541> Frankincense hurricaned in the bush of ghosts (Santa Cruz + Central America, 1988)

19 AUG 2017 | DC> we ended the last post, w/ a few of Chaulky's door paintings... somewhere around this time (1987-88) he had an apartment fire that burned a lot of his art, except those pieces that were w/ friends or family. As the story goes, he only had time to grab his cowboy boots. After this fire he didn't paint anymore, but focused on making objects, or conceptual art. Maybe he kept a journal or notebooks before 1988, but if he did they likely burned in the fire as well. The first notebook we have of his is from 1988, mostly doodles + sketches + ideas + dreams, like this:

Other sketches from his notebooks appear in 'SSES 'SSES" "SSEY' vols 0-1. We (talking about D now) also have a notebook from 1988, mostly full of lyrics, doodles, song structures, math + physics problems, dreams, etc. all jumbled together.

"Wally" was what we called our camper, where we lived... not sure why, maybe cuz it had 4 walls, or was appropriately campy (like Wally World in Vacation). Some of these lyrics + songs we transcribed from scraps into this notebook, so just cuz it was 1988 doesn't mean we didnt write a draft before this, or we're just transcribing them to have in a notebook in 1 place, to put together a lyric sheet. For example, here's the first page dated Feb 25, 1988, but we have a song ("A Point", that we posted last post) from Fall 87 [after a random "thought"].

[opening pg 1]

We only wrote on odd-facing pages (cuz of the nature of the notebook). On page 3 we list 4 more songs + what was on each track (which often we bounced 3 tracks onto 1, turning a 4 track into a 7-track, or 10-track (tho you lost the ability to mix each time you panned them together + sound quality degraded)). Then we wrote this paragraph:

So now it's 10:00 on thurs, all this stuff i did moons ago. Physics test tomorrow, why worry. I guess this is my form of procrastination, denial—making music. This notebook i'm going to use to put down anything visual or textual, that i need to record on paper. These might all be songs i never finish. The peach blossoms are blooming, and the grass outside Wally is getting long. There goes Mark slamming the toilet seat again... what a kook! I'm the Winnebago Warrior, i've got juice, electricity and light. I dream of needing nothing but a spoon and a towel.

Guess we were still living behind "Rebertha's" house... we forgot until reading this, but there was also some guy Mark that lived in a tent in her backyard, who also used this toilet for $50/mo (+ used to slam the seat) on the back porch (exposed, w/ no walls, just a shower curtain we rigged for semi-privacy). "Winnebago Warrior" is a reference to a Dead Kennedy song + th towel reference is likely in reference to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Pg 5 is more of the same... 4-track song listings + doodles of fractals. On pg 7 we transcribed the lyrics for "Under a Cloud" wich we already posted last post. Pg 9 is a bunch of mathematical gibberish (typical of ½ the notebook):

... not sure what we meant by "Derek's law of nines"... not just that the digits of a multiple of nine add up to 9 (that's common knowledge), think we were onto something else. Then pg 11:

On pg 13 we list math + physics courses we wanted to take, trying to figure out our schedule. Looks like Spring semester 1988 we decided on Intro. Physics 6c, Complex Analysis, Number Theory + Piano on MWF + TTh we had Physics 16 (quantum), Vector Calculus + physics lab. We got the only "outstanding" in the class (Santa Cruz didn't have grades, but you could easily equate certain words to grades, like "outstanding" = A) in Complex Analysis, but really struggled in Real Analysis the next quarter... the opposite of most people (who find Real easier than Complex). "Complex" analysis just means it's about imaginary numbers, which wasn't complex to us, but totally made sense. Pg 15 is a bunch of musical notation (tho we never learned how to properly read or "write" music, but just made up our own system):

Pg 19 is more of a traditional journal entry:

Not sure what we meant by "applied to Apple" ... vaguely remember applying for a job or internship there. Almost embarrassed to admit we listened to Shriekback (how's that for a blast from the past?)... don't think i've thought about them since the 80s. And don't remember who this Richard was... "But some are lost (maybe not worth remembering them?)". + Guess we we were reading Gödel, Escher, Bach in 1988, which was next to our bed (we slept in the nook above the cab) for quite a while. We forgot to list notable books in the last post (in the spirit of the autobibliographies of David Auerbach or Paul Kerschen .. of which we keep a running tally of our own), but it was around 1987-88 that we first remember hearing Byrne/Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in a "rave" (remember when people used to call pop-up nightclubs "raves"?) in L.A. visting Chaulky... a life-altering moment for sure, to the extent that we had to read the book that they named the album for, by Amos Tutuola, which was even more-so life-changing. And looking back now, guess Trout Fishing in America made the list... tho this was probably in 1985 or '86, not '87 as we said on that bibliographic page. Frankenstein i'll get to later in this post... back to our '88 journal, page 21, more procrastinating doodling/computing:

"... the way i figure it, if you doodle enough something will eventually come of it." Hmm, don't know about that. On pg 23 (March 9) we talk about how we felt guilty about all the time we spent at our girlfriend S's house (who was still in high school so lived at home) + how we felt bad (eating her family's food, using their resources, etc.) + we always felt obliged to act grateful + nice in return + to take S out to eat at restaurants (if we wanted to be alone w/ her + eat as much as we wanted to eat (we pigged out then even more than we do now)), so we ended up spending a lot of money anyway (not to mention the gas driving back + forth over highway 17, a.k.a. "Blood Alley"). It seemed quite a "predicament" at the time (we tabulated "solutions" + "consequences"... + the final solution we circled was to "make an agreement to eliminate formalities/come to a mutual understanding"). It was liberating being on our own, even living in the back of a shitty camper.

On pg 27 (March 11) we logged this dream:

I was in Japan, pushing these sleds in the snow that were supposed to be pushed by sled dogs. They contained orange juice. You had to push very hard to get them over the hills. I got to a bridge that was all fancy and engraved with the slogan of the Japanese OJ company. It was hard to get through the first part of the bridge since the bumps were shaped like waves. [sketched a picture] but obviously the second half was easy [we may have been reading Albert Camus's Myth of Sisyphus around this time... seems it's high time for a re-read]. I got to the other side but had to wait for [S] who was pushing another sled. I saw an old bridge no longer in use and walked out on it. It looked like the bridge from that golf course in Menlo Park. In the middle I saw a pipe way below me. You could piss in it and watch it go through the rest of the pipe. As I was pissing the bridge started to fall apart below my feet. Every plank I stepped on rotted and fell below. I couldn’t move at all and had the feeling of being ever on the verge of falling. I told myself “you can wake up now and you won’t have to deal with this unpleasant experience” I could begin to feel myself in Wally then some voice said to wait for S, because she could step where I couldn’t and I could step where she couldn’t.

Then we logged another dream the next night on pg 29 (we already transcribed these digitally onto our computer when we were writing Poste Restante... not that we necessarily used them, can't remember):

I was in physics class but there was a stage. There was a fight or something and everybody in the class ran outside. Peter Scott came back in holding 3-4 kids by the collar. He took them down to the front and started saying “why did you do that?” They had evidently committed a heinous sex crime. Then Dr. Scott kept saying, “it’s just a fleshy protrusion” and he dangled his finger in front of them. "No reason to get hung up on it." One of the students was very embarrassed. He hesitated, and then pulled down his pants and said to Dr. Scott that he had "AIDS wounds". Then the other students started pulling down their pants and begin giving everybody else examinations. I was thinking there was no way in the world I would pull down my pants in front of the whole class.

Pg 31 has bad poetry/lyrics that maybe got turned into song, cant remember. Seems a lot of lyrics were about rains + floods and "the ocean swaying in its basin" (see pg 11), which in retrospect we always thought had to do w/ our experience going thru a hurricane (see later this post) but this didn't happen until later this year, so more like a premonition of what was to come.

The banjo-playing Peter Scott is the same Dr. Scott that appeared in our embarrassingly Freudian dream, one of the most memorable + inspiring professors we had at UCSC. He had a long gray beard back then, looks like he still does as of 2017. He was involved w/ the Santa Cruz "Chaos Cabal" (or "Dynamical Systems Collective") led by Bill Burke, another inspiring physics professor we took a few classes with (sadly, googling now, looks like he died in a car crash in 1996) + another crazy hippy professor Ralph Abraham in the math dept (our first choice as fhesis advisor, but he went on sabbatical so couldn't do it).

On pg 35 are a bunch of chords + musical notations + lyrics about living in box.

Pg 37—we talk about how walking back to our camper in the dark we stepped on a beautiful red-headed woodpecker that Rebertha's cat had injured but not finished off. Then we logged this dream (split canyons seem to be another re-occuring element in dreams + lyrics from this time, probly induced by a few trips to the Anza-Borrego Desert in SoCal):

We drove to some beach whose entrance was like a split canyon, you had to park + walk the last part it was so narrow, and the walls really high. But it widened back up as you got into the water. [S] was near some rocks and I said we should get away. We were with other people and they started getting smashed against the rocks. We were looking for some special sponges or something. Then I was with S in the back yard in Portland [our hometown]. Guess we lived there. The dog kennel that contained Brigette now had a mother kangaroo and her joey. They hopped around eating the lawn. I was wondering how she reproduced since there were no other kangaroos in the area. The kangaroo spoke to me and said she had a tracking device, that there was a male roo 6 miles away and she could tell when he was coming [haha, we predicted Grindr (at least for kangaroos) back in the 80s!]. Then we were at the house of a dead man. He had a cage out back with all kinds of monkeys. We went in and the monkeys were jumping all over us and I began to climb around and found I could climb just as good as a monkey.

Then on pg 39 (March 17) we logged 2 more dreams (the 1st of which we included in 'SSES 'SSES" "SSEY'):

Walked all the way from Axixic to Tijuana then took a greyhound to Oregon. I went to our mountain cabin in Oregon + came upon the neighboring spec house which was still being built, but was more modern + jaded looking. There were so many other new houses i couldn’t find ours. So I went into the spec house + who did i see but [our brother JD + his girlfriend having sex]. They were embarrassed + surprised but i wasn’t. I said i walked all the way from Axixic. They told me Kevin was around. As i went thru the house there were strange art objects scattered about—painted shoes, precarious bulbous sculptures, papier mâché plants + large panes of plexiglass covered w/ neon swabs. I acquired a pipe + chain from an installation that i carried (for protection). The place turned into a cross between a haunted house, an amusement park + a modern art gallery. There were convoluted turnstiles everywhere. Finally i saw Kevin + ran to catch up to surprise him. After all, what were the chances that we would be in this particular house in Oregon at the same time? He was surprised, which for him was surprising.

There was this large group of people running up Macchu Picchu, skipping and singing “we’re off to see the wizard …” A little girl kept falling behind, running to catch up and squeeze her way in the middle but would get left behind. As they got closer to the ruins of Macchu Picchu, they turned out to be piles of sandbags stacked symmetrically so their shadows looked like ruins. Then I was hitting tennis balls over a fence (we were all talking a break from the production of Wizard of Oz at Macchu Picchu). I went up on the balcony and watched 2 suns set over Santa Cruz. They looked like 2 large red eyes. Then I saw a tiger drinking from a lake. I had to wake up [S] to verify what i was seeing. It walked right in front of us across a golf green—"definitely a tiger," i said. "It is and it isn't at the same time," said S, then, annoyed, she went back to sleep. [obvious reference to Schrödinger's cat].

Pgs 41-45 contain early versions of lyrics that sound vaguely familiar, that perhaps got turned into songs. Again, about "fields of water" + waves "blown by the wind, my eyes thrown into the bluish fire." ... + then in the next poem "I heard the motion in the waves, ripping rocks from the earth into the dark blue grave" + "the ocean swayed, trying to escape", "into the tumultuous mass, cast in the pit of blue, fighting the forces that confine it"... again, this was all before the hurricane that came later in the year (see towards the end of this post). Followed by pg 47:

On pg 49 we talk about how S ruptured her eardrums when we were diving, so couldn't dive anymore + about running (when we lived in town, we ran along the waterfront on the scenic W. Cliff Dr, past the lighthouse (notorious surf spot) to Natural Bridges) + what i was cooking (curried lentils + pozole), and how i was looking forward to a new quarter of habits.

Pg 53-57—(April 25) contain more lyrics (still about "pulling water from the swollen sky") song notations + math doodlings related to Fermat's theorem...

Pg 59—another barely legible stream of consciousness rant, apparently induced by poison oak (which we used to get a lot in California), here's the continuation of it:

Pg 63—more bad poetry, followed by:

... had to google "Thomas Covenant" to figure out what i was talking about... we'd all but forgotten, but guess we vaguely remember reading at least some of Stephen R. Donaldson's fantasy books, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

+ that finishes that notebook, bringing us up to May 1988. That summer we again went to Mexico w/ S (there might have been a trip the previous year that we didn't document, like the trip in 86 , cuz we remember taking her to Jalisco + Patzcuaro + Michoacan (+ have photos)... + we drove down to Baja a few times as well). In the summer of '88 we took a trip to Mexico, Belize + Guatemala. We didn't keep a journal, but we did take a few photos (or she did) + we know it was 1988 because our trip ended w/ Hurricane Gilbert in September of '88. Guess we can also check our old passport, which we renewed in 1988 (we'll post that in a future post). We flew to Cancun + went to Tulum+ from there took a bus down to Belize.

the bus from Chetumal, MX to Belize City (may have stopped somewhere in between, we forget)

Went to some of the barrier islands, went diving in Caye Caulker. Then we went down south to Dangriga + just happened to meet this guy in a bar who owned an island right on the reef + for $40 (which we split w/ another traveller we met, who happened to be from Santa Cruz) we could have the island to ourselves (googling now, it's Tobacco Caye + seems there's some resorts on it now... of course).

going out to Tobacco Caye in a boat loaded w/ bags of cement

S on Tobacco Caye, that house was the only structure there @ the time

Then we headed inland to Guatemala, stopping in Belmopan to do our laundry:

gratuitous selfie in Belmopan, Belize (wearing the only thing not being washed)

The bus trips in Guatemala on dirt roads were some of the more heinous bus rides i ever remembering experiencing. We went to the usual places—Tikal, Panajachel, Chichicastenango, Guatemala City, etc.


elders hanging out in Chichicastenango

in the market

street urchins

Then we crossed back into Mexico + went to San Cristobal, Palenque, Veracruz, etc.

posing w/ Olmec head

mobbed by Codamundis in Vera Cruz

+ then back across the Yucatan Peninsula (all by bus), to Isla Mujeres. When we got to Isla Mujeres, S called her parents + when they heard where we were they freaked out, "haven't you guys been watching the news?!" Of course not... back then we had no Internet, the places we stayed didn't have TVs. Evidently a category 5 hurricane was headed right for us, after wreaking havoc in Jamaica. We asked people on Isla Mujeres but no one seemed to know anything. It was too late to get off the little island. We were staying at a hotel on the ocean side, so we moved to a sturdier 1 in the center of town, tho they only had ground floor rooms left. We woke up that night + our bed was floating... as we expected, so we had our bags packed + ready, up on a high shelf in the closet. We grabbed our bags + waded to the stairs. Knocked on someone's door on a higher floor, some doctors from NYC. They let us stay in their room. All the windows had been boarded up so we couldn't see much, just hear the roar of the wind. We'd go up to the roof + peak over the barrier wall + you could barely hold your head up (wind gusts measured up to 212 mph, w/ maximum sustained speeds of 185... imagine sticking your head out of a car window at that speed, in heavy rain). When we peaked out onto the street, there was like 10 feet of water surging thru, carrying cars, boats, etc. This went on for like 24+ hours. During the eye we went up to the roof + it was totally calm... and then, sure enough, a few minutes later the winds came back, in the complete opposite direction. One of the doctors had Frankenstein, which we distinctly remember reading while we rode the storm out. Until then we thought Frankenstein was a horror story about some monster... little did we realize it was a literary work of genius. The hurricane (Gilbert) ended up being the most intense on record @ the time (Wilma in 2005 has since surpassed it).

the central plaza of Isla Mujeres post-Gilbert

the hotel we bunkered up in was the 3-story one w/ the telephone leaning against it... yes, those are boats in the streets. When we went to see our original hotel, it was completely destroyed.

our ride back to Cancun... obviously we weren't going anywhere for a while

When we finally made it back to Cancun a day or 2 later, it didn't matter that we missed our flight cuz the airport tower got knocked down + all communications were out. All flights were canceled for days + marooned gringos hung around the airport getting food + water from the Cruz Roja. Finally a plane from the U.S. decided to wing it + try landing w/o ground communication. It just happened to be a Continental plane + we just happened to be 1st on the waiting list for the next Continental flight out. When we asked where it was going, she said, "do you care?" + we said no. She handed us boarding passes that just said "USA" on them. When we landed (in Miami, which they announced mid-flight) there were mobs of reporters we had to push thru cuz we only had a few minutes to catch our connection to California, via Houston, which ended up being cancelled cuz by this point Hurricane Gilbert had made it that far north.

[9/1/2019 addendum: after discovering negatives + photos we'd never scanned in... here's a few more gratuitous selfies from around this time in Central America:

[+ sum additional art shots from the '80s in post #666 + 1989 is covered in the next post...]

 540 <( )> 542 > Camper lot + cassette culture in the sunblind dayz of Ethereal Aether(Santa Cruz, spring 1989)

[  (ɔ)om.Postd 2017  anon I'm us  |  calamari archive   ]