What not to do in Ketchum

 

 

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Sweetest Little Piece of Nowhere You Have Ever Seen is Right Here

Ketchum until tomorrow and then more south into the Great Basin. Yesterday drove through a mere hint of a couple of towns. Most of them hardly are still there. I noticed in one store I could get a rifle scope from the top shelf behind the cashier, or box of cartridges out of a cabinet in front of where she did business. I bought some jerky.

Woman in front of us in line explained she wasn’t going to be able to go to Portland, Oregon twice this summer. Friend had died since she’d visited and there just wasn’t enough money to go a second time.

Best I can tell the hay crop is coming in real good. All I saw for more than one hundred miles were hayfields. Most had been cut and baled. Some of the bigger operations had harvested enough to keep a long haul driver busy delivering the crop through the rest of the summer and right on through autumn.

It comes as something of a curiosity to find that a whole way of life is made around growing grass to feed livestock. I’ve bucked some hay onto the back of a truck more than my fair share. I’m not too worn down for the work, but don’t prefer it much now, at least not like I once did. Seemed to suit my youthful manhood to go out and toss those bales onto the back of a flatbed. I acted like I was making progress, that my life was better for the work.

People fly fish around here. Then there’s bow hunting for elk. Best I can do is pester birds for a good look; I’m a birdwatcher. Red tail caught me looking today. Almost time for afternoon drink. That’s about the long and short of it here.

Summer Alongside the Salmon River

 

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Welcome to a slice of heaven on earth

You might miss the time of your life. Sometimes I get that feeling. Not today. Life in Idaho along the Salmon River is fat. Bald eagles on wing remind me to notch another best day off my bucket list. My list includes learning how to recognize every day as being a best day.

We are in full soul recharge mode now. The idea was simple. After Grand Prairie’s International Street Performers Festival my wife and I would point south and aim for somewhere right around here. We would figure out where right around here was when we found it. The key was to know when we found it.

We got mighty close in Hot Spring, Montana. Sure was about as near close to right at Miette Hot Springs in Jasper National Park. Trouble was we’d just started heading south and we couldn’t give up on the next 2000 miles just like that. We figured there had to be more ‘best days of our lives’ waiting for us just beyond that next bend over that other hill.

Jig is up tomorrow, at least for here. Tomorrow we point south more and continue to slow walk our way through the American West. Enjoy some yellow jacket company during sunset. We’ll put our feet up and regard the sound of the river running alongside where we are staying. We’ll pull over and take photographs for the movie trailer I’m making to accompany my latest novel. We’ll be working our way slowly back along the blue highways to California.

We’ve been dodging the crowds. Hard to explain how few people have made North Fork, Idaho their final destination. It isn’t convenient to anything. You have to go plenty out of your way to end up twenty-three miles north of Salmon on Highway 93. Seems by our expert eyes to have just about the perfect amount of here and now all tangled up in its rivers and mountains. Seems like we have gone and found what we were looking for.

 

Meadowhawk, Nevada is just south of here in Hot Spring Honeymoon, my latest Novel

E & D Salmon River

Might Be We Just Like An Excuse to Wear Our Hats

Edmonton 1985-2014 Thirty Fabulous Festivals

Edmonton 2014

 

This 40 Year Veteran Street Act Scuffing Up the First Audience of the Day

Saturday morning 11:30 show was mine to do. Alan Plotkin using a telephoto lens from “World Headquarters” took this shot. He didn’t bring me much luck the day before and discretion being the better part of valor stood off so as not to jinx the delicate art of gathering the first audience of the day. Forty minutes later the show ended with an audience surrounding this veteran busker.

I am here for the 30th anniversary. If you want you can read about the festival here: http://edmontonstreetfest.com/30-years-of-memories/turning-thirty-the-birth-of-a-busking-festival

I sold my first copy of Hot Spring Honeymoon after the show to a woman in the audience!

 

The Old West is Waiting

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stealhead, river running, and hay farming as far as an eye can see

The dirt road winds down the mountain into Troy, Oregon on the Grande Ronde River. Size of community is a mere handful of good souls. Groceries fetched by driving 50 miles north to Lewiston, Idaho.

The outpost captures my interiors yearning for serenity, solitude and majesty. Troy has all of this.

One of many way stations on my journey to the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival; we stopped along our drive north in Oregon to visit Lakeview, John Day, Baker and Troy. Onward to Moscow, Idaho and then Nelson, Slocan Park and Halcyon Hot Springs in British Columbia. Then, we drove through Banff National Park to Rocky Mountain House and finally here at the Edmonton.

We stopped along the road to understand the state of the rural American West. Towns, far and near, are all wearing their fateful choices as best they can. Moscow, Idaho is thriving on the spirit of the alternative cultures passion for good books, music, food and community. Moscow is an outpost for progressives in the north. Lakeview, Burns, and John Day ache in sorrow. Saw mills all shut down. There are no saw logs to cut. Homes are shuttered, downtowns empty, and the next boom yet to arrive.

I’m stunned. Why do we let these small towns wait? Can’t we mount a campaign to build the renewable energy here? Why not? Men and women are all waiting for good work and no work could be more useful than transforming the workers of extractive industries into workers making a livelihood in the future renewable industries.

Save the lives and the land in one fell swoop. Why doesn’t America dare to dream to go where we have never gone before?

Saving Up Solstice for Aches and Pains

Great Basin small pic

You Just Can’t Make A Place Like This Up…

Today is the summer solstice. On Wednesday we depart northbound. Our track will be to Lakeview, Oregon. From this frontier on the California border we will continue into vast Great Basin regions of Eastern Oregon.

Our ultimate destination is the 30th Edition of The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival. But, we have roads to travel and friends to see before we arrive. And then there’s the hot springs we’ll sample along the trail too. And then there is the matter of the world between Emeryville and Edmonton. There a place’s we’ll want to pull over and get out from behind the wheel and sit and let what we find there soak into our bones.

I’ll try and be faithful to my discipline. I’ll juggle each day some. I’ll write as much as I can.

“He gazed off into the distances and saw the grand scale of places seldom touched by travelers. His problems diminished in this frame, as measured by geologic time. He paused to consider that ancient oceans had once drowned out most of what he was in. When measured by that, his broken heart seemed insignificant and lost love infinitesimal. The world was a bigger mystery. Chance weaves through fate and things unfold in surprise, beyond what can be imagined.”

Those lines come by way of my first novel Highway Home.

“He pushed off from Burns and headed out toward the frontier, with Idaho in the vast, wild, open spaces beyond. Here swept out before Noel the boundless Great Basin Desert of the American West. Sagebrush saturated the land. Horizons stretched wide, and the contours of ridges, rims, and hills squatted low, shaved by ice, wind, and time. Here, east of Burns, at first appeared wasteland and despair. It reminded Noel of how he felt within his heart. At the same time there was a solitude to this place of a kind that was rare. Beyond this last gasp of farms the road began weaving through boulders and ridges and ran higher up off the immense and flat bottomlands. Noel took a dirt track off the highway and rolled amidst the boulders and red rocks into a small pull out where he’d camp for the night.”

My heartbroken hero searching to put the demons to rest for the night, there is an articulate kind of geological speech in the emptiness of this desert. There is a desolate beauty that can fortify a soul while stoking the torment and past sorrows. It is in this way a place that you can come to face the hard parts of inside yourself you don’t much care to think through. Still it is a melancholy that with time heals up the pain and hurt. You come here and you stop running from yourself. What gives way is the majesty of inner peace. The gloom gives way to the grandeur, one night you are nothing but misery and wake up the next and there’s nothing but wonder.

Solstice can be a place to begin and while Canada is where I aim to drive I’ll be pausing to bucket out the pond of things I’ve been throwing into the deep the last months. I suppose the thing is these are the big things that can give us perspective and put our own concerns in the right order.

 

 

 

 

Lord of the Styles

Flatbush small

 

 

This moment’s style and fashion is so obvious. House of Cards has it, Veep deploys it, and Silicon Valley is based upon it.

Lenny Bruce skewered the sacred by roasting it atop the fires of the profane hypocrisy’s he alone seemed capable of speaking about.

And for each act taking one tack there is another cohort heading off in another. Nancy Meyers comes to mind, Seinfeld seems to wield this same aim, Nora Ephron… Then, there is the illustrative past including the direction of Frank Capra, George Cukor, and Howard Hawks.

Mel Brooks seemed to relish the hijinks of the soul of the Marx Brothers. Where Lenny Bruce failed at late night television an equally prolific and volatile Richard Pryor found the means of performing in this setting.

An adorable Eddie Izzard seems almost tame. Hedwig and the Angry Inch feature’s a transgender East German singer. The Book of Mormon if you search online will produce a vast stream of essays on the where to draw the line on what is too vulgar or obscene, and what we ought to do when sitting in a theater and what we are watching outrages us.

It is one thing to be the audience and another to be the creator. What seems clear is that once a project is conceived the skill is in working all the way to the edge of the style that the creator has invented. You do shock jock radio? You work to that edge. You do breezy afternoon commuter type banal styled talk radio you work to that side of the dial.

It comes as no surprise that given the crass bombast passing for political discourse that the cultural artistic entertainment community finds itself pulled in the same direction. Better the bomb throwing pugilistic types take their seat at the head of class. Oprah was a one of a kind and she’s off air and done.

Each of us that work’s in the narrative arts allows for some choice to approach. Any can work. We bow to the masters of one kind admiring their skills and talent while we remain on our own path.

The finger to the wind approach vexes integrity. Mel Brooks has to be Mel Brooks, and thank the gods for that. For the moment, at least this point in time, House of Cards, Veep and Silicon Valley are banking on finding their audience share by leaning hard upon one particular edge in a world that is in fact far more diverse than they can afford to allow for. In short there is a limit, every style can only take you so far, and from there you are on your own.

Brooklyn as Tribal Paradise

Brooklyn Heights

If Camera Pointed in the Opposite Direction You Would See 100’s More of My Peeps…

Perhaps our politics is broken but our bond to community here in Brooklyn is not. We gathered along the East River for a Memorial Day barbecue. We found our countries citizens doing the same. We shared the space, every type and kind present for the holiday’s last hurrah.

It was tribe and village, type and kind, tolerant and generous all to each other. We shared the commons, arrived and departed by subway train. We played cat and mouse with park police enforcing the no alcohol rule. All they wanted was that the gathered use red plastic cups. Roger that, ten-four, over and out.

The New York City I have found here is a cauldron of cooperative life. The people are a splendid sea of multicultural diversity. Age, sex, religion, race, hairdo, and tattoo are each of their own kind, but of this one trait we all shared along the East River. We shared tolerance and appreciation. We are all in this together… Yesterday’s thousand kindnesses reminded me I am nurtured by a sprawling heap of loving humanity.

Now I strap my working hat back on and turn my attention to the charms of working the Book Expo America at the Jacob Javitts Convention Center… Won’t that be something….

sunset Brooklyn

 A Glorious End of Day… Thank You Brooklyn

You Changed Me…