Jun. 2nd, 2009

rwx: (gerlach hwy)
When archaeologists are trying to figure out if a road around the Mediterranean was a roman road, they measure the distance between the ruts. Roman chariots had a specific distance between their axles, and on many of these roads the ruts persist to this day. Similarly, the ruts of pioneer wagons crossing the west had specific sizes (which can be seen to this day in places like the black rock desert) and the roads can be identified as at least becing that old by the pattern.

This is commonly called 'gauge,' and here's a helpful link. How do you gauge an interstate, though, what will its signifiers be when destroyed? The roads, hotels, and rest stops align about how the roman rest stations and chariot maintenance stations align. But what will last? Kansas is flat and the cowshit dust storms of idaho have faded into something a lot more tolerable as we start heading south. Taking a right turn at Witchita isn't as ominous as it seems this week and it's still early in the morning.

I know a lot of people from Norman OK, but I've never stopped there myself, largely on the advice of the people that I know. It's all really flat around here, but living in the pacific northwest seems to reduce the rest of the world to 'mountainous' and 'flatter' in some sort of slow fourier transform to the gently rolling hills prevalent many other places that don't have active volcanoes lingering around like inconvenient reminders of last night's overuse of chile peppers.

You cannot get there from here, because first you have to hit the Texas Welcome Station (that is closed) and the rest stop (which is rebuilt and bathrooms are available in the welcome station's outbuilding.

But let us digress momentarily, if you will, to the state of public restrooms in america. They reach a low point in texas with restroomless 'picnic' areas with secluded areas behind nearby trees covered with scatter/gathered toilet paper and gradually slide upwards from there to the PNW where random locations along minor highways have porta potties paid for by the state/town/local government. The height is at the corners where in the NY barnes and noble is the literate populace's public toilet and sort of follows the highway plan otherwise.

Eisenhower was a man who knew how to regiment a highway, and the blue star system is a moving experience. Somehow texas particularly seems to avoid this, and I'm not sure why/how. It's strange an confusing.

But enough of this shit, we're slowly circling Dallas Forth Worth counter-clockwise on I-35W, one of the non-standard interstate names in the country, and really basically a pain in the ass. Currently this area is home to [livejournal.com profile] krautboy and [livejournal.com profile] peglegpete but there isn't time to stop now (and one of those worthy parties has not yet arrived home) because it's time to be just too late to pick up [livejournal.com profile] taoskye and Apparatus at the airport.

I navigate in to Strobe-land and we all hail the great flashing majesty and eventually go out to get tex mex at some place that has the elvis special. In the interest of speed, I haven't eaten all day and have been generally eating pre-packed food to deal with the issues of celiac and the road, so the elvis plate is moderately had and then we crash good night.
rwx: (Default)
I have an inordinate fondness for road trips.
When spring-time flushes the desert grass,
Our kafilas wind through the Khyber Pass.
Lean are the camels but fat the frails,
Light are the purses but heavy the bales,
As the snowbound trade of the North comes down
To the market-square of Peshawur town.

I have in recent years cut the number of miles I've driven every year, but I am inordinately fond of road trips. It is, in some regards, a weakness, but one that fits much better into standard american culture than a lot of the other things I find entertaining. It's weird, seas of grass, seas of water, seas of trees rushing by make an impact on me like little else does. It ties you to a sense of movement like flying doesn't.
You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, Mountain, Central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?
Fight Club

It is all another roadside attraction. A lot of what the traditional meaning of america is is out there on the roadside. Route 66, decaying monsters of hotels with pools bricked over 10 years after the interstate went in. Masonic lodges with secret handjobs. Restaurants and culture, all our regionalisms and cuisines, small moments of humor, dry wit from a new englander, a oregon outbacker, a southerner it all ties together. But the shock of the flight transcends that leading to homogeneity and alienation.
And the camp-fires twinkled by Fort Jumrood;
And there fled on the wings of the gathering dusk
A savour of camels and carpets and musk,
A murmur of voices, a reek of smoke,
To tell us the trade of the Khyber woke.

Traveling the roads give you a different sense of america -- dark empty malls visited by rainlight, parking lots around box stores empty or full. You get culture you see products. Things are slower away from the interstate, but still you see the wallmarts the harsh tyranny of mathematical discipline and commodity fetishism. There are tourist traps and shitty silver jewelry everywhere you go, but you have to decide for yourself what authentic experience means.
We lay on the mats and were filled with peace,
And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south,
With the sliding puffs from the hookah-mouth.
Four things greater than all things are, --
Women and Horses and Power and War.

It's a fine line these days between fetishizing commodities and commoditizing fetishes. One is sales, the other marketing. It's funny when you try to hook yourself to the wheel of rebirth, but all you get is the wheel of fortune. ROTASATOR. It's a thing, and we all want the culture. This poem for example is strange and loses its original meaning because of the current troubles in afghanistan, but if you read it, you see it's largely the same troubles.
"Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise
To warn a King of his enemies?

But road tripping, travel. It gives things context, it brings out the things that are submerged within the different assumptions we make because things change gradually. Mountains become river valley become plains become mountains become prairie become desert at a slow pace like a lobster getting boiled in a big pot. but suddenly you realize it's hot and the assumptions you make aren't valid, and you have to think about it.

It gives you context, it gives you peace. It gives you a chance to meet the buddha on the road, and there is surely no one more doomed. Jumping from place to place loses you context and culture, or you end up just trying to impose your own signal and culture on everything, ranging from your understanding to the people you meet.

The turning of the wheels gives you time to consider, time to learn, time to wonder. But nothing is free -- drive less the rest of the time, take the bus, the train, walk. There's also more to be gained here where you are.
In a turquoise twilight, crisp and chill,
A kafila camped at the foot of the hill.
Then blue smoke-haze of the cooking rose,
And tent-peg answered to hammer-nose;
And the picketed ponies, shag and wild,
Strained at their ropes as the feed was piled;
And the bubbling camels beside the load
Sprawled for a furlong adown the road;
And the Persian pussy-cats, brought for sale,
Spat at the dogs from the camel-bale;
And the tribesmen bellowed to hasten the food;
And the camp-fires twinkled by Fort Jumrood;
And there fled on the wings of the gathering dusk
A savour of camels and carpets and musk,
A murmur of voices, a reek of smoke,
To tell us the trade of the Khyber woke.

I mentioned the Roman Roads earlier, but the overland Silk Road was perhaps the longest of roads (although shorter in aggregate than the Roman or Chinese road systems.) It's much easier now to travel and communicate, but it's also much easier to travel and not communicate.
rwx: (Default)

The Freak
Originally uploaded by Steve Hopson.
I went to Flipside this year. I'll leave it to other people to chronicle, because I like to have my mysteries be a little mysterious. Every year flipside changes, old couples break up, new couples form, irrelevant drama obstructs some doors, new friendships open others.

Notice the rainbow in the photograph. This was the effigy for the festival which didn't burn but was torn apart by the community. It was really a special time. I learned a lot about myself this year, I had a less reveling time than usual and I also probably broke a rib on some art.

It was overall good. I think that the weird thing about Flipside is it started out as getting brought there, and it's ended up being a part of the community that forms just around the event. I have a lot of friends who I really only see there, and there's a lot of magic for me at flat creek.

Plus, I camped with the super-awesome Spin Camp and learned how to weld bacon to flank steak using nothing but fire. Spin camp was awesome, low drama, and a pleasure to hang out with. Rangers were mostly low drama.

The muscle relaxant I was taking during the event for my rib steered things a lot more mellow than they typically would be. Didn't get to spend enough time talking to people I consider close friends (or becoming so) because they were wrapped up in art or new relationships or conspicuous consumption or whatever, but there's always more good opportunities for that sort of thing.

But yeah, flipside. First you build it, then you join it, then you try to keep it going, then you burn it down. Except this year it got torn down. It's a good time. I recommend it if you're in the area or know people who go.

It seems that I've taken over the traditional out-of-area ranger trip to the Salt Lick. I took a couple of people with me this year and we had a good time, and lots of meat.

I'm largely a vegan these days when left to my own devices, but the quantity and style of meat at flipside is always a joy. In addition to the Salt Lick and the bacon welded to flank steak, there was an assortment of random meats. Standing out was one that was "from the llc to the rangers" and it was the juiciest pork i've ever had.

Bringing meat to texas is always an iffy proposition so I like to bring odd things from around here that people don't get like chai drinks with syrup and lemon and local liquor and stuff like that. Both of these seemed to be well received, or at least guzzled, at camp and on burn night. I left with more chai than i brought thanks to someone who wanted to ensure an uninterrupted chai supply.

Anyway, hot, walked for miles, saw people, had fun, felt enlightened, felt bored, felt loved, felt the sun on the back of my neck, felt like i'd been stung by fire ants, and all those things. It was a good time.

Leaving is bittersweet, but leaving is also part of arriving at the next thing. Went back to the Strobistanian People's Republic and ended up asleep on the couch or the floor or something after harassing the people at B3 camp about their musical taste.
rwx: (Default)
The title of this post is a reference to the book of the same name by local author cherie priest. The book is excellent, go read it. But once you go to these festivals, it sort of alters your life around for a while. I've been thinking a lot about meaning recently, current global problems relating to creationaism have me weighing the distance between epistemology and teleology a lot.

I think that there's this huge battle at war in american culture between intrinsic and extrinsic teleology (namely, whether god's plan for the universe should drive you to be part of the great wheel of being or attend to your own salvation/inner light.) Intrinsic teleology leaping out and making events happen in the world isn't the same as extrinsic teleology.

This phenomena, which I've started to call intrinsic escapism, means that doing the things that you should internally is good for the world as a whole. This is the path of jihad wack and shooting Tillers in church. Extrinsic teleology means that you strive to improve the world as part of the great machine of the world. I don't know, it's possible to revert these categories as personal preference, but what I see a lot of in the world is the Intrinisic Teleogical springing from people's foreheads like cut rate Athenas and picking up the bloody axe of dogma and whinging it around a lot.

Those who would deprive you of a tiller are probably without rudders themselves.

But to return from the gravitas to the gravy: Leaving the event, I took the event with me, staying over at strobe's house and talking to the b3 camp. I hung out with various flipsiders that night, and the next morning I went over to spiderhouse coffee to get some work done. It was a panoply of eventful people, with Easy-E and [livejournal.com profile] deeptape arriving first, then [livejournal.com profile] kukiri and D-. After they left, some friends other friends and flipsiders came through and then just as I was wrapping up for the day [livejournal.com profile] tiarasaurus and [livejournal.com profile] flipsideghost came through and warned me that K-, B-, and a big chunk of gigsville were en route and I may wish to flee. I went over and hung until my friend was ready to receive visitors and then I went forth and was received. (The next day, I met [livejournal.com profile] silona and her guy at the same venue.)

The day before, in a similar process of reception, I was at a state park bordering a dam on what was probably lake austin, and because of memorial day there was a ranger directing traffic. The park ranger said to me, "I heard people from Oregon don't like Texans" in a fairly serious voice. I told him that I was from Seattle and I had been camping near Pedernales state park for the last 4 memorial day weekends.

This is true although it omits all sorts of relevant information and was sufficient to let me pass and please the park ranger. Having turned the wheel of the day again, I went and crashed and prepared for the morrow, which will return with a more conventional narrative and includes geocaching and many wheels of travel.

December 2009

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