Vineland, Portlandia defenestrating the Oregon coast in the context of The Becoming
Dear Internet, Portland, OR—Aug 3, 2013
Back in the town where we were born ... was thinking «i» might revert back to writing in 1st person plural, now that «i» have finished writing The Becoming (written entirely in 3rd person) ... but now the we in these method-acting posts may (or may not) refer to «me» & my long lost brother (or alter ego or however you want to look at it). Or we could also mean i & j ... who is also with me, us. If anything it should make you, The Internet, feel inclusive.
In all this thinking around our next project spawned by reading Ulysses, we'd all but forgotten that we'd written this book, The Becoming, the first batch of which is being printed as we speak. For anyone that wants a preview it, we've posted the dbook in usual «donate what you want» fashion (a.k.a. «steal it for free») ...
Subwayed to the train to a skytrain to a plane, chased the sunset west, the deep dark orange slowly fading to blackness. On the plane read Vineland by Thomas Pynchon ... seemed appropriate enough ... wacko hippies in the redwoods. First read it in 1990 when it first came out, when we were living in Northern California. Not sure if it's as good as we remember ... wondering if it's better to not re-read it? Kind of like when you meet an old friend & you wonder if you should've kept the old memories as they were. Sort of what we were talking about in the last post with mice & memories ... how our memories become diluted when we recall them ... biophysiologically altered by reaccessing those allocations in your brain. It's a predicament though, because if you don't remember it, it doesn't exist.
Sort of like being in Portland ... where we are originally from ... where we were born anyway. We haven't been back much, since we left at the age of 12, since our father died ... except once maybe 8 years ago & another 10 or 12 years before that we were here with our brother. Each time corrputing original memories.
Staying in Beaverton ... or some Portland suburb not so far from where we grew up ... got in late, after midnight, woke up at dawn & went running ... great trails, hills ... more than the sights (the ferns, horsetails, suburban houses with barkdust, etc.) it's the smells that bring us back ... the moldy musk. In particular whenever we went through a grove of Aspen-like trees (not sure the name of them ... with off-white bark ... maybe an Alder of some sort?) ... the dampness. Ran up steep trails to Skyline road & into Forest Hills & Forest Park.
Weird to look at things now on google map. When we were kids we didn't spatially know how we related to the landscape. Didn't have a clue really where we were direction-wise on a map, only went by left/right or back/forward in relation our immediate landscape & known landmarks ... spatially oriented ourselves like mice in a maze.
Saw the house we grew up in ... now all renovated nearly beyond recognition. The bowling alley where we once bowled a 247 ... our kindergarten, our grade school, etc. Saw the new Nike campus (not there when we were growing up). Tried to find our father's grave, at the cemetery we remember going to for his memorial, but they didn't have a record of him.
Ate lunch at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. Then to downtown Portland ... Pearl District ... stopped in at Powell's, Kevin Sampsell wasn't there, forgot what an insane selection of books they have, almost overwhelming ... to the 23rd street area, ate at Bamboo sushi which was awesome, except they didn't have geoduck nor sea urchin ...
Breakfast in Portland, hung out, hit the road. Northwest along the Columbia (route 30) thru logging towns, smell of paper mills. Pass thru Clatskanie, the town where Raymond Carver was born ... not much to see except a plaque to him near the public library.
Onward thru Astoria, the Columbia getting wider & wider. Hard to tell where the river ends & the bay/ocean begins ... a wide nebulous mouth. Went to Fort Clatsop, where Lewis & Clark wintered. Nothing of the original fort remains, but they built some replica of it in supposedly the same spot. Then went all the way to the northwest tip of Oregon, Fort Stevens park where it juts out into the mouth of the Columbia. In The Becoming, this is where the feral children & dogs grow up, on an island out in the mouth. In reality a rather inhospitable place. Really windy, the water cold & turbulent. But stark & beautiful, pristine ... windswept beaches. Walked around in the windy dunes, at times not a soul in sight.
We chose the location as the mouth of the Columbia—the end of the road for Lewis & Clark, the fulfillment of westward expansion—more for the idea than anything. Even though we spent a lot of time in nearby Seaside as kids, we never remember going to Fort Clatsop or even Astoria. Though our father was somewhat obsessed with the Oregon Trail, in particular the Barlow Trail & we remember many a weekend retracing portions of it, we never remember a mention of Lewis & Clark, except what we learned in school like everyone else. So in a sense, this is a pilgrimage for us ...
Ate razor clams for dinner, a soggy & bland disappointment, nothing like we remember from our razor clam digging days. Washed down with Moose Drool beer, which you got to love for the name alone.
Bandon, OR—Aug 5
Planning our days around the tides. Woke up early, drove through Seaside. The 'feed the seals' thing i remember as a kid not open yet. Onward to Cannon Beach ... at a negative low tide. Lots of starfish, anemones & stuff ... at the base of Haystack Rock ... that we remember flying around once with our dad (sitting on his lap). Now they all have all these volunteer rangers & barricades telling you where you can & cannot go.
Further south ... Tilamook cheese factory ... watched them make cheddar. Stopped for a little hike in a foggy forest ... in the dunes ... along sloughs & estuaries ... rugged coast ... wide beaches. Ended up in place called Bandon. Went running on the beach, against the 40-50 MPH wind. Went to eat seafood ... some of the best oysters ever had ... clams, mussels, prawns, fish.
Coffee, tidepools at low tide, Face Rock. Hit the road. Thru Oregon wine country. Down into southern Oregon got real smoky (because of the wildfires) could barely see anything. Guys in rest area smoking crystal meth in bathrooms while wife & kids waited in the U-haul. Into Northern California, air started to clear up. To our mom's place in the town in Dunsmuir, on the headwaters of the Sacramento river. Went fishing with a Pepsi can, tiny hooks & salmon eggs that we bought ten years ago & were surprisingly still moist. Didn't catch anything. Went for a run up a steep mountain road. Out to eat in some brewery.
Spent the night shitting our guts out. Ten years of traveling & living in Africa & Asia & we never got so much as a soft stool & now eating in some brewery in Northern California we get massive hershey squirts ... granted we had baby back ribs which we also haven't had in years. There was a guy standing at an outdoor grill cooking them ... seemed like the thing to do. What kind of baby is it anyway, beef, pig? Couldn't even sleep for fear of pooping ourselves ... had to get up 7 or 8 times in the night, surprised our stomach can store so much. Or maybe it was psychological ... also haven't seen our mom in some 10 years ... first time to this new home of hers. Some of the dinnertime conversation perhaps not so conducive to digestion ... the unspoken subtext here .... straight out of Vineland.
Tried fishing at first light ... nada. Went hiking up to Castle Crag. Granite domes, pine forests, distant views of Shasta. Then drove to Shasta City. Never have we seen so many hippy freaks & drugged out hobo punks ... dreadlocks, crystals, patchouli, sweat stench, feathers, dream catchers, drum circles, holistic purple shit, dispensaries ... seems most everyone has permits now to grow/smoke pot ... all legit. Hiked some up Shasta but were advised against attempting summit, as in August falling rock is an issue (no snow & ice to hold it in place) ... & we are far from prepared equipmentwise. Made tacos for hippy/mountain people. All way to new agey for us ... this morning split for Oregon ... now on the shores of Klamath Lake ...
|>> NEXT: Further defenestrations: the return Big Cascadian Trip thru Spokes & Crapalachia|