The week of Christmas seems like the ideal time to acknowledge a couple of gifts I have received this year which seem somehow related to my work here at lygsbtd. I don’t know whether these gifts came in appreciation of my writing, or just to show me how it’s done.
The first of these gifts mysteriously appeared in my mailbox at KMUD. It was a little book titled Yet Another Beautiful Day in Paradise by Fred Inthehills. I’ve heard Fred’s voice on KMUD, but I’ve not yet met him. I’m not at all sure I would recognize him if I saw him in town. I assume he put the book in my box, but I don’t know for sure.
The book I received had a much nicer cover than this.
What I liked best about Fred’s book was Fred. I like the way he thinks. I enjoyed his story and I encourage you to read it. It’s short. It won’t take you long. Yet Another Beautiful Day in Paradise has all of the elements of a classic Humboldt “back to the land” fairy tale. Every good Humboldt “back to the land” fairy tale has to have these elements:
The Cheap Land Story Every good “back to the land” fable has to have a story about how the person got their land, and how easily it came into their possession. For example, they came up here to attend a party, got shitfaced drunk, and woke up to find half of their money gone, and the deed to a 40 acre parcel in their hand.
The Marijuana Story Every “back to the land” fable recounts the protagonists long relationship with that misunderstood friend, Mary Jane. Every “back to the land” fable portrays marijuana as a positive influence, and as a helpful ally. Marijuana is a beautiful thing. What makes these old “back to the land” fables great is that when the describe all of the great things that marijuana does for them, money has nothing to do with it.
Instead, they talk about how marijuana saved them from alcohol, or fighting, or hard drugs, and that they were able to substitute marijuana for any of these things, and no matter how hard they tried to abuse marijuana, they could not hurt themselves. That’s some special magic there, and that’s a true story if ever I heard one. Marijuana saves lives, especially when you’ve got plenty of it, and finally, we get to the last element that every “back to the land” fairy tale must include…
The Sex Story. Eventually, all “back to the land” stories include a tale of a memorable night of amazing sex, that invariably leads to real offspring. If you live around here, and you read a lot of these stories, there’s a good chance that you know more than you need to know about the origins of some of your friends.
These “back to the land” fables all end there, with the happy, poor, family living in a tiny, hand-built, unpermitted, cabin in the woods, with more marijuana than they could possibly smoke.
I call these stories “fables,” not because they never happened, but because they never happen anymore. If it isn’t true now, then it was never true. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a place to live in Humboldt County, and the prices are ridiculous. The hills are full of dope yuppies, and nobody around here talks about marijuana except as a product, and as a business.
In contrast, the other gift I received this year revealed a more enduring truth about this community. According to the barista at the cafe I frequent, “This weird guy” asked her to give this pamphlet to my partner Amy, who in turn, gave it to me. This pamphlet turned out to be an issue of the Gulch Mulch, an underground zine out of the Whale Gulch area. The issue I received, dated Spring of 2002 includes a lot of historic artifacts that seem timeless for this area. The Anti-Hippie Petition of 1969 could have easily been written last week, in regard to “the homeless.” The names and the faces have changed, but the bigotry and intolerance remain.
The Gulch Mulch dutifully reported the endless petty bickering and behind the scenes drama that engulf every local institution in a murky shroud as thick and impenetrable as the fog in Redway. That sure hasn’t changed, but I wish we had a little gossip zine like the Gulch Mulch today so that we could get all the dirt, without actually getting dirty.
The Gulch Mulch included some funny bits and some autobiographical pieces as well.
I really enjoyed The Gulch Mulch and Yet Another Beautiful Day In Paradise. So, to whoever among you sent them my way, Thank you very much.