Even as a child I could take a punch or, if required, a stinging slap, but I hold no grudges. Call it an act of immersive journalism. Or maybe it was just the beginning of an artful effort to understand the power of chain reactions. Who were these strange people that had created my even stranger parents? They were clearly confused–consciously or not–about the remaining value of a purpose driven life after the unexpected explosion of fission bombs over Japan. I began to understand this only later, but they have been behaving erratically for decades.
“Such is time: everything passes, it alone remains; everything remains, it alone passes. And how swiftly and noiselessly it passes. Only yesterday you were sure of yourself, strong and cheerful, a son of the time. But now another time has come—and you don’t even know it.”
Who is this guy? I see him everywhere. He might be in his mid-thirties. He’s wearing baggy sweatpants, destroyed shoes, and a hoody over a baseball cap. He’s pushing a bicycle up the sidewalk and smoking the last raw nub of a cigarette. Sometimes there is a plastic bag with dubious cargo hanging on the handlebars. He’s in no particular hurry to get anywhere and I doubt he’s homeless. He lives somewhere—on a sofa in a garage, maybe. But there he is.
I had coffee with Jim this morning and can report that he too is alive and well. We are nearing the end of an election cycle and you can probably imagine that in his role as the Editor in Chief of our newspaper he is like the Gypsy Moth battling a storm in the Roaring 40s. The politically devout—a growing demographic–vector in on his location relentlessly, from every angle of the compass, and if there really is a Krom Jim needs to take a few days off and go fly fishing with me on the Lower Deschutes.
I won’t be voting this time around. And spare me the lecture. You may allow yourself to get cornered into a bad vote between Donald Duck and Porky Pig. I won’t. The same way I won’t sign a loyalty oath to a nation that is equally make-believe and doesn’t even exist. I’ll take my chances with the small, and shrinking, cast of characters in my life—people with actual bottom who can be counted on to peel away the bullshit and call a spade a spade.
One problem with all of this high altitude lying is that us common folk now have a difficult time discerning the truth, in those rare moments when someone is trying tell it. It is somewhere in that miasma—where the truth being offered is a lie, and the lie being offered turns out to be the truth—that conspiracies are born and battlements are built.
A couple of years ago, before the plague struck planet earth and accelerated the already impressive pace of batshit crazy behavior here on our little blue ball, I had a fellow who helped me out around the ranch. I’ve written about Mando before, sharing the story of him arriving one day on our porch with a rake and a tarp, his bicycle parked in the driveway, and asking in Spanish if I had any work he could do. There is always work to do and so I gave him some, and before long he became a regular fixture around the Mighty Figure 8, doing an assortment of odd jobs that need doing and that I have precious little time to get done.
It isn’t much, this fort, and I strain for verisimilitude. It might be the very sad museum, where the most interesting item on display is a woven Clatsop hat. The rest is fraud. Intellectual and physical. Reconstructions of reconstructions. The people inside shuffle and wheeze in unison behind their masks, a phlegmatic choir requiring oxygen and historical handrails. It feels like the medical examiner’s waiting room before an autopsy.
I like to think of Vin as a kind of ancient bard telling the story of Ulysses around a campfire. He was a master scene-builder, and could seduce a listener into the story of a young pitcher, just called up from the minors, making his debut. He would make that story something like your own, epic and inspiring and familiar, so that you felt something like kinship with the struggling kid out there on the rubber.
I don’t raise bees anymore but I’m still working on my Theory of Everything. In physics, the big TOE is meant to unify general relativity (all the big stuff) with quantum theory (all the little stuff) to create a grand unifying theory of the whole enchilada. Mine probably isn’t as ambitious, and I realize I’m running out of time to get it distilled, but I did have a breakthrough yesterday while sorting gear for a couple of fly-fishing trips in the coming weeks. I realized that surfing and fly-fishing share some unifying moments.
Every once in a while, I’m in the mood for some over-the-top mad-science/military-horror mayhem. When the mood is upon me, I turn to Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series. They’re a hoot. Here’s the very first caper — Patient Zero: When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world […]
And so it was that shortly after breakfast, on an otherwise bluebird morning, that Rosa had started up an accusatory harangue at Wayne, Jake, and Francisco. Francisco had once raised chickens in Mexico until an avian flu wiped out his birds to the last rooster and, post bankruptcy, his wife ran off with a tour guide who specialized in Aztec pyramids. Francisco, who came across the border in 1983 with five dollars in pesos, worn-out huaraches, and a plastic jug full of water, sat watching very intently and finally told Wayne that in his considered opinion Rosa was a Chihuahua-born witch and was casting spells on them.