Sep 28, 2009

Square America: Hunter and Hunted

I couldn't meet Dive's 500 Word Challenge two weeks ago, but oddly I have some found photos that relate.

The Quote was about Dall Sheep Hunting. Is this a Dall Sheep? I couldn't say. It's a sheep of some kind.

Maybe this one?

Well, at least I'm sure this is not a sheep.

By the way, Dive has a new challenge up. I started a new blogger page for my fiction, since my newest one didn't quite seem to fit here. It's awfully presumptuous of me of course, since it implies that there will be more. We shall see. Meanwhile I had guilty satisfaction of turning an Edith people-not-having-sex Wharton quote into a bawdy little fluff. Go me!

Sep 22, 2009

Unknown California

I've been to the End of the World and it is called Slab City, California.

Slab City is a former marine base, current RV squatter frontier land, 60 miles from Palm Springs, 30 miles from the Mexican border, within view of the beautiful, but toxic Salton Sea, just a fence an irrigation channel across from an active bombing range.

There is no electricity, water, or any municipal services whatsoever, but there is a golf course (no greens, only browns), pet cemetery, a library that is always open and operates on the honor system. There is also a stage that hosts a talent show every Saturday.

The locals also call the place "Check Republic" because most of the residents persist on government checks. The norm is extreme poverty. Yet in the winter months the "snow birds" arrive, from as far as Canada, often in hundred thousand dollar campers.

It would be easy to write this place off as a bizarre Mad Max style site, but like most things in life, it's more complicated. I barely got a glimpse under the surface, and I will not make any attempt to pontificate about it. It would not be my place.

Just outside of Slab City is Salvation Mountain. The creator of this artwork is Leonard Knight whose car broke down at this spot decades ago. He stayed and built/painted his message at the side of the mountain.

In 2001 it was declared as a National Folk Art Site by the The Folk Art Society of America, and in 2002 it was entered in the Congressional Record as a national treasure.

Leonard is 78 years old, but he still lives at the site and works on it every day. He welcomes visitors who drop by any time of the day, he loves showing them around. He often gives the visitors gifts; postcards, puzzles featuring his mountain.

Sep 11, 2009

500 Words

Blame it on Dive. The challenge was to write 500 words using the Jack Kerouac quote provided - it's the first paragraph. Also be forewarned, I'm not a writer. And sorry that the story came out to be so sappy, this is where the quote led me. It is what it is.

No Place

I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was — I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds.

It was strangely peaceful, and I felt light headed. I kept still and wished to stay like that a little longer, but at the sixteenth tick all that was gone flooded back. Still, I lay there motionless, and let it wash over me.

I remembered you like I saw you for the last time, standing in the doorway, shoulders slightly hunched, smiling. You smiled like that when you were flirting, when you told bawdy stories, when you poked fun of the things that terrified us all. It wasn’t really the last time, of course, but it was the last time you were you. I didn’t want to remember you lying broken in the hospital bed, but we don’t have choices in these matters. They stole your words – how cruel was that!

I remembered the time I didn’t see you; the empty bed with crisp white linen stretched taut over the mattress, toiletries neatly arranged on the nightstand, the strained expression on the nurse’s face. I felt sorry for her at that moment.

Whoever said time heals all wounds lied. Time heals nothing. It just numbs the pain, and does even that excruciatingly slow. Back then I kept picking at the scabs, trying to stop the itching, but only managed to dig up the pain. There is something dispassionately cruel about time. I remember that moment when the line between everything fine and everything horribly wrong was so razor thin that I felt that if I just wanted it hard enough I could step back over the line, go backwards in time, but obviously I couldn’t.

It was dark by the time I was ready to move. Then, as now, I liked the darkness – the distraction of too many details falls away, and you can think more clearly. I couldn’t forget then, and I don’t want now. I picked up a few more scars since, and I’m fond of them all.

I like this, being lost in this alien landscape, standing in the dark, on top this hill, looking at the lights shimmer above and bellow, listening to the coyotes cackle; at this moment as the warm breath of summer breeze envelops me, I know that I’m not far away from home any more, because there is no such place as home, except the one we make for ourselves, and that can be anywhere, except where we started from, and I don’t mind missing you. You would understand.

Sep 1, 2009

Pyrocumulus Cloud...

... is the term of our times.

This is a view from all the way in North Hollywood, from las Saturday. I thought it was smoke, but thanks to other bloggers I've learned that it is actually a cloud created by intense heat.

Last Thursday I was hiking with a group in Griffith Park. As we were getting higher the fire seemed to intensify, but that was because it was also getting darker. In the middle ground are the lights of Glendale.

I took this photo on the Sam Merrill Trail back in the June Gloom days. I meant to return, but never got around it. Of course it's out of the question right now.

This image is from another hike a couple weekends later, in Eaton Canyon.

And that's a little iVideo from yesterday, with its own soundtrack. That dirty gray stuff in the sky is the smoke. By the way, if you can tell where the music is from you are a true nerd.

Addendum: I drove around for a few hours today, went up to Lopez Canyon, down on Foothill Blvd, but couldn't find a really good vantage point. I realized something unexpected: The air and sky are so full of smoke and ash that sunlight acquire the same warm tone that is usually reserver for the "magic hour." Everything has a warm glow. Quite beautiful, actually.