There and Back Again to the RenFaire

photo 4Huzzah!
There was that word again. But, this time close by the forest. Whist!
Huzzah!
Yes, that sound is again I remember it from long ago…
Huzzah! That’s the call that sends wallets scrambling and kids running and adults groaning. It is none other than the Mediaeval Faire, the Renaissance Faire, or RenFaire.  a gathering of various tribes and shires and kingdoms and nerds and those girls who brag about being nerds but have more boobage than complex knowledge about archaic subjects and look good in any age’s attire from jorts to whatever those Restoration Era dresses are called or elf clothes or, Spandex, Heaven Doth forbid, even though these wenches know that tights aren’t pants.
photo 1(1)The RenFaire has a long and stories history intertwined with Raceclassgender I am sure and perhaps dates back to 1248 when the first RenFaire sold the first 5 ducat corn dog and a Lord asked some costumed interpreter which way to the Privy. And since then… Nothing has changed. I mean nothing.
photo 5(1)1978 or 1979 this writer attended the first in my life RenFair. It was on Long Island on an old estate that had been built long before to resemble a castle. It was a fantastic spectacle for this me as a child and all many other children, now equally older my their own measure and temper, to behold men as knights and women as ladies and all manner of argle bargle that was more or less historically accurate if men hitting each another with wood sticks wrapped in duct tape made to look as swords was accurate. In those days it didn’t matter.  It took weeks to develop the photos from such a day and by then we had forgotten that all the facts didn’t add up and just remembered a blur of Huzzah! and queens and kings and knights and ladies in waiting and all manner of huge snacks we could ill afford and from that day we yet retired sunburned sated and happy for the day.
photo 2The last time I was to a RenFaire must have been 1984. Let’s pretend it was. So …. Math …. That’s about 30.5 years since my last visit and Huzzah if it wasn’t like stepping back into time, if not at least 1980s America.
The set up may have changed in position. I am sure many of the older structures have melted away into time. The actors of living theater were young but here and there some old faces that reminded me of times passing and I questioned – were these the same lord and ladies as had entertained me so long ago?
And on que, a gent performing in Robin Hood’s Forest introduced himself and showed off a brochure upon which he made note of the photo of him and his child assistant and how thirty years hence this child was all growne up. Today a man not much younger than myself. I winced and smiled trying to keep the smile on the outside but the wince within. I doubt I was successful but the combination may have seemed more a constipated face.
photo 3(1)The RenFaire unfolded as it had and has and will. Vendors selling those leggings, that glass, those coins, the candle that one can replace candles inside so retain the decorative part (we owned three of these and still have one in the Room of Family Heirlooms**). We wandered. Our party consisted of familiar siblings and newly produced relations, small children here to be impressioned with the to them new tastes and sounds and sights of all the well choreographed hubbub. We Elders took upon to the noggins of cider, something this blogger had of days yore been unable to partake.
photo 4(1)The fire juggling show. The wench show. The bird show. The various distractions and hit the this or toss the that.
In all, I am sure there is a deeper and more chompy take as a takeaway; about the similar crowd being in attendance, gender roles of Lords and Ladies, a slight sexually deviant undertone that exists today that either was not extant then or my lack of awareness within a childish mind unblemished by hormones and naughty thoughts and angry words was unable to describe and therefore was unable to see.  The RenFaire once an anachronistic revival of a culture once gone has itself ossified into a tradition of the gathering so plotted out as to verge on the orthodox communities of Jew or Christian who yet walk to temple or harvest fields by horses.
photo 2(1)And why not in a world of change for the sake of change and the angry voices so offended and hyper-activated by a streaky stream of daily digital diarrhea dribbling in various devices that we cannot take a break and just enjoy a day – of Lords and Ladies and Knights and the same vendors as you knew back then and who you can now introduce to the next generation.
And from the rolling fields of the Faire we left behind those stalls and acts and returned to the glen, to the parking lot and back to Social Media, sunburnt and full on that turkey leg, and mead, and bier, and something on a stick that was fried, and having spent everything in our wallets and I thought….
Well… Huzzah!

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** The Room of Family Heirlooms is a real place.

Charlotte’s (CLT) Web

photo 4(2)If you fly these days and are of a certain age you may remember the golden age of the Jet Set. Pan Am, Delta, United. You know the routine you’ve seen the glamor shots and maybe even been to the Pan Am terminal in New York City or flew on a Delta flight when drinking and smoking was the norm and every stewardess had a little hat.
Then the 1970s came and the same people who built prisons, police stations, and Amtrak stations came out of the woodwork and built all the airports. Then airline travel became less expensive but the seats smaller and smaller and the staff grumpier and were tired of serving you nuts. And let’s not forget smoking went out the window and drinks were no longer free. This sucks.
Then.
photo 3(2)Suckation part II. With the little progress that had been made in travel, most of those gains in comfort were stripped in the neo normal age post Twin Towers and the new culture of Fear. No nail clippers. No shoes. No belts. No hats. No liquids. No drinks at all. No questions. No fun allowed. Travel was made to suck. And for those of us going strong in coach not once in a while for vacation or to visit grandma to stick her in that nursing home she always dreaded this is the travel suckation that keeps on giving.
Which is why it is nice that not all airports are created equally. And while we can lament the amplification of mallscapes everywhere (but real malls… Those are dying), being in an airport waiting for a flight or a connection and having more than one option to eat or drink is a welcome evolution from those olde days and those airports that are yet lost in time and are but a series of bathrooms, beige and gold and orange decor, a few worn out rows of seat, and of course CNN blaring. Is that man rubbing his naked and swollen feet over there?
Why yes that is.
photo 2(4)Yes you can bang between Skyclubs and Admiral’s Clubs and other hideaways but for many of us on the road warrior spectrum, these are not fiscally available. And do they have rocking chairs? Because CLT does.  CLT is a mall. Air travel is a pack em in poop em out and don’t drop too many from a great height industry.  And I’ll take even the smallest kindness where I can take it.
CLT is a welcome transfer for the traveler wrinkled and tweeting on time zone changes. It’s a stopping point on the way to elsewhere but one that makes me happy rather than miserable – of which Atlanta, Bush, and LaGuardia present such offensive assaults on all senses or others that present special challenges to go from A14 to D12 one would think each terminal subscribed to an incomparable political ideology and perhaps Berlin after The War was simpler to travel about.
In CLT the gates spill onto different wings all (for the most part) connected by moving sidewalks that also present an opportunity to have a brisk walk about prior to entering the fetal position for another 4 hours. For the most part transferring is simpler than other large airports and junctions in this green and expansive nation and information is everywhere.
photo 5(1) There is a core to the entire complex a center for all activity, with suspended artwork and a piano that on occasion has a player performing (a few other airports have pianos but I’ve not seen them used). Were cell phone service unavailable you could actually say to traveling companions “hey meet me at 11:45 at the mobile” and everyone would find it even if some walked down the wrong corridor at first. The shops are plentiful however, these are useless to me as I am not their target nor do I have room in my carry-on even if I had $250 for a glass bird or tumbler of crystal or high end handbag or spanking new shoes. I enjoy the energy these shopes bring and while I don’t think they make more than entertainment for the bored masses, they distract the vox pop long enough for me to score a rocking chair and perhaps a plug to rejuice my juice-thirsty devices and iThingamagigs.
And to CLT there are eateries and drinkeries aplenty and many situated as to provide perches upon with to do some people watching and wardrobe evaluating and to pretend to work from awaiting another tight screaming baby thirty thousand feet no service I have to pee but the seat belt light is on or do I have to do more than pee oh no what was in those chips they gave me ride to my next destination.
Today I make more arrangements. Same time. Same destination. Same price. Change in Chicago? Or CLT. It may sound strange, but I will take the southern route. Ok, it’s a longer layover than Chicago and I have to leave a little early. But it’s worth it. One of those rocking chairs is mine. You may even see me there next time you transfer.

photo 1(4)Editor’s Note: The blogger hired to write these posts does not receive any compensation from airports, hotels, eateries nor has a sponsor for any of this work.  The blogger is not saying no to be paid to shill the above, but has not shall we say met the right person.

Stairway To Route 1

photo 2(3)Big Sur is not a place on the landscape it is the first line to a cult indoctrination, a method used to determine life experience, a test of casual sexual partners in order to determine if they’re bangable yet again because, I mean, after all, they’ve been to Big Sur. Or surfed it. Or both.
photo 1(3)Route 1 on the West Coast is like it’s companion on the East Coast and is the same route of many fables and lore as Route 66 (blessed be upon it) and is part of The American Dream. Of course not all of it. Route 1 on the East is more known for the drive to Key West than slogging through every ass water town in Virginia as on the West Coast it’s all about Northern Cali (aka Northern California) and of course … Da da daaaa…. Big Sur.
I’m not sure where the little Surs are. There may be many of them. It’s hard to tell.
photo 4(1)We escaped L.A. by way of Route 5. Route 5 is a many many many lane highway that allows you to escape the Flav A Flav of Lost Angles and head for he hills. Fantastic dry mountains that heave and ho wain and warp twist and turn and present their young bodies, geologically speaking. To these old eyes used to the same tired spouses of the Laurentides, Adirondacks, and eroded plains of the Catskills, the young nubile mountains of California awaken in my nether bits an aerosol that only sharp peaks and unexpected earthquakes can. These are not inexperienced crests and falls sitting about the landscape these are not young lovers to teach, they are street hookers far out pacing you in their knowledge, dangerous and tempting with their doe eyes and strong forms and knowing how to pleasure you with one part and split your neck over with another. Then… Of a sudden, you are abandoned.  Just out there baking in the sun.
photo 5A glass of water on the night stand. The reek of personal lubricant and the hills give way to a flat and crackling valley of orchards, plantings, and anti Barbara Boxer billboards. Is she… Still in office? How did she cause the drought?
We divided at the risk of tacking on a few hundred miles a few hours into the long and equally dry drought darkness a move to leave behind these vistas of soy and venture to the west coast.
“I’m not sure if I’ll ever be here again,” I or my companion or the radio or my personal soundtrack said, “but I think we should go over there,” I pointed at my Google application on my iThingy.
photo 3(1)Route 1 was a long way off but in the sun baked fields of oil and scratchy grass there came a field of most and fog and the land have birth to trees of a grand stature and we made a few more turns and suddenly there was salt in that hot air. We could smell it. Even with the air conditioner on and Stairway to Heaven playing.
And then. We were on the coast. An improbable road built for it seamed no reason but for us. And thousands of other visitors. So close to the ocean and having to cut against cliffs I can’t see any practice reason for a road.
Perhaps it reached fishing villages, she said.
The signal was out.
The service was cut.
photo 2(2)There was no way to Wikipedia it anymore. We were lost and left up and turned out to just wonder, as we had in the olden days of not so long ago.
The fog held close. There were stopping points and sea side views. Some we passed by others we stopped for.
The rocks.
The seals [they were sea lions].
The must and most and mist and fog ebbing and flowing and the rush of surf smashing on rocks as it had been doing before and after we parked the car.
We lost stairway to heaven. You know if you let a song fully load you can play it without service. I’m not sure what we did wrong but 8 times into Stairway we had to then drive in silence. Just us. And the hum of the air conditioner.
In time we passed a rock outcropping I was certain was the Sur of Big Sur or at least the biggest Sur of them.  We came again to civilization. Some hippie kids begging for gas to get to the concert. And left the wilderness for the now not so open part of the open road.
I was driving so I needed someone to open the glove box of the the rental car. Under the other junk we stashed there was my bucket list.
I could check off that I had listened to Stairway to Heaven 10 times in a row.

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Clarion Alley In Waves

photo 2Graffiti is as old as civilization.  When the first man ape erected the first post or lintel or cairn or stone or wood totem, there was another ape man who long after the camp fire was out came along in the night and scratched h/i/s/er/t’s symbol for the utterance he or she identified with into that structure or approximation of excited male genitalia experiencing tumefaction and perhaps pointing at an enlarged female genitalia in order to lazily leave his or her or it’s mark on the struggle and edifice of another. And so was born art, the first depicted unsanctioned erection, and pre historic Banksy, the defacing of that said official art or waddle and daub structure with some statement, even if that statement was stupid and solipsistic and just a wee narcissistic.
photo 4And from that olde days to today, Graffiti has been an issue.  Regaled as the tool of the oppressive White Male Colonialist (when on ancient monuments such as the Temple of Dendur) and liberation, especially when White Male Art School Trained youth make it on other White Male property.  Graffiti has long been a sign of urban blight. In more recent times these marks are a sign of this or that struggle of Urban Youth, even if many scribbles or defacements are but tags to mark territory or otherwise are simple unsanctioned non-art-school decoration quickly made on surfaces because humans cannot smell their territory based on pee or the odor of certain buttocks.
photo 3I remember my first experience with graffiti art.  It was behind the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (AKA A&P).  The A&P was a food store in a strip of commercial development in our childhood suburbia.  This shop was accessed from the front by those riding in cars, however, the few walkers of suburbia, such as the homeless, elderly, those with no money, or the children of the… ahem… “community” would access the A&P from the short cut, a social path as the parks department would call it, that ran through some bushes and may or may not have been private land or that belonging to the village.  Bethatasitmay, we cut through this path on our way to and from the A&P with or without our parent’s permission as the situation unfolded.
photo 1(1)Behind this store Lori hung out with teenagers.  These teenagers were frightening beings and we could not for the life of us understand why Lori, a teenager but on occasion our minder when our parent was tulitque pro local ignota, so we liked her and did not see her as a …. teenager…
Anyhoo, these teens would choose to not be at home, not play with the other kids building forts in the woods or doing cool stuff… these teenagers gathered for reasons unknown to us next to dumpsters pushed up close to the A&P and filled with trash.  And that trash smell. Even on the long summer evenings when we would try to ride bikes long past the comings on of the street lights the teens would be there smoking and just standing in various groups. These teens waited close to the solid cement block wall that had upon it all manner of adornment and messages.  All graffiti. Markers. Spray paint. Paint paint. Ink. (This was long before those cut outs slapped on with wheat paste). Some messages were very decorative and hard to read. Others all too simple. My sibling and I were riding our bikes when we read (we were kids but knew how to read at a very young age), “Lori come on! My cock is getting stiff. Steve”  Maybe it wasn’t Lori.  Or Steve.  Maybe it was Sarah.  And Bob. Someone painted that message on a wall in larger than life letters. This was no mistaken scratching, someone had to plan this out. We did not know why but this message had to be written on the A&P but there it was. In shocking colour. We, at least I, imagined Mr. Steve’s cock was drying out from being outside his pants since we had some technical knowledge of the human condition but it was yet jumbled up and full of gaps.  Apart from this nasty message we knew was pure smut, there were other decorations. Some were rather complex and wonderful. We were in the final hours of the 1970s and caught the wreckage of the Age of Aquarius as well as teh Disco Generation. We got to see the last gasp of Hippie folk art. True American graffiti that was yet unstudied and raw. Just a couple of naked apes screwing up the vast and plentiful A&P giver of Entenmann’s Cheese Cakes with their drawings and pithy statements. What is life? Are we all that there is? Come on Lori, my cock is getting hard.  These decorations and messages changed all the time. Each time we kids stole down there there were new ones. I wish I appreciated the yet untrained eye of these “artists”, yes, they were white kids, who created all manner of images and decorations for the A&P wall most of which was inspired by too much Mary Jane, stiff cocks, and Styx albums or all three at once. Back then we kids were rather conservative. We hated graffiti back then. Now, decades later, as a property owner, I again hate it…
In time, we moved away from that suburb and the A&A was but a memory.  We may have changed our names, went in to a sort of witness protection program for reasons uncertain and still unknown.  Then, suddenly, one day we returned.  The place was transformed, but only in that subtle manner a true hood rat would know.  The little details that had changed.
photo 1It was in the late 1990s.  I think.  Maybe the early 1990s.  For old time sake Jimmy and I walked to the food store formerly known as the A&P.  The back way.  I noticed that the graffiti was degraded.  Forlorn examples of expression.  Gone were the attempts at art.  It was all just scribble scrabble and the usual dicks. Nevertheless, while local examples had become but those ape man scratchings on the tombs of olde, the art form of graffiti was now elevated and taught by many art schools.  There were buildings devoted to being scribbled on, this time with spray paint rather than a bear tooth, uncircumcised something, or sharpened something else.
photo 2(1)And as more A&P’s closed down as the world moved to more tag art, simple markings of gangs and unknown teens, there grew a moment of high end graffiti to the point where there are names, trends, schools, and well know dark alleyways dank with piss but otherwise museums or galleries where the marker can lay claim to bragging rights and C.V. builders, and grant makers, and foundation funded markings typically delivered by sprayed paint…
One of these places is Clarion Alley in San Francisco.  If you are ever in San Francisco you should visit this alley.  It is pretty.  I am not sure if any of the work was done by Steve.  Some of it deals with erections but in a more sophisticated manner.  And even today sometimes… I wonder whether Steve’s cock… all dried out or otherwise was nurtured by Lori.  Or Sarah.  Or whomever he was calling out to.  You can find his work out there I am sure.  With a little paint removal and some time.
You should really visit Clarion Alley. Or somewhere with nicer graffiti than behind the A&P.  Or perhaps the Temple of Dendur.  The penmanship in stone is rather amazaballs… even if just by Dead White Men.
photoEditor’s Note: The A&P pictured is neither in Selden, NY nor in San Francisco.  Since the company went bankrupt, it may not even exist anymore.

Return to Fran Fran

photo 2To say “we stayed in The Casto” is not so much identifying a point in the landscape as it is to position one on a dot, a pixel within in the imagination of a culture.  In those centers that attract media-TeeVee-people, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, LA, NYC, and San Francisco the image and vision of so many locations have become subtile substitute memories for so many.  The street corners have appeared in commercials, films, productions, photos all presenting as themselves, pretending to be themselves, or pretending to be somewhere else.  TeeVee people open their windows, look outside, and write what they see so that in it a small world after all made ever smaller by concentrations of vacuous bible fingers typing away tomes and compiling modern day myths for us to absorb subcutaneously.

photo 3(1)These locations are broadcast and made real in an imaginary way and we stitch them to our own lives.  Crosby Street, but a short lane in New York City, is the location of 100.34% of all crime drama alleyway locations, and so you have been to that little street so many times since you were young without even knowing it.  I have been to San Francisco for years and years, even if I went there in for reals only this summer.  In many ways I have always been in the Casto I have always partied in the Mission District, I have forever eaten in Chinatown even before I touched those spaces, and because of time and other constraints I/we did not eat anywhere in Chinatown for reals..
photo 5I first saw San Fran when I was a child, on either channel 11 or 9.  It was some comedy with that actress and some leading man and there was a car chase down those fabled steps or maybe it was that twisty road, “Hey you!” the kid me thought, “you’re not supposed to drive like that, that’s silly!”  It was a romantic comedy or perhaps it was It’s A Mad Mad Mad World, also a comedy, but not in the least romantic, but funny as hell.  I know there was the street car in the movie, Chinatown was there, those Car Chase Steps, and of course a fruit cart or plate glass that in the end got smashed or overturned or both.  Or perhaps that was a commercial for Rice-A-Roni and just what the hell is an “A-Roni” other than, as Wikigooglepedia says, a “pilaf-like boxed food mix” absorbed only through the lower intestine. “Rice-A-Roni, that San Francisco treat!” my colon still sings every time I see a box festering on the shelf.
There are many and fabled spaces of San Francisco all each with their own story and lore and often writ large in the cultural landscape in film and TeeVee and Movies and the personal legends of so many people who speak of that time when they too lived “on the coast” our in “San Fran” or “SaFr” or “SF” or “Cisco” or “Ci” or “C”.  I’m going to call the city I actually visited Fran Fran to differentiate it from that fabled city in your mind you know all too well known as San Francisco.
photo 1(1)I was not to see Fran Fran for real until decades after my youth long into the twilight of my middleagedom.  This first time was from the heights of a connection flight where I saw The Bridge, and then the city was twinkly lights in the distance seen from an airport hotel.  A mistake of timing had bumped us from a flight from Hawaii to [Redacted] and I said to my friend or lover or imaginary friend Harvey.  Hey, let’s go in to the city I may have said – since I thought we were close but on the way out of the hotel the doorman of the hotel dissuaded me/us since public transportation was running late and the night doomed us to miss the action, and who wants to take an $80 USD round trip to see closed shops and empty streets anyway.  And,the doorman reminded us, we were way way out there in the sticks.
photo 3The next time was better planned.  We arrived by rail after a pleasant journey across the entire country.  We were to find room in the middle of the city and not in the hinterlands.  This time we had exactly 48 hours to see all of Fran Fran.  Another blow through (see previous meditation on blowing through HERE) adventure packing far too much in a short amount of time.  For reasons both economical and otherwise the home base for these 48 hours was in an old hotel on in the Castro District.  A former flop house turned alternative life flop house transformed to modern day traveler flop house, the hotel was just on the edge of this The Castro District next to an historically gay bar an historically gay barber shop.  The area had once been a homosexual/gay bastion and a “safe space” for all sorts that did not fit within the dominant cultural hegemony…  especially those of a sexual nature.  There were a few Pride flags here and there but living in Gotham and being about Christopher Street (believe me you have been there too), the area looked a lot like some other well-restored Victorian urban neighborhoods with many many little dogs and few little children.  A cultural informant said that the area was now being gentrified. New people were moving in, people with money, people with two incomes and no children (TINC). I passed a group of men talking to each other as much as they were also staring at their phones. I was hard pressed to identify the Olde Guard from the more recent barbarian.  To me at least, their skin refracted the spectrum in a similar manner.   Their attire appeared as if from the same catalogue perhaps only separated by a page or two and as to who was CIS amongst them I could not discern from a glance.
photo 4The Mission is also undergoing a transformation. The Mission had once been forest.  Then dinosaurs took over and millions of years later several movies theaters were built up and down the primary streets along with a number of quaint stores.  Then, everyone died, things turned ugly, and drugs and poverty moved in.  Today, drugs and poverty are up against their hardest challenge yet, gentrification.  This time, it was more obvious who was the newcomer and who was the Olde Guard.  The old guard stumbled about while the newcomers were well on their way doing this and that and chatting away on phones and waving about selfie sticks and talking loudly.  There are still hourly hotels with their clientele coming in and out.  The cheep merchandise and bad life choices for sale as well as boarded up spaces with one or two shops you need be buzzed into.

photo 1With the influx of Dotcom startups and their return to using Yuppie Coupons for drinks, there is stress put upon the poor, the addicts, the unwell, long-term residents, and long-term poor unwell drug addict residents.  This has led to the area having several establishments where even a rustic traveler from Gotham blushes at the price of a drink with an umbrella in it.  One great bar was the [bar name] which offered wine and cheese plates and while it was under a scaffold we could see the hustle and the busstle of the historically poor neighborhood and historically poor shops.  In a matter of years The Mission will be an entirely new place, but not before enough models have been dropped over rotting examples of Urbandecayporn and hard hitting docudramas are filmed there by students and studios. In a way, you have already been to The Mission, as you have been to all of San Francisco.
In the end, we saw Fran Fran.  The bridge.  The park.  Saw the hills and even the ding ding Rice-A-Roni trolly.  I hope to return, and perhaps I will, if only through next film, video, TeeVee programe, or romantic comedy staring whatsherface and whosehisname.

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In A Galaxy Far Far Aclose

photo 1Episode IV: Long Long Ago, In A Galaxy Far Far Aclose…
Standing in the Redwood forest one is at once hit with the sense of being on another world. “It’s like being in Star Wars. Like you’ll see an Ewok jump out at any moment,” he said. I had to agree that when there, in the forest, I too had the same emotion. I could understand what I was seeing only in the context of Science Fiction. Of a world fake and made up by undersexed nerds and teams of CGI masters and electronic sheep that blast fembots, droids yelling “over here!”, and whatever those blue cat monkeys were from that one movie that basically took place in a huge tree that was all computer made. However, this was a real place. There are no giant blue titty cat monkeys. No Spice Worms. No amazing Flubber. No vorpal blades to go snicker snack. This space is real and reached up and all about me. It was alien because I have been cut off and removed and wrapped in comfort and placed far far away from this, another green world.
photo 3The Redwood forest had been a hated place of inaccessibility when discovered by Europeans. That there were some inroads made by native peoples was thanks only to their friend, fire, or as the US Park Ranger called it, a “controlled burn” which is modern more correct speak for “slash and burn agriculture” or as I and my friends/friendemies would say, “setting shit on fire.” The first recorded journey through the forest was made by some very angry people who had to not only scramble up and down the usual hills, but came across the huge twisted trunks of trees that had fallen over, perhaps hundreds of years before they had to hack steps into for their pack animals or even saw their way through. Indeed in the small section of the original forest that yet remains one such trunk was at least 11-12 feet tall and 200-300 feet long from root ball to tippy top. I was told by the Park Ranger that this was not uncommon for one falling tree to take with it another or even a small cluster. It was like pickup sticks for Ice Giants.

photo 2This was a lone example of the fallen tree and had come down long before the pathway was placed here in 1972. I marveled at this massive space debris log and wanted to blast it with my photon rifle in order to save the sexy space ghost, but thankfully, the Parks Department made an ADA compliant walkway certainly well landscaped for my clumsy and lazy feet.
Modern forests are perhaps what you are used to. They are what I am used to. Today’s woods are simple elegant minimalist clusters. Little woods in the back of the sub development to bungle about until the police take notice, patches unmowed by the neighbor upon which some slender twigs have emerged, or perhaps you as I go to one of the many urban parks and stare at trees in cages or those few large ones that allow some cover and shade from the blinky tussle of the mean streets where you may blast music in relative safety or drink fine wine out of paper cups. A few more may have been to one of our larger parklands, or wilderness areas. The Blue Mountains, Appalachian range, various spots of the Rockies. Unfortunately these too are but reborn woodland that had been for the most part shorn to a nub at some point in our history as man/human/kind searched for substrate from which to feed off of.
photo 1(1)This is perhaps truer in the Eastern States of these United States than our Western Brethren and Sisterthren, but for the majority of us weekend warriors, this blogger included, a trip to see Old Growth is a trip to other dimension. There is perhaps but a scant trace of these stands now so small in size as to be called groves, rather than vast wildernesses. In much of New England, again carpeted in forest since the abandonment of large-scale farming in preference for the fields of the Middle West, there is roughly 1-5% of the original woodlands that appear as they did when Europeans/Vikings/Aliens/Egyptians first came to these shores.
photo 3(1)If you happen upon a patch of Old Growth as you LARP through the woods, the first thing you will notice is that it looks like a total dump. “What a dump,” you may even say. Young forests, regrowth of even an hundred years are but clean and well kept gardens next to an actual Old Growth forest. We are used to seeing forests where people come through and cut out a few trees here and there, this even happens in “Forever Wild” areas. Then there are places where campers burn the twigs and minor branches or haul them away for various secret reasons. There may be a few trees fallen in the years. Some are smaller trees, not more than poles, while others appear larger, maybe 75-100 feet long. With a little work you can pick your way through the woods should you abandon the official path for a social path or your own.
photo(1)This is not the case nor an option for actual Old Growth forests. When looking at Old Growth at once the diversity of life is stunning if not subtle in texture and the cut of leaf and vine to the point where it all may look the same to the untrained eye. It is not a charming bed of flowers nor covered in that moss that movies always show when looking at a forest. That place where healer elves find some plant they crush up and put on a wounded Hobbit or hero person with the sword (who will totally hook up with the wise Cis Womyn healer elf). It can be nothing but an indistinguishable carpet of green punctuated by the most fallen branches, trunks in all states of decay, stones, and bullshit. Attempting to wander off of whatever path brought you there, is close to impossible (and not recommended in order to preserve whatever sample of this forest you may come across). Wilderness, authentic wilderness, is so outside of our modern perception as to appear otherworldly. Which is strange… Since this used to be the world. The actual world and we have become so divorced from that actual world that we can no longer comprehend it.
photo 2(1)The student of human history will have a new and unbookish appreciation if not newfound respect for those early pioneers who pushed their way into these wilds in order to find treasure, breeding grounds, or future interstate highways as well as the Native Peoples and why fire, in order to clear the land, was the Native People’s friend. The student of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) will also be amazed at the great stride in technology man/human/kind made in learning how to totally cut down every tree they came across, no matter the girth, height, circumference, or location. Of those despicable Redwoods so once encountered and then avoided, today only 5% remain in locations considered Old Growth Redwoods. So small as to form but groves of several few and managed acres rather than the tulgy merkwood that once carpeted the land. Between these groves are roads and these roads connect the islands of Old. Unknown how many of these huge trees were felled to make way for the road to see the trees from the comfort of our car… but some things are best left unthought and disconsidered if not for the sake of your humors at least for the flow of positive affirmative energy you need to get through the day without feeling like an overprivileged grain of meaningless and powerless sand that eats the world in one end and expels it out the other.
The Redwoods are not done justice by picture nor word alone but are a Wonder of The World, should we yet measure those that remain, that needs to be experienced in real time. While even the groves are well trodden and picked through and cut with trails (one grove has 2 miles of official trail and 22 miles of social trails), they yet have much of the biodiversity of the primal forest. Do go there. Off line, away from your Blade Runner marathon, away from iThingies, go into the woods and stand there until you no longer think of Star Wars, until you don’t see the forest as an alien planet, until you no longer imagine the fantasy worlds you have read about or have seen in the movies. Stand there until you realize that this is our planet and that this planet, if we ever let it, can be more wondrous than any planet or galaxy we rocket into space to explore. It is here now. And it is also less far far away.

photo 1(2)Editor’s Note: The percent of Old Growth depends on what source you use.  The Forestry Service, Park Rangers, Environmental Groups, or Bigfoot.

Hotel Motel Mud Hut

photo 5(1)The walls were rough and thick.  The little light came through from bottles stuck into the walls and a paint bucket turned skylight in the roof.  There were nooks, glass, bones, stones, and a small sand pit with a sacred stone under the bed.  The door was wood and had belonged elsewhere at one point.  The space has a stove for cold nights but no fans, no AC, not even a single outlet to charge a phone.  There are any number of places to stay when along the long and dusty trail.  Motels are a mainstay.  I can now start bringing out my Backinmyday credentials, I can say I remember a time when the motel was a small and slender row of rooms and cars parked in front with some office at one end.  There was vacation motels, hooker motels, truckstop motels, and hooker truckstop vacation motels.  In time there was an explosion of motels.  These grew from Super to Days to Quinta to Holiday to Ramada and any number of others.  Often in the damnedest of places.  In front of the local mall.  At some jackass cloverleaf where bullshit interstate A and asscrack interstate B met in the screaming wilds.  Nothing about for 500 rooms of:

  1. that smell (you know what I mean, sort of damp… not bad like something was leaking or died just… damp.  Like there is just one window and it functions for you to enter and at once close the plastic drapes… never to open them again.)
  2. that bed spread (designed in the late 1980s or early 1990s and never changed – again perhaps you have your favorite burned into your renna like a security monitor far too long trained on a particular location… is that still a thing?  Ahem..)
  3. that bad art.

photo 3(2)Bethatasitmay, there must be a reason for these places now ubiquitous on our landscape and sewed into the Geography of Nowhere as tight as any McWhataBurger or Hooters found up and down Route 1, 9W, 22, and other points of the American Globe.
photo 4(1)There are hotels.  These are usually found in places where the sign says “hotel” but it is really a motel.  Deep down the place is a motel.  And a crappy one at that.  The true hotel exists primarily in cities and vary from new cement palaces that were part of Urban Renewal or some corrupt development plan to old grand establishments left over from the Golden Age and the corrupt Robber Barons.  There are a few locations where this establishment may exist, usually in functioning vacation spots or spaces where the clientele can afford dinner without having to ask “how much is the cobb and clum salad?” Here, hotels are places people talk about staying, never actually leaving the confines of the manicured and well-gated community, and some hotels are indeed code word for resort rather than code word for stanky motel with pretenses.  Of these from skanky to refined resortesque this blogger has stayed in many and quite a few were packed with antiques fine rugs and had those trappings of the resort – minus the beaches or some manner of fun character – the youth hostel vibe with a private toilet.  Others had been grand in their day but then had become drop-ceiling-ed and ensconced in generations of paint so the fine details had been filled in and all manner of sophistication plugged over but yet had a hotel bar as lively and local as any could ask for.
photo 2(1)In the travels of this blogger, both for business and pleasure, a number of establishments have been called home.  From a few weeks at a hotel that was more like a B&B to a day or two at locations with bad typical breakfasts (what’s up with those waffles? that “juice” from the machine, is that juice, the some-strange-brand coffee… is that a brand?  Did they just make up a brand, and can you do that?) but the place provides views of mountains, valleys, rivers, or dumpsters either from the parking lot, the room, the lobby, or all of the above.  Any configuration exists out there in layout and amenity from multi level no elevator to single level no bar no pool.  Some of these places are refuges while others are but stops on the road.  About exactly 40.4% better than sleeping in one’s car.
photo 2(2)This blogger’s favorite places are of course those of the rich and with the trappings or suggestion of wealth. Or just hot water on demand.  Which I will miss when it is gone… but that is another story.  Lodges and Penthouses, beach fronts and cabanas, little rooms with grand fireplaces, and those in stumbling distance of $15 cocktails.  These are usually an option because of some off season, sale, special, or discount.  There are a few lowbrow places to stay that are enjoyable too.  From aging third-rate city hotels to unique family-run affairs there are plenty of places to stay that are reasonable and yet have more character than the Motel8Super6RadisonDaysPlaceInn but are not the Knights Inn which in several locations have a little too… much… character and there is a lived-in feeling as the residents live in the rooms and not for just a night or two but until they expire or are featured on a rehab TeeVee programe or both.
Then there is the mud hut in Portland.
This is a hard one to unpack since I could just launch into the Mud Hut, something about self-reliance, homesteading, defensible spaces and TEOTWAWKI.  Into Portland and how…. strange it is.  Into the sharing economy.  Or some other such device or rant. But what strikes me is that this little room is a motel, a hotel, a resort, and for a short time, home.  Anyway because mud hut.
photo 1(2)The mud hut is a backyard eccentric structure in an equally unique surroundings.  There was perhaps a time when roadside America existed in full force.  Just before the Geography of Nowhere there was a unique and balls/ovary to the wall expression of the range of human cray cray in every town, village, and port.  From the cliche alligator farm to the World’s Largest Tree House and everything in betwixt, there once existed places to stay as unique as the American experience.  Then we got diversity, globalization, and a monetary system divorced from the gold standard.  And slowly the World’s Largest Ball of Twine unwound and was replaced by… uh… Walmart establishments. And Walmart itself.
The mud hut is a unique place and I am told that the neighborhood of St. John’s in Portland represents that of the Old Guard.  The Hippy Dippy few who once did not need to Keep Portland Weird (KPW) since they Made it Weird.  That there was a lending library on every corner seemed to say that communitarian and antiantideestablishmentarianisn ran rampant. One first sees the garden, then the grounds, then the hut. Rather than being a shocking hovel, it is a welcome nook. The place you always wanted to run away to as a kid. The hut is off the grid,  It overlooks the St. John’s Bridge and there is a strange mixture of bird sound and the midnight clanking of railyards and the bulls chasing hobo kids.  The hut is surrounded by other structures, all of which are made from up/re/un/cycled materials from the stage where family and friends put on shows and concerts to the meditation shack with candles and positive mantras written on handmade paper.
photo 1(3)As one who is [more or less] the age of Love Children survivors and having yet been raised by Beatniks/Wolves, I can identify with the counter culture as well as understand the landscape of what appears to be chaos and hapenstance is in actuality a formal garden and would be recognized by that Walden Pond Dude as well as Central Park Creator Man.  I am drawn to love and hate and feel some sense of nostalgia for these pavilions and for staying in a mud hut since memory is rather a complex topic for this writer.  I both would love to give up [whatever] and just be on a plot of land, some blond naked children bouncing about in free inventive play (I have a theory that all Hippy children are blond and cannot be clothed no matter what race, culture, ethnic strain, or creed or material either hu/manmade or synthetic), and run far from any eccentric space into my gilded prison of a Grand Budapest Hotel to smoke and read only log books and VCR manuals.  It was a familiar space of my youth as well as in some ways harkened back, at least in my mind, to those old roadside attractions and establishments of long ago some of which I have been fortunate enough to see with mine own eyepeepers.
What is important, at least to me is that I/we did not stay in said hut of mud as part of some commune experience nor for some exploration of anything other than it was listed on the website and there was a deal and for a price one could just turn up and be housed. We stayed there because we needed a roof over our heads. And we were welcomed in for just that. No pamphlets. Conversion. Or conflict.
photoMuch like any motel.  Or hotel.  Check in. Check out. But this was a mud hut.
And today, one can get a mud hut or a Motel 6 or anything in-between with a click of a few buttons.  And to this, that is perhaps an advancement from those dark old days as Road Side America when Father had to search for hours in the Godamnitstopfogginguptheglasscantyouseeimdriving rain up dirty roads and to bad parts of town. The unique areas are dying and the new American landscape of flat and international multicultural growing.  But, there remains hope. Or outposts. While the unique is far between and certainly a Mud Hut is a little extreme and not in the taste of most, especially those generations trained to require the mundane and off ramp, why not stay there?
Whether to KPW or not, this was a refreshing break from the road.  Are there lessons here?  Are there deep and pithy commentary on the state of the nation, the situation of Hippydom, or Portland’s ability to KPW?  Perhaps.  Perhaps other more distant and more better bloggers can tease out those deeper trends and aspirations but for this time there is some gentle dream of which produced an idea that not all that formed but from which there is a mission and a memory and a dwelling and a wondering and laying in the mud hut several things spun about my head.  The old days.  A place I call the Iron Fort out deep in the woods and packed with magic.  My own Hippy Childhood so long ago.  Hotel carpets.  Those long strange and swimming patters that are unending motifs.  Motels and their strange goings on. Just laying there looking at the timbers of the roof.  The same as the Iron Fort, but so different than every other hotel.
The morning came.  I/we packed my/our bags.  Does money have to be left for room service?  Not this time.  Is everything out of the room?  Yes. Door open or closed?  Closed.
And just like that.  The room was checked out.  The key returned, if there was one, and as any room I have rented along this long road, vacated perhaps never to be seen again.
I bade farewell to the room as I have to so many others.  Goodbye room.  And thanks. Hotel, motel, or mud hut, it all ends the same.

photo 3(3)Editor’s Note: This blogger is not paid by the City of Portland, random Crust Punks, nor Motelstravelairbnkayak.com to promote any and all manner of web-based booking companies.  However, donations to the author can be made.