God does not teach us
to hate our neighbors.
Hate rises from fear.
Build a bigger table,
not a bigger wall.
God does not teach us
to hate our neighbors.
Hate rises from fear.
Build a bigger table,
not a bigger wall.
I stood on the border with the undisturbed ground of Minnesota behind me, in front of me a massive canyon carved in the Wisconsin ground with a bright green steel snake that stretched into the distance, large enough around for a person to easily crawl inside. Wisconsin had quickly approved the Enbridge Energy tar sands oil pipeline but Minnesota had not. The corporation built the pipeline anyway, within a few feet of the state border, Enbridge assuming that eventually they would get their way and bury this pipeline all the way across Minnesota. The people of Minnesota resisted.
Why was there resistance? Because the people of Minnesota knew their history and were aware of what damage this company and pipeline could do. The Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline project is being run by Enbridge Energy which is the same company that was involved in the brutal forcing of the Dakota Access Pipeline through North Dakota on lands that were never ceded to the US by the Native American tribes. Line 3 is planned to replace an older and smaller pipeline that runs from Alberta, Canada through North Dakota and Minnesota through the Headwaters of the Mississippi River to terminate at the Port of Superior, Wisconsin. This pipeline is being promoted as a necessary replacement but it would actually be a substantially larger pipe put in the ground next to the old one and the old pipe is planned to be abandoned, left in the ground to rust.
Line 3 is a rip-off for Minnesotans: this pipeline will endanger the Headwaters of the Mississippi and the many lakes of our beautiful state, it will threaten native tribe’s traditional fishing and ricing lakes and rivers, and the oil shipped in the pipeline will add more carbon to the atmosphere to accelerate catastrophic climate change.
Line 3 has a very bad record. On March 3 1991 the Line 3 Pipeline was responsible for the largest oil spill in US history: 1.7 million gallons of oil spilled into the Prairie River. Only because it was winter and the river was covered by 18 inches of ice which made the oil easier for Enbridge to clean up prevented this from becoming a massive and famous ecological disaster. (Laduke 2017)
For thousands of years indigenous people have lived on this land, hunting, fishing, farming, and harvesting wild rice. Line 3 Pipeline threatens the fishing waters and wild rice beds in the treaty territories of the Anishinaabeg people. Nothing offered in return could be worth the destruction of ancient cultural and ecological tradition. (“Pipelines” 2018)
Line 3 will put more carbon in the atmosphere to accelerate catastrophic climate change at a time when the United States and the world is trying to move away from the use of fossil fuels. The fastest growing job in the United States is solar installer. The second fastest growing job is Wind Turbine Service Technician. Fossil fuel is on the way out. (Comms 2017)
Proponents of this pipeline argue that the project will provide good paying jobs for hundreds of Minnesotans. My response would be to encourage the workers and corporations to think of the bigger picture and consider the effects of their actions for many generations to come. Another good paying job that involves large pipes is the manufacture and assembly of the cylindrical towers for electric wind turbines, why not invest in a business and job that has a future?
Proponents of this pipeline would also argue that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil. I would argue that there is NO safe way to transport tar sands oil, it needs to be kept in the ground and what little we need during the transition to sustainable lubricants and fuels should be cherished and conserved, not squandered on the world market to fill the bank accounts of a few corporate executives. We have enough pipelines for our need, but not enough for our greed.
I stand on the shore of Lake Superior and admire the water as the slanting rays of the setting sun evoke beautiful shifting shades of blue from the water. The largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, we need this for life, our city of Duluth drinks from this body every day. For thousands of years indigenous people walked this shoreline, fishing and hunting, drinking the clean water flowing from springs. We cannot continue to endanger the essential elements used by millions to gain a short term profit for a few.
No more tar sands pipelines in Minnesota. We need to leave our destructive behavior in the past and work towards a future that is worthy of our children.
“Pipelines.” Honor Earth. February 23, 2018. http://www.honorearth.org/pipelines
Laduke, Winona. “Happy Anniversary: The Largest Inland Oil Spill In U.S. History Happened in Minnesota” Herald Review. March 3, 2017. http://www.grandrapidsmn.com/opinion/happy-anniversary-the-largest-inland-oil-spill-in-u-s/article_2ade2706-004f-11e7-9023-2b31a01741a6.html
Comms, Team. “Solar Installer: Fastest Growing Job In America.” Solar Energy Industries Association. October 26, 2017. https://www.seia.org/blog/solar-installer-fastest-growing-job-america
I decided what I wanted to be when I was about 6 years old. Looking up at a shelf full of books, opening one up, looking at the letters and words which looked like black scribbles and meant nothing to me as I didn’t know how to read yet. I’m gonna do this, I said. I’m gonna learn how to read all these books. Soon after learning how to read, the trauma began. The bullies tormented me and without a support system of friends and family I went inward to books, I escaped into the visions of people living in books.
Then I figured out how to write them too, started writing stories and novels when I was a teenager. I dreamed of the money I would make as an author, ah how great would that be, I would have friends too and be too powerful for the bullies, I just had to keep writing. When I was invited into the word of anarchism and punk rock I came to feel like it was unethical to even make money from my art, so I just made it and gave it away or sold at cost of printing, never mind the many hours it took to write and create and produce these zines and books. Then twenty years later I decide, hey, lots of people are making money writing so why not me too? I spend another five years writing a graphic novel and then a climate change fiction. Both are total bombs, less than 300 copies sold each, and I was broke. Never give up on your dream, that’s what they said all my life, just keep writing. Wait, but I started this shit when I was like 14 and now I’m 46, exactly how fucking long do I need to keep writing before it pays off? I am pretty stubborn and have good stamina, but this dream of being a successful creative author was beginning to look like a fool’s quest. I thot back to my first semester in college when I took all these courses to become an artist and author. I wish someone would have slapped me and said, wake up and smell the coffee, there are several billion other chumps out there wanting the same dream you are chasing. Why not consider a career that will actually earn you money so you wont have to crowd into the damn crazy punk houses all your life and at the same time be giving back to people something that was actually useful to them instead of your own self obsessed artistic visions?
After I went thru EMDR Therapy to deal with the years of trauma suffered in school at the hands and words of the numerous bullies which populate the hideous wasteland of the US school system, I realized that a large reason I choose this dream of being a writer was to escape this childhood trauma, to have a job that involved being just me alone in a room with the English alphabet, and then I would hand these tablets down off the mountain for the masses to read. Maybe just have contact with one person at most, my editor or publisher, who of course loved me. Now that I successfully worked my way thru this trauma and was mostly freed of it, I no longer needed this dream as a shield, no longer needed to pretend that I was going to someday magically be a financially successful author. I’m not. Like all the other people who get up and go to work every day, I am a worker. I’ve been a data entry person, a carpenter, a delivery driver, a scrapper, a veterinary assistant, a baker, a line cook, part owner of two cafes, an odd jobber, a handyman, a gardener, and a caretaker of vulnerable adults. Now I’m going to school to be a LPN, Licensed Practicing Nurse. In a few years I will graduate and do work directly helping people and also make a living wage. It feels really good to let go of this false dream that I grabbed onto as a child. I don’t wake up everyday now with this huge burden compelling me to spend all day and years to come putting effort into a project and getting nearly nothing back. I feel like I have escaped the gravity of a black hole by some miracle, and now I can breathe easier. They say you should never give up on your dreams but if you formulate your dreams during a time in your life when everything is shit, then maybe your dreams are only ropes to help you climb out of the nightmare. When you reach safety, you can let that rope go.
Here I sit with the alphabet again, but now when I write it’s not to escape something or to become anything, I’m writing just for me now, on this rainy Duluth morning, here in this present moment. It’s done. That’s it. I can go to breakfast now.
Well, okay, why not. I’ll post it up on the blog. (Wink!)
Turn up the volume on this one! The oil companies won’t stop until their bank accounts are full and the world is dead. Stand up. Line 3 is coming thru our backyard here in Minnesota, find out more: http://www.honorearth.org/
One day an 18 wheeler cattle truck driven by Sharon Mueller was headed North on Interstate 5 between Mount Shasta City and Weed when it was pulled over by the great-great grandson of the founder of the city of Weed: Sheriff Abner Weed III. After officer Weed was finished giving the truck driver a kind warning to fix his burnt-out tail-light, the driver pulled back on the freeway and then took the off-ramp to South Weed. The driver wanted to eat some food and relax after being pulled over by the sheriff. Getting pulled over made Sharon pissed off, even tho the sheriff was very polite and friendly and only gave here a warning. Something about cops intruding themselves into her world triggered strong emotions. These highways were where she worked and lived, and y’all best get out the way! Sharon stopped the truck on one of the many large roads lined with pine trees and got out to stretch her legs, blow off some steam, and take in some clean mountain air.
Mount Shasta rose white into the blue sky, a slight tuft of cloud caught on it’s tall peak and stretched long by the wind. Sharon walked to the back of the truck and checked on her cargo of cows, opening the door to have a look at them. Sharon closed the steel door but dint latch it because her mind was still back at the encounter with the sheriff.
“Whistling Hank Williams one minute and the next thing you know…” Sharon lit a cigarette as she walked away from the truck and sauntered toward the best looking restaurant she could see. The cows shifted in the truck. One cow nearest the door shuffled closer to the door. A curious and brave cow, the other cows did not approve! Some of them didn’t even understand. The curious cow made it to the unlatched door and smelled it with large nostrils, then nudged at the metal with it’s big head. The door sprang open easily and suddenly the curious and brave cow found itself propelled forward by some wild movements of the cows behind. The curious and brave cow tumbled to the ground gracelessly and landed outside the truck under blinding sunlight! The other cows protested! The curious and brave cow squinted for a moment, then smelled something interesting down the road and it headed for the hills. Soon the cow was treading up a tiny dirt road underneath some power lines, munching on green things as it went. Then the curious and brave cow came to another power line road that crossed the one it was walking on. The cow stopped to wonder: which way to turn. The cow released an enormous poop on the crossroad. Being immobile in the cattle truck had been constipating! A walk in the woods felt liberating. The curious and brave cow could think better now and decided to turn left towards the distant sound of running water.
That cow kept on walking and munching and found the spring fed stream to drink and lived as long as a domesticated farm animal could be expected to live in the wild. Fresh air, free movement, the feeling of a real hunger and the desire to find food, the thrill of having to kill or be killed activated something deep in the cow’s psyche: it felt fully alive! A short life, and a merry one, as the pirates used to say. The curious and brave cow was taken down by coyotes after a fierce battle which left one coyote dead! After the coyotes had their fill the foxes, scavenger birds, maggots, and other microscopic beasts had their turn.
One day not very long after the cow had escaped from the truck, Maxx the dog was making his rounds of the neighborhood which included everything between the truck stop and the old logging road east of the mainline railroad tracks.
Maxx was a Blue Heeler guard dog!
It was the butt crack of dawn, and the perimeter was nearly secured when he came to a particular cross roads in the power line trails. In the middle of the rocky path lay a dark black mound with a very interesting smell. Maxx, being a Blue Heeler, also known as Australian Cattle Dog, somehow knew the smell like an old friend. Maxx stepped up to investigate. The poo pile was dotted with a bunch of small earthy-smelling growing things of a lighter color. Maxx took a little bite while looking furtively left and right. The people at the Railroad Center got mad when he ate anything except the kibble. This was probably something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. After a few more good bites Maxx stepped back and did a somersault into the poo pile and rolled in it. Now his scent was masked, and with his new coat of Real Poo Camouflage he walked confidently back up the power line road.
Thirty minutes later Maxx burped a wretched smell and then felt a wild burning in his stomach. Uh oh, Maxx had done something bad. A very small man wearing a green coat, rocking a long white beard, and topped by a conical red hat, leapt in front of Maxx and began running!
“Hey now!” Maxx barked, and gave chase to the spry little man who was no taller than Maxx. Things shorter than Maxx were fun to chase! Now Maxx was having fun. Another little man jumped out from a manzanita tree and started running next to the first man. He was also wearing a red conical hat! Then there were 3, and then 4 little running men. Maxx was soon surrounded by thousands of little men with red conical hats, all running along with him! Maxx could never quite catch one, they were always just out of reach, and felt like he’d been running along time. Maxx stopped and stared at the strange pulsating tunnel that was now surrounding him. How long had that been there? Where did the forest go?
“Where am I?”
Maxx felt scared. The little men with conical hats were gone now. The tunnel grew long and drew him into it, it’s crimson and purple colored sides spinning and sucking him into a vortex of strange energy. Maxx started running! He wanted to get out of here, but no matter what direction he turned the tunnel was still there! Strange fractal patterns began to surround him, forming a vortex leading to a blinding white light, brighter than the slopes of the big White Mountain that he lived on the side of, and Maxx leapt into this light to get out, not caring if it meant life or death.
Maxx tumbled to the ground, landing on a soft bed of dark red pine needles covering the forest floor. The vortex was gone. Maxx still felt strange, like when he lay down and closed his eyes and had the visions of chasing bunny rabbits and barking at strange dogs. The only thing that was different was his stomach felt really bad now. He shouldn’t have eaten that weird poop. Maxx aimed his snout at the ground and vomited everything up. A little went up his nose and burned and made him sneeze.
“Woo! That wasn’t fun, but in the long run, probably a really good thing.”
Maxx walked away feeling much better and emerged from the woods to find himself up on the tracks near the entrance to the Railroad Center, and then he stopped because at the entrance gate there was another Blue Heeler dog standing, and it looked just like him! A breeze blew from the dog’s direction and into Maxx’s nose and he stiffened: that dog WAS him! “That’s me?” Maxx looked and saw people around the shack by the gate and he recognized the scene, it was the first day he arrived there a year ago. All the scents of the people brought it all back. “Look at me! I was just a wide eyed puppy back then! This must be a dream. I’m probably laying on the couch in the shack right now and it’s not actually summer it’s winter. I guess I should just enjoy this dream and have fun with it.”
The wind shifted and Maxx’s scent was carried to the front gate and Maxx’s younger self raised his head up and looked at Maxx for the first time. Younger Maxx barked wildly and ran after him!
“Oh no! I remember how I used to be back then! I’m crazy!” Maxx turned and ran South on the road next to the railroad tracks at full speed with his younger self behind him doing the same thing!
“Oh boy, I can’t be here with younger me!”
Maxx ran with he ears turned back, listening to the sound of paws pounding behind him on the gravel road. A junk train came rolling thru the yard, empty lumber and tanker cars. Maxx looked back, younger Maxx was closing the gap!
“Oh no! I’m too out of shape to escape myself!” Maxx eyed the train coming up behind them and dashed up into the yard and sprinted furiously across the tracks of the yard, leaping in front of the on coming freight train! He made it to the other side and the train passed, younger Maxx was afraid of the train and stopped on the other side. The train hit it’s brakes hard and sparks flew! Maxx kept running into the woods but behind him he heard a horrible crashing noise, as tho the train had derailed!
“Oh boy. I really better keep running now!”
Maxx ran thru the Antelope Brush and thru the Manzanita shrubs and slalomed the Ponderosa Pine trunks. The horrible gnashing of steel ended and the forest was quiet. Thru his panting breath Maxx heard that same pulsing song that had accompanied the strange vortex that brought him here. Yes! It was a way to escape. He sprinted and the glow beyond the tree trunks led him to it. Maxx leapt into the portal and hoped it would close behind him, one Maxx was enuf Maxx!
Once more Maxx tumbled to the ground, somersaulting to a stop of a soft bed of dry pine needles. It was very warm now, the middle of summer! Maxx got to his feet and looked around, his younger self had not followed him thru the portal. Alarms went off in Maxx’s sensitive sinus, he sniffed the air, inhaled deeply. Something new in the scent- was that BEEF cooking on a fire? Maxx started to salivate. Maxx was hungry and Maxx loved beef. Herding cattle and eating beef evoked strong memories in his Blue Heeler dog soul.
Maxx followed the scent and soon found himself on the edge of a camp fire circle of intensely scented people. They were all talking and laughing and passing bottles and drinking. There was a smell of various dogs but it didn’t seem like any were presently around the campfire. The smell of roasting beef was overpowering. Maxx approached the circle cautiously, and humbly with his head down. These people would surely be protective of their delicious beef, Maxx would have to ingratiate himself to get any portion of it.
“HAY DAGGIE!” a grizzled old hobo took notice of Maxx and Maxx stepped towards him, “HARE DAWG!” the man held out out a t-bone with a few bits of meat still on it. Drool fell from Maxx’s lip to the ground as he humbly accepted the bone and felt the old man’s hand rub his furry head. Maxx turned around and stepped back a respectful distance, then faced the fire and sat down to consume the delicacy.
“That yer dog, Gonzo?” a hobo wearing a stingy brim hat said to the grizzled old man.
“Haint my dawg!” Gonzo replied, “Handsome feller tho!”
The hobo wearing the stingy brim hat stood up, “Well who’s dog is he?”
The circle of people shrugged and mumbled.
“Well HELL!” the hobo with the stingy brim hat said, “He might be some wild dingo escaped from the zoo, and look at that silver, he’s like a tiny wolf!”
Voices of agreement, dissent, and ridicule came from the circle of hobos.
The stingy brim hat hobo pointed a finger at Maxx and this threw him off balance because of his drunkenness so that he had to throw a leg backwards to catch himself from falling, “He’ll be diggin thru our food and stealing our cutlets!”
Gonzo stood up, “FACK IT! Then he’s my dawg, I’ll feed him. Hare dawg!” he walked over to Maxx and handed him a thick piece of fat. Maxx tried to chew it slowly but he totally wolfed it down.
The hobo with the stingy brim hat shrugged and shook his head, then sat back down to his conversation with the young lady hobo next to him, she passed a bottle of wine to him.
“Now, where were we darlin?”
“Talkin about music.”
“Oh yeah.” the stingy brim hat hobo said, “The way I see it, most pop music incorporates only two themes in the lyrics of songs: fighting and fucking. A song is all about how much a person loves someone else, or it’s about how much they hate them.”
The hobo drank from the bottle and handed it to her, she pointed it at him, “Pop music is created by a corporate guided profit mechanism: they create this musical product for us to consume. Are they operating on a formula for what sells, tapping into a visceral emotional bottom line?”
She drank from the bottle as he spoke, “I guess people really are simple animals. Most of what they think about on a daily basis revolves around wanting to fight or fuck.”
She pulled the bottle down from his lips, purple juice dribbling down her chin and disappearing into the red pine needles, “It’s true, intellectual songs are not so popular, are they? Songs with raw emotion are what trigger your emotions, songs that lower the shield a person usually has up, gets inside of you, makes you sing along with it!”
He took the bottle from her hands, “Even songs that seem to take an intellectual bent, such as in their criticism of our society, may end up recommending that you FIGHT against the corrupt society out of LOVE for the oppressed. We are always back to Love and Hate.”
“That’s being human.” she said to the upturned bottle stuck in the man’s lips, “These are the emotions we have to deal with, every god damn day. Coming from inside us, or coming at us from someone else!”
“What the hell are you two yabbering about?” a weathered hobo yelled from across the fire, “That bottle aint a microphone! Pass it along, brother!”
“Damn. Being a hobo isn’t like it used to be!” the stingy brim hat hobo said.
“I heard that!” the lady hobo said.
Maxx stopped listening and went back to chewing on his bone. Hmmm, bone.
The sun set and the fire was stoked, the faced of the hobos became magical in the firelight and Maxx wandered around, now accepted into the human pack, and with no other dogs present, he sniffed and scoured the ground for scraps of tasty beef that had been dropped. Any moment now one of the dogs he smelled might come back and dominate the scrap scene, Maxx has to get while the getting was good!
A loud noise made Maxx jerk his head up from his orgasmic obsession with the ground, two young hobos had stood up and were facing each other across the fire with angry postures.
“Why you being a fucking asshole? Riding his ass like that, like you were some vision of perfection!”
The other hobo held out his hands as tho displaying a visible truth, “And why are you defending him? Making judgments about other people is a natural thing to do. It helps you figure out who’s your friends and who’s your enemies.”
“Okay, alright, to some degree I reckon you’re right. But when you let the judgment take over your mind and emotions and you have no tolerance at all for difference, then what you have is a FUCKING ASSHOLE who is no fun to be around because nobody is good enough for them, not even themselves. A hater! People being hyper judgmental about other people is a bunch of righteous wanking!”
Another hobo from the circle spoke up, “Tell you what my grandpa used to say: Remember when you point a finger at someone else, there are three more fingers pointing back at you.”
Maxx looked down at his paw, “I don’t get it.”
Later in the night, when most of the booze had been gagged down and the hobos were stumbling thru empty bottles and cans, the two hobos who had stood to argue earlier had again stood up and faced each other across the fire.
“No Nuts did not mean to burn nothing down in Oregon! He’s my brother so stop dropping his name.”
“He got in a fight and threw a flare and burnt the hell out of it! No Nuts cooked the jungle good for us! Godamn rails are so hot now we can hardly be riding anymore! Fuck him!”
The insulted man stood up, as best he could being shitfaced drunk, and pulled out his Equalizer: a long shining knife, and brandished it with terrifying effect before the flames of the fire, “I wouldn’t let my own mother talk to me like that, boy, and I love her. So where’s that leave YOU?”
“Rrrr… Requalizer!” Maxx gulped and crept away from the fire as voices grew louder, “The fun just went away!” Maxx moved to the edge of the campfire circle just as the man with the Equalizer lunged and fell into the fire! The flames went out and darkness prevailed, a great shouting and cursing arose from the circle as everyone stood up. The hobos wrestled across the embers of the former fire, scattering the coals so that the ground reflected the sky, endless red stars being scattered by the movements of angry gods.
Gonzo shouted, “WHARE’S MA DAWG?” and in the mounting chaos, no one noticed Maxx grab a pack of sausages and sneak away into the forest.
Maxx was still burping and listening to the rowdy sounds of people around the camp fire where the humming song reached his ears and the glow of the portal appeared. On a full stomach and having attended a party that was now completely cashed, he belched and swaggered confidently into the swirling colors.
The red and purple colors of the magic tunnel spun around Maxx’s black spotted ass, spiraling around his blue and white flecked fluffy tail, then shrank back into the vortex and it folded onto itself. Maxx was in the forest again, at the crack of dawn and this time it was cold! There wasn’t s now on the ground, but it was definitely winter. The leaves on the few deciduous trees had fallen. Maxx walked downhill, towards where he thot the Railroad Center would be. He emerged from the tree line to look across the rail road yard at his old home. It was a big empty gravel lot and there was no one there. In the train yard there was a line of a few freight cars being slowly moved by the local CORP Line. Maxx galloped down the bank and up the ballast into the yard and crossed the tracks before the train could block him off from going to check out the land. The brakeman wearing a bright green vest froze when he saw Maxx running and then he ran away from Maxx! Maxx was tempted to chase him, cause things that run are fun to chase, but he kept going around the train cars and down towards the front gates.
The brakeman, who had a terrible fear of unleashed dogs, was still running and he didn’t stop till he got to the engine and climbed aboard and shut the door to the cabin behind him.
“What are you doing in here!” the engineer yelled.
“There’s a wild dingo out there!”
“Did you set the brakes on those end cars?”
The brakeman stared intently out the window of the cabin and nodded yes.
The engineer grumbled and mumbled and backed the train up. A short time late a horrible sound of clashing of metal came from the other end of the train, sending vibrations back to them. The brakeman and engineer looked out the window and saw that a large black tanker car had derailed and rolled over to land on the mainline track.
“Now you’re dun it!” the engineer said, and a nasty argument followed which lasted five minutes and involved many forbidden words.
“WHOA!’ the engineer screamed, “What time is it?”
The brakeman looked at his watch, “5:58”
“The southbound Coast Starlight is due!”
The engineer grabbed for the radio and sent out an urgent warning that the mainline was fouled- too late! The sound of the air-horns from Amtrak engine number 116 reached his ears, she was coming right for them at full speed! The brakeman made a grab for a flare and jumped from the engine to stand in the middle of the mainline tracks with the brightly burning red flare in his hand, waving it wildly over his head.
“It’s too late! Run!” the engineer screamed from the deck of the engine before turning to jump out the other side and sprint down the road toward town.
Maxx stood in the empty lot of the Railroad Center, which didn’t even exist yet. It was just an abandoned gravel lot. Maxx sighed, and then heard an air horn from the North, and wild shouting from the train yard, then a great screeching as the Southbound train went into emergency braking. Maxx stood up and turned around to look, just in time to see the Coast Starlight meet the tanker car from the CORP Line. The tanker car flew up in the air and rammed a boxcar, the lead Amtrak engine bounced off the tracks and landed on it’s side, the big old steel water spigot in the middle of the yard that was for filling old steam engines flew into the air! The two following engines jack-knifed and bounced down the tracks, the passenger cars on train bounced up and down and went sideways! Maxx put his ears back at the noise and slunk away from the mess, hid behind a tree until the incredible noise was over.
Then there was silence, only a low noise of the train engine still gurgling. Maxx heard voices, and soon people came pouring out of the train cars, more than a hundred people emerged into the cold morning, their breath steaming out and lancing the cold air of the mountain. Some people ran to the front to help out others who were injured. The engineer of lead engine 116 walked slowly from the tracks, holding his side.
“What a mess!” Maxx said, “Why am I here? Was I brought here for some reason? What does this mean that I’m here?”
Maxx walked up to the accident and looked at the people, the train cars strewn about the tracks, he walked down the line amongst the people. No one seemed to notice him until he got to a short person, a young girl, who was crying. She saw Maxx and stopped crying. Maxx looked at her with his soft brown eyes and gentle face. The young girl smiled at Maxx and laughed, “Doggy!” Maxx walked up to her and licked the salty tears from her face and she giggled and laughed. Maxx sat down and let the girl pet and hold him for a long time.
Soon many fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, and railroad emergency vehicles showed up and lined both sides of the road. It became a huge circus! Maxx was happy to be towards the back of the train, where the passenger cars had not come of the tracks and there was nothing exciting for people to look at. He even played a little bit of fetch with the girl even tho he didn’t really like that game.
Eventually some buses showed up and the passengers all began loading themselves into these buses, and the guardians of the little girl came and found her.
“Can we take doggy with us?”
“Uh, that would be a NO. C’mon let’s go.”
The little girl’s hand was grasped by the towering adult and she was hustled away.
Maxx went back to the abandoned junk yard next to the tracks and curled up to rest in his old favorite spot, right in the middle!
The buses loaded with people left and the ambulances and some of the firetrucks and most of the cops left. Things were calming down a little. Maxx found a box of donuts some cops had left and he ate several of these, and then found a bit of roast beef sandwich. The sun went down and Maxx curled up in the trees on some dry pine needles and went to sleep.
In the morning he stretched and walked to the front gate to sniff around the road. He noticed a familiar human scent, and followed the trace with enthusiasm, eventually coming to an old guy standing on the tracks with a camera, taking pictures of the wreck.
“Hey! It’s North Bank Fred! Arf! Arf!” Maxx jumped on Fred’s leg and knocked him off balance a little.
“Get off me ya mutt! You’re ruining my shot!” Fred growled at Maxx and shook his hands, then continued taking photos of the derailed train.
Maxx hung his head, “I keep forgetting. He doesn’t know me cause we haven’t met yet!”
Maxx walked away from the scene and back into the woods to lay down in the pine needles and wait for the portal, hoping the next place that he ended up wouldn’t be another damn derailment! Maxx felt very tired from the stress of the people around him all day, and he curled up tightly in the cold air and thot about his favorite food.
Maxx fell asleep and had a strange dream, and the dream had a sound track that was the strange pulsating song that accompanied the appearance of the time portal, and in his dream his mother, a towering Blue Heeler, had swallowed him whole and then shat him out into a completely different world.
Maxx came tumbling out of the air onto a soft pile of old pine needles turned a lovely redish brown. The forest was silent around him. Maxx had fallen out of a dream before, so he wasn’t scared. There was always a soft place to land on, because every night when he went to sleep, he always went to sleep in a soft place. Maxx looked at the fading swirling colors around him and knew the portal had found him while he was sleeping.
“So it’s not always my choice.” Maxx said to himself, “That’s bullshit!”
Maxx looked and sniffed around- it seemed like he was in the same exact place! He excitedly sniffed the air and scanned the ground, peering around the Ponderosa Pine trunks, looking for his younger self. The forest remained quiet, his own footsteps crunching on the dry red pine needles echoed loudly in his sensitive ears. Maxx strolled back to the open area of the Railroad Center, there was no one around. The air smelled different, it was the middle of summer now, there hadn’t been rain in a long time, a slight wind gust blew a dust devil across the yard and around the old wooden rail-cars. There was something different, the old wooden rail-cars were gone, and so were the caboose! And the shack up by the gate looked dilapidated, and there were several junked cars parked near the barn. Nothing smelled right, and the trees were even shorter!
In the distance a train horn blew long and loud. The ground began to rumble as the Union Pacific engines pulled a long string of junk cars into the Black Butte yard. The train pulled thru and rumbled to a stop and the air seemed extra quiet after all that cacophony. Maxx heard some noises, of feet on the ballast, some quiet voices. He followed the sounds up to the tracks, down by a steel boxcar with an open door where three people dressed dark or dirty clothes were unloading large backpacks. Hobos! Maxx ran up excitedly, he was probably friends with these people!
“It’s beautiful here.” Dre said.
“Yeah. I wonder if any of this land is for sale!” Brakeshoe replied.
“I bet you could squat it just fine.” Hobo Lee said.
“Arf! Arf!” Maxx ran up to them, and their heads spun towards him, Maxx yelled at them: “Hey! Dre! Brakeshoe! Hobo Lee! How you doing baby!”
“Whoa!” Brakeshoe said, and it seemed like he was startled.
“Hi doggy!” Dre said, and she knelt down, “Here doggy! Shh! Quiet boy!”
Maxx wondered, “Doggy? How come they don’t know my name? Why are they afraid? They must be mad at me cause I derailed that train.”
“Go on! Git!” Brakeshoe said, and Maxx backed away uncertain.
“Go on! Good boy!” Dre said.
“Was that a wild dingo?” Lee laughed as Maxx walked away.
Maxx turned and walked away with his head down, and then lifted his head up as he realized that he must have gone back in time just like with the first portal, so he was now in a time where he hadn’t meet those people! They didn’t know he derailed a train, they had never seen him before! Maybe he hadn’t even been born yet! Whoa! Maxx felt relieved and also sad. If he had to stay back in this time, he would have to make all new friends and find an all new pack, everyone he had ever known was back in the future.
“Aye!” Northbank Fred came strolling down the tracks with a bottle of porter in his hand, “How ya doing? You want a drink?”
Northbank Fred looked down at Maxx, “This your dog? Is he friendly?”
“No! He just came running up to us.”
“Maybe we should keep him.” Lee said.
“We don’t want no doogle! Git!” Brakeshoe yelled, “Git outta here!”
“Aw. He was kinda cute.” Dre said.
Lee sighed, “Well ya know. Being a hobo isn’t like it used to be!”
Maxx hung his head again and walked slowly down the road next to the tracks.
An inner voice spoke to Maxx as he walked, the voice said that he should go eat some of a road killed animal on the train tracks to the south, towards Black Butte cone.
“Okay.” Maxx said.
Maxx walked down the tracks and turned down an old logging road, then continued up a deer trail right up the the base of Black Butte cone. Maxx raised his head to look at the little mountain, and a ray of lights shone forth into his third eye! Maxx felt a tingling sensation and his consciousness left his furry body. Maxx found himself bi-located inside the mountain!
“I can feel my body is still outside, but my major consciousness is inside the mountain!”
Maxx looked around, he was in a large cavernous room full of endless varieties of dogs that were walking upright and wearing what looked like one-piece bathing suits, or perhaps wrestling outfits. A tall German Shepherd approached him, Maxx thot that he should be scared but he wasn’t. The German Shepherd spoke- it was the voice that had spoken inside his head!
“Hello Maxx. Welcome.”
Maxx tried to sniff the German Shepherd’s butt, but his spirit consciousness didn’t seem to have a nose. The German Shepherd smiled and chuckled.
“This is where we organize all the biscuit shipments to all the places in the world that have a glass jar on the counter for dogs. Coffee shops, gas stations, little corner stores, drive thru espresso stands, food carts. Without this communications center here inside the mountain, many of these people would not rise to the proper consciousness, that dogs should be loved by all people and that all dog biscuits should be free.”
“Wow.” Maxx drooled a little, and felt his head jerk to the side when he noticed a Blue Heeler like himself walking by wearing a hot pink spandex outfit, and this dog noticed Maxx looking at him and turned his head to throw Maxx a wink.
“Wow!” Maxx mumbled, “Arf!”
The German Shepherd laughed, “We only bark or howl on special occasions, but I think this could be considered one of them! Oooowwwwoooooo! Woof woof woof!”
The entire control center stopped for a moment and all the dogs lifted their heads up and barked happily and howled wildly, some of them leaping and doing flips in the air.
“Wow!” Maxx said again, “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Suddenly Maxx found himself back outside the cone and in his own body again, the quiet forest around him.
“Did that really happen?” Maxx wondered, and then looked down at his body. He was wearing a pure white spandex wrestling suit!
“Wow…” Maxx walked back and forth a little bit to get a feel for it, “How am I going to get this off?”
Maxx began walking back down the deer trail to the train tracks, feeling svelte and slightly self conscious in his new threads. As he reached the side of the railroad tracks he began to hear that Maxx smiled stepping over the steel rail and onto the creosote dunked wooden ties locked in jagged basalt rock ballast, “I feel so much better about things, just knowing those dogs are inside that mountain, keeping watch, making good things happen. Is there a control room full of dogs that is controlling this doorway that brought me here? I guess that would be an article of faith.”
Maxx heard a familiar sound, the pulsating song of the portal! There is was ahead on the tracks, right in the middle of the mainline. Maxx stopped for a moment to look and listen. A voice spoke into Maxx’s head, “Don’t be afraid.”
Maxx approached the portal and felt it’s coolness, then circled back around, barked, and ran full speed into the swirling colors!
Maxx didn’t want to stay long in the ’80s. Maxx met a hobo who talks to him and understands what he says. The hobo wants to ride steam trains and he escapes back in time with Maxx. They got the fuck out of the 80’s.
Maxx and the hobo are slingshot way far back in time. Encounter a sky fascinated people who study the movement of celestial bodies, have solstice celebrations, have physical observatories where rays of sun illuminate art on rock walls at solstices and equinoxes. Tell stories of people’s spirits traveling on long journeys floating on the Milky Way. Hobo has a big can of coffee, shares it with these ancient people who had never had coffee, they get jacked up and talking fast, jumping off of rocks and punching each other, laughing wildly. Maxx and the hobo sneak off, with the can of coffee, “This is the only can of coffee in the world!” they are pursued.
Maxx woke up very thirsty and stood up and did a downward dog stretch before trotting off toward the spring fed stream to get a drink.
Maxx barks at a railroad repair worker who is hauling ballast to drop on settled spots in the tracks, when Maxx barks it scares the driver and causes him to his the hydrolic drop level of the front loader which smashes down onto the rail and invisibly fractures it. Thirty cars derail on south bound freight. The train office in the middle of the yard is demolished. Families of Southern Pacific workers living on Cottonwood Drive witness the accident. Witness to the accident, “My god, I don’t know how they stay in business with all these cars flying off the tracks. This place is like the damn Bermuda Triangle of train wrecks. Maybe it’s cause the train workers are always rubber-necking Mount Shasta and not paying attention to their job.”
Boxcar full o whiskey is buried in secret and witnessed by tree planting worker!
Maxx witnesses the Giant Sequoias being planted by a person who found the buried boxcar of Canadian whiskey. They were supposed to plant them all in a single square plot of land, but in one drunken night by lantern, they follow the trail down to Weed, planting tiny seedlings the whole way along the creek. In town they find themselves empty handed, all the seedlings are planted and all the whiskey from the bottle has been drank. They want another drink of whiskey so they head to the black butte saloon and laugh that they are buying whiskey when they found a whole boxcar of it, they buy the house a round.
As Maxx is sucked back into the tunnel he sees time accelerating backwards for a moment, everyone is sitting around watching a television as a rocket ship hurtles thru space.
1964 a friendly woman with curled black hair works at the yard office at Black Butte Junction, “Whoa there’s a shack out there in the yard!” she has a jar of biscuits, “Ah! Comrade!” Maxx tried to wink at her but didn’t know how, so he just blinked.
Maxx meets a hobo off a train, smells the campfire food cooking. A veteran of the US war of aggression in Korea. He draws his moniker with a lumber crayon.
“Being a hobo isn’t like it used to be!”
Three different eras: first an old person 1964, then goes back to see them younger, then back to see that old person as a baby in the arms of an old person (recognizing them by their same smell!), and then continues back in time following the life of that person who was holding the baby, and like this leapfrogging back in time and human culture, a continuous stream flowing and interconnected.
Steam railroad days, the water tower, the little village on Cottonwood Drive. Maxx poaches a chicken from a chicken coop. A bird who’s nest was cut down by loggers and she lost all her chicks joins Maxx. “What’s those feathers on your face?” “Oh uh, I was hanging out with some chickens earlier.” “Eww! I’m ashamed to accept them as birds.” the Stellar Jay said, “I’m surprised your not covered in their feces and feathers.”
Maxx gets chased for having poached the bird, feathers stuck to his lip. Runs into town, accidentally causes fire at the Hippodrome. (sees the old woman from 1964, in 1958 her husband is still alive and they are at the hippodrome)
“I’m only a year old but I feel like I’ve been here before.” Maxx said to the bird.
“Maybe you have been here before, from the future, when you travel back here after today. Oh, this hurts my tiny bird brain!”
“Maybe. But, no, it’s not like that. This whole life is familiar. Like there’s some ancient thing inside of my dog self that recognizes all of this.”
“Sometimes I feel like that when I’m flying.” the bird ruffled her feathers and sang a short song that was popular on cell phones.
Trains loaded with dark green military vehicles, tanks and jeeps, a bright white star on the side, ominous in their uniformity. The sad expressions on many people’s faces.
Military queers- Maxx comes upon two fellas getting it on in the woods, they are frightened by his appearance and then relieved to see it is only a dog!
August 10th, someone carves this date in the wood of the tower. It is a Mexican worker at Weed Lumber Company carving the day his daughter was born as he walks with her along the tracks on a summer stroll.
The depression era: meets hobos at a jungle fire.
“Being a hobo isn’t like it used to be!”
When the steam train stops there for water, all the hobos follow Maxx to the spring for a drink of water, “Well, hey there little dog!” Railroad worker lets them have some apples from the tree in his yard. Hobos get work with him helping build an extension to the man’s house for his elderly mother to have a room which SP is paying for.
When the railroad people were first building the housing at Black Butte Junction, Southern Pacific. Turn of the century? Sees the cottonwoods and apple trees planted by people as little seedlings.
1933, December 5th, Prohibition is repealed with immediate affect. Bars are re-opened and people are partying.
Maxx sees the woman who is old in 1964, here she is just graduated from College!
1926 The Water Tank at Black Butte Junction is built.
The strike & black workers. There are 1000 black workers in a town of 6000, they came from DeRidder & Longville, LA. The Lidgerwood Skidder “the nigger killer”. March 6th, 1922 750 men strike for return to previous higher wage and 8 hour workday. Blacks, Italian, Greek, white. The blacks were no allowed in the union and many had moved there with their families, so many returned to work.
Black workers from southern states transferred to Weed by the Long-Bell Lumber Company. Meets black folks coming off the train from Louisiana and other southern states, coming to work the mill and logging, going to live in The Quarters, segregated black housing.
Logging the land with big draft horses pulling “big wheels” with logs slung underneath. Logs are hauled up to the train tracks, loaded on train cars, and then taken into town to the mill on flat bed log cars with steam engines, 40-60 cars twice a day. There is a steam powered “traction engine” to haul logs on carts.
The “Titanic” skidder bought, like a steam engine anchored to the ground by “tail-holts”, and average of one black worker a week is killed by this machine, and it comes to be called the “nigger killer”. Logs snap free of snags, logs roll down hill like steam rollers, cables break and a cable become a two inch thick whip that cuts people in half.
One of the men decides to get out of the place, white Wobblie tries convince him to organize a union, “I’ve about had it with this place. We must throw reigns on this capitalist beast and haul it in! We need to organize a union!”
“All of us black skidders will be dead by the time you get your union. I gotta get outta here!”
The disgruntled black lumber jack meets Maxx, “Hey, you can understand what I’m saying! Not many people do.”
“I’ll accept this is happening now for a reason. Maybe the good lord sent you. A dog for a guardian angel. It could be worse.:
The man smiled and Maxx barked!
“You like this work, this logging?”
“Wood is powerful stuff! I studied it back in the south. See, wood is a collaboration between the sun and the earth. When you burn wood it releases the power of the sun, captured by the leaves of the tree and stored into microscopic cells by the water and nutrients in the ground. Wood has been our good friend for a long long time. Except when it fall on top of you, but mostly that just happens up here! I wouldn’t mind this work at all except that one of us black workers is dying every week working with that Titanic. I’ve seen a man cut in half. By god, that’s no way to go. I’ve gotta get out of here.”
“Maybe you can come with me!”
“Somewhere a long time away from here.”
The Quarters aka Coon Town, Jackass Brandy” made in The Quarters. Temporary migrant worker communities on edge of town, called “Jungles”. Camps a,b,c,d.
January 17, Prohibition goes into effect. The 18th Amendment, which was ratified a year and a day previous. Bootleggers swing into business. Maxx follows some drunks to a newly opened speak easy out in the woods. Moonshiners up in the woods, bottling booze and slipping it onto trains that stop for water in an illegal underground economy! Befriended by drunk moonshiner, who gets attacked by thirsty thugs, Maxx bites their ankles and barks, “Dammit he’s got a tiny little wolf!”
“Great place to live, except for the shootings, stabbings, and the brutal assertion of corporate authority.”
Whorehouse in Weed is turned into a place to care for influenza patients. Whores become nurses. “Last year the influenza epidemic hit Weed. Ol’ Abner Weed took the big fall.”
The black man formerly employed by the lumber company decides this is the place to stay, “I don’t wanna go back before the Emancipation Proclamation! I’ll stay and help these fine women care for these people. Damn, does that mean in 14 years I will see my younger self get off a train up at Black Butte Junction?“ Maxx let his tongue hang out and smiled, “Hard to say, I’m new at this!”
Maxx hangs out with the sex workers. One of them tells him her story, “I left my mother and father when I was young, went traveling, wanted to explore the world! Four years ago the house I grew up in burnt to the ground, my parents were away at the time but my younger sister was there and she died horribly. If I hadn’t left home so early, maybe I would have been there to put out the fire!” She goes back in time with Maxx to 1904, “Oh hell! I got me ten years before the damn house burns down! Let’s see, I left home in 1910 so I have six years before I can go back there and not meet myself, right? Is it bad if I meet myself?”
Maxx thought for a moment, “I wouldn’t worry about it. I mean, I guess I would meet myself if the opportunity came up. But then, I sniff my own butt all the time anyway, so what would be the point? Been there! Done that!”
Jessica gave a whoop and jumped in the air, “Six years of traveling around and knowing something about the future. If I play this right, on the stock market, I don’t think I’ll need to be doing sex work anymore. Hell, wasn’t such a bad job though, making folks feel good! I’ve done my time though. I’ll just get rich on the stock market and then have sex when, where, and with who I like.”
“I haven’t been much into sex since my balls were taken off.”
“Hmmm. Yeah. Okay. So what are you going to do?”
“Wander around until the next portal appears. Find something to eat. Find something to roll in.”
“Thanks for everything Maxx!”
(baby is born from mother sick with flu- it’s the old woman from 1964!)
Maxx ends up south of the black butte volcanic cone and sees a decently dressed easterner taking the photograph of two hobos in small black brimmed hats with suspenders.
“Hello fellas! Name’s Clifton Jonnson!”
“I’ll shake yer hand, but no names.” the tall hobo pointed at Clifton’s large case, “What ya got in there?”
“A photographic camera! May I take you photograph?”
The two hobos looked at each other and shrugged, “No names!”
“Very well then.”
The men talk shit: “They call it God’s Chosen Place but it seems like the Devil got here first. There’s no love! In the The East and The South of this country a person can eat three meals a day without a steady job, just asking for work and handouts. Here in California you’re lucky to eat a single meal every three days! There’s no love for a man on the road here, every man for himself. No hospitality. The Devil’s own greed has taken this coast. We’ll be lucky to survive the journey with a scrap of meat on our bones.”
“Where ya headed next?”
“Gonna catch on of those empty refrigerator cars and head south into the central valley. Try and get in on some agricultural work for a few days, build up a road stake. Keep on south. Go to Mexico maybe, learn to speak Spanish!”
The hobos cooked a stew for dinner and then had tobacco.
“Well fellas, darkness falls. I’m back to town. Thanks for the company.”
The Easterner left the two hobos.
“Nice enough fella.” the small young hobo said.
The older hobo shrugged, “Being a hobo isn’t like it used to be! Getting all blown up. People taking our photo-graphs and all.”
A small fire kept them warm.
“I like it up here in the mountains.” the young hobo said, sitting on his upturned oil can and staring up at the stars. “I wonder how many lost souls are wandering the cities of the world tonight. Down there where the big lights shine and the big bridges stretch out like god across the water.”
“I like it too.” the big old hobo said.
A wild storm comes up that evening and the hobos take shelter in the same boxcar as the night before, and howling winds blow the whole line of freight cars over! The hobos get some knots on their heads but are okay, they wait in their new bivouac with open skylight until train workers come and lower a ladder to get them out.
Encounter with a brown bear because they haven’t been hunted to extinction yet(last brown bear in ca will be shot in 1922 in Tulare County)
“This didn’t smell like the black bear Maxx had encountered before.” Growr!!! Yipe yipe! “Sorry I yelled at you.” the brown bear said, “I’ve been pissed off for a while now. The people have been shooting all my friends. For no reason. We didn’t do anything to them. I mean, maybe we ate a couple of them, but they seemed to be coming like ants so it seemed like a few wouldn’t be missed, you know? Well, they didn’t see the logic or humor in it and now they are hunting us to extinction. I’ve been on the run for a year. Shot in the ass twice.”
“Brother bear! You’re bigger than any dog I’ve known, and I’m terrified I admit, but you can come with me.”
“With you where? Back to your master?” the bear laughed, “You are a funny little dog.”
“No bear, trust me. There’s this thing that keeps happening to me. See, I’m not from here, I’m not from this TIME! I travel across time and I don’t really understand it but I do.”
The bear laughed and the sound from it rattled Maxx’s bones and loosened his bowels.
“You make me laugh, little dog. I’ll hang out with you only for that reason. I need a good laugh to make all this sadness go away.”
1901 Abner Weed founds company town of Weed.
A Polish witch herbalist – administers Mullein and other herbs to a man who cannot afford medicine from the doctor in town, to clear his lungs of an oncoming sickness.
“My sister has a- problem. Maybe you can help.”
“This is a very serious thing you ask of me. Your sister is Christian people?”
“Often Christian people are opposed to allowing a woman to control her body. If I were to help her end the pregnancy it could end in serious trouble for me. Christians have always killed my people: the witches, the herbalists. The inquisition extinguished millions of us. So keep your lips buttoned fella! You know what they did to the Indians around here. Will you swear an oath of silence?”
“Yes, I swear. She is desperate, the baby is not wanted. We can’t care for it and the father is gone.”
She administers the abortion and the christian fanatic husband beats her and her brother until he finds the herbs, and it’s a small town, he guesses it is the strange woman who makes her living selling herbal cures, he organizes a witch hunt posse.
The witch joins Maxx going back in time, they make a mad dash!
White miners arrive, many native Americans are murdered at black butte. Genocide, dead horses and people, the howling spirits of 10,000 years of dead ancestors fly thru the sky and surround the mountain like a raging cloud of wild horses and Maxx can see and hear them, scary! A Wintu woman in a cabin, kidnapped by white men, Maxx hears noises like a sad dog, leads the witch and the bear to the cabin, the bear breaks down the door and the witch cuts thru the ropes that bind the Wintu, the little bird flies in and says the white men are returning. They all escape back in time before the white man came.
They emerge and hear singing. Go up to Panther Meadow. There is a sacred gathering of Wintu people there. “My great great great grandmother is among these people before me.” The Wintu woman stays there with her people, “I must decide if I can live in peace and silence, or speak about the future I know and become a prophet.”
Panther meadow. Sacred to tribes: Wintu, Shasta, Karuk, and Pit River tribes it is a sacred place: sing, pray. A sacred spring there. Alpine Laurel, Mountain Heather, Dwarf Huckleberry, Arsenic, Swamp Onion, Paintbrush. Meadow is guarded by Mountain Hemlock and Red Fir. Wintu call the meadow “luligawa” meaning sacred flower. The Wintu collect plants there.
The bear stays. “I like it. I like it. No gun shots. No flat tree stumps. No chimney smoke to fake me out, thinking there’s a forest fire. Nobody trying to make a rug out of me.”
When the portal comes a pack rat runs away from Maxx and accidentally into the portal.
(South American empires up in west coast California) when they get to the other side, Maxx says to the pack rat, “Hey buddy, you alright?” and the pack rat says, “What the hell just happened? Where am I? This doesn’t smell right.” “You’re a long time away from where you just were.” “But, my god! I have a family back there! A damn squalling batch of rodents under a big ass pile of sticks! Who’s gonna feed them?”
“Sorry bud, I don’t know how to help you. I really don’t understand what this life is about myself. Seems like just when your plans get all worked out then something changes. Everything keeps changing. The only reliable thing is change. You know, something I’m starting to realize is that you can decide to be happy, no matter what bullshit is going on. You can choose to be happy. There’s a switch! You just gotta find the switch in your mind, recognize exactly what’s going on inside of you, cause that’s the only thing you have control over, and then when you recognize your feelings you wrap your paws around them and bite them, give em a big ol’ dog hug, and then you let them go. And you’re free. Everybody’s got all kinds of feelings to deal with, if you just find that switch you can be happy in any situation in the world.”
The pack rat’s eyelids blinked once, twice, then turned and scampered rapidly into the brush, muttering to himself, “There better be some hot rat babes here…”
Maxx encounters expeditions from Aztec empire? Expanding territory…
Mount Shasta is exploding, boulders are raining from the sky, smoke billows forth, fires burn as the thick viscous lava slowly flows down into the valley. Maxx sees the Black Butte Cone emerge from the ground as a viscous lava flow piling up upon itself. 9500 years ago magma from the mantle beneath mount Shasta. Smoking from a a few hundred years of eruption, and then from a feeder conduit deep underground an explosion in the ground makes a huge crater and then “pasty” molten dacite lava pours up and begins forming Black Butte dome. A wave of hot air flies past Maxx, whoa! Maxx barks and then walks to the edge of the crater and sees the first flows of dacite coming out of the ground. 8 days later Black Butte Cone exists!
Maxx encounters a Mammoth! “That thing smells better than I do!”
humans jump out of the bush and give chase to the mammoth! Oh fuck, Maxx runs and the birds flies, the mammoth follows Maxx, being slower, and a portal opens! Maxx jumps in and the Mammoth follows! The bird swoops down into the portal narrowly missing a spear flying thru the air.
Maxx, the bird, the Mammoth in a timeless place next to the ocean, the earth is breathing a new changed breath, transition from the extinct dinosaurs to a new era, everything is a strange smell, Maxx watches tiny insects living their lives and they talk to him about their happiness at being alive. “After the meteor hit, we had a long hard time, buddy.”
“The air feels much different here, but I think I can adapt.” Maxx said.
“I feel lightheaded.” the bird said.
“I don’t know if I should go back any further. If a portal appears, I’m not going in. I’m tired of running. Let’s just live here and be happy. What do you think?”
“You might have something there.”
The mammoth sniffed heavily, “I don’t smell any humans here! Wow. This is paradise! Thanks buddy!” the mammoth smacked Maxx on the ass with his massive trunk and Maxx yelped and scooted away.
“Easy big guy! I’m from a much more refined and delicate time!”
“Thanks again. I gotta go find something to eat. That’s pretty much all I do. See ya.”
(At last Maxx is so far back in time that he decides just to be happy where he is, because if he keeps running he might end up with nothing, so he decides to be happy where he is and not go thru the portal if it appears)
A boat load of human show up, kiss the sand of shore! The humans are haggard and famished! Maxx stares at them, they look at him. Slowly the humans pick up their spears from the boat and begin creeping up the shore. Maxx books it inland! Maxx passes the Mammoth, “Humans! Right behind us!”
“Aw hell.” starts running
The portal appears, “It’s a different color!”
“I would say that is Cobalt Blue!”
“Should we go in?”
“It’s that, or we stay and become the first thanksgiving dinner for these pilgrims.”
“Here we go!”)
Maxx & Mammoth (and bird?) is shot forward in time to a future Black Butte where he recognizes his old home. A flying saucer comes down and picks up a bunch of future hobos.
“Being a hobo isn’t like it used to be!”
Everyone laughed as they boarded the saucer with their big back packs.
Maxx smells them, they smell like the descendents of his old human friends, he runs to catch them but the zip off into the sky, then the ground rumbles and Maxx starts running! Running down where the tracks used to be but now there’s just a landing strip for space ships. Something comes down out of the sky making a low humming noise, a cigar shaped UFO, no wait- shaped like a damn dog biscuit! The Black sky-biscuit came and landed gently on one of the landing pads and a door with a round top opened, the German Shepherd from inside the mountain steps out! Maxx runs up happily.
“Hello Maxx! Come aboard now, we’ve got to get out of here. There’s a bubble of magma about to erupt on the surface after a long journey up from the subduction zone! The Earth is giving birth, Maxx! A mountain is about to be born. Follow me!”
Maxx followed the German Shepherd who actually ran on all fours this time to get back in the ship. The door sealed behind them and the German Shepherd escorted him to the observation deck where Maxx looked down on his old home, now a massive old growth forest so much different than the clear cuts and mono culture tree farms and junk yards and railroads and of his time. The ground exploded! Just like when he saw the birth of Black Butte. In the open meadows he could see deer and rabbits and foxes running away from the blast, followed by the slow mammoth.
“There it goes, right on time.” the German Shepherd said, “The lava feeder-conduit under old Black Butte has long ago hardened into solid rock. The massive bubble of molten rock rising from the depths of the earth had to find another route to the surface, and that route happened to be underneath your old home.“
“It’s sad.” Maxx whined, “Everything is gone.” His head slumped until his nose was touching his toes.
“Nothing lasts forever, Maxx. Even tho we can travel thru time, our internal biological clock continues. I will grow old and die, just like you Maxx. This is the way it is, no use being sad about it. If you are sad and afraid of your future death, you will make yourself unhappy in all the time leading up to that death. A terrible waste!” the German Shepherd put a playful paw on Maxx’s back and tugged at his neck fur with his sizable jaw and growled. Maxx laughed and jumped and broke free and snapped his teeth playfully.
“You’re right. Damn the future!”
Maxx smiled down at the amazing sight of a new volcano rising where his dog house used to be.
“I used to lay down there to sleep and dream of chasing rabbits across the meadow and chipmunks up trees. My dreamland is on fire, it’s becoming the core of a new mountain. Makes me feel old.”
“You’re a poet from the classical times.” the German Shepherd told him with a smile, “We have decided to ask you to join us at Mardis Gras, would you like to go?”
“What’s Mardis Gras?”
“It’s a celebration in Louisiana, in a city called New Orleans that is one of the largest floating cities in the world. It’s much different in 2714 than it was in your time, which we refer to as the ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ era. They allow dogs of the leash now! ”
“Off the leash! In a city?”
“That’s right. You ever play Milky Way Hold-Em?
“Shut The Front Door!” Maxx barked, “I’m in!”
Mardis Gras was a blast for Maxx and the bird, sitting at a circular card table covered in soft green felt with 9 other dogs dressed up in their finest and having their photos taken as they played the game. The dog parade which wound thru the wild streets of the city was a highlight of his life. After leaving New Orleans, still in 2017, they took the ship up and chased a few comets around the galaxy and generally Woofed it up. Then Maxx is getting rowdy playing with another dog and accidentally bumps the time travel controls 0on the ship, sending them back to 1908! The ship then crashes into another vessel in the airspace above earth, and it begins smoking.
“Now you’ve done it!” the other dog said and scooted away as St. Germaine the Shepherd approached the scene.
“Let’s take a look at the chronopedia, Maxx, and see what happened here historically.” St. Germaine stared into the glowing screen, “Ah, no problem. The vessel was supposed to explode over a region of Siberia called the Tunguska at exactly 7:17 in the morning of June 30th, 1908. Right on schedule! You were meant to be here, Maxx.”
“Really, it’s okay? Aren’t there innocent dogs on that ship?”
“Actually that cylindrical shaped vessel is an invasion ship of Tamarians from a solar system two spiral arms counterclockwise from Earth on the Milky Way galaxy, to be roughly exact. If that ship hadn’t exploded, all life on earth would have been killed or enslaved, basically, Earth would have been turned into a giant kennel!”
The dog Maxx had been playing with came up behind him and bit him playfully on the neck, “Good job, Maxx!”
“Let’s watch the light show! When she blows it will be with a force of 23erg, or a 30 megaton thermonuclear bomb!”
Many dogs gathered around the large view port window and and let their tongues hang out of their mouths as the ship moved. Suddenly a brilliant flash of light emanated from the planet, then faded to a dimmer red fireball. The dogs watched as a shock wave moved out across the atmosphere, sending ripples thru clouds, then a giant black cloud spread from where the flash happened.
“That was a big boom-a-roo!”
“And now the possibility remains of Earth’s sentient life to discover a peaceful existence among themselves, free from the fascist iron boot heel of the Tamarians.”
Maxx marveled, “The universe works in mysterious ways.”
Maxx is dropped off by the black biscuit ship, ending up in the woods next to a big Ponderosa pine tree at the railroad center.
A bird stays with him to the end, and then back to his own time, and he sees it up in the tree back at home, but it sings a song he cannot understand anymore, but he knows that’s his friend.
The sun is setting, Maxx goes up to the front shack.
Maxx heard a noise and saw Rob walk down the stairs coming out of the boxcar and over to the shack.
“Hey boy! How’s your water?” Rob saw the bowl was empty and so went inside the shack to fill it up. Maxx drank the whole bowl down!
“Dang boy! You been out running? You hungry too?”
Rob dug into the dog food bin and filled a bowl with kibble.
“Ooo-whee boy! You smell fu-nee! You sleep outside tonight for sure. My god! What did you ROLL IN?”
Maxx made a strange squeaking yawning noise and shrugged, then ate his dinner. After he was done he strolled to the center of the gravel parking lot and sat in his favorite spot, contemplating the horizon where the sun and earth had arranged a fascinating color, then crawled into his dog house and feel into a deep restful sleep.
My new neighbor is a drone pilot. I see her sitting on her balcony that faces the windy lake, she never looks at the sky. Grills out with a gas barbecue a lot, I smell fried onions and sometimes a charred steam cloud will blow in the window. Always on her screen, fingers moving like anxious little spider legs, or moving in graceful arcs like a dancers hands. Sometimes reaching out for a mug of coffee or glass of wine depending on the time of day, pushing the headset mic out of the way with the mug or glass, always one hand on the screen.
On a Saturday afternoon she stepped onto the balcony and shocked me by looking at the sky, come have a drink, I said. She shrugged and said okay. Came right over and didn’t even knock, just walked right thru to my balcony. I poured her a glass of wine from the mini barrel and tried to convince her of the economical benefits of buying wine in five gallon quantities. She laughed at me and admitted the wine was decent, but she was a refined drinker and preferred premium wine which came in the four-bottle-box variety. We sat on the balcony sipping and talking about the neighborhood. She looked at her balcony and said, “My balcony looks just like your balcony.”
I felt confident after a full glass was empty and I asked her what she did for work. She told me and then said, “Pays well.”
“What would happen if you refused to hit the target?”
“If protocols are not met, control of my drone would switch to a backup shadow pilot who would then complete the mission. I would be arrested and when i got out of jail I would not have a job. So, that doesn’t happen.”
“You fly remote, from your apartment?”
“Okay. That’s the last work question I answer. The answer is: I can’t answer that.”
“I’m sorry. That was rude. More wine?”
I poured another glass and she smiled, “I’ll go get my stuff, we can fly from your balcony.”
“Oh god, no. I’m sorry, I wont ask anymore work questions. I promise.”
“No, it would be fun. It’s not a violation to show you a locked screen. I’ll be back.”
She jumped up and was out my apartment door. The wine was rapidly heating my chest and head, I felt anxious alone, counting the exits out of my apartment. Tapping fingers in my head because I thot maybe she could see me thru a window. She returned with her tablet and headset, arranged it all on the wicker table, soon live action was illuminating the screen.
“I signed in as an On Call Shadow, but there’s three priority ahead of me so there’s no chance I could be tapped to finalize the mission. We can watch a little. All the data is locked off, can’t tell who, where, or what the target is. I guess that makes it a little boring.”
“Boring! This is live action drone footage. I mean, someone is about to be killed, right?”
“They deliver a lot of packages too.” she laughed, “I can’t tell you.”
I stared at the screen, transfixed, “Really feels like I’m flying!”
“You really are not.” she sipped her wine.
The conversation stalled as the drone moved in hypnotic pendulum arcs on the screen. A red light lit up on the side of the screen, then another, and another. She made a noise and tensed, wine glass in hand. The screen lit up with a red border and a full data display appeared with a harsh triple bleat that destroyed the bird song party emanating from the seed feeder on the balcony 2 apartments over.
“Oh shit, excuse me!” she spun the tablet away from me and put her fingers there on it’s face, intently leaned into the scene. Speaking codes into the microphone and casting a spell with her fingers, I snuck away to check my sobriety and refill my glass, returning to the balcony I caught a glimpse of the screen and stopped. There were several human figures illuminated in negative image by night vision and when all three figures approached a vehicle a hail of sparks rained down, the figures collapsed to the ground unmoving. After a few moments the screen border turned from red to green and she removed the headset and folded the tablet. My body became fluid again and I found my chair on the balcony next to her. She looked at my full glass and picked up her own, holding it aloft we clinked and drank.
Click here on Generation Snow to view
or download the complete novel.
Handing out informational hand bills about #DivestFromDAPL at the Wells Fargo in downtown Duluth today for a couple hours, had a few good chats with some folks. I recommend this if you live in a town that doesn’t have a lot going on, just you and one other person can make some flyers and hang out talking to people for a bit. Hey, it might be the only time someone looked them in the eyes today and smiled. It’s pretty interesting. I talked with one angry white man who had clearly never thought about several of the points I made. I offered a hand bill to an older white woman and she held up her hand and said, “Oh, I don’t ever get involved in politics.” To be able to shrug and walk away because it doesn’t directly affect you is the definition of White Privilege. I used to be one of those white people that wasn’t involved in helping other people, self centered and only thinking about how rough my life was, and then I became aware of the injustice and suffering in the world, and I became aware that I was even benefiting from the suffering of those people. I remembered being raised with these things called Morals and then I took action to help the people who were suffering. Sometimes it’s hard to balance how much to do when helping other people, cause the world is full of suffering. The last thing I wanted to do on my day off work was go down and face off with strangers who might be mean to me because they have an opposing view and just don’t understand that Native Americans have been suffering for about 526 years. But then thinking about how fortunate I am and that I have a full time job, health coverage, a house to live in and a family that loves me. I have the ability to share and take action on behalf of other people who need allies in their struggles. I also do this for my own family to protect the world from destruction by greed. I don’t want my children to grow up in a hate filled and poisoned planet.
And so, we hit the streets. I hope to see you out there.
Time for clued in white allies to step up and double our support to groups struggling for freedom against white supremacy. They are gonna need it. Same for supporting the freedom and survival of women, all people of color, trans, queer, immigrant, muslim and other non-christians, indigenous, peops with disabilities, veterans, and all other vulnerable people. In my long term view, I think we are experiencing the gasping final breaths of the white supremacy fantasy, but this racial concept is gonna go down kicking. How do you show someone that they are not a separate thing, but are part of a whole, humanity? I am a citizen of Earth. We are of many kinds but we are all human, and even as we hate now, we can learn to love. Facing the hate is hard. For a vulnerable person in need of allies, they have to face the hate from the moment their eyes open in the morning, and sometimes even in their dreams. Reach out, let vulnerable people know you are there to support them. Give what you have to give: your time, money, passion, skills.
Build the next world.
I had a year to think about what kind of boat to build. The spell had been cast among our people, the next slow boat flotilla would be on June 6, 2016 when we imagined that All the Punks would Float. Dream big! When I interviewed for my new job in Duluth I revealed that there were two events I must attend: our wedding ceremony in October and All Punks Float next year.
In my life I have participated in building several boats on the cheap. The first was a plywood & fiberglass dinghy, the second a huge plywood & fiberglass V-hull shanty boat, third a sleek duck body plywood & fiberglass pontoon boat, and fourth a plywood & anything that floats stuffed inside pontoon shanty boat.
This time I was thinking of doing something a lot more simple.
Yes, something that already floated without needing money to be poured into it. In our overgrown backyard sat the aluminum canoe still painted gold from our wedding. Yeah, the golden canoe! I had already paddled a canoe from Minneapolis to Winona so that was not compelling to me, I wanted a little motor on it but I didn’t want the pollution of fossil fuel. I just published a book about climate change called Generation Snow, how could I blaze out carbon emissions while handing out my environmental justice novel? Not that the world is looking to me for an example of right living, but still, I gotta sleep at night.
I had an idea while tearing apart our washing machine one afternoon. The thing had died and so I was dismantling it for scrap, saving the perforated stainless steel washing drum for a backyard fire pit. After gutting the bowels of the beast I held the electric motor in my hands and the wheels were turning. Hmmm. Spin cycle. On previous boats we had built gas powered long tail motors, and on other boats we had bought a Chinese diesel outboard that burned bio-diesel, and on another boat I had built a pedal powered paddle wheel. Standing there holding the electric motor from the washing machine I thot: Build an ELECTRIC long-tail boat motor? I had never heard of anyone doing that. In my younger days I probably would have gone all-in on the project, but in my wiser years I did some research and found there was a reason why no one had done that. They sell excellent electric outboards for dirt cheap. They’re called trolling motors. I was set to spend the $100 on a brand new 30 pounds of thrust electric trolling motor. Then at Mayday in Minneapolis I talked to my friend Darla who had a used one for sale, $50! Deal! No way could I even build an electric long-tail motor for cheaper. We’ll save that challenge for the true apocalypse.
To attach the trolling motor to the canoe which had no transom I pulled out a 2×4 and did some cutting, drilling, and two big long bolts, washers, and nuts later I had a solid transom to side mount the motor and also a structure to mount a pole for the rear white light. Night running is one of my favorite things while boating in a flotilla. The lights on bow and stern moving back and forth under power or slowly spinning when the motors were off, like a group of river faeries drunk on fermented wild grapes celebrating the birth of a baby beaver.
The solar powered canoe was coming together. Next thing to get was 2 fresh off the shelf deep cycle batteries. Old batteries are like old cars, you never know how they were treated and they might be junk. I bought two 100amp deep cycle batteries and hooked them up in parallel, married from the start, this is best for the battery’s long life. Now to make it challenging I decided to buy a solar panel and attach that to the canoe so the battery bank could charge while on the water. Most of the research about using solar panels on boats said it was a waste of time and that you might as well charge them at home with a solar panel and then transfer the battery onto the boat. This is obviously the view of what we Slow Boaters call a Weekend Warrior, someone who wants to go fast on the water and who has no time to let the sun recharge their battery because they have to get back to work tomorrow. On a two week journey from Minneapolis to Winona, there was plenty of time to recharge the batteries! I bought my 100 watt panel online for $115, almost a buck-a-watt. The solar charge controller cost $30 online, this item prevents the solar panel from sending too much juice to your motor. When all was hooked up and running on the river, the amount of juice I used motoring all day was the same that the panel pulled in, break even! I had a backup battery pack but I never had to use it. How fast did I go? Faster than two people lazily paddling a canoe! Solar panels become cheaper and more powerful every day. Is this the future? Yes it is.
On my solar powered canoe I brought along a plug-in battery charger and a 100 foot long extension cord, and I was happy I did because the charging system was not working proper at first. In the usual tradition of the slow travelers I had waited until the last minute and did not have the opportunity to test out the system. Breakdowns in small towns are simply opportunities to meet and get to know strangers, that’s the slow traveler’s way. I found power outlets in public parks and marinas where the electricity was free, so I plugged in, chatted up some locals, and went to town for Mexican food while the batteries charged. I was ready to pay a fee for charging at the marinas but they happily plugged me in for free. It seems the era of Electric Vehicle charging stations has not made it to Midwestern recreational boating. Get it while it’s good! Juice baby juice! The thing about charging off the grid is that most of it is fossil fuel, but an increasing amount is generated by wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources, depending on the state you are in. The amount of renewable energy in a gallon of gas is none.
I had exhausted my electronic repair skills with the solar panel situation. A companion in the flotilla named Jason offered to have a look. He examined the back of the solar panel, removed the cover of the diode box, and a screw fell out leaving one of the wires hanging. A loose screw! Could it be so simple? We replaced the screw and the solar charge controller lit up, indicating the solar panel was active and charging the batteries. “Yes! Yes!” Jason and I did a little happy dance as the electrons flowed. The sun was shining and everything was now perfect. Somebody owed somebody a drink at the next available opportunity.
The trolling motor was silent, it’s little copper wire wound heart humming away at the water right next to mine. In the quiet I could hear louder boats from far away, I could hear the ducks as they flew over and songbirds in the trees on shore, I could hear the down beat of eagles wings. In the quiet I could talk to people who were on shore or floating with motors off, I could hear the water rippling away from the bow of the canoe. This made me smile. It was magical.
Only on the last night of the flotilla did people ask to ride on the solar powered canoe as passengers, probably because I had a huge bin full of an excessive amount of trail mix occupying the seating space. Leaving the generator show after the cops showed up on that Wisconsin beach, Ben and I zipped upstream under the bridges of the back channel in Winona while he paddled for extra zip. I realized I could have had passengers all along, we were flying against the current, but since it was an experimental set-up I was trying to conserve the batteries the whole time. Turns out I had plenty of juice. I should have brought a 12 volt sound system and been kicking out the jams! Dancing in a canoe is not recommended, but there were plenty of other wide body boats that could have hosted dance parties. Dang it. Perhaps the future holds an electric flotilla, and we will do the worm across rooftops while asses shake on boats sailing into the starry night.