The Book of Safety and Nature

FullSizeRender(8).jpgThere is safety.  We don’t want to get hurt. This is only natural, I believe they call it instinctual, isn’t it?  When you were a child, did you fear bees, getting paper cuts, being hit by somebody with a crumpled up piece of paper?  I mean, beyond being a baby that is… babies seem to be drawn to sharps… poisons… hot surfaces, and all sorts of danger.  But outside of being a baby, and perhaps a teenage boy, since they seem to get into a great deal of trouble, don’t we search for ways to make our lives safe?  This instinct is is a great way to weed out the dumb and non-viable babies and poor-choice teens.  But it runs deeper than that.  As a child, you perhaps were afraid of being hurt, and that is only normal, or typical, or whatever they are calling common these days, but as you matured we extended this preservation to others.

We don’t want to see our loved ones get hurt (I mean outside of certain sexual proclivities but that is another story).  Nature or nurture drilled into our DNA or RNA or whatever it is that makes us remember things not just personally, but as a species and throughout the aeons.  We then extend that feeling to preserve and avoid pain outside ourselves, to our family and friends, and then [most of us] mature some more and extend this blanket of safety to strangers and those beyond our sights.  We don’t want to hear that a child in a far off country got very hurt and some adults were killed by a drone, fell off a horse, or were hit by a car.

FullSizeRender(10)There is nature.  Nature is chaos.  There is no natural order.  There is no ‘balance of nature’ that is an illusion.  This Truth is the only place where Science and Theology agree.  Nature does not use every piece of the buffalo or whatever is dead.  It wastes and forgets and builds you up only to grind your bones into anathema.  When the forest is burned down by lightning, it does not regrow.  The forest you knew is gone forever.  It does not come back.  A new one will.  In years, or decades, or whenever.  It will grow back but only in as something else.  Nature is blood – hook, tooth, and talon.  It is all pain all the time suffering madness.

Creatures playing, little baby animals, they are cavorting and tumbling, then one is struck by a car, falls down a cliff, it taken away by a much larger predator and is eaten alive.  Living and being chewed on.  Nature is pain and suffering and yet… There are times of beauty, these moments are instilled with us at a very deep level.  I have been with people who otherwise would be considered not smart or even dangerous due to their selfish and petty choices and I have seen these people marvel at the beauty of nature.  The sunset of a certain day glowed.

FullSizeRender(12).jpgThe purple glow of the sun setting on the Rocky Mountains is obvious, but little moments we see all the time strike us of all intellects, social and emotional aptitude, and even the most basic education.  The deep blue of the ocean in certain parts of the ocean or the cold water in other areas.  Nature is majestic and doesn’t care about your or your life.  It is larger than all of us, some even believe it is God.

There is a famous falls in the Catskill mountain falls up a certain road much painted by certain artist of the Catskill School, Hudson River School, Woodstock, or other moments.  The famous falls are up a rather precarious county road and it takes the traveler from one small and slightly depressed hamlet to another depressed hamlet.  There is a parking lot, then a few hundred yards down a busy county highway the erstwhile hikers may take their first risk, that of sharing the roadway with cars and trucks scrambling up and down the highway.  At the trail start (perhaps called the trailhead) one hops over the guardrail and is safe from the cars and takes on yet another set of perils as the trail begins and large rocks give passage beside a stream that becomes a raging river with the slightest rain up upon the mountains.  The stones are in a huge jumble to the inexperienced woods/wo/man but they have been arranged by long ago hands and kept in place by a lost army of parks trail maintainers.  When one gets up the top of the first rise, the trail doesn’t get any better.  It changes, and at times is less risky, but even if the total distance from the guardrail to the first view of the falls is but half a mile, it is not a simple trail.  It is taken by many, and has been for quite a long time.

When I first stumbled up and back on the trail, the trail was in poor shape but there were few people on it.  Then, the Catskills were re-re-rediscovered, and more people from all over came, and yet the trail was in worse shape due to floods and other natural calamities.  It was a rough decade.  Several decades of “oh this only happens once a century” storms.  Walking the trail’s fallen in parts, and braving some ways to trip and break, one is brought up to the stopping point where above are the falls.  Since it has been painted, photographed, and written about by far greater artists, I reserve the right to not go into detail other than to say that there is quite a rise up to the uppermost summit of the falls.

FullSizeRender(15)Most stay put.  View the falls, take a few selfies, and then move on.  Before, there was a way to take this journey further.  This meant to continue up beyond the official trail since the section had been closed since sometime in the 1980s when the death toll had risen in a publicized way.  When I first took my way up there, I had to scurry up a sharp hillside and then to a very narrow and dripping path, if one could call it a path.  there was a gnarled pine that provided what little protection one could get, at the point where the slippery wet shale game way to slippery red mud.  Then, you could hunch about and follow a scooped out section – perhaps natural – and get behind the waterfalls.  After the falls, you could continue further up and along other not-trail trails to the top, which in the summer was always moist and mossy and in winter icy, and in all other seasons quite dangerous.  So many, actually since the early 1800s (since they often chissled their names into the living rock), crawled out to the edge and there sat at what, for Catskill standards, is the top of the world.

Then there is death.  Many died before.  Long before in the 1800’s, and 1900’s and into recent times.  A death here. A slip and fall on the trail.  A drowning in the waters.  Some were drunk, others in the dark, some wore the wrong shoes, and others no one may know the truth other than the sad fact that some phone call had to be made to a grieving family.  There is safety.  As I said before, we don’t want to die, we don’t want our loved ones to die, most of us don’t want strangers to die.  But… then there is nature, and she has the final word.

FullSizeRender(11)Nature doesn’t care.  She doesn’t.  She’s not your mother.  If you live or die, it does not matter.  The trees fall into the waters when the second “once in a century storm” happens in the same year.  The moss you stepped on to get around the wet area on the trail perishes under your foot.  The beasts and monsters of the mountains had been hunted into extinction long ago.  But, for one reason or another, blame evolution or something greater we feel exceptional.  We don’t want to go on some picnic and die.  I understand.  I never wanted to die when I went to the top of the falls though the dangerous areas.  I will admit, I never did it drunk, or in flip flops, or otherwise in an idiotic manner.  I hiked it knowing that nature was not a bounce house and there wasn’t an army of attendants who takes care of the trail and all my needs free of charge to me.  In the woods, no matter how beautiful, I needed to be very careful.

FullSizeRender(16).jpgAnd now they have built a staircase.  The “they” being the DEC (Department of Environmental C… Uh… google it).  These stairs are stone and crawl up the formerly slippery hill and then to what may be a walkway, since the fines were great and my luck with DEC tickets not too great, a safe passage to the top of the falls and a new lookout, not the living rocks or the frightening edge, but a safe wooden platform where numbers of people can come and go without any manner of worry, seeing nature, but not being in nature.  This is perhaps a new low of humanity or perhaps it is representative of what the Catskills have offered for centuries to blundering urban dwellers and suburbanites from all over and across time.  The stairs are there, whether we ‘old tymers’ and traditionalist Walden-Pondesque curmudgeons like it or not.  The trail still is washed out and pounded and thumped upon by untold visitors.  Who knows what new ‘storm of the century’ will come and wash away the safety.  Great ruins of civilizations must come from somewhere, and whether we like it or not, we all must return to the earth and to Nature.

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Schwerpunkt Turns 400!

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Schwerpunkt International has inexplicably turned 400.  That is 400 posts on TEOTWAWKI, Travel, Leben und Kunst, Doom, and many musings and Deepthoughts (sic) on This Great Nation that are at once personal as they are intended to be enjoyed by others.  So thanks for stopping by all these posts.

What started out as a little side project to vent and let the angry naughty bits of this author’s mind come out and play, has led to a little side project more about travel and life where the writing bits come out and practice.   Not that these years of practice have reduced the inability of the author or editor from preventing or ameliorating or otherwise eradicating errors and transgressions horrific and surprising against American (and UK) English.  That’s just how deep bad grammar runs.

I would like to thank the readers of this blog for years or weeks or just one-off readers who appear to be a great selection of creative types, a lot of photographers (I am flattered since I am not a photographer), and a few Doomers.  The many followers as well as those who regularly check in with me.

In the coming weeks will be relaunching with perhaps some updates to the look and perhaps even a focus rather than the rambles that have replaced my travel writing now that I no longer travel as much.  Perhaps that will help improve my Internet SCO since I suspect the Googles has blacklisted this site for questioning corporate hegemony too much or perhaps not enough.  And you, Dear Reader, keep coming back for more.

Editor’s Note: Perhaps there needs to be metatags here.  We really knew what we were doing here. 

There’s a Starman Waiting in The Sky

FullSizeRender(5)I believe I first met David Bowie through his music, as I am sure we all did save for those truly personal and up close to him who met him however it is that one meets rock-n-roll stars in the real.  For you, your first encounter with Bowie may have been at a concert or some more intimate experience, or you danced about to the radio.   I imagine you had some life changing moment and could tell me about it.  I hate to say, I was around a great deal of music as my parent was a musician and my co-parent an artist, but I cannot pretend I had some I was a child then listened to Bowie and was an adult experience.  I more became aware of Bowie, as one may become aware of growing older, or that the mouldering cheese in the fridge was not mouldering right and the blue was more greenish or the grey was had too much blue in it and I wish I had that moment when the Pan Sexual(TM) manchild danced across the soundscape made me change my gender.

FullSizeRenderBut, he didn’t.
We kids had a grandparent, and that grandparent did not believe much about life and family other than that children should be seen and not heard and to make sure they aren’t heard they need to hear HBO, Showtime, or Cinemax in order to keep they glued to the tube.  On one or all of those stations, the film Absolute Beginners was on sometimes around 1986 or 1987 – before our grandparent died.  Our window on the world was HBO and as I recall the film played several times that day and perhaps other days but our life was messy then and we didn’t have much of a schedule.  I didn’t see the movie for some reason I always caught the flick at the end when Bowie’s anthem was playing.  We didn’t have a TeeVee Guide or perhaps we did.  I know nothing about the actual movie.  Perhaps it’s shit.  I must have heard his music prior to this, but in this music listening there was not any “before” and “after” moment as I can say for The Talking Heads or Nirvana or Stairway to Heaven. There just was there general awareness of David Bowie.  He was everywhere, even in a house where music was frowned upon, he was hiding in placed our parent could not find.
FullSizeRender(3).jpgThen, there was the film Labyrinth.  This Labyrinth film we watched as many times in the theatre as we could as back then, that’s how one saw films.  When Labyrinth came on HBOCinimaxShowtime, we binge watched it.  A video store opened and we rented this flick (ask your parents what a video store is).  This was sanctioned Bowie by our parent.  It was not until I was working full-time that unsanctioned David Bowie was someone I could understand, someone I waited for to come on the radio [this author did not have money for tapes or CDs apparently].  This was in the days where we didn’t have computers to play what we wanted and without records or CDs (Compact Disks), one had to wait until the song came on the radio or pay $12 for the goddamn thing and minimum wage was $3.94 or $4.25 for shitsake.  To listen to something you wanted to you had to have friends or money or both or just money or just friends.  When you don’t have money, unless you make the music yourself, you had to pay for it back then.
Thankfully there was WPDH, 104.7 FM radio.  This station, like HBOCinimaxShowtime, played the same songs over and over, especially as they were bought by some larger company and no longer were a truly local station.  I didn’t know when that happened.  But, I do know they played Major Tom quite a bit.  I worked along with Bowie.  Mopping floors.  Scraping eggs out of pans.  You know how hard it is to get eggs out of pans?  The fans blew, and we turned the song up higher.  No Berlin Bowie, no Sound and Vision, a little Ziggy, once in a while Let’s Dance or Young Americans, and indeed I was young back then.  It was a strange time, and my consumption was alighted with whatever was playing as I mopped the sweating counters off of chicken blood or whatever.
When I got into college, I got a little more Bowie.  They played it in the Mug, some bar under the ground that the students went to.  Still, less money, no radio, I relied on listening to jukebox hero anthems and petty one-offs in dorm room parties and hey, isn’t that Bowie?  It was, and everyone about me knew more about him, and I knew just enough, I knew the Young American, I knew what was on WPDH, on HBO, I remembered the old songs but owned no album of his.  When I was in Europe, I tried and failed to be the Young American.  You apparently can’t get laid as an American with bad teeth; that privilege belonged to Europeans or Bowie.
After college, the clubs of New York City, the rise of the Internet, and about a million other changes in life.  Lime wire, Pirate Cove or club or some shit, I downloaded the fu ck out of David Bowie music.  All the albums.  It was 1967 again, it was 1972, it was all the years I missed out on and more.  For a while I guess I binged on Bowie.  I was like some kid from outer space.  Who hadn’t heard all those old songs?
After after college, I moved and moved again and grew up at least in body or that is I got older.
FullSizeRender(1)I was upstate.  Bowie was upstate.  I wanted to meet Bowie.  You wanted to meet Bowie.
I worked just outside of Guitarville.  But, as with the rest of my life, my timing was off.  I was alone when I needed to be with others, old when I needed to be young, well when I needed to be sick, and always always not in the right place but just behind.  Oh, Bowie was just here for coffee, at the cafe.  Oh I just saw Bowie leave, he just picked up his kid, he just went over there, he wasn’t ever at magic meadow he had dinner with Uma and me, he was across the street just now, but you were angry and preoccupied, and you missed him.  I missed so much and so many people, those I loved and so many I hated but never had the chance to tell them that to their face.  Bowie was yet another fame ghost in my drudge radio life.
Once, I saw what was purported to be his house on the ridge.  A huge house is just sitting there plop dag bam on the top of the ridge outside of Guitarville, just I got all this money, and I’m married to a supermodel, and I’m a rock star, and I’m here on a cliff type of house.  Goddamn it Trevor, we should burn it down, or just plant trees over it or some other act, but we didn’t nor knew if this was his house.  Or maybe that house belonged to someone else. I never rang the doorbell, never stalked whoever could afford that house.  So.  I guess. I’ll never know. Who lived and loved there, we did not know, and, as it turned out, we never would.
FullSizeRender(2).jpgThe years went on, and I moved and moved again and lost and found people and technology got more informal and simpler to find and Bowie now as on demand.  I listened to Bowie.  Even the obscure shit.
Then I forgot about meeting Bowie.  I had my chance.  I didn’t discover him when I was young.  I didn’t become obsessed with him and find some life changing moment.  Ashes to Ashes maybe or not saved my life, but I was old by then, and so was the tune.  I was back in the city and back to work and back to getting older and technology made music beam through the walls and all my CDs the few I had ever owned were perhaps in the trash or maybe my ex-spouse still had them in the basement…
And then Bowie died.
And I was sad.  But I had no Bowie anthem.  No story of that time when we both did something grrea.
He turns out to have lived just a block away from where I was working now.  The streets of SOHO I walked every lunch hour could have been a chance meeting or maybe a sighting and even as he was sicker and recording the last album maybe just maybe….
But no.  My timing was off.  I would never meet Bowie.    He was dead.  We say he is not here, but that is because he is dead and we no longer know how to talk about that.
I went to the memorial and watched a friend place flowers.  Then the next day I was given flowers, and I placed them there too.
I would love to say I had some moment with Bowie’s music, but I didn’t.  I had many moments.  Small moments.  Mopping the floor.  Sitting in bed with headphones on.  Blasting out my ratty rattling speakers in the car.  Dancing to it at a bar.  Being drunk and strung out at home sad and alone.  Together with friends.  At a cafe with someone, I loved or perhaps I was at a cafe with strangers just sitting there doing time before the next something.  There was no defining moment and no personal contact not even a moment of “oh shit I just saw Bowie” and this made me more sadness than ever as I thought about it.  I visited his memorial in Gotham, knowing that his heart and mine was upstate in the Catskills.  But, bethatasitmay, I lay my flowers and thought.
He died without knowing me.  He died without ever meeting.  I would have loved to have sipped tea with him. And of course, I need not tell him I loved his music.  He’d already have known that. What with the money I still owe him from all those illegal downloads.   The reason I never had an “ah ha” moment with David Bowie was because he was always playing in the background.  We get used to these people being in our lives.  Even if only distant and through music.  And now, sadly, he is gone.

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Editor’s Note: This is a rather rambling essay with far too many words, not enough pictures, and really little solid point.  We are going to publish it anyway because the author writes for free.

On The Snow

IMG_6224.JPGWith the start of the New Year, and all those resolutions soon to be ignored, taxes yet to be done, and days until the stores are once again full of lawn chairs and sun hats, we also start the ski season or at least we used to when the weather wasn’t as capricious as it is today.  Unlike 2015, the Year of Our Lord (YoOL) 2016 seems to be sending rain rather than snow, warm rather than cold.  Much unlike the bitter winds and feet of snow we endured last year, which is to say from the perspective of skiers, enjoyed last year.  While Vale, Breckenridge, Squaw Valley and even Jackson Hole were scraping by with whatever moisture and cold weather they could get, the northeast had conditions so good [editor’s note: this is still NE skiing conditions] that smaller ski mountains that had not been open regularly in years were booked solid.
This writer is not a life-long skier.  Truth be told, I have some experience in the sport.
Sometime in the 1970s, my family took up skiing.  By “took up skiing” it was more that my parent found some old skis in a thrift shop (we may have paid money for some of the equipment), and we took to the LOCAL bunny hole.  The bunny hole was called the Ski Bowl, and this “facility” was less of a hill and more of an extra large divot in a golf course out in Lawn Guyland.  I remember that it snowed quite infrequently back then on the island (apart from it snowing too much in 1976 or 1977 or something). However, when it snowed, all the bunnies would emerge from their various tract homes and scurry to the Ski Bowl to attempt to see how hurt we could all get on such a small incline.  The place has since been turned into condos.  As has everything else in the area that wasn’t already a gas station.
FullSizeRenderIf you are of a certain age, it must be impressed upon you that back then ITD (In The Day), skis were long sticks of wood with some bent tin on the edges, some springs invented to be absorb snow and adhere to bare skin, and everything needed four bars of wax depending on the snow to slide but the paper box the wax came in turned into pulp and took the directions on the box with it, so it worked out more like, so is today the silver wax, the yellow wax, maybe a candle?
In time, we got some modern equipment.  We had two modern pairs of skis made of this material called fiber glass.  I remember these one-colour plastic boots that attached to these skis using a clamp that no longer required a wrench or some machine press (unlike the leather ones that needed the wire spring contraption to hold them into place).  Each one of these plastic boots weighed three to ten pounds.  It took about an hour to get on and two hours to get off.  We wore lots of socks in the boots since they didn’t quite fit.  Also, we took to wearing socks on our hands as gloves.  As the tips got wet and froze, you would pull the sock down just a little further to the still dry part, repeat until the socks were at their ends dangling and no longer cover one’s hands, but then you knew it was time to go in so perhaps this was a more than clever invention.
IMG_6226My parent taught us to ski.  In the backyard of our tract home, we were able to sort of skate back and forth on the flat ground (which I cannot think how we did anything useful since the backyard was perhaps twenty feet of uncluttered ground not including “the woods,” the pony paddock, the trailer, the junk pile).  At the Ski Bowl, we took the divot down and the tow rope back.  Again a little history.  The tow rope was apparently invented by a chiropractor in Denver when business got thin and he needed to fix more dislocated shoulders.  This device works by means of a rope attached to an flywheel of some ingenious engine at the top of the hill, or divot, and then that rope loops about another wheel on the bottom next to the line of twenty or thirty skiers waiting for their next run.  At the bottom, some young boy guides your hand to the knot in the rope and you hang on skis forward to be towed to the top, or if you trip over your skis dragged to the top.  At the top you have to let go or be crushed so some slightly older boy with frozen cheeks and broad shoulders named Robbie or Ryan makes sure you don’t keep hanging on to the rope and then get caught up in the flywheel of the loud sputtering two-stroke engine that once upon a time was attached to a threshing machine or some other mechanical peasant grinder.  I recall being “on the slopes” once or twice. I accompanied a parent, we passed the bunny hill, the smaller part, and took the ride to the summit of some large mountain.  At the top the view was magnificent.  However, we faced what looked like a frozen cliff.  My parent, in a rare moment of clarity, went to ask the attendants if we could return down on the lift.  We weren’t allowed to, however there was this back way down we could take.  I remember on that flatter back trail a snow machine was coming up, one of those huge groomers, and perhaps this is a false memory, as all memory alas are, but did they run these things during the day then?  I truly remember being face-to-face with such a machine.
When we moved closer to the mountains, our parent disengaged from the world, but certainly lost all interest in skiing and whatever wonky equipment we had lay idle and moldered, crazed, and eventually was tossed into the landfill of history.  I did not pine for this loss since we didn’t move more than dabble at the sport and my ski coat had but a few of those old paper lift tickets by the time we quit so I guess it seemed less a fun thing and more a chore of sorts.  Plus, the rides down really sucked with shitty equipment.
IMG_6225It was then years later that I became older, a process of aging that is still in place.  As an older person I was able to work and to drive places and do things without the need for another adult.  I don’t know why, but skiing just didn’t seem to click.  Perhaps the imagined difficulty of my youthful venture into the sport, the tales of skiers being total ass-holes as a theme among the people I knew, the knowledge that Upstate in the Forgotten Kingdom skiers rented old and once grand houses and then tore them apart and who wanted to be part of that sort of thing.  I took up hiking, drinking, fighting, and travel, but didn’t return to ski.  In college, this aversion grew since there was not much of a ski club at the school, the price tag was way too expensive and not covered by my scholarship, and one of the friends in our tight circle was a young man who had become paralyzed from a horrific accident while skiing.  It seemed like being absent for a weekend to ski would not have been the right message to my friend circle.
After graduation and the young years of a young younger adult now in the old old New York there was no time nor money nor car so those mountains that had once been far, then close, were now far again almost distant imagined memories.  Then, when older still, and more friends collected and more life and art and achievement event parties to attend at various bars and such, some group of the friends broke off and rented a ski house for the season and trekked up to Vermont just about every weekend.  This cost time and money.  I was in graduate school or some shit or just poor or maybe just got married to a sportive but not at all coordinated spouse or bought a house and adopted a cat that needed medication three times a day or something else that kept me distracted from taking on a sport.  Whatever it was, I didn’t money up and rent a share, suit up, or equipment up, and maybe it was the ghost of the frozen socks on my hands that crept into my soul and whispered, just don’t do it.  And so it went for some time, perhaps years.
IMG_6228Suddenly, I was on the verge of a very clever and somewhat media exposed Midlife Crisis (MidLiCri) that had put me again out of  Gothem an within the range of the various ski mountains.  I toyed with the idea, perhaps just for a moment.  One snowy weekend, I had occasion to meet the gang at the rented ski house and thought, maybe I should reconnect and make an effort to join the gang and take on skiing in order to be more social and take up some activity.  Unfortunately, the gang got caught in a snowstorm, and when I arrived at the lost chalet in the middle of the woods on an uncertain cliff, I was met with a very drunken friend and his girlfriend who were in the middle of some long and tangled argument that eventually ended in marriage and annulment.  He was shooting off firecrackers from the desk.  She was washing down pills with large glasses of white wine.  I had a MidLiCri girlfriend of my own, and brought an artistic hippie who I was infatuated to whom (did I just use that word right?) I had promised would meet all these clever people and enjoy the vibe of the ski life for a night or two.  However the night was not as expected and what we witnessed was an episode of Brideshead Revisited meets Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf with a touch of Frozen (she had a guitar and attempted to alleviate the tension thought song…. it didn’t work.  As a matter of fact, my friend said, ‘don’t ever bring that fucking hippie around me again).
IMG_6230We barricaded ourselves in some corner of the ski lodge, and when the blue-green dawn of a winter’s day in Vermont broke, spirited away before “the gang” showed up.  In this way, I managed to have the worst timing for so many life events of those who were around me.  Oh well.
Anon and some years later I had a phone call.

Come ski, said the voice on the other end.  I don’t know how, I replied, it doesn’t matter you can learn, ok, so come up this weekend, ok, and bring whatshername – not the hippie – oh we’re not together the hippie dumped me, ok so bring whoever you’re with, ok I will, where will we stay, I rented a place but it’s cheep, ok I guess I will go skiing then, great see you soon, ok bye.

I was encouraged since through some cosmic alignment and events fitting with the mirth of Dame Fate the story of which falls for now outside the ken of this blog, blessed with spikiness, jacket, goggles, helmet, and gloves.  All of where were in a bag ready to go to the thrift store since I thought… shit, I don’t ski.
And so, after many decades, I was again in equipment.  The shape had changed.  The technology had changed.  It was as if I was left apart from society in the woods and just wandered into town and saw cars and track phones for the first time.  I marveled at these improvements and after a few lessons, I was taking some first turns and runs up even to the top of the mountain.  My friend guided and pushed and by day four or five I was blundering about in the woods and all the time wondering, what have I been missing out on all these years? For a moment on the lift, I was sad as my lost youth and all those things that made me not ski.  I blamed myself.  My parent/s.  My money situation.  Myself again. I looked to the cold mountain covered in ice fog and mystery.  I looked at my skis dangling, hovering it seemed, over the snow below as I rode the lift higher and higher the bitter wind and sound of sweet turns being carved the only noise in my ears.  It didn’t matter.  I was here, now, today, and at last.
To this, it is now the fourth season, and I guess that means I am a skier.  And older skier, but having done five mountains in the northeast and one out west, I guess that makes this a real thing.  While I miss my youth and certainly those friends who used to be together and more in my life, I am somewhat glad that I have allowed some activities and challenges to wait until later in my life so that I can still enjoy a new and exciting thing.  Even one that my break my increasingly older neck.

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Errata: The author mis-remembered a ton of shit.  To learn more about the real “Ski Bowl” read this article HERE.

Merry Chriskwandwalchuneidamaszahi

FullSizeRender(2)And another Chriskwandwalchuneidamaszahi is here and so is a warm calm tee shirt weather upon us .  The population that enjoys exposed skin has taken to flimsy tops and tee-shirts and there is many a elf on the shelf parading h/i/er/s/ts best and more zygoticly perfect characteristics for genomic success and procreative recreation.
The wet damp air has broken out from an explicable fog of the day before.  The humidity reminds this writer of a winter some years back spent in New Orleans.  The gray and brown vegetation with patches of greenery, the sidewalks sticky with condensation, those hidden cold patches and the log chariot of the sun scraping the edge of the earth as it meandered.  Thankfully, the days in New Orleans were a few moments longer.  Up North, the hours of light are scant few at this time of year and it seems as if one can awake early enough you get to see the sun slowly set for the next few hours.  Then it is dark and in the olden days, cold and nicely and if there was snow the white blanket across the rich and humming land would be illuminated by such simple elements as porch lights and the sliver of the moon to give an other word quality to the night – a monochromatic days cape.  no wonder the lore and folktales of the winter countryside were rich and the human imagination (since we cannot know the dreams or stories of cats and creatures) spun so many a winter’s tale.
Now, those old tales have been forsaken for new and flashy potboilers (or is it potstickers?), and the ice has for this season so evaporated and with it all signs that this winter in New York is not that of New Orleans and that perhaps we are to look then to a Marti Gras rather than any hard fast ice and those days when one’s face feels like it just may turn to a solid state and then fall completely off.  Bethatasitmay, the toasting roasting of sultry slickery summertide has been forgotten and today the whispers, Tweets, lamentable small talk, and quite a few memes have turned to this warm, spring time for Christmas.
FullSizeRender(1)It is spectacular since last year, the Year Of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fourteen (YOOLTTF), was the [then] warmest on record.  The only colder than typical was the Northeast, roughly a corridor from Washington, District of Columbia (DC) to New York City (SPQR), or where 99% of the 1% of “journalists” and political citizens live.  Now that this blob of warmth has moved to cover this region, the news and popular media, mainstream media, and social media have lit up with questions and concerns that this very Christmas the weather in much of the nation is more like historical Bethlehem than it is like Currier and Ives… or Bruegel (Pieter, Elder The; 1525 – 1569 +/- 10 years) for that matter.
FullSizeRender(3)Indeed, scratching our heads, how did we get here?  It surely cannot be that when one flies the friendly sky one sees the lights of humanity forming a strange metazoic civilization that from afar takes on a form of its one – an organism that we are but small cells within, our cars along the highways the red and white blood platelets, the traffic jambs but minor coagulation, our greatest achievements and life events nothing but small moments in a much larger entity that is taking over the planet.  Surely humans cannot contribute to this strange weather.  We cannot be responsible at all.  the evidence is not there.  Not that we can’t take credit for the ability to move mountains, drain lakes, create lakes, divert rivers, fire dogs and monkeys and other animals randomly into space, explode atoms over cities, fuse atoms to make even more wondrous explosions, tunnel under and over ground and extract minerals, land on the moon for no reason but to “schlong” the SOVIETS, send our first invasion rover to mars to find water while we dump as much plastic into our own, and annihilate species in just about every kingdom, phylum, and whatever that smaller order of rampant and resting flora and fauna may be by hand (in the old days), chemicals (in the new days), and just by our abundant species using up the land and resources of all other viable lifeforms.  We can do all that, and invent hacks for how to make a smarter and faster breakfast, but we cannot take credit for changing the air currents, oceans, and by extension, change the temperature of the earth.
The cold will again come to the land.  Perhaps in the next week.  The next few months.  Perhaps this summer will be “unseasonably cold.”  We will then perhaps quickly forget this Chriskwandwalchuneidamaszahi and how we wore our best Metallica tee shirt, a black bra and gossamer areyoulookingatme shirt, or nothing at all.  We will touch a few buttons on our Phone of i to turn up the heat before we get home, check the weather channel’s website to see how we are to die this week from THE WORST CALM WIND AND LIGHT RAIN EVER, and return to other more pressing matters in our lives, the small workings and our contribution to the ever growing organism that has taken hold of and is spreading in singular manner over this once and future great green planet.
For now, happy Chriskwandwalchuneidamaszahi, or merry Star Wars, and to all a good night.

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Solstice Winter

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The longest night, or if you wish the shortest day is here and past.  We, as a species, survived again.  Whatever philosophy or perspective you wish to use, there is a scientific fact that the planet has spun about its eternal eclipse and rests more-or-less back where it was last year and at more-or-less the same angle to the sun, and for these reasons and perhaps more yet to be proven or understood, this day and night signal the start of winter.  So, for all your clever friends saying, “winter is coming” and then smirking or laughing… satisfied in their little cultural joke… well… Winter is here.
It is unusually warm this year.  At least, perhaps I should say finally unusually warm in the Northeast, the location of the scions and mavens of the Fourth Estate and is it just me or has climate change gotten into the news just a little more of late because of this?
Last year, the Northeast was a blob of bitter cold in an ocean of rather warm blobs and lots of hot spots.  It seemed that climate change/global warming/ Armageddon was on hold or altogether canceled.  The ice storms, the snow, the long stretches of cold air that sent the temperature well below freezing for days and days on end seemed to mark off one part of North America as a traditionalist when it came to weather.  It was cold as I remembered when I was young and certainly the elders among us today (shudder… I am getting closer to their age too), remember further back into the history of weather and remembered ice fishing, snow up to the second floor, and a thaw that came but once a year and caused the river ice to finally snap and break (at least in the areas of the river that are not tidal since the heave and ho of the water causes the ice to break on the shore  and pile up large chunks and bergs along the way.
This year, it has suddenly changed.  Flowers are blooming.  Trees are not fully dormant.  This is not good.  All else in the system of winter, however, is working as it should.  The days are far too short.  This is expected, but I must admit, surprise me.  By now I should know to expect this.  That is is common and I understand the science behind it, yet, I look out my window at work at 4PM and feel that I must sacrifice a lamb or virgin or something in order to bring back the sun.  When I have a day off, the light is at such a tilt that it seems that if you miss the morning sun, the rest of the day is one unsettling twilight until a certain moment, when the thick curtain of the night falls.  It is no wonder that so many cultures have festivals or pin some important event in their eschatological calendar to these weeks of shortening days and dark cold months.
IMG_6075And to this one fixture that appears to continue to function, all else seems broken.  Along with the temperature, the social disagreements as to the reason for the season seem to have multiplied.  The intensity an vitriol spill out over social media and infect the Main Stream Media.  There is a multitude of new holidays, but these are not those of other religions or cultures, it is the rise of the War On Christmas being celebrated as intensely as old Christmas used to be.  I remember carolers, lights on houses, and well wishing, but also I remember that all this did not start until after Thanksgiving.  Today, the non-denominational holiday music and dripping commercial representations of Santa infect stores and big box mega shopping centres sometime about Halloween, making the Nightmare Before Christmas an apocryphal tale – a vision of future trends and complications.  No wonder there is increased dissatisfaction of the holiday.  The once-Christian celebration since it seems with each year it becomes a harlequin comedy of all those holy elements used to market an increased level of products no one really needs.  The whole season has smacked for some time of a dark mass of inverted priorities with angry carols written to celebrate the new holiday, the War On Christmas.   Perhaps that is the new holiday, Thewaronchristmas, having nothing to do with the other holiday other than assuming its key elements and hiding under a skin as a strange and encompassing costume.
IMG_6074Nevertheless, there is tidings plenty and cheer for all – punctuated by a few horrible seasonal hangovers.  Whether celebrating the many holidays or just sitting still and enjoying the longest night of the year, there is a native wonder to this season as in days of old it foreshadowed the hard times ahead of our hemisphere when the storeroom of summer was all that kept you and yours alive or in some level of comfort against what once was the cold and frozen hours of the year.  If nothing else, recognize that our lamps and lights have eliminated the frightening dark, the heat pumps and convection ovens dispelled the cold, global warming rid us of the locked channels of ice, and we have achieved a safety and security unknown in the aeons of our species.  We can dine on mussels and wine, out-of-season fresh vegetables, and complain about the darkness as we flick though our Netflicks account in an unending search for something “watchable.”
In whatever way you can, to whatever force or spirit you do, in whatever tradition you keep or none at all, at least pause for this long night, think of the many before you frightened and cold, those who remain in fearful places, and think about that from this day, we will return to the light.

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Crystal Balls: 2016 Edition

photo 4Predictions for 2016!  Crystal ball time!  The year ahead may be the year of anger.  Or, will it be the Year of Fear(tm)?  Or will it be yet another turn of the earth in its endless [sic] cycle as it lumbers through the universe, galaxy, or whatever dank corner of the Godhead’s X/Y/Z access we are placed?  What do the stars say?  What does the media say, where are the trending words growing?  Word of the year to come, person of the year to be anointed, most talked about cat video?
We are quickly moving to a world imperiled by so many worrisome factors and yet, there exists a pall of potential that settles in the glens and valleys and at times blankets entire regions either metaphorically as in the exuberance for technology still found in Silicon Valley and the latest consumer generation, or actual literal blanket of miasma as seen covering the city of Beijing when the barometer doesn’t cooperate.

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2016: The Year of Anger
Perhaps the crystal ball says we are sliding into chaos in 2016.  We can predict some increase in anger, not just the typical anger in the world, but anger in places we are not used to seeing it.  This is inevitable in an election year that things get weird.  The number of de-frended friends rise, career-ruining Tweets, and accompanying family rows always trend up in an election year.  In the United States of America, unlike the majority of the world, elections are not typically accompanied by gunfire and bomb blasts such as we hear about occurring in the Congo, Cameroon, or much of the Developing/Third World.  This may change.  In a way, it can be argued, the “mass shootings” are an unstated sign of social unrest.  The loonies tuning into a greater sickness within all of us. There is an increase in contentious politics as personified by Mr. Trump as there is a more peaceful yet intense dissatisfaction expressed those supporters of Mr. Sanders.  The “moderates” this year may be but filler for the extreme side about the fight the epic battle between good and evil, the sidekicks and “straight man” [film theory not gender normative reference], in an unfolding New American political landscape brought on by intentional Balkanization by our ruling corporate class.  We squabble more, and this is none other than intentional.  The fulling corporate class, the designer class, the Knowing Ones, the certain billionaires with foundations we have heard about in the news of late have been orchestrating this for decades.  The growing squabbling amongst the many new cultures taking root in This Great Nation benefit these few and the more divided the population, the simpler it is to conquer them, especially with Distracticon 2016 in full swing as it has been for at least a year now.  This is not the funding of organizations, Super PAC support, or little details.  This is much larger and encompassing as those on the top do not occupy the same spectrum of politi as we lesser creatures, but are playing a far different game than that we understand since while we play chess, they are playing four dimensional corn hole.

photo 12016: The Year of Fear
Oh crystal ball, will 2016 be the Year of Fear?  Will the media, largely situated in the Northeast, now start railing against Global Warming/Climate Change/Mass Extinction since the temperatures and sexual peccadilloes of those who live on the Upper East and West side of Manhattan have a strange impact on news trends and media conversations (also see the Thisamericanlifeafication of human interest stories). Now that it is warm in Gotham, will the unusual weather be the next official Fear Factor?  Will this year coming unleash some new forces of nature, or at least the media coverage of each rain drop so that we can focus our fear and start replacing all our appliances and heating systems, or binge buy self-driving electric cars? Perhaps the fear will come from some unknown terror.  Maybe the usual cast of characters as our nation [re]enters the war (what may be a thirty years war in the Middle East 1990 – 20??) and the news attempts to tamp down the story about how we never left the war, we just put it on hold.  There is perhaps too much to fear and we can just relax knowing that obviously something is going to get us, so why worry about the exact shape, texture, and time?  Or we can worry about the new global migration?  So many countries on the move.  In Houston, Texas I had dinner with a graduate student of sociology who originally was from the subcontinent.  He reminded me that the migration so spoken about in the Western Media and worried about in Europe is a great issue all over and even in India there is mass movement that concerns the residents of one space and challenges the society of another.  Will 2016 then see the mass migrations and climate be folded into a singular story, a world fear, or perhaps we will as I predict, dig up the old bugbear of war and again beat the drums… except it won’t be an official war.  Since we are just there to support the “good guys.”

photo 2The Third Option for 2016
Things more-or-less plod along.  Interest rates are raised to about 1% which then drops the stock market’s progress right on it’s face.  The singularity of market marching value towards unlimited growth is big news. The drop in stocks followed by ‘meh’ post-holiday employment figures – to improve growth, the interest rate goes down to a historic high/low of .5%.  The Fed is trying to wiggle out of the corner it has been in for close to a decade, maintaining this chimerical economy, but it will be a hard position for banks now used to owing %0.  There is no real fear or anger in the population.  Mr. Trump is out of the race in keeping with all radical candidates left, right, center, and progressive, since the media has a way of tossing aside all contenders to the status quo when things get real and they no longer need sessional stories to improve ratings.  Mr. Sanders is also marginalized by the ruling class and the inevitable race to replace Obamabushclinton with Clintonobamabush will begin.  The ‘national conversation’ shifts to make everything eco and lots of green paint is spilled as people replace everything in their houses with more friendly versions of their toys, and now with all that energy savings, you can buy new toys.  We see 2016 being the year of the migrant, and you get new neighbors with professional degrees willing to work for the wages you wanted to reject this year but now fear not to  You swallow your pride and keep working at your wage, and out of fear for social rejection on the BookofFace, you welcome all new comers to the new America, especially since those bastard Millennials are quick to Tweetshame those they don’t agree with, and G/o/_/d/s/es/ss damn it, you just got a Twitter account.  Things limp along as they have in 2015, punctuated of course, by a few mass shootings from crackpot right wingers angry that Mr. Trump was pushed out just before he wrapped his tight little fat fingers about the gold ring of success and the occasional ISIS-inspired loonies.
The only issue about predictions and using crystal balls, is that they can be entirely wrong.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you to dust off your old survival stocks of dry beans, but don’t blame me if your new shipment of beans also goes unused.
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Editor’s Note: Photos Chokoloskee, FL, New Orleans, LA, and Seattle, WA.