvania?  How, for the first time in aviation history, can all evidence of passengers have simply evaporated, while the paper ID card of one of the “hijackers” somehow remain intact?  And, though there are far too many other unanswered questions left by the “official story” to even begin to wrap your mind around, wouldn’t you like to know why, after the the biggest homicidal crime ever perpetrated on American soil, virtually every single piece of forensic evidence from the “crime scene” was shipped off and destroyed as quickly as possible,  uninspected and never put under a microscope by the finest forensic experts the world has to offer?  And how can the American people so willingly accept a story so wrought with holes and missing pieces, and allow our Commander and Chief to march our military off to invade two sovereign nations in retaliation, one that clearly had nothing to do with 9/11?

Afghanistan bankrupt the U.S.S.R., and, like an omen of things to come, we recently lost our coveted triple A credit rating.  With millions of people in our own country suffering from hunger, lack of needed medical attention, lack of a roof over their heads, and missing so many other essentials for a healthy life, how can we justify spending two and a half trillion dollars to police nations on the other side of the world?  Call me UnAmerican for asking questions, but this is one of the basic rights we, as Americans still have, to ask important questions of our elected officials and demand complete, credible, and honest answers.  The America I grew to love as a child has been, well, ironically enough, hijacked, and is, as I write, crashing.  One thing is clear, things will never go back, things will never be the same.

Now, I guess I should try to get back to 1979, though there is nothing more important than what is happening, or not happening, right now.  And the Mayan Calendar will soon be at an end, or a new beginning.  Perhaps it will usher in an age of beauty and wonder, free from the maladies that seem to haunt us, an age we are only able to imagine, to catch a fleeting glimpse of in the cracks of our world.  One can hope.

Chapter 7

 1979  Comments Off on Chapter 7
Oct 132011


Chapter 7


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.