07 October 2021

How Do You Run Away From "It All"?

If I may try to answer such an all inclusive question...I 'ran away' to this place back in 1980. Knew no one, came alone. I, like the Hopi, was looking for a place which I didn't have to fight for...a place no one else much wanted. The abundant water, oxygen giving forests, and lakes which felt little pressure from overfishing were a bonus. I had much in common with the 'old-timers', many of whom lived pastoral lives and some who still spoke the language of their native scandinavian countries...having a font of natural knowledge in the guise of Ojibwe elders, who knew methods of harvesting wild food and herbs was another bonus. Gravity and attraction brought me in touch with other hippie homesteaders at various stages of their growth. The nearly three decades that have passed since then have wrought many changes. Some have left their homesteads for the 'glitter and the rouge' of other places...many of the younger generations of Ojibwe have rejected their elders' path...the pastoral farms have been bought up by ag interests...center pivot irrigators and row crops have replaced small dairy and sheep farms in the valley...second and third homes have been built for the 'trickle down' wealth from Reagan/Bush/Bush policies and Clinton's .com/globalism and stock market booms. The price of land has escalated from 100 bucks per acre...to thousands of dollars per acre. Small subdivisions are sprouting on 40 acre parcels near lakes and forests. We've been relatively immune, but weekends find noisy, polluting, gas guzzling 4 wheelers 'enjoying' the forest roads at 60 mph...green for forests and blue for water all they are able to discern. Our homestead is an eden to us. If I was deaf and didn't leave home ever...I'd have little idea of what was happening beyond a mile of us. We've traveled extensively, and have often thought we may leave here to find a place away from what we see as a growing fascism and militaristic imperialism in this country...not wanting to be a part of an empire with troops in 130 countries of the world, and yet portraying itself as the arbiter of freedom and the perpetual victim. But...being an observer of history...a traveler through time and space...I can set myself apart from the complicity of all that...make my stand here and try to create as much change by example and by speaking out as I can. I know this place...deep in my psychic soul...the trees and the waters and the animals know me...we are friends, kindred spirits...and that is all I can ask for.

Though with the changes, it would break my heart to leave here, someday I will, as ashes or dust or perhaps of my own volition.

08 May 2021

The Endless Madness of Capitalism

 When I built my homestead this forested area was filled with towering pines and old growth maple/basswood/oak which felt much like a sanctuary. The state legislature at that time mandated the DNR to log no more than 5 contiguous acres. There were no other homes in the area. I've felt secure and at home on our 50 acres within 72 square miles of forest and wildness. In the past number of years, Republicans have wrested control of our state legislature and slowly upped the number of acres which could be logged. Actually they mandated that logging increase to support the activities of the DNR and to subsidize the counties. Now they have been logging 80 contiguous acres...and leaving very little buffer. They've put the forest on a 30 year rotation, so everything is logged over time. Plus a number of ATV and snowmobile trails have been put through the woods, a couple of subdivisions have been or are being planned near here and a 50 space RV park catering to ATV riders to tear up the forests. I've been here since I built in 1984, am in my 70s now...and we're thinking of leaving, although we're at a loss to where. Seems the dilemma isn't limited to the Bay Area...and there are a lot of people who are flush with cash buying up everything. The Earth is shaking, and as it does it's shaking people from their roots.

There is no safety from the madness of capitalism, I'm afraid...predicated on endless growth and with it the burden on the Earth...I feel so deflated.

19 January 2021

 It was the spring of 1994 and we had returned from a round about tour of everywhere from Utah to Arizona and New Mexico...visiting folks who had used some type of alternative method in construction...Met Bill and Athena Steen on our journey, just before they finished "The Straw Bale House" book. They had built a very small place at the time, and it was great to chat with them. Met other folks in Gila, New Mexico area who had built homes from Straw Bales...Visited Black Rock Range Lodge where "Out on Bale" was being published.

We got to preparing the south forty to build a straw bale studio for Cheryl...she worked from it until her retirement 5 years ago, when we turned it into a full fledged cottage, complete with bedroom, outdoor sauna, summer shower, summer laundry house, outdoor biffy...of course, it's also where our pit greenhouse and lower gardens are...with solar pumped irrigation. I'm going to try to include two albums here...one of the construction. We had two work/play parties on two different days...to get people to understand the concept...while I cooked food in our solar oven. We had a full moon hay ride, too, through the adjacent forest roads. Then, another album of how the studio became a cottage.

Album One:

24 December 2019

Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Based on my Myers-Briggs personality type I am an owl, not surprising:
INTPs are analytical and thoughtful individuals who prefer to work alone and who are often ill at ease in social situations. They are impatient with hierarchies and politics and would prefer that leaders prove their worth with merit, rather than with charisma and influence. Although they are not particularly social, they do have razor sharp wit (and claws), and are often surprised to learn that people do enjoy their company.



16 October 2019

From a friend in the late 80s still relevant

This Mongrel Diarist
is  voluntarily  disenfranchised
from the enveloping unfolding paradigm.
I am in cultural introversion
considering a chaos of questions
from mongrels, heathens, pagans
and other diverse earthlings.
I seek understanding of the
pathologically driven, alien abducted, genetically modified and hypnotized
collective of mongrel slaves of Empires.
This is all crossing
☞    Bridges of Chaos     ☜
in the oft prophesied and frequently maligned
 ☞  Unfolding Dark Age.  ☜
I’m pondering such aforementioned questions here at
The Home of the Marginally Dysfunctional and Voluntarily Disenfranchised
where I am the janitor and an occasional volunteer for
The Whimsical Gardening Club
 in the service of
 The College of Industrial Salvage
I feel responsible to encourage and inspire similar musing within
☞ The Church of the Wholly Unconvinced  ☜
That they would consider the advice of
☞ The Sceptical Omega Brotherhood  ☜
 of the Apocalypse
and such other Alone Rangers... in caves... smelting words ...
into silver bullets to dissolve weapons of mass destruction..
while encouraging
Einsteinian tools in Newtonian realms,
 Quixotic and Arthurian goals
of noble and passionate earthlings
to build revolutions without bloodshed
in unfolding wilderness garden-cities.

27 September 2019

Government Whore

The gallery is pleased to present its first solo show by Minnesota-based artist Aaron Spangler entitled Government Whore.
The exhibition features a new series of three carved wood bas-relief sculptures painted with black gesso and rubbed with graphite, which has become the artist’s signature. Displayed atop welded steel pedestals that evoke the optimism of the Industrial Revolution or the utopian notions of Constructivist architecture, the roughly hewn yet detailed scenes reveal a more complicated picture of the rural American landscape. Drawing upon the stories of his friends, the artist considers the often-overlooked contributions that our multigenerational community of post-combat veteran soldiers makes to the political, religious, familial culture of middle America.
I spent two years on a foreign shore
Bein’ a government whore
I sold my body, they stole my mind
Tellin’ me, “Boy, now you’re mine.”

– Bruce Brummitt
Bringing to mind Winslow Homer’s “The Veteran In A New Field”, Spangler’s “Government Whore” portrays a shell-shocked war veteran amid the comforts of home, yet still clinging to his SKS rifle while in bed contemplating past sins. Flowers, bundles of sage, a Bowler hat, and a farm house are juxtaposed with a cow skull, animal claws, palm leaves, and an ascending soldier to create a dreamlike sequence of the rivaling environments of Vietnam and the United States.
Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong
You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt”

– Merle Travis
In “I Owe My Soul To The Company Store,” the artist employs the narrative within Merle Travis’ classic coal miner’s tale to encourage free associations between America’s history of debt bondage and military enlistment; emblematic images of corrugated cardboard boxes spill out onto a fallen soldier, whose clinched fist clasps the wooden upright of a farm shed – all to the backdrop of what appears to be a Trojan horse jettisoning out of a wooded hillside.
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above.
One more cup of coffee for the road,
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go
the valley below.

– Bob Dylan
“The Valley Below” celebrates the peace, beauty, idealism, and magic of the undomesticated life “off the grid”, which has often become the destination of many in the hippie movement following wartime. A prominent Barn Owl, which is known to actively hunt for prey only under the cover of darkness, seems to beckon the viewer back to the land and its groves in search of a simpler way of living.
Aaron Spangler (b. 1971, Minneapolis, MN) lives and works in Park Rapids, MN. He received a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin and Zach Feuer Gallery, New York. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; and the New York Academy of Art, New York. He is in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA. His work has been featured in The New York TimesArtforumFlash Art, among others.
Selected Writings by Bruce Brummitt
I spent two years on a foreign shore
Bein’ a government whore
I sold my body, they stole my mind
Tellin’ me, “Boy, now you’re mine.”
Those two years ‘neath the southern cross
Turned out to be my country’s loss
Kill commies for Christ, the Chaplain told me
As I prayed on a wounded knee.
Cuz, “Might makes right, can’t you see boy?”
It’s “Our country tis of thee, boy”
But killin’ people to set ’em free…boy,
seemed like fuckin’ for virginity.
What do you know when you’re only 18
Twelve years of school’s the only life you’ve ever seen
Always taught from government books
Always caught in propaganda’s hooks
So I moved to the woods, where I tried to forget
I had to admit I just didn’t fit
I fight the war most nights in my dreams
I wake myself to the sound of my own screams
But the country didn’t seem to learn from our mistake
They’re still fightin’ wars for big money’s sake
Yellow ribbons decorate our stores
We all have become the government’s whores
What do we learn when we watch our televisions?
We’re lettin’ other people make all of our decisions
Our name’s on the government’s books
And we’re all caught in propaganda’s hooks…
At night, rivers of memories, images swollen as if by rains of the monsoon. I’m drawn into a torrent, dragged downstream…impossible to grasp onto branches of now to pull myself safely to shore. Fog overcomes me. Smoke smelling of gunpowder, diesel, burning hair and flesh. Mere pinholes of light burned into the camera obscura of my soul.
I’m on a mountainside looking through field glasses at the valley below. Nine men in NVA uniforms are walking single file along the berm of a rice paddy. I adjust artillery. A marking round falls 100 meters in front of them. They turn and run the opposite direction. An explosive round falls 50 meters in front of them. They turn and run again. I’m giddy. It’s ducks at the carnival. Explosions fall on top of them. Arms and legs become separated from torsos.
I’m on a small forward support base, a landing zone above the ville of Hiep Duc. It’s my duty to receive grid coordinates of suspected enemy targets and check to be certain there are no friendlies located there. The radio crackles, the warble of a chopper pilot’s voice requesting clearance to engage “three military aged males with packs and weapons evading”. I’ve heard that terminology so often, standard jargon. Shorthand. Usually a cursory glance of maps reveal there should be no friendlies there and I give my permission to fire. This time I hesitate. I ask the pilot his altitude. He says, “three thousand feet, over”. I ask him to take a closer look and call me back. A few minutes later he tells me to disregard his previous transmission. I ask the true nature of his intended target. “A mamasan and two babysans, doing laundry by the river.” My heart pounds out of my chest. How many times had I given my permission to kill mamasans and babysans? How many?
Asleep in my 8 foot by 10 foot ammo box and sandbag bunker. My first night on the hill. Explosions send sand into my eyes. I sit bolt upright with a deafening ring in my ears. Grabbing bandolier and rifle I dash out of my hootch toward a large boulder. Rounding the corner I run smack dab into another man/child. Vietnamese. The enemy. His eyes mirror the terror in my own. Running away from each other, I hide behind the rock. All hell has broken loose. Machine guns on the hill outside the perimeter are firing for the other team. The wire has been breeched. A man is on fire, dead on his feet. An aircraft named Puff the Magic Dragon is firing mini-guns indiscriminately downward, killing, wounding without regard of faction. My rifle remains silent. By dawn’s early light, our flag was still there. Bodies were laid out like trophy deer at hunting camp. Various grinning men have polaroids made with the kill. I stumble about, staggering, gagging…my senses overwhelming. I seek the chaplain, himself stumbling and staggering…dressed only in his olive drab boxers and steel helmet, dogtags and crucifix. I ask the meaning of all this. “Where is God?”… He, a father figure, an officer… man of the cloth…he must know. But he stares, hypnotically, into the distance…shaking his head and repeating, over and over again…”I don’t know!” I realise, at that moment, no one knows.
upstream from white sand beaches
are hamlets, paddies and canyons
bombshells unexploded
cratered land
cratered faces
mangled extremities
defective births…
the villages have memories
nightmares and visions
the countryside still echoes
we returned to the comfort
of our politics and rhetoric
leaving a legacy of disfigurement…
scarring persons and landscape
poisoned food chain
poisoned minds
blackened hearts…
a righteous nation
hands over hearts
reciting the pledge
still preaching to the world
hands over ears and eyes
still speaking the lies
making the guilt safe and tucked away
in hospitals and dead-end jobs
in parades and sunday services
in vfw and legion halls
in broken homes
in shattered illusions
in battered women’s shelters
in cemeteries
Out of these nightmares, these screams, I found solace when I returned to the world…but not in the cities’ streets of my youth, or a connection to our nation state…but off, into the countryside, where I’d learned from the peasantry in that foreign land we’d occupied. Connection to the earth, to the cycles of the seasons…the rains, the droughts, the wildness of the forest creatures. Without a piece of land on which I could build a simple dwelling out of the natural materials on hand…the logs, the stones…I would have been homeless, continuing to wander as I did when I first returned. I found that the myth of the rugged individual, man as an island, is a lonely, bitter existence. I learned from so many others who had emigrated away from cities and into the countryside in those days of turbulence…some victims of police brutality during war protests, others abused by families and the system. However they got to the rural areas of America, they sought a simpler existence and some semblance of true freedoms. The immediate actions of chopping wood and carrying water kept us in the now. Seeking shelter and food. Relearning from others that which wasn’t available from our kinfolk…I shoed logging horses in Oregon, cut firewood and made western shirts on a treadle sewing machine in the mountains of Arizona. I was in and out of relationships, struggling with my memories…drugs, alcohol, anger…Only the connection to the earth I found and the home in the earth that I built…the gardens, fruit trees and flowers, brought me some stability, some sanity. And finally allowed me to find a stable relationship with a woman who walks in grace. ..who herself is a veteran.
Four decades have passed and yet I still awaken to the sounds of my own screams…I wonder and ponder, still. What is it all about? To me it is about the directness of my needs, and the connection to others in the greater community of souls. The dying trees we cut to make firewood for heat or cooking. The solar panels we have added over the years to replace kerosene lamps. The music we make around campfires and the meals we share.
The angst that is felt by so many because of wars and intrigue…because of the rhetoric of politics…has become the history of the countryside…and is not unique to our nation state. I already see the waves of a new generation of wanderers, finding their way to a sense of place.
Our home huddled safe in the womb of the earth, its simplicity, its soft, interdependent harmony. A blackened kettle steaming on the fire, drinking coffee…talking of this and that. A feeling, an opinion, a fact.

11 September 2019

Eighteen Years Ago Today. 9/11/2001

As I see it, 9/11/2001 was a real turning point for the US and the world. 19 men with box cutters were able to hijack jetliners and fly them into the WTC and the Pentagon...these men were on Visas from Saudi Arabia, for the most part. Xenophobia raised its ugly head and Nationalism gained a strong foothold. At the time, the budget was in surplus for the second or third year, the CBO had stated that at that rate the entire national debt would be paid off by 2015. Instead, we took a war footing, following PNAC's stated ambitions of a few years earlier...they had been given their "new Pearl Harbor". We attacked Afghanistan, where we are still at war 18 years later (the longest war in our history), and then amped up a war against Iraq under some lies about their having Weapons of Mass Destruction. That government and those people are now ruled by their Shia majority, aligned more closely with Iran. Halliburton and Blackwater (Cheney and Prince) raked in our national treasures. Yes, we elected a black man as President, but about the same percentage of people who support Trump now felt his was an illegitimate presidency...fueled by birthers like Trump himself. Now look at the fine mess this country has gotten itself into. The 9/11 victims' compensation fund wasn't fully authorized until two months ago, after Jon Stewart and many attorneys gave testimony after testimony in Congress.
I am saddened for the missed opportunity we had...I'm in grief for my country which has taken a turn towards nationalism and has concentration camps set up along the border, with children separated from their families held in cages still to this day. We have Bahamians turned away at our coastline after their country was devastated by a category 5 hurricane which settled over them for days.
We, at least half of us, are better than this...I don't know how to get to the people who still support nationalism and white supremacy...but, we're all in this sinking boat together...please help bail, literally and figuratively.
Eighteen years ago, I interrupted Cheryl and her client at the strawbale studio...I brought a small 12 volt television over and plugged it in, adjusted the antenna and the three of us looked on in disbelief.
On Monday, August 6, 2001, GW Bush's Presidential Daily Brief warned, 36 days before the September 11 attacks, of terrorism threats from Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, including "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for a hijacking" of US aircraft. This was ignored.
"At least a dozen Air Force and National Guard bases were within a few moments of flight time to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Why weren't fighter planes scrambled as soon as it became obvious that the airliners had been hijacked?"
The air traffic control system keeps track of all commercial flights and is in continuous radio contact with the pilots. All of these communications are recorded. It would have been immediately apparent to the controllers that something had gone wrong when the planes deviated from their course and radio contact ceased. Why were jet fighters not scrambled to intercept the hijacked planes? Why are transcripts of the pilots' communications with air traffic controllers not released to the public?
American Airlines Flight 77, the jet which U.S. officials say crashed into the Pentagon, was hijacked shortly before 9 a.m. -- approximately 15 minutes after the first plane crashed into the World Trade towers. Why were no jet fighters scrambled to intercept the flight?"
May all the victims Rest in Peace.

How Do You Run Away From "It All"?

If I may try to answer such an all inclusive question...I 'ran away' to this place back in 1980. Knew no one, came alone. I, like th...